NFOIC’s State FOIA Friday for May 10, 2013

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.


Attorney General issues informal opinion on Iowa Public Radio questions

The intent of Iowa Public Radio to operate consistent with Iowa Public Records and Open Meetings Laws will be written into the organization’s operating agreement when that document is renewed in July, according to state officials. Some questions recently were raised about whether Iowa Public Radio is a government entity that is subject to Open Meetings and Public Records laws. The attorney representing the organization argued that despite the function it serves in the management of state-owned assets and its ties to the state Board of Regents, IPR is not a “governmental body” in the eyes of the law. But, he added, the organization has a commitment to transparency and generally allows the public to attend meetings and its information should be as open to public inspection as possible.

Visit The Gazette for the rest.

Yarmouth Housing Authority violated Open Meeting Law

YARMOUTH — The Yarmouth Housing Authority violated the state’s Open Meeting Law by failing to include sufficient detail in minutes of two executive sessions, according to a ruling of the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office. Elvio Rodrigues filed the complaint on behalf of the Yarmouth Preservation Committee alleging that the minutes from the Jan. 10, 2012, and Feb. 14, 2012, executive sessions were incomplete. Hanne Rush, assistant attorney general in the Division of Open Government, stated in a letter to Rodrigues on April 17, “We find that the minutes were not sufficient for purpose of the Open Meeting Law” and she clarified that “the minutes should contain enough detail and accuracy so that a member of the public who did not attend the meeting could read the minutes and have a clear understanding of what occurred.”

Visit Wicked Local for the rest.

ACLU of New Jersey seeks records tied to $11 million in state grants to religious schools

The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey filed a public records request on Thursday demanding the disclosure of guidelines that the Christie administration followed when it granted $11 million to two religious schools, almost all of it to an orthodox Jewish rabbinical school. The money was included among in $1.3 billion in publicly funded higher education projects that the Christie administration approved last week, to be funded in part with the proceeds of a $750 million capital construction bond that voters approved last fall.

Visit for the rest.

Coliseum hid reports of financial woes, records show

The overseers of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum concealed from the public independent reports of lax financial controls and widespread spending abuses at the taxpayer-owned stadium that included sloppy accounting of hot dog sales and excessive perks for managers, records show. Problems detailed in the reports by two independent audit and consulting firms compounded money woes that leaders of the Coliseum Commission cited as a chief reason they decided to turn over stewardship of the two-time Olympic venue to USC.

Visit Los Angeles Times for the rest.

New Jersey bill would make mug shots public records

Just as Utah officials are looking for ways to restrict access to mug shots, New Jersey is going in the opposite direction. The Daily Record of Parsippany, N.J., reports that a bill is moving through the Garden State’s legislature classifying booking photos as public records. The state’s open-records laws were ambiguous on the point, with some counties denying access and others granting it.

Visit The Salt Lake Tribune for the rest.

AP Exclusive: Lawmakers granted Calif. health exchange unusual secrecy in contracting records

LOS ANGELES – A California law that created an agency to oversee national health care reforms granted it sweeping authority to conceal spending on the contractors that will perform most of its functions, creating a barrier from public disclosure that stands out nationwide. … An Associated Press review of the 16 other states that have opted for state-run marketplaces shows the California agency was given powers that are the most restrictive in what information is required to be made public.

Visit Star Tribune for the rest.

New Mexico’s health insurance exchange subject to state’s open government laws

SANTA FE, New Mexico — New Mexico’s open government laws will apply to a state-run health insurance exchange that will serve as a marketplace for the uninsured to buy medical coverage. Legislation enacted this year makes clear the exchange and its 13-member governing board must comply with New Mexico’s Open Meetings Act and the Inspection of Public Records Act.

Visit The Republic for the rest.

Ruling affects Tennessee open records law

The Tennessee Open Records Law is one of several state laws upheld in a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling for its limitations on requests for public records by those who live outside of the state in question. In an unanimous opinion April 29, the high court ruled it is legal for a state to limit the use of its open records or Freedom of Information Act law to its own residents.

Visit Memphis Daily News for the rest.

Connecticut FOI panel backs dismissal of complaint about Rowland’s Waterbury post

HARTFORD – The state Freedom of Information Commission – rejecting claims that the city of Waterbury failed to produce certain public records – Wednesday unanimously affirmed a hearing officer’s report dismissing the New Haven Register’s complaint regarding former Gov. John Rowland’s taxpayer-funded consulting job with the Greater Waterbury Chamber of Commerce. The city acknowledged through testimony that hundreds of thousands of dollars changed hands and went directly to Rowland and was unable to produce checks or money transfer documents to the chamber.

Visit Housatonic Times for the rest.

Vermont house approves opening police investigation files

In a unanimous voice vote, the Vermont House pushed the state’s open records law one step closer to the federal open records model established by the decades-old Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The legislation, S.148, applies only to “records dealing with the detection and investigation of crime,” typically held by law enforcement officials.

Visit for the rest.