Transparency News 10/23/13


Wednesday, October 23, 2013
State and Local Stories


A Roanoke judge on Tuesday agreed to conceal the names and addresses of the jurors in next week’s scheduled criminal trial of William A. White, a former neo-Nazi activist. His ruling, which will result in jurors being identified in the selection process by their city or county name and zip code, is extremely rare in local courtrooms. “I have never empaneled an anonymous jury. In my 41 years [on the bench] I have not,” U.S. District Court Judge James Turk said in court after hearing arguments for about a half-hour. “I’m reluctantly going to permit it in this case,” Turk said. He’s currently serving 3 ½ years in prison from a February conviction for soliciting violence against a former member of a Chicago jury that found another neo-Nazi guilty of solicitation of murder. Prosecutors said that White, now 36, published information online about that juror in hopes it would prompt his website’s readers to threaten or harm the man. That case, tried in Illinois in 2011, also used an anonymous jury.
Roanoke Times

New members of boards of visitors were advised Tuesday that they work “in a crowded sandbox” that requires them to be supportive of their president and respectful of faculty. While the board may make the final call, “there are others who play in there with you,” Richard D. Legon, president of the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, said. Legon was among the speakers at an annual orientation for members of governing boards that was made mandatory this year as a result of the 2012 leadership crisis at the University of Virginia.Virginia Tech Charles Steger said increasing federal and state regulations also pose challenges, such as the provision in Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act that requires public notice whenever three members of the board meet to discuss university business. He said the law means he and the rector have to meet individually with board members to discuss serious issues “because we can’t have a candid discussion because it has to be made public.” “We’re not trying to hide anything,” he said. “But in a large public meeting those thoughts are not shared.”

The Associated Press has fired an Atlanta-based editor, the third employee dismissed over the handling of an erroneous Oct. 9 story about Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic nominee for governor. AP has fired Norman Gomlak, formerly South Desk Editor in Atlanta, as well as Bob Lewis, a veteran Richmond-based political reporter and Dena Potter, who was AP’s news editor for Virginia and West Virginia.

Lynchburg police begrudgingly have ended a practice of storing information that tracks civilians’ whereabouts. Officers recently have begun purging some records from their two automatic license plate readers in accordance with an opinion written by the attorney general. The computerized devices attach to cruisers and photograph the license plates of passing cars.
News & Advance

National Stories

A lawmaker who is a staunch advocate of children’s privacy is investigating whether the data collection and analysis practices of the growing education technology industry, a market estimated at $8 billion, are outstripping federal rules governing the sharing of students’ personal information. Senator Edward J. Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, sent a letter to Arne Duncan, the Secretary of Education, about how K-12 schools are outsourcing management and assessment of student data, including intimate details like disabilities, to technology vendors.
New York Times

Curious whether your preferred car company leans conservative or liberal? Or which restaurant chain most closely aligns with your views on abortion? You guessed it — there’s an app for that. A new app called 2nd Vote is designed to allow conservative voters to see how companies score on five issues: gun rights, abortion, the environment, same-sex marriage and federal subsidies — though it’s even attracted some liberal fans. Giving each company a score from 1 to 10, the app rates everything from the airline industry to Internet businesses as actively liberal, passively liberal, passively conservative and actively conservative.

A secret presidential directive on cybersecurity is going to stay secret, despite the best FOIA-filing efforts of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. In a decision issued Monday, U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell rejected the long-running Freedom of Information Act request for the unredacted text of National Security Presidential Directive 54. The Directive, described as "a confidential communication from the president of the United States to a select and limited group of senior foreign policy advisors, cabinet officials and agency heads on the subject of cybersecurity," was issued by then-President George W. Bush in January 2009.

Here’s a juicy little (social media) story, courtesy of Josh Rogin over at the Daily Beast: A White House national security official has been fired for Tweeting under a fake name. Well, not really just Tweeting, more like aggressively Tweeting, or, as the Daily Beast describes it: “tormenting the foreign policy community with insulting comments and revealing internal Obama administration information for over two years.”

Michigan's Secretary of State has issued a license plate with a variation of "infidel" to a former U.S. Army sergeant who sued the agency because he said his original request was declined. Michael Matwyuk, a military veteran from Dickinson County in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, sued the Secretary of State in September because he said the agency would not issue him a custom license plate reading "INF1DL." In September, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan filed a federal lawsuit on Matwyuk's behalf. But now, the Secretary of State's office wants the case dismissed because it has already issued the plate and it was originally denied because of an oversight.
M Live