Transparency News 11/26/19



November 26, 2019


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state & local news stories


The City of Norfolk continues to chase the idea of having a casino on the riverfront. But, since approving a land sale to the Pamunkey Indian Tribe, a group of citizens hasn't given up their fight to petition and overturn that decision. "People felt like this was just happening to them. They were not a part of the process," said Jackie Glass, one of the petitioners with the group "Citizens for an Informed Norfolk". Together, the group has gathered more than 3,000 signatures to block the deal. Based on a city charter, they only needed 1,200. "There are people who really want to see this happen. There are people who really don't want to see this happen. But the one thing that they have in common is that they want more information so the abundance of signatures is indicative of people wanting to know more," said Glass.


stories of national interest

Beaufort County (South Carolina) government, which had insisted The Island Packet and Beaufort Gazette pay $655 for a public records request, agreed Friday to provide the records to the newspapers for free — halting a dispute between the newspaper and the county over the high cost of public information. County Administrator Ashley Jacobs, who released the documents, said she will waive fees for all public information requests from the media as long as the requests are not “burdensome to staff.” On Nov. 9, the newspaper wrote about the county’s ambiguous prices and exorbitant fees related to Freedom of Information Act requests. The paper cited examples in which the county charged residents hundreds, and in one case thousands, of dollars to access public records. The county was charging the paper hundreds of dollars for information that, according to its website, should have been online and available for free.
The Island Packet

A federal judge on Monday ordered two federal agencies to hand over records to a news organization regarding the Trump administration's withholding of military aid to Ukraine, a focal point in the presidential impeachment inquiry. Under the ruling, the Department of Defense and the Office of Management and Budget are bound by a tight deadline for handing over nonexempt documents to the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) after the nonprofit news outlet issued a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the records. Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, a district judge for the District Court for the District of Columbia and Clinton appointee, noted that such rulings are generally rare in a FOIA context, but suggested that the impeachment inquiry against President Trump changed the calculus.
The Hill

A lawyer representing CNN in a battle for access to sealed records from the Mueller investigation told a federal judge in Washington on Monday that the Justice Department is intentionally delaying production of the documents. “News delayed is news denied,” attorney Charles Tobin with Ballard Spahr told Senior U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton. The first document production by the Justice Department in response to a Freedom of Information Act request was delivered Nov. 2 to the CNN office in D.C., the same day as the parade celebrating the Washington Nationals winning the World Series, the attorney told the judge. Tobin argued the government’s delivery method violated the judge’s order to begin producing documents, including records of FBI interviews from the special counsel’s investigation, known as 302s, by the first of the month on a rolling basis.
Courthouse News Service