Transparency News 4/16/18

April 16, 2018
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state & local news stories
"The messages don’t rise to the level of “recklessness” needed to defame a public official."
A Circuit Court judge on Friday tossed a lawsuit in which the former executive director of Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport accused several past and present airport employees of defaming him. Williamsburg-James City County Judge Michael E. McGinty granted a motion from a Peninsula Airport Commission attorney asking him to throw out the lawsuit by Ken Spirito, who led the airport for eight years before being fired last May. In the January lawsuit, Spirito asserted that text messages exchanged between employees early last year gave the false impression that he was destroying evidence related to a then-pending state audit of the airport. McGinty didn’t rule on whether the messages gave a false impression of Spirito’s actions. But even if they did, he said, the messages don’t rise to the level of “recklessness” needed to defame a public official such as Spirito.
Daily Press

Abingdon Town Council is having a called meeting regarding the appointment of a Freedom of Information officer on Monday. According to the meeting agenda, council will have a closed session at 5 p.m. in the Town Council chambers at the municipal building in Abingdon. Town Manager Greg Kelly said that Mayor Cathy Lowe contacted the town indicating that council “desired to have a special meeting relative to the appointment” of a Freedom of Information Act [FOIA] officer. Lowe said she called the meeting “in an effort to be transparent as possible.” “As always, any business we conduct will be in open session after the closed session [has] concluded,” Lowe said.
Bristol Herald Courier
stories of national interest
Tesla Inc.’s tense relationship with the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board boiled over Thursday with both sides accusing the other of making improper disclosures regarding a fatal accident under investigation. “It’s been clear in our conversations with the NTSB that they’re more concerned with press headlines than actually promoting safety,” the automaker said in a statement. The NTSB took the unusual step of stripping the carmaker of its role in an investigation of a fatal crash involving one of its vehicles, saying the electric-car maker failed to abide by an agreement not to disclose information while the probe was underway. Tesla responded by saying it would make “an official complaint to Congress” about the agency. “We will also be issuing a Freedom Of Information Act request to understand the reasoning behind their focus on the safest cars in America while they ignore the cars that are the least safe,” the company said.
Bloomberg Technology

Word has slipped out about a couple of key new features that are reportedly coming soon to Google's widely used email platform.  One is called "confidential mode." According to The Verge, it allows you to limit what recipients can do with the emails you send, preventing them from being forwarded, downloaded or printed. The other is even more intriguing: TechCrunch is reporting that Google is testing "self-destructing" emails that disappear after a set period of time.
quote_2.jpg"...with both sides accusing the other of making improper disclosures regarding a fatal accident under investigation."
editorials & columns
quote_3.jpg"The one thing common to all these scenarios is a lack of transparency with the public."
If only the Pentagon and President Lyndon Johnson had been truthful about what was happening on the ground in Vietnam. If only President Richard Nixon had just immediately ’fessed up the third-rate burglary that was Watergate instead of trying to cover it up. If only Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg were straightforward with its 2 billion users about what the company did with their personal data. If only. The one thing common to all these scenarios is a lack of transparency with the public. Our neighbors to the south in Danville have a police department and a chief keenly aware of how important public transparency is for law enforcement agencies. Since January, Chief Scott Booth has handled two fatal, officer-involved shootings, and done so in an exemplary manner. Contrast how the Lynchburg Police Department handles officer-involved shootings, and you’ll see a vastly different approach. We believe it is in the city’s best interest to have law enforcement that is open and transparent with the public it serves.
The News & Advance