Transparency News 5/31/18



May 31, 2018


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state & local news stories


This morning is VCOG's FOIA and records management seminar in Richmond. VCOG's board of directors is also meeting later this afternoon.

Purcellville Town Council spent more than five hours in closed session Saturday morning and emerged only to officially close the special meeting. The council meeting began at 7 a.m. on the holiday weekend but immediately went into closed session. During the session, a handful of Purcellville residents who attended the meeting stood on the Town Hall steps before moving to the area in front of the hall to set up folding chairs and tables with food in a scene similar to that of fall football tailgating or a neighborhood picnic. Council documents show the closed session was to discuss with legal counsel about legal matters pertaining to, “personnel investigations of town employees,” according to a motion to recess the special meeting and convene a closed meeting.
The Loudoun Times-Mirror

Leesburg Town Councilmen Josh Thiel and Ron Campbell have called for a closed meeting Friday night to talk about the performance of a yet-to-be-disclosed public official sitting on the council dais. While few details have been made available to the public, Thiel and Campbell said they hope inviting the entire council to discuss the issue will bring about some kind of resolution. 
The Loudoun Times-Mirror


stories of national interest

The case of Larry Nassar, a serial sexual abuser and a former physician with Michigan State University, has attracted scrutiny about what MSU officials knew and when. At the same time, it has become more onerous for journalists and concerned citizens to access public records from the university. The Michigan Freedom of Information Act allows access to documents from public institutions like Michigan State. Since news of the allegations against Nassar broke, FOIA requests to MSU have increased exponentially. But, staffing levels have not kept pacewith the demand, leading to longer wait times for public information. And, on average, the university is requesting higher fees to fulfill FOIA requests, although amounts vary based on complexity of the request.
Lansing State Journal

When Steve Chronister called 911 about a group of women he said was holding up other golfers, the dispatcher asked him some basic questions. "No weapons or anything like that, right?" the dispatcher asked. "It's even worse than that, but anyway I can't  ..." Chronister said. The dispatcher cut in to clarify. "OK, sir, there's no weapons, right?" the dispatcher asked. "No," Chronister said, repeating the no multiple times. "Other than her mouth, there's not any weapons." Pennsylvania's open records law states that telephone or radio transmissions received by emergency dispatch personnel are not a public record unless "the agency or a court determines that the public interest in disclosure outweighs the interest in nondisclosure." In this case, York County officials decided to release the recordings.
News Leader

Fort Collins (Colorado) City Council on Tuesday unanimously voted to release some records related to the city's police chief recruitment process in response to a lawsuit from conservative group Judicial Watch. Judicial Watch alleged in a September blog post that one of the Fort Collins police chief candidates was removed from consideration because of statements he made about immigration, though the city refutes that claim.
The Coloradoan

Convicted killer Jodi Arias’ motion to file her opening appeals brief under seal was denied Wednesday, a report said. Arias’ attorney argued that keeping the brief secret was “in the interest of protecting the safety of certain parties,” the Arizona Republic reported. Since her first trial in 2013, “the absurd level of interest in this case” had caused problems, Arias' attorneys said, according to the report. However, a three-judge panel in the Arizona Court of Appeals wrote “the court concludes that the current request is legally insufficient to overcome the strong presumption in favor of public access,” the Republic reported.
Fox News

Humana Inc. is suing a federal agency to keep trade secrets about its military insurance business under wraps. A Humana subsidiary called Humana Government Business Inc., known as Humana Military, is asking a judge to bar the Defense Health Agency from releasing "certain confidential and proprietary commercial and technical information" regarding Humana Government's contract to administer Tricare, the military's health plan for current and former services members and their families.
Louisville Business Journal