Transparency News, 6/22/21


June 22, 2021
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state & local news stories
VCOG is submitting these comments to the FOIA Council's subcommittee on meetings -- which meets Thursday at 1 p.m. -- in response to an item on the agenda asking staff to look into the current statutory scheme for e-meetings to see if they can be streamlined. Meanwhile, several people -- particularly those on appointed boards in the Northern Virginia region -- have been sending messages to the council (as a group and individually) asking the council to study further relaxing the rules governing e-meetings to essentially allow more meetings to take place remotely in non-emergency times.
Read our comments here
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The second-biggest county in Virginia used to have body cameras and dash cameras, but doesn’t anymore. The answers to why begin almost a decade ago. The equipment the sheriff’s office used in the past wasn’t foolproof. Augusta County Sheriff Smith said if it doesn’t have the right foundation, it’s not worth installing in the first place.  When he became sheriff, Smith says he found a collection of short-lived cameras in several vehicles without a streamlined system to backlog footage. According to Smith, there wasn’t much to remove when it came to the hard-mounted dash cams once he was elected. County records corroborate that out of 16 hard mounted dash cameras the office removed, 13 were removed under previous Sheriff Randy Fisher. The remaining three removed were dismantled under Smith.
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Online publisher and Delaware Rep. Bryan Shupe is sponsoring legislation that would limit the governor’s powers in curbing freedom of information (FOIA) requests during states of emergency. Shupe, R-Milford, is sponsoring House Bill 203. The proposal would prohibit the governor from suspending it during a state of emergency unless he or she demonstrated that complying with the act would prevent, hinder, or delay state action needed to cope with the crisis. The bill has no Democrats as co-sponsors. According to Shupe, his measure is a reaction to the governor’s suspension of FOIA “I believe it is when we are in times of crisis that we most need full and complete access to information,” he said. The suspension was lifted after eight months. The rationale for the decision was the need to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic at a time when many state workers were operating from remote locations.
Delaware Business Now