NFOIC’s State FOIA Friday for April 5, 2013

Access Freedom of InformationA 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.


Opinion: 514 days later, no use for records

A year and a half is a long time to wait for most things, but especially something that the state of North Carolina requires be given to you quickly. On Thursday, the University finally complied with a public records request I made in the fall of 2011 — a whopping 514 days after submission.

Visit The Daily Tar Heel for the rest.

State sues City of Huntington for FOIA request denial

HUNTINGTON – The State of West Virginia, by way of Charleston attorney Michael T. Clifford, is suing the City of Huntington for refusing to release records requested through the Freedom of Information Act. Clifford represents the Estate of Joshua Jonnie Emerson, who was shot to death by Huntington Police Officer Stephen Fitz on Dec. 22, according to a complaint filed March 28 in Cabell Circuit Court.

Visit The West Virginia Record for the rest.

Death certificates should stay public

On Friday, the General Assembly’s public health committee will vote on a bill that would wrongly restrict public access to death certificates of children under 18. The bill represents an understandable but fraught and unwise reaction by some local officials to the slaughter of 20 first-graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School last Dec. 14.

Visit Hartford Courant for the rest.

Maine official: I was harassed for not shredding public documents

AUGUSTA — ‪A division director at the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention has filed a discrimination claim with the Maine Human Rights Commission, alleging that senior managers assaulted and harassed her after she refused an order to shred public records. Sharon Leahy-Lind of Portland, director of the CDC’s Division of Local Public Health, alleges in the complaint that her supervisor, CDC Deputy Director Christine Zukas, told her last spring to shred documents related to the competitive awards of funding to health outreach nonprofits under the Healthy Maine Partnership. She did not comply, believing it would be illegal.

Visit Kennebec Journal for the rest.

Oakland Code for America: Building a better public requests system (Community Voices)

Humans are profoundly resourceful and, at a basic level, selfish. We all have needs that must get filled. … One of the spaces that my teammates and I researched in February, and are now working on a solution for, is the way the city of Oakland handles public records requests. There are many channels in which record requests are currently being made and many channels through which they get fulfilled.

Visit Oakland Local for the rest.

Indiana Senate committee amends bill setting fees for public records

An Indiana Senate committee today passed an amendment to a bill that would allow state and local government agencies to charge members of the public up to $20 an hour to search for public records. The Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee voted 9-1 to amend House Bill 1175 with language that would let people use cellphones or other hand-held devices to take pictures of their own documents such as property records while inside county recorders’ offices.

Visit Indianapolis Star for the rest.

City releases consultant’s report about police outsourcing

Last year City Council hired Management Consultants to review proposals for potential police outsourcing to save money in Pacifica’s budget, but the consultant’s report was not made public. The two proposals the city received, one from South San Francisco and one from the San Mateo County Sheriff, were made public, but an overview of the proposals made by the consultant was never released. The city attorney, Michelle Kenyon, maintained the report was private under attorney-client privilege because it pertained to employee negotiations. The Pacifica Tribune filed a request to see the report under the Freedom of Information Act. The request was denied by Michael Guina of Kenyon’s law firm, Burke, Williams and Sorenstein in this letter dated Sept. 28, 2012.

Visit Mercury News for the rest.

Fallin clashes again with media over records requests

Being governor of Oklahoma has its privileges, which is the case in every other state as well. But apparently the Oklahoma governor has a few more privileges than most governors have. At least, that seems to be Gov. Mary Fallin’s view. For example, when reporters demand public records under the state Open Records Act, Fallin can release the ones she feels comfortable releasing, and then claim she has “executive privilege” or “deliberative process privilege” or some other such privilege to keep other records from public view.

Visit Tulsa World for the rest.

Advocate sues LSU over president search records

The Advocate and LSU’s student newspaper filed public records lawsuits against the LSU Board of Supervisors on Monday, seeking documents related to LSU’s search for a new president of the state’s flagship university. That search, conducted largely in secret, yielded F. King Alexander — president of Cal State University in Long Beach, Calif. — as the sole finalist for LSU’s top post.

Visit The Advocate for the rest.

TEXAS VIEW: Attack of Open Meetings Act ends

The U.S. Supreme Court doesn’t have time for speciousness and frivolity. We wish we could say the same for public officials from 15 Texas cities, including Rockport. They spent nearly nine years trying to undermine the Texas Open Meetings Act until the court put an abrupt stop to it last Monday by declining to review their case. The plaintiffs argued that this cherished bulwark of the principle of open government violated another cherished right — theirs to free speech. How? Well, apparently the notion that two Alpine city councilwomen shouldn’t have emailed each other and two other council members privately to discuss official city business, and that they could have faced criminal penalties for having done so, was a tyrannical threat to the First Amendment.

Visit Odessa American for the rest.