Transparency News, 3/23/21


 March 23, 2021
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The Office of the State Inspector General fired the investigator who found misconduct at the Virginia Parole Board and was still investigating this year. Jennifer A. Moschetti, who was terminated Monday, was the lead investigator on at least nine reports last year that found violations of law and policy, including the parole board freeing convicted killers without first reaching out to victim’s families as required by law. Moschetti was investigating more allegations of wrongdoing at the parole board; the status of those investigations is unclear. Inspector General Michael Westfall declined an interview request but offered a statement through a spokeswoman: “The Office of the State Inspector General (OSIG) models integrity, trust and ethical behavior and demonstrates the highest standards of honesty, respect and accountability.” No one publicly stated the reasons for the firing, but Moschetti had acknowledged she had provided OSIG records to lawmakers.
Richmond Times-Dispatch
“As of today, the only government employee receiving any consequences in the parole board investigation is now the investigator herself,” said Tim Anderson, Moschetti's lawyer and a lawyer involved in several lawsuits against Democratic officials who is running for the House of Delegates this year as a Republican. Clark Mercer, Northam’s chief of staff, publicly accused Moschetti of bias and faulted her for hiring an unabashedly partisan lawyer. Anderson had argued Moschetti should be protected under Virginia’s whistleblower law, meant to allow employees to report wrongdoing without fear of retaliation. Northam officials had suggested unauthorized disclosures from the inspector general’s office could potentially impact future investigations by the agency, preventing others from coming forward with information for fear it could be leaked.
Virginia Mercury

Changes finally could be coming as to how Charlottesville city councilors can use city-issued credit cards and be reimbursed for expenses. The city’s current credit card policy was most recently questioned in February, when Mayor Nikuyah Walker said on Facebook that she was being investigated for using her city-issued credit card to pay for gift cards for community members and making a donation to a City Council meeting presenter’s nonprofit. Shortly after Walker’s Facebook post, the council held a closed session on the topic and later decided to schedule the work session.With the way the expenditures currently work, Councilor Sena Magill said, city staffers, who answer to the council, are the checks and balances.
The Daily Progress

Alexandria is gradually ironing out the details for what could become a police review board that reshapes some of the community engagement with local law enforcement. The proposed Community Policing Review Board will be a “civilian body may receive, investigate and issue findings on complaints from civilians regarding conduct of law-enforcement officers and civilian employees of a law enforcement agency serving under local authority,” according to the city website. One of the largest recurring questions remains how the Community Policing Review Board will handle confidentiality. The ordinance includes a clause that material considered confidential for Freedom of Information Act can be reviewed in closed session by the Board. Councilwoman Del Pepper was concerned that public documents could be used to identify individuals, even if the names are obscured. The City Attorney noted that the reports would take steps to avoid including any personally identifiable information.

The final investigation summary report on the mass shooting at the city Municipal Center in May 2019 will be released this week. The summary report will be released after noon on Wednesday, according to a Monday morning email from City Manager Patrick Duhaney to various city departments. This week's release of the report comes about 11 months after Acting City Manager Tom Leahy released the police department’s Interim Investigative Executive Summary of the mass shooting. In that report, officials discussed the "who, what, where, when and how" of the shooting, but said they still did not know the "why." They said at the time that it may never be known. They also said the full completed report from the Virginia Beach Police Department would not be released to the public.

Following a nationwide search, the Prince William County School Board will announce a new superintendent Wednesday. The school division sought community input in its choice, creating a survey that led to a profile of the leadership characteristics for the next superintendent. Schools spokeswoman Diana Gulotta said the school board is keeping the details about the new school leader confidential until the school board meeting.

Winchester City Council’s recently revived committee system stumbled out of the starting block. Council now intends to address the issues that raised questions about the scope of the committees’ authority. One committee-related practice was called into question when three committee-forwarded items were put up for final votes during council’s business meeting on March 9, even though the committee reports on those items had not yet been presented to the full council. The resolutions that created the committees do not say that council can vote on a committee recommendation before hearing a report from a committee representative. The proposed updates would make it clear the full council cannot vote on a committee recommendation until after it has been briefed on the committee’s discussion and vote regarding the measure.
The Winchester Star