March 11, 2019
LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is reviving the partnership between her office and the Michigan Press Association to hold Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and Open Meetings Act (OMA) workshops around the state for media, local government leaders and community members, holding her first workshop today in Grand Haven. The announcement comes during Sunshine Week, the annual recognition of the important role open and transparent government plays in democracy.
Today’s workshop was the first of many designed to help local officials, community members and reporters navigate and understand the value of FOIA and OMA and share best practices. Once a staple of the Attorney General’s office, the workshops fell by the wayside under the previous Attorney General. Today is the first time in nearly eight years Michigan’s Attorney General has conducted these workshops.
“A government shouldn’t govern behind closed doors, away from the public eye,” Nessel said. “I’m excited to reignite these workshops to provide local officials, community members and reporters with a better understanding of what it means to be transparent and accountable to the people we serve.”
“As Publisher of the Grand Haven Tribune, it's an honor to be the first stop in revitalizing this very important relationship between the Michigan Press Association and the Attorney General’s office,” Michigan Press Association President Kevin Hook said. “As President of the Michigan Press Association, I appreciate the effort being put forth by the Attorney General to share the very importance of how critical it is to maintain an open government, and we look forward to working with her in the years ahead.”
Nessel said her office has already received more than 80 FOIA requests since she took office, noting requests have come from members of the public, media and out-of-state groups with fictitious names like Treasure IRELAND and Kit D. Littre. She said her team treats every request as a legitimate one, adding 70 of 86 have been processed without a fee.
“This week is about opening up the doors of democracy to the public,” Nessel added. “It’s time to let the light shine in and keep our government accountable to the people.”