Tags : government

Mississippi town could make text messages readily available

A town in Mississippi could soon become the first in the state to archive and make available the text messages of public officials, according to the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal. The pending policy comes in response to a Mississippi Ethic Commission ruling against Tupelo, after the city had denied the Daily Journal text messages between the mayor and another city official.

The Mississippi Department of Archives and History laws already require that cities hold on to text messages. As local government records, the texts should be open to the public. But state officials have openly stated that municipalities don’t ...

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Appeals court upholds denial of FOIA request for detainee's photo

A U.S. Court of Appeals upheld a Freedom of Information Act request denial to grant photos and other materials showing Guantanamo Bay prisoner Mohammed al-Qahtani to the Center for Constitutional Rights. Al-Qahtani is the alleged would-be 20th hijacker on 9/11 and one of the highest profile U.S. detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

The panel ruled that "the federal government sufficiently made its case that the videos and photographs of al-Qahtani should be kept secret under Exemption 1 to FOIA, which provides for the withholding of materials in the interest of ‘national defense or foreign policy,’” according to the ...

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NPR releases militarization data ahead of White House analysis

NPR has released analyzed data that shows every military item shipped to local, state and federal agencies from 2006 through April 23, 2014, as a part of the 1033 program. The items from the Pentagon’s Law Enforcement Support Office include mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles (MRAPs) and assault rifles, among other things. NPR’s analysis also identifies the items by their cost to the Department of Defense.

Since unrest erupted in Ferguson, Missouri, following the killing of teenager Michael Brown, opposition has grown against a trend known as "police militarization," which critics say is fueled by programs that put items formerly ...

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Do police have to release the name of the officer involved in the Ferguson, Mo. shooting?

We’ve been getting a lot of questions about the Ferguson, Missouri police department’s decision not to release the name of the officer involved in the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Mike Brown. To get some legal answers, we turned to professor Sandy Davidson, who teaches communications law at the Missouri School of Journalism. 

Here’s what you need to know:

  • While an incident report is considered an open record under Missouri law, that document must legally include: The date, time, specific location, name of the victim and immediate facts and circumstances surrounding the initial report of a crime or ...
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Cuomo administration policy allows state to delete emails of government employees

According to WNYC, "New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s administration — which the governor pledged would be the most transparent in state history — has quietly adopted policies that allow it to purge the emails of tens of thousands of state employees, cutting off a key avenue for understanding and investigating state government."

"Last year, the state started deleting any emails more than 90 days old that users hadn’t specifically saved — a much more aggressive stance than many other states. The policy shift was first reported by the Albany Times Union."

IRE Radio Podcast | Scandals at the VA

Welcome to another episode of the IRE Radio Podcast. We’re excited to announce that this podcast is now available on iTunes. Subscribe to have the latest episode automatically download to your phone, computer or tablet.

This week we’re talking about investigating veterans issues, past and present. Here’s the lineup:

  • Dennis Wagner of the Arizona Republic discusses how he helped break open the most recent scandal involving falsified wait-time data at the Phoenix VA hospital.
  • Aaron Glantz of The Center for Investigative Reporting talks about benefit backlogs at the Veterans Benefits Administration.
  • Michael Phillips of the Wall Street ...
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How to investigate subsidized tutoring

Florida's mandated tutoring program used taxpayer dollars to hire firms run by criminals, cheaters and profiteers. Last year Tampa Bay Times reporter Michael LaForgia used invoice records, complaint reports, audits and interviews to report on the industry, which goes virtually unchecked by state regulators.

In this series of clips LaForgia walks through how to investigate subsidized tutoring. To get started, LaForgia introduces Supplemental Educational Services (SES) and explains how it affects your community.

 

 

Step 1: Identify the contractors and find out who's getting paid.
(To view the presentation that goes with this audio, click here.)


 

Step 2: Run ...

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Sunshine Week: A look at what's coming up in freedom of information legislation

In many states, recent or pending legislation could impact the transparency of public information. Though several states are taking strides to make public records more open and accessible, a few seem to be adding obstacles to obtaining public information. Here's a breakdown of what's happened in recent months and what could be on the horizon.

AlabamaSB 191, which passed the Senate in February and is pending in the House, would amend the Open Meetings Act. The bill is chiefly concerned with regulating “serial meetings.” These meetings are used to deliberate an issue, but require no quorum or ...

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Behind the Story: The Boston Globe’s 4-year battle for secret settlement records

Todd Wallack

Boston Globe reporter Todd Wallack thought it would be a simple, short-term project to look into settlements made between the state of Massachusetts and some of its employees. After all, he’d done the same thing in California, uncovering an agreement between UC Davis and one of its administrators to avert a nasty lawsuit.

But the response he got from Massachusetts was completely unexpected.

“This is the first time I came across a state saying, ‘no, this is confidential,” Wallack said.

The records he initially received were heavily redacted. Officials had blacked out reams of crucial information, including names, dates ...

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Investigating tax credits, subsidies and incentives

By Zachary Matson

Each year local and state governments provide private companies with billions of dollars of tax credits, subsidies and other forms of incentives to mover or open new facilities in their communities. These deals are shrouded behind layers of quasi-public agencies, weak disclosure rules and secretive businesses, but rarely the economic benefits turn out as originally billed.

IRE board president and columnist David Cay Johnston and Greg LeRoy of Good Jobs First provided insights into exploring these deals and their true costs to the public on a panel at the recent IRE Conference in San Antonio.

Johnston said ...

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