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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June 3, 2016 9:55 AM

The first survey to focus on the newsgathering experiences of health care journalists has found that the federal government often blocks access to information, supporting assertions that the Obama administration has failed to keep its promise of transparency.

The Association of Health Care Journalists asked its members about access to information at all levels of government. Respondents were more likely to seek information from federal agencies than from state or local governments – and they were more likely to encounter roadblocks at the federal level.  Continue...

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June 3, 2016 9:47 AM

EFF on Wednesday asked a Washington state trial court to lift its order that forced the public records website MuckRock to take down documents one of its users had lawfully obtained.

The motion EFF filed on behalf of MuckRock and its co-founder, Michael Morisy, argues that the court order requiring the site to de-publish these public records was an unconstitutional prior restraint.  Continue...

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June 3, 2016 9:39 AM

The controversy over leaked legislative emails might be a tempest in a teapot to some, but it goes to the heart of open government and reflects some legislators' disdain for dealing openly with the issues before them.

State Rep. Susan Lynn, R-Mount Juliet, said she was "shocked, shocked" — as Claude Rains' character said in "Casablanca" — that an email discussion among legislators was leaked and that the email discussion about the leaks also was leaked. She said the leaks were a betrayal of the state Republican Party.  Continue...

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June 2, 2016 10:15 AM

In the wake of widely publicized incidents of alleged police misconduct and officer-involved shootings, more and more cities around the country are equipping their police officers with body-worn cameras. But something else is happening, too: State lawmakers are setting new rules about who gets access to all that footage.

The debate over how to treat body-cam footage under sunshine laws raises questions about how to balance police accountability and the privacy interests of ordinary citizens. It also carries the risk that the hoped-for benefits of the cameras won’t be realized, if access is restricted too much. Both themes were in play in recent debates in the Midwest.  Continue...

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June 2, 2016 9:54 AM

The State Department is seeking to reject demands from the Republican Party that the diplomatic agency turn over hundreds of thousands of emails sent or received by several former aides to Hillary Clinton.

Justice Department lawyers representing State said in a court filing Wednesday night that complying with the Republican National Committee's Freedom of Information Act request "would impose an unreasonable burden on the agency."  Continue...

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June 2, 2016 9:49 AM

The D.C. public records law requires agencies to respond when they get a “request reasonably describing any public record.” 

But the text begs the questions – what’s reasonable? And does an agency get to decide, on its own, whether or not to process a broad request it considers vague and which would likely yield thousands of pages of responsive records?  Continue...

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June 1, 2016 1:39 PM

In this episode of the 10 Blocks podcast, City Journal editor Brian Anderson interviews Nicole Gelinas, author of the recent City Journal article “The Fourth Urban Revolution,” about the role of big data in effective urban planning.  Continue...

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June 1, 2016 1:35 PM

On Friday, May 27, a judge resoundingly rejected Gov. Scott Walker's elaborate efforts to hide from the public his role in deleting "the search for truth" and the Wisconsin Idea from the UW's mission statement.

And his effort to throw a cloak of secrecy over a wide range of decision making under the guise of protecting government "deliberations" from public view was also repudiated.  Continue...

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June 1, 2016 1:29 PM

Across the country, state officials, power companies and environmental advocates are participating in closed-door meetings to discuss the future of the Clean Power Plan.

While state agencies have made parts of their planning talks public, transparency experts say the common practice of holding parallel private discussions could deprive people of insight into preparations for a regulation that stands to affect power prices and public health for decades to come. They also say it may give utilities an early opportunity to sway discussions to their benefit.  Continue...

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June 1, 2016 1:24 PM

A legislative effort to open some law-enforcement personnel records up to public scrutiny died a quiet death in the Capitol last week.

Under current law, police personnel files — including complaints filed against individual officers through internal-affairs units and independent civilian oversight agencies — are considered off-limits to the public. But Senate Bill 1286, authored by State Senator Mark Leno, would have mandated the release of substantiated complaints of civil-rights violations or excessive force.  Continue...

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June 1, 2016 1:18 PM

The Senate has rejected an attempt by House lawmakers to substitute revisions to the state Freedom of Information Act in a bill passed by the Senate to regulate the release of police dash cam video.

The House made the swap after a senator halted progress of the FOIA bill in the Senate. Lawmakers are scheduled to adjourn for the year on Thursday. Continue...

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May 31, 2016 9:38 AM

In a step toward compliance with state law, and the latest in a series of steps to generate transparency in local government, the Jackson City Council posted its agenda packet for next week's meeting online: a first for the Jackson municipal government. Those documents are the back-up materials that council members get for discussions during meetings.

"People want to be able to see primary source documents because the Internet and technology make it so easy to see primary source documents," Council President Melvin Priester Jr. told the Jackson Free Press during an interview in March about transparency.  Continue...

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