Transparency News, 10/7/21


October 7, 2021
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state & local news stories

The FOIA Council will be hosting live-webinar FOIA trainings this month. The webinars are free to attend and are approved for DCJS and CLE credit. Links to register can be found on the council's website. If you are interested in receiving DCJS or CLE credit, you will need to individually register and attend the webinar so that we can confirm your attendance.
• Access to Law Enforcement and Criminal Records (2 hours)
October 26, 2021 at 1:00 pm
• Access to Public Records (1.5 hours)
October 27, 2021 at 10:00 am
• Access to Public Meetings (1.5 hours)
October 27, 2021 at 1:00 pm

Wednesday night’s Prince William County School Board meeting went off without disruption in a return to relative normalcy after last month’s meeting was cleared and public comment cancelled due to what board members said was a “security call.” Three weeks ago, shouting matches ensued and demonstrators tried to exceed the announced meeting room capacity, causing the board to clear the building temporarily before the meeting’s open session even began. But on Wednesday night, the only verbal confrontation was over keeping public commenters on agenda topics, a requirement under the board’s new public comment rules.
Inside NoVa

Although Augusta County school officials haven't confirmed that it was activities of the September meeting that led to it, the school division has posted on its website a document titled "School Board Meeting Procedures" ahead of Thursday night's monthly meeting.  The community guidelines listed in the document include:  Please refrain from clapping or other public demonstrations of support or opposition. Please be respectful of others and their points of view. Out of respect to other community members, please remove your hat and turn off your cell phone before entering the meeting. There are also several items listed under the heading "Speaker Process." One includes "Speakers shall approach the podium (not beyond) and speak into the microphone." 
News Leader

Six people are being considered to fill the vacant Russell District seat on the Clarke County School Board. Kenneth Coney, Leigh Carley, Kimberlee Stiles, Courtney Wiita, Camillia Dechent and Andrew MacDonald were privately interviewed after submitting applications for the seat. The county school division didn’t provide any information about the candidates. During a 6 p.m. Monday public hearing, county residents can give the board their opinions on particular applicants and/or what characteristics the person eventually appointed should have.
The Winchester Star

A former Virginia Beach City Council member is back in City Hall after a 6-4 vote in his favor Tuesday night. The City Council selected Linwood Branch to serve in the Lynnhaven District. Councilman Jim Wood vacated the seat abruptly Sept. 1 due to the demands of a new job, he said. Fourteen people originally applied for the position. The council narrowed the list to four last week. The City Council deliberated in a closed session Tuesday after hearing from the public.
The Virginian-Pilot

Loudoun County School Board members on Tuesday interviewed the seven candidates vying for the seat left vacant following the death of board member Leslee King in August. Candidates Paul Chen, Daniel Eistert, Andrew Hoyler, Cliff Keirce, Marjo Mitsutomi, Katrecia Nolen and Samuel Yan took turns fielding questions about their backgrounds and experience, and why they seek a position on the board.
Loudoun Times-Mirror

The Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority operated in the red for two years due mostly to unauthorized spending, audits show. The long-awaited reports for fiscal 2018 and 2019 released this week reveal the EDA’s financial picture for the two budget periods. The EDA’s former Executive Director Jennifer McDonald worked for the authority until she resigned halfway through fiscal 2019. McDonald and, at least in a civil case, co-defendants have been accused of using EDA money to conduct schemes and real estate deals. The EDA lacked any control over who could authorize spending its money in the fiscal periods, the audit states. The EDA and Warren County have taken steps to control authority spending.
The Northern Virginia Daily

Recriminations flew among Halifax County supervisors on Monday night over the disclosure of alleged embezzlement by former chief animal warden Todd Moser and the subsequent decision by County Administrator Scott Simpson to accept Moser’s resignation rather than fire him on the spot. For some 30 minutes, supervisors aired their grievances as two main points of contention dominated the conversation — how the confidential personnel information regarding Moser leaked to the press, and why Moser was allowed to quit his job with his employee benefits intact.  "In other words, we have a mole amongst us.” Supervisor Ricky Short said, “I don’t know who to point a finger to or nothing” but added, “Confidentiality is out the room now because it goes straight to the press before we know what’s going on.” Supervisor William Bryant  Claiborne interrupted to criticize Short’s use of the word “mole” to describe how the news got out. “A mole is somebody who talks about things that are illegal,” said Claiborne. “What information are you talking about that makes you say [this was] a mole?”
News & Record