Transparency News, 7/10/20

July 10, 2020

state & local news stories

The Library of Virginia has offered an apology and a plan to its supporters for its failure to make publicly available the gubernatorial papers of former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder, who was inaugurated 30 years ago as the first African American elected governor in U.S. history. State Librarian Sandra Gioia Treadway  said the library has prepared “a solid plan” for completing the work so Wilder’s gubernatorial papers can be accessible to the public without compromising legal protections under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act. “Governor Wilder’s frustration is justified,” Treadway said in a message distributed Wednesday. “Even as budget cuts and other operational challenges have contributed to this delay in processing these records, we admit we should have done better. For this, we apologize.”
Richmond Times-Dispatch

The Charlottesville Police Department has released body camera footage of a Wednesday arrest on the Downtown Mall after a local attorney questioned use of force employed by an officer during the incident. The release of the body camera footage was spurred by another video posted on Instagram Wednesday evening by an onlooker. Thursday morning, attorney Jeff Fogel emailed the Instagram video to Charlottesville Police Chief RaShall Brackney and demanded the city police release the body camera footage. The Charlottesville Police Department released 17 minutes of body camera footage Thursday evening, as well as a news release describing the incident. The release did not contain the name of the responding officer and city spokesman Brian Wheeler said he was unable to provide that information Thursday night.
The Daily Progress

The town is without a code enforcement officer again. Carlos Nunes recently resigned, Boyce Town Council learned Tuesday night. Mayor Richard Kibler and newly-hired Town Manager David Winsatt declined to say why. Virginia Freedom of Information Act laws allow matters pertaining to specific rank-and-file government employees to be kept private. Winsatt said council members will discuss how they want to go about filling the position during an upcoming work session.
The Winchester Star

The comments on a Facebook page maintained by a Prince William County elected official are now visible to the public. Prince William County Soil and Water Director Tiziana Bottino posted an apology to her “Tiziana for Prince William County Soil and Water Director” Facebook page following a story published by Potomac Local News that detailed the comments Bottino made on this news organization’s Facebook page, on a story about the election of Tim Parrish as the new Prince William County Republican Committee Chairman. Bottino sent the same written apology to Potomac Local News the same day she posted it to her Facebook page, on July 2, and a story about the apology appeared on shortly thereafter. On the morning of July 8, Potomac Local News issued a Freedom of Information Act Request to the Soil and Water Conservation District asking to see the now 27 comments Facebook had noted to be on the page. Three and a half hours later, all of the comments on the post were visible.
Potomac Local

Sherri Story will have her first day in Suffolk Circuit Court at 9:30 a.m. July 13 in her civil lawsuit she filed against the rest of the Suffolk School Board for alleged violations of the state’s open meetings laws. However, the attorney representing the Suffolk School Board, Ann Sullivan, asked the court on July 7 for a continuance in the case and renewed its motion for a bill of particulars — a detailing of the charges against it. The motion states that the board needs “a fair opportunity to respond or prepare the case, and the bill of particulars does not provide all information and specificity requested in the motion for a bill of particulars.”
Suffolk News-Herald

  national stories of interest

The president of Wisconsin's chamber of commerce repeated his call for the state Department of Health Services not to publish the names of businesses traced to two or more confirmed cases of COVID-19. Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce President Kurt Bauer last week asked the DHS to back off its plans to make the names public. A department spokeswoman said Tuesday that there were no plans to publish them, but agency Secretary Andrea Palm appeared to hedge during a news conference when she said there were no plans to do that "this week." Bauer said releasing the names could be "potentially defamatory." Dozens of local chambers of commerce as well as trade associations, including WMC, sent Evers a letter Wednesday asking him not to comply with any open record requests from media for businesses' names. Bill Lueders, president of the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council, said business groups shouldn't get to decide what information is publicly available.
Minneapolis Star Tribune