Local Government

Knowing as a Right

While Flint residents now know that their water is no good, they still don’t know how exactly their water was contaminated— because exemptions to Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) allow the governor and state legislators to keep that truth hidden.

During his State of the State address, Gov. Snyder announced that he would release his emails from 2014 and 2015 as a show of good faith and transparency. But this story began even before Flint emergency manager Darnell Earley signed a 2014 order forcing the city to drink harsh river water….

Via Flint’s Poisoned Children Deserve the Truth @ American Civil Liberties Union.


Mayor Rahm Emanuel has said he didn’t understand the gravity of Laquan McDonald’s shooting death at the hands of a Chicago police officer until just before the city settled with the teen’s family last spring, and that he wasn’t aware other officers may have falsified reports about the shooting until just after the video was released to the public.

But interviews, official city calendars and emails show in both cases the mayor’s closest aides and City Hall attorneys knew much earlier than that.

Emanuel’s top staffers became keenly aware the McDonald shooting could become a legal and political quagmire in December 2014 — more than three months before the mayor has said he was fully briefed on the issue. And lawyers for McDonald’s family informed Emanuel’s Law Department in March that police officers’ version of what happened differed dramatically from the infamous shooting video — more than eight months before the mayor said he found out….

Via Top Emanuel aides aware of key Laquan McDonald details months before mayor says he knew @ Chicago Tribune.

Rahm Emanuel’s sought to control supposedly independent agency’s communications with press

A day after the settlement was approved, Emanuel’s deputy communications director complained to his staff that an IPRA spokesperson did not report to him before speaking to a New York Times reporter.

“I found out a bit ago that IPRA’s PIO talked to Monica [Davey] about the structure of IPRA and how they operate without checking in with me (and despite the fact I had already reached out to coordinate earlier in the day),” Collins wrote on April 15.

The email is important because it shows that Emanuel’s office was not just suppressing information about McDonald’s death, but also controlling how the agency responsible for investigating police killings speaks to the press about its own processes.

Via Exclusive: Lawyers Went to Rahm Emanuel, Then Quashed the Laquan McDonald Video @ The Daily Beast.

Preventing Inquiry

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Mayor Stephanie Miner has blocked the Citizen Review Board’s plans to hire a part-time investigator and forensic pathologist to help it investigate allegations of police misconduct.

Miner’s vetoes of two unanimous resolutions of the Common Council signal renewed friction at city hall over the CRB.

Via Miner blocks added investigators for panel that probes police misconduct @ Syracuse.com.

Could someone explain to Ted Rall that there are no libertarians in Los Angeles or Afghanistan political positions?

“Literally every year, the city’s debased political class promises to fix potholes forever if voters only approve this one last tax increase. Meanwhile, city monies are routinely squandered on everything but. L.A.’s own controller said as recently as last year that money is not the problem with street repair…. ” Via Lousy Cartoonist Blames ‘libertarian…

Turning on a Light Causes Insects to Scatter

In Parma, Missouri, voters elected their first female, and first black, mayor. Tyrus Byrd has lived in Parma her whole life, and her mere election has prompted mass resignations among the police and city officials in Parma: According to Mayor Randall Ramsey, five out of six police officers resigned this week, effectively immediately. Mayor Ramsey…

Ferguson Officials Charge High for Public Records

Where once Americans faced poll taxes to dissuade voting, now they face Dr facto records taxes for public documents: Bureaucrats in Ferguson, Missouri, responding to requests under the state’s Sunshine Act to turn over government files about the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, are charging nearly 10 times the cost of some of their…

How Ferguson, MO – and other towns – milk the poor

In its violent crackdowns on demonstrations since a white police officer shot 18-year-old Michael Brown in early August, Ferguson police revealed a fresh proclivity for abusing its citizens. However, the city’s finances suggest the St. Louis suburb’s criminal justice system has been stealthily exploiting residents—particularly those who are black or poor—for years. Ferguson’s economy steadily withered over the last decade, as did…

Anti-Ferret Bans Lack Justification

The New York Times reported on Tuesday that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration intends to legalize ferrets in the biggest city in America. That’s great news, but it’s not enough: regardless of what New York City does, ferrets will remain illegal in the District of Columbia, California, and Hawaii. The rationale behind…

Local Policing and Point-of-View Cameras

There’s a story about my town’s (Whitewater, Wisconsin’s) decision to equip its on-patrol officers with point-of-view cameras. A small video camera will record officer interactions with residents. Reportedly, all interactions will be recorded, and at the end of each shift, officers [will] download all videos into a general file that would get deleted automatically after…

EFF catches Alameda County lying about drone’s intended use

Should anyone be surprised? …the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office tried to sneak approval for surveillance drone funding at the county’s board of supervisors without a public hearing. Worse, they told the board of supervisors it only wanted to use the drone for emergency purposes. Yet in internal documents obtained by EFF and MuckRock as part…

Free Speech Victory @ the Super Bowl

Following the City of New Orleans’s acquiescence to speech restrictions at the insistence of the NFL, civil libertarians sprang into action. They were sure to meet ultimate success, as Americans’ rights shouldn’t and cannot be abrogated through a pact between a major league sport and a fawning local government. Wisely, the NFL and City of…