Transparency News, 5/21/20


May 21, 2020
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state & local news stories
"The board rejected that attempt after an impromptu closed session called to discuss personnel during its virtual meeting. The board did not discuss Duncan’s new full-time job publicly before voting Wednesday."

Outgoing Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority CEO Damon E. Duncan has already started a new full-time job, but he will remain on the payroll in Richmond for another month. A divided RRHA Board of Commissioners voted Wednesday to retain Duncan, who announced his resignation in March, through June 22. The board made the decision with the knowledge that Duncan started a new full-time job as executive director of the Montgomery Housing Authority in Alabama on May 4. “He’s been on both payrolls, and I just couldn’t abide by that,” said Robley Jones, an RRHA board member who lobbied his colleagues Wednesday to move Duncan’s departure date to Thursday. The board rejected that attempt after an impromptu closed session called to discuss personnel during its virtual meeting. The board did not discuss Duncan’s new full-time job publicly before voting Wednesday.
Richmond Times-Dispatch

As the pandemic forces Virginia’s 1.2 million public school students to trade classrooms for laptops and smartphones — if they have them — many educators, parents and privacy advocates are raising alarms across the state about children’s digital security.  Lapses in online protections have led to issues ranging from students’ internet usage information being mined for profit to the theft of sensitive data, creating long-ranging consequences for children’s personal privacy. Weak controls also have allowed online bullying to flourish in hard-to-monitor chats and private messages. The policies received through Freedom of Information Act requests show that larger, wealthier districts can track exactly what programs are being used by students and monitor details about what data is being collected. Smaller districts have less insight and control over student’s digital school lives, records show. 
Virginia Mercury

The coronavirus pandemic has affected the number of inquiries from business prospects asking about possible sites for locating an industry in the Dan River Region.  Pittsylvania County Economic Development Director Matt Rowe said he has received fewer calls from less serious prospects, but interest from those with more solid plans remains strong.  "They're the ones with the biggest bank accounts," he said.  Current low interest rates on borrowing also helps, he added. Danville Economic Development Director Corrie Teague Bobe would not specify what types of industries are expressing interest in the Dan River Region.  "Although we cannot travel for business recruitment at this time, technology has allowed economic development offices the opportunity to continue building relationships with prospects, site selectors, and other economic development partners," Bobe said.  Virtual interaction is likely become more common during the business attraction process, Clark said.  
Register & Bee
stories of national interest

Arkansas was forced to temporarily shut down an unemployment benefits program last week after a data breach potentially exposed the personal information of some 30,000 state residents. The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program had been rushed into development to field the sudden flood of unemployment claims from self-employed and gig economy contractors put out of work as a result of the novel coronavirus, officials said in a press conference Saturday. "Last night I learned of a potential security incident in which an applicant seems to have illegally accessed the [PUA] system. When this was discovered, it was necessary to shut the system down," Gov. Asa Hutchinson said during the press conference. Hutchinson said police and the state's cyberinsurance carrier had been notified, and that a forensic investigation was underway.