Transparency News 11/6/19



November 6, 2019


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state & local news stories


"[Two board members said] they were deciding to make a portion of those previously withheld records public now because they believed the district’s earlier statements were not true."

Today, the news is dominated by election results for local races and the General Assembly. There are a couple of election-related stories below, but there is also this one article that is a must-read. It's a story about FOIA, redaction, nepotism, reporting and board members standing up for the public's right to know.

Norfolk Public Schools hired the School Board chairwoman’s brother-in-law without following anti-nepotism rules, then withheld documents that proved it, newly released records show. Two School Board members shared with The Virginian-Pilot copies of emails between district staff that show chairwoman Noelle Gabriel’s brother-in-law, Nate Kinnison passed pre-employment screenings and was cleared for employment with a July 1 start date. A separate email includes a request for someone to add Kinnison’s name and new job — director of the district’s All-City Jazz Band — to the district’s website. His name was later removed. The emails were among a stack withheld by the school division after The Pilot made a public-records request in September for emails mentioning Kinnison. Redacted records were provided to the paper, but the two board members requested the records in full. Tanya Bhasin and Rodney Jordan told the rest of the School Board in a memo sent late Friday night that they were deciding to make a portion of those previously withheld records public now because they believed the district’s earlier statements were not true.
The Virginian-Pilot


8:50 p.m. update: The Virginia Department of Elections said the results page on the agency's website "has been resolved" and the site is "fully functional."
Earlier story:  The Virginia Department of Elections has been experiencing issues with its website - one of the go-to sites for live election results in the commonwealth - shortly after polls closed Tuesday night. Chris Piper of the State Board of Elections said results are coming in, but the website wasn't displaying the results correctly, so they took down the site temporarily while it was being fixed. Piper said it was an internal error and "not an issue from external factors."
Richmond Times-Dispatch

Shortly after 9 p.m. Tuesday, with six of Winchester's seven precincts reporting, it appeared that a referendum on an elected School Board was well on its way to approval. The referendum asked voters if they wanted to elect school board members or stick with a board appointed by City Council. As of 9:20 p.m., the "yes" votes on the referendum outnumbered the "no's" 3,319 to 1,942. The only precinct that had not been counted was Virginia Avenue Charlotte DeHart Elementary School in Winchester's Ward 2.
The Winchester Star



stories of national interest

The D.C. Council made public Tuesday an investigative report that notes nearly a dozen ethics violations by Council member Jack Evans after a copy of the report had been leaked to The Washington Post. Council member Mary Cheh, chair of the ad hoc committee reviewing the 97-page report, said its findings about Mr. Evans‘ business dealings reflect “a bit of arrogance or willful blindness to ethical requirements.” “We are all entitled to be disgusted by what we read in that report,” Ms. Cheh, Ward 3 Democrat, said Tuesday at a press conference. The report by the law firm of O’Melveny & Myers concluded that Mr. Evans made some efforts to avoid ethical issues, “but his overall approach was inadequate and based on a ‘I know it when I see it’ standard rather than an adherence to the actual provisions” of the council’s code of conduct.
The Washington Times





editorials & columns


Over the course of its 130 years, The Cavalier Daily has made a positive and lasting impact on student and community activism at the University by informing its readers of important issues through its reporting and by offering a forum for debate on its opinion pages.  These dual functions have been at the core of The Cavalier Daily’s mission from the very beginning. Regular readers of The Cavalier Daily will not be surprised to learn that the newspaper’s work also prompted the occasional controversy from the earliest days of the publication’s life.
The Cavalier Daily