Transparency News 6/29/18



June 29, 2018


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state & local news stories


The man suspected of killing five people in or near the offices of the Capital Gazette newspaper had sued the paper for defamation and lost, and an Anne Arundel County police official said, "It was quite obvious this individual had a vendetta against the Capital newspaper." Ramos seemed to carry a grudge for years against the newspaper after he was the subject of a column describing how he harassed a former classmate from Arundel High School online, first through Facebook and then through emails. Ramos pleaded guilty in July 2011 to harassment. In a column written by Eric Hartley several days later, the victim described how Ramos had stalked her online and perhaps caused her to lose her job. Ramos then apparently created a website that detailed his complaints against Hartley and the newspaper, and noted that his conviction had been reduced to probation four months later. "I certainly did a bad thing," the website states, "but don't shun me for how it was portrayed by this newspaper."
Richmond Times-Dispatch
Note: Hartley is now an editor at The Virginian-Pilot

Body cameras have been a valuable tool in documenting police misconduct and vindicating officers wrongly accused of misconduct. But reviewing hours of footage in routine cases is time-consuming for prosecutors, many of whom are already overworked. As the use of body cameras by police has proliferated, complaints have increased from prosecutors over the amount of time spent reviewing the video. Winchester Commonwealth’s Attorney Marc Abrams noted that in addition to reviewing video, prosecutors also must decide if some footage needs to be redacted to avoid privacy violations.
The Winchester Star

Normally off limits to the public, the Radford Army Ammunition Plant hosted about 40 visitors, curious and concerned citizens and media last week in a recent push toward transparency and community outreach by the 70-year old military plant that manufactures the nation’s nitrocellulose, an explosive used to propel missiles.
Redford News Journal


stories of national interest

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown is considering new limits on the public release of personal information about state employees, and her staff has asked the Department of Administrative Services to set up a work group to consider legislation to enact such limits in 2019. In the meantime, administrative services director Katy Coba has ordered state agencies to contact and coordinate with the governor's public records lawyer before responding to any records request for a large dataset about any individual who provides information to the state, including employees. Brown's chief of staff, Nik Blosser, notified Coba in a June 20 letter that the moves come in response to the agency's release of a database of state employee salaries to The Oregonian/OregonLive. The data included names, titles, salaries, the months and years of employees' birth, as well as their gender and race.
The Oregonian




editorials & columns


The police departments in Richmond, Chesterfield and Henrico County announced this week that they will soon begin encrypting their radio signals to prevent the public and the media from listening. Show us why this is necessary. Give us an indication that the public or the media are somehow interfering with police operations on any sort of regular basis. Show us that, and we’d be willing to consider the legitimacy of encrypting this radio traffic. Short of that, it’s just a bad decision that runs afoul of the public’s right to know. We hope it doesn’t spread any further across the state.
Daily Press

This much we know: MWAA CEO Jack Potter has a base salary of $451,000 per year. And that’s about it, because the authority declined to release its CEO’s contract (which it had done in years gone by) or provide many more details as requested by [The Washington Post].  The airports authority is a weird creation – its board of directors includes representation from Virginia, Maryland, the District of Columbia and the federal government; it relies on federal funds for the transit project; and it has taken cash from the Virginia state government in an effort to boost the fortunes of Washington Dulles International Airport. And yet, unlike many bodies that operate airports nationally, it apparently is under no obligation to shine much sunshine on personnel matters. Even though it isn’t obligated, it certainly would seem to be in the authority’s best interest to do so.