How ‘the public is priced out of public records’ by Michigan universities

By Anna Clark, CJR Editor’s Note: This article first ran on April 5, 2016 on the Columbia Journalism Review’s website. In Michigan, transparency comes at a cost—and a seemingly arbitrary one at that. The Society of Professional Journalists chapter at Central Michigan University recently conducted a FOIA audit of the state’s 15 public universities. It asked for…

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Judge: Missouri broke the law by concealing execution drug supplier

By Allison Wrabel Cole County Circuit Court Judge Jon Beetem ruled that the Missouri Department of Corrections violated the Sunshine Law when it failed to reveal the name of the pharmacy that supplies the drugs for lethal injections. Under state law, the identities of individual execution team members are to be kept confidential. In 2013,…

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Kansas AG: Private emails on public topics protected

Kansas’ attorney general said Tuesday that emails sent by state employees through private accounts aren’t public record, even when they deal with public business. Attorney General Derek Schmidt was responding to a question from state Sen. Anthony Hensley about whether such an email would constitute public record. Schmidt, who interpreted “private email” to be an…

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Federal agencies fail FOIA test conducted by Syracuse University

Card If you report on the government, it may not surprise you to read that only seven of the 21 federal agencies recently FOIAed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) have provided records more than two months after the requests went out. TRAC, a research center that administers the FOIA Project out of Syracuse…

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OMB to release largest index of government data in the world

By Matt Rumsey, Sunlight Foundation On Feb. 6, the Office of Management and Budget sent a letter to the Sunlight Foundation explaining how it planned to comply with our FOIA request for Enterprise Data Inventories. These inventories are compiled by 24 federal agencies as part of President Barack Obama’s 2013 open data executive order. The…

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Judge blocks Alabama newspaper from printing information obtained through open records request

A state court judge has temporarily blocked the Montgomery Advertiser from publishing information about a utility company’s plan for gas line safety, information obtained through an open records request. Alagasco says the Distribution Integrity Management Plan, released to the newspaper by the Alabama Public Service Commission, contains proprietary and safety-related information that could jeopardize public…

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Public records request service sues CIA over FOIA practices

MuckRock is suing the CIA over a handful of specific FOIA requests that would shed light on how the agency determines what is and isn’t releasable, among other things. The CIA “has a track record of holding itself apart from, and largely above, the Freedom of Information Act, consistently ignoring deadlines, refusing to work with…

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News organizations file lawsuits against Missouri for failing to release execution drug records

Missouri’s failure to release records regarding the drugs it uses in executions keeps the public from providing oversight of the death penalty. That’s what the Associated Press and four other news organizations are arguing in a suit filed Thursday against the state. Another suit filed the same day by a reporter for St. Louis Public…

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Virginia Supreme Court: FOIA does not cover faculty emails, unpublished research

Faculty emails and unpublished university research can be deemed “proprietary” and withheld under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, the Virginia Supreme Court announced last week. The law was called into question in 2011 when the American Tradition Institute and Virginia Del. Robert Marshall filed a request for emails of Michael Mann, a prominent climate…

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Sunshine Week audio playlist, tipsheets and more

All week long we’ve been celebrating Sunshine Week by sharing some of our best tips, tricks and techniques for filing successful Freedom of Information Act requests. Deborah Nelson, Kirsten Mitchell, Mike Ravnitzky and Kate Willson talked about the importance of using documents and offered ideas for beefing up your records requests. The crew from FOIA…

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