Transparency News 7/2/19



July 2, 2019


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state & local news stories



It’s been one month since the mass shooting inside Building 2 at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center. One of the employees there that day spent a night behind bars this week for allegedly disturbing the peace after he refused to return to the building. Jon McIvor works in the IT department.  For the past month he has been in Building 17.  This week he was told he was going back to Building 2. Tuesday, he met with a supervisor about having to go back to Building 2. According to court records, McIvor became agitated and angry.  He then began yelling and stormed out of the office. “I don’t want to be coerced to go back in there,” McIvor said.  “I wanted to talk with HR and see what my options were.” HR told McIvor they would find another position for him so he didn’t have to return to Building 2.  Wednesday at work, police showed up and arrested him.  His supervisor Darrell Riddick went to the magistrate and took out a warrant against McIvor for disturbing the peace.  He ended up spending 24 hours in jail. City officials said they can’t talk about personnel matters.

After Elkton Town Councilman Jeff Jones submitted his resignation from council last week, council has begun accepting letters of interest and resumes to fill the now-vacant seat. According to town code, any vacancy in council must be filled within 30 days by the remaining council. Mayor Josh Gooden said council is accepting the letters of interest and resumes until July 8 at noon to fill the seat. “Ideally we will have a closed session to review the applicantsafter the July 8 work session and vote at the regular council meeting on July 15,” Gooden said.
Daily News Record


stories of national interest

Three months have passed since a judicial panel in New York heard arguments to unseal documents that could reveal whether federal prosecutors covered up evidence that New York financier Jeffrey Epstein and others were running an underage sex trafficking operation. In March, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit seemed poised to release some documents in the case. The appeals panel gave all parties in the case until March 29 to file additional pleadings. Several challenges were subsequently filed, but the court has yet to make a final ruling.

The New York Police Department is still listing children as young as 13 in its secret gang database, police officials told a New York City Council committee yesterday. The database is growing, currently including 18,084 people, up 2 percent from last June, when the NYPD last testified about the database. The increase came despite the removal of some 2,125 names from the registry — because the police added nearly 2,500 people to the database. The NYPD won’t disclose who is included in the database, and there is no mechanism for a person to challenge their inclusion.
The Intercept

It has been used to identify more than 40 murder and rape suspects in cases as much as a half-century old. It has led to guilty pleas and confessions, including in one case where another man was convicted of the crime. Genetic genealogy — in which DNA samples are used to find relatives of suspects, and eventually the suspects themselves — has redefined the cutting edge of forensic science, solving the type of cases that haunt detectives most: the killing of a schoolteacher 27 years ago, an assault on a 71-year-old church organ player, the rape and murder of dozens of California residents by a man who became known as the Golden State Killer. But until a trial this month in the 1987 murder of a young Canadian couple, it had never been tested in court. 
The New York Times

The papers of anti-immigration activist John Tanton housed at the University of Michigan should be public record, a Michigan Court of Appeals panel has ruled. The panel reversed a 2017 Court of Claims decision against Hassan Ahmad, who brought the complaint against UM under a Freedom of Information Act request. Ahmad was seeking access to 10 of the 25 boxes of papers donated by Tanton to UM’s Bentley Historical Library. Tanton donated the papers with the request that those boxes remain closed until April 2035, in accordance with the terms of the gift.




editorials & columns


One topic particularly close to this editorial board is legislators’ temperament toward making Virginia more transparent. The commonwealth’s Freedom of Information Act is a veritable Swiss cheese of exemptions, meaning far too much information can be hidden from the public. One new law will pull even harder on the threads of Virginia’s frayed FOIA laws. Virginia Lottery winners who win more than $10 million will not be required to have their names made public. It’s a perplexing law considering The Virginian-Pilot uncovered anomalies this year in the ways certain people were claiming lottery prizes. A more transparent system is needed, both in the lottery and within government as a whole.
Daily Press