FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-19-04

E-mail exchanges between members of an electoral board do not violate FOIA's meeting provisions, though to the extent those e-mails relate to the transaction of public business, they are public records subject to disclosure. Centralized repository for e-mail messages between public body memers is a good idea. Before engaging in e-mail discussion of substantive matters, members of a public body should remember FOIA's public policy of granting citizens the access to witness the operations of their government.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-20-03

When providing records that have already been assembled for easy public access, the government is not required to charge requesters anything for those records, much less the amount it cost to first compile the records for an earlier requester. Government does not have an obligation to lend out a CD of public records for requesters to make copies on their own, but it is not prohibited, and it facilitates FOIA's policy of access.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-19-03

Records held by Barnes & Noble relating to the management of pulbic university bookstores are subject to FOIA if the store is acting as the university's agent, but not if the store is acting as an independent contractor. University may not frustrate public policy of access to records on the transaction of public business by outsourcing them to independent contractors.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-15-03

Government employee requests under FOIA should not be treated differently from requests made by citizens; letter admonishing public employee for making a FOIA request goes against the legislative intent of FOIA; as long as records were produced in accordance with FOIA, there is no remedy under the act for the simultaneous abuse of the FOIA requester.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-13-03

Virginia Baseball Stadium Authority is a public body subject to FOIA. A press conference attended by a quorum of a public body or committee members representing the body is a meeting under FOIA. Virginia Baseball Stadium Authority may not deny media kits to citizens who request them. Virginia Baseball Stadium Authority may not exclude members of the public from press conferences held to announce public business. Employees of the Virginia Baseball Stadium Authority may hold a private press conference without violating the letter of the law, but it would violate FOIA's spirit of openness.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-11-03

An exception to the general rule that a public body does not have to create a record that does not exist is when the requested information is for employee salaries. General recommendation that public body and requester work together to clarify requests. General advice to compare information contained in records oneself instead of relying on public body to do it.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-04-02

Because no general exemption or agency-specific exemption under FOIA, nor a confidentiality mandate in the Virginia Public Procurement Act, applies, draft documents and other records related to the negotiation of contracts must be disclosed. Whether such disclosure would threaten the government's bargaining position is a matter to be taken up with the General Assembly.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-43-01

Notice of future meetings must be posted at the clerk's office and a prominent public location. Though FOIA encourages the use of electronic communication via the Internet, the town's Web site does not qualify as a prominent public location under FOIA's meeting notice provisions.

Attorney General's Opinion 1979-80 #382

The general statement of policy found at the beginning of FOIA is a reflection of the legislative intent of the Act.

Attorney General's Opinion 1974-75 #578

Secret-ballot vote at open meeting not permissible. Election of officers by improper secret at an open meeting not valid until vote can be retaken in open session.


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