Sunlight Weekly Round-up: Illinois restricts right to know


For some states, Sunshine Week brings a wave of success for being transparent in state spending. While for others like Illinois which scored a C in the U.S – PIRG 2011 report, little or no transparency in government is starting to cost them. Listed by the report, under  “emerging states”  for having a transparency website with “less comprehensive information”, Illinois neglected to adopt more successful models such as Kentucky’s Open Door (which scored an A) and instead created reforms to their Freedom of Information Act – that made the State Attorney General, the major watchdog of the state’s transparency. Now it is about to cost Illinois residents their right to know about government.

  • Illinois Senate is discussing SB1645 – a bill that would restrict the citizens’ right to know under the FOIA Act and Adam Andrzejewski wants to know where state Attorney General Lisa Madigan is.  Citing non compliance with FOIA by the Attorney General’s office, Andrzejewski writes that she instead enacted weak reforms that advocated more for the government than the public. By regulating the questions that the public asks government, this bill will require more transparency from citizens while the government remains in secrecy. Join Andrzejewski’s search for the state’s Attorney General on For the Good of Illinois.
  • A senate bill that would have allowed Hawaii public employees to conceal their names, compensation range, and job description has been killed. Key among the information that would have been affected by the Senate Bill 1094, is the availability of the table of state salaries on the Hawaii Sunshine . See how Malia Hill is encouraging citizens to thank Senator Les Ihara (D–Kaimuki) and Senator Sam Slom (R–Hawaii Kai) for voting against the bill down on Rooted in Reason.
  • With Wifi-enabled laptops and down loadable mobile apps, some of us don’t fully appreciate the contribution of public libraries to open government. Well Michael Casey, the Information Technology Director for the Gwinnett County Public Library in Atlanta is changing that. In his analysis of the recently released report by the Pew Internet and American Life , he explains the relationship between transparency and relevance. Whereas he notes that the two are important in the growth of public libraries, he stresses that the challenge remains in knowing the kind of information that the public needs so that libraries can have and deliver it. Read more on Michael e Casey.
  • Chair of the New Dominion Project, Mike Signer is reviving an issue identified by Virginia newspapers – the state’s FOIA law needs improvements. Specifying an article by the Virginia State House News that highlighted ways in which the state can better their law, Signer warns of the dangers of the law reform including which include increasing fees for FOIA noncompliance. Now he is asking you if you think Virginia FOIA law is strong enough. More on the New Dominion Project blog.