Transparency News, 1/22/2020


January 22, 2020

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state & local news stories



Karen Ramos, a senior at Sterling's Dominion High School, is one of four U.S. student journalists named Student Journalists of the Year by PBS NewsHour's Student Reporting Labs. SRL Director Elis Estrada said Ramos was one of 25 fellows from across the nation selected to participate in the program's yearly student academy. She and the other three honorees represent different regions of the country and will all be honored at the National Educational Telecommunications Association conference in D.C. later this month.
Loudoun Times-Mirror

An unusual statement sent to Loudoun Now by three Leesburg Town Council members has put a spotlight in the long-simmering division on the council dais, one that may impact the future of Town Attorney Barbara Notar. Monday afternoon a letter signed by Mayor Kelly Burk, Vice Mayor Marty Martinez and Councilman Neil Steinberg was sent to Loudoun Now accusing council members Ron Campbell, Tom Dunn, Suzanne Fox, and Josh Thiel of a “concerted strategy” to terminate Notar’s employment contract. Fox, Campbell and Dunn derided their three council colleagues for publicly airing a personnel matter. “It is highly inappropriate for any member of the Town Council to be discussing any form of personnel matter in a public forum, as council members have a fiduciary responsibility to protect our citizens from potential litigation. It is the law in the Commonwealth of Virginia that personnel matters must be treated with confidence. The fact that any member of council would breach public trust by submitting a Letter to The Editor shows a lack of both professionalism and good judgment,” Fox said.

stories of national interest

U.S. officials are weighing the benefits and risks of proposed experiments that might make a dangerous pathogen even worse — but the details of that review, and the exact nature of the experiments, aren't being released to the public. Later this week, officials are to hold a meeting in Bethesda, Md., to debate how much information to openly share about this kind of controversial work and how much to reveal about the reasoning behind decisions to pursue or forgo it.



editorials & columns


Although by no means going so far as to undermine that autonomy agreement, legislation proposed in the current General Assembly might be signaling a turn of the pendulum, back to more control from Richmond. Some of this year’s bills were generated from recent controversies. For example, the proposal to make donors’ names public, along with the strings attached to their donations, results from the controversy over the Charles Koch Foundation’s gift to George Mason University and questions over whether than money introduced bias into some of the university’s research results. Last month, the Virginia Supreme Court ruled that GMU’s fundraising arm was a private group not subject to public scrutiny. The ruling was legally sound. But so is the impulse to pull the curtains back and provide more openness regarding public colleges’ and universities’ use of money. That’s a healthy consideration no matter who’s making the contributions: The greater the transparency, the less opportunity for hidden agendas to be carried out. The same argument applies to tuition raises and presidents’ salaries.
The Daily Progress