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Sunlight Weekly Roundup: “Transparency with conditions is not transparency”

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  • The Austin Independent School District agreed to release a report that deals with the closing, repurposing, and consolidation of nine schools in Central Texas. The district was supposed to release the report to The Austin American Stateman several days prior to a school board meeting scheduled for Monday. However,   district officials later said they would only release the document if the newspaper’s editors and reporters were willing to wait until 10 PM Monday night, several hours after the meeting would have taken place. The school district claims that the report was actually a “working draft,” which exempts it from the state’s open records law. Curt Olsen remains unconvinced, maintaining, “transparency with conditions is not transparency." Read more of his take at the Texas Budget Source.
  • The Attorney General of Massachusetts has just released a new website to ensure all meetings are in accordance with the Open Meetings Law. Members of the public, press, municipal officials, and public bodies may access its determinations by searching for key terms or phrases or by actions ordered. According to Jefferey Roy, “The Open Meeting Law supports the principle that the democratic process depends on the public having knowledge about the considerations underlying governmental action. It requires that most meetings of governmental bodies to be held in public.” Find out more at the Franklin School Committee Blog.

  • According to Max Brantley, Little Rock’s city hall is violating transparency laws. Two days after Brantly filed an FOI for accumulated city data on ward redistricting, none have been provided. The custodian of the documents has not replied, as law requires, to his FOI request. City manager Bruce Moore claims they have published the only document pertaining to redistricting, however,  Brantly disagrees. He asks readers, “Do you trust them to be any more forthcoming about decisions on spending their new half-billion dollars?” Read more at the Arkansas Blog.
  • Former city council candidate and California attorney Mauren Sundstrom  filed a complaint with the San Bernardino County District Attorney alleging that Upland City Council committed two open meeting law violations. She alleges that these meetings violated the Brown Act, which allows the public the opportunity participate in meetings of local government agencies. Sundstrom maintains that she wants city council to realize they may not be as open as they think they are. Read Sandra Emerson’s  post on Inland Politics to find out more.