Transparency News, 3/19/21


 March 19, 2021
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state & local news


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.
Our final episode: When bills go sideways

While the higher education industry leans on its advocacy groups for sway in Washington, most big schools also directly lobby Congress themselves. Hundreds of schools shelled out big money on lobbying in 2020, including teams competing in the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament. Every year, OpenSecrets compiles lobbying spending by every team’s school for the prestigious K Street Classic. (UVA is the only Virginia school in the Classic to make it to the Sweet Sixteen.)

The board responsible for the Hampton Roads Regional Jail met Wednesday, days after two sheriffs announced they’re pulling all of their inmates out of the institution. But if board members talked about that or many of the jail’s other problems — which include continuing inmate deaths — they did it in secret. At the start of the meeting, a board member read aloud the justifications for a closed session, citing a need to consult with the board’s lawyer on specific legal issues and litigation. But when they returned to open session more than two hours later, it was business as usual. No one mentioned the string of four deaths there last month or how an outside group recently pulled its accreditation of the facility. Nor was there any public discussion of the Norfolk and Chesapeake sheriffs’ decision last week to pull all of their inmates from the regional jail because of a severe staffing shortage.
The Virginian-Pilot

The Portsmouth City Council voted to appoint Angel Jones as city manager Thursday night in a 4-3 vote — a split decision reflective of an unpredictable hiring process marked by surprise votes, leaked finalists, public demonstrations, refusals to participate in an interview and scrutiny of candidates on social media. Mayor Shannon Glover and interim City Attorney Burle Stromberg will negotiate other elements of the contract, which the council will have to approve. Jones is slated to start work April 12 with a salary of $200,000. Glover confirmed Monday that Jones was the council’s top choice, but at Thursday’s meeting, it soon became clear not everyone on the council wanted to vote.
The Virginian-Pilot