National Freedom of Information Coalition
Protecting Your Right to Open Government

From DCOGC: Office of Open Government First-Ever Open Meetings Act Enforcement Lawsuit Heard in Court

In this suit testing the enforcement powers in the D.C. Open Meetings Act, Superior Court Judge John Campbell heard argument last Friday (28) on pending motions from both sides for summary judgment (decision without a trial). The hearing was the first time the parties squared off in court.

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D.C. Police Body Camera Update: A Year of Experience Shows None of the Problems Forecast In Mayor’s Push to Close Access

Since public access opened over a year ago, FOIA requests for video from Metropolitan Police body-worn cameras (BWC) have numbered just over sixty and redacting those released so far has cost only $25,000.

Those facts, released by the Open Government Coalition in a Sunshine Week briefing at the National Press Club, are far from the alarming estimates provided by the executive branch to the D.C. Council in the heat of the extended camera debate in 2015.

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DC Open Government Summit and Reception at National Press Club

Celebrating Sunshine Week 2017, the National Press Club Journalism Institute’s Freedom of the Press Committee will join with the D.C. Open Government Coalition to present the sixth annual D.C. Open Government Summit on March 14 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

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DCOGC: Independence of D.C. Watchdog Office Threatened, Coalition Tells D.C. Council

Plans are under way inside D.C. government to change the law in ways likely to disable the Office of Open Government (OOG). The D.C. Open Government Coalition testified February 23 at the annual performance oversight hearing on the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability (BEGA) that includes the OOG.

Proposals in the works at the board could harm the office, according to the Coalition’s government affairs committee chair, attorney Robert Becker. He reported on a text of a bill obtained by the Coalition and under consideration by D.C. officials.

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From D.C. Open Gov Coalition: Claim of Excessive PACER Fees May Be Adjudicated After Years of Complaints

A class action lawsuit in federal court in the District of Columbia could mean refunds for millions – anyone who paid fees to access federal court records using the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system in the last six years.

Plaintiffs are three nonprofit organizations—National Veterans Legal Services Program, National Consumer Law Center and the Alliance for Justice–who used the system but say the ever-increasing fees are excessive, far beyond what the law allows.

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D.C. Office of Open Government Sues to Stop Open Meetings Act Violations

Flexing its enforcement muscle in court for the first time, the Office of Open Government has filed suit against the Mayor’s Advisory Commission on Caribbean Community Affairs. D.C. law gives the independent Office power to go to court to enforce the D.C. Open Meetings Act.

According to the lawsuit filed in D.C. Superior Court, the Commission failed to post agendas or minutes of 11 meetings this year as the law requires. The lawsuit also says the Commission continued to meet without following the legal requirements despite repeated communications and offers of help.

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From DCOGC: D.C. Council Drops Secrecy Provisions in Metro Safety Panel

In a dramatic turnaround just hours before a hearing on legislation to create a new Metrorail Safety Commission, revisions to the legislation will beef up legal protections for transparency and public access, as advocates had been calling for.

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Press Release from DCOGC: Council To Comply With Court Overturning Denial of Citizen Request for Records of McMillan Reservoir

After three years and a losing court fight, the D.C. Council is nearing agreement on releasing records requested by activists concerning the controversial McMillan Reservoir development deal.

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Press Release from DCOGC: Review of D.C. Office of Administrative Hearings Recommends Public Online Access to Dockets, Decisions

From the DC Open Governent Coalition:

For 20,000 appeals filed each year from decisions in dozens of District agencies, from trash tickets to school suspensions, unemployment denials and Food Stamp or Medicaid errors, the only way to check on your case is by calling the clerk’s office at the central appeals office or visiting in person downtown at Judiciary Square—a special chore for the thirty percent of customers from Virginia and Maryland.

Continue… 

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