Sunlight Weekly Roundup: Open meeting law violations and broken campaign promises regarding transparency

  • According to Galloway Township News, New Jersey’s Galloway Township has failed to release an agenda for the townships meeting their meeting on Tuesday, November 21, 2011. emailed township manager Steven Bonanni on Sunday to remind him the agenda had not been released. Bonanni said he was on vacation and that he would follow up with the agenda on Monday morning. The agenda has still not been released. Galloway Township News maintains that Galloway Township has broken the state’s open meeting law that requires the public bodies provide the public with adequate advance notice of all its meetings. For the whole story, check out Harry B. Scheeler’s post at Galloway Township News.
  • During a campaign speech in 2010, Nevada’s Nye County Treasurer Mike Maher promised citizens he would provide “accurate, timely, financial information so you can be capable of being informed and capable of either supporting a solution to a financial action by your elected officials prior to expenditures being made instead of after an expenditure is being made.” Maher is eight months behind in filing the monthly treasurer’s reports,the verge of having a complaint filed against him in District Court. Nye County Commissioner Joni Eastley  maintained that if monthly treasurer reports through Oct. 31 were not produced by the Dec. 6 county commission meeting, she will put an item on the agenda Dec. 20 to file a complaint against Maher. To read more, check out Mark Waite’s post on the Pahrump Valley Times.
  • An effort to create an online forum that would allow Oregon City’s 10 urban renewal commissioners to publicly discuss agency business came to a quick halt after city officials raised concerns about hosting what amounts to a meeting that never ends. The recommendation from Commissioner Phil Yateswas intended to allow the urban renewal board to share opinions during the lull between its twice-a-month meetings. Commissioners often run short on time at meetings and that’s led at least one member to question the agency’s effectiveness. The process would be transparent and the public could listen in on the conversation any time, Yates said. For more information, check out Steve Mayes’ post at Oregon Live.
  • A Washington State Court of Appeals recently held that prison inmate Robert Johnson’s public records lawsuit against the State of Washington Department of Corrections was time-barred, and therefore dismissed. In August 2006, Johnson sent a public records request to the Department of Correction’s Public Disclosure Unit requesting information about the Extended Family Visitation policy revision. The DOC told Johnson that the only responsive record was one email documenting approval of the policy change, which Johnson received in early September, 2006. Over the next few months, Johnson submitted a duplicate public records request to various Department of Corrections Public Disclosure officers seeking the same information identified in his original request. After a series of additional requests, the Department sent Johnson a final letter on August 27, 2007, noting that Johnson had already received the sole responsive document, and that his request was considered closed. Over two years later, another requestor, Melinda Carter, sought the same information as Johnson. Carter was provided with nearly substantially more information than Johnson, over 300 pages of documents in response to her request. In December 2009, Johnson filed a Public Records Act (“PRA”) action to compel production of records that the Department of Corrections ostensibly withheld. Johnson contended that the Department of Corrections violated the PRA by only disclosing a single email when he had requested all records pertaining to the Extended Family Visitation policy change. He cited Carter’s request and DOC’s 300-page response as evidence to support his claim. The superior court denied Johnson’s motion and dismissed his PRA action. The Court of Appeals affirmed, finding Johnson’s arguments were time-barred. See Alicia Feichtmeir’s post on the Local Open Government Blog, for more information.