Category Archives: Kentucky open records

Kentucky governments: Behave!

I was just perusing the excellent Kentucky Open Government blog, where I see that open records violators have been keeping the courts and the Attorney General busy.

You, too, Venice.

More court records may become open in Kentucky

John Minton, chief justice of the Kentucky Supreme Court, is said to be new rules that will open more records in Kentucky:

Especially:

They may open administrative records of Supreme Court agencies, which include the Kentucky Bar Association, the Board of Bar Examiners and the Judicial Conduct Commission.

That day when you realize you can’t read everything

Do you remember that sad feeling you get when you realize that you can’t read all the best things ever written and you can’t, in fact, even stay current with a narrowly defined area of knowledge should you wish to also read a good novel every now and then.

It was that sad feeling I got just now when I stumbled upon Page One Kentucky.

I only run across websites like this when they publish a phrase I pay attention to like “open records” or “public records” and my RSS feed announces their existence.

There didn’t used to be this many of them, each with its own backstory, rich detail and local scandals to share. And we wouldn’t have all these stories if it weren’t for people like these who decide to get the story and write the story and laws like the Kentucky Open Records Act to give them a way to investigate.

New open government blog in Kentucky

The Kentucky Open Government blog, which launched in January.

Denying requests when investigations are open

It’s very common — possibly ubiquitous — that a government agency will deny an open records request when there is an ongoing, open law enforcement investigation that revolves around the person or situation with respect to whom the records were requested.

That’s usually frustrating because why should a public document become a sealed document just because the government has launched an investigation?

At any rate, a Republican state legislator in Kentucky used this feature of the Kentucky law to establish that a political opponent was under investigation. The GOP legislator filed a request for records, and the request was then denied by the state’s attorney general on the grounds that the Dem state legislator whose records were requested was involved somehow in an ongoing investigation.

It appears that the GOP legislator didn’t want the records as much as he wanted a public verification of the fact that there was an investigation.

Interesting uses of FOIA, #139:

AG says office investigating Ky. senator.

A little ray of justice in the sunshine world

Kentucky’s attorney general ruled this week that the Urban County Council in Lexington violated the Kentucky Open Records Act last month.

The council denied a request for e-mails “sent to and from District 2 Councilman Tom Blues’ city e-mail address” by a write-in candidate for the District 2 seat, Randy Tobia.

The AG said, “Although Mr. Tobia’s request was broad in scope, the council failed to demonstrate the existence of an unreasonable burden in producing the requested records, by clear and convincing evidence, and its denial therefore constituted a violation of the Open Records Act.”

Copy of the AG’s decision.

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:

Georgia:

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.”

Michigan:

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.

Tennessee

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!

Texas:

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.

Vermont:

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.

Tuesday public records links round-up

It’s time again for a round-up of the best of FOIA blogging around the country. As always, our round-up pays special attention to blogs we haven’t noticed before. We find a lot of great local blogs this way. Enjoy!

All of these links lead to great stories. Let’s get started.

Kansas: Johnson County wanted $1,300 for 900 pages of documents; nearby Overland Park wants $29,500 for about 8,300 pages. Don’t ask why; you’ll get a migraine.

Kentucky: Depth Reporting is a great blog, even if it is run by a professional reporter. We don’t entirely disdain such people, even though we are mere “citizen journalists”, the hoi polloi and PDQ night clerks of the internet. But I digress. The Kentucky state police violated the open records law.

Louisiana: Did or did not Alexandria Mayor Jacques Roy violate the open records law? Don’t know yet.

New York: Homeland Security Alert! Attorney General Andrew Cuomo can’t release his schedule without imperilling global security!

Ohio: Maggie Thurber advises readers on finding out about government staff salaries.

Pennsylvania: The Wyomissing School Board tried to bargain away the public’s right to know. Don’t do that.

Pennsylvania: Reflections on Pennsylvania’s new open records top honcho. But not all is well with public access in the state. It’s positively Sisyphean, actually.

South Carolina: 54 days to deliver government salary information. Unions at fault? (This blog post also refers to the Sunshine Blogger Project.)

Tennessee: Why did Elbert Jefferson take time out of his busy schedule to go to Memphis to lobby for a bill to make it harder to access public documents?

Texas: Should city council members be able to police their own spending? Um, no. Also from the Lone Star State, don’t miss The Purge, Part 12. It’s better than Masterpiece Theater.

Virginia: Reading The Hook reminds me of why so often it would just be easier to deny the records request.

Read, enjoy, comment. As a sidenote, I started this blog in April 2007. There are vastly more blog posts and newspaper articles about state-level open records access issues than there were a year ago.

Thanks to Maverick recently returned from a roller derby tour to Seattle, for doing the research for this post!

Katy bar the door: Today’s e-mail and open records story

(What “Katy bar the door” means.)

As local and state governments around the country struggle with the question of which if any–none if you live in Pennsylvania–e-mails generated on government computers should be part of the public record, a judge in Kentucky has issued a ruling that says that intensely private e-mails exchanged between two government employees are to be released in response to an open records request:

Man may see wife’s work e-mails.

Judges are going to be considering cases like this for years. How do I know? For one thing, another judge in the very same circuit (Franklin Circuit Court in Kentucky) ruled not long ago in “Gannett vs. Gov. Ernie Fletcher” that “conversational e-mails and non-policy fact based (e-mails) are not subject to public disclosure.”

The broadest possible position that a FOIA advocate could take on e-mail is that ALL e-mails written on government computers (including e-mails using private e-mail accounts) should be open to the public, no matter how personal or non-work-related they are.

What’s your position?

Random Friday links

Thanks to Insider Online for mentioning this blog and the WikiFOIA.

The Wisconsin State Journal has filed an open records lawsuit against the Madison Police Department for refusing to release disciplinary records concerning a former police officer.

In New Jersey, a public school district has cost its taxpayers $50,000; first, by illegally witholding minutes of its meetings for which it has been ordered to pay a $3,000 fine and the $15,000 legal bill of the newspaper that wanted the minutes, and second, by paying a law firm $33,000 to unsuccessfully defend its non-right to withhold the minutes.

Tennessee is in the market for an open records ombudsman.

A Kentucky newspaper makes use of that state’s open records laws to investigate why a former lieutenant governor of the state was removed from his position at a medical school.

Did an Indiana prosecutor violate that state’s open records law?

Thanks to the Sam Adams Alliance for its profile of Sara Key and the WikiFOIA.