NFOIC's State FOIA Friday for September 14, 2012

September 14, 2012 12:19 PM

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:

Indiana jail records coming to smartphones

The Tippecanoe County Sheriff’s Office is working with Appriss to have real-time information from jail records available to the public on apps for cellphones and tablets, Sheriff Tracy Brown said. ...The free app will show a suspect’s name, address, age and charges, Brown said. It will include a book-in photo of the suspect and include how much the bond is.

Visit Journal and Courier for the rest.

Maine FOAA request for Fire Dept. records, emails is why Berwick's McMahon resigns

BERWICK, Maine — Interim Town Manager Jim McMahon, who previously sent an email to Foster's outlining his resignation from the position, cited a Freedom of Access Act request as his principal reason for leaving as the town's interim manager. McMahon's resignation, which was announced on Sunday, Sept. 9, is effective Sept. 17 — the day before McMahon leaves for a previously scheduled trip to Europe. In the email, McMahon states, "I made it clear from the start that I would manage the day to day affairs of the Town but would not allow myself to be drawn into any past or current political conflicts." However, an FOAA request sent to McMahon on Sept. 6 by Gene Libby, an attorney for Assistant Fire Chief Bruce Plante of the Berwick Fire Department, has created a circumstance McMahon believes will draw him into the current political conflict if he remains.

Visit Foster's Daily Democrat for the rest.

Lawsuits challenge shielding of La. records

(AP) — Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration is facing court challenges over attempts to keep records from the public. At issue is the use of a public records exemption successfully pushed by Jindal and added to state law during his first term. One lawsuit appears to be headed for resolution, but another is still pending over the “deliberative process” exemption cited by administration officials in refusing to release a variety of documents.

Visit The Advocate for the rest.

Washington Supreme Court makes revisions to proposed rule on access to judicial administrative records; extends public comment

The Washington Supreme Court has revised a proposed rule on access to judicial administrative records based on public input and will republish the revised GR 31.1 for further public comment until December 31, 2012. ...The proposed rule defines the types of records it pertains to, procedures for obtaining access to the records, sanctions on courts or agencies for non-compliance, exemptions, creation of best practices, tools for handling particularly burdensome requests and an effective date that would give courts and judicial agencies time to train staff and develop best practices.

Visit Washington Courts for the rest.

AG updates Wisconsin open records guide

The office of Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has revised its comprehensive Public Records Compliance Outline to reflect recent court rulings that have clarified previously murky areas of the law. ...The new guide instructs records custodians that they may not charge for the time they spend reviewing records and redacting information. It also presents new language regarding the scope of records produced or collected by contractors hired by public authorities.

Visit WisconsinWatch.org for the rest.

Ethics panel: Ed Dept. should release records

GREENWOOD, Miss. — The Mississippi Ethics Commission has sided with the Greenwood Commonwealth newspaper and says the state Department of Education should hand over documents from any probe of possible cheating on achievement tests in Leflore County. In a non-binding opinion issued last Friday, the Ethics Commission agreed with the newspaper that such documents are public records.

Visit Hattiesburg American for the rest.

Football, wrestling documents support UNO officials

A public records lawsuit between an Omaha law firm and the University of Nebraska took a turn on Wednesday, when university and Husch Blackwell attorneys announced they had reached an agreement on records related to UNO's dropping of football and wrestling. ...The case has to do with the University of Nebraska at Omaha's controversial 2011 decision to drop its football and wrestling programs.

Visit Omaha World-Herald for the rest.

Ethics Commission: Schools should release records

(AP) GREENWOOD, Miss. -- The Mississippi Ethics Commission has sided with the Greenwood Commonwealth newspaper and says the state Department of Education should hand over documents from any probe of possible cheating on achievement tests in Leflore County.

Visit The Sacramento Bee for the rest.

NMFOG: Councilor texts cloud open government laws

The New Mexico Foundation for Open Government is weighing in on some text messages between Albuquerque City Council members. Councilor Dan Lewis confirmed with KOB Eyewitness News 4 that he sent a text to Councilor Brad Winter about withdrawing two controversial, proposed measures so they would not come up for a final vote.

Visit KOB.com for the rest.

Florida lawsuit asks candidate to release emails

SARASOTA - An open-government activist is suing assistant state attorney Ed Brodsky for 364 pages of emails that Brodsky refuses to release. Brodsky, second-in-charge at the 12th Judicial Circuit state attorney's office, says the emails are personal and therefore exempt from public records laws.

Visit Sarasota Herald-Tribune for the rest.

Georgia limits public access to archives

ATLANTA — Citing budget cuts, Secretary of State Brian Kemp announced Thursday that he is ending the public’s ability to walk in any time to the state archives, making Georgia the only state without a central location to visit, research and review historical records without previous arrangements. ...Kemp, whose office oversees the archives, said that when Gov. Nathan Deal ordered a further 3 percent reduction in spending because of weak tax collections, the choice came down to services the secretary of state’s office provides for businesses or the archives.

Visit The Augusta Chronicle for the rest.

Rowan earns A+ for online records

SALISBURY - Rowan County now has the highest transparency grade of any local government in the state, according to the John Locke Foundation. ...Through its N.C. Transparency Project, John Locke Foundation scores county and municipal governments in North Carolina on the amount of public information they make available online.

Visit Salisbury Post for the rest.

City must open grievance deliberations to the public

Anderson city officials say they’ve made the right call that former Police Chief Martin Brown’s grievance hearing is closed to the public. But they’re wrong, and for reasons that go beyond this single case. South Carolina laws on freedom of information and open records are clear, said Jay Bender, an attorney who not only specializes in open records law but wrote the book on it. Two books, in fact, along with numerous articles on a free press and open government.

Visit Anderson Independent Mail for the rest.

Massachusetts undercuts open records law

Massachusetts law supposedly ensures that state agencies fulfill public records requests within 10 days. MuckRock, an online service that tracks such records, has fully documented that state agencies are at best sluggish in responding and in many cases simply ignore the law. You know you have a problem when state agencies average almost two months to fulfill such requests — when they respond at all.

Visit Boston Herald for the rest.

State Rep. Mike Shirkey introduces bill to limit charges for public records under Freedom of Information Act

JACKSON, MI -- Legislation introduced by state Rep. Mike Shirkey would prohibit governments from charging exorbitant fees to provide the public with documents through Michigan's Freedom of Information Act, Shirkey says. The bill, introduced this week, prohibits governments from charging more than 10 cents per page for copying requested documents. Shirkey, R-Clark Lake, said in a news release he wants to stop government from purposely charging high fees in an attempt to block a citizen from receiving the documents.

Visit Michigan Live for the rest.