Transparency News 7/19/19



July 19, 2019


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state & local news stories


It was on July 11 that Coy Harville received a call and then a text from Pittsylvania County supervisor Bob Warren, asking to meet up for coffee at 4:30 p.m. at West Side Diner. When he arrived, Warren was there with supervisor Ronald Scearce, and there was a computer on the table. Warren gave Harville an ultimatum: either resign from the Pittsylvania County Service Authority Board of Commissioners by Monday, or the board of supervisors would vote to terminate him. Warren said he had four votes to do it, but didn’t want to smear Harville’s name. Harville, who at the time was the board chairman, told them he did nothing wrong and walked out of the restaurant. The reason they gave for the ultimatum was an incident that happened in December. While Harville was soliciting local businesses for donations to fund a Christmas dinner the service authority was throwing for its employees, an interaction with the owner of Wilson's Lawn & Garden, on Franklin Turnpike in Danville, quickly turned into a confrontation, which was caught on video.
Register & Bee


editorials & columns


On two important cases that pitted the right to privacy against freedom of the press, the late Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens sided against the media. In one instance he was on the losing end. In the other, though, he wrote the majority opinion, limiting public access to government information in a decision that reverberates three decades later. Stevens was on the winning side in ruling that public records may become private in some circumstances, and that the privacy rights of an individual can sometimes outweigh the public’s right to know. The decision was a blow against freedom of the press. Even though rap sheets by their nature are filled with falsehoods and rumors, it seemed (and still seems) absurd that government documents that could have provided information about the Medicos’ dealings with a congressman who had pled guilty to corruption charges were not made public. As Jane Kirtley, then the director of the Reporters Committee, put it at the time, the decision had “very serious implications for public access to government information. It says that today something may be a public document but tomorrow it's not because it’s on a computer tape.”
Dan Kennedy, WGBH