Frosty Landon, NFOIC Hall of Famer, remembered for ‘heroic’ efforts to promote open government, establish state coalitions

Frosty Landon, a one-time president of the National Freedom of Information Coalition board who was instrumental in advising new NFOIC coalitions in the 2000s, is being remembered as a hero and advocate for open government. Landon died July 19, 2021, at age 87. Landon, longtime editor of the Roanoke Times & World-News in Virginia, was…

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If records cannot always be free, at least make fees follow these 3 rules, Virginia coalition leader says

A subcommittee of Virginia’s FOIA Council is studying fees charged for public records. “In a perfect world, there would be no charges for FOIA requests in Virginia,” writes Megan Rhyne, executive director of the Virginia Coalition for Open Government. “There’s a philosophical issue that underpins some states’ open records law that says, ‘taxpayers have already…

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Virginia lawmaker wants to cut FOIA fees, but some in government are pushing back

Danica Roem, a former journalist who serves in the Virginia House of Delegates, has introduced legislation requiring Virginia public bodies to fulfill records requests for free, unless the request takes more than two hours of staff time to fulfill. Critics of the bill said FOIA requests sometimes are used to “harass” public officials, and the…

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Virginia bill opens inactive criminal investigative files to public

A Virginia bill, if signed by the governor, will open more law enforcement records to public inspection. The legislation will open inactive or completed criminal investigative files. Open records and criminal justice advocates say law enforcement agencies have concealed their files, frustrating efforts to hold police accountable and to overturn wrongful convictions. “Departments all over…

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Editorial: Public has a right to see criminal records

Like every other human behavior, crime has consequences, and not only for victims and their families. Perpetrators eventually find out that a criminal record can be a major impediment to getting a job, housing or educational benefits. Efforts currently underway in the General Assembly to automatically expunge certain criminal records in Virginia are an attempt…

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Former Journalists Push Press Freedom in Virginia House of Delegates

The Virginia General Assembly now has two former journalists as members, and they are hoping to move forward with bills to increase press freedom. High school newspapers shouldn’t be bullied or told what to do by principals and administrators. That’s the idea behind a bill introduced by Delegate Chris Hurst, a Democrat from Blacksburg who…

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Judge rules Virginia’s judiciary not subject to FOIA

A retired circuit court judge has ruled the Virginia Freedom of Information Act does not apply to the state’s judiciary, a ruling that could potentially hinder access to records of the judicial branch of government, like expense reports or phone bills. The Oct. 15 ruling by retired Judge William Alexander II came in a dispute…

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Numerous phone-in Charlottesville council meetings held before policy instated

Charlottesville city councilors appear to have improperly phoned in to numerous meetings, including those dealing with hiring of an interim city manager. In August, the council passed a policy — apparently for the first time — allowing councilors to phone in to meetings in certain situations. Since 2014, state law has required local public bodies…

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FOIA emails show concern about Pittsylvania County (VA) DSS board

Email records obtained by the Star-Tribune through FOIA requests from Pittsylvania County Department of Social Services Director Sherry Flanagan from August 2017 indicated Flanagan was ‘fearful’ of county administrator David Smitherman and worried her board would be eliminated. On August 15, 2017, Brenda Robertson, Administrative Assistant/Legal Assistant for County Attorney Vaden Hunt emailed Flanagan to, “please forward…

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