Transparency News, 3/22/21


 March 22, 2021
follow us on TwitterFacebook & Instagram


state & local news stories

ICYMI, the legislative update podcasts we prepared for Sunshine Week are available any time on our Mixcloud page. There are five of them, each between 12 and 17 minutes long, and will get you up to date on legislation affecting the public's right to know.
At Tuesday night’s Frederick County School Board meeting, board member Brian Hester accused three members of the Board of Supervisors of illegally attending a meeting at a someone’s home to discuss matters related to the school division. Hester was referring to a meeting that took place on Feb. 27 at Josh and Rani Ludwig’s house. The Ludwigs had invited people to their home to learn about and discuss the school division’s use of the Deep Equity Program as part of training for its equity initiative to create a level playing field for all students. Three supervisors — Back Creek District Supervisor Shawn Graber, Red Bud District Supervisor Blaine Dunn and Shawnee Supervisor David Stegmaier — attended the gathering at the Ludwig’s home, along with several other county residents. Stegmaier said he wasn’t an active participant in the meeting. He said he just showed up to see what would be discussed and to learn more about Deep Equity, which he doesn’t support. He said he didn’t know if supervisors would be there and merely acted as an observer.
The Winchester Star

Prince William County’s Racial and Social Justice Commission is seeking a wide swath of data, although local officials have cautioned it might not be representative of the situation on the ground. Meanwhile, the commission’s most recent meeting featured tense moments, disagreements and arguments between members as the panel is establishing its structure. Thursday’s meeting started off tense after Chair Shantell Rock requested to add an item to the agenda that would set procedures for discussion on motions, limiting commissioners to two sets of three-minute comments. Gainesville Commissioner Erica Tredinnick and Coles Commissioner Charles Haddow said they did not see the proposal beforehand and didn’t think it was appropriate to add to the agenda on the spot. Human Rights Commission Executive Director Raul Torres said Robert’s Rules of Order didn’t allow discussion on such a motion, but Haddow disagreed. 
stories from around the country
 "This is an opportunity to demonstrate that cameras neither detract from the solemnity of the proceedings nor do they interfere with the court's ability to get on with its work and for the public to see what's being done in the courtroom."
Nearly two weeks into Derek Chauvin's trial in the death of George Floyd, the world has watched the vetting of dozens of prospective jurors who will consider whether the former Minneapolis police officer goes to prison. Not only is the trial historic, but so too is the fact that it can be watched by anyone with a decent internet connection — offering unprecedented access to Minnesota's courts that advocates hope could open the door for future televised sessions. The livestreaming of the trial has pushed Minnesota into a simmering national debate about televising court proceedings. Minnesota has one of the most restrictive policies in the country, permitting audio and video recordings only after a guilty plea or a guilty verdict. "This is an opportunity to demonstrate that cameras neither detract from the solemnity of the proceedings nor do they interfere with the court's ability to get on with its work and for the public to see what's being done in the courtroom," said Jane Kirtley, a lawyer and director of the Silha Center for Media Ethics and the Law at the University of Minnesota. 

A conservative watchdog group sued the District of Columbia for the autopsy report of Brian Sicknick, a Capitol Police officer who died after defending the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 siege of Congress. The Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, filed in District of Columbia Superior Court, also seeks related records about Sicknick, whose death is under investigation, but more than two months after the attack remains shrouded in mystery, as a cause of death has yet to be released. Judicial Watch, which filed the suit with the clerk of the court on Friday, said it sued after the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of the District of Columbia denied the group's Feb. 16 FOIA request for: "All records, including but not limited to autopsy reports, toxicology reports, notes, photographs, and OCME officials’ electronic communications, related to the death on Jan. 6, 2021 of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick and its related investigation."
Washington Examiner