News site examines dozens of transparency proposals swirling in Michigan

Dozens of government transparency and ethics bills are circulating in Michigan, the state that received an “F” grade and ranked 50th in the nation in a 2015 integrity investigation. Steve Delie, executive director of the Michigan Coalition for Open Government, told Michigan Advance that the state is stuck in “a culture of non-transparency.” In a…

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Far from perfect, but ‘better than nothing,’ says Michigan coalition director of bill touted as a transparency measure

Unlike lawmakers in most states, Michigan legislators aren’t required to disclose their financial interests. A bipartisan bill would change that — kind of. The bill would require lawmakers to disclose their financial information to a legislative committee, which would be exempt from the state’s Open Meetings and Freedom of Information acts. Only if the committee…

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Michigan Supreme Court splits on whether records held by university library are public

The Michigan Supreme Court deadlocked April 9, 2021, on whether records possessed by a University of Michigan library are considered public, The Detroit News reported. The 3-3 ruling allows an immigration lawyer to move forward with a public records request for documents donated to the university by an anti-immigration activist. In 2010, Dr. John Tanton…

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Jane Briggs-Bunting, ‘fearless’ journalist and Michigan coalition founder, dies at 70

Jane Briggs-Bunting, a journalist, educator and First Amendment champion who co-founded the Michigan Coalition for Open Government, died Tuesday, March 23 at age 70. “Jane didn’t shy away from fights that needed to be fought,” former student Meg O’Brien told the Detroit Free Press. “She emphasized that journalism wasn’t a popularity contest and trained us…

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Michigan open government group names first executive director as Sunshine Week nears

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Coalition for Open Government (MiCOG) has selected Steve Delie as its first executive director, bringing on board an attorney who specializes in open government issues at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy to further MiCOG’s mission of making government more accountable to citizens. The appointment comes just before the start…

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Michigan State Police launches new Transparency and Accountability webpage

Michigan State Police launched a new Transparency and Accountability webpage on Friday aimed to provide easy access to information about the administration and operation of the MSP. Information includes department policies, strategic plan, training requirements, recruiting and staffing numbers and use of force and traffic stop data. Additionally, Director Col. Joe Gasper said there will…

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COVID-19 alters government transparency rules

WEST MICHIGAN — Public meetings — and public access to those meetings — look a little bit different in the middle of the global COVID-19 pandemic. In the greater Holland area, township trustees are reciting the Pledge of Allegiance together over the phone and logging on to video calls to take votes on water utility…

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Ann Arbor City Council to provide lead water pipe information after FOIA request

As the result of a unanimous vote by the Ann Arbor City Council at a recent meeting, the City now has to disclose information regarding where lead materials have been used in the Ann Arbor water system. At last Monday’s meeting, councilmembers gave city staff until the end of the year to produce the information, which identifies…

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Unusual request for 2016 ballots worries Michigan election officials

A recent Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for copies of ballots from 2016 originally puzzled Michigan election officials and is causing some concern as the group behind the request explains its motives.   A few weeks ago, city and township clerks across Michigan received FOIA requests from someone claiming to be “Emily”, asking clerks…

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Michigan city and township officials respond to FOIA from ‘Emily’

City and township officials in Mason County and across the state were rocked last week by a mysterious Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for all copies of all Election Day ballots and personal absentee voter information from the 2016 presidential election. The request came from an organization called United Impact Group with a listed…

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