NFOIC's State FOIA Friday for October 4, 2013

October 4, 2013 2:34 PM

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.

The Journal News sues Putnam County over gun records

image of Access keyThe Journal News announced yesterday that it had filed suit against Putnam County and county officials for their refusal last winter to release public records of gun-permit holders in the county. In its news article about the suit, lohud.com said the paper did not plan to release the names of individuals holding permits. It had done so when it published information about gun-permit holders in Westchester and Rockland counties.

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Iowa Public Information Board to wait before asking lawmakers to tweak law

After a quick discussion of changes they would like, members of the three-month-old Iowa Public Information Board decided to wait at least a year before asking lawmakers to tweak the year-old legislation that created it. Executive Director Keith Luchtel proposed expanding the 2012 law to cover advisory panels and task forces established to “gather information concerning public policy issues.” Iowa courts have ruled those panels now are not covered.

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Red flags missed as St. Louis County health official collected $3.4 million for his company

A high-ranking officer in the St. Louis County Health Department used an alias and scores of bogus invoices to collect $3.4 million from the county over a six-year period that ended last month when the official killed himself as the scheme unraveled. And emails obtained by the Post-Dispatch under the Sunshine Law show that county financial officers ignored red flags that pointed to the company Edward Mueth established to supply and maintain health agency laptop computers.

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Judge says Coliseum panel apparently violated California's open-meeting law

A judge Thursday said the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission appeared to have repeatedly violated the state's open-meeting law during its months of closed-door deliberations on USC's lease of the taxpayer-owned stadium. In pointed language, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Luis A. Lavin said he was prepared to issue an injunction against the commission that would restrict what it could discuss in secret sessions and require it to record all of its private meetings for three years.

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Group asks judge to reject Sen. Leah Vukmir's open records exemption claim

An investigative group has asked a judge to reject a Republican state senator's arguments that's she's immune from a lawsuit demanding records from her office. The Center for Media and Democracy has filed a lawsuit demanding Leah Vukmir turn over records from an American Legislative Exchange Council conference. The state Justice Department has countered the Wisconsin Constitution provides lawmakers immunity from civil lawsuits during the legislative session.

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Continued FOIA requests weighing on Belding (Michigan) city manager

The drama that has unfolded due to numerous amount Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests from one resident to the city of Belding does not appear to be ending anytime soon. Members of Belding City Council voted to deny six FOIA appeal requests during Tuesday evening’s City Council meeting, while voting to reverse the denial, in part, of a seventh appeal, all coming from Belding resident Kimberly Orlich.

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Cuccinelli: Open government, then fight health law (Virginia)

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — After days of equivocation, Republican gubernatorial nominee Ken Cuccinelli on Thursday called on Congress to reopen the federal government, then fight over whether to starve the new health care law of funding. Cuccinelli told reporters after a Thursday-morning event that shuttering the government is not the right way for opponents of the 2010 Affordable Care Act to gain leverage to defeat the law he wants to see repealed.

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Fired CEO OF the New Mexico Finance Authority files public records lawsuit

The former top executive of the New Mexico Finance Authority sued Gov. Susana Martinez and one of her cabinet secretaries for failing to release public records requested in April. Ex-CEO Rick May brought a lawsuit Wednesday in state district court in Santa Fe against Martinez and Finance and Administration Secretary Tom Clifford.

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Oakland, Code for America unveil public records program

In a push to improve government transparency, Oakland city officials on Tuesday launched RecordTrac, a new program designed by Code for America that allows users to request public records online. RecordTrac shows those seeking records where to find them — even if they aren’t filed under the City of Oakland. Officials said the process by which such requests are filled can be tracked through the program, which will give city government feedback as to whether records searches are going smoothly. The program is designed to allow users to explore all past records requests by anyone who has used the program.

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Shoreline Coalition for Open Government launches

The recently launched Shoreline Coalition for Open Government (ShoreCOG) acts as an independent, non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and defending the Public’s right to know in matters of public interest and in the conduct of the public’s business. We modeled ShoreCOG after the highly respected Washington Coalition for Open Government.

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Oakmont (Ohio) talks behind closed doors on proposed gas station

Oakmont residents wanting to hear how the borough will respond to the Speedway gas station proposal were shut out of those deliberations on Monday. Council said little about the issue publicly and adjourned behind closed doors to discuss it in a private, executive session.

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Story County (Iowa) fights the fed to release public records

Attorneys representing the County government filed a motion in federal court on Monday asking to dismiss a federal action blocking the Story County Sheriff from releasing emails about the network called FirstNet. Story County Sheriff Paul Fitzgerald, who sits on the First Responder Network Authority, a federal board overseeing the creation of the nationwide network, shared a letter with government investigators that said there was a conflict of interest between FirstNet board members and wireless carriers and that the system has been developed without a “public safety point of view,” according to Politico.

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Manhattan Beach (Ca.) city council oks remaining open government initiatives

After months of hanging low on the Manhattan Beach City Council’s meeting agenda, the city’s open government initiatives were adopted in full Tuesday following deliberations that resulted in several amendments. The Public Records Protocol Act was one of the six remaining initiatives that came before the council. Guided by the California Public Records Act, which establishes the public’s right to access records concerning the “conduct of the people’s business,” the protocol dictates a set procedure for city staff handling public record requests.

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Texas using custom-made drug to execute criminals: FOIA request

HOUSTON — Texas prison officials disclosed Wednesday that they are using a compounding pharmacy to obtain the drug used during executions. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice, responding to a Freedom of Information request from The Associated Press, released documents showing the purchase of eight vials of pentobarbital last month from a compounding pharmacy in suburban Houston. Such pharmacies custom-make drugs but aren't subject to federal scrutiny.

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