Transparency News 7/16/19



July 16, 2019


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state & local news stories


If you're shopping on Prime Day, start by going to Amazon Smile first and selecting the Virginia Coalition for Open Government as your charity. A percentage of your purchase goes to VCOG! We also have a wish list of everyday office supplies.

VPAP has posted reports that provide the public with a look at the finances through June 30 for all candidates and political committees that e-file with the Virginia Department of Elections. See how much each committee raised during the most recent filing period and browse each committee's itemized contributions and expenditures. Every candidate for state and local office and every political committee were required to file mid-year disclosure reports by midnight Monday.
Virginia Public Access Project

There’s still room for improvement, but presentations July 9 by the Police Civilian Review Panel and Fairfax County’s independent police auditor largely were upbeat about the recent performance of the county’s police department. According to the review panel’s 2018 report, presented by past chairman Rhonda VanLowe to the Board of Supervisors’ Public Safety Committee, the panel received 31 complaints last year about county police. Forty-one percent of the complaints pertained to alleged violations of law or police policy, 22 percent were allegations of unprofessional conduct and 16 percent were about racial profiling or harassment. Several of the complaints featured more than one allegation, and five complaints that were investigated resulted in the department’s taking corrective action, VanLowe said. Some members of the public still are concerned about transparency and accountability within the police department, she added.


stories of national interest

Pennsylvania’s message was clear: The state was taking a big step to keep its elections from being hacked in 2020. Last April, its top election official told counties they had to update their systems. So far, nearly 60% have taken action, with $14.15 million of mostly federal funds helping counties buy brand-new electoral systems. But there’s a problem: Many of these new systems still run on old software that will soon be outdated and more vulnerable to hackers. An Associated Press analysis has found that like many counties in Pennsylvania, the vast majority of 10,000 election jurisdictions nationwide use Windows 7 or an older operating system to create ballots, program voting machines, tally votes and report counts.
Associated Press

The South Dakota Unified Judicial System is piloting a program that will eventually allow the public access to court records from any computer. The public can now only view court records on computers at state courthouses during work hours from Monday to Friday, which means some people face long drives to access the records.The new website, set to go live late 2019 or early 2020, is aimed at improving public access to court records by allowing people to view them online from any computer at the cost of 10 cents per page.
The State




editorials & columns


On Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, voters in the Town of Amherst elected five members to Town Council. On Wednesday, July 10, council decided that election didn’t mean a thing, when four councilors — suddenly and without explanation— expelled one of their own, in the process making a joke of the foundation of our democratic republic. Residents want answers, and they deserve them. But town officials are maintaining an arrogant silence, aside from a brief statement issued afterward. Council is proceeding as if nothing more needs be said, soliciting applications from the public for an interim appointment and scheduling a Nov. 5 special election for a replacement. What will they do if the winner of that election is someone equally as inquisitive on behalf of the public or is Wheaton herself? Overturn that vote, too?
The News & Advance