Transparency News 4/13/18

April 13, 2018
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state & local news stories
"...This is where I might include a pull quote or a . . . ?"
In the past two years, the dean of the UMW College of Business has received 12 student complaints about their professors according to a Freedom of Information Act request. Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, also known as FERPA, these records are private and therefore students who are not directly involved cannot know the outcomes of the complaints. Because of FERPA, other students to whom these cases might be relevant are not privy to the information and the nature of the complaints or even the professors involved. Students have voiced frustration about this policy, saying it inhibits them from making informed choices about which professors to take or whether anyone responded to these complaints. Others say that they understand the privacy concerns involved but still wish they had the opportunity for better understanding what happened, even if the records were redacted.
The Blue & Gray Press

Newport News’ second public hearing over the budget went one notch up on Thursday after Vice Mayor Tina Vick called out a school board member who spoke during the public comment period. Member Douglas Brown said the city needs to fund the School Board’s $3 million request in new funding for 4 percent raises. Once he finished, Vick gestured for permission to respond. She asked Brown why this is the first time she is hearing from him if he has been on the board. She called him out for airing concerns over the budget on social media. “And I’ll continue to take a stand,” Vick said. “I’m not just placing blame, I’m telling the truth.” Brown said he talked with her several times about raises, which she refuted later in the meeting. This exchange, which earned many boos, was denounced by at least a dozen more people who were there to advocate for teacher raises and other issues. Several dozen showed up to the meeting.
Daily Press
stories of national interest
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has used four separate agency email addresses since taking office, according to Senate Democrats and an EPA official, prompting concerns among agency lawyers that the EPA has not disclosed all the documents it would normally release to the public under federal records requests.
The Washington Post
editorials & columns
"Would that every police department in America followed Danville’s lead in moments like these."
How do we know all this just days after incident? Because the Danville Police Department and Chief Booth, continuing a 14-year-old policy of former Chief Broadfoot, released on Wednesday the names of the officers involved within three days of the shooting, in addition to releasing on Tuesday body-cam footage of the encounter. Booth, and Broadfoot before him, know that the public’s trust in its police is only as strong as the last major incident and that the best way to preserve that trust is to be as open as possible as quickly as possible with the public. On Sunday and Monday following the shooting, while police were pulling together the facts, rumors — as they always do — swirled.  But behind the scenes Monday and Tuesday, Chief Booth was meeting with the family, ministers and other concerned citizens, showing them the body-cam footage and trying to address their concerns and answer their questions. Open, forthright and honest: That’s how Chief Booth and his department have been with the Jones family at this horrific time and with the public the department serves and protects. Would that every police department in America followed Danville’s lead in moments like these.
Register & Bee

IT IS open to debate whether the $8.5 billion Maryland has offered to spend to attract Amazon to locate its second headquarters in the state would bring a good return on investment. But, to the credit of Maryland lawmakers, at least the pros and cons of this lucrative incentive package were the subject of an open debate. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of officials in the District and Virginia, who have cloaked details of their offers to the tech giant in secrecy. As part of an effort to lure Amazon to a site in Montgomery County, the Maryland legislature gave bipartisan approval to a package proposed by Gov. Larry Hogan (R) of credits, incentives and grants. The incentives are the largest ever offered in Maryland and make up the most lucrative of the bids for HQ2 that have become public. “Once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” is how proponents framed the chance to land 50,000 jobs, while critics saw a “race to the bottom” by jurisdictions seeking to outdo each other with bigger breaks for the giant company. (Amazon chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos owns The Washington Post.)
The Washington Post