Transparency News 8/1/18



August 1, 2018


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state & local news stories


In a hastily called special meeting, three Charlottesville city councilors appointed an interim city manager — who will also serve as emergency management director — less than two weeks before the anniversary of last year’s deadly white supremacist rally. Councilors Kathy Galvin, Wes Bellamy and Mike Signer voted to appoint Assistant City Manager Mike Murphy, 47, to the temporary position. Mayor Nikuyah Walker, who is out of the state, could not be reached by phone for the meeting. Councilor Heather Hill listened to the meeting over the phone but did not vote. Officials said the meeting was called to get an interim manager in place prior to Jones’ departure. An emailed notice was sent at 1:05 p.m. for the 1:15 p.m. meeting. Although the closed-door meeting was legal, its last-minute nature and short public notice raised some concerns.
The Daily Progress


stories of national interest

The Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission concurred with a hearing officer’s opinion that a Republican caucus last year didn’t constitute a meeting and therefore didn’t violate any state notice and record-keeping requirements. Democrat John Moise, appointed to the Board of Fire Commissioners after an unsuccessful Board of Finance bid in November, filed the complaint. He claimed a gathering of council Republicans last summer constituted a meeting and was subject to FOI rules.
Meriden Record-Journal

A police department in New York state has come under fire from a civil rights organization for using the letter “Y” — for the color yellow — to denote officers of Asian descent. A screenshot of one document obtained by the New York Civil Liberties Union through a Freedom of Information Law request shows that the Nassau County Police Department on Long Island used single letters as categories to tally the races of its sworn personnel. The department confirmed to NBC News that “B” signified black; “H,” Hispanic; “W,” white; and “Y,” yellow. “I,” for Indian, was also used in reference to Native Americans, the department said.
NBC News

A U.S. judge on Tuesday blocked the imminent release of blueprints for 3-D printed guns, hours before they were set to hit the internet, after several states sued to halt publication of designs to make weapons that security screening may not detect.

A reporting organization and a legal group on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) alleging that the federal agency has failed to release documents they requested detailing FEMA's emergency relief efforts following Hurricane Maria last year. The Center for Investigative Reporting in Puerto Rico (CPI) and legal organization LatinoJustice say they requested documents from the agency through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in February and FEMA still has not produced them, according to the court filing. 
The Hill





editorials & columns


Let’s face it. If Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey W. Parker is confused about the two lawsuits against the county’s Board of Supervisors, known as Bragg 1 and Bragg 2, is there any hope for the rest of the community? Gid Brown Hollow resident Marian Bragg sued the BOS in 2016 (Bragg 1) and in 2017 (Bragg 2), both alleging that the supervisors violated Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) on several occasions in different ways. Bragg 1 alleges violations of public notification before the supervisors went into closed session. Bragg 2 alleges that the board did not properly advertise and consider candidates for the county administrator in the fall of 2017. Former interim County Administrator Brenda Garton is also a named party in Bragg2. To be fair, as Parker pointed out in court July 20, he is new to the cases, having taken them over after Alfred D. Swersky, a substitute judge in Rappahannock’s 20th Judicial Circuit, retired before deciding on outstanding motions in Bragg 1.
Patty Hardee, Rappahannock News

On July 26, Sullivan County (Tennessee) mayoral candidate Gerald Sensabaugh shared sceenshots of profane texts that appeared to be from Sheriff Wayne Anderson’s county-issued phone. On July 28, Anderson admitted to sending the derogatory texts to an employee. On July 29, that employee — Megan Smith — spoke out about the texts and the Sheriff’s statements. That’s Busted Bingo on our card. It’s true that the timing of these texts’ release — one week ahead of the election — is suspect. However, in a news release Anderson explicitly did not distribute to the Bristol Herald Courier, the Sheriff has admitted to sending the texts, which are nothing short of disturbing.
Bristol Herald Courier