Transparency News 10/22/19



October 22, 2019


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state & local news stories


Chesterfield and Henrico counties are among the state’s five localities with the largest number of vacancies in their general district court clerk’s offices. Virginia judicial officials are seeking $11.2 million in the next state budget to fill less than half of the 276 open deputy clerk positions statewide. Karl Hade, executive secretary of the Virginia judicial system, told legislators on Monday that help is needed to boost general district and juvenile and domestic relations courts, with 131 out of 192 court clerk’s offices operating without enough staff to handle court cases that are increasing in volume and complexity. “This staffing shortage ... is making it increasingly difficult for the judiciary to provide its core government services to the citizens of the commonwealth,” Hade told the House Appropriations Committee.
Richmond Times-Dispatch

The Charlottesville City Council began its first deliberations of a police oversight panel on Monday and set a lofty goal for appointing such a body. The council conducted a first reading of an ordinance and bylaws to establish a Police Civilian Review Board during its meeting Monday, which was preceded by a rally against the council’s proposals and attended by supporters of the initial CRB’s recommendations. The bylaws would establish the board’s meeting procedures. The ordinance covers the board’s composition, staffing and powers. The proposal allows the council to appoint members in closed session rather than in a public process, as initially recommended.
The Daily Progress


stories of national interest

D.C. residents fought through tears Monday as they expressed frustration with the Metropolitan Police Department’s refusal to release video footage from body-worn cameras showing officers killing their loved ones. “Receiving limited information regarding the Metropolitan Police Department killing my son on June 12, 2018, has been an extremely horrific nightmare,” Kenithia Alston said a D.C. Council roundtable review of the department’s five-year-old camera program. “I have suffered an enormous amount of anxiety, depression and grief all while advocating for public information.” Ms. Alston said she has sought footage from the night her son, Marqueese Alston, 22, was killed because police were not giving her sufficient details about what happened. She was told that, because her son was older than 18, she could not be granted permission to view the video, although the law does not explicitly disallow or allow the parent of a deceased adult to view footage.
The Washington Times

If the FBI discovers that foreign hackers have infiltrated the networks of your county election office, you may not find out about it until after voting is over. And your governor and other state officials may be kept in the dark, too. There’s no federal law compelling state and local governments to share information when an electoral system is hacked. And a federal policy keeps details secret by shielding the identity of all cyber victims regardless of whether election systems are involved. Election officials are in a difficult spot: If someone else’s voting system is targeted, they want to know exactly what happened so they can protect their own system. Yet when their own systems are targeted, they may be cautious about disclosing details. They must balance the need for openness with worries over undermining any criminal investigation. And they want to avoid chaos or confusion, the kind of disruption that hackers want.
AP News




editorials & columns


At least the county’s moving in the right direction. Albemarle County’s Board of Supervisors adopted rules last week that slightly broaden its limits on public use of space at the McIntire Road office building. The new rules allow about 15,000 square feet along the frontage of McIntire Road and Preston Avenue for what county documents refer to as “expressive activity.” That sounds like a euphemism for First Amendment free-speech activities.Let’s just say it: Freedom of expression should be not only allowed, but encouraged at the seat of county government. The previous policy did not allow any portion of the front lawn — which is owned by the public, after all — to be used for free speech activities, such as demonstrations or protests.
The Daily Progress