Transparency News 3/6/14

Thursday, March 6, 2014
State and Local Stories


The National Governors Association convention was fast approaching, promising an important stage for her politically ascendant husband. Organizers were pressing Gov. Bob McDonnell for details on his wife’s part of the agenda, and he felt she was being distracted. A series of emails from late 2011 to early 2012, obtained by the Associated Press, show that nearly halfway into Mr. McDonnell’s term, his wife was struggling with the position into which she’d been thrust. A senior aide overheard the governor tell first lady Maureen McDonnell that “he needed her to make some decisions on NGA” and that her team should “find ways to take stress off of her.”
Washington Times

After less than two years in the position, Amherst County’s Administrator Clarence Monday will retire effective July 1. He said he based his decision to retire on family considerations: despite purchasing a home in Amherst County, his family continues to reside in Martinville. His departure will be one more on a growing list of short-term administrators, which began in 2009 with the forced resignation of Rodney Taylor. In 2011, the board accepted the resignation, effective immediately, of administrator Lee Lintecum. Following a short stint by interim county administrator Steve Crosby, Monday assumed the role in January 2012. Board chairman Don Kidd congratulated Monday for his service. “I’m a little envious to be your age and to be able to retire fully vested for 30 years working for the Virginia Retirement System,” Kidd said. Speaking during the citizen’s comment period, Amherst resident Eldon Cox had concerns about the high turnover in the county administrator’s office.
New Era Progress

The investigation into BVU Authority’s finances has been wide-ranging, but should wrap up next month, the investigator said Wednesday. The Washington County Sheriff’s Office began reviewing financial records at the utilities provider last October. It began as a review of credit-card spending, according to senior Detective James Blevins. The offices of the sheriff and commonwealth’s attorney got involved at the request of board member Doug Fleenor, a Bristol, Va., attorney who expressed concern after reviewing some of the expenditures. His request came soon after the abrupt resignation of former President and CEO Wes Rosenbalm in late September. At that time, a divided BVU board of directors approved a $270,000 severance package and agreed to forgive the approximately $20,000 balance of a loan that Rosenbalm had through an employee loan program. “It’s one thing to have a credit card for a work necessity. I can understand that. I understand if someone is taking a trip on BVU business,” Fleenor said. “What I can’t understand is multiple charges to restaurants around this area. BVU rate-payers do not need to pay food bills for BVU employees unless it is BVU-related business and that needs to be narrowed down.”
Herald Courier

Loudoun County supervisors were none too pleased to receive a letter yesterday from School Board Chairman Eric Hornberger telling them the School Board will not respond to the supervisors' request for more-detailed information about the Loudoun County Public Schools adopted budget. Hornberger's letter, which supervisors derided during a Wednesday night meeting, adds extra hostility between the two governing bodies three days before they're scheduled to meet to discuss the school system's fiscal 2015 budget. The letter also questions whether the Board of Supervisors has the statutory authority to ask for “information about what programmatic needs and requirements could be fulfilled or not fulfilled within the funding provided to the schools under the county administrator's proposal” – verbiage lifted from a February request from Board of Supervisors Chairman Scott York (R-At Large) to the School Board.
Loudoun Times-Mirror

Dumfries Community Service Director Cydny Neville handed in her resignation just as she was about to get fired. Now, she’s running for a seat on the town council. Neville launched a Facebook page entitled “Cydny A. Neville for Dumfries Town Council” on Feb. 24, about a week after handing in her resignation letter. Neville said she submitted her letter to town officials on Feb. 19. Town officials say they sent her a termination letter on Feb. 18. Neville says she never received it.

National Stories

The Ohio Attorney General argued against its own election-related speech law in a brief filed in the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday. In Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether two organizations can challenge an Ohio law that makes it a crime to knowingly make false statements about a candidate for office or ballot proposition. Rather than defend the law, the Ohio Attorney General admitted it “raise[s] a number of potential constitutional issues.” The Ohio Attorney General’s friend-of-the-court brief noted that candidates can easily file a claim under the law against a speaker and then withdraw the complaint after the election, forcing the speaker into silence even if the speech was true. The Ohio Attorney General urged the Court to rule that the issue was “ripe” for review and that the organizations have standing to challenge the statute.
Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

Federal prosecutors in Texas have moved to drop 11 of 12 fraud charges against Barrett Brown, an Internet activist and occasional columnist. Brown was originally charged with several crimes afterposting a hyperlink to materials obtained from a hacked computer in a public Internet chat room. Brown linked to a website that included 860,000 email addresses and the credit card information of more than 60,000 people. However, as laid out in a legal memorandum, Brown’s attorneys believed the hyperlink charges were too vague, were in violation of his First Amendment right to free speech, and would have a chilling effect on Internet activity.
Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

A Philadelphia judge has ordered the owners of to disclose the identity of an anonymous poster who allegedly called city International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 98, leader John Dougherty a "pedophile" in the comments section of an online article.
The Legal Intelligencer