Transparency News 2/28/13

Thursday, February 28, 2013

State and Local Stories

Gawker: Legislators and gun rights advocates get really angry whenever nosy reporters try to use public records laws to find out who's packing heat. When the Westchester Journal News published an online map of local residents with handgun licenses last year, the paper was excoriated by the NRA and its allies; it eventually took the map down. When Gawker published a similar list—without addresses—of New York City handgun permit-holders last month, we were attacked by Fox News and received multiple death threats. And when the editor of the North Carolina Cherokee Scout dared to request—not publish, but merely request—similar data from his local sheriff, he was forced to apologize and resign; he plans to leave the state entirely. All of which makes it more surprising that, according to a Gawker search of public records, gun-rights groups—including the National Rifle Association—have been accessing the same state gun-permit data (including in Virginia) for years to help their fundraising and recruitment efforts.

Virginian-Pilot: Government transparency is a popular phrase with politicians, even if their actions don't always match the rhetoric. Consider this: While legislators at the General Assembly ostensibly did the people's business this winter in Richmond, many of their bills effectively restricted the right to obtain government records. The Assembly approved several bills to peel away provisions of Virginia's Freedom of Information Act that provide access to such documents.

Daily Press: An outside accounting firm reported to the City Council Wednesday that an undercover cigarette firm run by the Police Division failed to properly monitor hundreds of thousands of dollars in expenditures.