Transparency News, 1/8/21


 January 8, 2021
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state & local news stories

Richmond Circuit Judge Bradley Cavedo and former GOP U.S. Senate candidate Daniel Gade have reached a settlement in Cavedo’s defamation suit over Gade’s assertion in a debate with Sen. Mark Warner that Cavedo was a “racist judge.” Gade has retracted the statements he made about Cavedo during a debate with Warner at Norfolk State University. The suit asserted: “Gade also stated that Cavedo had written that ‘Black people are parasites’ who would suck billions of dollars out of our economy.’ None of these statements are true.” Gade’s campaign has said his assertions about Cavedo during the debate were based on a column Cavedo wrote for the University of Richmond student newspaper in 1977. In the signed column, Cavedo, editor of the paper’s editorial page, criticized President Jimmy Carter’s instant voter registration plan, saying it would “allow the parasites of this nation to become the dominating force in politics.” In the column, Cavedo did not specifically mention Blacks or attack the concept of desegregation. But he criticized what he called a “massive” court-imposed busing plan that he said “nearly wrecked” his high school education.
Richmond Times-Dispatch

Nearly a dozen state-run health facilities got tipped off to what were supposed to be unannounced COVID-19 protocol inspections ahead of time, according to an Office of the State Inspector General report released Thursday. An unidentified employee with the state Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services was the culprit and ended up invalidating the results. “Collusion among individual facility directors caused the COVID-19 data obtained by OSIG to be unreliable,” Virginia inspector general Michael Westfall wrote in the report. “Facility directors tampered with the process by sharing OSIG’s inspection topics and specific questions asked on-site. These acts obstructed OSIG’s efforts to gather and analyze data intended to help ensure the safety of patients and staff at the facilities.”
The Virginian-Pilot

Charlottesville Deputy City Manager Letitia Shelton has submitted her resignation as Charlottesville’s government approaches a fourth year of instability since the Unite the Right rally in 2017. Shelton’s last day will be Feb. 19, the city confirmed Thursday. The confirmation came soon after the City Council announced its second emergency meeting of the week to continue discussions around stabilizing its government. The meeting, which starts at 1 p.m. Friday, will be a closed session to discuss prospective candidates for the city manager position, a public contract and legal consultation. The council met in a closed virtual call for about six hours Wednesday as tensions build, with management in disarray and the search for a permanent leader on hold. No action was taken and no discussion occurred in open session.
The Daily Progress

A Greene County Circuit Court judge Monday sided with Greene County in a motion to quash subpoenas issued by Rapidan Service Authority (RSA) for documentation. Judge Claude Worrell Jr. said he granted the motion to quash insomuch as documents requested must be specific to the contract between Greene County Board of Supervisors and RSA regarding the reservoir project. Additionally, he ordered a protective order for both parties on classified items that may be received through the discovery that prohibits either side from commenting publicly on any information received until the court gives its permission.
Greene County Record
stories from around the country
The Florida Department of Health wants nearly $17,000 to hand over public records about the state’s coronavirus vaccine prioritization and distribution plan — a high financial barrier preventing the release of documents that could shed light on a process that’s been a confusing, bureaucratic headache. In mid-December, VICE News submitted a public records request asking for vaccine distribution-related correspondence between the state’s health department and county and city health officials, nonprofit organizations, private companies, elected officials, advisory committees, law enforcement, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over a two-and-a-half-month period. Those records, which could tell the story of the state’s vaccination rollout, may include emails, presentations, memos, and more. The state told us it has the records, but said we'd have to pay $16,982 in order to get them. The fee, the Florida Department of Health said, is for $36 per hour for 470 hours of work, plus an IT charge and a fee for “public records staff time.”

Neil Sheehan, a reporter and Pulitzer Prize-winning author who broke the story of the Pentagon Papers for The New York Times and who chronicled the deception at the heart of the Vietnam War in his epic book about the conflict, died Thursday. He was 84. As a national writer for the Times based in Washington, Sheehan was the first to obtain the Pentagon Papers, a massive history of U.S. involvement in Vietnam ordered up by the Defense Department. Daniel Ellsberg, a former consultant to the Defense Department who had previously leaked Vietnam-related documents to Sheehan, had allowed the reporter to see them.