Transparency News 2/21/19



February 21, 2019


Eventbrite - ACCESS 2019: VCOG's Open Government Conference
April 11 | Hampton University

state & local news stories




Do local governments hide public information? One senator is concerned about the possibility they do, and he’s moving forward with a bill to create new penalties to prevent it. Local governments often train employees on laws regarding the Freedom of Information Act — which documents are subject to public disclosure and when emails should be handed over to people making records requests. It was in one of these training sessions that Ben Tribbett says he was surprised to hear from the Fairfax County attorney’s office that deleted emails were not subject to FOIA. “The very clear inference was the best way to deal with FOIA was not to catalog what you had but it was just to delete as many things as possible.”

Three dozen people weighed in Tuesday on a new proposal being considered by the Gloucester County School Board: That transgender students can use the restroom of their “asserted gender identity” — rather than of their biological sex — in the public schools. The new rules would require, among other things, that “the student has consistently asserted” the new gender identity for at least six months. But one crucial group — the school board itself — has been decidedly quiet on the issue and has yet to say what they think of the idea. The board has not scheduled a vote on the issue. After hearing public comments for about an hour and a half Tuesday — with views running strongly against the new policy — the board’s seven members met for another hour behind closed doors. They didn’t take any action when they came out.
Daily Press

On the heels of a public hearing Tuesday night for a trash transfer station development project that Appomattox Board of Supervisors chairman Samuel Carter ranked first for “tension and emotional feelings” among citizens, county supervisors weighed in on why they voted for or against the project. Supervisor William Hogan was the only supervisor to explain his vote at the meeting Tuesday night prior to the final decision.
The News & Advance


stories of national interest

Geospatial information systems have improved emergency response during hurricanes and other natural disasters, but further adoption of the technology is needed, says the former chief information officer of Florida’s Division of Emergency Management. On StateScoop’s GIS Addressed podcast, Richard Butgereit, who is now the director of catastrophe response for the Geospatial Intelligence Center, says GIS’ lack of adoption is in fact one of the biggest challenges facing emergency management. “There’s still just a lack of adoption, a lack of belief in the power of GIS that you can see, and not enough investments in the resources and training,” Butgereit says. “[It] comes down to people are simply afraid to share data.”

Every legislative session there are efforts to limit or change the public's access to government documents and records. And this year is no different.  In the 111th Tennessee General Assembly, lawmakers have introduced a host of bills related to public records that could have an impact on residents across Tennessee. The following is an overview of some of those proposals. A new measure from Rep. Rick Tillis, R-Lewisburg, and Sen. Shane Reeves, R-Murfreesboro, would make 911 calls, recordings and transmissions confidential. Rep. London Lamar and Sen. Raumesh Akbari, both Memphis Democrats, are seeking to ensure that body camera footage remains a public record while establishing a process for such material to be used in civil litigation.  When a person gets in an accident and police are involved, for the most part there's documentation of the event. But under a bill from Rep. Jason Powell, D-Nashville, and Sen. Becky Massey, R-Knoxville, accident reports would be significantly altered to remove certain identifying information.  A bill from Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, and Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, would prohibit governmental entities from entering into confidentiality agreements regarding public records
Nashville Tennesseean