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D.C. Open Government Coalition Sunshine Week Summit Now Available for Viewing

Fritz Mulhauser | March 26, 2021

Watch the Coalition’s Sunshine Week program here. Dive in and you can catch

  • Council member Brooke Pinto (D-Ward 2) describing the police chief’s new FOIA exemption–“it’s secret because we’re being sued”–justifying his agency’s closely held report on last summer’s Swann Street mass arrests (the Coalition has its own FOIA request in for that report);
  • Council member Christina Henderson (I-At Large) smiling about her new experience as a D.C. legislator subject to FOIA (after recent years working on a Senate staff undisturbed by any records access laws);
  • Scott Goldstein, founder and director of EmpowerEd on his group’s plans to join the transparency fight with structural change to empower teachers and community for school improvement;
  • D.C. Auditor Kathy Patterson showcasing her new report on why the public should be very wary of any official facts and figures on D.C. education–a two-year data audit uncovered shaky data collection and many gaps on key dimensions like how many students there are, what they’re studying and their teachers, how they are disciplined, and what happens after graduation;
  • Washington Post FOIA Director Nate Jones advising requesters how to make effective records requests — based on the hundreds by his newsroom colleagues every year;
  • D.C. Open Government Director Niquelle Allen drawing on her deep observation of executive agencies to frame a 21st century agenda of access improvement especially revamping of legacy records systems that limit effective response to public demands for transparency.

The Coalition appreciates these panelists, board member moderators Ginger McCall and Sandra Moscoso, co-sponsors Society of Professional Journalists Washington, D.C., Pro Chapter; Open The Government; EmpowerEd; Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press; and the D.C. Office of Open Government. Event logistics were managed as always with skill by Molly Moore of the Coalition’s pro bono general counsel, the firm of Ropes & Gray LLP.

Sunshine Week is over but the work of opening government continues. Our summit date served as a celebration of the birth of James Madison in March 1751. In his words, “[a] popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps, both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”