Transparency News, 1/21/2022


January 21, 2022

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state & local news stories


VCOG's annual
bill chart


This morning, the House Privileges & Elections Committee passed by a bill that would let election registrars defer answering FOIA requests for 45 days prior to an election (general, special, primary) and 10 days afterwards. The committee is going to ask whether the FOIA Council can accept a referral to it for further study. HB 15

Monday’s Rockingham County School Board meeting will be formatted a bit differently than normal. Instead of ending the meeting in closed session, the School Board will begin the meeting an hour early in closed session and will enter an open meeting at 7 p.m. The reason for this change is that the topic of masking in schools is likely to come up during the regular meeting, and the School Board needs to consult with its lawyer about the moving legal parts, said Superintendent Oskar Scheikl.
Daily News Record

Prince William County’s listening session on potentially expanding the Data Center Opportunity Zone Overlay District is now virtual. The county planned to hold an in-person listening session tonight on the proposal, but shifted to virtual because of potential winter weather, according to an email to attendees. Supervisor Jeanine Lawson, R-Brentsville, attempted to have the meeting delayed at the Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, but her motion failed to pass.
Inside NoVa

Supervisor Pete Candland and Gainesville resident Charles “Mac” Haddow, a longtime Candland associate who serves on Prince William County’s Racial and Social Justice Commission, have spent the last six years leading a nationwide effort to keep the recreational drug kratom from being scheduled as an illegal substance despite its connection to dozens of fatal overdoses. Candland earned about $540,000 between 2017 and 2020 in his role as executive director of the AKA, a position from which he resigned in December. Haddow, meanwhile, remains AKA’s chief lobbyist and has collected more than $1.4 million for his work on behalf of the organization. All of this and more was revealed in an extensive, four-part series about kratom and the AKA published in Courthouse News last week.  The author, journalist Edward Ericson Jr., spent 10 months poring over dozens of civil lawsuits filed against kratom retail outlets and producers by people who blamed kratom for the overdose deaths of their loved ones. Ericson had a personal interest in the topic: He lost his 21-year-old nephew to a kratom-related overdose in February 2021.
Prince William Times

stories of national interest

Across the nation, legislatures and their committees are gathering for the annual ritual of the legislative session, which in most states takes up the early months of the year. Unlike recent years, however, when masks and social distancing were common, if not the explicit rule, in many states you’d hardly know that we were entering the third year of a pandemic. Even in states where COVID-19 protections do remain in place, the issue has exposed a sharp partisan divide and provoked unrest among legislators. The divergent and often contentious approaches to statehouse coronavirus rules are a small but largely predictable pattern of sectarianism that has emerged in many parts of American life, says Michael Bugeja, a professor at Iowa State’s Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication and a columnist at the Iowa Capital Dispatch and other media outlets. 
Virginia Mercury

Western Michigan University will not disclose the results of the president’s performance evaluation that board members said was behind his $75,000 bonus and salary increase. WMU denied a Freedom of Information Act request from the university’s student newspaper for the results of President Edward Montgomery’s latest performance evaluation, which justified the large bonus and a 1.5% increase to the president’s nearly half-million-dollar annual salary, the board said in December.