Posts Tagged ‘Mother Jones’


Must read FOI stories – 6/13/14

Every week I’ll be doing a round up of the freedom of information stories around the Web. If you have an FOI story you want to share, send me an email or tweet me.

  • A Circuit Court Judge will decide on whether text messages exchanged between government officials need to be released under FOIA in a lawsuit filed by PETA. The first defense the city of Norfolk, Virginia, offered was that its public employees don’t save their messages, then it said there was no way of retrieving them. Maybe their next excuse will be, “The dog ate ’em.”
  • FOI advocacy groups want to close loop holes in FOIA regulations. Advocates say “agencies lack penalties for withholding information, overuse exemptions provided within FOIA and deal inconsistently and unfairly toward requesters.”
  • After 10,000 requests, MuckRock files FOIA lawsuit against the CIA. You can read all about in their editorial, “Why we’re suing the CIA.”
  • FOIA request filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation reveals FBI’s Next Generation Identification facial recognition program will consist of a database of more than 52 million pictures. FBI Director says he doesn’t think the agency will spy on Americans with it. (Apparently he missed the memo from the NSA.)

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 dschick@spj.org or interact on Twitter: @davidcschick

 

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. MSNBC.com, 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 (mwatkins@spj.org) or connect with her on Twitter (@morganwatkins26).

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