This week in public records: Oregon – Ohio – Wisconsin

Complaints by residents in Oregon has lead to the removal of some property owner’s names from PortlandMaps, the city’s online mapping program of assessor’s data and building permits. Portland offers a vague explanation for the decision to allow a search by address only.

Ohio media outlets may have to add a requirement to the standard job description: must have photographic memory. That is, if they want to peruse particular public records which cannot be copied. That’s the law in Ohio. The opinion of the Ohio Attorney General adds absurdity to confusion in his assertion that reporters can inspect the gun permit owner lists kept by the Sheriffs’ offices but are not allowed to write anything down. Keep your eyes peeled for a clarifying law, sure to be stupider than the first.

Meanwhile, the Wisconsin Attorney General has issued an opinion that may make police agency’s records more available to the public. The AG stated that a 1991 state Supreme Court ruling exempting from the open records law district attorney files does not apply to police reports. A police spokesperson objected, claiming that open access would give a defense attorney “tactical advantage over a prosecutor who has not yet examined the police reports”, according to this story. Will someone make a list of all the arguments public agencies have offered for keeping public records out of our hands?

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