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/.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

November 1, 2016 3:17 PM

Ingham County Sheriff Gene Wriggelsworth and Attorney General Bill Schuette's office pushed to delay the public release of documents related to the criminal investigation of former Ingham County prosecutor Stuart Dunnings III.

The State Journal obtained those records on Thursday, following a successful appeal to the Ingham County Board of Commissioners. In more than 500 pages, the investigatory reports show Dunnings was engaged in questionable behavior — behavior which was observed by police and other public employees — for years before a formal investigation was launched last year.

The county board voted unanimously on Tuesday to release the records without delay.

Continue...

November 1, 2016 3:15 PM

Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey said Friday his office will not be filing criminal charges against former Denver City Attorney Scott Martinez or any other members of the city attorney’s office in connection with the curious handling of a Colorado Open Records Act request from 2015.

“I don’t think the left hand knew what the right hand was doing,” Morrissey told CBS4. “They should have turned this over to you (CBS4). I believe it was wrong.”

But Morrissey said his office could not prove anyone willfully violated the open records statute, leading to the no charge decision.

Continue...

November 1, 2016 3:11 PM

In the wake of bid-rigging allegations on State University of New York projects and alleged misbehavior by police and prison guards, members of the state Committee on Open Government are poised to push for a pair of broad expansions of the state Freedom of Information Law.

One proposal would make so-called quasi-governmental not-for-profit entities subject to FOIL requests. It would apply, for example, to the Fuller Road and Fort Schuyler management corporations, which have handled real estate matters for SUNY Polytechnic Institute.

The other reform would eliminate the bar against disclosing personnel records pertaining to police and correctional officers — the so-called "50-A exemption."

Continue...

October 31, 2016 10:54 AM

BART is set to open the data floodgates.

Agency information that could include employee salaries, capital spending and parts inventory will soon be released in a user-friendly way after the BART Board of Directors unanimously approved a transparency measure Thursday morning.

“There are few things I can think of as important for government agencies, and government as a whole, as being transparent with the public,” said Nick Josefowitz, a BART board director. “We need to be a data-driven agency.”

The open data policy directs BART’s information staff to begin drafting a “road map” to show what an online data portal would look like for the agency, and to research what kind of data they could begin “scraping” to make public, which may even be updated in real time.

Continue...

October 31, 2016 10:52 AM

The Connecticut Council of Freedom of Information is asking all candidates for legislative seats to take the “Public Official’s Pledge for Open and Accountable Government,” and is receiving responses from those who intend to do so.

“A successful democracy requires open, transparent, and accountable government,” CCFOI President Daniel Klau said. “Yet, freedom of information and the public’s right to know about Connecticut state and municipal governments have been under increasing attack in recent years.”

The pledge is asking candidates to support freedom of information in the state in three specific ways, the first of which is to support the state’s Freedom of Information Act, including the independence of the state’s Freedom of Information Commission, and oppose weakening it.

Continue...

October 31, 2016 10:48 AM

The Hartford region's water-and-sewer agency has invoked a little-used federal Department of Homeland Security anti-terrorism restriction to block citizens' access to what once was public information about its water-supply system.

Critics are blasting the legal maneuver by the Metropolitan District, known as the MDC, to have its water supply plan designated as "protected critical infrastructure information" by the homeland security department — under a post-9/11 program designed to prevent damage to public facilities by terrorists.

Continue...

October 28, 2016 10:22 AM

Save Tacoma Water has filed a lawsuit in Pierce County Superior Court against the City of Tacoma, claiming the city violated the state’s Public Records Act by heavily redacting records the group sought regarding legal billing for Pacifica Law Group about the water initiatives earlier this year.

The grassroots effort filed the lawsuit on Tuesday, Oct. 18 and received less-redacted versions of the legal invoices the following day. Tacoma Public Disclosure Assistant Lisa Anderson explained that the initial documents were overly redacted in error because the request did not go through all of the city’s review processes, which would have removed many of the redactions.

Continue...

October 28, 2016 10:19 AM

The Pagosa Springs Town Council agreed at its meeting last Thursday, Oct. 20, to pay fees and costs of $35,063.50 to attorney Matt Roane, who represented the plaintiff in a suit against the town under the Colorado Sunshine Law.

The agreement came in the approval by council’s vote of 4-1 of a “Full and Final Release and Settlement Agreement,” to be filed in the lawsuit brought by plaintiff William Hudson against Town Clerk April Hessman, custodian of the town’s records. Councilor Tracy Bunning, acting as mayor pro tem for the meeting, voted to reject the settlement. Mayor Don Volger was absent.

The suit was filed in the aftermath of an executive session held by council on Sept. 17, 2015, and challenged the legality of its action in allowing a “contract adversary” to join it in the private meeting. Private meetings by elected public bodies are restricted by the Colorado Open Meetings Law (also known as the Sunshine Law) to narrowly limited purposes.

Continue...

October 28, 2016 10:14 AM

Flexing its enforcement muscle in court for the first time, the Office of Open Government has filed suit against the Mayor’s Advisory Commission on Caribbean Community Affairs. D.C. law gives the independent Office power to go to court to enforce the D.C. Open Meetings Act.

According to the lawsuit filed in D.C. Superior Court, the Commission failed to post agendas or minutes of 11 meetings this year as the law requires. The lawsuit also says the Commission continued to meet without following the legal requirements despite repeated communications and offers of help.

Continue...

October 27, 2016 10:12 AM

The US government is still holding onto its opacity ideals while publicly touting transparency directives. The FISA court -- which presides over the NSA's surveillance programs -- has normally been completely shrouded in darkness. Things changed in 2013 after Ed Snowden began leaking documents.

Forced into a conversation about domestic surveillance, the administration responded with more transparency promises and the signing of the USA Freedom Act into law. The new law curtailed the collection of domestic business records (phone metadata and other third-party records) and required the court to make its opinions public following declassification reviews.

All well and good, but the government has apparently decided the new law only requires transparency going forward. FISA opinions dating back to 2001 still remain locked up, despite transparency promises and reform efforts.

Continue...

October 27, 2016 10:09 AM

A year and a half after its launch, Bloomberg Philanthropies’ What Works Cities initiative is more than halfway to its goal of supporting 100 mid-sized cities’ data ambitions, according to a Bloomberg press release. With 16 new cities announced Monday, 55 cities across the U.S. are now participating in the network of municipalities aiming to utilize data to improve city services and inform local decision-making.

Continue...

October 27, 2016 10:06 AM

Education researchers and advocates are worried that a newly formalized approval process will make it harder to get information needed to adequately evaluate existing K-12 programs and to recommend innovations.

The process, adopted by the State Board of Education in September to implement a 2016 state law on student data privacy, requires that the elected seven-member board approve all outside requests for student-level data.

It is now possible for a majority vote of the state board to nix a research request endorsed by both the state education commissioner and a research approval panel appointed by the Colorado Department of Education (CDE).

Continue...

Syndicate content