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States seek balance between transparency and email retention schedules   

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Gov. Gavin Newsom_Kevin Sanders Photo

CA Gov. Newsom Gives OK for State, Local Agencies to Destroy Emails

California Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a measure [Oct. 12] that would have required local governments to preserve copies of email records for disclosure under the state’s public records law.

The measure, Assembly Bill 1184, would have required local and state agencies to preserve communications sent by email for at least two years so that members of the public may inspect and copy them.

California’s open records law, the California Public Records Act (CPRA), already requires agencies to preserve public records for at least two years and prohibits agencies from destroying them beforehand. But some agencies have argued that email records are not subject to the CPRA and don’t need to be preserved under the law.

Gov. Newsom vetoed the bill on Sunday [Oct. 13]. In a veto message, Gov. Newsom said AB 1184 did “not strike the appropriate balance” between transparency and the “burdens of a dramatic increase in records-retention requirements.”

Read More | California Globe

FOIA HEADLINES

Detroit [MI] Mayor: Training, Not Discipline For Staff Who Deleted Emails

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan won't discipline his chief of staff or two other staffers who were involved in deleting emails about a prenatal health program supported by the city.

Mayor Mike Duggan says chief of staff Alexis Wiley, a former TV reporter, instead will undergo public records training.

Duggan spoke to reporters Tuesday [Oct. 22], a day after Detroit's Office of the Inspector General said the nonprofit Make Your Date program enjoyed special treatment from city hall. Ellen Ha said Wiley's order to delete emails was "egregious" and "contrary to open government."

The mayor said the order to delete the emails was a "mistake in judgment" by Wiley, but well-intended.

He said her goal was to protect junior staffers from Duggan critic Robert Carmack, and avoid seeing them "become part of the media circus."

Read More | WWJ News

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Reporters Committee supports challenge to NYPD effort to delay public access to bodycam footage

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and a coalition of 32 media organizations are supporting Spectrum News NY1’s request of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Appellate Division, First Department, to reverse a trial court order that would require a hearing to assess whether redacting police body camera footage would be “unreasonably difficult.”

The January order of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of New York, permits the parties to conduct a hearing to determine whether making redactions to body camera footage would be “unreasonably difficult,” as the NYPD claims. The additional hearing would further delay production of any records NY1 requested under New York’s Freedom of Information Law.

“Not only does the Order conflict with the very purpose of the NYPD’s [body-worn camera] program, it also rests on faulty legal and factual grounds,”  attorneys for the media coalition state in a friend-of-the-court brief, filed on Oct. 18.

Read More | Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

Gordon appointee set to give shape to Wyoming's new public records law

Since being signed into law by Gov. Mark Gordon in March, Senate File 57 has been pawed over and discussed as much as any law enacted in the winter of 2019, with whole committees formed to discuss precisely how the state would facilitate the public’s right to know. One of the keys to making the law work was the hiring of a public records ombudsman – a mediator of sorts who would negotiate disputes between government and the public and, ultimately, come to define the limitations and horizons of the state’s open records law.

In the weeks since she was appointed to the post on Sept. 30, [Ombudsman Ruth] Van Mark has spent her time building an office that can begin those discussions, initiating conversations with public records officers all over the state, building connections and looking at the pinch points for public records access in all facets of state government from the municipal to the state level.

Van Mark sees potential for the position to help define what the public records act should be: a tool for the public to engage more meaningfully with their government. 

Read More | Casper Sun Review

LAWSUITS

News Tribune Photo of MO State Capitol

Missouri House sued over response to open records request

The Sunshine and Government Accountability Project filed the lawsuit in Cole County Circuit Court against the [MO] House, the House's chief clerk and custodian of records Dana Miller, former Rep. Jean Evans and up to 10-20 unnamed "elected representatives and other persons who defied and/or acted in concert to defy the Missouri Constitution and its related open records and Sunshine laws," according to the suit's petition for injunctive and declaratory relief.

The Sunshine Project argues in its lawsuit petition that House Rule 127 violates the Missouri Constitution's section on legislative records, which includes: "Legislative records shall be public records and subject to generally applicable state laws governing public access to public records, including the Sunshine Law. Legislative records include, but are not limited to, all records, in whatever form or format, of the official acts of the general assembly, of the official acts of legislative committees, of the official acts of members of the general assembly, of individual legislators, their employees and staff, of the conduct of legislative business and all records that are created, stored or distributed through legislative branch facilities, equipment or mechanisms, including electronic."

Read More | News Tribune

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