Thursday, June 02, 2016

Organizations continue to celebrate 50th FOIA Anniversary - Not the CotoBuzz Journal

Posted By CotoBlogzz Journal

Rancho Santa Margarita, CA - According to announcement by the Department of Justice, (DOJ)
"organizations around the country continue to celebrate the upcoming 50th anniversary of the FOIA. This week, Director Melanie Ann Pustay will provide a keynote address on Friday, June 3rd at the Columbia Journalism School’s “FOIA @ 50” celebration."

Director Pustay will provide an address at 1pm on Friday the 3rd focused on the FOIA’s first fifty years, including a viewing of the Department of Justice’s 50th anniversary video released during Sunshine Week 2016, and the steps OIP has taken during this administration to:
  • Improve the engagement between requesters and agencies,
  • Improve internal agency processes, and
  • Promote greater agency accountability.

Signed into law on July 4, 1966 by President Johnson, the FOIA continues to be “the most prominent expression of a profound national commitment to ensuring an open Government.” The Columbia Journalism School’s “FOIA @ 50” celebration is a multi-day event with presentations and panels focused on the statute’s first fifty years, observations from representatives of the public and civil society, and trends for the future.

Here is the problem that apparently this administration, the DOJ and at least the  Columbia Journalism are afflicted by an acute case of cognitive dissonance:  
There is widespread agreement throughout the political spectrum, that the Obama Administration by any objective measure has been the least transparent:  From the far left Huffinton Post's review of the AP study in the piece titled:   Obama Administration Has Gone To Unprecedented Lengths To Thwart Journalists, Report Finds to the Wall Street Journal's opinion piece:  The Least Transparent Administration.  How Team Obama stymies freedom of information requests. to the piece titled:  It Took a FOIA Lawsuit to Uncover How the Obama Administration Killed FOIA Reform
The 2016 Reporters Without Borders' (RSF) World Press Freedom Index ranks the United States at 41 out of 180 nations and it concludes for example, that " there is still room for improvement in the country of the First Amendment."

Further, the RSF report also finds that: The main cause for concern for RSF continues to be the current administration’s obsessive control of information, which manifests itself through the war on whistleblowers and journalists’ sources, as well as the lack of government transparency, which reporters have continually criticized. The Obama administration has prosecuted more whistleblowers under the Espionage Act than all previous administrations combined. Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA operative, was convicted solely on the basis of metadata in January 2015 of disclosing classified information to James Risen and is now serving a 3.5 year prison sentence

As if that was not enough, the Transparency International's 2015 Corruption Perception Index show the US scoring a 76, ranking 16/168.  Do you see a pattern here?

Consider the state of FOIA in California

We can also add California Attorney General's War on People She Disagrees With, or as The Wall Street Journal might put it:  "Kamala Harris has been a hero of the left’s campaign to use donor disclosure as a tool of political intimidation. Since 2013 the California Attorney General has been demanding that nonprofits provide unredacted donor names if they want to solicit donations in the state. On Thursday a federal court declared her disclosure requirement an unconstitutional burden on First Amendment rights." Read more:

In trying to determine the role The California Law Revision Commission' s (CLRC) Brian Hebert was playing in trying to silence a homeowners' association (HOA) advocate, a FOIA request was filed.  An what do you know?  The CLRC produced records before and after the period in question.  The reason given was Hilary Clintonesque: a third party system-malfunction destroyed all the records requested.

Orange County, California - Judicial Misconduct Tracker 

Looking  into homeowners association litigation used in collections scams or as an enforcement mechanism to silence homeowners,  we also saw that justice dispensed by the courts is not served equally. Specifically to HOAs, we saw judges like the Honorable John  Flynn who through cognitive bias or willful ignorance, allow HOA boards to claim they are not subject to local, state or even federal jurisdiction.  We also saw sentences for vehicular manslaughter differ  significantly as a function of demographics.  So, we thought that a Judicial Misconduct Tracker was necessary. 

As we filed FOIA requests, willing to pay anything the court deemed was necessary, General Counsel for the Superior Court of California County of Orange Jeff Wertheimer, quickly responded to my request and was gracious enough to treat my request pursuant to California Rules of Court Rule 10.500.  His response was in essence:  Yes we  do have no bananas:


Still think it is a good idea for  the Columbia Journalism School to hold a “FOIA @ 50” celebration."?


There's no sunshine till she's gone - White House War on Press

2016 Reporters Without Borders' (RSF) World Press Freedom Index: There is still room for improvement in the country of the First Amendment.

Rancho Santa Margarita, CA -  Last month, the US Justice Department (DOJ) welcomed individuals from around the government and members of the public to the Great Hall of the Robert F. Kennedy building to kickoff Sunshine Week 2016, and to summarize our view of the event, we published a piece titled:   The CotoBuzz Journal : DOJ's Cognitive Dissonant 2016 Sunshine Week Celebration

Obama crushes the dreams of aspiring journalists

President Obama talked to a group of college journalists Thursday — but instead of telling them about life as commander in chief, he complained about being “picked on” by the press, a report said.

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