Is it public? Public records that aren’t and freedom of information

#FOIAchat is a live, weekly Twitter chat that focuses on open records and open meetings issues. We’ve been going strong for over a year.

One question we will address this Friday at 2 PM Eastern time is: is it public? There are several documents that people would be surprised are public. Additionally, there are several documents that aren’t public but perhaps should be.

For an examples of relevant cases:
*Several universities in Michigan are figuring out how to deal with a records request for university professor e-mails relating to the Wisconsin union dispute.
*In New Mexico, there is a court case that will determine in the next 6 months whether private citizens’ complaints against public employees are public records.
*New Hampshire is the only state that I know of that explicitly states its municipal leagues and taxpayer-funded lobbying associations fall under the state’s freedom of information act. (Related: Here’s a list courtesy of WikiFOIA of litigation elating to private companies and FOIA.)

The list of borderline or questionably public information is long. Add exemptions to the mix and “is it public?” becomes an even more pertinent question.

What documents do you think should be public? What records shouldn’t be? Let us know your ideas, or join us live for #FOIAchat this Friday at 2 Eastern time and let us know.

Diana Lopez is Senior Editor of Sunshine Review and moderates FOIAchat. She follows Freedom of Information trends and writes on local government transparency issues.

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