Transparency News, 1/17/2023


January 17, 2023

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state & local news stories

VCOG's annual legislative chart of FOIA and access-related bills

Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s decision to halt plans for a $3.5 billion Ford Motor Co. battery plant over his concerns about Chinese influence cost one of the poorest areas of Virginia a reported 2,500 jobs with potential for more. Youngkin intervened in late December to stop plans for the plant in Virginia because of its partnership with Chinese company Contemporary Amperex Technology. Youngkin first publicly discussed his decision after giving his State of the Commonwealth address on Wednesday. Local officials said they could not comment on the situation because of a nondisclosure agreement, which is standard in such economic development projects.
Richmond Times-Dispatch

There's a bit of pride a reporter may have in being recognized like this. It's a small but important part of the tale of the Intrepid Reporter, always showing up, not letting obstacles get in his way of getting to the heart of the matter... Unless that obstacle is an unlocked door in a county building. Later in the week, heading in to the organizational meeting of the Augusta County Board of Supervisors, Akhil texted me that "the doors to the board meeting room are locked." "What? Did you knock?" I texted back. "Yeah." "Wicked loud?" I pushed it. You can see where this is going. There was no one to let him in, and nobody responding to his knocks. A few minutes later, he texted, "They just left the room." "Go get 'em!" I urged. Akhil, being the Intrepid Reporter who lets no obstacles get in his way, went after 'em. And came back five minutes later with some more texts. "So, this is slightly embarrassing . . . The door was stuck . . . And they didn't hear my knocks." The Board was definitely not locking a reporter out. He just couldn't negotiate a slightly jammed door.
News Leader

The faculty hiring process at Virginia Commonwealth University and its medical school requires applicants to provide a statement of commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion that is factored into their application, new documents show. In a series of survey questions by the Association of American Medical Colleges that sought to discern the commitment by various medical schools to diversity, equity, and inclusion, or DEI, the VCU School of Medicine said it required faculty applicants to submit a "diversity statement." The school's responses to the AAMC survey were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by the medical watchdog group Do No Harm and shared with the Washington Examiner.
Washington Examiner

At full capacity, there are 92 budgeted positions within the Petersburg Bureau of Police, including administration. There is always hope that more will be on the horizon. Just because all the positions are funded does not mean they're all filled, though. Police Chief Travis Christian admits that the department is short-staffed. However, when pressed for numbers about just how short-staffed the department is, he is reticent to say. And there is a reason for that, he told a small group of Petersburg residents Thursday night at Bethany Baptist Church. The bureau does not want to tip its hand. "I'm apprehensive about giving out numbers of vacancies,"Christian said in response to a citizen's question. "If we do, we let the criminal element know we may not have enough people in a certain area." Asked again by the citizen to provide at least a percentage of vacant positions, Christian again declined.
The Progress-Index

At the end of a six and one-half hour meeting, packed with contentious debate and commentary from nearly 100 citizens, Warrenton Town council members spoke their minds. Newly elected councilmen Paul Mooney and David McGuire said little about the events of the evening, as did Vice-Mayor James Hartman. But others talked at length, and some of their remarks may provide a window into their thinking about the proposed Amazon data center. Heather Sutphin opened by reacting to a citizen’s complaint that she had met privately with Amazon, noting that she did not try to hide the fact. ”That's part of my due diligence, to find out as much information before I make a vote,” she said. “I've talked to a lot of people, I've knocked on doors, visited different data centers, because I am trying to find the truth.”
Fauquier Times