Volume 1, Issue 5

FOI InSight, an open government newsletter
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Happy holidays from NFOIC!

Dear Friend of FOI,

Photo of Kenneth F. BuntingAs you celebrate the joys and spirit of the holiday season, we at NFOIC want to wish the best to you and your loved ones.

The season's spirit of sharing, renewal and reflection is an ideal time to recall that our health and happiness are inextricably linked to transparent and accountable governments that operate in sunlight and derive their just powers from a free, self-governing people.

Please continue …

Save the date for the 2013 FOI Summit!

The annual FOI Summit, a national conference held in collaboration with the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), will be held in 2013 on Friday, May 17, and Saturday, May 18, at the Renaissance Arts Hotel, 700 Tchoupitoulas Street, in beautiful New Orleans, Louisiana. On their site you'll find images and information about this "exceptional New Orleans boutique hotel … situated in the heart of the Arts District near the French Quarter .. serving quality French bistro-style cuisine prepared by celebrated Master Chef Rene Bajeux." Mark your calendars, and watch NFOIC.org in the coming weeks for more general conference and program information.

Continue to FOI Summits past …

 Members in the News 

Maine Freedom of Information Coalition president to head new TV channel covering state Legislature
Mal Leary, president of the Maine Freedom of Information Coalition and a member of the board of directors of NFOIC, will become the managing editor and director of a new digital television channel that the Maine Public Broadcasting Network will devote to coverage of the State House.
Virginia Coalition for Open Government, officials talk about freedom of information
Lynchburg still is working to get copies of the Freedom of Information Act to its volunteer boards and commissions after concluding its past education efforts had been hit or miss. The Virginia Coalition for Open Government organized a panel discussion on government’s role in freedom of information.
California First Amendment Coalition provides citizen with legal help to fight against the $60,000 penalty that puts access at risk
The California First Amendment Coalition is helping Tim Crews, publisher of a small-town newspaper north of Sacramento, to fight nearly $60,000 in penalties after a Glenn County Superior Court judge ruled that the lawsuit Crews filed over a public records request was frivolous.
Freedom Foundation releases best practices for Open Public Meetings Act
The Freedom Foundation today released Best Practices for Public Agency Compliance with the Open Public Meetings Act, a go-to source of information on a number of issues related to Washington State’s Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA).
NFOIC and other open government organizations sign onto letter to Senate leadership
The National Freedom of Information Coalition, OpenTheGovernment.org and a host of other groups signed onto the letter to Senate leadership about the delayed 2013 Intelligence Authorization bill.

Kenneth Bunting: "E" in "email" should not stand for "evasion"
To avoid possible disclosure, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s top advisors used personal email accounts while devising a communications strategy regarding hundreds of millions of dollars in Medicaid cuts. Issues surrounding government transparency don't always lend themselves to clear, black-and-white analysis. But this one was comprehensible.
Eric Newton: Why journalists need to get behind the #opendata movement
Many journalists aren’t paying attention to how governments are opening up data. Part of that is cultural. Governments do keep secrets. As the amount of information grows, so do the secrets.
Barbara Petersen, Dan Krassner: Launch Transparency 2.0 to benefit all Floridians in reviewing state budget expenses
Florida Senate president contracted with Spider Data Services to develop an unprecedented budget- tracking system at a cost of nearly $5 million. That system, Transparency 2.0, is now fully developed and ready for use, but recent reports suggest Florida lawmakers may well walk away, shelving the program.
Peter Scheer: Consumers blindsided by secret settlements in hi-tech patent lawsuits
Apple recently announced that it had reached a global settlement of its patent disputes with HTC. Although this settlement will have a direct impact on millions of American consumers, you can’t find out the settlement’s terms. Why not?
Steve Lovejoy: Burlington leads way on openness
Recently the city of Burlington made some changes to its website, adding a feature it calls a "performance dashboard. The dashboard stands in stark contrast to those efforts to keep the public in the dark.
 FOI Audit 

Government-wide Freedom of Information Act audit finds outdated regs
An audit by the National Security Archive has found that 62 out of 99 government agencies have not updated their FOIA regulations since US Attorney General issued his 2009 FOIA memorandum instructing all heads of executive departments to make discretionary FOIA releases of documents.

Call for nominations — SPJ presents its 28th James Madison Awards
The James Madison Freedom of Information Awards recognize Northern California organizations and individuals who have made significant contributions to advancing freedom of information and expression in the spirit of James Madison, the creative force behind the First Amendment.
President signs whistle-blower bill for U.S. workers
President Barack Obama signed legislation Tuesday that affords greater protection to federal employees who expose fraud, waste and abuse in government operations. The whistle-blower law makes it easier to punish supervisors who try to retaliate against the government workers.
Stand with Sen. Wyden for free speech
The U.S. Senate was on the verge of passing a bill that would have increased government secrecy, put whistleblowers in jeopardy, and made government less accountable. Thankfully, Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon stood up for our freedom of speech and put a hold on this bill.
State FOIA Friday
See the latest State FOIA Friday for FOI and local open government news items selected from many of interest that we might not have drawn attention to earlier in the week. The latest issue includes: SC lawmaker tries again to reform FOI law … NJ Lawmakers:Public records vote delayed until Feb. … PA launches public records website … NJ Watchdog: Town releases public records after 3-year, $500G fight … CA: Agencies’ bills from law firms are public records, courts rule … Jindal administration continues to skirt records openness … Jindal administration dodges around Open Records … TN lawsuit demands DCS records on children who died … Released minutes prove what many suspected — meeting could have been open to public. Read more from the latest State FOIA Friday and be sure to check out our archives from Fridays past.
FOIA Events Calendar
Check the events calendar for FOI, FOIA, open government and transparency goings-on. Philip Balboni, a co-founder of GlobalPost, will receive the 2013 Stephen Hamblett Award at the New England First Amendment Coalition's annual luncheon on Feb. 8. Other upcoming events includes: Rhode Island Attorney General Open Government Summit, Idaho Open Government Seminars, Transparency in the Obama Administration — A Fourth-Year Assessment, Deadline for submissions: Right to Information and Transparency in the Digital Age, and more.
The National Freedom of Information Coalition protects our right to open government. We are a nonpartisan alliance of citizen-driven nonprofit freedom of information organizations, academic and First Amendment centers, journalistic societies and attorneys. Twice annually, NFOIC awards grants to strengthen state coalitions and member organizations, foster their growth, and support a broad range of open government endeavors in individual states. The NFOIC also administers the Knight FOI Fund, which offers financial support to defray costs and expenses in open government lawsuits throughout the year.

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