Sunlight Weekly Round-up: New State Open Government Guide


An awakening call to self educate ourselves on open records and open public meetings came when in June this year, the nation’s capital  became the venue where two reporters were arrested for video recording a public meeting. Whilst before, Washington DC was not among the states included in the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press’ resource on states open records and open meetings laws, this time around, DC is among the 50 states. Most liberating, the revisions on DC’s Open Meetings Act allow the recording of public meetings as long as “the person does not impede the orderly conduct of the meeting”.

  • A new and improved guide on all things open government at the state level has been produced by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. Some of the impressive features to check for free and also available on both CD and online, include categories on accessing information on government budgets and updates on public records and open public meetings laws. Open government expert Charles Davis offers more on Art of Access.
  • In a new effort to open Chicago, the administration of Mayor Rahm Emmanuel announced that all crimes will be posted on line for residents to make their own analysis of crimes in their neighborhood. Blogger Matt Fratz is not too sure this is well-intended. In his opinion, transparency should be implemented through the creation of law not in the number of arrests made by the police. And by not publishing the names of police officers involved in criminal acts — as the Mayor’s office is doing — the purpose of transparency is defeated. Read more on the appropriately named Political Fail blog.
  • About six months after the U.S. Public Interest Research Group gave Arkansas an F for transparency in their state website, legislators have finally passed the Arkansas Financial Transparency Act which will ensure the creation of a website showing all the state’s expenditures. David Kinkade is singling out an important factor:  open government does not have to be expensive He mentiones how the website creation is on time and under budget. It’s all on the Arkansas Project.
  • A special legislative committee has been created to review Vermont’s public records exemptions. Nancy Remsen has the buzz on how the committee has already started prioritising topics whose exemptions should be reviewed — beginning with the tax exemptions. See how privacy is being redefined by the committee on VT.Buzz
  • Following the stipulations of New Jersey’s Open Public Meetings Act, Gloucester County Prosecutor, Sean F. Dalton, encouraged the county’s local government officials to increase their email usage as a way to promote transparency. John Paff has more on NJ open government Notes.