Transparency News 5/31/19



May 31, 2019


Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.


state & local news stories


The Winchester School Board has approved sending a resolution to City Council asking that its number of board members be reduced from nine to seven. The resolution seeks to have all seven members serve in at-large positions, with at least one member representing each of the city’s four voting wards. No more than three members may represent a ward. Approval to do this is needed by City Council and the Virginia General Assembly. Currently, there are five at-large seats on the School Board. The board voted 6-1 on Tuesday in favor of the resolution. 
The Winchester Star

Governor Ralph Northam’s alma mater spent over $140,000 in legal and consulting fees investigating and responding to revelations of a racist photo on Northam’s 1984 yearbook page, according to invoices obtained by WCVE through a Freedom of Information Act request. The invoices billed to Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS) likely undercount the total cost of the scandal. Richmond-based law firm McGuireWoods, which conducted an investigation into the photo, has so far only billed the school for $76,141 worth of work done in February. McGuireWoods' five lead investigators, including former state Attorney General Richard Cullen, billed their time at $575 an hour. Washington, D.C.-based Indian Lane LLC charged EVMS for $64,562 for “professional consulting services” and travel from February through May. The firm is run by Douglas Sosnik, a Democratic political advisor who previously served as former President Bill Clinton’s political affairs director.


stories of national interest

Monday marked the end of the regular session for the Texas Legislature and along with major bills, some government transparency bills are headed to the Governors desk. Lawmakers approved a number of public information and open meeting initiatives. One aims to increase access to information about the spending of taxpayer dollars. Another closes what's being called a custodian loophole, making it easier to access public records in a government official's private cell phone or email account.
News4 San Antonio

Since the charges against "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett were dropped in late March, Illinois State's Attorney Kim Foxx has faced fierce criticism over her office’s abrupt dismissal of them, including calls for her resignation by the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police. The nearly 500 pages of documents released Thursday reveal more detail in a case that has only grown in controversy since prosecutors dropped all charges alleging Smollett falsely reported being the victim of a hate crime. The release comes after last week’s ruling by a Cook County judge lifting the seal on Smollett’s court records. The actor’s attorneys got his file sealed during the same hearing in March at which the charges were dropped. Police and prosecutors, citing the seal, previously declined to release documents that otherwise would be subject to public records requests. Prosecutors also are expected to release several internal documents in the coming days.
Chicago Tribune