Posted Friday, August 5, 2011 - 8:24am in Anonymous's blog

The Taxicab Commission has amended its open-meetings policy to expressly permit recording (audio and video), and to release a recording or transcript of each meeting free of charge.  Click here for the new policy.

Recording is just one of many issues, and this is just one of 100 plus boards and commissions. 

Posted Thursday, June 23, 2011 - 11:14am in czarek's blog

Two reporters were led away from a meeting of the D.C. Taxicab Commission in handcuffs and a third was barred from entry, a Washington Post columnist reported. The June 22 meeting of the commission -- a public body -- was the sort of meeting covered by the new D.C. Open Meetings Act. According to the article, attendees assert the commissioners violated the law by having the reporters removed by U.S. Park Police.

Posted Monday, June 6, 2011 - 9:26am in czarek's blog

District employees saw Council Chairman Kwame Brown's request for a Lincoln Navigator to be "waste and abuse" of taxpayer dollars, according to e-mail messages released through the D.C. Freedom of Information Act. The Washington City Paper reported on last fall's messages that detailed the chairman's reported requests for the luxury SUV, including some between Department of Public Works employees indicating concern over the issue.

Posted Wednesday, May 18, 2011 - 2:29pm in czarek's blog

Charlie Sheen's newsmaking police escort for his District of Columbia show last month was one of many instances where District police have provided escorts for high-profile visitors, according to records released to the Associated Press under the D.C. Freedom of Information Act. The AP reports these escorts -- for college and professional sports teams as well as some celebrities -- have ranged in cost from hundreds of dollars to $30,000. The article says the department has generally been reimbursed for these expenses.

Posted Wednesday, August 25, 2010 - 11:25am in czarek's blog

Documents released through the DC Freedom of Information Act show that no performance measures were detailed in a contract between the Fenty administration and the Peaceoholics, which received $100,000 grant to run a program intended to keep kids out of trouble in 2008. Measures were provided by Fenty's office to the police department, but did not make it into the contract between the District and the non-profit group that works with at-risk youths, the documents reqeusted by The Washington Examiner show.

Posted Wednesday, May 26, 2010 - 11:57am in mdavenport's blog

A group protesting budget cuts to the District's social services programs pushed their way past security guards outside of the D.C.

Posted Monday, May 24, 2010 - 10:55am in mdavenport's blog

An environmental engineering professor at Virginia Tech waged a years-long crusade to determine the validity of reports issued by the CDC that downplayed the incidence and effects of lead in the District's drinking water.  At a hearing last week, the House Science Committee's Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight Staff vindicated that crusade, confirming Professor Marc Edwards' conclusions that the CDC's reports were flawed.  Edwards' investigation had included a drawn-out and expensive dispute about access to District documents containing data on lead in the water; the report produced for the subcommittee includes Edwards' description

Posted Monday, May 24, 2010 - 10:26am in mdavenport's blog

The Washington Post editorial board has issued a call for a reform of the open meetings law in the District.  The editorial notes that the opening of the Council's budget discussions last week to a television camera was a step in the right direction, but that such accessibility should not be subject to the whim of the Council chair.  Washington Post

Posted Friday, May 7, 2010 - 12:03pm in mdavenport's blog

Following the revelations this week that the teen suspects in the murder of principal Brian Betts have lengthy rap sheets and were in and out of supervision by the District's Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services, Attorney General Peter Nickles has vowed to look into the policies requiring confidentiality of juvenile records.  As Harry Jaffe reports in his column for the Examiner, Nickles says, "These records should be made available to the public . . . I would trust the media and the people to interpret the information. We're looking at how to open up the records."

Posted Monday, April 26, 2010 - 1:22pm in mdavenport's blog

The Washington Post editorial board used the occasion of the exoneration of one suspect in last month's quadruple slayings in Southeast Washington to highlight the problems caused by excessive confidentiality regarding youth offender programs in the District.  While noting that the initial charges against the suspect drew a great deal of attention to problems faced by the city's juvenile justice system, the editorial observed that even with the dropping of the charges, problems remain:

Posted Friday, April 16, 2010 - 1:12pm in mdavenport's blog

Loose Lips Weekly leads off this week with an item tracking down the reason that the District stopped posting documents and video from the Mayor's CapStat agency performance oversight meetings, as it had previously done.  The conclusion: Attorney General Peter Nickles describes the materials related to CapStat sessions as the essence of "deliberative process," a privilege exempting internal agency working materials under the District's open records law.  Loose Lips then surveys some other transparency problems that have cropped up during this administration.  Washington City Paper

Posted Wednesday, April 14, 2010 - 11:32am in mdavenport's blog

A bill sponsored by Councilmember Michael Brown would require that the chief financial officer conduct a study of the impact of any proposed tax abatement or exemption when city officials are seeking to lure a business to the District. The proposal would allow for more rigorous and public examination of the costs and benefits of using such means to bring businesses to D.C.  The Washington Post editorial board is in favor, as is the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute. Washington Post

Posted Friday, April 9, 2010 - 10:06am in mdavenport's blog

The Greater Greater Washington blog has included a detailed description of the public bodies and processes that govern zoning in the District of Columbia.  The system has some complexity, and this description is helpful when seeking to understand an issue like the one that recently arose in the 14th & U St. neighborhood, where zoning officials have declared that no new restaurant or bar applications will be approved as a result of a zoning restriction that has just been triggered.  Greater Greater Washington

Posted Friday, April 9, 2010 - 9:47am in mdavenport's blog

As of Thursday afternoon, April 8th, a key part of the mayor's budget proposal package had not yet been made available to the D.C. Council or the public, spurring Council Chairman Vincent Gray to send a letter to Mayor Fenty.  The entire budget proposal is required by law to be submitted by April 1st, which starts the Congressionally allocated 56-day review period for Council review and approval.  Missing from the Mayor's budget submission so far is the Budget Support Act, a key document that explains the changes in fees, taxes, and legislative initiatives that support the budget.  Chairman Gray's letter notes that this is "an issue of basic government transparency," and that the document contains $100 million in taxes and fee increases that need to be made available for Council and public examination.  District Wire, Washington City Paper

Posted Tuesday, April 6, 2010 - 11:23am in mdavenport's blog

In a blog entry, education reporter Bill Turque describes the difficulties he's experienced with his latest attempts to get information relating to D.C. Public Schools.  Despite assurances that enrollment figures would be available once the Mayor's budget had been submitted, Turque continues to have his requests for that information denied or ignored.  He also mentions two other FOIA requests relating to DCPS that have yet to receive a response.  D.C. Schools Insider (Wash. Post)

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