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August 2021

Hear what the pandemic has taught us about FOI, listen to the next generation of open government advocates, discuss how to close the data gap in minority communities, and more. Don't wait. Sign up now for our virtual FOI Summit.
 


Check out these new sessions

200K Cold Cases Aren't Going to Solve Themselves

Learn why public records and collective impact are crucial
in uncovering answers in unsolved cases of the murdered and missing. 
Hosted by Ashlee Fujawa of Uncovered,
with Dana Poll, Maggie Freleng and Sarah Turney.


Paywalling of Documents and Data
Are private third-party vendors and claims of copyright
putting records out of reach?
Hosted by Frank LoMonte of The Brechner Center for Freedom of Information,
with Cara Galiano and Haru Coryne
.

Click Here to Register
Tribute

Frosty Landon, NFOIC Hall of Famer, remembered
for ‘heroic’ efforts to promote open government

Frosty Landon, one-time president of the National Freedom of Information Coalition board who was instrumental in advising new NFOIC coalitions in the 2000s, is being remembered as a hero and advocate for open government.

Landon died July 19, 2021, at age 87.

Landon, longtime editor of the Roanoke Times & World-News in Virginia, was inducted into the NFOIC’s State Government Hall of Fame in 2007. He was known as a “cantankerous and generous soul,” said Megan Rhyne, executive director of the Virginia Coalition for Open Government, for which Landon secured significant grant money to create an endowment.

“What he did for the Virginia Coalition for Open Government was nothing short of heroic,” Rhyne told The Roanoke Times.

“What he’s done for open government is that while there are always going to be challenges and those who don’t embrace open government, he’s allowed us to be consistently present for all this time,” Rhyne said. “Whether it’s me or others, people see us and hear us. They may not vote our way or agree with us, but they knew we were there and respect us.”
 


Others who knew Landon shared their memories:

“I remember him very fondly,” said Lisa K. Garcia, a business technology startup adviser at Virginia Tech, who worked at The Roanoke Times in the 1990s. “When my mother died and I showed up for work, he kicked me out of The Roanoke Times building where I was working as a relatively new editorial assistant, 20-plus years ago. I was fine, I thought.

“I went home and sobbed. I’ll never forget him for that one act of empathy and wisdom,” Garcia said.


“He was a passionate soul,” said Barbara Croll Fought, associate professor in the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. “We are all better because he walked this Earth.

“He was a champion for open government, a real fighter.”


“I worked very closely with Frosty during those early NFOIC years, and you couldn’t do that without appreciating his personality and drive,” said Bill Chamberlin, who was inducted into The Open Government Hall of Fame in 2008.  “A precious soul devoted to open government.”

Click to Read More
NFOIC News
During the Aug. 11 "FOI Bootcamp for Journalists of Color," Grace Cheng,
of Thomson Reuters and NFOIC's Board, discusses best practices for making FOIA requests. Sixteen journalists participated in the training session.
Click here to learn more about the program. 

Board approves budget, extends staff positions, looks for sustainable long-term model

The National Freedom of Information Board of Directors on July 16 voted to approve its FY2021-22 budget, including the extension of the outreach coordinator position to June 30, 2022.

The NFOIC will dip into reserves to extend the outreach coordinator position, which would have ended Nov. 30, 2021, with the end of a grant that funded the position.

Todd Fettig, the NFOIC outreach coordinator, will continue the duties of that role and take on the title of executive director, with added responsibilities of administrative oversight and fundraising. Erika Benton will continue as NFOIC’s external partnership coordinator and will assist in fundraising.

The NFOIC Board will seek a permanent administrative home, with an embedded executive director, for NFOIC by June 30, 2022, as it seeks a sustainable long-term model.

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Newest member to focus on public access, investigative journalism in Florida

The National Freedom of Information Coalition welcomes its newest member, the Florida Center for Government Accountability

Barbara A. Petersen, executive director of the Florida Center for Government Accountability, previously served on NFOIC’s Board and as president of Florida’s First Amendment Foundation. 

Petersen says the new organization will focus on public access and investigative journalism.

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From the Headlines

It’s government’s duty to supply information without delay, Texas coalition leader says

“If you work in government, here’s something to remember: You work for the people,” writes Kelley Shannon, executive director of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas.

“It’s your job to ensure citizens can interact with their government and have the information they need to hold it accountable. That includes handing over public records when someone requests them.”

Unfortunately, that’s not happening everywhere in Texas, Shannon writes.

“Texas is experiencing a wave of blocked or delayed access to public information.”

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Exemptions to records laws allow authorities
to stifle talk of police reform, paper says

According to a Washington Post analysis: All 50 states and the District of Columbia allow police departments to withhold records they consider investigatory. And in 35 states, police misconduct records are exempted from disclosure.

At least 17 states have pending bills that would allow more public access to police records, The Post found.

“When government employees know that what they do . . . will be transparent, then they’re going to do a better job for us. They’re going to spend our money better. And they’re going to act better,” David Cuillier, president of the National Freedom of Information Coalition Board of Directors, told The Post.

Click to Read More
More From the Headlines

Connecticut to require police body cameras.

But the bill didn’t designate a state agency to oversee implementation.

 

Step 1: having cameras. Step 2: releasing footage.

Wisconsin reporters say police agencies routinely deny their requests.


What fills the void when public info is concealed?

Maybe conspiracy theories and misinformation, one reporter posits. 
Signed, NFOIC

NFOIC joins amicus brief supporting release
of police internal affairs records in New Jersey

The National Freedom of Information Coalition and 23 other organizations joined a Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press amicus brief supporting the release of police internal affairs records in New Jersey.

In July 2019, a retired New Jersey police officer submitted a New Jersey Open Public Records Act request seeking access to police internal affairs records, related to an investigation into workplace misconduct of the former director of the police department. The prosecutor’s office denied the request, and the police officer sued for access. The trial court held the records were available, but an appeals court reversed.

The brief argues the New Jersey Supreme Court should reverse the appellate court’s decision and make the records available.

Click to Read More
Training Calendar

FERPA and Public Records

Sponsored by the New England First Amendment Coalition.

When: Noon Eastern, Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021
Click Here to Register
Share Your Training Programs
Click Here to Donate to NFOIC
NFOIC Newsletter Contacts
This newsletter is produced by Todd Fettig, NFOIC executive director, and Erika Benton, NFOIC external partnership coordinator and communications specialist. To contribute items or for more information, email nfoic@nfoic.orgtfettig@nfoic.org and ebenton@nfoic.org. To read regular FOI updates, visit our blog at nfoic.org and follow us on TwitterFacebook or Instagram.

Copyright © 2021 National Freedom of Information Coalition, All rights reserved.


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