NFOIC's State FOIA Friday for April 12, 2013

April 12, 2013 11:32 AM

Access Freedom of InformationA few state FOIA and local open government news items selected from many of interest that we might or might not have drawn attention to earlier in the week. While you're at it, be sure to check out State FOIA Friday Archives.

 

Editorial: 2013 Legislature: Not worst on open-government issues, but could have done better

If the 2011 Utah State Legislature, which railroaded HB477 through, was regarded as the worst for access to public records, 2013 was a significant improvement. "In the end, it was good for open government," said Linda Petersen, president of the Utah Foundation for Open Government.

Visit The Salt Lake Tribune for the rest.

Pink slime data collected by Iowa state must remain behind curtain: Judge

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- A judge has blocked Iowa State University from releasing documents about food safety research conducted for the beef-processing company that makes the product dubbed "pink slime" by critics. District Judge Dale Ruigh ruled last month that releasing the records would damage Beef Products, Inc. by revealing information about its proprietary food-processing techniques. Releasing them also would eliminate revenue that Iowa State laboratories receive from companies, who would go elsewhere for testing if they feared results were public records, he said.

Visit The Huffington Post for the rest.

Hospitals criticize Vermont open meetings bill

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The Shumlin administration and a Vermont hospital group on Wednesday opposed a bill that would apply the state’s open meetings law to hospitals. Backers like the group Vermont Health Care For All say the state spends nearly $1 billion a year in public money on hospitals, so the public has an interest in their operations and should be able to attend hospital board meetings.

Visit Boston.com for the rest.

Appeals court: SPD must pay $150,000 in public records case

A state appeals court has unanimously upheld a judge’s award of more than $150,000 to a man who was improperly denied public records by the Seattle Police Department. In a 3 to 0 decision, the court found that King County Superior Court Judge Richard Eadie did not abuse his discretion in granting a penalty of nearly $20,000 and $132,585 in attorney fees sums to Turner Helton, who sought records relating to an excessive-force complaint he brought against officers.

Visit The Seattle Times for the rest.

ACLU of Alaska investigates state’s unconstitutional censoring of Juneau Pro-Life protest

(SitNews) Anchorage, Alaska - The ACLU of Alaska Foundation asked the Governor’s Office and the Alaska Department of Administration this week to share the public records of how, for 45 minutes on Tuesday, April 2, 2013, official vehicles from the Department of Administration blocked a peaceful pro-life protest outside the Capitol in Juneau. ... The ACLU of Alaska asked not only for the “who, what, where, when, and why,” but also for the policies that led the Department of Administration to block these protestors. “We want to know why some state employees thought this was the right thing to do,” said Joshua A. Decker, the ACLU of Alaska attorney who sent today’s request, “and we want to make sure that the State is writing new procedures to make sure this is the last time Alaska blocks free, peaceful speech.”

Visit SitNews.us for the rest.

Government’s transparency debated at FOI symposium

Security needs are among the most commonly cited reasons for governmental secrecy. The federal government classifies massive amounts of information on national security grounds. And, as local government bodies in Connecticut have considered increased security measures following the Newtown school massacre, they have frequently wrestled with what information to make public and what to keep secret. At the Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission’s annual conference on Tuesday, held at a banquet hall in Haddam, the main panel discussion focused on the other side of that issue: “Does government transparency enhance our safety and security?” The four panelists — two open government advocates and two government officials — agreed as a general matter that it does.

Visit JournalInquirer.com for the rest.

Editorial: Open government: See it can be done

City meetings in Lake City are, in many ways, an exercise in local government transparency. While we would be eager to say that the citizens of Lake City are the beneficiaries of this kind of openness, the sad part is there are virtually no citizens there to experience it or benefit from it.

Visit Clayton News Daily for the rest.

Audio: Pat Rogers calls reporter a dumb fuck, vows to sue somebody

Readers might recall Rogers was the attorney, lobbyist and Republican National Committeeman who resigned from the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government and from his law firm last summer after SFR and other media outlets revealed he communicated with top staffers of Republican Gov. Susana Martinez' administration on their private email accounts. The attorney hailed for his commitment to open government had in fact been connecting top Martinez staffers with his corporate clients in the shadows of a private email network—further away from those pesky open records laws that allow citizens to inspect emails of government officials concerning state business.

Visit Sante Fe Reporter for the rest.

Not so public: Hawaii withholds prison death records, get sued

A law firm has paid the Hawaii Department of Public Safety $5,300 for public records, but state officials have yet to produce a single document, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday by the ACLU of Hawaii. The records pertain to wrongful death cases of two Hawaii inmates who died while in the custody of Corrections Corporation of America, a private prison company that has a lucrative contract to house thousands of the state’s prisoners on the mainland.

Visit Honolulu Civil Beat for the rest.