Transparency News 10/25/19



October 25, 2019


Follow us on Facebook and Twitter
Contact us at


state & local news stories


"[Emails] show frustration and disagreement in how Wheaton approached seeking to make additions to council meeting minutes and her interactions with town staff."

As Apple explored the idea of opening a 4 million-square-foot campus in Northern Virginia last year, Gov. Ralph Northam quietly met with company executives at Apple’s California headquarters, according to emails documenting the gathering. The meeting, which happened exactly one year ago and is described in documents released to the WBJ through a public records request, did not ultimately result in the region winning a 20,000-employee Apple campus. The company ended up choosing Austin, Texas, instead, while expanding several existing offices around the country. However, Northam’s previously unreported trip to Cupertino does hint at his administration’s efforts to foster a cozy relationship with another major tech giant, in addition to his team’s successful work to lure Inc. to Northern Virginia.
Washington Business Journal

While Amherst Town Council has not divulged what caused the removal of former councilwoman Janice Wheaton, emails weeks and months before her July 10 expulsion show numerous tense exchanges between Wheaton and town officials. An encounter between Wheaton and a Virginia Department of Transportation employee outlined in a string of emails points to a source of conflict during her seven-month tenure on the council. Dozens of emails between Wheaton, Town Manager Sara Carter, Mayor Dwayne Tuggle and other councilors from April through early July obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request show frustration and disagreement in how Wheaton approached seeking to make additions to council meeting minutes and her interactions with town staff, among other issues. Some of the dozens of emails reference repeated attempts by Wheaton to have comments she made at council written into the minutes, which other town officials advised was not needed.
The News & Advance

Ousted for her role in a nepotism scandal, Richmond’s former top administrator walked out of City Hall last month entitled to a $25,000 payout. A Stoney spokesman said previously Cuffee-Glenn would not receive a severance payout. However, under city policy she is due about $25,000 for vacation time she accrued during her four years on the job, Richmond’s Department of Human Resources confirmed this week in response to a Times-Dispatch inquiry.
Richmond Times-Dispatch

Former Norfolk Sheriff Bob McCabe was indicted Thursday on 11 federal corruption charges, accused of steering millions of dollars in city contracts to businesses over more than two decades in exchange for bribes. McCabe, 61, was charged along with Gerard F. Boyle, the founder of firms that have long provided health care services for Norfolk jail inmates. McCabe’s charges include committing honest services mail fraud, obtaining money under color of official right and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Boyle, 64, who ran Correct Care Solutions, is charged with six counts: committing mail fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and other conspiracy charges. The FBI also explored McCabe’s ties to Old Dominion University, seeking information on all contracts the school had with the the sheriff’s office and McCabe, as well as campaign contributions and gifts the school made to him. In recent years, McCabe provided security for ODU football coach Bobby Wilder on road trips and had nonviolent inmates clean the stadium and surrounding neighborhoods after games.
The Virginian-Pilot

After bickering for more than a month about whether a private discussion should have been public, the Virginia Beach School Board on Tuesday agreed to move forward so it could refocus on its priority — students. While they would not acknowledge whether they violated the state’s open meetings law, board members drafted a statement vowing “not to do it again.” They also agreed unanimously that they should monitor their public social media posts and sites. The dispute stemmed from a July 18 complaint from Superintendent Aaron Spence. He claimed he experienced a hostile work environment because of two board members, Victoria Manning and Laura Hughes. One of his complaints was that Facebook posts and comments made by Manning and users on her public page were inappropriate. The two members, as well as Carolyn Weems, hired attorney Kevin Martingayle to argue that an Aug. 13 closed meeting to hear Spence’s dispute should have been open to the public.
The Virginian-Pilot

The leader of the Virginia Department of Social Services sent an email to employees July 22 thanking them for participating in an employee engagement survey. The feedback was “extremely valuable” and would help department leaders “benchmark performance in a variety of critical areas including management and supervision,” DSS Commissioner S. Duke Storen wrote in the email. Over the next few weeks, he wrote, the department’s leaders would begin an analysis into areas that employees reported as least favorable. What DSS employees didn’t know was that Storen hadn’t been provided with a key element of the survey — the open-ended answers in which employees can describe problems in their own words. And as of Thursday — three months later — it remained unclear how much of that information had been provided to him.
Richmond Times-Dispatch

As Richmond City Council continues to vet the proposed $1.5 billion coliseum redevelopment deal, they won’t be able to learn more about whose name would adorn a new downtown arena. The developer, NH District Corp. (NHDC), told the independent Navy Hill Development Advisory Commission last week that it has already lined up a buyer for the naming rights to the arena for the next 20 years. NHDC estimated that the naming rights and “founding partner” sponsorships will total around $2.8 million annually, most of which will go toward the cost of construction. But in a written response to a request for details regarding the naming rights, NHDC representatives told the advisory commission that these sponsors will remain anonymous until the city approves the project.
Virginia Public Media

Officials in Virginia Beach say a security firm will soon release information from its independent investigation into the city’s mass shooting. City spokeswoman Julie Hill said in an email Thursday that Hilliard Heintze will share results from its review at a City Council meeting Nov. 13. The announcement comes nearly six months after the May 31 shooting. The briefing also comes nearly two months after an update from police left victims’ families dissatisfied and grasping for a motive. Police said their investigation will likely take several more months. Hill said the firm will meet privately with family members before publicly presenting its findings.

Christiansburg Town Councilman Harry Collins is facing conflict of interest questions over a rezoning vote as he seeks reelection. The issue: Has Collins overstepped governmental boundaries to benefit his employer, Shelor Motor Mile? Montgomery County’s top prosecutor has forwarded a complaint about Collins to the state Attorney General’s Office. That complaint stems from the part Collins played as a planning commissioner in a rezoning request by the owner of the car dealership. Collins said he probably should have abstained from the planning commission vote, but he did not intend to do anything wrong. There has been no determination of impropriety.
The Roanoke Times

Tuesday night’s Loudoun County School Board meeting ran for nearly six hours, thanks in part to massive community participation in the debate surrounding diverse classroom libraries. “I think that that’s probably the longest meeting we’ve ever had, or pretty dang close to it,” Chairman Jeff Morse (Dulles District) said before motioning to adjourn at approximately 12:22 a.m. More than 70 Loudoun County Public Schools parents, students, staff and community members participated in the evening’s public comment, the vast majority commenting on the recently added diverse book collections.
Loudoun Times-Mirror

Mathews County supervisor G.C. Morrow has filed suit against the Mathews County Board of Supervisors asking the courts to declare that actions taken by the board to remove him as chairman were illegal and that the board be required to reinstate him as chair. The lawsuit also asks that the court prevent the board from removing him again before the end of his term as chair, which is set to expire during the board’s organizational meeting on Jan. 8, 2020.
Gloucester-Mathews Gazette-Journal


stories of national interest

In August 2018, Eminem announced the surprise release of his new album, Kamikaze, in a tweet, delighting his fans with 13 fiery new raps, just eight months after he dropped his last album, Revival. Kamikaze’s lead track, “The Ringer,” immediately attracted attention on social media due to lyrics in which Eminem, a fierce critic of President Donald Trump, claimed he was visited by the Secret Service: "‘Cause Agent Orange just sent the Secret Service / To meet in person to see if I really think of hurtin’ him / Or ask if I’m linked to terrorists / I said, ‘Only when it comes to ink and lyricists.'" At the time, the Secret Service refused to say whether agents had indeed visited Eminem, citing their policy of not commenting on or confirming “the absence or existence of specific investigations.” So last year BuzzFeed News filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Secret Service to find out if agents really were sent to speak with Eminem. This week, the agency turned over 40 pages of documents that prove they did in fact interview the rapper. It turns out their interest in speaking with him was based on “threatening lyrics” from his rap “Framed” that appeared on Revival. The Secret Service characterized Eminem as “exhibiting inappropriate behavior” and noted that he, via the rap, “threatens protectee.”

The National Archives and Records Administration announced it launched an investigation into Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross for using a private email account. In the letter announcing the probe, the administration pointed to a report from the Washington Post that first revealed Wilbur’s use of his personal email for official department business.
Washington Examiner


quote_2.jpg"At the time, the Secret Service refused to say whether agents had indeed visited Eminem, citing their policy of not commenting on or confirming 'the absence or existence of specific investigations.'”