NFOIC’s State FOIA Friday for November 23, 2012

Apparently, there's still some debate regarding the causal chain linking turkey consumption and the seemingly immediate need for a nap; however, there's no debating the fact that Freedom of Information is always important, so just in case we're still asleep the Friday following Thanksgiving, we thought we'd publish this week's State FOIA Friday a bit early.

Enjoy, and Happy Thanksgiving!

Lower Merion Township (Penn.) honored for open government

In a brief ceremony at a meeting of the board of commissioners Monday, a regional organization honored Lower Merion Township for its efforts to provide open, readily-available information for citizens. … The Open Book Award was created to recognize municipalities for their efforts to provide residents and local businesses “detailed, up-to-date information about public meetings, proposed ordinances, and existing rules and regulations,” putting “the public’s right-to-know at the forefront of their business and activities.”

Visit Main Line Media News for the rest.

Collier County (FL) Commissioner: County has a public records problem

Facing a possible lawsuit from one of their employees is forcing the Collier County Commissioners to re-evaluate their knowledge of public records laws. … An attorney for Paula Springs, who is Commissioner Jim Coletta's assistant, sent a letter to the commissioners about a violation of her rights last month. According to the letter, Springs' health records were not redacted from her personnel file before Commissioner Georgia Hiller inspected them Oct. 11. … But the county may have done nothing wrong. Barbara Petersen, president of the Tallahassee-based First Amendment Foundation, said private information can be viewed as part of an investigation.

Visit Naples Daily News for the rest.

Court rules New Jersey must allow review of pension-scandal files

A state appellate judge denied a motion by the Attorney General seeking to stop the Government Records Council, another state agency, from reviewing Treasury files requested by [New Jersey Watchdog]. As a result, Treasury officials must comply with a GRC order to turn over 26 documents for inspection. After review, the council will determine which documents, if any, should be released to New Jersey Watchdog under the Open Public Records Act.

Visit for the rest.

Utah Congressional districting details

The paper trail left behind by those who redrew all of the state’s congressional and legislative districts the last time around has always been a public record. The Republican leaders of the Legislature admitted as much late last week when they finally decided to actually make those records public, rather than face an embarrassing and expensive court battle with the Democrats and the state’s news organizations. Thus the leadership’s argument that the records should only see the light of day if the Democratic Party would pay all the costs associated with the search is revealed as totally bogus. Only in a state where one party so dominates the landscape would any elected official utter, and expect to get away with, such a transparent stonewall.

Opinion from Salt Lake Tribune.

Santa Fe, alarm firm settle dispute over fines and public records

The city of Santa Fe and the owner of a local burglar alarm company agreed earlier this month to settle a lawsuit the company filed in District Court this summer over fines and access to public records. … The city adopted rules in 2009 that require alarm companies to register each home or business alarm with the city and establish fines for repeat instances of false alarms. Practical enforcement began in the spring of 2011. Then, in 2012, officials made changes to strengthen the ordinance. The idea, policymakers said, was to encourage proper maintenance of the alarms and to ensure owners were accountable when alarms prompted unnecessary police responses.

Visit Santa Fe New Mexican for the rest.

Litigant held entitled to L.A. County lawyers’ billing records in pending suit

The “pending litigation” exemption from the California Public Records Act’s disclosure requirements does not apply to a request by, or on behalf of a litigant, to see the billing records of a public entity’s counsel, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled Friday. Div. Eight denied a writ petition by Los Angeles County, which challenged Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James Chalfant’s order that it disclose billing records in the case of Venegas v. County of Los Angeles. … Chalfant ruled that the billing records were not attorney-client communications, that portions of them were work product, and that the pending-litigation exception did not apply because the billing records were not prepared for use in the litigation.

Visit Metropolitan News-Enterprise for the rest.