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Founder of Wisconsin group saw FOI as ‘a guarantee for the rights of people’

Robert H. (Bob) Wills, longtime editor of the Milwaukee Sentinel and founder of the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council, died July 22, 2021, in Madison, Wisconsin, at age 95, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.  “The role of the media is that of watchdog of government for the public. It follows that the guarantee of…

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Letter to Supreme Court: Make live audio streaming permanent, accessible

The National Freedom of Information Coalition and 75 other organizations signed a letter urging Chief Justice Roberts and the Supreme Court to permanently provide live audio access to oral arguments. “Providing live audio access to cases during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has convincingly demonstrated the public’s appetite to observe the operations of the Court,” reads…

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Winners of research competition to present findings at 2021 FOI Summit

Five research papers have been accepted to the third annual National Freedom of Information Coalition FOI research competition, to be presented online Sept. 28, 2021, at the FOI Summit. In all, seven one-page proposals were entered and five selected through double-blind peer review for final consideration. Then, a team of eight expert judges rated the…

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Letter, signed by NFOIC, urges New York governor to publish COVID data

Ten open government groups, including the National Freedom of Information Coalition, signed a Sept. 7, 2021, letter urging New York Gov. Kathy Hochul to publish COVID-19 data. “Publishing COVID data in a tabular, downloadable, machine-readable format would help restore trust in state government and help researchers, journalists and the public to better understand the dire…

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States with coalitions for open government are more transparent, new study finds

A study published in the August 2021 edition of The Journal of Civic Information found that states with coalitions for open government are more likely to have counties that are more transparent, resulting in faster and more complete responses, as well as greater communication, in the public records process. Marquette University’s A.Jay Wagner based the…

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Law enforcement would benefit everyone by democratizing its data, column argues

Democratizing law enforcement data could benefit everyone — the police and the public they serve — argue Nancy La Vigne and Roy L. Austin Jr. of the Council on Criminal Justice Task Force on Policing in an Aug. 26, 2021, guest column for The Washington Post. “We cannot fix a problem we do not fully understand,” they…

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Attorney general’s position in lawsuit is concerning, Iowa transparency advocate says

The executive director of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council has raised concerns about court filings in which the attorney general’s office suggests the state’s freedom of information law is not standing policy, the Iowa Capital Dispatch reported Aug. 20, 2021. “I am worried that the state’s legal arguments … will be viewed by government…

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Connecticut requires police body cameras, but bill doesn’t appoint overseer

Connecticut police departments must equip all officers with body cameras by July 2022. But the bill requiring body cameras didn’t designate a state agency to oversee implementation. “There is no enforcement mechanism regarding compliance,” said Marc Pelka, the undersecretary for criminal justice policy and planning at the state’s Office of Policy and Management. According to…

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Exemptions to records laws allow authorities to stifle talk of police reform, paper says

Exemptions to state public records laws allow police departments to conceal vast amounts of information and stifle meaningful discussion about police reform and accountability. According to a Washington Post analysis: All 50 states and the District of Columbia allow police departments to withhold records they consider investigatory. And in 35 states, police misconduct records are…

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NFOIC’s newest member to focus on public access, investigative journalism in Florida

The National Freedom of Information Coalition welcomes its newest member, the Florida Center for Government Accountability.  Barbara A. Petersen, executive director of the Florida Center for Government Accountability, previously served on NFOIC’s Board and as president of Florida’s First Amendment Foundation.  Petersen says the new organization will focus on public access and investigative journalism. “The Florida Center…

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