Transparency News 11/7/18



November 7, 2018


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state & local news stories


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national stories of interest

Dennis J. Ventry Jr., a law professor at the University of California, Davis, drew the ire of tax preparation companies like Intuit and H&R Block this summer by criticizing a deal they have to provide a free tax filing service through the Internal Revenue Service. The companies promptly hit back with a tactic that corporations, lobbyists and interest groups are increasingly using against academic researchers: Their trade coalition filed a public records request with the university in July seeking everything Mr. Ventry had written or said about the companies this year, including emails, text messages, voice mail messages and hand-jotted notes.
The New York Times
(Read on for a brief Virginia angle)

Most local governments haven’t been on hiring sprees lately. But one area where they appear to be adding employees is finance. The latest data from the Census Bureau’s Annual Survey of Public Employment and Payroll shows that employees working in finance-related roles increased 5.4 percent between 2014 and 2017. While that might not be a big jump, it’s significant in that it’s the highest of any workforce category tracked in the Census survey. Finance jobs peaked in 2008, subsequently declined as governments made recession-era cuts and then changed little until 2016. Since then, they’ve expanded at roughly double the rate of total local public-sector employment when education jobs are excluded. Other areas of local government experiencing noticeable growth, albeit at a slower pace, include transit, fire departments, parks and recreation.




editorials & columns


If a government agency inadvertently releases unredacted versions of records in response to a public records request, can the agency turn around and claw back those records? Can the agency demand the requester not publish the information, or — even more extreme — have the already-published information taken down? Anyone with even a minimal understanding of the First Amendment knows that the answer to these questions should be an unequivocal “no.” But that hasn’t stopped some government agencies from trying.
Linda Riedemann Norbut, Medium