Transparency News 11/14/18



November 13, 2018


You can smile on VCOG when you shop on Amazon. Click here!


state & local news stories


Virginia will have to give Amazon a heads-up—and two days to respond—to any request of public records about the company, according to the memorandum of understanding between the two parties.  It states that Virginia must give written notice of a pending disclosure and provide the company no less than two business days to “seek a protective order or other appropriate remedy.”
Corporate Counsel
Link to the full text of the article on VCOG's website, which includes a link to the MOU
Tuesday's announcement that New York City and northern Virginia came out on top — each getting half what it initially expected — prompted a fresh round of criticism that Amazon's contest, which drew interest from more than four dozen locations, was an elaborate ploy to extract significant concessions for a business that recently crossed the $1 trillion valuation mark. New York offered $1.52 billion in incentives, including $1.2 billion in tax credits over the next decade and a $325 million cash grant, while Virginia agreed to a $573 million incentive package, including a $550 million cash grant contingent on Amazon meeting job-creation targets. The Commonwealth agreed to give Amazon a two-day notice prior to the release of any materials submitted as part of the agreement between the two parties under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act to allow the tech giant to "seek a protective order or other appropriate remedy." The government will also work with Amazon on record requests to redact portions of the materials to "the maximum extent permitted by applicable law."
Washington Examiner

Attorneys for InfoWars founder Alex Jones and other defendants argued that a defamation case brought against them by an Albemarle County man should be dismissed in U.S. District Court in Charlottesville on Tuesday. Brennan Gilmore, an activist and former Foreign Service officer, sued Jones, InfoWars and several others in March for defamation. After Gilmore witnessed and filmed the Aug. 12, 2017 car attack that killed counter-protester Heather Heyer, the defendants started spreading conspiracies about him, leading to death threats against him and his family, according to the suit. Attorneys representing the defendants said the case should be dismissed, taking issue with the court’s jurisdiction to try the case and claiming Gilmore was a limited-purpose public figure in the wake of the attack. If the judge accepts the defense’s claim that Gilmore was a public figure at the time, Gilmore will have to prove actual malice on the part of the defendant, instead of just negligence.
The Daily Progress

Loudoun County Public Schools has hired a communications firm to review the school system's emergency communication procedures and make recommendations. The Loudoun County School Board Communications and Outreach committee has tasked LCPS staff to better define the emergency communication process so that LCPS staff and the general public are clear of when, how and why information is disseminated. The moves come as the Loudoun school system is dealing with criticism related to transparency about several high-profile incidents, including a gruesome alleged assault in the Tuscarora High School locker room and law enforcement activity at both Lucketts Elementary and Aldie Elementary schools.
Loudoun Times-Mirror


national stories of interest

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits continued to break record highs in FY 2018. According to case-by-case court records, 860 FOIA lawsuits were filed in FY 2018 against government agencies. In addition, the backlog of FOIA suits waiting to be decided rose to 1,204 cases, an all-time high. Compared to an average of 402 FOIA suits per year during the Obama Administration, the rate of filing since President Trump assumed office has more than doubled.  While suits rose during the latter years of the Obama Administration, the 860 suits filed in FY 2018, represent a 67 percent increase over filings during the last full fiscal year of the Obama Administration.
The FOIA Project