Alabama Council Members Debate Use of Online City Meetings

The Alabama governor’s emergency order allowing teleconferenced meetings in limited situations during the COVID-19 pandemic is being abused by the council majority, according to at least one Decatur, Ala., councilman. Gov. Kay Ivey’s order waives portions of the Open Meetings Act by allowing teleconferenced meetings, but only for COVID-19-related business and as “necessary to perform…

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Huntsville, AL: Closed records take toll on taxpayers

[Miranda] Spivack spearheaded a database project with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel called State Secrets. The project examined open records laws across the country.

"Alabama is one of the most closed," Spivack said. "Pretty much on every single question we asked, the answer was no, we don't do that. No, we can charge you anything we want. No, there's no time limit," she added.

The lack of a deadline for officials to respond leaves requesters waiting with no end in sight.

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Editorial: End to ‘dark money’ would be good start

They call it “dark money” because it avoids the light of day. If the term sounds sinister to you, that’s because it is. And it has become the lifeblood of politics.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley knows a thing or two about it. So does Rebekah Caldwell Mason. While Bentley made a big deal about not accepting dark money in his campaign for governor, he turned around and paid Mason, his top “political adviser,” with dark money.

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Editorial: Alabama Governor ran on ‘transparency’ but now demands silence

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley rolled into office on the promise of "transparency."

"Transparency promotes government accountability, and as elected officials, we are held accountable for our decisions by the people we serve," he said. It was like his motto.

Alabama "deserves transparency in everything we do." Yep.

''If you have things to hide, then maybe you're doing things wrong."

''I think you ought to be willing to release everything to the American people.'' '

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Editorial: Open meetings, secret meetings in Alabama

Each exception made to Alabama’s open-meetings laws leaves the door open for another. The best option are open-meetings laws that ensure public bodies operate fully in the open.

If Sen. Gerald Dial’s proposed amendment this spring becomes law, Alabama’s universities and colleges would be able to discuss hiring top-level positions without the public’s knowledge because trustee boards could meet in secret.

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Alabama ‘dark money’ donors may be revealed through bill seeking constitutional amendment

Alabamians may be deciding whether the sources of so-called "dark money" will have to be revealed after state Sen. Arthur Orr introduced a bill last month to put that question before voters in a constitutional amendment.

The bill (SB356) by Orr, a Republican from Decatur, would affect special interest groups whose main activity is getting involved in political campaigns.

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Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard’s legal team files Freedom of Information lawsuit

Attorneys for House Speaker Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn) have filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit in federal court, seeking information about Deputy Attorney General Matt Hart.

Hart is serving as state prosecutor in the ethics case against Hubbard, who was indicted last year on 23 felony charges of using his current office and former role as chairman of the state Republican Party for personal gain. Al.com first reported the FOIA request Friday evening.

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Bill restores open government protections

Alabamians who care about transparency in government should be pleased to see – and to support – legislation that will repair the damage done to the public good by three deeply disturbing decisions of the Alabama Supreme Court. A prefiled bill by Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, responsibly addresses the issues in those open government decisions.

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