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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October 24, 2013 12:03 PM

From Journalist's Resource: Since the Progressive Era, ideas about the benefits of government openness — crystallized by Justice Brandeis’s famous phrase about the disinfectant qualities of “sunlight” — have steadily grown more popular and prevalent. Post-Watergate reforms further embodied these ideas. Now, notions of “open government” and dramatically heightened levels of transparency have taken hold as zero-cost digital dissemination has become a reality. Many have advocated switching the “default” of government institutions so information and data are no longer available just “on demand” but rather are publicized as a matter of course in usable digital form.

As academic researchers point out, we don’t yet have a great deal of long-term, valid data for many of the experiments in this area to weigh civic outcomes and the overall advance of democracy. Anecdotally, though, it seems that more problems — from potholes to corruption — are being surfaced, enabling greater accountability. This “new fuel” of data also creates opportunities for new businesses and organizations; and so-called “Big Data” projects frequently rely on large government datasets, as do “news apps.”

Visit Journalist's Resource for more.

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October 24, 2013 11:57 AM

From Herald-Tribune: VENICE - Members of the Venice City Council say they need to be more cautious than ever about what they say, to whom they say it, and where and when they say it.

If they do not, the city may be accused of violating Florida's Government-in-the-Sunshine Law and find itself in court — again. Past violations cost the city more than $1.5 million.

Visit Herald-Tribune for more.

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October 24, 2013 11:54 AM

From Herald-Tribune: SARASOTA - Notes from a private meeting earlier this month between city officials and a downtown business group appear to support allegations that two city commissioners violated the Sunshine Law.

The notes detail a wide-ranging discussion of the city’s homelessness issues, and appear to undercut claims that city business was not discussed.

Visit Herald-Tribune for more.

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October 22, 2013 11:39 AM

From Times-News: GRAHAM — An attorney representing the Alamance News has filed a motion in response to the U.S Department of Justice’s argument against providing documents covered by a joint confidentiality and protective order in its lawsuit against Sheriff Terry Johnson.

North Carolina Press Association attorney Amanda Martin representing Boney Publishers, which operates The Alamance News, a weekly newspaper in Graham, filed a motion on Oct. 16 stating, “The United States’ Response is long on words and rhetoric but short on authority, Indeed, the United States has offered no binding or even persuasive authority that this Court has the power to wholesale remove from the public eye essentially all documents that either were made or received by the defendant simply because they arguably have relevance to this case.

Visit Times-News for more.

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October 22, 2013 11:35 AM

From The Republic: HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania — Lawyers for Penn State and Pennsylvania's three other "state-related" universities said Monday they should not be fully covered by the state Right-to-Know Law, as lawmakers revisited a previously settled question reignited by the Jerry Sandusky child molestation case.

The attorneys said during a four-hour Capitol hearing on proposed changes to the state's main open-records law that it should not apply to them as it does to the 14 state-owned schools in the State System of Higher Education.

Visit The Republic for more.

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October 22, 2013 11:31 AM

From NewsWorks.org: Proposed revisions to Pennsylvania's open records law appear to require more fine-tuning as lawmakers attempt to address a surging number of requests from prison inmates.

State prisoners are among the most frequent filers when it comes to seeking documents under the state's open records law with the number of requests rising steadily since 2009. Proposed legislation calls for limiting the scope of those requests.

Visit NewsWorks.org for more.

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October 22, 2013 11:28 AM

From NJ.com: PITTSGROVE TWP. — The acting township clerk violated a law by failing to provide requested documents to a resident under the Open Public Records Act, according to state officials.

Steve Wymbs was found to be in violation, according to the New Jersey Government Records Council, after he was unable to locate and produce less than 3 percent of the total requested documents from resident Norman Lenchitz.

Visit NJ.com for more.

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October 22, 2013 11:24 AM

From WICS.com: A judge has ruled in favor of ABC Newschannel 20 and other media outlets in a Freedom of Information Act case surrounding some Springfield Police internal affairs files.

[...]

The city is ordered to release the documents ABC Newschannel 20 requested. As soon as we receive them, we will report on them.

Visit WICS.com for more.

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October 22, 2013 11:19 AM

From McClatchyDC: A secret presidential directive on cybersecurity is going to stay secret, despite the best FOIA-filing efforts of the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

In a decision issued Monday, U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell rejected the long-running Freedom of Information Act request for the unredacted text of National Security Presidential Directive 54.

Visit McClatchyDC for more.

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October 22, 2013 9:41 AM

From Watchdog.org: Should New Jersey officials be allowed to keep forever secret a criminal investigation on alleged corruption involving a prominent elected official?

Or does the public have a right to know what the state found – and how authorities handled a probe rife with conflicts of interest?

Those questions are at the heart of a court battle between state Division of Criminal Justice and a New Jersey Watchdog reporter. At stake is the release of records likely to implicate Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno in a scheme that cost a public pension fund nearly a quarter-million dollars.

Visit Read More

October 22, 2013 9:37 AM

From Kingsport Times News: BLOUNTVILLE — Collaborative conferencing negotiations among the Sullivan County school system and two teacher groups were held behind closed doors with no public notice last month.

Two groups say that violates Tennessee’s open meetings law, called the “Sunshine Law,” although Director of Schools Jubal Yennie said the public does not have the explicit right to be present for collaborative conferencing.

Visit Kingsport Times News for more.

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October 21, 2013 12:05 PM

Press release from The New Mexico Foundation for Open Government:  Albuquerque - In response to a lawsuit filed by The New Mexico Foundation for Open Government (NMFOG), the Attorney General of New Mexico and the New Mexico Human Services Department (HSD) today (Oct. 18, 2013) released some new portions of the Behavioral Health Audit report, which HSD relied upon in halting Medicaid payments to health care providers in New Mexico until new management was put in place.

NMFOG had been forced to file the lawsuit in State District Court in Sante Fe in mid September after the Attorney General and HSD had refused NMFOG's request for the report, providing only a heavily redacted version.

The Attorney General and HSD still refuse to release the entire report. The version released today is still significantly redacted, and FOG will continue its efforts to obtain release of the full report. To see the full text of the released Behavioral Health Audit, see "NMFOG in the News" section on the www.nmfog.org website.

Please contact Greg Williams at Greg Williams at gwilliams@peiferlaw.com or (505) 238-8120 for more details.

Visit The New Mexico Foundation for Open Government for more, and find the complete press release here.

Also, please read an article, New portion of audit released; hundreds of pages still secret, from KUNM.org: A portion of an audit released Friday by the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office with many details blacked out shed little light on why the state froze Medicaid payments to 15 New Mexico behavioral health providers.

At the same time, the 58-page document raised tantalizing questions.

The Attorney General’s Office (AGO) released the document to the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government, which posted the document on its website Friday evening.

Most of the 400-page audit remains undisclosed despite lawsuits by New Mexico In Depth, the Las Cruces Sun-News and the Foundation for Open Government demanding public release of the audit.

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Despite receiving the newly released portion of the audit, one officer of the Foundation for Open Government lamented Friday at how few revelations were contained in the document.

“We are not satisfied with what we received today,” FOG Board treasurer Gregory P. Williams was quoted by KRQE-TV in Albuquerque as saying. “We have not received anything of the substance of the report, so the public still has no idea why funding was stopped to all of these entities.”

Visit KUNM.org for more.

The New Mexico Foundation for Open Government is a member of NFOIC. --eds

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