dbevarly's blog

Transparency wins in Arkansas - 'Undisputed' violation

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June 19, 2017 10:18 AM

Score a significant victory for the Fort Smith law firm that's been fighting one battle after another to ensure and preserve freedom of information and transparency in that community. Read more »

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Critics of Florida tourism agencies pleased with new accountability, transparency measures

June 19, 2017 10:08 AM

A public-private agency that promotes Florida’s tourism industry won full funding from the state legislature despite criticism that the state support amounts to corporate welfare.

But the $76 million approved for Visit Florida during a special session of the legislature last week came with stiffer reporting requirements aimed at making the agency’s activities more transparent. Read more »



EDITORIAL: Shifting public notices to government reduces transparency

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June 19, 2017 10:01 AM

How much faith do you have in government running things?

State Sen. John Eichelberger, a Blair County Republican, wants the government to handle publication of public notices, taking them away from media companies and putting them on a government-run website.

Eichelberger introduced Senate Bill 745, which essentially gives the government the power to control its own notices. The bill was referred to the Senate Local Government Committee, which is chaired by Sen. Scott Wagner, R-York. Read more »

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Editorial: Win for Open Government in WA

June 15, 2017 2:01 PM

An unanimous decision from the state Supreme Court last week serves as a rebuke of the Port of Vancouver Commission and an affirmation that public agencies are, indeed, beholden to the public. In the process, the court defined a dereliction of duty by port commissioners and provided insight for this year’s election. Read more »

Daily Press (VA) Editorial: Lock stupid out of process

June 15, 2017 1:55 PM

At one point during a Virginia Freedom of Information Advisory Council discussion about closed meetings of public bodies, a distinguished lobbyist for local government argued secrecy is necessary to, as he put it, keep the stupid in the room.

Turns out, we could tell him something about that.

The closed door session at which three Peninsula Airport Commissioners decided to guarantee a loan to People Express Airlines makes clear the appalling risks when public bodies make decisions in secret. That deal cost $4.5 million in public funds. Read more »

S.C. Legislator: ‘Without transparency, there is no accountability’

June 7, 2017 11:00 AM

“Sunshine is the best disinfectant,” state Rep. Weston Newton said.

Newton’s comments came this week after the state Legislature voted to amend South Carolina’s Freedom of Information Act.

The Bluffton Republican said he is “delighted” that some much-needed changes have been made.

“We’ve been working on this for a number of years,” Newton said.

The act outlines how public bodies, such as state and local governments and school districts, comply with records requests from the public. Read more »



Law Enforcement Agencies Spend Millions on Social Media Monitoring

June 7, 2017 10:37 AM

In a world that is becoming increasingly communicative — where people often receive their news, share news, state their opinions and post pictures with their whereabouts via social media — the lines are perhaps a bit more blurry about how such information can be used.

Last month, the Brennan Center for Justice, a nonpartisan law and policy institute, released a map that details specific cities, counties and law enforcement agencies across the United States that have spent at least $10,000 on social media monitoring software. Read more »



Missouri's Statewide Database of Missing Kids Paints Unreliable Picture

June 7, 2017 10:33 AM

Djion Oates was arrested and charged with robbery on his 16th birthday and sentenced to five years of probation. About three years later, he was arrested and charged with murdering a man on MetroLink. But according to the Missouri Highway Patrol’s website, he has been missing since he was 15 years old. Read more »



Transparency: Government minutes missing in action

June 7, 2017 10:27 AM

We hear governments boasting all the time about their transparency websites and there is no question that the material that’s posted on the Internet is generally leagues better than in the past.

But we have a gripe. There is one transparency topic that appears to be in deep decline – the recording of meeting minutes for work that takes place in legislative committee meetings, advisory panels, commissions and task forces. Read more »



Why Is Access To Public Records Still So Frustratingly Complicated?

June 7, 2017 10:18 AM

Even with the Freedom of Information Act, requesting government records remains an arduous process—especially compared to the efficiency of the legal world.

Earlier this month, House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz wrote to the Federal Bureau of Investigation demanding former FBI director James Comey’s notes of conversations with President Trump. Read more »



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