Posts Tagged ‘Ohio’


Newspaper sues after denied access to gang boundary map

A gang boundary map is being withheld by police in Ohio.

After learning about its existence, the Toledo Blade requested to see and copy the map of growing gang-related activity and shootings from this year, Blade staff writer Erika Blake reported.

Police claimed that disclosing the map would interfere with ongoing investigations.

The Toledo Blade sued the city of Toledo because it said outright concealment violated Ohio’s open records law. The Blade said police should at least release a redacted version of the map.

The police department’s tight fist on the map came after officers already told a Blade reporter about the map on more than one occasion. The map allegedly hangs on a wall in the Safety Building and is available on the department’s computer system, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit states public interest should be taken into consideration because city officials are planning to reallocate police resources, including possibly relocating a police station, the Blade reported.

Read more here.

Whitney is the summer Pulliam/Killgore intern with SPJ. She recently graduated from Brigham Young University after studying journalism. Connect with her via email –  wevans@hq.spj.org –  or on twitter – @whitevs7

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FOI DAILY DOSE: Fla. records requests get cheaper, push for transparent redistricting in Ohio

Good news: Florida records to cost a little less

Florida Gov. Rick Scott is making it a little cheaper to access public records, easing the costs his open records policy originally required.

The state won’t charge people for public records work that takes less than 30 minutes to complete, according to a post by the Orlando Sentinel’s Central Florida Political Pulse blog. It also won’t charge requesters for the first 30-minute period of work that follows if the search takes longer than the initial half-hour time span.

The hourly rate that requesters will be charged for the time personnel spend on their request will also be changed. The rate was previously based on the salary of the specific person handling the records request, but people will now be charged $19.43 – an administrative assistant’s hourly rate.

Ohioans call for transparent redistricting process

Ohio residents gathered at the statehouse Wednesday to promote the need for transparency in the state’s congressional redistricting process.

People advocated in the first of five planned legislative hearings for representatives to improve the transparency of redistricting by disclosing proposed maps for public feedback prior to voting and to encourage public input in the process.

State lawmakers have until December 7 to approve a new map of the redrawn congressional districts, according to an Associated Press article.

The Ohio Campaign for Accountable Redistricting is running an online political contest where state residents can create maps that can then be voted upon by various users.

– 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).

 

FOI DAILY DOSE: 2012 spending bill’s open gov effects, RCFP involved in Ohio real estate records case

2012 spending bill includes boons, obstacles for transparency

The House Financial Services and General Government Appropriations subcommittee approved its spending measure for the 2012 fiscal year Thursday.

The bill shifts the Electronic Government Fund into the General Service Administration’s Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies, which handles government IT work such as the management of USA.gov.

The E-Gov Fund supports open government websites like Data.gov, and the bill would give OCSIT $50 million for the 2012 fiscal year. This is a $7.8 million increase from the 2011 funding for both OCSIT and the E-Gov Fund, but it is $20.5 million less than their combined budgets in the 2010 fiscal year.

The bill would also forbid the Consumer Product Safety Commission from spending money on its consumer product safety database, which it was required to create after a 2008 law responding to several major product recalls.

This could make it easier to conceal safety risks in consumer products, according to OMB Watch.

The legislation would also forbid agencies from spending money to implement President Obama’s draft executive order that, if he signs it, would make potential federal contractors disclose political contributions to bid on contracts.

The bill is scheduled for markup by the full House Appropriations Committee on June 23.

RCFP calls for Ohio county to stop overcharging for records

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press filed a friend-of-the-court brief encouraging the Ohio Supreme Court to reject Cuyahoga County’s high copy fees for electronic real estate records.

The county has a $2 per page fee for the Cuyahoga County Recorder’s services when filling electronic records requests for real estate data. The RCFP brief argues that this requirement conflicts with state law and, if upheld by the court, could later become the normal fee structure for other Ohio recorders.

Charging such high fees (prices for some requests could hit the six-figure range) for copying real estate records onto a CD-ROM is unacceptable, RCFP Executive Director Lucy Dalglish said in a press release.

The resources used for an employee to physically photocopy pages versus copying them onto a CD aren’t comparable, and fees should reflect the actual cost of reproducing records, according to Dalglish.

Cuyahoga seems to be the only Ohio county where the Recorder requires such high fees for real estate records.

– 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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