Transparency News 10/4/18



October 4, 2018


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state & local news stories


A judge has signed off on Mark Whitaker’s felony conviction, which means he can't keep serving on City Council or seek reelection in a race that will be decided in less than six weeks. Court records obtained by The Virginian-Pilot late Monday show that Harold W. Burgess Jr., a retired judge from Chesterfield County who oversaw Whitaker’s trial, has approved paperwork certifying a Circuit Court jury’s conviction of Whitaker on three counts of forgery. Whitaker was found guilty July 18, and Burgess signed the documents on Sept. 27. Whitaker's attorneys told The Pilot last week that Burgess’ delay meant he wasn’t officially a felon, and the councilman said he intended to keep serving on the City Council and he would seek another term until he was instructed by his lawyers that he could not. On Tuesday, his name and biography were gone from a section of the city’s website that lists active council members.
The Virginian-Pilot

In a press conference that devolved into a shouting match, Charlottesville Police Chief RaShall Brackney said that data on the city’s stop-and-frisk policy will be unavailable until it is extracted from a new software system. Brackney held the conference Wednesday to discuss what the department calls “investigative detention” and “warrantless searches,” commonly known as stop and frisk. It was held two days after local attorney Jeff Fogel criticized the department at a press conference for not releasing the data in response to his requests under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act. Brackney said Fogel’s requests have been denied because the data isn’t collected in the same way it was under the old system, primarily because of a new software system installed in December and January.
The Daily Progress


national stories of interest

The University of Montana is facing a $966,614 penalty for reporting "inaccurate and misleading" crime statistics — on everything from liquor violations to rape — from 2012 to 2015, according to a letter from the U.S. Department of Education. UM will appeal the dollar amount even though it concurs with the findings, said communications director Paula Short. She noted that the fine is based on data that UM itself reclassified after a request from the department.
The Missoulian



editorials & columns


In naming child victims, reporters aren't trying to be salacious. We're seeking to give a fuller picture of them, their hobbies and favorite classes, whether they were shy or gregarious. We want to make them complete persons. Their deaths impact their families, schools and neighborhoods. It is passing strange that a public institution — a police department — must jump through hoops to obtain the parents' permission, or otherwise can't release that information to the public.
Roger Chesley, The Virginian-Pilot