Posts Tagged ‘Public Records’

New York Man Arrested for Posing as Cop to Get Discount at Starbucks

Friday, April 6th, 2018

All he wanted was a law enforcement discount.

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Miami Officials Vote to End Revenue Generating Red Light Camera Prgm.

Friday, April 6th, 2018

City commissioners in Miami agreed on Thursday to pull the plug on their red light camera program early next year.

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Cops Need Legal Immunity to Abuse in Order to Protect Taxpayers

Friday, April 6th, 2018

New Mexico Governor: Cops Need Legal Immunity to Abuse in Order to Protect Taxpayers

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Seattle ICE Immigration Attorney Arrested for Stealing Immigrants IDs

Friday, April 6th, 2018

Seattle ICE Immigration Attorney Arrested for Stealing Immigrants Identities

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Virginia Port Authority Officer Arrested on Child Pornography Charges

Friday, April 6th, 2018

Virginia Port Authority Officer Arrested on Child Pornography Charges

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NC Police Helicopter Pilot Arrested for 8 Counts of Child Sex Offense

Friday, April 6th, 2018

North Carolina Police Helicopter Pilot Arrested for 8 Counts of Child Sex Offense

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California Cop Steals $100,000 from Department by Falsifying Overtime

Friday, April 6th, 2018

California Cop Steals $100,000 from Department by Falsifying Overtime

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WATCH: Charlotte Police Release Videos from Keith Lamont

Friday, April 6th, 2018

WATCH: Charlotte Police Release Videos from Keith Lamont Scott Shooting Death

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California Police Unions Donate $13,000 to DA Days After Killing Unarmed Man

Friday, April 6th, 2018

One police union has donated $78,000 to the Sacramento County District Attorney since 2013.

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Broward Health’s new policy: You want public records? Pay me

Thursday, February 1st, 2018

By Dan Christensen
FloridaBulldog.org
Rocked by scandal and run by leaders under criminal indictment for violating Florida’s Sunshine Law, Broward Health is now moving aggressively to choke off disclosure of potentially embarrassing public records.
The post Broward Health’s new policy: You want public records? Pay me appeared first on Florida Bulldog.

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EXCLUSIVE: Miami’s Top Prosecutor Busted Censoring Darren Rainey Protesters

Monday, June 5th, 2017

Miami-Dade County’s State Attorney Katherine Fernandez-Rundle is censoring at least 100 of her critics on Twitter, including a dozen accounts either named Darren Rainey or with the deceased man’s profile image.
We have pictures to prove it.
It all started when the prosecutor sent a tweet about freedom.
This exclusive report is based upon public records requested from the Miami-Dade SAO’s office under Florida’s Sunshine Law, including their social media policy, which as it turns out does not specify that a public official in their office has any allowance to censor citizens by blocking access to their public posts.
Miami residents are in an uproar after the veteran prosecutor decided not to charge Rainey’s captors at a state prison rife with abuse.
When government actors block critics on social media, it may violate both the state of Florida and federal constitution, both of which protect the right to petition the government.
State Attorney Fernandez-Rundle is facing intense public criticism after she declined to prosecute the four Florida state prison guards who left Darren Rainey – a non-violent offender – locked in a scalding hot shower with external temperature controls for over 90 minutes until he was found dead.
Rainey’s post-mortem body temperature was estiamted at 109 degrees.
The prosecutor’s office didn’t  initially wish to respond to our records request, writing, “We have no responsive records to your second request.”
But we shared an image provided by Navy Corpsman Daniel Suarez proving that Miami’s top prosecutor was censoring citizens, so they relented and delivered a dozen images, which may not even be the complete list.
“Florida public officials should always turn over these kinds of lists if they do in fact exist because they’re a matter of serious public interest,” says Faudlin Pierre, a Florida attorney who has filed suit to obtain social media records, “I commend the State Attorney for promptly releasing this critical document.”
Also,

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Florida Man Fights Extensive Public Records Request Abuse

Friday, May 26th, 2017

INTRODUCTION
 
The City of Homestead has a torrid reputation, and a pattern of willfully refusing to comply with the public records law. Homestead is a little town at the southern end of Miami-Dade County, rarely receiving the scrutiny it deserves as a cesspool of public corruption and maleficence.
 
I have used the records request process, as a pre-discovery method for investigating my civil rights claims. Homestead has failed to comply with the public records law on the majority of the nearly one hundred requests I have filed.
 
Homestead has a pattern and practice of unlawful noncompliance as it relates to the records law including but not limited to: excessively overcharging for records, claiming inapplicable exemptions, creating automatic and/or unreasonable delays in production, claiming incriminating records do not exist, falsifying records and destruction of records.
 
Florida has some of the strictest public records laws in the nation. The records law is thoroughly explained in the Government in the Sunshine Manual (GSM), and the city owns several copies. Yet, you could be easily fooled into thinking otherwise, based on the behavior and actions of Homestead and their attorneys.
 
I hope the information provided herein, while extensive by nature, will educate the readers on the public records law and how some public entities create costly issues.
 
BACKGROUND
 
PINAC published the original story of my abuse by Homestead officer Alejandro Murguido, beginning in 2012. I was falsely arrested in April 2013, after attempting to file a complaint, and charged for simply asking my neighbor to not speed and recklessly drive his city owned police car, in our community. Children regularly play in the street, and Murguido had previously asked me to contact him directly versus filing a formal complaint with his department.
 
I met with Homestead Chief of Police Alexander Rolle to file a complaint in February 2014. All false charges against me had been dismissed shortly

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Louisiana Town Clerk Calls Cops on PINAC Reporter Making Public Records Request

Thursday, April 6th, 2017

It may sound crazy to someone who doesn’t regularly participate in the decision-making process of the government that people like me would feel the need to be informed about what government officials are doing in our name and at our expense.
Those of us who actively participate in the process are generally labeled by public officials and their supporters as being disruptive; unruly troublemakers hell bent on tearing the community apart. It’s a common attitude that people like myself face and it scares away many people who may be interested in what the government is doing.
That was the attitude I faced from a small-town clerk in Welsh, Louisiana Tuesday when I made a public records request for documents pertaining to the creation of a separate bank account the town had set up outside of the general fund for the collection of certain fines and fees.
The account did not include a line item on the budget to track it and it appeared that the chief was overspending his budget by more than five percent without making the necessary amendments.  It was a simple mistake that would have been easily corrected.
In this instance, the clerk seemed upset that anyone would even question her, even though I never accused her of anything and truly believed the mistake could easily be corrected.  I only asked to see the record so that I could make my own educated decision, but I don’t think the clerk respected that and she was sure to let me know.
This record’s request was unlike anything I have ever seen before, and I’ve been making public records request for at least 15 years.  The clerk, Stephanie Benoit, began our interaction by being rude on the phone when I called to follow up on the records request that I sent to the city’s email account. 

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Controversial public records bill clears second Senate panel

Monday, March 6th, 2017

A bill giving judges some discretion over whether to award attorney’s fees in public records cases cleared its second committee hearing Monday, but not before being amended in an attempt to alleviate opponents concerns.
The bill (SB 80), sponsored by Sen. Greg Steube, aims to give judges discretion in whether they should award fees to the plaintiff and requires request be made in writing in order to be eligible to collect attorney fees.
The committee amended the bill Tuesday to add provisions that allow the court to consider “if the request to inspect or copy the public record was made in bad faith or was made to harass the agency or to cause a violation … and if the responsible agency responded in good faith to request to inspect or copy the records.”
“What I’m trying to do is come to the middle as it relates to the opponents,” said Steube.
Opponents of the proposal have argued it puts up a financial barrier that could deter legitimate record requesters from filing suit and would essentially require records requests be made in writing.
But the amendment did not appear to alleviate concerns. Barbara Petersen, the president of the First Amendment Foundation, spoke out in opposition of the bill.
Still, public records advocates acknowledged something needs to be done. But some, Rich Templin with the AFL-CIO, and said they worried the “legislation goes far too far.”
“We have a real problem, and I know you are trying to address it,” said Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez, a Miami Democrat. “We have to get it right. I know you’re trying, but I don’t think you’re there yet. I can’t support the bill at this time.”
Sen. Jeff Clemens voted in favor of the bill, saying he record of voting against public records exemptions, but represents a community where bogus public records requests

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Public records bill barely gets out of first committee

Tuesday, February 7th, 2017

A bill that would give judges discretion to award attorney fees in public records lawsuits squeaked out of its first review panel Tuesday.
The Senate’s Governmental Oversight and Accountability cleared the bill (SB 80) by a 4-3 vote. It goes next to the Community Affairs Committee.
The measure changes the word “shall” to “may” regarding courts awarding legal fees when an “agency (has) unlawfully refused to permit a public record … to be inspected or copied.”
It would also require a “complainant (to) provide written notice of the public records request to the agency’s custodian of public records at least 5 business days before” suing. Records requests are not normally mandated to be in writing.
The idea is to cut down on the number of “frivolous” lawsuits at taxpayer expense by eliminating guaranteed attorney fees in cases where public officials made an honest mistake, say bill advocates, including the Florida League of Cities.
Open government watchdogs, such as the First Amendment Foundation, have countered that the bill would instead chill legitimate actions against local governments and state agencies that unreasonably refuse to respond to record requests.
Sen. Greg Steube, a Sarasota Republican and lawyer who is sponsoring the proposal, backed a version of the bill last session when he was a state representative. It passed the Senate unanimously but died in the House.
A House companion (HB 163) would require judges to make specific findings before they can award attorney fees in public records lawsuits.
It would require a judge to determine that a public agency “unlawfully refused to permit a public record to be inspected or copied” and that the complainant “provided written notice identifying the public record request to the agency’s custodian … at least five business days before filing the civil action.”
That bill also says attorney fees can’t be awarded if the court finds “the request to inspect or copy the public record was made primarily to harass the

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Bill again targets attorney fees in public records cases

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

A bill that would give judges the discretion to award attorney fees in public records lawsuits was refiled Wednesday in the Florida Legislature.
New state Sen. Greg Steube, a Sarasota Republican and lawyer, is again behind the legislation (SB 80). He backed a version of the bill last session as a state representative. It passed the Senate unanimously but died in the House.
The measure changes the word “shall” to “may” regarding courts awarding legal fees when an “agency (has) unlawfully refused to permit a public record … to be inspected or copied.”
It would also require a “complainant (to) provide written notice of the public records request to the agency’s custodian of public records at least 5 business days before” suing. Records requests are not normally mandated to be in writing.
The idea is to cut down on the number of “frivolous” lawsuits at taxpayer expense by eliminating guaranteed attorney fees in cases where public officials made an honest mistake, bill advocates have said, including the Florida League of Cities.
Open government watchdogs, such as the First Amendment Foundation, have countered that the bill would instead affect legitimate actions against local governments and state agencies that unreasonably refuse to respond to record requests.
 
The post Bill again targets attorney fees in public records cases appeared first on Florida Politics.

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PINAC’s Executive Director Sues Miami Beach Mayor over Social Media Censorship

Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

Like most politicians, Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine campaigned on a platform of promising better transparency to his constituents.
And like most politicians, he proved to be a liar.
But unlike most politicians, he is being sued over his broken promise.
The lawsuit, which you can read here, was filed by Photography is Not a Crime’s very own Grant Stern, nonetheless.
Stern, who is PINAC’s Executive Director, filed his lawsuit Monday after Levine blocked him from the mayor’s official Twitter account over the summer, then deleted a comment from the mayor’s official Facebook account before blocking Stern from that page as well.
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Stern then filed a public records request, asking for the mayor’s Facebook block list, but was told by a city attorney that the list is not public record.
But the list is long from what we’re gathering, an ever-growing list that includes dozens of people who have criticized the mayor’s policies at one point or another since taking office in 2013.
And lately, those criticisms have been piling up, especially this year after he was found to be underplaying the number of confirmed Zika cases on Miami Beach as well as the revelation that the city of Miami Beach was pumping sewer-infested water into Biscayne Bay.
But judging by the mayor’s tightly controlled social media pages, everything is fine and dandy on Miami Beach, which is the fourth largest municipality in Miami-Dade County, but the most popular tourist designation, especially its South Beach neighborhood.
The democratic mayor’s Facebook page is filled with photos of himself posing with Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, Tim Kaine, Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Cuban – all whom he is sure to tag – so he obviously doesn’t want them seeing the growing dissent in his community.
It’s just not good for business.
But neither

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Massachusetts Police Refuse to Disclose How Much it Paid Lawyers to Fight Release of Brutality Video

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

On May 7, 2014, Anthony Ferrier was viciously beaten by a Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Police detective inside a subway station in Boston, and the entire incident was captured by one of the agency’s surveillance cameras—but the public wouldn’t know the truth for nearly a year.
Instead, the public “learned” in the immediate aftermath of the incident that Detective Sean Conway had heroically saved Ferrier from committing suicide; that Conway’s behavior was, in the words of then-MBTA Transit Police Chief Paul MacMillan, “tremendous.” Conway even claimed that Ferrier—who suffered multiple facial fractures at the detective’s hands—had thanked him.
The MBTA actually posted some of the video on YouTube, but the beating was edited out. The video does show Conway grabbing Ferrier, who was intoxicated at the time, as he is about to fall onto the subway tracks. But according to David Milton, a lawyer who helped Ferrier obtain the full video, the MBTA’s suicide narrative might not even be true. Milton said that while he wasn’t sure exactly what Ferrier was thinking, the video suggested that he “lost his balance out of surprise when approached by Conway.”
To get the unedited video, Milton sent a public records request to the MBTA. But the agency refused to provide it, claiming it would reveal confidential law enforcement techniques and the MBTA’s internal deliberations. In October 2014, Milton sued the MBTA, which continued to fight the video’s release, even hiring the law firm Seyfarth Shaw to help with the defense. Eventually, the agency relented and agreed to release the video, which Milton’s law firm published in March 2015.
Even then, the MBTA stood by Conway, claiming the detective’s “quick and decisive actions saved a man’s life.” Richard Sullivan, who is now superintendent of the MBTA police, said, “After careful review of the incident by our Use of

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Massachusetts Police Refuse to Disclose Internal Affairs Records for Cops Named in Lawsuit

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

The Amherst Police Department in Massachusetts has refused to comply with a public records request from PINAC that asked for the internal affairs records for two police officers who were named in a civil rights lawsuit this month.
According to the suit filed by Joshua Sampson, Amherst police officers Marcus Humber and Jamie Reardon refused to provide the teen with his epilepsy medication after arresting him in June 2014, which led to life-threatening seizures that caused language and short-term memory problems.
PINAC requested the officers’ internal affairs files to see if they have histories of misconduct.
In response, the department refused to turn over any of the documents, citing the privacy exemption to the Massachusetts public records law. However, the department’s response is at odds with Massachusetts case law. In the 2003 case Worcester Telegram & Gazette vs. Chief of Police, a state appeals court found that internal affairs records are public records.
According to the ruling, which was written by Judge Joseph Grasso, internal affairs records are public records because their purpose is to inspire public trust. Writes Grasso:
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The internal affairs procedure fosters the public’s trust and confidence in the integrity of the police department, its employees, and its processes for investigating complaints because the department has the integrity to discipline itself. A citizenry’s full and fair assessment of a police department’s internal investigation of its officer’s actions promotes the core value of trust between citizens and police essential to law enforcement and the protection of constitutional rights.
That case dealt with the personnel exemption, not privacy exemption, but made it clear that internal affairs records are generally considered public records in Massachusetts.
Additionally, according to a guide by the Massachusetts Secretary of State, which oversees the public records law, “The denial [of

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PINAC’s Jeff Gray Gets Assaulted for Making Public Records Request; Returns With Television News Crew

Saturday, October 31st, 2015

October is School Bus Safety Month, which means school bus contractors will go out of their way to show the public that their buses are in compliance with safety standards.
Or more likely, go out of their way to push and shove citizens making these requests out of their office.
That’s exactly what they did to PINAC reporter Jeff Gray this week after he walked into a Student Transportation of America office in Jacksonville, asking to inspect and photograph safety and maintenance records for a particular bus.
Only seconds after Gray walked into the building, making his request, a man named Tyrone Walker told him, “I want you out of my building.”
Gray stepped outside, trying to explain to Walker what he was seeking, but Walker began pushing and shoving him back to his car, telling him, “move your vehicle off my property.”
It turns out, Walker did not own the property, which belongs to Student Transportation of America, the third largest school bus contractor in the country, a company that bills itself as “the most trusted provider in school bus transportation.”
We suspected this was the case, but it was confirmed when a local television news crew entered the same property three days later, asking for the same records, only to be welcomed with open arms.
Jim Piggott of News4Jax even got them to admit they were wrong.
A controversial group that fights for public records and the right to photograph public facilities was rebuffed Tuesday when requesting records on school bus safety.
A member of Photography Is Not A Crime posted a video online, showing him being denied inspection reports from a Duval County school bus contractor. He was thrown off the property.
The records PINAC requested have since been released to News4Jax by the contractor, Student Transportation of America.
By law, each school bus must be inspected monthly, and

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OPINON: Private Prisons Turn 25, Why Do We Need Them At All?

Sunday, September 13th, 2015

Over the past year, MuckRock has been filing nationwide requests for the hard materials that connect the powers­ that ­be to their parasites.
It’s as much about what we can know as what we can’t know. And it requires putting money behind requests and feet on the ground.
That’s why MuckRock took the opportunity to launch its first project page with the Private Prison Project – a place to gather, contextualize, and follow the requests and stories that will help provide the data and dirt to have a real conversation.
Private Prisons in America Are Turning 25 Years Old
Winn Correctional Center opened its doors 25 years ago as the first privately­ run medium security prison in America.
And, soon, its life cycle as one of the country’s oldest for­profit facilities will come to an end, when
the handoff from Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) to the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections is completed.
Kissimmee, FL, August 25, 2004 — An Osceola County inmate transfers vegetables he cooked for the Red Cross into a serving container. The Red Cross is providing free meals to residents affected by Hurricane Charley. FEMA Photo/Mark Wolfe
For the first time in the facility’s history, a new ability to scrutinize its inner workings will exist.
Until then, Winn Correctional, just like all privately­ run prisons, will maintain its legal right to secrecy.
Private prisons in America hold 150,000 of America’s incarcerated population. They were born of Reagan­ era privatization policies and lauded as a quick, cost­ effective way to build and staff facilities. They only operate in some states but are popular with agencies of the federal government.
These major corporations are publicly­ traded– albeit as real estate investment trusts aka REITs.
REITs pay no taxes, passing the responsibility for that to investors, and using them for prisons turns our incarceration system into a glorified hotel chain whose

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Florida College Cop Follows PINAC Reporter After Public Records Requests, Demands Identification

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

At the Orange Park campus on St. Johns River State College, a public university in Florida, PINAC investigative reporter Jeff Gray conducted a public records request – and was succinctly denied by the state college administrators. “I explained to her I was doing a public records request, I just want to inspect and photograph the …
The post Florida College Cop Follows PINAC Reporter After Public Records Requests, Demands Identification appeared first on PINAC.

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