This week’s FOIA round-up: USDA adopts a new “hands-off” animal welfare policy, ICE is putting mentally ill migrants in solitary confinement, and an L.A. official was paid by an agency he was lobbying
In this week’s FOIA round-up, the number of animal welfare citations issued by the USDA has decreased by 65% under the Trump Administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement is placing record numbers of migrants in solitary confinement, many of whom are mentally ill, L.A. official Michael LoGrande was lobbying private developers while serving as the head of the city’s Planning Agency, and the Tennessee Court of Appeals rules that state agencies still have to release public records that are part of criminal investigations.
Last week, the Tennessee Court of Appeals ruled that state agencies can’t withhold public records just because they’re relevant to a criminal investigation.
Tennessee officials were surprised to learn that its state retirement system owned over 7,000 shares of stock in a real estate investment trust that provides capital for the medical marijuana industry. While the state sold those shares, citing “policy implications,” recent Securities and Exchange Commission filings show that Tennessee remains invested in other substances that, while legal, have major health policy implications.
The state of Tennessee has taken a small step toward more transparency on the incentives it offers businesses to locate or expand in the state.
David Cuillier is an associate professor in the School of Journalism at The University of Arizona. He specializes in public records reporting and co-wrote the book, The Art of Access: Strategies for Acquiring Public Records, the second edition of which is being released this month. The book teaches journalists and involved citizens how to gain access to public records, which he says is an art that requires understanding of the system and human behavior. For this week’s Requester’s Voice, Cuillier spoke to MuckRock about his book and the study he worked on this past year.