FOI Advocate News Blog

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The NFOIC open government blog is a compendium of original concepts and analysis as well as ideas, edited excerpts and materials from a variety of sources. When the information comes from another source, we will attribute it and provide a link. The blog relies on the accuracy and integrity of the original sources cited; we will correct errors and inaccuracies when we become aware of them.

For Advocate posts prior to July, 2011, visit http://foiadvocate.blogspot.com/.
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January 19, 2015 2:53 PM

In September and October of 2014, and December of 2013, several Freedom of Information Act requests were denied by the College of DuPage FOIA Officer. After several failed attempts at asking them to provide the public records they were bound by law to provide, we decided it was time to file suit in DuPage County Circuit Court.

These requests consisted of public records concerning “Broadcast Technologies” and the W-2 Form for COD President Breuder.

The W-2: In spite of the fact that AG Pratt had told me over the phone that she would reconsider the PACs determination, no response was forthcoming after my letter to her. With that in mind, and the desire to review public records we are lawfully entitled to, the below civil suit was filed today, January 15, 2015 in DuPage County Circuit Court. Continue>>>
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January 14, 2015 8:39 AM

It’s secret, and it’s going to stay that way. That’s the bottom line in TVA’s rejection of the News Sentinel’s appeal of a Freedom of Information Act request for information TVA has repeatedly denied.

If the newspaper wants to continue its quest to learn the TVA incentives given to a Clinton, Tenn. industry in expansion mode, it will have to go to court.

TVA’s decision is final, wrote Janet J. Brewer, vice president of communications. The News Sentinel’s last option is to seek “judicial review,” according to her Jan. 8 letter.

At issue is what types of lures TVA dangled before a South Korean company — SL Tennessee — in exchange for its announcement last summer that it was building an $81 million addition to its auto-parts manufacturing complex that officials said will create 1,000 new jobs. Continue>>>
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January 14, 2015 8:37 AM

All North Carolinians deserve to know when their local governments hold special meetings or plan public hearings. State lawmakers have a unique opportunity this year to preserve that right and save cities and counties some money in the process.


When the 2015 regular session begins Wednesday, Rep. Marilyn Avila, R-Wake, plans to introduce a compromise bill that will keep public notice requirements in place and limit the fees newspapers charge to publish the announcements. The bill is modeled after legislation passed in Florida and Tennessee.


In the 2013-14 session, local bills to exempt some North Carolina counties from public notice rules were ultimately unsuccessful. Sponsors of those bills said governments should be able to post notices on their own websites instead of publishing them in newspapers. Continue>>>
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January 14, 2015 8:36 AM

The city of Jackson, Michigan, has bold ambitions to make its website the first of its kind in the Great Lakes State to operate as an open data portal.

Unfortunately, city officials announced they’ve hit a slight delay in the process, pushing the expected rollout back at least a month.

"We're kind of struggling to keep our heads above water after the holidays," Jackson City Manager Patrick Burtch said in an interview with MLive.com. "We were going to meet with city employees this week to train them on policies and procedures but pushed it back to next." Continue>>>
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January 14, 2015 8:34 AM

2015 should be the year for open data in California. A new crop of state lawmakers and constitutional officers, combined with activity underway in state and local governments, are pushing California closer to a “tipping point” where the demand and use of data can truly transform the public sector.

Other states – including New York, Texas, Maryland, and Utah – have all jumped on the Open Data bandwagon. In 2014, California cities, including LA and San Diego showed their commitment by hiring chief data officers. At the state level, the California Health and Human Services Agency is -growing its open data offerings, adding departments and data sets to its portal that started last year with public health data. The data-rich portal is essentially a pilot for the rest of state government.

The pioneers are demonstrating that data is a public resource that can stimulate economic investment, inform policy choices, guide public mangers to improve results and deepen citizen involvement in public decisions and community activities. Continue>>>
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January 14, 2015 8:33 AM

On August 1, 2014, the New Jersey Libertarian Party (NJLP) formally petitioned the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) for a rule requiring municipalities and other local government units to specify an “up to” dollar amount in each resolution that awards a public contract.

When Parsippany Focus requested records showing the exact contract amount for Epic Solutions, LLC., Parsippany-Troy Hills responded that the contract “hasn’t been signed by the Administration [and that] could take up to 30 days.” Click here to read the Notice of Action on Petition for Rulemaking.

The Resolution passed by The Township of Parsippany-Troy Hills Council on Tuesday, July 8 by the Parsippany-Troy Hills Council 4-1. Council Vice President Robert Peluso voted against the resolution. Parsippany Focus published an article on July 9, 2014 titled, “Kovalick’s company hired to perform financial consulting services.” Continue>>>
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January 14, 2015 8:32 AM

The city must preserve text messages sent and received in the course of public business as public records under the state Freedom of Information Act, a judge has ruled.

Circuit Judge Jack Doyle made the decision in a lawsuit filed by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia. The order was signed and entered Thursday.

PETA sued the city in January 2014 after it unsuccessfully sought text messages to and from City Council members. The city maintains it did not violate public records law, spokeswoman Lori Crouch said. Continue>>>
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January 12, 2015 12:08 PM

For journalists — especially those working in the realm of opinion — it's hard not to take the attack on the Paris offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hedbo personally.

As a result, each of the editorial cartoonists regularly featured in the Post-Bulletin have weighed in on the subject. Charlie Hedbo was likely best known in the United States for featuring satirical depictions of religions, most notably featuring Muhammad, a fact that had produced threats from Muslim extremists.

Ranging from anger at the terrorists to showing solidarity with the slain cartoonist and editors, the men and women frequently featured on these pages with differing viewpoints made one thing clear — freedom of expression cannot be squashed by terror. Newspapers quickly followed suit. The Chicago Tribune's editorial board wrote: Continue>>>
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January 12, 2015 11:42 AM

It seems it was only a few days ago that Rose and I, along with our little guys, were heaving candy from the back of a pickup truck crawling down Calhoun Street during the Bluffton Christmas Parade. We have yet to finish taking down the Christmas decorations, and already we have two children deeply involved in basketball, with school going full-bore.

Although it was somewhat of a high-velocity blur, this Christmas celebration was certainly one of our best so far. We had plenty of family time, a proper amount of worship time, with all involved having a day or two of breath-catching time before resuming our regular lives. Through it all, though, there was a small undercurrent of sadness in that this is our first Christmas without Rose’s mom.

With the session just around the corner, your Beaufort/Jasper delegation is hard at it. Reps. Herbkersman and Erickson are attending pre-session meetings for Ways and Means Committee. Continue>>>
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January 12, 2015 11:41 AM

Upon assuming the office of the presidency, Barack Obama promised the most transparent administration ever. Nobody asked him to do that, but given the unpopularity of the secrecy of the George W. Bush administration, it was a safe bet that such a promise would be received warmly. President Obama laid out his rationale in a memorandum which included the following key points (emphasis in original):

Government should be transparent. Transparency promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their Government is doing.

Government should be participatory. Public engagement enhances the Government's effectiveness and improves the quality of its decisions. Continue>>>
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January 12, 2015 11:39 AM

FOI Oklahoma is accepting nominations for its eighth-annual awards ceremony that recognizes organizations and individuals who promoted the First Amendment and freedom of information in 2014.

The ceremony will be March 14 at the Ronald J. Norick Downtown Library, 300 Park Ave. Sunshine Week activities begin the following day.

The Black Hole Award will be granted to those who stood against dissemination of public information, the release states. The Sunshine Award is presented to a public official or governmental body that has committed to open meetings and open records. Continue>>>
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January 12, 2015 11:37 AM

The "We Vote" project wants your voice to be heard at the Capitol. It's their goal to create a more transparent government and let the public weigh in on legislative bills.

The group held a seminar Saturday to get the word out on how their website will make it easier for you to keep track of your state government.

One person in the audience was Pat Tetreault who wanted to learn what this website was all about. "I'm often am disheartened by the political decision making that is based off of ideology rather than information," said Tetreault. Continue>>>
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