Transparency News 4/4/19



April 4, 2019


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

state & local news stories




People who can’t make council meetings in Portsmouth can usually watch a video of everything they missed on the city’s YouTube page as soon as the next day. But that didn’t happen last week after hundreds of furious residents packed chambers to capacity and demanded to know whether former police chief Tonya Chapman was pushed out for fighting institutional racism within her ranks. That video was censored. Officials haven’t said why staff sliced out about five minutes public comment from the recording, but speaker Barry Randall's comments included the N-word and the word “ass” amid allegations that council members orchestrated Chapman's firing.
The Virginian-Pilot

Charlottesville Voter Registrar Rosanna Bencoach plans to step down in July. The decision came about the same time that the Electoral Board decided it would seek applicants for the position and Bencoach would have needed to reapply for the job. The board decided in the winter to hold an open application process for the position, according to members and meeting minutes. Board secretary Jim Nix declined to discuss the specific reasons for the board’s decision because it involved personnel. He mentioned a “performance appraisal” and unspecified “issues,” but he also said the board told Bencoach it would welcome her application. Board member Jon Bright declined to comment. Since August, the board has held several closed sessions to discuss personnel and has openly talked about issues with elections and the office, according to meeting minutes. In August, the board held a “prolonged discussion” on several issues, including “office morale,” the minutes say.
The Daily Progress

Warren County Supervisors Chairman Dan Murray commenced a Tuesday meeting with a moment of silence during which he asked those in attendance to “say a prayer for the community that we bring back the peace and tranquility to this beautiful location.” The prayer request came a week after the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority filed a $17 million civil lawsuit against nine defendants over alleged embezzlement. The EDA was an ongoing theme throughout the meeting. “We welcome this opportunity as a way to ensure to the public that county operations do not include any misfeasance or malfeasance. We welcome full transparency,” he said. Murray added that due to the advice of legal counsel, “we have not been allowed to fully disclose what appears to be gross fraud.” He said this confidentiality must continue for there to be a fair trial.
The Northern Virginia Daily


stories of national interest

New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority has faced its greatest challenge in a generation as officials have struggled to modernize New York City’s failing subway. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has responded by promising bold solutions to fix the troubled agency and regain the trust of angry riders. And even though state leaders have vowed more transparency, the authority’s new chairman — among the most powerful positions in New York government — was confirmed by the State Senate around 2 a.m. on Monday when most New Yorkers were asleep.
New York Times






editorials & columns



FOIA is the law. Government must spend time complying with this law, just like it must comply with laws on stormwater management, the budgeting process, government purchasing, inspecting food service establishments, etc., etc. So to say that time spent complying with the law is wasted time, is to say that complying with other laws is simlarly wasted time. The implication that the citizen is using more than his/her fair share of the county's resources may be fair game, but I wonder if they feel the same way about the individual building owner who needs multiple inspections to check on fixes, or the individual who has needed multiple emergency services because of an unpredictable medical condition. Or what about the person who uses the computers in the library more than anyone else?
Megan Rhyne, VCOG Blog