For many months, public record requests put in by local newspapers have gone unanswered by the City of Frontenac leading a transparency watchdog group to suggest the law needs to be changed. The issue began when the city council fired three public officials at a meeting without any prior discussion.
Read more: https://www.morningsun.net/news/20200122/transparency-watchdog-urges-law-change-as-frontenac-continues-withholding-records
Former State Agency Director Sues Arkansas Department of Transportation and Shared Services Over Release of Text Messages
Former State Agency Director sues to stop of text messages he sent on his then-state-issued cellphone to a vendor's representative. The messages were requested by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette under the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act based on questions about three state projects totaling $8.2 million with the vendor.
Read more: https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2020/jan/10/ex-staffer-with-state-sues-to-get-text-/
The city council in Venice, Florida will vote on whether to approve a consent final judgment to settle a lawsuit over the city’s inability to produce text messages. The consent agreement would cost the city $45,321 in attorney fees and court costs.
Read more: https://www.heraldtribune.com/news/20200109/venice-to-vote-on-sunshine-lawsuit-settlement
The Sunshine Law requires cities to retain public records and make them accessible. Tallahassee outsources this job and is voting to sign a contract extension with their current vendor. The extended contract would cost a maximum of $320,000 per year to archive emails, text messages, and social media feeds.
Read more: https://tallahasseereports.com/2019/12/03/the-florida-sunshine-law-isnt-free/
Federal Judge Finds use of Ephemeral Messaging App by Defendant as Evidence of Bad Faith and Sanctionable
Lawyers advising their clients on texting messaging should be wary of ephemeral messaging apps options. In a recent Arkansas case, the court found that the use of Signal was evidence of bad faith sufficient to warrant sanctions.
Read more: https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/how-ephemeral-messaging-can-affect-55581/
As state auditor, Nicole Galloway regularly focuses on Sunshine Law issues in state and local government, but during a recent audit of former Gov. Eric Greitens her office ignored possible Sunshine Law transgressions. In an interview with The Star newspaper, the state auditor said her office did not look at Greitens use of the self-destructing text message application Confide because of current litigation. Read more: https://www.kansascity.com/news/politics-government/article237661859.html
As vanishing message apps, such as Snapchat, Wickr, WhatsApp, and Signal grow in popularity, businesses and attorneys must decide if they should allow use of the apps because the auto-delete functionality can trap companies in e-discovery disputes.
Read more: https://biglawbusiness.com/vanishing-messages-muddle-e-discovery-for-attorneys-judges
Vero Beach, Florida requires an annual lesson in open government laws at the City Council’s organizational meeting, but the recent presentation leaves out text messages and social meeting postings.
Read more: https://www.tcpalm.com/story/opinion/columnists/laurence-reisman/2019/11/22/yes-mr-vero-beach-city-attorney-texts-social-media-posts-public-records-too/4251920002/
The News-Journal and the First Amendment Foundation are sponsoring a seminar on Florida's open meetings and public record laws to in order to show the public that the Florida Sunshine Laws are there to protect everyone’s right to know.
Read more: https://www.news-journalonline.com/opinion/20191110/pat-rice-let-sunshine-in-on-nov-22
Due to the increase in number of open records requests being made in Leander, TX, the City Council voted to hire an additional deputy city secretary. The new hire will assist with fulfilling open records requests. The public can request everything from contracts to text messages. This information falls under the Texas Public Information Act, meaning the public has the right to view it. Read more:https://communityimpact.com/austin/cedar-park-leander/government/2019/11/08/influx-in-open-records-requests-spurs-leander-to-hire-new-position-update-processes/
A lawsuit filed against Destin alleges that city officials violated the state’s public record law by failing to produce requested text messages. An attorney representing a local business stated in their early October court filing that on May 30 their client had requested multiple public records from the city of Destin including text messages. So far this request has not been fulfilled.
Read more: https://www.thedestinlog.com/news/20191031/destin-sued-over-public-records
Metro Council President texted about government business on her personal phone. Her cell phone was set to automatically delete messages after 30 days, so these messages were deleted and she failed to retain records of them. Read more: https://www.wweek.com/news/state/2019/10/30/metro-council-president-lynn-peterson-texted-about-public-business-from-her-private-phone-and-deleted-the-texts/
A new report from the state Freedom of Information Coalition shows that the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) offer government officials broad discretion over when to keep or delete the recorded history of public business including emails and text messages. In addition, many Colorado officials are currently utilizing apps like Confide and Signal, which offer users a function that deletes messages once they’ve been read so no records are retained.
Read more: https://www.denverpost.com/2019/10/26/colorado-open-records-confide-signal/
Text messages from a planning board member to candidate for Arkansas House District 53 Republican primary, appear to promise a $20,000 scholarship for candidate's daughter if he drops out of the race and endorses opponent. Both parties later claim it was a joke.
Read more: https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2019/oct/25/texts-raise-cloud-in-house-seat-race-20/
A recent report done by the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition provides recommendations for addressing the state's inadequate records retention practices for electronic messages. Read the article here: https://www.muckrock.com/news/archives/2019/oct/24/colorado-cfoic-retention-report/
Takeaways From Ohio News Media Association Webinar on Challenges Faced by Journalists When Seeking Public Records
A Cincinnati law firm hosted a webinar addressing difficulties with response to records request, read about the takeaways: https://www.thenews-messenger.com/story/news/local/2019/10/23/ohio-public-records-laws-delay-denial-attorney-says/4069564002/
Fired Administrator Asks Court to Assess Fines Against Council Member for Violating Iowa's Open Meetings Laws and More
Ex-Windsor Heights, Iowa administrator contends a councilwoman created a hostile work environmentand that the city council made efforts to bypass Iowa's open meetings laws. Read more: https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/local/windsor-heights/2019/10/21/windsor-heights-ex-administrator-files-wrongful-termination-lawsuit/4053400002/
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser's staff and aides have admitted to using the message service WhatsApp to conduct business. This is concerning because the app destroys messages after a specific amount of time and the messages cannot be preserved. Read more: https://dcist.com/story/19/10/09/staff-for-mayor-muriel-bowser-use-whatsapp-raising-concerns-about-open-records/
A survey done by Maryland's public access ombudsman showed several cabinet-level agencies lacked policies for retaining certain kinds of records that are covered by the Maryland Public Information Act, such as emails and text messages.
Read more: https://www.baltimoresun.com/news/investigations/bs-md-pol-public-information-study-20191008-c64yd5t3e5eafk2leol34ehgq4-story.html
Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens’ use of the self-destructing text message app Confide, has cost the governor’s office $340,000 so far on private attorneys. Read more: https://www.kansascity.com/news/politics-government/article235795407.html
Ann Arbor, MI resident requested records of city council members communication with resident Pat Lesko since the beginning of the year, including emails, texts and direct messages over social media. A judge ruled that these messages are part of the public record and need to be provided. Read more: https://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/2019/09/residents-emails-to-ann-arbor-city-officials-are-public-record-judge-rules.html
Documents show that South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster and his staff were in frequent contact with board members to hire Robert Caslen to be the next president of the University of South Carolina. Read more: https://www.thestate.com/news/local/education/article235181197.html
Government offices in Texas are working to figure out how a new Public Record Law applies to them. The new law makes any related text messages subject to public scrutiny. The law applies to messages sent on work or personal devices. Read more: https://www.wacotrib.com/news/government/new-law-adds-requirements-for-text-messages-about-government-business/article_1685f576-a1a6-5ea9-b0a5-db76599e7abc.html
Former Gov. Eric Greitens’ spent taxpayer money to defend himself in a lawsuit alleging he and his staff used the self-destructing Confide app to to subvert Missouri’s open records laws. Read more: https://www.kansascity.com/news/politics-government/article234952897.html
As of September 1, 2019, the new law requires any public official who texts about public business now save the text messages for at least two years. The law applies to almost anyone who receives a public paycheck. The law does not differentiate between publicly issued or private devices if the person is texting about public business. Read more: https://krld.radio.com/articles/news/texas-open-records-act-takes-effect-september-1st
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