Text messages would be subject to sunshine under South Dakota bill…

Three open government proposals drew a mixed reception from a legislative committee as the third week of the session came to a close Friday.

One bill, extending open meetings laws to cover email and other textual exchanges by members of public boards, passed on a 7-6 vote. It now heads to the full House of Representatives, where proponents said they anticipate a tough battle.

Another measure, opening up more information from complaints and hearings that might be derogatory toward individuals, was killed unanimously.

A third bill, clarifying current law, passed 10-2.

The textual exchange bill, House Bill 1113, was intended to make it clear that if public boards hold substantive exchanges and discussions about public policy by using email, text message or other electronic written communication, those exchanges are public.

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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Hands Off the Smartphones, During the Public Meeting

Looking for a Facebook status update or email during the next big vote by the Royal Oak City Commission or Sterling Heights City Council? Don’t.

A handful of communities in southeastern Michigan are asking local lawmakers to keep their hands off their smartphones or iPads at council meetings, banning them from communicating electronically with each other or the public while government business is being conducted. That means emailing, blogging, texting or any other form of electronic communication is off limits.

Supporters say the issue is about transparency and integrity, not to mention common courtesy. They argue email or even text conversations could violate the Michigan Open Meetings Act, which requires decisions and most deliberations to be public.

“It’s about maintaining the integrity of this council and future councils,” said Maria Schmidt, a city councilwoman in Sterling Heights, which amended its council governing rules earlier this year to ban electronic communication during meetings.

But critics of the bans say technology helps these officials do their jobs more effectively and efficiently. They call the bans “short-sighted.”

From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20110706/METRO/107060351/Councils-ban-text–email-by-lawmakers-at-meetings#ixzz1RLUEC4CJ

Oregon Ducks Say No Text Messages in Response to FOI Request…

mobile phone text message

Image via Wikipedia

In documents released by the University of Oregon today to OregonLive.com in response to media requests for information about the Ducks’ football recruiting, one notable item was missing: the text in 934 text messages.

Oregon’s Public Records Law, written in 1961, did not foresee a day when people would use mobile phones to conduct university business, let alone without uttering a word. So although the letter of the law requires UO and all other public agencies to keep records of all correspondence pertaining to their work, many do not save text messages.

Confusion reigns about whether and how to archive messages sent via text message, on Twitter and through Facebook, state archivist Mary Beth Herkert said. As a result, archivists advocated a bill in the Oregon Legislature that would broaden the definition of a public record and require public agencies to adopt written policies for retaining such records.

As revealed in media reports in March, in spring 2010, Oregon paid Houston-based recruiting consultant Willie Lyles $25,000 for a package of information and video highlights of players. The payment arrived a few weeks after highly-sought running back Lache Seastrunk signed with Oregon, raising the question of whether Lyles had steered Seastrunk or other players from Texas to the Ducks.

The Oregonian, among other media outlets, requested access to text messages between Oregon coaches coach Chip Kelly and running backs coach Gary Campbell, Lyles and his representatives from 2007 to March 4, 2011. But Oregon has no formal policy regarding the archiving of text messages, UO spokesman Phil Weiler said.

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Texas, Taking a Bit of A Different Take than Utah…

A Texas lawmaker wants to ban e-mails, text messages and Internet postings by city and state leaders when they are doing the public’s business.

A bill by Rep. Todd Hunter of Corpus Christi would amend the Texas Open Meetings Act. The proposal, H.B. 2977, says an official would be committing an offense if he or she transmits an electronic message during a public meeting.

The Austin American-Statesman reports, for today’s editions, that Hunter is considering how violators should be punished. Hunter also says the update is necessary for Texas to take the open-meetings law into the digital age.

The Corpus Christi Caller-Times reports Hunter became involved in the issue after a spat during a city council meeting involving two members texting each other.