Guest column: History through public records


In recent months, Virginia’s best known presidential plantations added enhanced public tours that more realistically explore the lives and the many contributions of enslaved workers who built Monticello, Montpelier, the University of Virginia and much of the South.

James Madison’s Montpelier and Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello offer new tours that look at plantation life and discuss slavery. Public records, letters, family histories and fresh input from descendants of enslaved laborers bring different perspectives to the legends of Founding Fathers.

Not the worst, but not the best, either

When I get together with my counterparts in other states — such as the Florida First Amendment Foundation, Open Oregon, the New England First Amendment Coalition, or the Ohio Coalition for Open Government — I often imagine us as residents of a nursing home sharing our ailments. We nod and tsk-tsk as we exchange tales of the latest abuse of our open government laws.

Jan 30 subcommittee chart

Below is a chart of positions VCOG is taking on bills being heard by a FOIA-centric House subcommittee today, Jan. 30, 2018

The judiciary's really not that different

Practicing lawyers have reason to want to keep judges happy and to fear judges' displeasure. Accordingly, VCOG agreed to post this contribution from one of its lawyer members anonymously.


An awkward position

Tuesday, the FOIA and procurement subcommittee of the House General Laws Committee considered 21 bills, including 12 that are on VCOG’s watch list.


UPDATED: Letter to governor re: Charlottesville rally information

VCOG urges the governor’s office to be more forthcoming with information related to the Aug. 11-12 Unite the Right rallies in Charlottesville.

Time should be on your side

By Shelley Kimball

Time. In the world of public records requests, this can be an obstacle both to the requester and the records custodian.

And this is not just an issue in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Tracking legislation at the General Assembly

By Megan Rhyne


(This is the second in a two-part series on tracking proposed legislation. Read the first part here.)


How to watch the General Assembly in action

By Megan Rhyne

(This is the first in a two-part series on tracking proposed legislation. Find the second part here.)

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.


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