foia

Just let your soul glo …

I sat in on a Freedom of Information Act primer for members of boards and commission. It’s a very lengthy piece of legislation, but if you’re really curious, read it and weep. (Also, there is a citizens’ guide to the state’s FOIA law.) Here is my (very brief) summary of what you need to know:

  • If you are paid with tax dollars and can’t serve citizens without transparency, you’re not serving citizens.
  • Usually, just because a meeting can be closed to the public, it doesn’t have to be.
  • You can disclose what was said in a closed meeting. If there is an objection, tell those who object to consider Portsmouth. When in doubt, contact the city or county or school board attorney.
  • FOIA matters because, in part of public perception, trust and accountability.
  • If you contact a public official in written form, what you sent becomes a part of the public record.
  • You don’t have to be a journalist to use FOIA.

If you think the people who get paid with our tax dollars aren’t operating in the sunlight, contact the Virginia Coalition for Open Government or the
Virginia Freedom of Information Advisory Council.

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