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FOIA: political weapon, citizen tool

FOIA isn't something most people think about day in and day out. I remember the Virginia FOIA Council's Maria Everett once saying something to the effect of, "No one grows up wanting to be a FOIA geek." True that.

But it is funny to me, as a card-carrying FOIA geek, how FOIA suddenly becomes the best friend of elected officials when they realize it can be used to perhaps gore the other side's ox.

Working the edges

Working the edges By Megan Rhyne

 

1. Prior to a city council meeting, Councilman A huddles with Councilman B, talking, nodding and gesturing. Councilman B then goes over to Councilman C, again talking earnestly. Councilman B, then goes to Councilman D, then Councilman E, then Councilman F, where similar conversations take place. The meeting starts, and when it comes time for a contentious issue to be discussed, the council surprises everyone by foregoing discussion and immediately voting on the matter.

 

Sunshine Week article/editorial roundup

  • Watching Richmond politics unfold in person or on the General Assembly’s Web site is complicated, but one man has made getting informed simpler Waldo Jaquith, the Albemarle County resident behind the 3-year-old legislative tracking Web site Richmond Sunlight (richmondsunlight.com), spends his nights and weekends keeping up the aggregation site and giving people a place to discuss bills. http://www2.dailyprogress.com/cdp/news/local/article/by_tasha_kates/53588/ (NOTE: Jaquith is a VCOG board of dire

Legislators' voting records

UPDATE: The bill was effectively defeated in committee this morning. Lawmakers voted to "continue" the bill until 2011. Sens. Houck and Quayle voted against the motion. HB 778 is up for consideration by the Senate Rules Committee on Friday, March 4, at 9 a.m.

On the General Assembly's Web site, you can currently find out which legislators voted for or against a particular bill. Unfortunately, there's no manageable way to find out how one particular legislator voted on any number of bills.

Threat Assessment Team bills -- campus confusion

Following the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007, the Virginia General Assembly mandated that public universities set up Threat Assessment Teams (TATs) to identify and evaluate students, staff or faculty who might pose a threat to the campus communities.

The teams are made up of representatives from student affairs, law enforcement, human resources, counseling services, residence life and others as may be needed.

Three cheers for Wise County Clerk of Court

Note: Wise County Clerk of Court, Jack Kennedy, served on the VCOG board of directors for several years.

HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 245

Offered February 4, 2010
Commending the Wise County and City of Norton Bar Association and the Clerk of Circuit Court for Wise County and the City of Norton for their leadership and innovation in information technology in judicial administration.
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Patrons-- Kilgore and Phillips
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Crossover at the 2010 General Assembly

At Crossover:

Despite the huge number of access-related bills that were on the table as the 2010 General Assembly session started, through consolidation, referrals to study commissions and, of course, the axe, that number has been cut nearly in half.

Why we're concerned about closing access to CHPs

Del. Lee Ware (R-Powhatan) has proposed a bill to prohibit clerks of court from releasing concealed handgun permit applications filed in that locality. The bill is HB79, and VCOG is opposed to it. Here's why.

 

As long as the permits are required in Virginia, there should be some public access to them. it is important for the public to be able to monitor:

 

(1) how the permits are processed (that is, whether the applications are being completed or accepted satisfactorily)

 

AND

 

Federal FOIA in Virginia courts w/ Virginia firms

With the advent of the iPhone, the Droid and any number of other so-called smart phones, it seems almost quaint that the world teetered on the edge of chaos in 2006 when a patent case threatened to darken the screens of the then-revolutionary BlackBerry.

NTP, a Virginia-based company, told BlackBerry's maker, Research in Motion, that the BlackBerry's technology infringed on an NTP patent. A federal district court judge in Richmond agreed and imposed millions of dollars in fines against RIM and told them to stop selling BlackBerrys that infringed NTP's patent.

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