A Website that’s a FOIA Paradise!

Check this out, this website has FOIA request sample letters for all 50 states!

http://www.nfoic.org/

If you don’t know what FOIA is, it is one of the most powerful tools in our arsenal to combat fraud, theft, corruption, cronyism–you name it, you can pretty much FOIA it.

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT means your government does NOT own any documents personally. The documents they have in their possession actually belong to the public and the public can get copies upon a simple written request.  No, really.

I know many of you have run into the court clerk, or the county agency that when you want information, you’re told “it’s private” or “it’s secret”.  Well, no, documents belonging to the public are not private or secret unless the government can show good cause for withholding each and everyone of them.  Generally, that’s a very high standard no state agency or court clerk can ever possibly meet.  A divorce record is not secret, even juvenile records are not secret,they can be redacted.  So this is your tool of choice in litigation where your rights have been abused.

From the website:

FOI and Open Government News Syndicate content

Kentucky’s Open Records Law: Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Open Government

June 13 — Government watchdogs are celebrating this month the 40th anniversary of the Kentucky Open Records Act.  Continue…

Pennsylvania: School bus videos are public records, state says

June 13 — Five years ago, when a Bangor area man wanted copies of videos from his daughter’s school bus so he could expose bullying, the state told him the recordings were off-limits to the public. Continue…

City of Topeka selected by What Works Cities initiative for open data

June 13 — The city of Topeka has been selected to join a national initiative that will enhance its distribution and use of data. Continue…

New Jersey: Little Egg Harbor Fire Co. agrees to adhere to Meetings Act

June 13 — The New Jersey Foundation for Open Government (NJFOG) secured a court consent order on May 31 against the Little Egg Harbor Fire District #3 that requires the Board of Fire Commissioners to follow provisions of the Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA).  Continue…

The Sunlight Foundation is using IFTTT to make the government more open

June 10 — You might call it a recipe for transparency. Continue…

Maine courts unseal documents after media challenge

June 10 — The Maine court system reversed itself on sealing some court records after pressure from media groups, officials said Wednesday.Continue…

Sec. Kerry Orders State Department to Investigate Cover-Up

June 10 — Yesterday, Secretary of State John Kerry ordered the State Department to investigate the State Department’s intentional deletion of a 2013 briefing where its spokesperson admitted that the Obama Administration misled the American people about the Iran nuclear deal.Continue…

D.C. Council Can’t Claim FOIA “Speech or Debate” Exemption

June 10 — The D.C. high court ruled June 9 that an obscure law doesn’t work as an almost total exemption for the D.C. Council from the broad public access requirements of the District’s Freedom of Information Act…continue

North Carolina legislators debate who should get access to police body camera videos

June 8 — A plan to make police body camera footage more accessible cleared a House committee Tuesday afternoon, but some legislators and open-government groups say the bill doesn’t go far enough. Continue…

Sunlight Foundation: The FBI shouldn’t restrict the public’s right to know about our data

June 8 — As The Washington Post reported this week, the FBI wants to exempt its growing database of fingerprints and photographs from Privacy Act rules. Continue…

Accountable, Transparent Government: The Promise of the DATA Act

June 8 — Every political observer knows that we’re living in a time of historically low trust in government and high partisan polarization. Continue…

Top FOIA official: Give agencies a hand in ‘massive search’ for documents

June 8 — One of government’s leading officials on the Freedom of Information Act says agencies need more open channels of communication with members of the public seeking government records. Continue…

History as Data Science

June 7 — We turn documents into data and develop tools to explore history.Continue…

Online Access to D.C. Trial Court Records Has Approval of Four Chief Judge Candidates

June 7 — With technical barriers soon to be cleared away, all that remains is working out access policies for the public to get court records online just as easily as at the courthouse. Continue…

New York drops $250 fee for taxpayer-funded weather data after Syracuse.com story

June 7 — New York’s taxpayer-funded weather system has dropped its $250 fee for data requests after Syracuse.com pointed out that policy might violate the state’s Freedom of Information Law. Continue…

Missouri Representative pushing a house bill making animal health and environmental protection issues exempt from Sunshine Law

June 7 — Missouri Representative Jay Houghton (R-Martinsburg) is sponsoring House Bill 1414, which would make “any data collected for the purpose of animal health or environmental protection” a closed record…continue…

And below is a  sample letter for Illinois:

ADAPTED FROM ILLINOIS ATTORNEY GENERAL WEBSITE SAMPLE FOIA REQUEST

 

 

Agency Head [or Freedom of Information Act Officer]

Name of Agency

Address of Agency

City, State, Zip Code

 

Re: Illinois Freedom of Information Act Request

 

Dear ________:

 

Under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act, 5 ILCS 140, I am requesting an opportunity to inspect or obtain copies of public records that[Describe the records or information sought with enough detail for the public agency to respond.  Be as specific as your knowledge of the available records will allow. But it is more important to describe the information you are seeking.]

 

I understand that the Act permits a public body to charge a reasonable copying fee not to exceed the actual cost of reproduction and not including the costs of any search or review of the records.  5 ILCS 140/6.  [Option:] I am willing to pay fees for this request up to a maximum of $_____. If you estimate that the fees will exceed this limit, please inform me first. [Option:] However the law allows you to impose a waiver or reduction of fees when information is sought in the public interest, as is the case for this request. [Here, you can identify yourself as a representative of the news media if applicable and state that your request is related to news gathering purposes.  Include a specific explanation of why your request is in the public interest.] 

 

I look forward to hearing from you in writing within five working days, as required by the Act 5 ILCS 140(3).  Thank you for considering and responding to this request.

 

Sincerely,

 

Name

Address

City, State, Zip Code

[Optional:] Telephone number and e-mail

This website is great because it cites sample letters and all the laws so you can see if the state agency is putting you off or not on baseless grounds.

But we all know the ARDC does not comply.  The ARDC never complies with ethics reporting or FOIA.  When they don’t want to be sued, they say they are a state agency with immunity. When they don’t want to respond to FOIA, they say they are part of the judiciary.

Which is it, Mr. Larkin?  Got plenty to hide?  I bet.

Everyone is waiting for you to uphold the laws and the Constitution of the State of Illinois and not avoid them or trample on them.

Today is a good day to come clean, let everyone freely FOIA, file all your ethics reports going back to 2009 and admit any problems or errors.

Don’t be like the Cal. State Bar Disc. agency. They’re apparently imploding under the weight of a single whistle blower.

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