The NFOIC open government blog is a compendium of original concepts and analysis as well as ideas, edited excerpts and materials from a variety of sources. When the information comes from another source, we will attribute it and provide a link. The blog relies on the accuracy and integrity of the original sources cited; we will correct errors and inaccuracies when we become aware of them.

For Advocate posts prior to July, 2011, visit http://foiadvocate.blogspot.com/.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

October 17, 2017 11:44 AM

News Release

October 17, 2017

Contact: Lara Dieringer • 573.882.4856

ldieringer@nfoic.org

 

The National Freedom of Information Coalitionconcluded its 2017 FOI Summit in Nashville over the weekend. The annual two-day event features presentations from FOI experts and practitioners on trending FOI and open government issues in public institutions at the state and local levels. Summit attendees include NFOIC’s state coalition directors, journalists, media lawyers and first amendment watchdogs. The Tennessee Coalition of Open Government served as summit co-host.

This year’s gathering highlighted key FOI challenges emerging in state and local governments including:

  • Growing use of private communication and information sharing devices (personal email, texting, cell phones and web apps) by public officials to conduct government business that circumvent public records laws;
  • Reverse FOI lawsuits where third parties intervene or governments sue the requester to block release of public records, forcing requesters to hire attorneys to defend themselves; and
  • A troubling development of government entities keeping information in government contracts with business secret, in some cases, even the dollar amount of the contracts.

"The battle to assure all Americans have access to their government continues and is more important than ever,” said Mal Leary, President of the NFOIC. "In state after state we are seeing an assault on transparency that threatens the very foundation of democracy."

Each year, the summit includes the induction ceremony of a new member into the State Open Government Hall of Fame, a joint initiative of NFOIC and the Society of Professional Journalists. This year’s inductee is Michael Giudicessi, a longtime First Amendment attorney from Iowa.  Jameel Jaffer, founding director of the Knight First Amendment Institute and expert on free speech, privacy, technology, national security, and international human rights provided the keynote address. 

NFOIC announced a new state affiliate from Nebraska to join the coalition, and two new board directors:

Board member and secretary, Megan Rhyne, executive director of the Virginia Coalition of Open Government, was elected to vice president of the board. Board member Deborah Fisher, executive director of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government was elected secretary.

NFOIC recognizes and greatly appreciates the summit’s financial and in-kind sponsors and thanks Bloomberg LP (Platinum), the Charles Koch Institute (Gold), John the John S. and James L Knight Foundation (Official), the Society of Professional Journalists/SDX Foundation (Official), and Ethics and Excellence in Journalism (Official) for their generous support. 

October 17, 2017 10:59 AM
The SPCA of Bradley County voted 4-2 Monday night to remove SPCA President Tim Waldrop from the board.
 
The action stems from Waldrop's attempt to ask the public to leave its previous meeting when an attempt was made to add the item of removing him from the board to the agenda.Read more...
tennessee foi
October 17, 2017 10:15 AM

For several legislative sessions, David Rosenberg, of Norfolk, a retired MIT computer scientist, has pushed a bill that would revise the open meeting law to allow online deliberation by public bodies.

In the past, the Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association has opposed the bill because many citizens are either not online or not internet-savvy, and therefore would be disenfranchised. Indeed, there is still widespread lack of broadband access in many rural communities.
 
More recently, however, the publishers association is reconsidering its opposition because the bill may make government more accessible and transparent. Read more...
October 17, 2017 10:00 AM

Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s administration has not yet fulfilled a series of information requests from the lawyer the city of Charlottesville hired to review the violent white nationalist rally in August and how public officials planned for the danger that came with it. Read more...

virginia FOIA
October 16, 2017 3:57 PM

In a move that increases transparency, the City of North Augusta has started posting audio recordings of council meetings to its government website. Read more...

October 16, 2017 3:14 PM
In the mid-1970s, the Open Public Meetings Act created the basis for government transparency in the state of New Jersey. A little more than 15 years later, the Open Public Records Act followed, replacing the nascent "Right-to-Know Law."
 
Since then, the laws have seen few face-lifts, and the wrinkles are beginning to show.
 
"We want to bring the bills into the 21st century," said state Sen. Loretta Weinberg, D-Teaneck, "some parts of which were written before there was such a thing as an Internet." Read more...
October 16, 2017 12:24 PM

Nearly two years after a unanimous vote to use county-owned cell phones as a way to preserve their text messages and other public records, most Hillsborough County commissioners are still choosing to use their personal phones for government business. Read more...

October 12, 2017 12:32 PM
Some Tennessee lawmakers and open records advocates argue it is a citizen’s right to take cellphone photographs of public records, with some restrictions.
 
But a Tennessee Office of Open Records Counsel model policy has stirred a statewide dispute over what rights are guaranteed in Tennessee open records law. Read more...
tennessee foi
October 12, 2017 9:06 AM
A Florida appeals court has quashed a lawsuit against Hendry County over two of its its monkey farms once and for all.
 
The initial 2014 suit charged that Hendry County had illegally approved a monkey breeding farm on the Lee County border without warning area residents. It was later amended to include another farm near Immokalee. When Circuit Judge James Sloan ruled the county hadn't violated Flolrida's Sunshine Law last year, the three plaintiffs appealed. Read more...
October 11, 2017 6:02 PM

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) said that she is working on legislation that would mandate online political advertisements be subject to the same rules as broadcast ads. Read more...

October 10, 2017 11:55 AM

The Goldwater Institute goes to court Tuesday, Oct. 10, trying to force the FDA to reveal details on how dying people can get access to unapproved medicines.

Attorney Jonathan Riches wants U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton to order the Food and Drug Administration to disclose exactly how it reached the decision to allow two people infected with the Ebola virus to be administered ZMapp, even though the drug had not been approved for human testing.

Read more...

October 10, 2017 11:40 AM

The D.C. mayor has lost a year-long battle to stave off defeat in a suit testing the enforcement powers in the District’s Open Meetings Act.

D.C. Superior Court Associate Judge John M. Campbell ruled September 27 that Mayor Muriel Bowser’s Advisory Commission on Caribbean Community Affairs violated the law by holding half a dozen meetings in 2016 without advance notice or draft agendas for the public and failing to record meetings even after staff were trained and given equipment.

Read more...

Syndicate content