Posts Tagged ‘Leland Yee’

Maine and D.C. officials aim to hide communications; Calif. opens more records

Maine: Governor Paul LePage is proposing a measure to hide all working papers from public access, reports the Bangor Daily News.  The state legislature currently enjoys such protection of its working papers, or “anything written down that could contribute to proposed legislation.” The state’s right-to-know advisory committee has approved the proposal by a vote of 10 to five. Dissenting members of the committee advocate not only for the governor’s proposal to be rejected, but for the legislature to lose its current protections of working papers.

Judy Meyer, co-chairperson of the committee and managing editor of the Lewiston Sun Journal, said that “this runs completely contrary to what the governor has said about transparency.” The governor’s deputy counsel, Michael Cianchette, argues that the proposed protection “doesn’t cut against transparency because as soon as a bill is presented, all documents become public. This just protects the decision-making process.”

Washington, D.C.: The Washington Post reports that some top city officials in D.C. have used personal email accounts for work purposes. Speaking for Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi, who testified at a deposition last month, Gandhi’s chief of staff said, “There may have been an issue that we wanted to discuss, but did not necessarily want it to be FOIA-able to the press and, so, we would have perhaps had a conversation on personal email.” Gandhi explained at the deposition that he used his personal email account when emailing colleagues from home, citing difficulty accessing his work account. D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray may also be under fire after the Post uncovered several emails he had sent to aides from his personal account.

California: In good FOIA news, a California state senator has introduced a bill that would require more transparency and ease of access to public files among government agencies. Rather than posting graphics and scans of documents, which are not keyword-friendly, Sen. Leland Yee’s bill would require public documents and data to be uploaded in user-friendly formats such as word-processing and spreadsheet files. On Saturday, a conference/”hack-a-thon” was hosted to allow software developers to create applications that can help the government open and streamline its operations. Read the story from the Central Valley Business Times.

– Abby Henkel

Abby Henkel is SPJ’s communications coordinator and a 2011 graduate of Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs master’s program. Reach her at

FOI DAILY DOSE: Executive order on contractors fought in D.C., Calif. universities grow more transparent

In D.C., lawmakers fight back against draft exec order

Bills in the House and Senate could preempt a draft executive order by President Obama that would force federal contractors to disclose their political contributions.

The legislation would prohibit the federal government from both collecting and using data about federal contractors’ political expenditures. The House also passed an amendment May 25 to the 2012 defense bill to ban federal departments from collecting such information.

Obama’s draft executive order has received support from open government groups, but has also faced opposition from businesses and members of Congress from both parties.

Calif. universities embrace transparency (with a few caveats)

California State University and the University of California have agreed to withdraw their opposition to public disclosure of campus foundation finances through a compromise with state Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) and various public records supporters.

While state university officials didn’t want to reveal how campus foundations manage almost $2 billion, the compromise allows them to protect the identities of most donors.

The call for disclosure by campus foundations gained media attention in 2010 when CSU Stanislaus hired former Alaska governor and former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin to deliver a speech at a fundraiser but wouldn’t disclose the amount she received until a judge ordered the contract be made public.

CSU and UC will not oppose Senate Bill 8, which was introduced by Yee and would make campus foundations and other operations, such as campus bookstores, to function under the California Public Records Act.

– 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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