Transparency News, 2/23/21


 February 23, 2021
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state & local news stories

Out of more than 100 people who applied to be Portsmouth’s city manager, council members said they’ve chosen a handful of finalists who will be interviewed this week. They include ex-councilman Danny Meeks, who lost the election for mayor last year to Shannon Glover. Councilman Mark Whitaker said he won’t participate in any interview of Meeks for city manager. In an email, Whitaker said Meeks does not have the publicly listed qualifications for the job and others chose whether to apply based on that public notice. The near-hiring of Meeks drew a strong community response, with local business owners and leaders of civil rights groups organizing a demonstration, gathering more than 500 letters against the move, questioning how it happened and calling Meeks unqualified for the job. The demonstration in downtown drew a counterprotest. Discussions at council meetings have not shed much light on how Meeks emerged as a leading candidate for city manager.
The Virginian-Pilot

Charlottesville’s city credit card use policy is so vague and its oversight so lax that the city’s top prosecutor says intentional misuse of the cards would be difficult to prove in a criminal court case. Commonwealth’s Attorney Joe Platania told City Manager Chip Boyles in a letter sent Monday that there is nearly no way to prove misuse of the cards in court because employees have not been trained on which types of charges are acceptable and which are not.
The Daily Progress

Jurisdictions in the Northern Shenandoah Valley and throughout Virginia are taking part in a risk-limiting audit (RLA) of local voting machines. Review boards in each of the commonwealth's 133 localities will check a sampling of ballots from the Nov. 6 presidential and senatorial elections to make sure local voting machines accurately recorded the results. Each review will be open to the public, but capacities will be limited in each jurisdiction due to social-distancing requirements necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The statewide RLA is not connected to the "Stop the Steal" controversy stirred by former President Donald Trump following his Nov. 6 loss to President Joe Biden, which cast suspicions upon the accuracy of ballot results across the entire country. Rather, the audit was initiated in 2018 by the Virginia Department of Elections and incorporated into state code by the General Assembly.
The Winchester Star