Transparency News 6/12/14

Thursday, June 12, 2014
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State and Local Stories

A group tasked with providing recommendations on how to make Virginia a leader in cyber security is beginning its work. Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Wednesday kicked off the inaugural meeting of the Virginia Cyber Security Commission at George Mason University in Fairfax.

I know, it’s off topic, but in honor of my kid’s last day of school……It’s a warm summer day. The boardwalk is bustling with activity. The sound of motors can be heard as their propellers churn the water. Children are laughing and splashing while their parents are curled up on the sand with a book in hand. Colonial Beach, during the annual Potomac River Festival which draws tens of thousands to the small river town on the banks for the Potomac, seems to welcome everyone. And inside the only Beach Shop on the boardwalk everyone and everything is welcome – except for “selfies.” The store sells most any items one would find at any beach shop, like beach towels, t-shirts, sunglasses, and hats. But on the door, there’s the can’t-miss sign printed on yellow paper and taped to the door that states “No Selfies with Merchandise.”
Potomac Local

National Stories

The director of New York’s Committee on Open Government criticized the New York City mayor’s office stance on denying reporter requests for Freedom of Information Law logs. “I think it’s a ridiculous response,” Robert Freeman, director of the New York Department of State Committee on Open Government, said on Tuesday. “I don’t know why they are taking this stance. I think it’s silly.”
Epoch Times

A U.S. judge on Tuesday signed off on a revised class action settlement between publishers and freelance writers, who for years claimed their work had been reprinted in online databases without their permission. At a hearing in New York, U.S. District Judge George Daniels gave final approval to the settlement, worth at least $10 million, calling it "fair, reasonable and adequate." The initial accord came four years after the U.S. Supreme Court in 2001 said publishers violate copyright law when they reproduce freelance works electronically without first obtaining permission from copyright owners.

Montgomery County school board committee meetings that are expected to focus on the board’s credit-card practices and expense-reporting procedures will now be mostly open to the public. Phil Kauffman, president of the Board of Education, said in an interview that a meeting scheduled for Thursday will include a 30-minute closed session for legal advice and then become an open meeting at 11:30 a.m. Earlier, Kauffman (At Large) had said Thursday’s committee meeting and some others would be closed to the public, a move that sparked sharp community criticism.
Washington Post
A review of nearly 1,500 pages of records shows that Montgomery County school board members took sharply different approaches to using their district-paid credit cards, with some charging restaurant meals with constituents or elected officials while others barely used the cards at all.
Washington Post

In the wake of the Supreme Court's refusal to take up a case involving a New York Times reporters refusal to identify his sources, a coalition of more than 70 news organizations and press freedom groups is urging the Senate to take prompt action to pass a shield law that would make it easier for journalists to protect their sources.

Washington state lawmakers would have to publicly report when lobbyists treat them to meals or beverages worth as little as $5 under proposals going to the Legislative Ethics Board this month. One plan also would deduct the value of any meals from lawmakers’ per diem, or expense allotments. House and Senate members now receive $120 per day for expenses — everything from temporary lodging to meals — when they are in session or working outside their districts on official business.
The Olympian


“Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government,” Thomas Jefferson once said, “I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.” The Supreme Court dissents. The other day the court declined to hear the appeal of James Risen, a New York Times reporter who is in hot water over his refusal to testify in a case against a CIA analyst. That leaves in place a regrettable ruling by the 4th Circuit here in Richmond, which said the First Amendment offers reporters no protection against demands that they reveal their sources.

Unseemly. That’s the word that first came to mind when news broke earlier this week that Phil Puckett, a Democratic state senator from Russell County in Southwest Virginia, was resigning, tipping control of the evenly divided Virginia Senate to Republicans, 20 to 19. Beyond resolution of the budget crisis, we’re troubled by the appearance of political cronyism that surround’s the timing of Puckett’s decision to resign his seat.
News & Advance

Can Eric Knudsen, the creator of the fictional character “Slender Man,” be held civilly liable for the recent violence suffered by the young victim of a stabbing attack in Waukesha, Wis.? The answer is a definitive “no” under First Amendment principles of free speech. Those rules were created by the United States Supreme Court 45 years ago in a case that protected a Ku Klux Klan member from responsibility for engaging in racist rhetoric at a cross-burning in Ohio. But first a quick summary of the well-reported facts in the Slender Man incident.
Clay Calvert, First Amendment Center