Transparency News, 5/28/21


 May 28, 2021
There will not be a newsletter on Memorial Day. See you in June!
state & local news stories
The Virginia Capitol Connections quarterly magazine focuses on transparency at the General Assembly this year. An article I wrote about my work with Transparency Virginia is the feature story. Check it out!
Capitol Connections

Video of the May 26 meeting of the FOIA Council subcommittee on meetings
FOIA Council website

A week after a task force trying to establish a police oversight board publicly criticized the Richmond chief for lack of communication, Gerald M. Smith made himself heard at Wednesday night’s meeting. “Nope, nope, nope,” said Chief Smith, shaking his head in disagreement with an assertion from task force members that they’d been trying to reach him for over a month. “These communications started last week,” said Smith, adding that the most effective review boards work in collaboration with the police rather than in confrontation. On Monday, Deputy Chief Victoria Pearson reached out to an RTD reporter asking to be put in touch with task force members. Pearson heads the police department’s Office of Professional Accountability. An April 8 email Pearson sent to Joyce Davis, the City Council’s interim chief of staff, never reached the task force. “I don’t believe that it’s necessary to go through me to get to the task force,” Davis said. “Certainly, it is a route to go. I am not the person who schedules for the task force.”
Richmond Times-Dispatch

The Pound Town Council has voted to get out of the water and sewer business after a state ultimatum: Turn over the water and sewer system to Wise County or face millions in fines and criminal prosecution. The council voted unanimously Thursday to consolidate the town’s utilities with the Wise County Public Service Authority after Jerald Hess, Virginia assistant attorney general for environmental issues, delivered that news at an 8 a.m. emergency meeting. Hess, who arrived with Tiffany Severs from the state Department of Environmental Quality’s enforcement office, said he had expected to meet with the council in closed session, but Mayor Stacey Carson said otherwise. “I firmly believe the public has a right to know because it’s been kept quiet for way too long,” Carson said. “On that note, I would welcome you to tell everyone so we can all hear it together for the first time.” “When I asked to meet with you, I was asking for a closed session,” Hess said. “It makes no difference to me. The message that I’ve been sent here to give you is the same.” “I want to make sure this is absolutely clear,” said Hess. “On May 8, Virginia Resource Authority sent a letter stating that you are ineligible for any future funding. There will be no funding for Pound from any state agency. So to suggest in conversation or to members of the public that we are waiting on funding, they have said the funding is not coming. You are ineligible. To be perfectly candid, you are ineligible because your former bookkeeper is charged with embezzlement.”
Times News

The Frederick County Board of Supervisors voted 4-3 on Wednesday night to reject a proposal from Red Bud Supervisor Blaine Dunn to give board members a $15,000 pay raise. The supervisors have not had a salary increase since 2001. The chairman’s annual salary is $10,800, while the vice chairman receives $10,200 and the other board members $9,000. Dunn made a motion to give all board members a $15,000 salary hike. He said they often spend 30 hours a week doing the job. “It takes some time,” Dunn said. “If you take that 30 hour a week situation and divide it by what we have, it’s about $173 a week or $5.70 an hour, which is slightly less than minimum wage. Those are the numbers. I think everybody here works considerably.”
The Winchester Star