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Blog update and correction:
this blog item was not correct in stating that the Roanoke Times had not taken a position on the malfeasance of The University of Virginia to fight FOIA’s relative to Prof. Mann’s data on Global Warming.
Back in August 2011 the RT did run the following Editorial which while labeling the FOIA as a “witch hunt” and those who submitted the request as “deniers” they conceded that the FOIA’s appeared to be valid and that UVA had a legal duty to comply.
UVA has not complied and is continuing to stone-wall this process to the fullest extent that taxpayer money can buy.
7 / 286 - Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Open records at UVa
Summary: Even climate deniers conducting a witch hunt deserve fair treatment under FOIA.
When it comes to Freedom of Information Act requests, Virginians are best served when government invokes exemptions sparingly. They should be a scalpel, not a cudgel.
That's a lesson the University of Virginia should heed as it deals with a document request related to climate researcher Michael Mann. Mann is a target of climate change deniers who believe his research into humanity's effects on the environment is at best mistaken and at worst deception. He conducted important climate research while at UVa.
Professional analyses concluding that his research is sound do not dissuade deniers. Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli abused the power of his office seeking access to Mann's research in a trumped up fraud investigation. The courts rejected his fishing expedition.
Then came a FOIA request filed by the America Tradition Institute. It is no less a fishing expedition, but that has no bearing on its legitimacy. Where Cuccinelli overstepped his authority with a civil investigative demand, the institute followed FOIA, and the law does not allow government to curtail its responses based on the motives of requesters.
University officials planned to comply, but now comes a request from advocacy groups, including the Union of Concerned Scientists and American Association of University Professors. In a letter dated last week, they urged UVa to maximize its use of FOIA exemptions in responding to the request. Indeed, they would have the school stretch the definitions to keep as much information secret as possible in the name of "academic freedom."
One cannot urge government transparency in some cases but not others. UVa should protect privacy and proprietary research data, as the law allows, but exemptions do not justify blanket removal of documents when mere redaction of sensitive portions would work.
If the advocacy groups seek some sort of "academic freedom" exemption to FOIA, they will not find it in the law. They can, however, do what everyone else does -- take the matter to the state Freedom of Information Council to write a workable exemption for lawmakers to consider.
---ORIGINAL BLOG POST ---
Roanoke Times, 3-11-12, Pg Horiz-2: Editorial: Anyone can file a FOIA request.
Once again the Roanoke Times Editors are hyping the joys of filing a FOIA (freedom of information act) to obtain government documents and information.
The hypocrisy is that the Editors refuse to address the FOIA refusal by “The University” of Virginia relative to the activities of discredited Global Warming Alarmist Prof. Mann.
These FOIA’s have been requested by multiple organizations and individuals for the taxpayer funded documents held by the University
Instead of complying, as the Editors of the Roanoke Times says the law requires, the University has spent hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars, first denying the data exists and then fighting the release of the information. That fight is still going on!
Apparently The Editors like FOIA if it can be used for something they like or support, not so much if the FOIA requests information they think should be kept secret to prevent embarrassing their friends and associates. That’s the definition of hypocrisy, isn’t it?