Transparency News 10/11/18



October 11, 2018


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state & local news stories


A panel that reviewed philanthropic giving at George Mason University following the discovery of problematic financial pacts is recommending increased faculty involvement and transparency in a report released Wednesday. Although the committee did not find any “egregious practices” in its examination of more than 300 donor agreements, it highlighted language in 29 documents for further review, the report said. The review was focused on donor agreements that are still active and that underwrite faculty positions. The committee’s investigation also sought to ensure there was no inappropriate influence on academic affairs. In an email sent to faculty and staff, GMU President Ángel Cabrera pledged to "identify specific changes that will strengthen our gift acceptance policies and bolster transparency.” “It bears repeating that transparency and trust are essential to our mission," he wrote. "I appreciate everyone’s support in continuing to make that our standard.”
The Washington Post

The developer that wanted to build an Oceanfront arena says Virginia Beach intentionally stopped the project because leaders decided to pursue other public-private partnerships. Since the city would have tapped its tourism fund to help projects that would have complimented the arena, there wasn't enough money to support all the endeavors, Samuel Meekins Jr., an attorney for Mid-Atlantic Arena, said in Circuit Court on Tuesday. So Virginia Beach bailed on the agreement after realizing that it was juggling too many other plans and couldn't pay for all of them or provide sufficient parking, he said. Meekins' argument came during a court hearing in which the developer's attorneys were seeking the release of thousands of city documents relating to the other projects – a new sports center, an entertainment district at the old Dome site and a new pier.  The judge ordered the city to turn over the paperwork. 
The Virginian-Pilot

Hampton plans to participate in a new regional authority that would enable localities to partner on economic development projects in exchange for revenue sharing.  And while it’s not official yet, the proposed Eastern Virginia Regional Industrial Facility Authority already has a pilot project on the books. As a public entity, the authority would hold public meetings and be required to prepare annual financial statements.
Daily Press

Winchester City Council member Milt McInturff planned on retiring from politics when his third term expired at the end of this year. But he says a “lack of transparency” in city government has disturbed him enough to seek a fourth term. McInturff has at times been a vocal critic of the actions of City Council and city staff, particularly when it comes to what he has called an over-reliance on closed-door meetings and secretive communications between city staff and private entities. These and other similar encounters has sometimes made McInturff’s relationship with other council members contentious. 
The Winchester Star

Bristol Virginia City Council and School Board were expected to go behind closed doors last night to discuss details of the proposed new elementary school, prior to the board voting on the project. On Wednesday, the School Board moved tonight’s called 6 p.m. meeting from Washington-Lee Elementary to the board office at 220 Lee St., which coincides with a city notice — also issued Wednesday — of a called City Council meeting at the same location. The board is ultimately expected to vote tonight on the comprehensive agreement with J.A. Street to design, construct and finance the 85,600-square-foot single-story school, planned for land adjacent to Van Pelt Elementary. The joint meeting will exclude the public and news media. The School Board’s meeting description specifies “discussion of comprehensive agreement under the Public-Private Education Facilities and Infrastructure Act of 2002 [PPEA].”
Bristol Herald Courier