Transparency News 12/3/18



December 3, 2018


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state & local news stories




“From a transparency standpoint, the important thing is we have access to this information so we know what is being spent by whom and for what.”

Although Charlottesville isn’t the only Virginia municipality to issue credit cards to its elected officials, the practice isn’t standard operating procedure across the state. While officials in Albemarle County don’t have cards in their names, those in Roanoke do. In Harrisonburg, City Council members receive a card for expenses on business trips, which is returned to the city after the trip. Tedd Povar, associate director of the Virginia Institute of Government, wrote in an email that the organization doesn’t know how many places have the practice, but it “would not be totally unusual.”Megan Rhyne, director of the Virginia Coalition for Open Government, said the credit cards don’t present a transparency concern. “It’s up to citizens to decide what to make of the information in them,” she said. “From a transparency standpoint, the important thing is we have access to this information so we know what is being spent by whom and for what.”
The Daily Progress

Scrolling through the staff directory on a Campbell County school’s website allows people to see teachers’ and staff members’ names and titles, but as of early November they no longer have ready access to email addresses. As a way to better improve cybersecurity, the division decided to take all teacher and staff email addresses off school websites. Campbell County Public Schools is the only division in the Lynchburg area that doesn’t provide staff and teacher emails on schools’ websites.  Director of Instructional Technology Mark Slusher said cybersecurity experts at a variety of seminars he and other division staff members have attended recommended the removal of email addresses. Joe Goldman, supervisor of technology for Amherst County Public Schools, said he doesn’t know if the division has had a conversation specifically about removing emails from websites but “what we talk about a lot is we are public figures and government employees, and we need to not hide information like email addresses and our names.”
The News & Advance


stories of national interest

Members of the New York City Council will host a trio of hearings to grill city officials and about the closed-door negotiations that led to the tech giant agreeing to build its second headquarters in Queens.
The Wall Street Journal

The former director of the F.B.I., James B. Comey, has reached an agreement with Republican lawmakers to testify behind closed doors about investigations into Hillary Clinton’s email server and whether President Trump’s campaign advisers colluded with the Russian government to steer the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. Republican lawmakers agreed to release a transcript of his testimony in 24 hours and to allow Mr. Comey to speak about the meeting publicly, he said on Twitter. “This is the closest I can get to public testimony,” Mr. Comey said.
The New York Times

A West Ashley, South Carolina, parent has sued the Charleston County School District after her 5-year old son was mistakenly picked up after school by a Lyft driver. Marlesha Heyward filed the lawsuit Wednesday in Charleston circuit court over seeking records after alleging her son was “recklessly allowed” to be picked up from Springfield Elementary School on April 30 by an “unauthorized person from the ride sharing service, Lyft.” After the incident at 2130 Pinehurst Ave., Heyward submitted a written S.C. Freedom of Information Act request to the district and asked for records, including school video surveillance.
Post and Courier

A federal judge in Seattle Thursday blocked  the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) from publicly disclosing a Title X grant application submitted by the Northwest’s largest Planned Parenthood group, after the federal agency initially told the nonprofit it had received a request for the document when it had not. U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour noted in his 12-page order that HHS later revised its justification for opting to make public the 187-page application from Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands (PPGNHI) by admitting it hadn’t actually received a federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the document, but rather was preparing for “proactive disclosure” of the application because it expected to get requests.
The Seattle Times





editorials & columns



Newport News Police Division officials are welcoming two new members to a board that reviews police officers’ use of force: Joe and Jane Taxpayer. Their involvement on the Use of Force Review Board is long overdue, and it’s a policy other Peninsula police divisions should consider adopting. That’s not to say that police officers need civilian babysitters. But resident involvement could bridge a gap between police and those they serve that is created by an unfamiliarity concerning officers duties.
Daily Press