Transparency News 12/11/13

Wednesday, December 11, 2013
State and Local Stories


I’ve gathered many of the tweets sent from VCOG’s annual conference last week. They go in reverse chronological order. Check them out on Storify or on our website.

Gov. Bob McDonnell on Tuesday called speculation about a General Assembly contest in the attorney general race before the conclusion of the pending recount “premature,” adding that he has yet to see evidence that would call for resolving the race in the legislature. “To get to that level where you essentially have the legislature make a decision as to who the winner is, there would have to be evidence that the credibility of the election was called into question in some way that created a lack of confidence among the citizens,” McDonnell said in a radio interview with WNIS Norfolk. “I think we are a long way away from that.”
Roanoke Times

The University of Virginia has been taken off warning status by its accreditation agency. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools put the university on a 12-month warning last December, following the removal and reinstatement of President Teresa A. Sullivan. The SACS Commission on Colleges removed the university’s warning status at its annual meeting in Atlanta on Tuesday, the association’s president, Belle S. Wheelan, said.
Daily Progress

Weeks after Liberty University student Joshua Hathaway was shot and killed by an armed security officer at an off-campus dorm, Lynchburg police refuse to release any new information. Lt. Dave Gearhart, of the Lynchburg Police Department, said Tuesday that Hathaway’s death remains an active investigation. “I am unable to provide you with answers to your questions as this is still an on-going investigation,” Gearhart wrote in an email Tuesday. Gearhart declined to identify the officer who killed Hathaway or comment on whether the officer may face charges.
News & Advance

After 24 years without a raise, Danville City Council members will vote next week on whether to raise their salaries. Since 1989, council members have received $5,000 a year in compensation; the mayor earns $7,000 annually. The proposal coming up for a vote would raise council members’ pay to $10,000 a year and the mayor’s to $12,000 a year. The issue has come up several times in recent years, former councilman David Luther said, adding that he asked for a review of what councils in similar-sized cities were being paid toward the end of his final term in office.
Register & Bee

The Fairfax County School Board may consider creating new internal audit positions as the administration seeks to operate more efficiently and address a projected $132 million shortfall next year. In a work session Monday, the board’s Audit Committee recommended immediately hiring at least two people to serve in capacities similar to an inspector general or an independent auditor. Those in the possible new positions, one senior and one junior, would report to the School Board and be responsible for improving the administration’s efficiency and effectiveness. “This issue has been festering for years,” said the board’s budget chair, Ted Velkoff (At Large). “I’m glad we’re going to be addressing this.”
Washington Post

National Stories

There exists “no principle more fundamental or well-established than the right of a reporter to refuse to divulge a confidential source,” New York’s State Court of Appeals said in an decision Tuesday. The 4-3 decision means Fox News reporter Jana Winter will not have to travel to Colorado to testify in James Holmes’ murder trial. “We therefore conclude that an order from a New York court directing a reporter to appear in another state where, as here, there is a substantial likelihood that she will be compelled to identify sources who have been promised confidentiality would offend our strong public policy — a common law, statutory and constitutional tradition that has played a significant role in this State becoming the media capital of the country if not the world,” Judge Victoria A. Graffeo wrote in the majority opinion.
Full text of opinion in In the Matter of James Holmes v. Jana Winter

The U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., dismissed a freelance journalist's challenge last week to a U.S. Army decision to terminate the reporter's embed status with military in Afghanistan. The Army had found that the journalist, Wayne Anderson, had published a video in 2010 showing the faces of wounded American soldiers on The Washington Times website in violation of rules governing embedded reporters. Anderson sued five military officials, claiming, among other things, that they violated his free speech and due process rights by ending his position in Afghanistan without a meaningful hearing.
Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

Last week, The Nabe reported that the New York City’s police precincts would no longer directly provide journalists with the forms detailing crime reports. On Monday, shortly after CUNY Graduate Graduate School of Journalism Dean Stephen B. Shepard sent a letter to NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly protesting the change in procedure, the Police Department announced access would be restored. NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Public Information John McCarthy, responding to Shepard’s letter within a half-hour of receiving it by email Monday night, said that journalists across the city will still be allowed to view the weekly crime reports in a timely manner – provided they make requests through his office.
The Nabe

With students and teachers swimming in academic data these days, a top state lawmaker wants tocreate a website where parents can access all of that data at once. Indiana House Education Committee Chair Bob Behning, R-Indianapolis, will push a bill in the upcoming session to create a “data backpack,” based on a new Utah law the American Legislative Exchange Council recently highlighted as model legislation. In Utah, the legislation ordered the creation of a secure website that will eventually allow parents to see data points from students’ grades and attendance to their statewide test scores.
Indiana Public Media

State agencies in Kansas need to do a better job protecting sensitive information stored on their computer systems, a new audit said. The information technology audit found "chronic weaknesses" in several security controls, including weak passwords and software vulnerabilities. That has left several state agencies vulnerable to hackers gaining access to confidential data or breaches from within. "After three years of auditing this area, we have seen little improvement across agencies," said Justin Stowe with the Legislative Post Audit Division.
Lawrence Journal-World

Newly declassified documents show Tuesday that former CIA Director Leon Panetta revealed secret information to "Zero Dark Thirty" scriptwriter Mark Boal when Panetta gave a speech at CIA headquarters marking the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Panetta said through a spokesman that he didn't know Boal was in the room. Judicial Watch filed a request for the more than 200 pages of documents, which the CIA released Tuesday. The documents concerned the internal investigation of its role in the film about the bin Laden raid.


Times-Dispatch: For decades, Virginia has been caught in a vicious cycle: Gerrymandering has rendered many elections for the General Assembly little more than mere formalities. But reforming the state’s redistricting process cannot occur without the support of the very legislators who owe their election to gerrymandering. Nevertheless, the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership in Charlottesville is going to take another swing at redistricting reform, by striving to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot in 2016. The measure would hand over the drawing of district lines to a nonpartisan panel.