Author

Megan Rhyne

Megan Rhyne

Megan Rhyne is executive director of the Virginia Coalition for Open Government, a nonprofit alliance formed to promote expanded access to government records, meetings and other proceedings at the state and local level.

COMMENTARY

When facing a crisis, the front door is the best approach

By: - March 9, 2021

Where should the proposed landfill be located? Who is the most qualified candidate to be the new school superintendent? How much did it cost to implement that program? Politic me would say in response to all three questions, “I really don’t know.” Impolitic me would say, “I really don’t care.” That is, I don’t know […]

COMMENTARY

Not so much ‘outright awful’: A round-up FOIA legislation in the 2021 session

By: - January 22, 2021

If there is a silver lining to a clunky yet frenetic mostly-virtual General Assembly session, it is that there are fewer bills to sift through: 1,098 bills and resolutions this year compared with 3,911 last year. Consequently, there are also fewer bills affecting the Freedom of Information Act and access to government information than last […]

COMMENTARY

Why access to records must be part of the General Assembly’s criminal justice reform

By: - August 17, 2020

I’m no expert on the art of policing. Beyond my personal opinions, I couldn’t tell you when the use of force is or isn’t appropriate, or to what extent police officers should be immune from lawsuits for their actions. I wouldn’t know how much militarized equipment is necessary or how much (and what kind of) […]

COMMENTARY

Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act isn’t equipped for a crisis like this

By: - March 19, 2020

It may be the height of irony during Sunshine Week — the access and transparency community’s annual love letter to open records and open meetings laws across our country — to hear me say that all the rules of open government might not apply right now. I’ve never been one to shy away from the […]

COMMENTARY

What’s behind increasing FOIA fees? Email has a lot to do with it

By: - June 13, 2019

Twenty years ago, open government advocates across the country were urging legislatures to modernize public records laws by moving past antiquated definitions of public records. Not only were they trying to drop the cumbersome lists of every type of record that could be used in the transaction of public business, they were also trying to […]

COMMENTARY

Supreme Court places ‘a heavy thumb on the scale’ for keeping records secret

By: - May 6, 2019

In late summer 2018, the West Virginia House of Delegates voted to impeach its Supreme Court’s four sitting judges; the fifth one had resigned earlier. What started the whole ball rolling was a TV news report that found the justices had been throwing money around like newly signed professional athletes. Collectively, they spent $3.7 million […]

COMMENTARY

Tracking bills during the General Assembly session: like drinking from a fire hose

By: - February 25, 2019

I once got a call from a journalist frustrated by a state law that allowed the government to withhold important information. He wasn’t just frustrated with the law, he was frustrated with me because — admittedly — I didn’t catch the bill that led to the law when it made its way through the General […]

COMMENTARY

How hard a bargain did Virginia drive on Amazon? Secrecy pledge could make it tough to find out

By: - November 21, 2018

Imagine if you were sitting down to dinner tonight and your spouse said she had something really important to talk with you about. You’re not totally surprised by this because she’s been gone a lot, taking whispered phone calls, sending late-night texts. But you still don’t really know what might come next. “SURPRISE!” she exclaims. […]

COMMENTARY

Your right to know: Why a judge’s decision exempting the judiciary from FOIA matters

By: - October 31, 2018

A judge in Richmond decided earlier this month that Virginia’s judiciary was not subject to the Freedom of Information Act. The ruling was the culmination of a more than three-year tug-of-war between an Eastern Shore sculptor and the court system’s administrators. Dr. William Turner has long believed that circuit court judges have been improperly using […]

COMMENTARY

THE RIGHT TO KNOW: Just because you’re allowed to, doesn’t mean you have to

By: - July 30, 2018

Most local governments and school districts in Virginia have a top administrator responsible for day-to-day management. Whether the job is called a manager, administrator, superintendent or something else, candidates are hired by the governing board and charged with both implementing and informing the board’s policies. The positions are extremely important and can be quite powerful, […]

COMMENTARY

Remember officials, when they’re about public business, your texts are public records

By: - July 18, 2018

Thirty years ago, John Q. Public Servant had a report he had to produce for his boss, the county manager. He was tired and his kid was sick, so he left work a bit early to work on it at home. He sat down at the kitchen table after grabbing one of his kid’s leftover […]