Transparency News, 1/7/21


 January 7, 2021
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state & local news stories
"Ahmad submitted a FOIA request to U of M for access to the 10 sealed boxes."
In 2016, Virginia-based immigration lawyer Hassan Ahmad sent the University of Michigan a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to access sealed papers donated to the university by John Tanton, a prominent anti-immigration activist from Michigan.  But the public university denied the request until 2035. After years of lower court battles and lawsuits, the issue went before the Michigan Supreme Court Wednesday. Ahmad submitted a FOIA request to U of M for access to the 10 sealed boxes, thinking that it wouldn’t turn into much of an issue, he said. According to the university’s library, the sealed boxes contain FAIR meeting minutes dating back to 1979, nine folders labelled ‘Pioneer Fund,’ which is a group that promotes eugenics, folders on state-specific immigration policies, information on a number of anti-immigration organizations and Tanton’s private correspondences.
Virginia Mercury

After months of meeting in a larger venue because of concerns about the pandemic, King George County is moving back to its original location: the board room of the Revercomb Building in the county office building. There wasn’t a lot of discussion about the move on Tuesday, when the board organized for the new year. Supervisor Richard Granger suggested the board still use the larger venue—King George High School—if “we have meetings we know will be heavily attended.” Supervisor Annie Cupka agreed that the high school should be reserved for public hearings or other matters that might draw a large crowd. Both staff members who want to make presentations and residents interested in viewing the meeting can do so remotely.
The Free Lance-Star

At the Prince William County School Board’s first meeting of the year Wednesday night, Superintendent Steve Walts announced a new return-to-classrooms plan that would bring second- and third-graders back as expected next week, but delay the return of older students until after spring break. More than eight hours into the meeting, at 2:15 a.m. Thursday, school board members decided to call a special meeting to discuss Walts’ proposal, with the aim to bring older students back sooner. The special meeting will be Jan. 12 at 5:30 p.m.
stories from around the country
“If you’re having trouble with voting, please put on your hazard lights.”
New Hampshire’s House of Representatives convened on Wednesday morning in a parking lot, whipped by an icy wind and drowned out by occasional passing freight trains, in a legislative improvisation worthy of Rube Goldberg. This was drive-in democracy: Three hundred and fifty-seven state representatives sat in idling cars, tuning into a shared radio frequency. When members expressed a desire to speak, via text message, House staff zipped across the lot in golf carts with microphones affixed to long booms, to stick into their car windows. “If you’re having trouble with voting, please put on your hazard lights,” said the clerk of the House, Paul C. Smith, who stood on a platform, beneath a stream of passing traffic. 
The New York Times