FOI Blog

Electronic meetings and democracy

Read the original editorial as it appeared in The Daily Progress, April 5, 2020.

Megan's note: I wish I had written this. It's perfect.

Opinion/Editorial: Democracy's health also must be shielded

Local governments are charting new territory in their move to electronic meeting forums.

Love & Sunshine Week in a Time of Coronavirus

It may be the height of irony during Sunshine Week -- the access and transparency community's annual love letter to open records and open meetings laws across our country -- to hear me say the rules of open government might not apply right now.


I've never been one to shy away from the soapbox, to point out inaccuracies, call out bad policy, question practices, or challenge interpretations. It would be fair (though not entirely accurate) to call me an absolutist: all access, all the time!


It's not supposed to be adversarial

FOIA requests by elected officials prompt backlash from fellow board members.

What’s behind increasing FOIA fees?

We are at a tipping point now because more and more requesters are seeing larger and larger bills. Without an understanding of the complexity of an email search, these charges appear not only arbitrary, but also punitive, a tool for discouraging requests.

Supreme Court rules place thumb on scale for confidentiality

"The rules are the latest salvo in an aggressive push to divorce the courts and the Office of the Executive Secretary from FOIA. In 2018, SB 727 would have removed them from FOIA. The bill was withdrawn by its sponsor, but then a circuit court judge ruled similarly some months later in a case that stemmed from a citizen request to see OES’ long distance telephone bills."

It's not a waste, it's the law

OK, this story makes me tetchy.

You can read the whole thing on The Southwest Times website or you can read it below, but here's the set-up: at a Pulaski County Board of Supervisors meeting, a supervisor and the county administrator engaged in an exchange over a projected slide showing the number of FOIA requests filed each year for the past nine years.  The total was 361, which equals 35.4/year, which equals fewer than 3/month.

One of these is not like the others

The agreements Amazon signed with the state and Arlington County contain unique public records provisions unlike those in other company deals.

Sunshine Week op-ed: The Real FOIA Heroes

Versions of the following were wrtiten on the encouragement of Lawrence McConnell, VCOG board member and editor of The Roanoke Times, and published in:

  • Bacon's Rebellion (online)
  • Bristol Herald-Courier
  • Daily Press (Newport News)
  • The Daily Progress (Charlottesville)
  • The Free Lance-Star (Fredericksburg)
  • Richmond Times-Dispatch
  • The Roanoke Times
  • The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk)

Virginia, Amazon & FOIA

Secrecy surrounding the Amazon decision to locate half of its HQ2 operation in Virginia comes with a heavy price tag.

Why a judge's decision exempting the judiciary from FOIA matters

A judge in Richmond decided in October 2018 that Virginia’s judiciary was not subject to the Freedom of Information Act. Here's why that matters.