Tag Archives: public access to information

Portland Restaurant Inspection Reports Go Online

In a press release issued on June 4, 2013, the City of Portland’s Department of Health and Human Services Public Health Division announced that food service inspection reports for local restaurants and other food service providers are now available online. Providing the public with easy access to these reports is a part of the city’s continuing effort to improve its environmental health and safety programs. In addition to the inspection results, information on how to interpret the data included in the inspection report is also provided on their website.

“With Portland’s growing reputation as a foodie destination, it is important … Read More

Millions of New Records Added to New York State Transparency Website

In a press release issued on May 1, 2013, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the addition of millions of government records to the state’s new data transparency website, which launched during Sunshine Week in March of this year. The website was created in an effort to provide citizens with user-friendly, one-stop access to government data from New York State agencies, localities, and the federal government. Information on a variety of subjects such as food safety inspections, state jobs data, daycare facilities, economic development, crime data, and medical conduct discipline records were included in the initial launch of … Read More

Ramsey County Launches Online Warrant Database

In a press release issued on January 31, 2013, Minnesota’s Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office announced the launching of its Online Warrant Search (OWS). This web-based application was designed to allow citizens, crime victims, community members, and partner organizations to search for and view public information about people who have active Ramsey County arrest warrants.

“The Online Warrant Search should help improve community safety by providing arrest warrant information online and encouraging citizens to share knowledge with law enforcement,” said Sheriff Matt Bostrom. “An informed and engaged community is central to public safety.”

An arrest warrant calls for the immediate apprehension … Read More

Controversy over Published Gun Permit Records Continues

A newspaper in suburban New York has received nationwide attention and criticism after publishing an interactive map that lists the names and addresses of gun permit holders in Rockland and Westchester counties. The Journal News sought this information following the horrific school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut and was obtained legally under New York’s Freedom of Information Law.

The release of these records has ignited heated debates all across the country. While some readers appreciated the information, others believe that it was an invasion of privacy and fear it could also endanger gun permit holders. In an article titled “The Journal … Read More

Freedom of Information Act Requests Gets Easier

      No Comments on Freedom of Information Act Requests Gets Easier

Obtaining public information from the federal government just got a lot easier thanks to a new federal website launched on October 1, 2012.

The federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) provides the public a way to request information from federal agencies. However, each agency has its own independent records system and its own procedures for handling requests for information. Therefore, each agency must be contacted separately, and when necessary, records are transferred manually between agencies causing lengthy delays for the requestor and additional work for the agencies. For someone requesting information, it is hard to know the proper procedure for … Read More

Contra Costa County Settlements to be Public

      No Comments on Contra Costa County Settlements to be Public

Recently, California’s Contra Costa County, Board of Supervisors, agreed to include in its meeting agendas a summary of all settlement agreements that are reached during closed sessions. Previously, the final settlements were only made public if someone made specific requests for the details.

In an article entitled “Settlements with County Now to be Public” in The Mercury News, dated February 11, 2011, by Lisa Vorderbrueggen, Contra Costa Times, this action is the result of an unpublicized settlement regarding alleged sexual assault charges made by a former County employee. The settlement was approved by the Board of Supervisors and never publicly … Read More

California Prop 8 Supporters Seek Anonymity in New Lawsuit

Many were surprised with the passage of Proposition 8 last year in California. Much of the surprise was due to California’s liberal reputation, the significant GLBT community in California, and large and vocal outpour of support or the No on Prop 8 campaign. However, just as there were huge donations and massive outpourings of support against the ballot, the same occurred for the campaign for the ballot. However, it appears as though the individuals and organization who support the Yes on Prop 8 campaign would like to remain anonymous.

Typically campaign finance records are public records, and therefore, anyone can … Read More

New Federal Register Site Provides Online Access To Documents!

With the housing crisis, banking crisis, unemployment crisis, and all the other general crisis that our country is facing, the government is constantly in a scramble to create new legislation to deal with the current mess. There is so much paper work, proposals, and legislation, that most of us everyday people don’t have a clue about half of what is going on. With the Freedom of Information Act, as citizens, we are granted the authority to make document requests of public documents. However, making such requests can often be time consuming, and even costly. Furthermore, if you don’t have the … Read More