The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a crucial element of transparency and accountability in government, permitting all citizens, including you and your ELi reporters, to view records related to local governance.
This Sunday, ELi Publisher Alice Dreger, Managing Editor Emily Joan Elliott, City Desk Editor Andrew Graham, and Chief Data Analyst Nathan Andrus will discuss their experiences procuring documents through FOIA!
How can a person submit a request under FOIA? What type of documents have we asked for, and what type can you ask for? What are our favorite FOIA stories? Find out Sunday!
You can join us on Zoom by clicking here.
At this live conversation and workshop, the ELi team will provide participants with guidance and tips for making their own FOIA requests!
In the past year, we have relied on documents obtained through FOIA to write some of our most important stories. And our trusty data analyst Nathan has made dozens of graphs to visualize the information that we have found.
Alice Dreger has used FOIA extensively to track the Center City District development, the eBay land sale, environmental and safety problems at the city’s wastewater treatment plant, and even to look at election results in City Council races.
Emily Joan Elliott used FOIA documents to shine a light on the underrepresentation of people of color in leadership positions in the City of East Lansing and East Lansing Public Schools. She also questioned the City’s purchase of vehicles and issuance of car stipends.
Andrew Graham has covered the story of Harbor Bay Real Estate Advisors and their quest to get the 55+ age restriction on Newman Lofts removed and used FOIA to show their persistent efforts to get them removed. And recently, he published a story outlining the issues ELi and others have had getting information from the City under FOIA.
We’ve accomplished all this even as the City has repeatedly obfuscated delivery of requested documents and held a closed meeting on compliance with FOIA for scores of commissioners and committee members. You can listen to Andrew and Alice chat about it on the latest edition of East Lansing Insider, ELi’s podcast.
The information that we obtain through FOIA and share with you in our articles and podcast are usually provided for free, but our time and energy, research and writing are not. ELi compensates its staff at a competitive rate, and it costs us money to keep our website running and produce our podcast.
Your financial support makes it possible for us to keep these vital services running. Join us Sunday to find out more about how our FOIA requests serve your community.