FOI Blog

Frosty Landon's legacy: open government for all

by John Edwards

Reprinted with permission from The Smithfield Times, Aug. 10, 2021


By the time I came to know Frosty Landon in 1989 or thereabouts, he was already a legend in Virginia journalism.

He had worked his way up the ladder at the Roanoke Times as an editorial writer and editor, had been booted down the steps again for editorially criticizing Virginia’s Massive Resistance to integration, and had then worked his way back up to become executive editor of that stalwart daily paper.

A memory of Frosty Landon

The following is reprinted from VCOG's Substack newsletter, July 22, 2021


I don’t even know where to start. Literally. I am typing this sentence not knowing where it will lead me, where I will end up, what I will say or what point I want to make.

There is just too much swirling around my head in the days since my former boss — my friend and my mentor — Frosty Landon died July 19 at the age of 87.


Amid calls for the FOIA Council to study further relaxing FOIA's rules governing electronic meetings, VCOG has this background and this response.

What makes for a good fee statute?

The FOIA Council has a subcommittee studying fees charged for records under FOIA. It’s coming about because of a bill — HB 2000 — that was introduced in the January 2021 legislative session and then sent to the council.

Watch the FOIA Council subcommittee June 14, 2021, at 1 p.m.

On Parole Board Report: Going in Through the Front Door

When facing a crisis, the front door is the best approach


Where should the proposed landfill be located?


The trouble with phoning it in

A FOIA Council subcommittee is considering a proposal to double the reasons and number of times a board member can call into an otherwise in-person meeting (that is, in non-COVID times)

Transparency the most radical police reform of all

This piece originally ran in the Virginia Mercury, Aug. 17, 2020


I’m no expert on the art of policing. Beyond my personal opinions, I couldn’t tell you when the use of force is or isn’t appropriate, or to what extent police officers should be immune from lawsuits for their actions. I wouldn’t know how much militarized equipment is necessary or how much (and what kind of) training officers should receive.

No, Your FOIA Request Cannot Wait Until This Emergency is Over

"In the midst of a pandemic, it is reasonable to expect delays in processing public records requests and even incomplete responses, especially where public entities may not have access to physical files or other resources. But work-from-home orders have demonstrated that government can carry on remotely. New data, contracts and communications are being created digitally every day that would certainly fall under public access laws. Fulfilling FOIA requests can be grueling grunt work, but such labor should be deemed essential during the pandemic."

An imperfect, but temporary fix

Amid the honking horns, fainting leaders, plexiglass boxes and face mask fashion, it was easy to miss the governor's amendments to the budget bills that were approved Wednesday, unanimously by the House and with minimal dissent in the Senate, that allow public bodies to meet electronically during the time of a declared emergency "when it is impracticable or unsafe to assemble a quorum in a single location."