Transparency News 5/16/19



May 16, 2019


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state & local news stories


Richmond city manager's daughter hired at a higher rate of pay than all but three city employees with same title.

The daughter of Richmond Chief Administrative Officer Selena Cuffee-Glenn was hired in March by the city for a job that was never publicly listed. Alexis K. Glenn, 22, is paid $26.44 per hour, more than all but three other city employees who have the same title, all 130 of whom have worked for the city for longer. Cuffee-Glenn is the top administrator in City Hall and oversees all city departments, including the Department of Public Utilities, which hired her daughter as an administrative program support assistant through a process that doesn’t require the city to recruit other candidates when it determines there is an urgent need to fill a position. Glenn’s position had been vacant for five months by the time she started her 90-day assignment. The person she replaced made $18 an hour. City officials say the hire does not constitute nepotism. Under the city’s policy, a situation is considered nepotism only in instances when someone is in the direct line of supervision for a family member.
Richmond Times-Dispatch

Accessing public records can feel lonely - there’s a lot of “no” involved, and everyone from clerks to attorneys general are often united in saying it. So it’s exciting whenever people band together to push past “no.” When the Richmond Transparency and Accountability Project started in Virginia, they wanted nothing less than open police data. There were protests, “power walks” and other visible ways of matching “no” with a united community voice. And, perhaps surprisingly given the culture of secrecy surrounding police records that MuckRock sees every day, their efforts have led to movement. RPD is implementing an open records system - although there are reasonable concerns about those tools and their power. RPD just released proposals here. A recent RTAP meeting offers their insight on records already available, and the proposed system, here.

Accidents happen.  When government employees in Waynesboro, Staunton and Augusta County get hurt on the job, the entities provide worker's compensation. The News Leader took a deeper look at the claim trends in each jurisdiction.  The analysis showed that for the past four years, each jurisdiction's public safety employees have filed the most claims. Here's a closer look at each jurisdiction.
News Leader

The Frederick County Finance Committee on Wednesday unanimously recommended the county’s Board of Supervisors appropriate $245,737 to the Winchester Regional Airport for legal expenses. The money represents the county’s share of $325,345 in legal fees incurred by the airport between fiscal years 2015 and 2018. The nature of the legal fees was not discussed at the meeting or disclosed afterward. But Frederick County Circuit Court records show that in September of 2015, the airport filed a $2 million lawsuit against Rifenburg Construction Inc. for alleged breach of contract over a $6.9 million project to rehabilitate the airport’s runway and connecting taxiways in 2011. 
The Winchester Star


stories of national interest

Two Navy aviators joked about how "awesome" it would be to draw "a giant penis" in the sky with their EA-18G Growler jet before engaging in some aerial artwork that led to viral hilarity and a disciplinary inquiry into their actions. The full conversation between the pilot and his electronic warfare officer during a 90-minute training flight over the skies of Washington state has been revealed in a transcript provided following a Freedom of Information Act by the Navy Times. Their names were redacted in the report of the 2017 incident and the Navy also shielded the public from some words by inserting "(expletive)" into the record of the conversation. The two lieutenants were with the “Zappers” of Electronic Attack Squadron 130. Their plane was codenamed Zapper 21.
Washington Examiner

The debate over tax incentives usually centers on whether they lead to job creation and other economic benefits. But governments must also pay attention to their own bottom lines. This begs the question: How do all the financial incentives that states offer actually influence fiscal health? New research seeks to answer that question. Using data from the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, researchers at North Carolina State University tallied all incentives offered by 32 states from 1990 to 2015, effectively covering 90 percent of incentives nationally. What they found doesn’t portray incentives in a positive light.  “It’s not that incentives are bad or that we shouldn’t use incentives,” says Bruce McDonald, an NC State associate professor who led the research team. “But if a state or local government is going to provide an incentive, there needs to be some kind of clarity on what the realistic expectations are for what they might get back.”

It’s here. Finally. Go-live day. The day you reveal your weeks of strategic planning and design refinement to your community. It’s the day you can say the words that your citizens have been longing to hear for years: We have a new website. If you are launching a modern municipal website with citizen-focused self-service features, you have every reason to want to share the news far and wide. Plus, for an initiative of this magnitude that holds an implication for citizen tax dollars, you want to make a splash with your launch. No, you want to make a cannonball-sized impact. To redefine your community’s digital presence and launch a highly functional and intuitive website, follow these six tips for a successful launch. Get ready to bring it.

Lawyers who use police accident reports to find clients and drum up business can’t use state open records laws to force police departments to provide addresses and insurance policy numbers for people involved in traffic crashes, a Cook County, Illinois, judge has ruled. On April 29, Cook County Circuit Judge Franklin U. Valderrama ruled in favor of the Schaumburg Police Department in its court fight against personal injury lawyer Anthony Mancini and his firm, the Mancini Law Group P.C., of Chicago. “… The Court notes that the (Schaumburg) Department has not argued that the traffic accident reports are exempt under (the Freedom of Information Act),” Judge Valderrama wrote. “Rather, the Department’s position is that it may redact private information from traffic accident reports. “The Court agrees with this interpretation and finds that the Department has satisfied its burden, by clear and convincing evidence, that it may redact ‘private information’ from the traffic accident reports.”
Cook County Record



quote_2.jpgTranscript of 90-minute training flight -- obtained through FOIA -- reveals conversation about vulgar sky