Transparency News 6/19/17

Monday, June 19, 2017

State and Local Stories

The same month that startup airline People Express began flying out of Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport, Newport News economic development officials were trying to craft a proposal that a regional committee would vote on granting the airline $700,650 in local funds. They wanted the motion to be clear: the money, though secure, would be collateral on a loan from TowneBank to People Express. Florence Kingston, Newport News' director of economic development, and her right hand, Sam Workman, drafted and emailed the following to then-City Manager Jim Bourey on June 2, 2014: "The RAISE (Regional Air Service Enhancement Committee) funds will first be deposited into an escrow account as collateral security for a TowneBank loan to PeoplExpress until disbursed as a grant in accordance with the TSA (transportation service agreement)." Kingston's department was the fiscal agent for RAISE. Bourey, then an airport commissioner, Kingston's boss and a key person in helping the airline secure financing, replied: "Florence, I am ok with this but do not thin [sic] we need to be as specific on how the money will be used." "I don't think RAISE knew about the loan," Kingston said in an interview last week. In an emailed statement, Bourey said, "If she felt they needed to know more of the details of the expenditure, then it would have been her responsibility to tell them more," since Kingston was directly involved with that group. "In no way," he said, "was any information kept from the RAISE group."
Daily Press

The state’s audit of the Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport’s handling of a $5 million TowneBank loan it secured for soon-to-go-under airline People Express has more juicy nuggets than that kid on Twitter who got a year’s worth of Wendy’s chicken tenders for being retweeted 3.4 million times. But one particular issue involved the executive director fibbing to The Pilot and that fib getting repeated to the Federal Aviation Administration. When asked in late January about the collateral used to back the loan, the airport’s since fired executive director, Ken Spirito, told The Pilot that $3.5 million came from state funds, about $300,000 came from a U.S. Department of Transportation grant and about $700,000 came from a local committee to support air service development. Apparently that wasn’t the case. 

Welcome to Portsmouth, where rumors and political alliances that shift like the windon the Elizabeth River fuel a messy brand of politics controlled by Sen. Louise Lucas that often spills out on Facebook.
Richmond Times-Dispatch

The Ruth E. Lloyd Information Center, or RELIC, at the Bull Run Regional Library has online editions of newspapers that served Prince William County dating back to 1796, according to a county release. Researchers can read through the newspapers to see history unfold in the region. In 1951, the Manassas Airport was seeing an increase in air traffic. It was also the year that cantaloupes were 29 cents each and a six-ounce can of frozen orange juice was 18 cents. An advertisement for an antacid asked, "Is you stomach like a gas factory?" and offered a sure cure.
Inside NoVa

Frederick County Administrator Brenda G. Garton resigned effective Friday, according to Public Information Officer Karen Vacchio. Board of Supervisors Chairman Charles S. DeHaven Jr. accepted Garton’s resignation, Vacchio stated in a short press release issued Friday. Vacchio advised the media that Garton would not return phone calls or other inquiries as she has no further comment. Garton submitted her resignation letter Thursday. Garton’s resignation comes two days after her review. It remains uncertain if the board intended to give Garton a favorable review and would renew her contract or if supervisors and the administrator agreed to part ways. Discussions on personnel matters are protected and exempt from public disclosure per the Virginia Freedom of Information Act. The county would not provide a copy of Garton’s resignation letter to the Northern Virginia Daily because it is deemed a personnel record exempt from disclosure by the Freedom of Information Act, Vacchio said.
Northern Virginia Daily

National Stories

The New York Times is suing the FBI to get at the “Comey memos,” according to a federal complaint. The Times’ lawsuit, filed Friday in Manhattan, demands that the bureau turn over all memos and emails concerning conversations between ousted FBI Director James Comey and President Trump. The newspaper names itself and its national security and legal reporter, Charlie Savage, as plaintiffs, and argues that the documents should be made available immediately under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
New York Post

The Department of State released a long-suppressed volume of historical records documenting the role of the United States in the 1953 coup against the Iranian government of Mohammad Mosadeq. "This retrospective volume focuses on the evolution of U.S. thinking on Iran as well as the U.S. Government covert operation that resulted in Mosadeq's overthrow on August 19, 1953," the Preface says.
Secrecy News

The names of the jurors who failed to reach a verdict in Bill Cosby's sexual assault trial have not been made public, but the judge in the case could revisit the issue as early as Monday. The names remain shielded under a protective order that several news outlets have challenged. Judge Steven O'Neill advised jurors when the trial ended on Saturday outside Philadelphia, after a week of testimony and 52 hours of deliberations, that they need not discuss the case, even as the public debates whether age, race, gender or other issues separated them. "It can never be clearer that if you speak up, you could be chilling the justice system in the future if jurors are needed in this case," O'Neill told them.