NFOIC's State FOIA Friday for April 19, 2013

April 19, 2013 3:07 PM

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.

 

One resident, hundreds of FOI requests keep New Canaan (Conn.) officials busy

Voluminous. That’s one way to characterize the number of Freedom of Information requests that public officials and employees have received from a resident who consistently claims there is corruption within New Canaan’s government. As of Dec. 19, 2012, Michael Nowacki of Lost District Drive filed 158 FOI requests with the town. This year, according to Tom Stadler, the town’s administrative officer, Nowacki has filed around 30.

Visit NCAdvertiser.com for the rest.

Indiana public records board rejects IUS student’s open meetings complaint

INDIANA — The state’s public records board has upheld Indiana University Southeast’s decision to deny a student journalist access to a meeting in which student government members were divvying up student fees. The state’s Office of the Public Access upheld IUS attorney Kiply Drew’s decision to deny student journalist Jeremy Eiler entry to a meeting of the Student Life Committee on the grounds that “it does not fit the definition of a governing body.” The group distributes student fees totaling more than $500,000.

Visit Student Press Law Center for the rest.

Burlington (NC) advised to oppose public records measure

Burlington’s interim city attorney has advised the city council against supporting a bill in the state Senate that would criminalize violations of public meeting and public record laws. At the end of a meeting this week, Mayor Ronnie Wall said he’d been researching Senate Bill 125, which was initially filed Feb. 21, and has since been referred to the Committee on Judiciary I.

Visit Times-News for the rest.

Editorial: Bill dampens accountability

We are concerned that a bill now being considered in the Louisiana Legislature would hamper public accountability for law enforcement officers if the bill becomes a law. House Bill 244, sponsored by State Rep. Nick Lorusso, R-New Orleans, would make law enforcement agencies, as well as officials in charge of police records within those agencies within those agencies, subject to civil damages if they release an officer’s personnel or disciplinary files without the officer’s consent.

Visit theind.com for the rest.

City fights to keep lid on officials' texts & emails

SAN JOSE, Calif. (CN) - The San Jose City Council voted unanimously to appeal a finding that opens the emails and text messages of officials to California's public records law. Activist Ted Smith sued San Jose, its council members and mayor Chuck Reed - who ran as a champion for open government - in 2009 after the city refused Smith's request for emails, texts and voice messages sent or received by officials regarding a downtown redevelopment project. The city had claimed it lacked authority to access records from personal devices or private accounts.

Visit Courthouse News Service for the rest.

FAU quotes student newspaper $17,000 price for records, student says

Student journalist Dylan Bouscher got a bit of sticker shock when he requested public records from Florida Atlantic University. To get three years worth of police reports, Bouscher, who works for the University Press newspaper, was quoted an astronomical $17,000.

Visit Sun-Sentinel for the rest.

CA Legislature kills bill to shield identities of armed teachers

A bill pushed by Assemblyman Tim Donnelly to train and shield armed "school marshals" failed to make it out of the Assembly Education Committee today after a 5-1 vote. Assembly Bill 202 would exempt from public disclosure information on school employees authorized by a superintendent to carry a concealed weapon on campus. Under current law, the California Public Records Act requires disclosure of concealed weapon permit holders.

Visit The Sacramento Bee for the rest.

Councilman makes FOIA request to mayor and council, Arkansas

Blytheville City Councilman R.L. Jones made a public Freedom of Information Act request for 14 items during Tuesday night's Council meeting in the Blytheville District Courtroom. He asked for the information by 4 p.m. Friday. Jones said he requested some of the information in February, but didn't get a response from Mayor James Sanders. Sanders said he told Jones he hadn't seen the letter that the councilman claims he submitted to the mayor's office.

Visit Blytheville Courier News for the rest.

Social media raises open records worries, Wisconsin

Facebook helped a few Eau Claire City Council candidates connect with voters leading up to the April 2 election. But now that they’re serving as public officials, they’ve gotten into the murky area where open government laws are too slow to keep up with ever-changing social media technology.

Visit Leader-Telegram for the rest.

Florida public records lawsuit filed against UCF

According to UCF’s Knight News, LGBT activist, journalist and blogger John Becker filed a lawsuit against UCF seeking access to public records related to a study by researcher Mark Regenerus titled “New Family Structures.” The study, which was cited in oral arguments before the Supreme Court last month, concluded that “children appear most apt to succeed well as adults—on multiple counts and across a variety of domains—when they spend their entire childhood with their married mother and father, and especially when the parents remain married to the present day.”

Visit Orlando Weekly for the rest.

Fracking chemical disclosure decision appealed to WY Supreme Court

Public interest groups that lost a suit about disclosing fracking chemicals are appealing that decision to the Wyoming Supreme Court. Groups like Earthjustice and the Powder River Basin Resource Council argue that the separate chemicals used in the fracking process should be public information under the Wyoming Public Records Act. A Wyoming District court Judge sided in March with the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission as well as industry when it ruled that not disclosing chemical identities when they are deemed a trade secret is permissible. Powder River Basin Resource Council member Marilyn Ham says that’s not right.

Visit Wyoming Public Media for the rest.