Transparency News 5/30/19



May 30, 2019


Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.


state & local news stories


"Some Virginia Beach School Board members say that they'd like future appointments to be more public."

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney’s administration must release a portion of the $1.4 billion Coliseum redevelopment plan and a trove of other documents to one of the mayor’s most persistent critics, a Richmond judge said Wednesday. Paul Goldman, a frequent political adversary of the mayor's, earlier this month sued for the release of documents pertaining to the proposal that the Stoney administration has fought to keep secret. The case stemmed from two Freedom of Information Act requests Goldman filed this spring: One sought a section laying out the legal structure of NH District Corp, the private group led by Dominion CEO Thomas F. Farrell II that submitted the plans. The other request centered on communications between lawyers and a public relations firm working for NH District Corp and certain city departments who have played a role in the negotiations.
Richmond Times-Dispatch

When Virginia Beach School Board members appointed a retired firefighter to fill a vacancy, the decision backfired after years-old racist and sexist posts he shared on his Facebook page came to light. Mike Mullins, 62, rejected the appointment to the Rose Hall seat hours after the posts surfaced, and board members admitted that they had made a mistake. They acknowledged the vetting process before their May 21 vote was flawed. Some say a lack of transparency also contributed to the problem. Interviews of the three finalists were not open to the public, and their applications were not posted on the school system's website before the vote. That left some residents wondering how Mullins was chosen over Jessica Owens and Seko Varner. "Secrecy seems to be what caused this to happen," longtime resident B. Theron Williams said. Now, some board members say that they'd like future appointments to be more public.
The Virginian-Pilot

A member of the Greene County Board of Supervisors has been arrested on a felony charge of grand larceny. A second man, also of Stanardsville, was also indicted on a grand larceny charge. Police say the two men were farming and harvesting hay on government property owned by the county. According to a court motion obtained by FOIA, the alleged farming took place on a 202-acre lot in Greene County.

Wanda Gibson, the longtime chief technology officer for Fairfax County, Virginia, will step down July 5 for a similar position in nearby Prince George’s County, Maryland. Gibson has been the CTO in Fairfax County since 1999, leading IT operations for a Washington, D.C., suburb of more than 1 million residents and one of the United States’ wealthiest counties that’s home to numerous technology companies that service the federal, state and local public sectors.
State Scoop

Front Royal Town Council has appointed Matthew Tederick interim mayor. The appointment by a 4-2 vote on Monday came after former Mayor Hollis Tharpe’s resignation became effective May 2 after he was charged on a misdemeanor count of prostitution solicitation, allegations which he denies. According to previous reports, the town had until June 15 to appoint an interim mayor or ask the circuit court to make the appointment. Tederick, 51, will serve as interim mayor until a special election that is likely to be held in November to fill out the remainder of Tharpe’s term, which ends in 2020. Vice Mayor William Sealock noted that the council has discussed the matter several times in closed sessions and was very deliberate to make sure everything was “above board.”
The Northern Virginia Daily

Republican Del. Terry Kilgore and Democratic Sen. Jennifer McClellan took turns at political stand up Wednesday before an appreciative crowd of 400 people who attended VPAP's annual "Lighten Up" luncheon. The MC was legislator-turned-lobbyist Dave Albo. VPAP has photos and audio clips of the jokes that got the biggest laughs.
Virginia Public Access Project


stories of national interest

Evanston, Illinois, City Clerk Devon Reid yelled, “Shame on this council! Shame on this!” before walking out of an Evanston City Council meeting Monday night, leaving to chants of “shame, shame” from the audience. The dramatic scene unfolded after aldermen voted 5-3 to designate three additional Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) officers for the city. Previously, in his position as city clerk, Reid was the only one. It was a vote that came weeks after Reid filed a lawsuit against the city over FOIA practices. Hagerty also noted that while Evanston had one FOIA officer, many Chicago suburbs of comparable size have multiple officials handling FOIA requests. For example, Park Ridge has 11 designated FOIA officers and Naperville has six, he said. But Reid said those officers are not elected, and therefore their allegiance is to city officials, not the voters. Evanston’s city clerk is an elected position.
Chicago Tribune

The former college student said she had been raped three times as an undergraduate at Florida A&M University, twice by students and once by an acquaintance who was on campus regularly. She withdrew from the university and filed suit, saying that campus officials did not do enough to investigate the claims and protect her from being attacked again and again. As a precaution, she identified herself in public court papers only as S.B. Her school fired back three times with a demand for the court: Reveal her full name or toss out the case. For years, students have filed sexual assault complaints under pseudonyms, which allow them to seek justice without shame or fear of being targeted. Universities have generally accepted the practice. But in two recent lawsuits — S.B.’s case against Florida A&M University and a suit by nine women against Dartmouth College — the schools have demanded that students publicly reveal their identities, going against longstanding legal practice intended to protect plaintiffs in sensitive disputes.
The New York Times

What we do know for sure: There was a cough. What we don't know for sure is whether there was a little something extra at the end of it. A routine Tampa City Council meeting last Thursday has become a topic of debate. Not about policy, but whether legislative aide Carrie Henriquez said a vulgar word at the tail end of a cough as she walked behind the man who defeated her husband last month to head the board. She told the Tampa Bay Times that she was sick. She said it was a cough and nothing more.
Fox News

Gmail's confidential mode will be launching in G Suite on June 25, Google announced in a blog post Wednesday. The mode will be on by default in Google's suite of tools for business, and allows workers to set expiration dates and revoke access to emails. Users can also require recipients to go through text message authentication before being allowed to view an email. It's already available in beta mode. While the mode prevents recipients from forwarding, copying, printing or downloading confidential emails, they can still take screenshots.


quote_2.jpgDid a Tampa City Council legislative aide add a vulgar word to the tail end of a cough as she walked behind the man who defeated her husband last month to head the board?