FOI Blog

Private texts? Not if they're about public business

How the record was created, how it was delivered, how it was sent, whose equipment was used (and even whether it was a final report or a draft one), none of that matters when it comes to determining what a public record is.

Showing up for open government for 20+ years

This commentary by VCOG Executive Director Megan Rhyne originally appeared in the June 28, 2018, issue of The Roanoke Times.

When Frosty Landon, the former editor of this newspaper and the first director of the Virginia Coalition for Open Government (VCOG), first took me under his wing as an assistant back at the turn of the century, he shared with me a simple but powerful bit of advice about advocacy: Show up.

This dog won't hunt

You don't have to have a dog in the hunt to be ticked by this story

This story should really bother you. It should bother you, not because you know any of the people involved, the city or the situation that prompted it. It should bother you on principle: A court order was secured to prohibit public disclosure of information because a citizen who frequently disagrees with city council decisions had requested it under FOIA.

ICYMI: when FOIA, archiving, former governors and budget cuts collide

Want records from past governors? Get ready to wait. 

by Robert Zullo, Richmond Times-Dispatch, March 31, 2018

Community journalism essential to transparency

by Jeff Lester

“Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.”

Before he became a Supreme Court justice, Louis Brandeis wrote those words more than a century ago in a Harper’s Weekly article on the need to uncover corruption in the nation’s financial system.
Since then, advocates for open government have invoked the metaphor of sunshine. We say “sunshine laws” as shorthand for freedom of information’s legal protections. We celebrate freedom of information efforts during Sunshine Week.

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.