Transparency News 2/18/14

Tuesday, February 18, 2014
State and Local Stories

Elected members of the Virginia General Assembly make roughly $18,000 a year. It's a good thing most of them have other money coming in.

To June Forte, writing couldn’t be more important to the fabric of Virginia. “Just think, Virginians wrote the country into existence,” she said. To foster appreciation of that heritage and celebrate modern-day Virginia writing, Prince William County this spring will introduce what Forte thinks is the first county-level writer laureate program in the state. Forte — a writer, retired Pentagon communications specialist and Northern Virginia Community College communications instructor — chairs the project’s steering committee.
Washington Post

Presidents' Day was marked at James Madison's Montpelier with the opening of the fourth U.S. president's refurnished library. With more than 4,000 volumes, Madison's library was widely recognized as one of the most significant in America. The opening of library followed a Presidents' Day weekend of specialty tours of the mansion and its furnishings.
News & Advance

The Prince William County school division’s debacle over digging up an old graveyard at the site the county’s newest high school (Their defense: We didn’t technically do anything wrong) has raised the ire of a local lawmaker. Del. Rich Anderson, R-51st, wants state law changed to make it more difficult for public agencies to uproot our dead ancestors without public notice. Anderson’s “interment” bill, a direct result of the public outcry over county school officials’ quiet decision to move century-old family graves near Va. 234 and Hoadly Road – would require public input and higher accountability. And that’s a good thing.
Inside NOVA

An effort to bring recognition to the graves of enslaved Virginians was rejected Monday by a House subcommittee. The measure, sponsored by Del. Robert G. Marshall, R-Prince William, would have created a commission to oversee the work of trying to identify and mark the graves of Virginians who were enslaved at the time of their deaths. It also provided for financial assistance to memorial associations caring for the graves, similar to the state’s provisions for caring for Revolutionary War and Confederate cemeteries and graves.

National Stories

Next time you listen to a Bob Marley channel on Pandora, the Internet radio service may peg you as likely to vote for a Democrat. The Oakland, Calif., company plans to roll out a new advertising service this week that would enable candidates and political organizations to target the majority of its 73 million active monthly Pandora listeners based on its sense of their political leanings. How can it do this? The company matches election results with subscribers' musical preferences by ZIP Code. Then, it labels individual users based on their musical tastes and whether those artists are more frequently listened to in Democratic or Republican areas.
Fox News


More than two centuries ago, the likes of Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and James Monroe established the cornerstones of this great commonwealth and the United States. They built this commonwealth and nation understanding a fundamental principle — that without transparent and open government accountable to the people, those people cannot be free. But today, many of Virginia’s elected leaders heap shame upon themselves and this commonwealth’s legacy by oppressing those very principles of openness and transparency for which those who strode the same halls before them risked their lives. They all say they want transparency in government, and there are a few who honestly fight for it.
Kathryn Watson, Virginia Bureau

The government's overclassification problem has turned its redaction efforts into a farce. When not deploying questionable exceptions to avoid returning responsive documents to FOIA requests, government agencies are cranking out amateurishly redacted pages that leave info exposed in one response and covered up in the next. No wonder they fear the "mosaic" approach to FOIA requests. If they'd just come up with some meaningful redaction guidelines, they could avoid this.