Transparency News 5/21/14

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

State and Local Stories

Isle of Wight County would not have been recommended to receive federally subsidized bonds to build a new middle school if incorrect information had not been included in the application for the bonds, according to information from the state Department of Education. The Daily Press previously reported that the school system had claimed on a bond application that Windsor Middle School was over capacity based on its student population. That application sought $15 million in federally subsidized bonds to help replace the aging school. The application claimed the school was at 110.5 percent of its operating capacity, while records show that the school was actually around 60 percent of capacity at the time. The Virginia Department of Education wouldn't have recommended the project for funding if the inflated student population numbers had not been included on the application for the bonds.
Daily Press

A federal judge in Richmond on Tuesday denied defense motions to dismiss the corruption charges against former Gov. Bob McDonnell and former first lady Maureen McDonnell. U.S. District Judge James R. Spencer also denied the McDonnells’ motions for separate trials. The ruling means a joint trial will go forward July 28, as scheduled.

Pittsylvania County has a new procurement policy. The update deletes the old policy — adopted in 1982 and effective since Jan. 1, 1983 — and aligns the county’s new rule with that of the state and expands the code from seven to about 35 pages. The Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the change proposed by Interim County Administrator Otis Hawker following a public heating Tuesday night in Chatham. No residents spoke out on the proposal during the public hearing.
Regsiter & Bee

Interviews for James City County's top job were held Monday, but how many – if any – candidates remain in contention for the post is unclear. The Board of Supervisors met with candidates for the job at the county government complex. Human Resources Director Pete Peterson said interviews lasted from mid-afternoon into the evening, but he declined to specify how many candidates were interviewed. "We have a process, and we're moving forward," said chairwoman Mary Jones, declining further comment. Peterson stressed the confidentiality of the process, noting that the candidates interviewed Monday still have jobs in other localities. He said the candidates will remain anonymous until the field is pared to finalists. At that point those remaining will meet the public.
Virginia Gazette

National Stories

Days after President Lyndon B. Johnson’s election to his first full term, an administration official asked a subordinate to explain the policy on firing gays. In particular, he wondered whether someone with a history of gay liaisons could, through years of marriage, be “rehabilitated” into a trustworthy civil servant. The response came quickly, and in language that would be shocking by today’s standards. Technically, rehabilitated gays could keep their jobs. But John W. Steele, a staff member of the Civil Service Commission, which handled personnel matters for the government, said that seldom happened. “Some feel that ‘once a homo, always a homo,’ ” Mr. Steele wrote. He added, “Our tendency to ‘lean over backwards’ to rule against a homosexual is simply a manifestation of the revulsion which homosexuality inspires in the normal person.”
New York Times

The Obama administration has signaled it will publicly reveal a memo explaining its legal justification for using drones to kill American citizens overseas, a U.S. government official confirmed to Fox News Tuesday.  The official said the Justice Department has decided not to appeal a Court of Appeals ruling requiring disclosure of a redacted version of the memo under the Freedom of Information Act. 
Fox News

The sergeant-at-arms office in the North Carolina Senate confiscated a reporter’s recorder after a senator requested any such devices “be approved,” Mark Binker reports for WRAL. Rosemary Hoban, a reporter for North Carolina Health News, was covering a committee meeting when she “noticed that her recorder, which she had placed on a side table, was missing,” Binker writes. The senator, Rick Gunn, “could not cite a building rule or law that would have justified his announcement,” which Binker says violates the state’s open-meetings law. Gunn “walked away” when asked a follow-up question. Hoban “had to leave the meeting to retrieve her recorder,” Binker reports.