Archive Page 2

Madison is not the only city with a troubled 911 center…

Lake Havasu in Arizona appears to be having some difficulties too.

I sure hope that no one at the Dane County 911 center has been destroying or altering public records in order to hide evidence of wrong doing. I should be able to tell you soon, since I finally received a reply to my open records request regarding internal e-mails on the Brittney Zimmermann case.

Read the letter I received (helpfully e-mailed with no subject line, thus landing it in my spam box for a few days) here. I haven’t read it thoroughly yet myself; come back for my thoughts soon!

Friday Link Round Up — brought to you by Sex in the City

This might be letting my girly flag fly a little higher than usual, but this looks sooo fun to me: Sex and the City Night at the Majestic. If you want to see me giggly after a cosmo or two, you know where to find me!

Thanks for the heads up to Dane 101.

Now for the open record links:

Sunshine in Missouri asks Cloudy days, don’t the sun ever shine anymore? And it would seem that she is right… the open records scene in MO has not made many improvements over the last several years.

My interest in farm subsidies was sparked after reading Michael Pollan’s books The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food. Now it turns out that the USDA wants to keep as many details surrounding farm subsidies out of the public eye as possible. Mulch has the details: Farm Bill Blocks Court-Ordered Release Of Subsidy Program Data Under FOIA.

GRRLAW wants us to know What law enforcement does not want you to know about Iowa’s open records. Namely,

“Why then do law enforcement agencies refuse to provide copies of police reports to the general public when a request is made? The simple answer is because they get away with it.”

And finally, this posting from Angry Zen Master made me laugh: The Superhero Registration Act’s Fatal Flaw. Funny the stuff that can turn up in a news alert. (Anyone else love comic books? I love comic books.)

Valid suit or embittered ex-employee?

For once there is an open records issue that I am somewhat ambivalent toward. Generally, it is very easy for me to say ‘if it was created in the public realm, then the public deserves access to it’, but I find myself sitting on the fence with this story.

According to the Post-Cresent, “A former Kimberly High School basketball coach is continuing a nearly two-month battle for access to documents that may have contributed to his dismissal.” At first blush, I say ‘absolutely, give him the records!’. If there was back room dealing that lost him his job he deserves to know it. But, upon reading further, I see that he has indeed received the documents that he requested. It is the fact that names were redacted from the letters he received that has led to the public records battle. Hm, are those names really germane to what the individuals (not public officials mind, but parents in the school district) had to say about him? The question of whether or not private citizen’s communications with public officials are a matter of public record is a hard puzzle to solve, and in fact, has not yet been solved to anyone’s satisfaction to date.

John Miron has a point though when he says that “Those submitting these letters are not a protected class and have no ‘confidentiality’ rights. The identity of the authors is relevant information that I am entitled to.” And based on that, I am forced to agree with him. As matters stand, people in communication with public bodies know (or should know) that public bodies are subject to FOIA, and they ought to proceed under the assumption that one day their communications could be made public.

So, I’m back to ‘absolutely, give him the records!’ and don’t redact them. The possibility that he might just be seeking the names of those in the community that don’t like him is not relevant to the greater issue of the publics’ right to public records.

This is awesome!

One of the blogs I read everyday, State Sunshine & Open Records, found what might be the coolest use of FOIA yet. A British band performed a song in front of surveillance cameras, then sent (the British equivalent of) FOIA requests for the footage, and assembled a music video from it! Neat.

Here’s the video:

The music’s not bad either — way to go to The Get Out Clause!

No news on my end…

… but Badger Blogger has got the goods! I just knew there would be some interesting e-mail about how the Brittany Zimmermann 911 call went down.

HT Forward Our Motto.

News from the 911 Center?

Nothing yet. Unfortunately, the Wisconsin Open Records statute does not identify a time in which a public entity must respond to records requests by, stating only “as soon as practicable and without delay”. Not surprisingly, the 911 Center has not seen it to be “as soon as practicable” to respond to my request for their internal communications about the incident yet.

It’s not like I want heads to roll over something that it’s too late to fix, but I’m really, really interested to hear what sort of repercussions there are for the 911 dispatcher who failed to dispatch anyone, and what is on the table to make sure this sort of thing never happens again. I’ll keep updating here as things develop.

Meanwhile, County Executive Kathleen Falk has acknowledged that the system didn’t work like it should” for Brittany Zimmermann. Um, no kidding.

H/T Fraley.

Friday link round up brought to you by Friday FOIAers

When I was looking for some good blog posts about open records around the country today, I noticed what might be turning out to be a new trend: the Friday FOIA’s. I guess I jumped the gun by filing a FOIA request yesterday

First, from A Chicago Blog we have Friday FOIA: Jim Thompson’s Expense Report, where Michael Van Winkle writes about a request he’s made to figure out if Jim Thompson has any of his expenses reimbursed by the Illinois Sports Facility Authority.

Then there is FOIA Friday – May 2, 2008 brought by Maggie Thurber of Thurber’s Thoughts. Here, she gives us a couple of updates on FOIA projects that have been going on in her area.

That’s all I found (so far) on Friday FOIA blogging, but I think it’s a great idea and hope to see more entries in the coming weeks.

UPDATE: Today (5/6/08 ) I found another Friday FOIAer! Entropic Memes offers up Friday FOIA Fun: Intelligence, a more federally focused posting.

For other good blog posts on open records recently we have Freedom of Information – Let’s Start Looking beyond the Law from People, Places, Deliberation. I really enjoyed this post since it calls transparent government laws one of the defining features of a civilized society.

And here’s one where I just really get a kick out of the title: Open Government can be so pesky from Young Philly Politics. Yeah, I get the feeling that that’s how all too many public officials view it.