Transparency News 5/13/19



May 13, 2019


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state & local news stories


State Sen. Amanda Chase, R-Chesterfield, used the Capitol Police for transportation so frequently during this year’s General Assembly session that its chief asked the House and Senate clerks to remind lawmakers about accepted procedures. Chase’s use of police for transportation was not just limited to the 47-day session. In the second half of last year, Chase’s office called Capitol Police to have them transport her several times to Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center so she could visit an aide who was in the hospital, to the Carytown business district, and for trips that were a brief walk from Capitol Square, according to records the Richmond Times-Dispatch obtained in a Freedom of Information Act request.
Richmond Times-Dispatch

When the University of California decided to walk away from negotiations with its journal publisher and push for more open-access publishing, research librarians in Virginia paid attention. “We’re definitely vigorously exploring other options and models,” said John Unsworth, the University of Virginia’s dean of libraries. Efficient and democratic access to recent research is the heart of university libraries. So-called “Big Deals” by several major vendors in the country bundle lots of journal subscriptions as a way to get access to more content for less money. But since 2000, costs for journals have outpaced both inflation and library budgets, according to research from the American Libraries Association, and costs are eating larger and larger shares of university budgets.
The Daily Progress

legal showdown looms over the fate of the Petersburg treasurer’s powers after the City Council narrowly approved a measure this month to strip duties from the elected official’s department. By a 4-3 vote, the council on Tuesday approved an ordinance to make the city’s collector of taxes, currently the city manager, responsible for depositing local funds with banks and providing council members with regular reports on the state of the treasury. The move is the city’s administration’s latest attempt to shift duties from the treasurer’s office, which had been a source of controversy before the current treasurer, Ken Pritchett, was elected in 2017.
Richmond Times-Dispatch


stories of national interest

Carl Malamud believes in open access to government records, and he has spent more than a decade putting them online. You might think states would welcome the help. But when Mr. Malamud’s group posted the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, the state sued for copyright infringement. Providing public access to the state’s laws and related legal materials, Georgia’s lawyers said, was part of a “strategy of terrorism.” A federal appeals court ruled against the state, which has asked the Supreme Court to step in. On Friday, in an unusual move, Mr. Malamud’s group, Public.Resource.Org, also urged the court to hear the dispute, saying that the question of who owns the law is an urgent one, as about 20 other states have claimed that parts of similar annotated codes are copyrighted.
The New York Times

San Francisco police raided the home and office of a freelance journalist on Friday, taking a sledgehammer to the gate of his house and seizing his computers, phones and other devices. Their goal: To uncover the source of a leaked police report in the possession of freelance videographer Bryan Carmody. The raids on Carmody's home and office are the latest in a series of events concerning the death of San Francisco public defender Jeff Adachi in February, at age 59.

Federal agents have arrested a former intelligence analyst and charged him with giving classified information to a reporter. The Justice Department says Daniel Everette Hale, 31, of Nashville, Tenn., used his top-secret computer to print out dozens of documents related to counterterrorism operations while working as a contractor for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, or NGA.  The instances in question occurred nearly five years ago, according to an indictment unsealed Thursday. Hale first met the reporter in question in April 2013, when he was still in the U.S. Air Force and working for the National Security Agency, according to the court documents. He began sharing information the next year, when he had left the military and was working for defense contractor Leidos at the NGA.

The Obama White House kept tabs on a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for information on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s email accounts that the State Department improperly denied, according to newly released emails. The emails, which were provided to Judicial Watch, show for the first time that the Obama White House was aware of the Clinton-related FOIA request, which the liberal watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) submitted to the State Department in December 2012.
The Daily Caller


quote_2.jpg"Providing public access to the state’s laws and related legal materials, Georgia’s lawyers said, was part of a 'strategy of terrorism.' ”


editorials & columns


Citizen engagement is a central priority to governments of all sizes. A key to effective citizen engagement is the ability to wrangle often chaotic public discourse into productive, fact-based conversations that drive a better community. New technology can make it easier to take control of the public conversation by educating residents before they get to the table, providing context along with data, and leveraging technology and the conversation to gain support for strategic projects. Most governments can get bogged down by endless FOIA requests. Modern communications and reporting software allows you to host commonly requested information online so it is always-up-to date enabling you to send those FOIA requests to a central hub where they can get all the data they need.
Governing (sponsored content)