Va. FOIA & access in the news

The Warren County Department of Social Services has not violated the Virginia Freedom of Information Act as claimed in a pending lawsuit in General District Court, according to the county attorney. "An adage says there are two sides to every story," Warren County Attorney Blair D. Mitchell says in a response to an argument made on behalf of Linda B. Selover of Front Royal. "While the Defendant, unfortunately, has not prepared destruction documents for the discarded items, that failure is not a violation of the Freedom of Information Act, as the Petitioner suggests," Mitchell asserts. "Rather it is a technical violation of the Virginia Public Records Act."
Note: This new development comes after Selover's attorney asked a judge to sanction the board for allegedly not turning over records agreed to in a settlement in an underlying FOIA case.

Bacon's Rebellion: Previously in our series on online government transparency we've taken a look at the minimum steps local governments should adhere to in keeping their citizens informed. In this installment we are looking at what the best local governments nationwide are doing to improve online transparency.
Note: This piece uses as its jumping off point a "white paper" published by Granicus:

Virginia's Freedom of Information Council says the board overseeing the state's troubled computer superagency improperly closed a public meeting in April.,0,2799548.story

The end of slavery meant a kind of beginning for the family histories of many blacks - For the first time, the enslaved people's identities and family connections became part of a public record. And the huge task of recording that data fell to the federal Freedmen's Bureau. Collecting dust in government warehouses since the late 1800s, the Virginia portion of the Freedmen's Bureau records is now available electronically to the public. The online database that lists marriages, birth certificates, contracts and even some personal narratives will offer a trove of detail to historians and to the descendants of slaves, who have struggled to piece together family histories obscured by the institution of slavery.

Roanoke Times editorial: Jury members shouldn't be a mystery

While the political fallout from Republican Gov. Mark Sanford’s mysterious Argentina trip isn’t yet entirely clear in South Carolina, one thing seems certain: At least for the near future, there’s going to be a lot more scrutiny of how and where politicians spend their time. Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine, who is also the governor of Virginia, has had to explain in more detail the particulars of his own unique arrangement -- and is currently fending off demands that he release his entire schedule.

When the Clinton presidential library Web site posted more than 5,000 pages of material related to Judge Sonia Sotomayor on Thursday, it also withheld hundreds of pages of documents stemming from her appeals court nomination and confirmation battle in 1997 and 1998. The undisclosed documents appear to include memorandums about Judge Sotomayor between White House officials, early drafts of answers to questions posed by the Senate Judiciary Committee at the time, and files related to her FBI background check, finances, and health. National Archives officials determined that the hundreds of pages of other documents were exempt from release under the Freedom of Information Act because the material relates to appointments to federal office and internal decision-making processes.

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