Transparency News 3/14/19



March 14, 2019


Eventbrite - ACCESS 2019: VCOG's Open Government Conference
April 11 | Hampton University
Early-bird pricing good through March 16


state & local news stories




“There are a number of actions” for which there is “not a lot of documentation,” and “we’re piecing everything together right now.”

My apologies!
Our Facebook Live event was a bust yesterday -- Facebook (and Instagram and WhatsApp) experienced outages for several hours yesterday, and of course, it coincided with our FOIA/Records tutorial. I will try again today at 12:30 on our Facebook page. If THAT doesn't work, I'll try to set up a YouTube streaming for Friday. 

Invoices for the canceled Skyline Criminal Justice Academy state that the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority spent $540,269 on the project. Plans for the academy, which was to be funded through a private investor, were announced in March 2016 with an expected July 2017 completion. That investor, whom officials declined to identify, agreed to pay up to $8 million through the EDA for construction costs on an as-needed basis. EDA Attorney Dan Whitten said the project died because rising construction costs went above that offer. Freedom of Information Act requests seeking a contract between the investor and the EDA were unsuccessful. John Anzivino, interim EDA executive director, stated in a letter that he could not provide a contract because “the requested records could not be found or do not exist.” He said having no contract is interesting, and that “there’s a lot of interesting things here.” Anzivino noted: “there are a number of actions” for which there is “not a lot of documentation,” and “we’re piecing everything together right now.”
The Northern Virginia Daily

Boones Mill’s former utilities manager has filed a complaint in federal court alleging Town Manager B.T. Fitzpatrick violated his right to free speech. James Dillon oversaw the small town’s water and wastewater systems until he was fired last summer. Court documents show the lawsuit stems from a disagreement between Fitzpatrick and Dillon about how to address an asbestos-wrapped pipe and whether to bring the problem to the town council. Fitzpatrick told Dillon he would speak to town council members about the pipe, but did not, the complaint states. Dillon was “fearful of the consequences if he disobeyed” the town manager, and filled in the hole. But he continued to press the issue. Fitzpatrick eventually told Dillon he was “forbidden” from speaking with the town council about that matter or any other. rick asked Dillon if he had anything to contribute to the agenda for a July town council meeting, and he again brought up the asbestos-wrapped pipe. Finally, Fitzpatrick fired Dillon. The complaint alleges the town manager said, “I am going to teach you to keep your mouth shut.”
The Roanoke Times

At least two young men have been arrested in connection with a gruesome homicide discovered early Saturday in southern Stafford County, but authorities Wednesday declined to discuss the arrests or release the identity of the victim. Sheriff’s spokeswoman Amanda Vicinanzo said Wednesday evening that she was not at liberty to discuss the case. But she acknowledged that the Sheriff’s Office knew of no other homicides in Stafford on Saturday, the offense date listed for both Castillo–Rivera and Rodriquez–Flores.
The Free Lance-Star

Arguments over whether Charlottesville city councilors have immunity in a lawsuit regarding their votes to remove two Confederate statues again dominated a motions hearing Wednesday in Charlottesville Circuit Court. The lawsuit was filed by the Monument Fund in March 2017, claiming the City Council violated a state code section that bans the removal of war memorials when it voted in 2016 to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee. The suit was later amended to also include the city’s statue of fellow Confederate Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.  Circuit Judge Richard E. Moore previously has indicated he believes the state code does not provide statutory immunity for the councilors and that they likely can be held individually liable for their votes.
The Daily Progress


stories of national interest

The Justice Department’s Office of Information Policy believes fiscal 2018 will mark yet another record year for the volume of new Freedom of Information Act requests filed by the public. Justice OIP Director Melanie Ann Pustay, speaking Monday at an agency kick-off event for Sunshine Week, said the volume of requests from fiscal 2018 was “well on-pace” to exceed the previous year. “We predict now that we will have, yet again, record high numbers of requests received and processed across the government,” Pustay said.
Federal News Network

Modified versions of bills to subject the governor’s executive office and the Michigan Legislature to open records laws cleared a procedural hurdle Tuesday, setting the legislation up for a vote on the House floor. The House Government Operations Committee voted out House Bills 4007 through 4016 Tuesday morning after adopting substantial changes requested by the governor’s office and pro-transparency groups. House Bills 4007 and 4008 would subject the governor, lieutenant governor and executive staff to the state’s Freedom of Information Act, and House Bills 4009 through 4016 create a new Legislative Open Records Act for lawmakers and their offices.