Transparency News 7/10/18



July 10, 2018


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state & local news stories


The first moment of silence administered by the Radford City Council in place of the previously given invocation it scrapped a week ago was not silent at all. When Mayor David Horton asked members of the audience, of which there were about 60 on Monday, to sit and pause for a moment of silence, eight citizens stood and loudly recited the Lord’s Prayer. “Well … not exactly a moment of silence, but a moment nonetheless,” a visibly uncomfortable Horton said following the demonstration. The act came moments before a much-anticipated public comment portion of the council’s regular meeting Monday evening. During citizen comments, nearly a dozen community members approached the podium to speak either for or against the discontinuation of an invocation before city meetings.
The Roanoke Times

The Haymarket Town Council spent nearly $900 last month to hold a special meeting during which outgoing town Councilman Joe Pasanello was stripped of his title as vice mayor two days before the end of his term over accusations he violated the council’s code of ethics in an email to this reporter. Haymarket Mayor David Leake denied this week that the council took the action because Pasanello’s email criticized him in his role as mayor. Rather, Leake said, the council voted unanimously June 28 to censure Pasanello for violating two sections of the town’s code of ethics and professional conduct for elected officials.
Prince William Times


stories of national interest

In late February 2017, the Trump Administration took some of its earliest steps towards implementing a new border wall policy with an executive order and several memos issued by the Department of Homeland Security’s leadership. In response to the policy, MuckRock filed a FOIA request for “memos relating to executive orders signed by Donald Trump,” including but not limited to memos described in a specific article. Just under 17 months later, DHS responded with a letter saying that they were unable to find any such memos. Despite these claims, two of the memos which DHS said they were unable to find had already been posted to their website.

A non-profit law firm has sued West Virginia University for refusing a public records request for documents related to the China Energy deal. Appalachian Mountain Advocates filed the lawsuit in Monongalia Circuit Court. AMA submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to WVU on Nov. 28. The firm requested copies of any memoranda of understanding between the state and China Energy between January and November 2017. The firm also sought a list of projects between the state and China Energy, and any other documents related to the China Energy deal. The university's FOIA officer refused the request on Dec. 5, stating that the firm should request the documents from the West Virginia Department of Commerce instead, according to the suit. The suit alleges the university also denied the request for being too broad, noting the documents consisted of approximately 15,000 e-mails.
West Virginia Record




editorials & columns


Thanks to some excellent digging by The Times-Dispatch newsroom, with a little help from the Freedom of Information Act, Richmonders have a more detailed idea about plans to replace the city’s aging Coliseum and revitalize the neighborhood around it. On Sunday, RTD reporter Mark Robinson outlined an ambitious project under consideration by the city to build a $220 million, 17,500-seat arena. The building would up Richmond’s profile for concerts and sporting events — without tapping the city’s revenue or debt capacity.
Richmond Times-Dispatch