NFOIC’s State FOIA Friday for September 28, 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:

Obama cabinet flunks disclosure test with 19 in 20 ignoring law

Not just a state story, obviously, but interesting and important.

On his first full day in office, President Barack Obama ordered federal officials to “usher in a new era of open government” and “act promptly” to make information public. As Obama nears the end of his term, his administration hasn’t met those goals, failing to follow the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act, according to an analysis of open-government requests filed by Bloomberg News.

Nineteen of 20 cabinet-level agencies disobeyed the law requiring the disclosure of public information: The cost of travel by top officials. In all, just eight of the 57 federal agencies met Bloomberg’s request for those documents within the 20-day window required by the Act.

Visit Bloomberg for the rest.

New Orleans close to settling NOPD public records lawsuit

NEW ORLEANS — Eyewitness News has learned the city is close to settling a lawsuit for withholding public police records, stepping in to pay the judgment that was lodged personally against NOPD Superintendent Ronal Serpas. Serpas was supposed to appear in court Thursday for a financial assessment after the city lost a 2009 public records lawsuit filed by the Louisiana Capital Assistance Center.

Visit for the rest.

Two cases threaten public’s right to government transparency in Washington state

The 40-year tradition of government transparency in Washington came under attack recently on two separate fronts. … Earlier this month, the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council violated the Open Public Meeting Act by holding a closed-door meeting with a quorum of members without public notice, and making a final decision to hire a new permanent director. … More recently, Gov. Chris Gregoire’s office lost a battle in the state Court of Appeals to conceal documents from an Olympia resident, and was fined $2,175. In withholding a three-page document, the governor claimed her office had “executive privilege,” and that it trumped the state’s Public Records Act.

Visit The Olympian for the rest.

Budget cuts to hobble state archives in Georgia

MORROW, Ga. — The Georgia Archives, which holds both historical curiosities and virtually every important state government document ever created, is about to become nearly impossible to visit. In November, a round of government budget cuts will reduce the staff to three, one of them the maintenance man. Thousands of documents that pour in every month are likely to languish because no one will be available to sort through them, archives officials said. People who view accurate and open government records as the bedrock of democracy are outraged.

The move will make Georgia the only state without an archives open to the public on a regular basis. But this closing is simply the most severe symptom of a greater crisis facing permanent government collections in nearly every state, professional archivists say.

Visit New York Times for the rest.

Proposed Michigan bill would limit fees for public records

MICHIGAN — A proposed Michigan bill would amend the state’s Freedom of Information Act to limit fees and increase the consequences for delays in responding to requests. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Mike Shirkey (R-Jackson County), would limit the copying costs to a maximum 10 cents a page. For labor fees, public agencies would only be allowed to charge an hourly wage of the lowest paid employee capable of retrieving the information, according to the proposed bill.

Visit Student Press Law Center for the rest.

Bainbridge's fired police examiner receives open government award

BAINBRIDGE ISLAND, Wash. — A Bainbridge woman who was fired as the city's police examiner last year after questioning city policies has received an award from an open government group. The Washington Coalition for Open Government presented its Key Award to Kim Hendrickson at a Sept. 19 ceremony. The award recognizes a person who has promoted transparency in government.

Visit Kitsap Sun for the rest.