The First Amendment Center has posted a a very helpful review article of recent open records victories.
These victories run counter to what the First Amendment Center describes as “…the seductive secrecy that has crept into every level of government and now rationalizes denials of even the most basic requests for information.”
I liked their run-down on a situation from Arizona:
Take, for example, the case of the Maricopa County, Ariz., sheriff’s office, which removed the West Valley View from its news-release distribution list because the newspaper hadn’t covered story ideas suggested by the sheriff.
When the newspaper’s lawyer complained, the sheriff refused to respond, apparently taking the view that he would provide the news releases only if the paper filed a state FOIA request for each one.
Given the pettiness of the issue, one would have expected the dispute to end when the trial judge ruled the sheriff must honor the paper’s blanket request for all future news releases. Instead, however, the sheriff appealed to the Arizona Court of Appeals, which unanimously affirmed the trial court.
Still unhappy, the sheriff said he would appeal to the Arizona Supreme Court.
There’s a definition of out-of-control local government for you.