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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September 22, 2015 3:10 PM

A special prosecutor has been assigned to determine whether behind-the-scenes negotiations could void a last-minute deal struck by Montgomery County commissioners to get a scaled-back $270 million road bond package on the upcoming November ballot.

At question is whether some commissioners and a powerful tea party group violated the open meetings law. It would mark the third defeat of a road bond proposal in the past decade, with the last one coming four months ago when voters rejected a 20 percent larger bond proposal. Continue...

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September 22, 2015 3:02 PM

Cleveland County Commissioners were at the state capitol this week to speak on the need for transparency in their statewide membership group, the Association of County Commissioners of Oklahoma.

Commissioners told a state House committee led by Rep. Chris Kannady, R-Oklahoma City, they are concerned with how ACCO spends tax dollars invested in membership insurance funds. Continue... 

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September 22, 2015 2:35 PM

An Idaho transportation committee may have been breaking open meeting laws for the past 25 years, the Twin Falls prosecuting attorney’s office says.

The Greater Twin Falls Area Transportation Committee hasn’t posted an agenda or meeting notice as long as it has existed but will from now on, Chairman Gary Young said. Continue...

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September 22, 2015 2:05 PM

Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Co. have repeatedly understated the legal authority that administration officials possess to fulfill the spirit and the letter of Virginia's open-records laws.

Unfortunately, even the Supreme Court of Virginia appears to be following that lead. Continue...

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September 22, 2015 1:37 PM

Colorado Springs Utilities, a public entity owned by its ratepayers, has routinely denied document requests filed under the Colorado Open Records Act.

The reports sought through CORA pertain to air quality in light of emissions from the coal-burning Martin Drake Power Plant. The records withheld fall under the act's exception for "trade secrets, privileged information, and confidential commercial, financial, geological or geophysical data," said Rick Griffith, of the City Attorney's Office.

That interpretation of the law is hotly disputed, however. Continue...

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September 21, 2015 4:36 PM

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker’s office rejected requests this week for copies of his text messages, saying it believes the governor’s office is exempt from the Massachusetts public records law.

The rejection is the latest reminder that Massachusetts has some of the weakest public records laws in the country. It is one of only two states where the governor’s office claims to be exempt and the only one where the Legislature, courts, and governor’s office all claim they aren’t covered by state open records laws. Continue...

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September 21, 2015 4:05 PM

It is a federal mandate for states to publicly disclose information about child fatalities caused by abuse or neglect so that such tragedies can be prevented in the future.

But obtaining that grim data can be difficult because of the time it takes and money it costs.

A new report tabulating and describing publicly, for the first time, the deaths of children linked to abuse and neglect between 2009 and 2013 in Massachusetts grew out of a public records request filed under the federal Child Abuse and Prevention Treatment Act, which requires states to provide certain information about the children’s histories when asked. Continue...

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September 21, 2015 3:08 PM

The Wisconsin Supreme Court is considering whether some common public records like traffic accident reports and tickets should be off-limits to journalists in a case that could affect the state's long-standing open records law.

Stories such as former Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager's 2004 drunken driving arrest, or other violations involving prominent drivers, might never get reported without access to the names and addresses in such records, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. Continue...

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September 21, 2015 3:03 PM

Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop is blocking release of his meetings calendar because he has an expectation of privacy and shouldn't have to document "every minute" of his time, his spokesman said.

The Jersey Journal in May requested a copy of Fulop's meetings calendar — which lists all of his public appearances, meetings and scheduled phone calls. Instead, the city has provided copies of his public schedule, which includes only public events like ribbon-cuttings and groundbreakings. Continue...

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September 21, 2015 2:47 PM

Joplin's top legal adviser contends he did not violate the Missouri Sunshine Law when he took an unposted telephone poll Sunday of City Council members on a settlement proposal in the Mike Woolston ethics case.

City Attorney Peter Edwards said he is allowed to call members of the City Council. But an attorney for the Missouri Press Association said there is no provision in the Open Records Law for telephone polls. Continue...

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September 18, 2015 10:19 AM

Four days after Michael Tyree was found fatally beaten in his cell at the Santa Clara County Main Jail allegedly at the hands of three correctional officers, an inmate died at another county facility with far less attention.

In fact, it would be two weeks before word of the second death surfaced beyond the walls of the Elmwood Correctional Facility in Milpitas and the Sheriff's Office that oversees it. As in the Tyree case, information did not initially come from officials, but through the murmurs of other inmates in the same jail wing. Continue...

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September 18, 2015 10:15 AM

California-based OpenGov has launched a new data insights tool that will work with its existing government transparency software and aims to provide government administrators with a clearer view into the whole organization. The new tool – OpenGov Intelligence enables administrators to discover, share, and compare data across departments and other governments.

Working with the transparency software both tools essentially provide data visualizations internally and across governments. OpenGov Intelligence is primarily focused on visualizing financial data, but can be expanded to include other operational data sets. Continue...

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