Bluegrass Beacon – Clear the air: Reveal retirees’ benefits

When addressing generous benefits received by Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) retirees in this column, a voluminous email response – mostly critical – is the norm. “I seriously have issues with using the word ‘lavish’ for teachers’ pensions,” a science teacher in Jefferson County wrote. “The word produces images of wealthy retirees sitting out on…

The “cost” of access: when agencies frustrate the public’s right to know by charging excessive fees

The News-Democrat & Leader reports that the attorney general last week ruled against the Logan County jailer in an open records dispute involving a magistrate’s request for jail commissary records. What was the issue that compelled a county magistrate to appeal the county jailer’s handling of the magistrate’s records request? The issue addressed by the…

BROKEN PROMISE? Common Core tests were supposed to usher in a new era of comparing America’s schools

Back in 2010 one of the major reasons we heard for adopting the Common Core State Standards was that the results from new Common Core-aligned tests would be comparable across states. It’s now 2017, and as Chalkbeat points out, this is yet another promise from the education community that hasn’t been kept. Kentucky, of course,…

“Preliminary” pension reports and perennial problems with public access

In one of the earliest legal challenges to Kentucky’s Open Records Law, the City of Louisville objected to disclosure of its internal affairs unit’s investigative files involving allegations of police misconduct. The city’s objections were based on the exceptions to the Open Records Law that permit nondisclosure of  “[p]reliminary drafts, notes, correspondence with private individuals,…

Opening closed doors: why we appealed the House’s illegal meeting

As details began to emerge one week ago that would rock the General Assembly, the Bluegrass Institute Center for Open Government celebrated a victory in its ongoing transparency initiative. We were also pointedly reminded of the importance of accountability at all levels of governmen Shortly after learning about the decision of the House of Representatives…

Do parents really care about Kentucky’s school councils?

A major goal of the Kentucky Education Reform Act of 1990 (KERA) was getting parents more involved in their children’s schools. Towards that end, KERA required that virtually all regular schools in Kentucky had to install School-Based Decision-Making Councils (often referred to as SBDMs) no later than December 1996. These councils would take on major…

In the media: Coverage of Bluegrass Institute’s open-meetings win

Amye Bensenhaver, director of the Bluegrass Institute Center for Open Government, speaking tonight in E’town on Kentucky’s sunshine laws Check here for outstanding coverage by Lexington Herald-Leader reporter John Cheves regarding the Kentucky Attorney General Office’s decision to side with the Bluegrass Institute Center for Open Government’s claim that the House of Representatives cannot close its…

News Release: AG supports Center for Open Government’s claim that House’s secret meeting violated Open Meetings Act

For Immediate Release: November 6, 2017 (FRANKFORT, Ky.) — The Kentucky Office of the Attorney General in response to a complaint filed by the Bluegrass Institute Center for Open Government has ruled that the House of Representatives violated the Open Meetings Act when it met “with a quorum present” behind closed doors to discuss a…