NFOIC’s State FOIA Friday for October 12, 2012

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:

Michigan schools create their own FOIA interpretations

If the principal at your child’s school was rated “ineffective” by the district, would you have the right to know? According to one school district and a state department, the answer is “no.” Danny Shaw, a reporter for Heritage Newspapers, made a simple FOIA request for the one principal rated “ineffective” by Willow Run Community Schools. The state denied the request because the information was “of a personal nature” and disclosing it would constitute an “unwarranted invasion of an individual’s privacy.”

Visit Mackinac Center for Public Policy for the rest.

Billings Gazette sues city for records of employee discipline for Internet abuse

The Billings Gazette filed a lawsuit against the city of Billings on Thursday, asking for the release of public records dealing with city workers who were disciplined for viewing inappropriate websites on the job. The state District Court lawsuit seeks a court order compelling the city to produce documents in the case of five workers who were suspended without pay for five days last spring.

Visit Billings Gazette for the rest.

New Mexico Foundation for Open Government holds its annual luncheon

The New Mexico Foundation for Open Government held its annual Dixon lunch Oct. 3 in Albuquerque. The group honored four people who represent what is good in government, journalism, politics and the legal world. Additionally we honored Jim Dines, a recently retired lawyer who spent much of his career fighting for the cause of open government. Jeff Proctor, a cops and courts reporter for the Albuquerque Journal, received the Dixon Award for journalism. He earned the nomination (from a reader) by following the many shootings by the Albuquerque Police Department. He investigated and wrote about the spate of shootings over the past few years via a relentless search and fight for documents.

Visit Rio Grande Sun for the rest.

Challenge on Open Meetings Law in East Hampton (N.Y.)

Concerned about the East Hampton Town Board’s frequent use of executive sessions to discuss matters out of the public eye, two East Hampton Town residents who regularly attend board meetings sought and received an opinion on the legality of the sessions from the New York Department of State’s Committee on Open Government. In a response dated Sept. 27, the committee outlined the specific instances in which a board may use executive session, addressing the situations cited in the request for an opinion, but did not weigh in specifically on whether the board has been acting properly.

Visit The East Hampton Star for the rest.

City of Kansas City (Mo.) partners with Rockhurst Helzberg MBA Program to share data

Kansas City, MO – infoZine – The City of Kansas City, MO, City Manager's Office announced a new partnership between the City's Open Government Committee and the Helzberg MBA Program at Rockhurst University. This partnership will focus on leveraging a large catalog of city data to promote economic and community development. This diverse collection of raw city data will include everything from building permits to the location of all parking lots in the city.

Visit Kansas City infozine for the rest.

Park Township (Mich.) trustees open all building permits to public access

PARK TOWNSHIP, MI – Park Township trustees have reversed their township manager’s decision to deny access to the public building permit file of a home being built by Amway heir David Van Andel next to the iconic Big Red lighthouse. Heeding the advice of their lawyer, who said the Michigan Freedom of Information Act is a pro-disclosure statute, township trustees on Thursday voted 5-1 to allow access to the file, overturning manager Gerald "Jerry" Felix's decision to close the public records.

Visit for the rest.