RIGHT TO KNOW

In 2016, Virginia-based immigration lawyer Hassan Ahmad sent the University of Michigan a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to access sealed papers donated to the university by John Tanton, a prominent anti-immigration activist from Michigan.But the public university denied the request until 2035.After years of lower court battles...
The Virginia Freedom of Information Advisory Council on Wednesday declared its support for loosening state laws on electronic meetings, backing legislation to give members of local boards more leeway to call in to public meetings instead of attending in person.Supporters of the change, which still has to be approved...
Police in Virginia almost never release case files and body camera footage, even long after their investigations have concluded.A bill aimed at changing that failed during the special legislative session, which concluded last week. But lawmakers are already working to revise the legislation in response to concerns raised by...
In a tumultuous 2020, when it seems like everything is fraying at the seams, there are still certainties.Death. Taxes.And Virginia officials flouting the spirit and letter of the state's Freedom of Information Act — which says it "ensures the people of the commonwealth ready access to public records in...
If open-government advocates have their way in Richmond, relatives of crime victims and the news media may finally learn more details about a host of violent incidents – many that are several years old and votes of the State Parole Board will be pulled into the light of day.It’s...
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...
Last month, as it was becoming apparent that Virginia was lagging other states in testing capacity and struggling to procure enough protective gear for long-term care facilities, first responders and hospitals, Gov. Ralph Northam's administration announced it had reached a deal with global consulting firm McKinsey and Company to...
They are simple questions and they deserve honest answers, especially when people’s lives are at stake.What nursing homes have reported COVID-19 outbreaks? Are there outbreaks at food processing plants in Virginia, and where are they? What do Virginia taxpayers have to show for their $27 million contract to buy...
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...
Before letting legislators leave for the day, House of Delegates Clerk Suzette Denslow reminded them that the faster they get their conference reports done, the faster they can be voted on.“So don't wait until the last minute,” Denslow said.Lawmakers have a few more days to get their homework done...