NFOIC FOI Friday for August 26 2011

August 26, 2011 2:31 PM

A few items selected from many of interest in the last few days.

♦♦♦♦ ♦♦♦♦ ♦♦♦♦

Dem. lawmaker proposes repeal of Legislative Open Records Act

From Los Angeles Times Blog:

A Democratic legislator has proposed repealing a long-standing law that government watchdogs have argued protects the Legislature from public disclosure.

Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) introduced a bill Thursday that would effectively gut the Legislative Open Records Act, eliminating special legal exemptions that lawmakers carved out for themselves decades ago so they would not have to operate with the same level of transparency required of almost everyone else in government.

Visit PolitiCal for the rest.

♦♦♦♦ ♦♦♦♦ ♦♦♦♦

SPJ supports Chicago Tribune in freedom of information case

From Society of Professional Journalists:

INDIANAPOLIS—The Society of Professional Journalists has joined an amicus brief challenging the University of Illinois Board of Trustees’ attempt to conceal records involving preferential treatment of well-connected applicants to the state university system.

The brief was filed Friday (August 19) in support of the Chicago Tribune Co. after the Board of Trustees appealed a decision from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois requiring disclosure of the material. The University maintains that the records are protected by the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act, or FERPA, which was established to shield student academic records from public view for privacy reasons. However, since it was enacted, the law has been widely abused to shield information about everything from disciplinary proceedings for serious crimes to parking tickets.

Visit SPJ.org for the rest.

♦♦♦♦ ♦♦♦♦ ♦♦♦♦

Impact of Gulf spill’s underwater dispersants Is examined

From New York Times Blog:

In the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, BP sought and obtained permission to use dispersants [Corexit 9500 and Corexit 9527], detergent-like compounds, to break up the 200 million gallons of Louisiana sweet crude, into tiny droplets that would mix throughout the water column, trying to lessen the immediate impact of the oil slick on fragile coastal ecosystems.

[...]

As the situation in the Gulf worsened and questions about the safety of Corexit spread like, well, leaking oil, Earthjustice, a nonprofit environmental law firm, filed a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain information about the composition and safety of the dispersants listed as eligible for use. When the federal agency did not comply, Earthjustice sued on behalf of the Gulf Restoration Network and the Florida Wildlife Federation.

Visit Green Blog for the rest.

♦♦♦♦ ♦♦♦♦ ♦♦♦♦

Gov. Rick Scott's lost emails dim right to know

Opinion from Orlando Sentinel:

So far, news that emails from Gov. Rick Scott's transition got deleted hasn't fueled much outrage. After all, why care about electronic messages that disappeared from the time between the new governor's election and inauguration?

Here's why: During transitions, governors begin setting the agendas for their terms, start hiring the people to carry them out, and solidify their alliances with special interests. It's no wonder that Florida's government-in-the-sunshine law requires that any records from transitions be preserved and made available to the public. State archives include transition records dating back decades.

Visit OrlandoSentinel.com for the rest.

♦♦♦♦ ♦♦♦♦ ♦♦♦♦