Transparency News 10/25/13


Friday, October 25, 2013
State and Local Stories


Former U.S. defense secretary Robert M. Gates will give his personal papers to the College of William and Mary, the school announced Thursday. Gates, an alumnus and chancellor of William and Mary, served as defense secretary under President George W. Bush and President Obama from 2006 to 2011. He was also director of central intelligence under President George H.W. Bush. The donation will not include classified materials, the college said.
Washington Post

The Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors appointed a replacement for the late Marshall Ecker during a meeting Thursday morning. With a 4-1 vote, supervisors selected Elton W. Blackstock, 51, to serve in Ecker’s place in the board’s Staunton River District seat until a special election is held in November 2014. However, before supervisors could get started, members disagreed over whether to hold an open meeting. It was originally supposed to take place in a closed-door session, but Westover Supervisor Coy Harville and Chatham-Blairs Supervisor Brenda Bowman objected and said it should be open to the public. The five candidates were scheduled to interview in staggered 30-minute time slots from 8:30 to 11 a.m., and supervisors discussed whether to postpone the interviews. Harville said he wanted to hold them as scheduled. “I didn’t come here to waste my time,” Harville said. Supervisors decided to scrap the staggered sessions, have Interim County Administrator Otis Hawker call the candidates and tell them to come at 9:45 a.m., and interview them one-by-one during an open meeting.
Register & Bee

National Stories

“It’s unclear to me,” tweeted Jennifer Wagner, whose husband Gordon Hendry is a recent appointee to the Indiana Board of Education, “how an alleged [State Board] meeting happened while we were on a beach in Florida.” Wagner’s referring to the lawsuit Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz filed Tuesday against the board’s members, accusing them of violating a state law requiring certain government meetings to be open to the public. At issue is how ten State Board members managed to approve and affix their signatures to a letter asking for a state legislative agency to assume a role calculating this year’s A-F grades without, in the words of Ritz’s court filing, ”meeting in secret,” running afoul of Indiana’s Open Door Law.
Indiana Public Media

The Kansas Department of Children and Families’ assertion that it won’t publicly disclose results of an internal review about practices at its Wichita office is being criticized by a bipartisan group of legislators. “You have to have accountability,” Sen. Forrest Knox, R-Altoona, said Wednesday. “If there’s no accountability, that’s a big problem.” Rep. Jim Ward, D-Wichita, said, “There’s absolutely no way they can keep this a secret. Child protective services is too important.”
Wichita Eagle

It was just a background conversation on the Acela train ride north on Thursday.  Or that’s what Michael V. Hayden, the former head of the National Security Agency, thought as he chatted away with three journalists who called him for comment on the recent reports of N.S.A. eavesdropping on the leaders of France and Germany. What Mr. Hayden did not realize was that a passenger a few seats away was doing some eavesdropping of his own. Tom Matzzie, a former Washington director of the political group, was so intrigued by the tidbits he heard from Mr. Hayden, who is also a former C.I.A. director, that he pulled out his cellphone and started posting Twitter messages.
New York Times

The heads of state of Germany, Brazil, and Mexico may be far from the only world leaders who've reportedly attracted the attentions of the US National Security Agency. An agency memo leaked by Edward Snowden and published by the UK's Guardian newspaper Thursday contains a plea from the NSA for access to US officials' "Rolodexes" of contacts -- including "foreign political or military leaders" -- and mentions one instance in which an official provided 200 phone numbers for 35 world leaders. Forty-three of those numbers, previously unknown to the agency, were "tasked" by the NSA, along with "several other" of the numbers.


Daily Progress: Public universities belong to the public, and they should conduct their business in public. What’s so difficult to understand about that? Yet once again we have a state university official complaining about the requirement to abide by the Virginia Freedom of Information Act. “… We can’t have a candid discussion because it has to be made public,” grumbled Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger. Yes, you can. “We’re not trying to hide anything,” said Mr. Steger said. “But in a large public meeting those thoughts are not shared. The level of discourse and the level of analysis that is appropriate to deal with these very significant issues does not occur.” Not trying to hide anything? Yes, you are.