Transparency News 3/5/13

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

State and Local Stories

Leesburg Today: Loudoun General District Court Judge Deborah C. Welsh denied Sarah Stinger’s Writ of Mandamus that accused Wayde Byard, Loudoun County Public Schools’ public information officer, and Stephen L. DeVita, the school district’s counsel, of failing to respond to her request for information, violating the Freedom of Information Act. In her ruling, Welsh cited the requirements under FOIA that allows government entities to pass along any charges to obtain information to the individual requesting the information. She said the court had no evidence that the estimated $415.70 was unreasonable. “While your request is reasonable,” Welsh added, “the School Board’s response was also reasonable.” In an interview Friday, Stinger said she has paid, with the help of donations from friends and neighbors, more than $2,000 on FOIA requests to “find answers” related to the land acquisitions. “I’m not this Looney Tunes person that they depict me as,” Stinger said. “I just question the things that they say because the documents don’t add up. The more they resist the more it makes me wonder what are they hiding.”

Daily Progress: Albemarle County Supervisor Christopher J. Dumler said Monday he won’t heed his party’s call for him to resign in the wake of his guilty plea to misdemeanor sexual battery. “It hasn’t changed anything,” Dumler said after a budget work session. “I’m looking forward to working on the budget process and working hard on behalf of the people of Scottsville.” Virginia Bureau: If the ABC show ”Scandal” ever runs out of storylines, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority has controversy on tap. MWAA — maligned for much of last year because of insider deals, cronyism and lack of transparency — will pay $90,000 a year for the services of a strategic communications firm to help rehab its tattered image. In a Request for Proposal released Wednesday, the authority said it would take bids for a year-long contract, awarded to a communications firm with expertise in “high-visibility corporate reputation issues, including reputation rehabilitation and extended media and congressional scrutiny.” Quentin Kidd, director of the Judy Ford Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University, said if MWAA is looking for outside public relations help, its perception problems are too big to handle independently. “If they feel like they have got to seek outside crisis management support, then it says they don’t feel like their internal team is giving them what they need,” he said. “I think the bigger issue is they think the problem is the message and not what they are doing. If they think what they are doing is fine and they are just not communicating it well, I think that would be a mistake.”

News & Patriot: Colonial Heights’ director of finance unveiled a plan Tuesday night that could take all local duties away from the city treasurer and shift them to his office. Treasurer Joy Moore said she was completely taken by surprise by the plan. She warned about the possibility of putting all financial dealings under one department. She said it would give one person too much control over the money and there would be no checks and balances.