Transparency News 6/16/17

Friday, June 16, 2017

State and Local Stories

Gov. Terry McAuliffe has agreed, under a civil settlement with a state prosecutor, to turn over a list of 206,000 convicted felons whose voting rights he restored last year under a now-defunct executive order. Loudoun County Commonwealth's Attorney Jim Plowman, a Republican, had been seeking the list since McAuliffe, a Democrat, restored voting and other civil rights to felons in a sweeping executive order in April 2016. Plowman filed a Freedom of Information Act request soon afterward, but the administration denied it, saying the names fell under an exemption covering the governor's "working papers." Plowman then sued the McAuliffe administration, which resulted in the settlement dated Monday that requires the governor to turn over the list and to pay $1,200 to Plowman's lawyer, Matthew Hardin. "It seems a bit unreasonable that you have to actually file a lawsuit to get something that people should have everyday public access to,” Plowman said in an interview Thursday.
Richmond Times-Dispatch

Portsmouth’s Housing Authority is refusing to release dozens of records detailing agency operations that it gave to federal investigators last year. In October, federal housing officials asked the Portsmouth Redevelopment and Housing Authority for 28 documents. The Pilot has since submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for the same files, which include financial records and basic items such as an organizational chart of employees. The PRHA on Monday said it would not release any information, citing a federal rule that allows the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to withhold public records that “are protected by legal privileges, such as the attorney-client privilege, attorney work-product privilege, or communications reflecting the agency’s deliberative process.” But the agency hasn’t specified why each requested file is exempt from public disclosure.

Some Hanover residents are pushing to change Hanover’s School Board from having appointed members, to elected representatives. The recently-formed group, Hanover Citizens for an Elected School Board, came together shortly after some members of the group led a successful campaign for a 10-point grading scale in Hanover. A series of conversations connected several Hanover parents, who individually felt that an elected School Board would be more productive than the current appointed School Board system. These parents joined forces to create and authorize a petition for referendum to make Hanover’s School Board elected, rather than appointed.

National Stories

From the Pentagon Papers to Trump: How the government gained the upper hand against leakers.
Investigative Reporting Workshop

More than a month after the Trump administration purged data tracking climate change from the Environmental Protection Agency's website, the numbers are going back online in some unexpected places. San Francisco and 11 other cities, including Atlanta, Boston, Houston and Seattle, were set to launch their own websites Sunday publishing the numbers. The information -- posted here on a San Francisco city website -- includes the science behind climate change, how weather patterns are impacted by it, and detailed data charting greenhouse gas emissions and temperatures around the globe.

Evidence made public Wednesday in a D.C. Council investigation of alleged corruption in the city’s contracting process points to favoritism for a top political donor, questionable firings of reform-minded District employees and the chance of an illegal leak of confidential information during the bidding for a prized construction project. On Thursday, Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) said what she plans to do with that evidence: nothing.
Washington Post