Transparency News, 1/27/20

January 27, 2020

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state & local news stories



A Senate panel backed a bill Friday to make the Virginia Board of Corrections publish on its website an annual report summarizing the jail death reviews conducted by the board. The bill, Senate Bill 215, from Sen. David Suetterlein, R-Roanoke County, would increase transparency around information that’s not widely known. The report would note any trends or similarities among the deaths and present recommendations on policy changes to reduce the number of deaths.
The Roanoke Times

When it was time to discuss the town’s $15 million civil lawsuit against the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority during a Thursday town-county liaison committee meeting, Town Attorney Doug Napier said “I don’t want to be a party pooper” but it was not a proper time for the discussion.Napier explained that there was a Friday morning hearing via phone conference regarding the town’s case and “loose lips sink ships, so to speak.” He said it was better to postpone the discussion because the town does not know exactly where its lawsuit is heading. Napier explained over the phone that Judge Bruce. D Albertson granted the town 30 days to file an amended complaint, as new evidence has been found that will likely increase the claimed damages.
The Northern Virginia Daily 

Martinsville City Council intends on Tuesday night to “memorialize” a unanimous decision it made at a special meeting more than a month ago: to revert from a city to a town in Henry County. That might sound bizarre, but that’s exactly what the council’s agenda for that meeting says, in the fifth item on the agenda: “Council unanimously voted on December 10, 2019, to begin the reversion process. This resolution memorializes that decision, and is requested by the City’s legal counsel for the reversion petition and litigation, Troutman Sanders.”
Martinsville Bulletin

The city of Staunton will not be a Second Amendment sanctuary, nor will its city council conduct a public hearing on the issue despite one councilwoman's multiple attempts.   For the first time on Thursday, the topic was on council's work session agenda, and Councilwoman Andrea Oakes tried to convince council to hold a public hearing. But the other six council members agreed: Enough was enough.  "We've had two very full matters from the public sessions and innumerable letters and phone calls," Councilman Jim Harrington said. "So I don't see the point of it." Oakes reiterated several times that she was simply asking for a public hearing so residents could be heard, not yet a final vote. "I'm simply asking for the city council to permit a publicized public hearing in which the citizens will have an on-the-record voice, which will then open the door for us, as a city council, to have a discussion and a vote on a citizen-driven resolution," she said.
News Leader

Tighter gun laws aren't the only thing rural Virginia counties have resisted as they've declared themselves Second Amendment "sanctuaries." They’ve also defied legal advice in some cases, ignoring warnings from county attorneys and administrators that the sanctuary resolutions are legally meaningless and dangerously confusing. The emails were obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by Everytown for Gun Safety, a group that supports gun control. The organization provided copies to The Washington Post, which independently confirmed their authenticity. The messages show local officials questioning the validity of sanctuary resolutions that were being rapidly adopted by Virginia counties, cities and towns as the new Democratic majorities in the state legislature prepared to pass sweeping gun control measures. The emails also describe confusion among residents about whether living in a so-called gun sanctuary would remove limits on how guns could be bought and sold.

The Washington Post


Charlottesville officials charged at least $1.49 million to credit cards in 2019, with the bulk of the spending occurring in the second half of the year. At least 100 of the charges would have required written permission from City Manager Tarron Richardson under a proposed, stricter credit card policy that would revise the spending limits for city employees. There’s no timetable on when Richardson’s policy will be approved and implemented. Information on spending is based on credit card statements from July to December for city-issued credit cards obtained by The Daily Progress under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.

The Daily Progress