Va. laws take hit in court

It's been a tough few weeks for the Commonwealth.

Despite being fought over by the candidates for president and vice president like she was the Corn Festival Queen, Virginia's had to endure the rains of Hanna, the price gouging of Ike and the scorn of the New York Times over its student voter-registration policies.

FOI Advisory Council subcommittee on meeting minutes


NOTE: The subcommittee was convened to study whether a change needs to be made to the minutes requirement of FOIA. 2.2-3707(I): "...Minutes shall include, but are not limited to, (i) the date, time, and location of the meeting; (ii) the members of the public body recorded as present and absent; and (iii) a summary of the discussion on matters proposed, deliberated or decided, and a record of any votes taken."

FOI Advisory Council subcommittee on e-meetings


VPA's initial objection was that the section eliminated the quorum requirement and said members could participate regardless of whether the public could attend.

It seemed that DEQ was creating for itself a lower bar than anyone else conducting electronic meetings.

Sticking point with DEQ is really the quorum issue.

Why FOIA matters

Why FOIA Matters

For those of you out there who think FOIA is just a tool for the media to use to annoy public officials, I’ve got news for you: In this day and age access to information about not only what your government does but how it makes its decision can literally have life or death results.

The Shady (as in no Sunshine) General Assembly

Not a good year legislative year for access advocates

The 2008 Virginia legislative session was not a good one for defenders of freedom of information.    Bills that would have improved public access to information died.  Bills that chipped away at Virginia’s FOI Act through small exemptions passed into law with little opposition from lawmakers.  To make matters worse a couple of really bad access-damaging bills were passed into law.

And all of this was not for lack of effort by VCOG, the Press Association and other open records advocates.

Midway at the GA: Bills to watch


Big Brother's half the way home

 If you think Big Brother is watching you, the bill that passed the House on Monday tells you it's true.

The Virginia Fusion Intelligence Center is where state local and federal officials are secretly gathering and  analyzing information on the citizens of Virginia and beyond. Apparently they are busy also worrying about hypothetical situations where someone could ask them for information they don't want to give out.

Legislature '08: partly cloudy with rays of sunshine

(though it says above that this was written by Megan Rhyne, it wasn't. It was written by VCOG Executive Director Jennifer Perkins, but thanks to a Web-updating quirk, Megan's name was inadvertently added.)

The 2008 Virginia General Assembly session has started out with a bang. By my count, there are at least 60 bills to fight, amend and track for changes. It's going to be a busy season for access advocates. See our list of bills we are tracking this year.

Spotsy ruling: the good and the bad

I write in response to the article the Free-Lance Star "Spotsy ordered to release 4 e-mails." While there are certainly heartening parts to Judge Beck's decision, I fear that once again a failure to interpret the letter of the law of Virginia's Freedom of Information Act will result in future withholding of records that should be public. Judge Beck stated county officials did not have to disclose the blacked-out portions of a Sept.

In Penn., where to vote's a poorly kept secret

Note: The governor rescinded the policy Friday after the story broke.

I never thought of Pennsylvania as a particularly nutty place. You can’t get much more sober and sane than Philly’s Main Line neighborhoods, Pittsburgh’s serious steel making and the Amish, for heaven’s sake.

But the people running the state’s elections, bolstered by equally nutty folks at the state police, Emergency Management Agency and the state Office of Homeland Security, have lost their marbles!


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