Transparency News, 11/16/21


November 16, 2021
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state & local news stories

One year after angering many students and alumni by ordering an investigation into racism at the Virginia Military Institute, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) told about 1,700 cadets Monday night at his alma mater that he shares their pride in the school but defended the push to make VMI more inclusive. Northam’s speech at VMI’s Cameron Hall was not open to the public or live-streamed, and students were ordered to leave their cellphones in their rooms, ensuring that none of them could record the reaction of the cadets or post any remarks online until after the appearance was over.
The Washington Post

Prince William County’s Racial and Social Justice Commission is poised to deliver its report to the Board of County Supervisors. But behind the scenes, and sometimes publicly, commission members have filed dueling records requests and traded accusations and sharp words. And at least one commissioner is planning to present a minority report. In the past month, commissioners have been battling over an unsanctioned Oct. 6 town hall over critical race theory and culturally responsive teaching.  After the town hall, Alan Gloss, a frequent critic of the Board of Supervisors, filed a FOIA request seeking communications between commissioners concerning the town hall. Chair Shantell Rock said that after the commission responded to the request, Commissioner Mac Haddow alleged that commissioners didn’t provide enough documents. “At that point, I was like, `Did he put Mr. Gloss up to do this and if so, why?’” Rock said. ““I wanted to know if Commissioner Haddow had any connection to this.” Rock then filed her own FOIA request, seeking communications between Haddow, Commissioner London Steverson, Commissioner Erica Tredinnick and Gloss regarding the town hall. Rock has criticized Haddow for “constantly” filing FOIA requests of the commission, saying it is disrupting the panel’s work.

Hundreds of Spotsylvania County parents, students, teachers and librarians attended Monday's special School Board meeting to speak passionately in support of libraries and books after the board's vote last week to remove "sexually explicit" materials from library shelves. Speakers also accused board members Kirk Twigg and Rabih Abuismail—who in last week's meeting said they would like to see books burned—of disregarding the school division's own policies and violating the School Board's code of ethics. Speakers also called for Abuismail to resign his position. A petition calling for his removal has 1,045 signatures as of Monday night.
The Free Lance-Star
stories from around the country
A Connecticut judge found Infowars host Alex Jones liable by default Monday in a defamation lawsuit brought by parents of children killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting over the conspiracy theorist’s claims that the massacre was a hoax. The ruling by the judge, who cited Jones’ refusal to abide by court rulings or turn over evidence, means a jury will determine how much in damages Jones should pay to the families. Shortly after the judge’s decision, Jones went on his show and said he’d been deprived of a fair trial. Twenty first-graders and six educators were killed in the December 2012 shooting. The gunman, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, killed his mother at their Newtown home before the shooting, and killed himself at the school as police arrived, officials said. The shooting was portrayed on Jones’ Infowars show as a hoax involving actors aimed at increasing gun control. Jones has since acknowledged the school shooting did occur.