Transparency News, 2/12/21


 February 12, 2021
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state & local news stories
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Del. David Reid has introduced a budget amendment to essentially put back in something that was originally in another bill but then taken out. It would require universities to post on their websites contact information for each board member, including email addresses.

The King William Board of Supervisors made several motions at a special meeting Wednesday night to take the necessary steps to throw out the 2021 property reassessment and start over after finding inconsistencies within the reported values and hearing from citizens. First, the board unanimously voted to extend the assessment by 90 days in order to close any claims that the assessment is complete. Following the motion, the board unanimously voted to disband the Board of Equalization which had begun hearing appeals in October. Lastly, the board initiated staff to begin advertising notice of the board’s intent to amend the ordinance to change the date of the assessment from Jan. 1, 2021, to 2023, — which will result in a public comment period.
Tidewater Review

To close out Marian Bragg v the Board of Supervisors of Rappahannock County (Bragg I), the county will issue a check to Bragg for $6,054, the amount awarded by Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey W. Parker after a two-day trial in February 2020.  For Bragg II, the county’s litigation insurance agency has written a check for $11,946 payable to Bragg’s attorney in both cases, David Konick. County Attorney Art Goff pointed out that the payment for Bragg II has “nothing to do with taxpayer money except for the premiums we once paid” to the insurance company. (The Board did not have such insurance when the Bragg I lawsuit was filed.) Parrish drew the board’s attention to a clause in the agreement that applies to both cases: “Nothing in this Agreement shall be construed as an admission of a violation of the FOIA by the Board or any other defendant, and any such violation is expressly denied by the Board and the other defendants.” Jackson Supervisor Ron Frazier took exception to that, insisting: “The court did find that this board violated parts of FOIA [in Bragg I],” before then voting with the other members to accept the agreement.
Rappahannock News
stories from around the country

For the seven months Michale Pack ran the U.S. Agency for Global Media, no specialized work visas or visa extensions were granted. The move sent dozens of full-time Voice of Amercia contractors scrambling to figure out where else they could live and work during a pandemic. The rationale developed by Pack and other political officials appointed by the Trump administration was impractical at a news service that broadcasts overseas in 47 languages, VOA veterans say.The correspondence is the fullest-known rationale for the agency's rejection of or refusal to act on scores of visa extension requests. It was released to NPR under the Freedom of Information Act. And it contradicts the statement USAGM officials gave NPR back in July, which said, "to improve agency management and protect U.S. national security, it is imperative to determine that hiring authorities and personnel practices are not misused."

A federal judge on Wednesday ended a bitter legal dispute over court records between Prince George’s (Maryland) County and a group of Black and Hispanic police officers, ruling that an expert report detailing allegations of racism within the police department must be unsealed and made available to the public. U.S. District Judge Theodore D. Chuang chastised the county for trying to shield the information and said there is a compelling public interest in releasing the records because of the nature of the allegations facing the department in the lawsuit.
The Washington Post