NFOIC's State FOIA Friday for September 7, 2012

September 7, 2012 2:47 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:

Legal memo: Text messages are public records in Alaska

JUNEAU — A legal opinion requested by an Anchorage lawmaker says text messages are public records under state law — but the Parnell administration sees things differently. ... Legislative attorney Dan Wayne, in a memo to Sen. Hollis French, said texts are subject to disclosure when they meet the definition of public records under the law, though they, like emails or other documents, could be withheld from public review for a range of exemptions. ... Sharon Leighow, a [Gov.] Parnell spokeswoman, said text messages are “transitory and are not saved.” She said the administration does not consider them to be public records, and has consulted with the Department of Law on this.

Visit Juneau Empire for the rest.

South Dakota forms task force on open government

South Dakota is known for its vast prairie, supreme pheasant hunting and the presidential faces carved into Mount Rushmore. In open government circles, it's also known as one of the most insular and backward states in the republic. ... So the new law passed in 2009 opened the door to records that previously hadn't been available. But with the new law came a host of exemptions to what was considered public. ... Now a new task force has been appointed by Gov. Dennis Daugaard and Attorney General Marty Jackley to review the law regarding open records and meetings. The target is to make recommendations by November, which would then be taken to state lawmakers for consideration.

Visit Sunlight Foundation Blog for the rest.

Ohio Department of Natural Resources settles public records lawsuit

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has paid a $1,000 settlement and nearly $8,000 in attorney fees and court costs to end a public records lawsuit. The Ohio Sierra Club filed the suit in a Franklin County Common Pleas court in April, claiming that agency officials had ignored their requests for public records for months. The advocacy group wanted to see all official records and emails related to the agency's plan to open up state parks and forests to fracking.

Visit The Columbus Dispatch for the rest.

A look into Watertown's town-issued cell phone policy

Watertown (Connecticut) — A recently denied public records request has raised questions at the Watertown TAB about Watertown’s policy on town-issued cell phones. ... But the public records request denial spurred the TAB to investigate why some phone numbers attached to town-issued cell phones are not distributed to the public; how various departments use town-issued cell phones; and whether the town has a policy in place to monitor whether employees are using phones for personal matters.

Visit Wicked Local Watertown for the rest.

Fremont County (Idaho) and prosecuting attorney squabble about public records

REMONT COUNTY (Idaho) — Karl Lewies, winner of the May GOP primary election for Fremont County Prosecuting Attorney, has filed a public records request with the Fremont County Clerk’s Office that the clerk is unable to answer. ... Problem: there is no record. In letters to Lewies dated August 31 and September 4, County Clerk and Auditor, Abbie Maces, states that she cannot fill Lewies request because she cannot find a record of any action the BOCC took regarding Lookabaugh’s request to serve as Ashton’s attorney and to use county property when serving Ashton.

Visit The Island Park News for the rest.

Records requests cost White River Valley School Corporation close to $9,400 so far

SWITZ CITY (Indiana) ---- Public records requests made by a citizen's group known as Save Our Schools (SOS) in June and July have cost the White River Valley School Corporation more than $9,400 ---- mostly for lawyer's fees, it was announced at Thursday night's special school board meeting. Responding to a question during the public comment portion of the meeting from resident Matt Hockman, WRV School Board President said $9,487.75 had been spent to date by the schools on response to the SOS requests.

Visit Greene County Daily World for the rest.