Blogs

How to watch the General Assembly in action

By Megan Rhyne

As the “oldest continuous law-making body in the New World,” the Virginia General Assembly is steeped in history and tradition. That tradition is awe-inspiring on the one hand, while on the other hand, it can seem arcane and cumbersome.

Digital tools for managing FOIA requests

By Jeff South

Overcoming recalcitrant bureaucrats isn’t the only challenge for people who seek public documents or data under the Freedom of Information Act.

Another challenge is managing your paperwork: crafting and filing your FOIA requests and tracking responses.

Fortunately, a bevy of online tools is available to help you with those tasks. Here is a tour of such resources, building on a presentation I gave at VCOG’s Pop-Up Sunshine event in March.

Web-based FOIA letter generators

Strong words on FOIA violation

We’re all winners and losers with Abingdon’s recent FOIA ruling

Bristol Herald Courier editorial, August 20, 2017

Strategies for finding and using public information

By Dave Ress

For the record (as we like to say).

We call it the Freedom of Information Act in Virginia, but it’s good to remember that it’s about information that’s in a public record or revealed in a public meeting.

One thing that can really help get information, as Cherise Newsome points out in her excellent post, is talking to the FOIA compliance officer about what you’re trying to find out.

Court rulings ignore common practice

Once again, a court has looked at an isolated provision of the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and decided that it means something completely different from what had been commonly accepted in the past.

 

Nuisance requests an obstacle to access to public information

By Shelley Kimball

There are certain kinds of requests for records that access professionals hate so much they wish they could find ways to outlaw them. Requests that frustrate them so much they wish they didn’t have to respond to them. Let’s call them nuisance requests.

A view from both sides of a FOIA request

Truth in the Field

By Cherise Newsome

There are two sides to every FOIA request. I’ve seen them both.

As the public information officer for Portsmouth Public Schools, I serve as our FOIA compliance officer. Therefore, I manage the requests that come into the school division. I’ve been here about six months, and I’ve logged more than 50 requests of various complexity.

Trade secrets exemptions discussion open to public

Join in the discussion with Virginia's Freedom of Information Advisory Council to determine how to define which business records may be blocked from public access. The meeting, which is open to all, is Monday, May 15, in the Virginia State Capitol.

Responding to denials to public records requests

Anyone who has requested public records regulalry has faced denials from government offices. An open government activist discusses how best to manage and respond to denials.

Education privacy law used as excuse to used to conceal records

Education privacy laws, while intended as protections for students' records, are being used by institutions to conceal wrongdoing and mismanagement.

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