This week’s FOIA round-up: Agency attempts at transparency hit road bumps

This week’s FOIA round-up: Agency attempts at transparency hit road bumps

From Florida to Oregon, innovations are facing a few growing pains

Written by
Edited by JPat Brown

In Gainesville, Florida, where officials’ emails were made transparent by default, residents were shocked to see that also included the communications they sent to those government workers. The State of Oregon will need to find a new Public Records Czar after the first and current person to hold the position resigns. And a website in Wisconsin meant to help individuals understand how agencies are responding to requests will no longer be available.

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Gainesville residents find themselves also subjected to state’s Sunshine Laws

Gainesville’s approach to transparency is particularly innovative and radical. Nearly every email sent to and from the city is captured on the city’s website within 24 hours. But unknowing residents are not completely happy with the system.

“The commissioners have described having people sitting in their office crying because their boss found out what they said about a problem at work, or that their neighbor found out they were the one reporting their barking dog,” Hoffman said.

Read more on the Montgomery Advertiser.

The inaugural Public Records Czar in Oregon resigns

Ginger McCall is the first person to serve the State of Oregon as a Public Records Czar, tasked with helping improve and enforce the public records compliance of agencies within the state. Earlier this week, she announced she would be resigning, and as conveyed in a letter to Governor Kate Brown released via public records request, her reasons seemed to be a conflict of principles and purpose.

“I have received meaningful pressure from the Governor’s General Counsel to represent the Governor’s Office’s interests on the Public Records Advisory Council, even when those interests conflict with the will of the Council and the mandate of the Office of the Public Records Advocate,” McCall wrote in the letter.

A meeting of the Public Records Advisory Council to discuss the resignation will happen today.

Read more on Willamette Week.

Wisconsin Governor removes predecessors’ website on state transparency

In 2016, then-Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker established by executive order a website to help track how agencies were responding to records requests, contributing to an award from the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council. However, a report from the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty has identified the removal of that website and other ways in which the current administration of Governor Tony Evers has failed to uphold those principles.

Read more on the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

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Image via Sheppard Air Force Base