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Az Dep't of Education releases school grades after pushing reporter from office

After refusing to release school letter grade records distributed to Arizona public schools and claiming that no list of all scores existed, the Department of Education has reversed course and released the records to media outlets who sought them.... Read more»3

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Az Dep't of Education forcibly removes reporter asking to inspect records

The Arizona Department of Education physically pushed an AZCIR reporter out of its Capitol Mall offices Thursday in response to a request to inspect the latest school letter grade records. The agency’s security guard told AZCIR’s reporter he was trespassing and pushed him out of the public building.... Read more»

McSally strips BP freedom of information loophole from border bill

Rep. Martha McSally pulled a provision that would have allowed CBP to evade FOIA laws from a border bill moving through Congress on Wednesday, after TucsonSentinel.com broke the news about the measure the previous day. No one has yet offered an explanation for the exemption being included in the bill in the first place.... Read more»1

From the editor

McSally bill may exempt Border Patrol from freedom of information laws

A hearing Wednesday may — inadvertently or on purpose — move forward a law, backed by Rep. McSally, that would exempt Customs and Border Protection from FOIA almost entirely, allowing the agency to keep records about its border enforcement activities under wraps. ... Read more»2

Experts: Trump’s 'voter fraud' commission illegally using private emails

President Trump’s voter fraud commission came under fire earlier this month when a lawsuit and media reports revealed that the commissioners were using private emails to conduct public business. Commission co-chair Kris Kobach confirmed this week that most of them continue to do so. Experts say the commission’s email practices do not appear to comport with federal law.... Read more»

Secrecy and suspicion surround Trump’s deregulation teams

ProPublica and The New York Times identify more possible conflicts of interest among appointees, as Democrats in Congress demand greater transparency from the White House. ... Read more»

Nonprofits seeking public information at record rates

Advocacy groups are filing more lawsuits against the federal government for access to public records than ever before, according to a report released last week by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a federal information research center based at Syracuse University.... Read more»

What the Devil won't tell you

Trump voting commission's valid public records request reveals rise of fake realities

When election results become fake news, democracy is screwed but that doesn't mean Kobach doesn't have every right to expect his request to be met. In that space of reality between two lies is where journalists ply their trade today. Rather than adapt to the new reality of changing demographics, the GOP finds it easier today to find safe spaces by declaring war on reality.... Read more»

Analysis: Sunshine Week

Why freedom of information faces problems, and how experts say those can be solved

From the UA's David Cuillier and ASU's Eric Newton: People must be able to get facts from their government to make smart decisions and hold public officials accountable. Politicians from both parties agreed on this long ago when they first passed federal, state and local open government laws. But the things people build — be they bridges, roads or freedom of information laws — wear out without regular maintenance. That’s why Sunshine Week exists, to remind us that it takes effort to keep freedom working.... Read more»

From the editor

Sentinel editor joins in pushing Trump on transparency

In my role as head of a national group of local indie publishers, I signed onto a letter to incoming President Trump and VP Pence, urging changes to government policies that restrict reporters — and you — from learning what leaders and regulators are doing. The letter followed a series sent to President Obama and officials, urging greater transparency in dealings with the press and public.... Read more»

From the editor

Sentinel editor joins in pushing Obama on transparency — again

In my role as head of a national group of local indie publishers, I signed onto another letter to the Obama administration, urging changes to federal government policies that restrict reporters — and you — from learning what leaders and regulators are doing.... Read more»1

Analysis

UA prof to Congress: 'Tipping point' for freedom of information

"We have reached a tipping point – a crisis situation – when it comes to freedom of information in this country. We are frogs in the kettle of slowly heating water," the head of the UA Journalism School, David Cuillier, told Congress on Tuesday. "The law is broken. FOIA has been co-opted as a tool of secrecy, not transparency."... Read more»

Sunshine Week commentary

True disclosure demands full accountability

With its Citizens United and McCutcheon decisions, the U.S. Supreme Court clearly articulated the value of disclosure and transparency to the health of our democracy. After all, transparency is the best disinfectant, to paraphrase Justice Louis Brandeis’ famous quote. Sadly, the type of transparency and disclosure envisioned by the justices doesn’t exist.... Read more»

Commentary

Trying (and trying) to get records from the ‘most transparent administration’ ever

I experienced firsthand the incompetence and neglect behind Obama’s failure to make good on his FOIA promises. ... Read more»

Guest opinion

How ICE shields financial dealings with private prison contractors from public scrutiny

Immigration and Customs Enforcement is fighting hard to hide from public scrutiny the workings of its contracts with private prison corporations like CCA and GEO. It seems that private prison contractors not only control an increasing share of our unjust immigration system; they now seek to limit the public's access to government contracting decisions and the reach of FOIA itself.... Read more»

Advocates: Feds withholding documents on deportation push

Immigrant advocates accused the federal government of withholding documents after 10 agencies released only a few papers relating to a new deportation policy known as the Priority Enforcement Program.... Read more»

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