Transparency News, 3/17/21


 March 17, 2021
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sunshine week
It's Sunshine Week and VCOG's making the most of working from home with a series of short podcasts to update you on the recently concluded General Assembly. We'll look at how VCOG approaches each session, reviews the bills we followed that did and didn't pass, and we'll take a up-close look at one bill that went our way, and one that did not.
Today's episode: The bills VCOG followed that did not pass

The Sunshine Week edition of the NFOIC Newsletter, featuring a link to a special report: States of Denial. The greatest threats to government transparency today are continued secrecy provisions added to state public record laws, particularly exemptions intended to protect personal privacy and police information. That’s according to open government advocates affiliated with the National Freedom of Information Coalition.  Other threats to transparency include the lack of adequate enforcement for agencies that violate open records laws, general hostility by government officials toward the laws, and exorbitant fees that prevent average citizens from accessing the records they are entitled to. You'll also get a snapshot of VCOG and organizations like it in other states: how they're organized and what services they provide.
state and local news
Albemarle County did not hold a single virtual meeting in 2019. In 2020, the county held 255 meetings via the internet as the pandemic moved the public’s business online. Throughout much of 2020, people in Central Virginia have been able to watch or listen to local government meetings from their homes or wherever they have access to the internet. As a result, more people are engaging with local government than ever before. Before the pandemic, many local public meetings were only available in-person or through meeting minutes.
The Daily Progress

More than a year after his indictment, it appears a former Dayton town manager and one-time town mayoral candidate will finally get his day in court. John Crim, 74, was indicted on Feb. 18, 2020, on two felony counts of computer trespassing. He faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted. He’s accused of illegally logging into town email accounts. Prosecutors claim Crim logged into town email accounts in June 2018, years after he left his position as town manager and while he was a candidate for mayor. They say it appears Crim was looking for emails that would reveal that the police department was told to lay off on issuing traffic tickets during tourist season.
Daily News Record


editorials & opinion
Democrats are doing a very good job creating — and then ignoring — a scandal that has the potential to not just bring about a change in party in the governor’s mansion but also endanger the Democratic majority in the House of Delegates as well. Northam has called for an investigation, but Democrats are far too complacent about this for their own political good. The danger for them: Those suburban voters we talked about may be quite fine with all the social justice measures the Democratic-controlled General Assembly has passed — but may still not been too happy to hear about cop killers getting released early. Or a bunch of killers getting released early, and without the law being followed. 
The Roanoke Times