Transparency News 6/7/18



June 7, 2018


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state & local news stories


"Alexandria residents say city officials lied to them."

The release of hundreds of emails about the Potomac Yard Metro station has sparked a battle between Alexandria residents who say city officials lied to them and a municipal government caught between a promise of confidentiality and demands for transparency. The emails, made public this week in response to a ­public-records request by neighborhood residents, show that Alexandria officials knew early last summer that the planned station could lose its south entrance, closest to hundreds of existing residences. The public learned of the change last month.
The Washington Post

Witness testimony recently obtained by the Times-Mirror and an apology from a Leesburg councilman is casting doubt on Councilman Ron Campbell’s allegation of drunk driving against Leesburg Mayor Kelly Burk. Councilman Josh Thiel, who was central in calling last week's special council meeting, is calling the claims against Burk a “smear campaign” by Campbell, who is challenging Burk for the mayoral post in November. Thiel has apologized to the mayor for his role in calling the meeting. Campbell and Thiel jointly called the June 1 meeting, during which council opted not to discuss the allegations behind closed doors. “I just wanted to let you know from the bottom of my heart that I thought I was doing the right thing,” Thiel, a Republican, said in a voicemail to Burk, which was shared with the Times-Mirror.
The Loudoun Times-Mirror

Virginia Beach Professional Firefighters union president William Bailey said he’s concerned that firefighters were potentially exposed to asbestos during a training session. Virginia Beach Fire Chief David Hutcheson. admits there were mistakes made and said after investigating the situation, a small amount of asbestos was found near the fireplace inside of the home. Bailey filed a Freedom of Information Act several weeks ago to try and get information about what happened.


stories of national interest

The National Security Agency is well-known for its surveillance programs, counterintelligence and role in the post-Edward Snowden discourse. Lesser known, perhaps, are the motivational posters the agency has developed to discourage employees from leaking secrets. Transparency group Government Attic in 2016 sent a Freedom of Information Act request to NSA that was fulfilled Monday for "security/motivational posters from the 1950s and 1960s." And what a haul it uncovered.
Government Executive

A superior court judge in San Juan ordered the government of Puerto Rico on Tuesday to release detailed data on every single death recorded on the island since Hurricane Maria made landfall in late September. The data could provide much-needed insight into the true death toll from Hurricane Maria, which has been a source of controversy ever since President Trump visited the island and declared the low death count a victory. The official death toll is 64, despite growing evidence that the number of people who died in the storm’s aftermath is in the thousands.

A federal district judge in Puerto Rico rejected a request by the Financial Oversight and Management Board to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the board's refusal to comply with public records requests. Centro de Periodismo Investigativo (CPI), a nonprofit investigative journalism organization in Puerto Rico, filed the lawsuit in June 2017 after the oversight board ignored its requests for public records related to board members' financial and conflict of interest disclosures, along with other information.
Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press