State FOIA Friday for August 9, 2013

August 9, 2013 10:38 AM

From NFOIC:  A 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.

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Open-government groups fault Raimondo for withholding hedge-fund records from The Providence Journal

In a letter released Thursday, four open-government groups voiced concerns to Rhode Island Treasurer Gina M. Raimondo for withholding hedge-fund records from The Providence Journal. The groups — Common Cause Rhode Island, the state’s Affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union, the Rhode Island Press Association and the League of Women Voters of Rhode Island — were reacting to a Journal story Sunday about the state’s $1-billion investment in hedge funds. The story discussed the secrecy surrounding hedge funds, and the treasurer’s decision to release heavily censored copies of reports detailing hedge-fund operations and, in some cases, fees.

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City of Springfield (Ill.) admits wrongdoing in FOIA case

The city of Springfield has conceded that the city violated the state Freedom of Information Act by shredding a police internal affairs file concerning deputy chief Cliff Buscher, who was suspended and demoted in 2008 for firing his duty weapon while drunk during a fishing trip to Missouri. The city in court papers filed today has acknowledged breaking the law by destroying Buscher’s file and says that Calvin Christian III, who had requested Buscher’s file and dozens of other internal affairs files that were destroyed, is entitled to $5,000 for the illegal destruction of the Buscher file.

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Opinion: Don’t delay on records requests

On July 30, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported on newly released emails between Scott Walker’s campaign staff and county aides in 2010, back when the future governor was Milwaukee county executive. One email was from Cindy Archer, then a top county aide, to Walker and his campaign staff, advising that “we may be responding too quickly” to open records requests regarding a county parking structure collapse that killed a 15-year-old boy. The requests were from the state Democratic Party and the campaign of Walker’s GOP primary opponent, which presumably wanted to use the tragedy to impugn Walker. That’s a pretty low motivation — Walker, in a draft statement, aptly called it “disgusting” — but the state’s Open Records Law does not allow a requester’s motives to be taken into account.

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Opinion: Keep lines of communication open

Many local officials say they place high value on openness and transparency, but when it comes to keeping track of the actions of their police officers and firefighters, there are those that favor less transparency. That needs to change. Amendments are needed to the Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) or Illinois Open Meetings Act (IOMA) mandating police and fire radio networks be open with a few exceptions.

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International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) files lawsuit against the Port of Portland

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) filed a lawsuit against the Port of Portland, claiming the port violated the Oregon Public Records Act by charging the union $200,000 for public records searches. ILWU submitted public records requests in June, September and December 2012. It said it was charged "arbitrary and excessive" fees to find the records and told further fees would be assessed for lawyers to review and segregate the records before release, the union said in a statement on Wednesday.

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Florida vendors fret over new public records requirements for state contracts

A new law requiring contractors doing business for the state to provide more public records has some vendors worried about added costs and legal implications, a lawyer representing several clients with state contracts said. Karen Walker, an attorney with the Holland & Knight firm, said some vendors are concerned about a provision in HB 1309 that requires vendors in state contracts who are acting on behalf of the state to maintain public records related to the contract and to provide them on a technology platform compatible with the agency involved in the contract.

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