NFOIC’s FOI Friday for January 20, 2012

A few open government and FOIA news items selected from many of interest that we might or might not have drawn attention to earlier:

Private-sector lobbyists stand to collect public-sector pensions

Township Officials of Illinois (TOI) is a private trade group, not a governmental agency, but its employees are eligible for public-sector pensions subsidized by taxpayers, the Better Government Association has learned … As a non-governmental body, TOI doesn’t levy taxes or comply with the Illinois Freedom of Information Act or the Open Meetings Act, both of which guarantee a level of government transparency and accountability.

Visit Chicago Sun-Times for the rest.

Parkersburg (W.V.) committee OKs paralegal to help deal with FOIA requests

Members of Parkersburg City Council's Personnel Committee unanimously approved Wednesday a request to contract services with a paralegal to deal with the number of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. Mayor Bob Newell made the request, citing a number of FOIAs the city has received recently. Fulfilling the requests has generated thousands of documents.

Visit for the rest.

Opinion: Your right to know, without delay

A proposal by the Governor's Task Force for Local Government Mandate Review would relax Virginia's Freedom of Information Act so local governments would have seven days instead of five to respond to requests. Why? According to a news story by Times-Dispatch reporter Olympia Meola, "Fairfax County Board of Supervisors member Pat Herrity, a task force member, said members heard from a number of localities that they were not meeting the five-day deadline."

Visit Richmond Times-Dispatch for the rest.

W.V. House of Delegates passes bill addressing term "public records"

The House of Delegates passed its first bills Wednesday. Three bills on have been sent on to the Senate while a fourth goes back to the Judiciary Committee. The first bill the House passed during the second session of the 80th West Virginia Legislature is about creating a more open government. HB 2402 sailed through 94-0. House Judiciary Chair Tim Miley said the bill helps to redefine the term public record in the Freedom of Information Act.

Visit West Virginia Public Broadcasting for the rest.

NASA clears runway for open source software

The NASA Open Government Initiative has launched a new Web site to expand the agency’s open source software development. Open source development, which invites the public access to view and improve software source code, is transforming the way software is created, improved and used. NASA uses open source code to address project and mission needs, accelerate software development and maximize public awareness and impact of research.

Visit Scientific Computing for the rest.

Opinion: No more legislative secrecy

While Minnesota has generally done a good job passing and enforcing its open government laws, there is one glaring exception. The Minnesota Legislature itself needs to live by the open government rules it has dictated to everyone else.

Visit Detroit Lakes Online for the rest.