Transparency News 10/12/17

Thursday, October 12, 2017


State and Local Stories

Virginia State Police took “appropriate action” after some troopers violated policy by covering their name tags with what appeared to be black tape during a pro-Confederate protest in Richmond. “The Department’s employees are governed by strict standards of conduct, which includes certain aspects of their uniform appearance, and intentionally covering of one’s nametag on the official uniform is not the Department’s policy. As such, we have taken appropriate action and instructed our supervisors to ensure this does not happen again,” Col. Steven Flaherty, the state police superintendent, wrote in an Oct. 3 letter to the Virginia ACLU.
Richmond Times-Dispatch

The website is already well over halfway to its goal. Councilmen Lee Vogler and James Buckner are seeking citizens advice on ways to improve Danville with their “100 Ways in 100 Days” project. The plan will be to take the ideas to the rest of City Council to determine how many of those ideas they can make happen. “It’s a great way to grow Danville,” Buckner said. “We’re looking for simple ideas and we hope to have several to put out there in the community.” The website, entitled 100waysdanville, allows citizens to post up their ideas. Ideas can range from small simple things, to bigger ideas. Instead of raising money, the goal is to take those ideas and use them to better things in the City.

National Stories

Attorneys for the Goldwater Institute were in Phoenix federal court Tuesday, demanding information on drug approvals. The Phoenix-based group filed suit against the federal Food and Drug Administration after a Freedom of Information Act request was denied. The case involves two U.S. doctors who contracted the Ebola virus in 2014. They were given a drug that had not been approved for testing in humans. The doctors survived the virus. Goldwater attorneys requested information from the FDA about how the use of the drug was approved for the treatment of the two doctors. The federal government turned down the request. Officials said they could not give the information because it would give away trade secrets.
Arizona Public Media

The Obama Foundation is taking an unconventional approach to the presidential center and library being planned in Chicago. It's opting to host a digital archive of President Barack Obama's records, but not keep his hard-copy manuscripts and letters and other documents onsite.  That means no thumbing through the ex-president's correspondence on the health care fight or first drafts of his State of the Union addresses.  The decision has historians scratching their heads.  “All archivists are waiting to see how this will work, because we are all struggling with how to make things available digitally,” Peggy Glowacki, a manuscripts librarian at the Richard J. Daley Library at the University of Illinois at Chicago, told the Chicago Tribune. 
Fox News

A Washington, D.C., judge has significantly narrowed the Justice Department's warrant related to a website used to plan anti-Trump protests during the Inauguration. The government had sought a sweeping warrant for records from web hosting company DreamHost of all visitors to its customer's website, — even those not suspected of committing a crime. As NPR previously reported, DreamHost resisted complying with that warrant, considering it overly broad, and endangering privacy and free speech. "[W]hile the government has the right to execute its Warrant," D.C. Superior Court Judge Robert Morin wrote in his order, "it does not have the right to rummage through the information contained on DreamHost's website and discover the identity of, or access communications by, individuals not participating in alleged criminal activity, particularly those persons who were engaging in protected First Amendment activities."

President Donald Trump on Wednesday suggested that NBC’s broadcast license should be pulled as punishment for the network's reporting on his national security meetings, opening a new front in the president’s long-running battle with the press. NBC News published a report Wednesday morning stating that Trump had surprised his national security advisers by proposing a nearly tenfold increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal during a July meeting. The meeting was what allegedly led Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to call Trump a “moron” — a comment that NBC first reported last week. Trump lashed out at NBC, appearing to make a threat that is not even possible, given that the Federal Communications Commission doesn’t directly license networks.

Open records advocates are pushing for Tennessee agencies to allow citizens to take cellphone photographs of public records. In January, The Tennessee Office of Open Records Counsel issued a model policy that forbade requestors from making copies of records with personal equipment, following the adoption of a state law requiring government offices to establish written public records policies. State Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, told The Tennessean the restrictions, adopted by the Wildlife Resource Agency and Department of Transportation, put an undue burden on requestors.