The Best FOI Tool in the Business Just Got Better!

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press today published the 6th Edition of its Open Government Guide, a comprehensive overview of open records and open meetings laws in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The guide is available free on the Reporters Committee website at, where users can cross-reference and compare the laws in different states or simply get an in-depth analysis of one state. A CD version of the entire guide and hard copies of each state’s section also can be ordered from the Reporters Committee for a small fee.

Each state’s outline is prepared by attorney volunteers who are experts in access law; most have worked on earlier editions of the guide.

In addition to updating the material from previous editions, the latest Open Government Guide includes:

  • New categories, including access to government budgets, epidemiological records, and economic development records
  • Significant statute updates, including a new open records law in Pennsylvania and a revised open meetings law in Washington, D.C.
  • More specific category breakdowns on access to email, real estate and investigatory records, which enable users to better find and compare information.
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Trickle-down Fascism, Coming To A Town Near You

A badge of a police dog within the New York Po...

Image via Wikipedia

From my friends at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press:

A New York police officer arrested a freelance photojournalist Friday after he attempted to film a police scene on a public street, outraging First Amendment and civil liberties advocates. The department has since said it plans to drop the charge.

Suffolk County police charged cameraman Phil Datz, of the Long Island-based Stringer News Service, for “obstruction of governmental administration” after he filmed police on the side of the road arresting suspects who had allegedly led officers on a police chase in Bohemia.

The interaction between Datz and the officer who arrested him was caught on tape andposted to YouTube.

Footage shows a sergeant approaching Datz and yelling at him repeatedly to “go away, go away now.” Datz asked the officer how far he should move back, and the officer told him he needed to leave the scene entirely. The video then shows the officer grabbing Datz’s press badge, asking his name and saying: “I want you to go away and not stand here and argue with me, otherwise you’re about going to be locked up.”

The video then shows the officer continuously yelling at Datz to leave. When Datz asked why, the officer said “because it’s a current investigation” and “an active scene.”

“You understand I’ve been doing this for 30 years, and there’s nothing you can hold over my head,” the officer said.

The video then shows Datz returning to his car and moving more than a block away from the scene to continue filming. Members of the public, including children, were allowed to stand near the police scene.

Once Datz was spotted further away, the police officer sped toward him in his patrol car. The video shows Datz quickly try to explain that he called the police department’s public information office, but before he can finish his sentence, the officer orders him to put his camera down and informs him that he is under arrest.

“The street was open to the public. There were cars driving up and down the street, there were kids walking past the scene,” Datz told New York radio station WINS. “The sergeant had to get in his vehicle to drive down to me because I was so far away.”

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