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.
Dangerous levees: How they got that story
In a memo to AP staff, Managing Editor for State News Kristin Gazlay recounts how one reporter in Traverse City, Mich., and another based in New Orleans used freedom of information law and their own interviewing skills over many weeks to document how 326 levees covering more than 2,000 miles in 37 states need urgent repair.
The story revealed that 326 levees covering more than 2,000 miles were deemed in urgent need of repair. The most common levee deficiencies: earthen walls weakened by trees and animal burrows, design or construction flaws, and decayed pipes and pumping stations. Houses and other structures also were built on or dangerously close to levees in violation of the Corps’ own rules.
Visit Associated Press for the rest.
Wyoming court rules in favor of public records in UW presidential search
A Wyoming district court ruled Wednesday that the University of Wyoming must disclose the names of finalists to replace retiring President Tom Buchanan. The decision comes nearly two months after several media organizations, including the Casper Star-Tribune, Wyoming Tribune-Eagle and The Associated Press, filed a lawsuit in 2nd District Court to compel the university to release the names of the final round of candidates. Throughout the process, university officials have maintained that the process should be kept confidential to ensure the highest quality of candidate.
Visit Star-Tribune for the rest.
South Dakota legislative committee kills two open government bills
A legislative committee killed two open government bills Wednesday and gutted another, dealing a setback to a slate of reforms supported by Gov. Dennis Daugaard and Attorney General Marty Jackley. The House State Affairs Committee unanimously killed House Bill 1109, which would have made mug shots and police logs open records. The governor, attorney general and media groups supported that bill, saying most states release that information and that there’s no compelling reason to keep it secret.
Public records indicate Eastern Municipal Water District funding San Diego public relations campaign for Metropolitan Water District
Public records show the Eastern Municipal Water District in Riverside County is funding a $15,000-per-month public relations campaign in San Diego County on behalf of the Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. While limited information was provided under the California Public Records Act, Eastern water district officials redacted key information and refused to release all records to the public, forcing the San Diego County Water Authority to file a lawsuit on January 22 to obtain the records.
Mississippi DMR agrees public entitled to agency records
GULFPORT — Faced with a lawsuit, the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources agreed Wednesday to give the Sun Herald agency documents the newspaper seeks under the state's Public Records Act. The Sun Herald filed suit Jan. 16 in Chancery Court after the DMR denied access to the records, citing the criminal investigations exemption to the public records law. The Sun Herald argued the exemption does not apply because the DMR is not a law enforcement agency.
Visit The Sun Herald for the rest.