Transparency News 12/4/19



December 4, 2019


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state & local news stories


"The project website includes surveys and interactive features that allow residents to share their visions for the future of Leesburg."

Danville officials are sending out requests for proposals for a possible casino project. The RFP will ask for proposals from casino operators interested in bringing a gaming facility to the city. Four casino operators have already expressed interest in bringing a casino to the city, according to email communication among city officials that the Danville Register & Bee obtained in a Freedom of Information Act request. 
Register & Bee

To explain how the mass shooting unfolded May 31 in Virginia Beach’s Municipal Center Building 2The Virginian-Pilot used the police department’s timeline, the report prepared by security risk management firm Hillard Heintze, witnesses who were in the building that day, and other sources familiar with the investigations.
The Virginian-Pilot

Kimberly Alexander has resigned as Elkton’s town manager. Following a closed session at a Monday work session meeting, Town Council unanimously accepted her resignation. Mayor Josh Gooden would not say whether Alexander voluntarily stepped down or if council forced her resignation. Alexander had been working for the town for around seven months and was the first person to fill the position in over three years. In a Tuesday interview, Alexander declined to say whether she requested to resign, but said what’s important is that residents start asking why their police officers are under investigation. “I’m not the first person to go because of the unethical work environment,” she said, adding that Elkton officer Jeff Turlington recently resigned. Due to the privacy of the officers and for personnel reasons, Gooden said, he cannot discuss what the investigation is about.
Daily News-Record

A majority of Charlottesville City Councilors don’t want the panel to expand its oversight of the city manager’s hiring practices. The council voted 3-2 on Monday to shoot down a revision to the city code that would require the city manager to seek the panel’s approval before hiring a candidate for deputy city manager or chief operating officer.
The Daily Progress

The Town of Leesburg in November contracted a Town Plan Design Charrette, and video of the consultant’s closing presentation was recently made available at Town officials say over the six days of the charrette the consultant team and staff held a series of interactive discussions with stakeholders and members of the public. The consultants then presented a summary of the work. In addition to the video, the project website includes surveys and interactive features that allow residents to share their visions for the future of Leesburg.
Loudoun Times-Mirror

Virginia State Police cleared Jeff C. McKay, the Democratic chairman-elect of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, of allegations that he benefited from a quid pro quo relationship with two developers while buying his family home in 2017. In a letter to McKay’s lawyer released Tuesday, Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Robert McClain said police found “no evidence of criminal culpability” in examining McKay’s home purchase.
The Washington Post


editorials & columns

quote_3.jpg"The University must be transparent and open with the students who attend this University, especially pertaining to some of the most important figures who are tasked with keeping us safe."

Something seems amiss at Norfolk’s Bay View Elementary. Administrators now say they did not correctly handle reports that a teacher abused at least two students, allowing her to remain in the classroom for a year after receiving the initial complaint. Too often, public officials hide behind the myriad exemptions poked into the commonwealth’s Freedom of Information Act. Norfolk school officials should have adopted a transparent posture once they learned of allegations about the teacher. Instead, they are facing investigations and furious parents. These heinous problems were mishandled. But also alarming are the ways in which the school kept parents in the dark. Had these incidents been handled strictly within the school’s domain, the public may never have learned a potentially abusive teacher was working with students. So how many more instances of such abuse have taken place in Hampton Roads? The public may never know since the commonwealth allows schools, cities and other governmental agencies to hide employees’ bad behavior behind exemptions built into the Freedom of Information Act. Virginians have a right to know what is happening in the name of “public service,” making transparency the only clear measure in which determine how the commonwealth is performing.
The Virginian-Pilot

Over the past two months, Police Chief Tommye S. Sutton and Gloria Graham, the Associate Vice President for Safety and Security, both resigned from their positions here at the University. Sutton was placed on paid-leave in mid-September and formally resigned about a week later. The University subsequently announced his resignation, providing no further information and instead highlighted the new interim police chief in a press release. In late October, the University issued a similar press release regarding Graham’s resignation. They announced that her resignation would go into effect in November and continued to focus on her interim replacement.  In both situations the University brushed over the resignation as if it were unimportant. However, these people are responsible for the safety of the students and the larger University community, so any changes to these posts affects everyone who attends, works and even visits the University. As students, we should be upset that we were given almost no information as to why Sutton and Graham left their positions. The University must be transparent and open with the students who attend this University, especially pertaining to some of the most important figures who are tasked with keeping us safe. 
Hunter Hess, The Cavalier Daily