Posts Tagged ‘ethics’

FOI DAILY DOSE: Editorials urge Tenn. Gov. to reconsider ethics rules, Punjab to enact FOI bill

Editorial argues against lax ethics disclosure rules under new governor

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam’s first official act was to relax ethics disclosure requirements for public officials – a move the Tennessean criticized in a July 10 editorial.

Under the new rules, Haslam and his aides must provide information about their sources of income, but not about the financial worth of that income or their investments.

The editorial raised an important point: that disclosures of both income sources and amounts allow the public to get a better picture of who their officials are.

Knowing where officials’ money comes from and their past business interests, as well as how much money they are making, can provide important clues as to how they will lead in public office.

Tennessee residents only have half the picture right now due to Haslam’s new ethics requirements. They can see the source but not the amount, but they have the right to know both.

The Tennessean has called for Haslam to rescind his January executive order relaxing disclosure requirements, which would show the people of Tennessee that their right to know is respected in the governor’s office.

FOI in Pakistan: Editorial calls for enactment of FOI law in Punjab

The provincial government of Punjab in Pakistan has a draft bill that would give its citizens greater access to data about their officials and the quality of the public duties they perform – if it’s ever implemented.

The Punjab Freedom of Information Act 2010 has not been enacted into law yet. The government has put it to the provincial assembly for approval – a move that Zahid Abdullah, an employee for the Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives, argued in an editorial is indicative of the government’s desire to postpone the act’s adoption.

Provincial Law Minister Rana Sanaullah has said his government is waiting for a federal information law to be passed so the provincial bill can complement the spirit of the national legislation, according to the editorial.

Abdullah countered this argument with the insistence that because the right to information is now included as a constitutional right for Pakistani citizens, Punjab should become a role model for other provinces by passing a freedom of information law that reflects this right.

He also called for the draft bill to extend the ability to access government information to all Pakistani citizens. It currently authorizes such access only for Punjab residents.

For more information on the fight to get Punjab’s FOI bill enacted, peruse some of the recent press releases on the Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives website.

– Morgan Watkins

Morgan Watkins is SPJ’s summer Pulliam/Kilgore Freedom of Information intern and a University of Florida student. Reach her by email ( or connect with her on Twitter (@morganwatkins26).

FOI DAILY DOSE: Release of pricey Palin e-mails, oversight for Seattle schools

Two years later, Alaska to release 24,000 pages of Palin e-mails

It took more than two years, but the Associated Press, CNN, Andree McLeod of Anchorage and others will finally get the gubernatorial e-mails they wanted.

The requests from individuals and news outlets for Palin’s e-mails, made when she was running for vice president, will be honored by the state of Alaska soon.

The 24,000 pages are to be sent for copying this week and will then be mailed to the requesters.

But there’s a catch: 2,415 pages will be withheld due to exemptions from the state’s disclosure laws. And some of those that are released include an as-yet-unknown number of redactions.

The price for the long-overdue records release: $725.97 for copying fees, plus the cost of shipping about five boxes of the records at 55 pounds per box, according to the Anchorage Daily News.

The reasons for the two-year records delay, according to state officials, were that the state was unprepared for such a huge request for electronic data and that Palin’s use of a Yahoo account for business matters further complicated the process.

But it won’t just be the requesters who get to see the Palin e-mails., ProPublica and Mother Jones plan to publish the 24,000-plus pages in a searchable online archive.

Scandal sparks plans for Seattle school watchdog

There’s nothing like a scandal to drum up support for more official oversight.

A financial quagmire over a business development program resulted in the sacking of a superintendent and, now, a watchdog plan for Seattle Public Schools.

Seattle’s city council passed a measure Tuesday for the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission to create a district program for ethics and whistleblower protection.

The program will last until 2012, and hopefully beyond.

– Morgan Watkins

Morgan Watkins is SPJ’s summer Pulliam/Kilgore Freedom of Information intern and a University of Florida student. Reach her by email ( or connect with her on Twitter (@morganwatkins26).


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