Transparency News 2/25/20


February 25, 2020

Register today for VCOG's annual conference
March 20, Harrisonburg
Early-bird pricing through March 1.

Details & tickets


state & local news stories



The mayors of Virginia’s three largest cities issued a rare joint statement Monday urging the parent company of The Virginian-Pilot to reconsider moving its newsroom in April to Newport News. In the statement, Norfolk Mayor Kenny Alexander, Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer and Chesapeake Mayor Rick West said they were “saddened and dismayed” Tribune Publishing had decided to merge The Pilot’s office with that of its sister publication, the Daily Press. They said they hope the company will retain a newsroom in South Hampton Roads “to keep local reporters local and demonstrate its commitment to local news.” "Without a local newspaper connected to our community, informed citizen participation in local government will suffer,” Alexander said in the statement, noting The Pilot has been in its current building on Brambleton Avenue since 1937. The paper and its predecessors have been in Norfolk since 1865.
The Virginian-Pilot

A Washington-based developer has offered to buy and renovate the Richmond Coliseum and redevelop about 14 acres of publicly owned downtown real estate, according to an offer letter obtained by the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Douglas Development Corp. lodged the unsolicited $15 million offer on the heels of the Richmond City Council killing the $1.5 billion Navy Hill proposal, which called for demolishing the Coliseum and for a new arena and mixed-use development to rise on the same property. The Stoney administration notified the council of Douglas Development’s offer in a memo sent Monday afternoon. The notification is required under city code when the administration receives an unsolicited offer for city property. “We still have to adhere to our public input process, but this opens up some opportunity and possibly some other people will want to jump in,” 5th District representative Stephanie Lynch said.
Richmond Times-Dispatch


editorials & columns


After a deadly mudslide wiped out telephone poles, Snohomish County, Wash., used Facebook to connect a devastated community to vital resources. TikTok helps the city of Minneapolis raise awareness about the 2020 Census in a friendly, compelling way. In Maryland, teens and young adults provide marketing feedback on school safety materials via Instagram Stories. These are just a few of the thousands of examples of where digital engagement has enhanced communication in communities, helping to create the trust and transparency with which government entities have traditionally struggled. Hundreds of jurisdictions and agencies across the country have embraced social media as a customer service tool that encourages one-on-one and one-to-many engagement and, more importantly, as a way to address concerns and solve problems. Social media has become for many the standard currency of government communication. Of course, not all governments have gone all in with social media, and there can still be barriers in government that interfere with the ability to create and share creative content. This could be in the form of restrictive rules or a lack of leadership buy-in, or cumbersome, multi-step approval processes, or equipment costs and staffing issues. But is it worth the effort to overcome these roadblocks? The answer, unequivocally, is yes.
Chris Hsiung, Governing