Archive for the ‘Colorado’ Category
The governor of Alabama signed an executive order that creates an online database of all state government spending and legislators’ relationships with lobbyists. This will go online later this year, but many other states have already made available government spending, salary and revenue databases, often in a site dedicated to issues of transparency in government.
Open Georgia includes a searchable database of state employees and their salaries.
South Carolina gathers together links to their various online databases including, state expenditures and salaries.
Transparency rankings and states with spending online are listed at Sunshine Review.
Legislation, citizen activism and current news on state government transparency can be found at the Center for Fiscal Accountability.
The Texas Attorney General is employing various media – screen shots, video, press releases and court documents – to broadcast its recent shuttering of USA Skiptrace, AMS Research Services, Inc. and Worldwide Investigations, Inc. for selling consumers’ private telephone records and impersonating those account holders. These businesses were based in Colorado but conducted business in Texas when they called Texas telecommunications companies.
The Office of the Attorney General charged USA Skiptrace with violating the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. The corporate defendants were ordered to pay $150,000 in civil penalties, with John Strange also responsible for a separate fine of $2,500.
Do you think that the telephone companies might someday send customers automatic email alerts notifying them of inquires?
Verify a current notary registration by partial last name at the Colorado Secretary of State site. Returns full name, city, zip code and, start and end dates of the notary commission. It does not include expired registrations.
Find other statewide databases of notary commissions at this SearchSystems link.
The Colorado Board of Medical Examiners is expanding the range of information on doctors at its site. This data on new licensees is expected to be posted April 2008, but will only be gathered and posted for current licensees in 2009.
The following information will be disclosed:
* Current Address
* Telephone number
* Information regarding all medical licenses ever held
* Current Board Certifications
* Practice Specialty (ies)
* Affiliations with hospitals and health care facilities
* Current ownership interests in businesses
* Current employment contracts
* Public disciplinary actions against a medical license
* Agreements and Stipulations to temporarily cease medical practice
* Involuntary hospital or health care facility privileging actions
* Involuntary surrender of a DEA registration
* Criminal convictions or plea arrangements for felonies and crimes of moral turpitude
* Judgments, settlements and arbitration awards for medical malpractice claims
* Refusal by an insurance carrier to issue medical liability insurance
The Nevada Supreme Court has adopted rules for redacting and sealing court records. The court may order a file sealed or redacted for “identified compelling privacy or safety interests that outweigh the public interest in access to the court record.” The identity of the person who filed the motion to seal the court record must be recorded and kept a public record.
The Vermont Health Department is beginning the process of removing Social Security numbers from death certificates. In addition, proposed legislation would remove the cause of death from death certificates. Another bill would bar the posting of court cases on the Internet. Read all about it.
If all goes according to current plans, by January 2008 Cook County, Illinois will become one of the first counties in the country to digitize vital records and make them available online. The birth, death and marriage records to be made available are not for recent events. The genealogical records include birth certificates that are at least 75 years old, marriage certificates more than 50 years old, and death certificates more than 20 years old.
A recommendation by the Nevada Supreme Court Commission on Preservation, Access and Sealing of Court Records would tighten the regulations on sealing court records. The current standard allows judges to seal records upon request. The commission policy would require a compelling reason for sealing court records and would authorize any member of the public to request a sealed record be opened. Reported in the Las Vegas Sun
Judges in Oklahoma counties are holding closed proceedings of special drug and mental health courts, even though they are not required to be closed. Judges are citing federal law which mandates health records be kept confidential.
The Colorado Supreme Court has instituted a new rule that delays the fulfillment of court record requests for up to 3 days, ostensibly to redact personal information such as Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, bank account numbers and other personal-identification numbers, such as those on passports or student IDs. This is another instance of the current trend in government to give supremacy to personal privacy over the public’s right to know the activities of its government.
The Delaware Attorney General cannot oppose state agencies which decline public records requests, even when they do so in violation of the law. The News Journal sought salary information for employees of the Delaware Psychiatric Center. The Department of Health and Social Services denied the request, then the newspaper appealed to the Attorney General, who declined to take enforcement action.
The Delaware Psychiatric Center is an agency of state government and so the Department of Justice is precluded by statute from investigating any violations of the Freedom of Information Act alleged to have been committed by the Delaware Psychiatric Center.
The citizenry and government both come to the wrong conclusions about the ready availability of public records on the Internet. The City of Raleigh, North Carolina and Wake County joined dozens of other communities that have begun integrating crime activity into interactive mapping. Local real estate developers and agents object, believing that “public crime data… will lower housing prices.” Some people are getting acquainted with the meaning of “public records” for the first time through the government Web sites, complaining about an invasion of privacy because others can see their address and name in the Assessor’s records. Alternatively, they embrace access when the records concern people they want to know about, such as sex offenders. Privacy advocates have campaigned to seal criminal records for first-time offenders, which Florida is doing at 3 times the number as 10 years ago, according to this analysis. Even in these cases, law enforcement continues to keep a record of the criminal history.
Public officials sometimes sound defensive when bringing public records into the Internet age, asserting that particular types of personal information isn’t included. Or they remove the documents or data that was once on the Web, as in the case of the El Paso County, Colorado inmate log. The Sheriff has restricted the listing of the criminal charges to classification numbers as a reaction to inmate assaults. If the availability of public records on the Internet isn’t mandated by law, as in the case of the sex offender registries, it’s always subject to being withdrawn.
Agencies could better serve the goal of open government by reducing the number of exemptions to disclosure. The Washington State Attorney General announced a meeting to review the Public Disclosures Act exemptions, which have grown from 10 in 1972 to more than 300 today.
The County Clerk of Oneida County, New York removed land records from its Web site, a promise of her political campaign. Now, she proposes to make document images available online to a handpicked elite, including attorneys (to whom she was speaking when this offer was made), ostensibly because the records are used in the course of their work. You see the basis for redefining the “public” in “public records”, right? Arbitrary. Capricious. Preferential.