Transparency News, 3/16/2023



March 16, 2023

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state & local news stories


This week is Sunshine Week

Today is FOI Day in Virginia. It's also VCOG's conference day in Charlottesville. Follow along on Twitter with the hashtag #VCOG23. And read the whole article below about our open government award winner.

Laura Mollo has come to be known as that “crazy FOIA lady,” and she admits she’s earned the nickname. Over the last three years, the Richlands native has filed “hundreds and hundreds” of Virginia Freedom of Information Act requests and has spent about $5,000 of her own money to pay for them.  Mollo, 39, isn’t a journalist working on a big story or a public official doing her job. She is a stay-at-home mom whose days had been happily filled with homeschooling her two children.  On Thursday, she will be honored with an award by the Virginia Coalition for Open Government. Cardinal News

A judge has ruled on the motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch on behalf of former magistrate Elizabeth Fuller, allowing part of it to proceed while denying another part. Fuller was terminated after speaking with the Times about her complaint that resulted in former bondsman Man Nguyen’s license removal. Judicial Watch, a conservative activist group, filed the lawsuit against officials in the Office of the Executive Secretary of Magistrate Service, citing violations of Fuller’s First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. OES subsequently filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, which Judge Patricia Tolliver Giles denied in part and granted in part. The court found that the lawsuit “sufficiently alleged” a First Amendment violation to survive a motion to dismiss, therefore denying the First Amendment claim in the OES motion. But it also found that OES is “entitled to qualified immunity in their personal capacities” and thus ruled that the Fourteenth Amendment portion of Fuller’s lawsuit cannot proceed.
Alexandria Times

editorials & columns

A more transparent government is more accountable to the people. Openness allows for scrutiny and oversight, and bolsters confidence in public decisions. James Madison understood this and, on his birthday, it would be refreshing for Virginia officials to acknowledge the same and to work to champion openness and the public’s right to know.
The Virginian-Pilot