- This Week
Three champions in the fight for open government
The FBI spent $1 million trying to stop Seth Rosenfield. It didn't work.
Their story also demonstrated that FOIA doesn't always function the way it should. According to the reporters, the federal government inhibits public access to what is supposed to be public information, by collecting fees from the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) valued at nearly five times the cost of running the system. The federal judiciary also refused to cooperate with the investigation. Fee waivers for PACER records were refused, judges were notified of requests for financial disclosures, and financial figures regarding PACER fees were withheld. (Tokar)
REALLY, BERKELEY? AN ARMORED VEHICLE?
Copwatch is a Berkeley-based advocacy organization dedicated to monitoring police action and opposing police brutality. Last May, Copwatch filed a FOIA request and received documents revealing that the Berkeley Police Department had requested a $170,000 armored vehicle from the Department of Homeland Security. The vehicle — a Lenco BearCat G3 — resembles a military-style armored truck and was intended to assist the Berkeley, University of California and Albany police in suppressing civilian protests and potential civil unrest. Thanks to the vigilance of Copwatch, the local community mobilized to oppose the introduction of the BearCat and convinced Berkley lawmakers to withdraw the request for funding. (Avi Asher-Schapiro)
For a full list of winners, visit tinyurl.com/sunshine13. The James Madison Freedom of Information Awards Banquet will be held at 5:30pm, Tues/12. To purchase tickets, visit tinyurl.com/2013spjFOI.