Category Archives: Carnival of Open Records

Best of the FOIASphere: Weekly round-up

Open government advocates are getting ready for Sunshine Week which goes from March 15-21. Sunshine Week is to journalists what Halloween is to children, especially children in affluent suburbs.

There will be no end of Sunshine Stories that week and what better way to prepare than to see what our doughty sunshine bloggers who work ceaselessly to shine a light on government have to say for themselves this week.

Featured post of the week:

News you can use: Classroom teachers are smarter than administrators.


Arpaio, this week on the other side of the public request.


What are Daley’s stimulus plans?


Whose side are they on?


Strange concealed carry story.

New Mexico:

Another law, another long list of exceptions.

OMG. There’s an open records echo chamber in New Mexico.


Are state employees birth dates are public information?

Best of the FOIAsphere: Weekly round-up

For our new readers, when I say “weekly”, it means “weekly or less-than-weekly, depending”.

Much has been happening in the world of open records blogging. Here are some of the posts we most enjoyed or learned from.


Save us from this horrible mandate of disclosure.


Isn’t it good to know there is a watchdog blog for Evanston, Illinois? They know about FOIA, which always stands a watchdogger in good stead.


File an open records request, get fired.


How can you tell if a public utility failed to seek competitive bids on 21 out of 25 contracts of over $50,000? You know, it’s a good thing the economy is roaring and we don’t have to watch every penny.


Moldy City has thoughts about Mayor Ray Nagin’s administration.


Wouldn’t you like to have a blog called the Pocomoke Tattler? Wouldn’t it be fun to just write all day long about Pocomoke, Maryland?

In this case, the Tattler is keeping a watchful eye on the city manager.

New Hampshire:

Another website to cheer you up.

New Jersey:

What do I know, but I would imagine that New Jersey Senate Republicans are an endangered species. Not so endangered, though, that they can’t put together a feisty blog series called Your Tax Dollars at Work. They’re doing this to spotlight the need for a searchable online database of government spending or, as we like to say, If you can’t defend it, don’t spend it.


The dog ate my homework.


Light comes to Lehigh. (Because a citizen went to meetings, recorded them, and posted them on his website.)


Why can’t government make its spending available? Anyone? Anyone?

A great new website: George Scott Reports.


Blogs (sort of) disagreeing! The legislature shouldn’t make it harder and the laws can be a burden.

More here and thanks to Maverick for collecting these links even while having other things on her mind.

Best of the FOIAsphere links round-up


Here’s a great entry from my home state: The million dollar website. Wait…was it $1 million? Good thing we don’t have a budget deficit.


“Fun-loving” staff mocks county supervisor.


Here’s a good trick! Make transparency disappear.

But all is not lost: Another landmark day.


The ambitious new Sunshine Chronicles!


Schaumburg’s Village Officials Can’t Explain Rapid Growth in $100K+ Salaries.


Everyone needs a little reminder every so often.


I am really tired of having persons in those offices whose legal shenanigans embarrass me. I am sorry that there is no one in the county counselor’s office who understands the Sunshine law or attempts to guide the legislature and the other county entities to follow the law. I am aghast that our elected County Executive, himself a lawyer, is offering this kind of leadership to those under him.

Me too.


Reporter Matt Davis totally gets why Bill Harbaugh wants to reform the Oregon Public Records Law.


Sunshine: Use it or lose it.

South Carolina:

Transparency report released.


It’s still a public records merry-go-round as the Evergereen Freedom Foundation waits for Gov. Gregoire’s ideas for reforming the state’s budget. Tick tock.

Open records blogging

Best open records links of the last few weeks compiled for your viewing pleasure.

Public records: Link round-up

It’s been a long time since our last links round-up of excellent public records blogging. This post won’t catch everything that should be mentioned but here are a few highlights:

Warren County salaries released.

Caligula on the Connecticut. (Who can resist, “In her own way, [name of politician] is as fascinatingly pathological as her predecessor.”?)

Serial Meetings Are Illegal.

Open Records Are Not Optional.

The Question of Privilege: Public Disclosure.

Lifting Up the Legislative Council Bureau’s Budget Rock.

My, my…look who won the ‘2008 Brick Wall Award’.

Idaho Near Top In Lack Of Gov’t Integrity.

Why hide Anything?

The Meyer Lawsuit: Pending Questions.

There’s much more here.

As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, I’m grateful for everyone out there who is plugging away at state and local transparency, each of us in our own way.

Time for a FOIAsphere round-up

I continue to be impressed and surprised at how much great FOIA-blogging comes across my RSS transom.

Our featured post is from Kentucky, where investigative blogger Ed Springston has been blogging up a storm, partly based on the results of open record requests he filed, about mega-problems with the Inspections, Permits and Licensing part of Louisville’s government.

Some of the best in the last few weeks:


According to Sabernomics, the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners at a recent meeting approved a $19 million budget increase to fund a new stadium for the Gwinnett Braves. And I quote, “It turns out that though the Board didn’t mention a word of the cost increase until the Friday before Labor Day, and voted on it the following Tuesday without discussion, county officials were aware of the cost increase well before this time.”


The blog produced by the Michigan State University Libraries points out that when Kwame lost, freedom of information won.

New York:

I get why some public officials aren’t in a hurry to hand over the records they’re asked to hand over. But public health information? The spread of the West Nile Virus? What the requesters wanted was information about the location in their county of mosquito traps where mosquitoes with West Nile were picked up, and they got stonewalled. Unbelievable.


Ben Cunningham says that there’s a move a-foot in Tennessee to imperil citizen access to records.

Cup of Joe Powell says that’s why it’s important to act now.

It’s a regular Tennessee FOIA blogswarm!


In Dallas, Texas, there’s a race for sheriff. There’s also an elections board in the county. The elections board maintains the legally required campaign finance disclosure reports for the sheriff campaigns. That’s how they roll here in the Big D tells the rest of the story, from Texas Watchdog.


The Vermont Tiger is not the first to notice that open, public access to documents helps everyone. But not all bloggers take advantage of that insight to go ahead and file a FOIA request.

This week in public records

PI Buzz did all the work!

This week’s Best of the FOIAsphere: The teen drinking edition

It’s Wednesday, and that means it is time to do the Tuesday links round-up that I didn’t do yesterday.

For those of you visiting for the first time, our “Best of the FOIAsphere” link round-up is our opportunity to visit blogs we may not have encountered before who are writing fresh, interesting content about state and local FOIA, sunshine laws and requests.

California: Could a county assessor be wrong? Nah, that’d never happen.

Kentucky: The Kentucky State Police are are extremely determined not to give a Kentucky newspaper some records. It’s easier to be that determined when the taxpayers are footing all the legal bills, isn’t it?

Minnesota: 2009 is just around the bend.

Missouri: The e-mail war between Gov. Blunt and AG Nixon continues. Far from being haplessly caught in the crossfire, what almost always comes of these situations is an expanded understanding of open records law, and very often a more expansive general agreement about what ought to be made available to the public. For example…the e-mails of a state’s AG and governor.

More Missouri: Why is it that sometimes, gov’t officials would rather not hand over the records? Oh, I don’t know.

New Jersey: Our old friends John Paff and Martin O’Shea keep creating sunshine trouble, and earn some applause along the way.

New York: I defy your request! I defy it!

Tennessee: If you have to go to court to get a couple of very simple open records requests filled by your local school district, Houston, we have a problem.

Texas: If you’re a private corporation, your records are not open to the public. If you’re a public corporation doing the things that private corporations also do, like building a hotel, your records are open to the public. Some people forget this.

Utah: The Utah Attorney General is investigating a local District Attorney, and a local newspaper used an open records request to get an idea of what it’s all about. (Teen drinking, for one.)

Thank you, Maverick, for finding these great links. You can review more of them here.

Carnival of Open Records, 10th Edition

Three straight days of rain here in Madison had eroded my spirit of carnival until I ran across this image:


Which inspired us to scour the internet for blogs–including several we’ve never run across before–writing about open records for 2008’s first Carnival of Open Records.

The theme for this week’s carnival is an overflow of New Year’s optimism tinged with doubt.

The Texas Observer is optimistic that they will someday see some gubernatorial e-mails in: Coming Up: A Glimpse Of Perry’s Emails.

For the Pennsylvania Progressives, it is not too soon in the New Year to note that records are only open if you can get them.

Our stalwart friends Jamie and Dani, also in Pennsylvania, note that the New Year is composed of both Doubt and Hope.

Here’s a charming blog we’ve never encountered before: The New York Zoning and Municipal Law Blog, which notes, none too early in the New Year, that agencies have the burden of proof when it comes to asserting exemptions.

Do you really care about open records? They’re wondering in Rapid City.

If it weren’t for the Oconee County Observers, I suspect that Oconee County Board of Commissioners would be in a carnival mood way too often.

How do you know when you’ve become a true-blue open records blog?, Part I. When you use the phrase “again and again and again” in a way we can all relate to.

Open Records: 1; Police Department: 0. From our house to your house, may you get to say that again in 2008.

How do you know when you’ve become a true-blue open records blog?, Part 2. When you write, The bigger question, though, is why the City is working so danged hard to keep this stuff from us?.

How do you know when you’ve become a true-blue open records blog?, Part 3. When you write, Access to police blotters matters and make us believe it.

Join us for the next Carnival or better yet, sign up to host an edition in 2008 and add one of these to your blog:

Sunshine Blogger

9th Edition of the Carnival of Open Records

Welcome to the 9th edition of the Carnival of Open Records. Before we begin this edition, we’re pleased to note that a previous edition of the Carnival has been cited as the information source that led to the open records request heard ’round the country.

Without further ado:

Let’s start with a good blog post on that Texas e-mail situation: Governor’s office still gets it wrong on e-mail retention.

Up north in Pennsylvania, the bloggers at Pennsylvania Pundits are keeping on top of why it is not a good idea to exclude e-mail from open records legislation.

Dropping south again, Jean in Missouri asks a question that almost any FOIAer has wondered about: Do they even read the sunshine laws?

A fellow Missouri blogger says that officials don’t need more training–What Missouri needs is a law with teeth.

Jeffrey S. Solochek, the blogger at The Gradebook–it covers education in Florida–says patience is a vital component of open records requests.

The Gradebook isn’t the only person interested in using public records requests to learn more about grading policies.

Entropic Memes does some creative thinking about the pros and cons of FOIA fee waivers and performance incentives.

As we close out the Carnival, let’s head back to Texas, where Over the line, Smokey! says police have too much access to private energy customer accounts (i.e., your utility bills).

Robert Guest, the blogger at I Was The State follows up with another excellent post about police access to utility bills in Austin.

And finally, could life be better? The Private Investigators Association of Virginia now has a blog.

We hope you enjoyed this edition of The Carnival of Open Records.

We’re always looking for hosts for future editions, so consider signing up here.