Sustained Outrage

What’s going on with Marshall’s crime logs?

The Gazette’s Zac Taylor first reported yesterday about a gang rape reported to have happened early last month’s on Marshall University‘s campus.

After the story came out, Marshall officials suddenly issued a statement saying that their investigation of the incident was completed, and that they not only didn’t have enough information to file charges — but weren’t even convinced the incident really happened.

But today, the plot thickened even more, with this story in The Parthenon student newspaper, reporting that Marshall officials have been keeping two crime logs, one that included the alleged sexual assault and one that didn’t:

The Parthenon had asked to review the campus crime log for September 2010 earlier Thursday. No sexual assault report was included in the log The Parthenon was given. The Parthenon asks for and reviews the crime log on a weekly basis, and no such report was found at any time.

The Parthenon had been unable to obtain any information on the allegations, despite a story published by the Charleston Gazette on Thursday that a report of sexual assault was obtained from the Marshall University Police Department’s crime log. A Parthenon reporter who asked to review the crime log on multiple occasions during the semester was not given the Clery Act binder.


Secret meetings, Oct. 1, 2010

Today’s issue of the State Register contains 3 meetings that violate the public notice requirements of West Virginia’s open meetings law.

All three are meetings of the West Virginia Public Port Authority.

As we’ve reminded folks before, the West Virginia Open Governmental Proceedings Act requires agencies to send meeting notices to the Secretary of State in time for notices to appear in the State Register five days prior to a scheduled meeting. Every week, we list the agencies that didn’t comply, thanks to the Secretary of State’s office, which kindly marks those agencies with an asterisk in the list of meetings published each Friday in the Register.

Secret meetings, Sept. 24, 2010

Today’s issue of the State Register contains only one meeting notice from the week that violated the public notice requirements of West Virginia’s open meetings law.

The agency involved? The West Virginia Emergency Medical Services Technical Support Network.

As we’ve reminded folks before, the West Virginia Open Governmental Proceedings Act requires agencies to send meeting notices to the Secretary of State in time for notices to appear in the State Register five days prior to a scheduled meeting. Every week, we list the agencies that didn’t comply, thanks to the Secretary of State’s office, which kindly marks those agencies with an asterisk in the list of meetings published each Friday in the Register.

The state Supreme Court this morning issued a significant decision that overturns a Jefferson County ruling that had threatened to significantly narrow the scope of West Virginia’s public records disclosure law.

Justice Menis Ketchum delivered the court’s opinion, which is posted here.

In one key point of law, the court found:

Under the West Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), W.Va. Code, 29B-1-1, et seq., a “public record” includes any writing in the possession of a public body that relates to the conduct of the public’s business which is not specifically exempt from disclosure by W.Va. Code, 29B-1-4, even though the writing was not prepared by, on behalf of, or at the request of, the public body.

Recall from previous posts (see here, here and here) that Jefferson Circuit Judge David Sanders had ruled that The Shepherdstown Observer could not obtain copies of referendum petitions because the petitions were not created by the local government.

But justices concluded otherwise:

To adopt the position of the Clerk, the Legislature’s definition of “public record” would need to read: “’Public record’ means any writing . . ..” The Clerk’s suggested definition of a public record would severely limit the scope of the Act and the right of every person to “inspect or copy any public record of a public body in this state.” W.Va. Code, 29B-1-3(1) [1992]. It is obvious that the Legislature did not intend such a restrictive interpretation, and meant for the word “includes” to be given its common, ordinary and accepted meaning, which is that of a word of enlargement. Davis Memorial Hospital, 222 W.Va. at 684, 671 S.E.2d at 689 (“[t]he term ‘includ[es]’ in a statute is to be dealt with as a word of enlargement”).

Continue reading…

Secret meetings, Sept. 17, 2010

Today’s issue of the State Register lists just one meeting that violated the public notice requirements of West Virginia’s open meetings law.

The agency involved was the state Racing Commission.

As we’ve reminded folks before, the West Virginia Open Governmental Proceedings Act requires agencies to send meeting notices to the Secretary of State in time for notices to appear in the State Register five days prior to a scheduled meeting. Every week, we list the agencies that didn’t comply, thanks to the Secretary of State’s office, which kindly marks those agencies with an asterisk in the list of meetings published each Friday in the Register.

Secret meetings, Sept. 10, 2010

It seems like it was a pretty good week for open government in West Virginia. Today’s edition of the State Register contains no meetings that violated the public notice requirements of West Virginia’s open meetings law.

As we’ve reminded folks before, the West Virginia Open Governmental Proceedings Act requires agencies to send meeting notices to the Secretary of State in time for notices to appear in the State Register five days prior to a scheduled meeting. Every week, we list the agencies that didn’t comply, thanks to the Secretary of State’s office, which kindly marks those agencies with an asterisk in the list of meetings published each Friday in the Register.

Major FOIA case at W.Va. Supreme Court today

We’ve reported before on the important Freedom of Information Act case in which The Shepherdstown Observer is trying to get copies of the petitions filed to get a zoning matter on the ballot in Jefferson County.

Well, today’s the day that the state Supreme Court will take up the matter. Justices are set to hear oral arguments. The case is listed 5th on the court’s argument docket.

You can read the briefs here, and tune in later for the Webcast here.  The Court begins hearing cases at 10 a.m., so it’s not clear exactly when the FOIA case will come up … so stay tuned.

And check out our previous posts on this case here, here, here and here.

Secret meetings, Sept. 3, 2010

Today’s issue of The State Register contains three meetings that violate the public notice requirements of West Virginia’s open meetings law.

Agencies involved in the violations were the Putnam County Community Criminal Justice Board, the Governor’s Conference on Tourism, and the Tri-River Transit Authority.

As we’ve reminded folks before, the West Virginia Open Governmental Proceedings Act requires agencies to send meeting notices to the Secretary of State in time for notices to appear in the State Register five days prior to a scheduled meeting. Every week, we list the agencies that didn’t comply, thanks to the Secretary of State’s office, which kindly marks those agencies with an asterisk in the list of meetings published each Friday in the Register.

Secret meetings, Aug. 27, 2010

Today’s issue of The State Register contained two meetings that violated the public notice requirements of West Virginia’s open meetings law. The agencies involved were the Fayette County Board of Health and the Information Technology Council.

As we’ve reminded folks before, the West Virginia Open Governmental Proceedings Act requires agencies to send meeting notices to the Secretary of State in time for notices to appear in the State Register five days prior to a scheduled meeting. Every week, we list the agencies that didn’t comply, thanks to the Secretary of State’s office, which kindly marks those agencies with an asterisk in the list of meetings published each Friday in the Register.

Secret meetings, Aug. 20, 2010

It’s a good week for open government in West Virginia. Today’s issue of the State Register contains no meetings that violate the public notice provisions of the state’s open meetings law.

As we’ve reminded folks before, the West Virginia Open Governmental Proceedings Act requires agencies to send meeting notices to the Secretary of State in time for notices to appear in the State Register five days prior to a scheduled meeting. Every week, we list the agencies that didn’t comply, thanks to the Secretary of State’s office, which kindly marks those agencies with an asterisk in the list of meetings published each Friday in the Register.