Transparency News 4/9/15

Thursday, April 9, 2015


State and Local Stories

A list of Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s proposed amendments and vetoes in preparation for the April 15 Reconvened Session.
Division of Legislative Services

Mecklenburg County is facing a $250,000 bill to purchase new voting machines if the State Board of Elections accepts the recommendations of an independent audit report that has deemed the current models vulnerable to tampering. The findings by a federally accredited lab — Pro V&V, of Huntsville, Ala., — and the state’s information technology agency suggest that the WinVote machines used here are subject to security vulnerabilities and risks. Chief among the recommendations from Pro V&V is “that these machines be removed from use as quickly as possible.” The state Board of Elections will decide at a public hearing on April 14 whether to accept the recommendation.
Mecklenburg Sun

The University of Virginia's faculty salaries were recently made public by the University for the 2014-15 fiscal year and reflects last year’s policy to increase salaries across the board. The Board of Visitors initiated a plan February 2013 to increase faculty salaries in an attempt to make the University more competitive against peer institutions in the American Association of Universities. A merit-based increase of 4.75 percent was approved in order to achieve that goal, and the policy was implemented last October. While the data reveals salary averages for most of the University’s various schools far outstripped the 4.75 percent increase — e.g. the Commerce School salaries increased 14 percent — the Medical School fell short of the target with an increase of 4.6 percent.
Cavalier Daily

National Stories

A Superior Court judge has ruled for the first time that the state Legislature can be sued for access to public records under the California constitution. Judge Michael Kenny made the ruling Friday in Sacramento Superior Court, rejecting the Legislature's effort to toss out part of a lawsuit brought by Los Angeles and Bay Area newspapers for the calendars of former Sens. Ronald Calderon and Leland Yee, who face separate federal corruption prosecutions. Duffy Carolan, a lawyer for the Bay Area News Group and the Los Angeles News Group, said the ruling was significant because it provides another means to challenge exemptions the Legislature has relied on to protect its records.
Fresno Bee

The world learned the jury’s decision in the Boston Marathon bombing case from TV anchors and reporters who tried their best to describe the scene in the courtroom and quickly pass along verdicts on 33 counts. Which begs the question: Why can’t you see your government’s court system in action for yourself? Despite multiple test periods and studies by federal and state courts, all of which have ended with a recommendation to allow cameras in at least some proceedings, the federal judiciary keeps the doors closed to cameras. You might think the ban on cameras in the courtroom is linked to some big criminal proceeding, like the O.J. Simpson trial. But the courts have shunned TV cameras ever since it was possible to get them into the courtroom. 


We were exercising our right to lobby our state senators. Or maybe we were trying to exorcize our demons. In any case, our motley crew was fueling up with coffee and doughnuts at the Sierra Club’s downtown office, where the groups opposing Dominion’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline were meeting. At the General Assembly, the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee was taking up two bills in the afternoon, and our job was to lobby the senators who would be voting for the bills once they came out of committee. If I’d known what that really meant when I got up that morning, I might have just stayed in bed. For we didn’t know that there might not even be a vote, that the bills might die in committee that day. We didn’t know what time the committee would meet. We didn’t know that instead of meeting with our senators as scheduled in their plush offices with welcoming leather armchairs and couches, we’d be meeting with their gatekeepers in hallways and back offices. We didn’t know that the standard answer to any question would be, “The senator is still in the courts committee right now.” Despite my sense of hopelessness, this didn’t feel like it was China, either. I felt no fear. I felt no risk. It didn’t occur to me that my face might be caught on camera or that I might be tracked afterward.
Kayla Mills, Style Weekly