Must read FOI stories – 7/18/14
Special congrats to the FOIA advocacy website MuckRock, they got a shout out from the Daily Show this week for one of their FOIA requests:
- New Mexico’s Veteran’s Administration insists that its own congressional delegation file an official Freedom of Information Act request in order to learn more about its health care policies.
- FOIA find: Apple’s top legal executive points the finger at Google a week after it settled charges, brought by the Federal Trade Commission, that it failed to provide adequate disclosures for in-app transactions. In an email Apple urged the FTC to investigate Google for similar issues in Android.
- The City of Ann Arbor now publishes its FOIA request log online — no need for official request.
- The City of Albuquerque changes its records policy — announcing that will charge no more than $6.75 for DVDs and $2.75 for CDs for public records requests — in response to complaints.
- Local Pennsylvania county government ordered to release an unredacted report on county government prepared by a private investigator.
- Wisconsin State Senator turns to the Attorney General to compel the Government Accountability Board to open up its books after it applied that open records laws do not apply to it.
- Barely a week after Riverside launched a new Web portal with information on city finances, police and fire calls, and access to thousands of other records, the portal has been viewed nearly 16,000 times.
- If you ask for copies of public records from North Canton, Ohio, you’ll be waiting on snail mail because they refuse to email them to you.
- A hopeful Wyoming Governor promises to prohibit her employees the use of a public records “loophole,” known as the deliberative process privilege, if elected.
- Boston Globe reporter looks at campaign finance data and finds that Massachusetts candidates spent thousands of dollars a year on coffee and doughnuts.
- Opinion: The new bipartisan FOIA reform doesn’t go far enough. Congress should exempt Environmental Protection Agency from FOIA b(5).
- New Mexico has a new plan to give wider public access to court records via Web database.
- Virginia Supreme Court ordered the nonprofit Energy & Environment Legal Institute to pay $250 in damages to a former University of Virginia professor and the school following the institute’s failed legal bid to obtain emails regarding climate change research via FOIA.
- US Department of State denies FOIA request for emails of former NSA contractor, Edward Snowden, citing that it could be an “unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.”
- New members of Olympia, Washington city councils, county commissions, school boards, fire commissions and special districts as well as statewide elected officials will be required to take FOIA and open meetings training.
- Bad FOIA news: South Carolina Supreme Court rules that autopsy reports are not public records.
- Interesting twist, two Rhode Island state agencies are being sued by the state’s own Attorney General for failing to respond to a reporter open records act request.
- Government transparency expert Eric Gillespie, founder and CEO of Govini, has been appointed to the newly formed FOIA Advisory Committee and will chair the subcommittee on proactive disclosure.
- CIA refuses to hand over its records on notorious East German Stasi head Erich Mielke.
- Environmental Protection Agency’s inspector general released an audit that concluded the agency did not show bias in denying fee waivers on open-records requests from conservative-leaning groups while approving those from liberal-leaning groups.
- Check out how federal agencies fared in this Freedom of Information report card.
- Watchdog.org resorts to FOIA request for info on immigraiton crisis, claims Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe is stonewalling and not returning press calls.
- The ACLU is criticizing Washington D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray for unprecedented delays in turning over data sought by the public through Freedom of Information Act requests.
- FOIA lawsuit dismissed after Michigan Attorney General releases documents sought by T.V. news crew (don’t know if I’d call this a win, it saddens me that it takes a lawsuit to force compliance).
David Schick is the summer 2014 Pulliam/Kilgore Freedom of Information intern for SPJ, reporting and researching public records and FOI issues. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or interact on Twitter: @davidcschick