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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...]

California Census data is flawed according to Bay Area police

PoliceCensus data compiled in the Bay Area shows local police departments need more diversity if it wants to reflect its current population. While many area departments acknowledge diversity is very important, they do concede that an overwhelming number of officers are white.

At the same time, officials say the census data is not completely accurate in its findings. In the 2010 Bureau report, it estimated that the departments of Brentwood, Walnut Creek, Daly City, Antioch, and Novato were 100 percent white. However, they say this is not the case. [Read more...]

Ohio Democrats file public records suit in Ohio Supreme Court

GavelThursday afternoon, the Ohio Democratic Party filed suit in the Ohio Supreme Court to press Ohio Governor, John Kasich and Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor to release public records.

The records in question are written communication between employees who resigned from Taylor’s office earlier in the year. [Read more...]

Pennsylvania counties could save big with electronic storage

Data CenterA new law could save counties in Pennsylvania thousands of dollars by storing court records electronically. This law would help modernize storage and save money by limiting the process and storage of paper copies and microfilm.

State Senator Matt Smith said it will save the state a significant amount of tax dollars. It is estimated that Allegheny County alone could see a saving of $230,000 annually in storage costs. [Read more...]

Florida court restricts physician speech on gun ownership

HandgunA Florida appeals court stated on Friday that it is constitutional to restrict what a physician can tell its patients about gun ownership. The court said regulating professional conduct does not violate freedom of speech rights under the First Amendment.

Physicians caught breaking this law could be fined and lose their medical licenses.

The Florida appeals court upheld the law by a 2-1 decision as a protection of patient privacy rights. It said any limits imposed by it were incidental. [Read more...]

Records request consumes months of government resources

StressPublic records are designed to keep government agencies accountable for their actions and also to help individuals find information they need in the pursuit of personal, legal, and business pursuits. In theory, public records are the epitome of transparent government. In practice, public records do indeed serve this purpose, but the reality of carrying out a request can be much more daunting than one might initially think.

In December of 2013, for example, Port Orchard, Washington resident Randy Jones filed a public records requests asking for email correspondence details between a few very specific groups and [Read more...]