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Washington State Liquor Board pays off public records suit filer

MoneyWhile a “gadfly” is a fly that hangs out on horses and cattle, the phrase had made its way into modern day colloquialisms as someone who provokes questions or issues basically ‘for the hell of it.’  At least, that’s how articles are describing Arthur West, an Olympia, WA resident who the state’s liquor board has just agreed to pay nearly $200,000 to.  The public records suit alleges that the Liquor Control Board did not adhere to open meetings laws when it began to work on plans for how the state will regulate its legal marijuana scheme (possession and consumption of marijuana has been legal for residents of Washington state for roughly two years now). [Read more...]

How much will it cost you to use the streets in Portland?

TrafficInfrastructure is a large consumer of tax revenue each year.  This is especially true for cities like Portland, Oregon, where millions of pounds of vehicles will rumble over the asphalt each year.  These road damages, and the repairs that are subsequently required, cost a lot of money, maybe even more money than state and municipal governments have to spend on them.  At least, that’s the story according to the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT). [Read more...]

Public records might become harder to get in Illinois

Sealed RecordsPublic records have, for a long, long time, played an important role in democratic governments.  This fact is certainly true in the United States, where each individual state has its own so called “Sunshine Laws”, which help to shed figurative light on governmental bodies and their proceedings.  Unfortunately, there is a constant tug-of-war between these laws and the governments that they regulate. [Read more...]

University of Michigan is latest example of records loophole for colleges

ShredTo say that there have been problems reconciling university policy with state level lawmaking when it comes to public records would be an understatement. To say that the way schools align themselves with state laws on the matter is “bumbling” would also be putting it way, way softly. Take last year, for example, when an assault investigation at the University of Oregon lead to numerous public records requests that were so heavily redacted they were virtually useless. It was argued at the time that the redaction was excessive, but in the end the concerned parties had to be content with the half-attempt at compliance. [Read more...]

ACLU joins public records fight in New Jersey

PaperSometimes it just seems like journalists can’t get a break, at least in the public records arena. And when one finally gets a win, it’s short lived, or at least hotly contested. Gannett, which owns several newspapers including the Home News Tribune, the Courier News, and several other local publications, recently found itself in such a situation. [Read more...]

Florida universities use public records loophole

UniversityAs part of the publicly funded education system in the state of Florida, public universities and colleges are subject to the state’s ‘Sunshine Laws’, a series of legislation that ensures that the goings on of public institutions are open to viewing to the public. Every state has similar public records law, with various modifications in reach and usage.

Unfortunately for the concerned public, however, things aren’t quite working as intended. Universities, though public, can make use of private organizations for things like their athletic programs, constructions projects, private contractors and more. [Read more...]

Texas parole board member allegedly tampered with government records

GavelA Texas parole commissioner has been relieved of her duties after being indicted for falsifying and tampering with government records. The Huntsville commissioner had changed documents to show inmates refused to attend scheduled parole interviews.

Pamela Freeman, charged with the alleged tampering is said to have tampered with at least five inmate files which affected the parole process. [Read more...]

Bay County in Michigan offers online ordering of certificates

LaptopA new online service will be offered by the Bay County Clerk’s office in Michigan starting January 1, 2015. The service, which was designed to add convenience, will allow residents to order birth, death, and marriage certificates online.

The Bay County Board of Commissioners approved the ruling on September 16, which will allow people to make online purchases through Vital Chek, a third party vendor. Vital Chek authenticates identity and then allows the certificates to be sent. [Read more...]