Transparency News 3/6/19



March 6, 2019


Eventbrite - ACCESS 2019: VCOG's Open Government Conference
April 11 | Hampton University

state & local news stories




Typically, video of Charlottesville City Council meetings is posted to the city’s website the day after. On Tuesday, what instead appeared was a segment of the city’s public access television station that started with a short anti-abortion film. City spokesman Brian Wheeler said the video aired on public access television and a technical glitch inserted it into the slot for the City Council meeting.
The Daily Progress

The Planning Commission raised concerns Tuesday after learning the city was planning to incorporate land into City Yards without notifying adjacent property owners. “The city has already encroached into the neighborhood so there shouldn’t be a noticeable change to the homes,” Planning Commission Chairman Mark Loring said at Tuesday’s work session. But Loring said it doesn’t matter if the property usage stays the same. What matters is that the city wants to do something with a tax-funded facility without telling the adjacent homeowners.
The Winchester Star


stories of national interest

Three weeks after Amazon announced it would back out of plans to build a second headquarters in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo are still lobbying to woo the company back in hopes of getting the 25,000 jobs and billions in community investment that it promised. But there's no guarantee a company will deliver on its job promise in the first place. In fact, new research shows that it's not rare for companies to end up lowering their job targets after inking a tax incentives deal with the state. Most recently, global electronics maker Foxconn announced that it likely won't meet the job target for a manufacturing plant in Racine County, Wis. With Amazon Out of New York, Some Lawmakers Seek Multistate Ban on Corporate Tax Breaks Despite New Rules to Disclose Corporate Tax Breaks, Just Half of Local Governments Are States With the Strongest Job Growth in 2018 Amazon HQ2 Was an 'Unfortunate Distraction' From 'Needy Communities' Foxconn's voluntary announcement is an anomaly, though. More often than not, these broken promises aren't made public. In some cases, they're broken after the incentives are already given out. It's difficult to determine how common such changes are because they're usually only revealed in audits. But a new University of Texas at Austin study on the transparency of economic development shows how common they are.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers is refusing to release a letter written to him by former Gov. Scott Walker just before he left office in January, saying that because it was personal it is not subject to the state's open records law. Evers should be ashamed of himself for not releasing the letter, said Bill Lueders, president of the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council on Monday. "If this is how he intends to conduct himself in regard to the state's open records law, he is going to have a rough time," Lueders said. Walker, a Republican, revealed to The Associated Press in a Jan. 4 interview, just three days before he left office, that he had written the letter and left it for Evers, a Democrat. The AP filed an open records request with Evers for the letter on Jan. 11, one week into his term as governor.






editorials & columns



THE CITY OF Portsmouth has for decades dreamed of ways to reimagine and revitalize its downtown area to make better use of its valuable waterside land. More than ever, the idea of a revitalized, redeveloped downtown — the waterfront, in particular — holds tremendous appeal. And now it appears the city may be on the cusp of following through, an undertaking that would effect profound change for that community.  [A] proposal, prepared by Virginia Beach developer Armada Hoffler, would involve the construction of new municipal buildings elsewhere, freeing up the waterfront land for residential and commercial development.   Trouble is, the city has already started off on the wrong foot with this project.  Officials have been in discussions since May with Armada Hoffler, but there is concern that not enough has unfolded in full view of the public. Documents were posted to an obscure part of the city’s website, and only a legal notice posted in February cued citizens in to the advance stage of these negotiations.   So that led to the uncomfortable experience of the City Council voting last week to proceed with the project even as speakers lined up to ask for more details about what officials were pursuing — and what potential cost taxpayers might be expected to foot.  
The Virginian-Pilot