FOI At Work: There is a “Callin’ the Hogs” Line Somewhere, But I’m Gonna Let It Go…..

The man has suffered plenty, and then along came this…

Former Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino and his mistress exchanged more than 4,300 text messages and nearly 300 phone calls over the past seven months — on game days, before dawn and even as the police report that hastened his downfall was being released to the public, according to a review of his business cellphone records by The Associated Press.

The messages, among some 300 pages of records released under a Freedom of Information Act request, appear to include picture and video files, though there was no way to verify the content. But the records clearly show a married father of four in frequent contact with Jessica Dorrell, a 25-year-old former Razorbacks volleyball player.

Petrino was fired Tuesday night for failing to disclose his relationship with Dorrell, whom he hired last month without disclosing his conflict of interest or the fact he had once paid her $20,000. Athletic director Jeff Long said he had determined their relationship had been ongoing for a “significant” amount of time, but he did not say for how long.

The phone records show that Petrino remained in close contact with Dorrell following the April 1 motorcycle accident in which Petrino suffered four broken ribs, a cracked neck vertebra and scrapes and bruises

That day, Petrino and Dorrell went for a motorcycle ride on a two-lane highway southeast of Fayetteville and skidded off the road. Petrino and Dorrell talked for 16 minutes earlier that day before the crash at 6:45 p.m., and they also had a 22-minute conversation the following day — while Petrino was apparently still in the hospital recovering.

The traditional "running hog" image ...

The traditional "running hog" image is once again the official logo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Well, I’m Glad We Worked That Out. Too Bad It Took A State Supreme Court…

Is it just me, or did you think we had kind of already settled this point of law a decade ago?

Accident reports compiled by troopers and maintained in a state database should be treated as public records available by request, Washington’s Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

Justices said in their 7-2 decision that the Washington State Patrol improperly withheld files from a person seeking location-specific records. He was asked to sign a document vowing that he would not use the records to sue the state.

The state had argued that a federal statute shielded the records because the documents were located in an electronic database that the Department of Transportation utilized for a federal hazard elimination program.

“Until 2003, citizens have been able to request and receive copies of accident reports specific to a location,” Justice Mary E. Fairhurst said in the majority opinion. “The state now asks us to place Washington citizens in a worse position than they would have been before (the federal statute). The state’s argument is rejected.”

The court also awarded plaintiff Michael Gendler an unspecified amount of attorney’s fees for the case. A spokeswoman for Attorney General Rob McKenna says attorneys are reviewing the decision to see what options they might have.

Gendler was paralyzed from the neck down in an October 2007 bike crash after his tire got caught in a grate on the Montlake Bridge in Seattle. He sued the state, claiming a gap between steel panels was more than a half-inch wide – enough to catch a bike tire.

Hey, You Know Those Dash Cams We Said Would Bring Needed Transparency? You Can’t See ‘Em

SEATTLE - NOVEMBER 30:  A Seattle Police Depar...

SEATTLE - NOVEMBER 30: A Seattle Police Department spokesman Jeff Keppel addresses the media following a search for a suspect in the killing of four police officers November 30, 2009 in Seattle, Washington. Police are still searching for Maurice Clemmons, a suspect who allegedly shot and killed four police officers at a coffee shop November 29. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

KOMO, in Seattle, won a major victory — with an ironic twist, and one that will keep them waiting up to three years to see police dashboard cam videos. The irony? When they asked for millions of dollars to buy the cameras, openness was one of the major selling points…

The KOMO 4 Problem Solvers sued the Seattle Police Department for withholding dash-cam videos — videos that have proven to be damning, even incriminating, for the department.

A King County judge has fined the department for not giving KOMO 4 database information about the videos, but he still says Seattle police can withhold dash-cam video from the public for three years.

Those dash-cam videos can supply potentially critical evidence. They’re also public records.

That’s why KOMO sued the police department for not releasing the public records, which the media and the public has the right to see.

“The public should have access to these videos,” said KOMO attorney Judith Endejan.

KOMO reporter Tracy Vedder spent more than a year investigating the department and fighting for access to the police videos recorded on the dashboard of their patrol cars.

“These videos are clearly public record and the thing that’s ironic is when the system was purchased several years ago by the city, the police chief the mayor, they all touted the fact that we were spending several millions of dollars to improve public accountability,” Endejan said.

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The Plot Thickens in Wisconsin: Did the Governor Create a Parallel E-Mail Universe?

Today’s plot twist in the Wisconsin recall saga contained a nugget of interest to FOI types…in a story on criminal charges being filed against a couple of Walker associates for politicking on state time, came this:

Milwaukee County prosecutors also made the surprising disclosure that top Walker aides set up a private Internet network to allow them to communicate with one another by email about campaign as well as county government work without the public or co-workers’ knowledge.

The emails Walker officials traded via the shadow network could provide investigators with a trove of information as they pursue other angles in the case. Earlier this week, the Journal Sentinel reported that the probe was focusing on possible bid-rigging and other misconduct in the competition to house the county Department on Aging in private office space.

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Funny…dash cam videos are a public record about anywhere….but Oklahoma.

A Rogers County judge denied a request for the release of a dash cam video recorded by the Claremore Police Department, ruling that under the state’s Open Records Act, the footage is “not a public record.”

Associate District Judge Sheila Condren heard evidence in a nonjury trial in August, according to Tulsa World. Attorney Stephen Fabian was seeking the dash cam video and audio of 20-year-old Richard Stangland’s March arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol.

Arguing for its release, Fabian said that the Open Records Act necessitates the release of the footage. Matt Ballard, who represents the city, told the court that videotapes are evidentiary and subject to the privilege of confidentiality.

Condren ruled that “the Fabian case is distinguishable from the facts presented in the case at bar, and finds the ‘dash cam’ recording is not a public record pursuant to Title 51 O.S. (Section) 24A.8 which is subject to public inspection.”

Wyoming Legislature Passes Ultimate Lobbyist and Influence Peddling Privacy Act…

Wow…several states have flirted with passing laws this bad, but hey, Wyoming, way to go! You just manned up and went there, didn’t ya?

State lawmakers voted today to draft legislation that would make emails sent to members of city councils, school boards and other elected bodies exempt from public records law.

The legislation would keep out of public view any correspondence sent directly to members of elected bodies, as long as the documents aren’t sent to a majority of the group.

The Joint Judiciary Interim Committee also directed legislative staffers to add language that would exempt deliberative documents that are “integral parts of the decision-making process.”

Those additions prompted the Wyoming Press Association, which was part of a working group that suggested revisions to the state’s public records law, to immediately pull its support for the draft bill. The two exemptions were proposed by the Wyoming Association of Municipalities, and not the entire working group.

The draft public records bill includes several revisions supported by the press association. But the exemptions were too much to keep the group from splitting.

“That was more of a loss than we gained,” press association Director Jim Angell said after the vote.

The committee also directed legislative staff to draft a revised open meetings law. Those revisions are supported by the government groups and the press association.

Why is this a phenomenally, mind-achingly bad piece of legislation? Well, the most obvious reason is that no one is NOT a constituent, so long as you represent them, including, oh well, let me think: regulated industries, lobbyists, influence peddlers of every stripe…these “constituents” now have an untrammeled one-way walkie talkie called private e-mail for hitting up those lawmakers. Handy!

And of course, this FOI implosion also contains nifty language shielding from disclosure documents that are “”integral parts of the decision-making process.” Of course! Wo wants to know how decisions are made, and what factors might have led to them, and whether they were undue influences? That whole self-governance thing? Boooooring…..

This essentially marks the demise of any functional transparency in Wyoming.

CD

 

 

Wow! I wish Obama had put Raum in charge of transparency…

Rahm Emanuel, Pointing, With Chicago Flag in B...

Image by juggernautco via Flickr

Raum Emanuel, in three months as Chicago mayor, has done more to open City Hall to sunlight than any mayor in the country….from the Sun-Times:

Information on more than 90,000 city contracts dating back to 1993 will be available and easy to download on the Internet, thanks to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s latest move to shine the light on City Hall.

In nearly three months in office, Emanuel has posted an unprecedented amount of information on the Internet in the name of government “transparency.”

The mayor’s office has literally released 170 “datasets” — everything from the names and salaries of city employees to information on lobbyists, crime, abandoned buildings and the list of contractors barred from doing business with the city.

 

 

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