Transparency News 2/9/18

February 9, 2018
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state & local news stories
quote_1.jpg“Anytime we can have more transparency in local government can only be a good thing,”
Two Danville city councilmen have called for meetings of the Industrial Development Authority to be recorded for public viewing. “Anytime we can have more transparency in local government can only be a good thing,” City Councilman Lee Vogler said. “This is just another step in that direction.” The seven-member IDA board arranges financing for the purchase of properties in the city to attract new industry and businesses into the city. Anytime the IDA buys property, the city enters into a moral obligation to pay for it if it’s not paid off. The IDA catches a lot of flack because of misconceptions over what it does — especially from people on Facebook, officials said.
Register & Bee

It wasn’t long ago – less than a month – that Arlington County Board Chairman Katie Cristol promised that the county government would give the public a full accounting of incentives it offers to Amazon in an effort to lure the online giant’s secondary headquarters to the county. Well, there might have been a slight adjustment in that commitment to transparency, at least for the time being. Speaking to the Arlington County Democratic Committee on Feb. 7, Cristol said the local government has signed a confidentiality agreement with Amazon. Whether that means details of incentives offered will be kept quiet for now – or kept quiet forever – remains something of an open question. In her remarks, the board chairman took a jab at leaders in Maryland, who seem to be trying to up the ante by publicly promising billions of dollars’ worth of various types of incentives to land the headquarters. Cristol termed it “silly season,” and said Arlington would not engage in “giving-away-the-farm” promises.
stories of national interest
U.S. officials don't have to provide details about proposed shipments of extremely radioactive spent commercial nuclear fuel to the country's top government nuclear research laboratory in Idaho, a federal court has ruled. The ruling was a major setback to a lawsuit filed by former Idaho Gov. Cecil Andrus, who had a long history of legal battles with the Energy Department over nuclear waste entering the state and a firm belief that residents had a right to know the agency's plans. U.S. District Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill on Tuesday ruled the agency acted properly in withholding information sought by Andrus in a Freedom of Information Act request he filed in January 2015.
ABC News

The New York Police Department overstepped its reach when it used a Cold War-era legal tactic to conceal information about whether it put two Muslim men under surveillance, a lawyer representing the men argued Tuesday before New York’s highest court. Omar Mohammedi told the seven-member Court of Appeals on Tuesday that the police department improperly invoked the federal tactic known as the Glomar response in a case involving state Freedom of Information Law requests. Assistant corporation counsel Devin Slack, representing police for New York City, contends the department was justified when it said it could “neither confirm nor deny” the records even existed in its response to a 2012 public records request related to the surveillance. “The Glomar doctrine was initiated based on national defense,” Mohammedi told the AP before the court session. “This issue should be decided by legislators, not decided by the NYPD just because they want to do this.”