Transparency News, 8/5/20


August 5, 2020
There was no issue of Access News yesterday, Aug. 4.
state & local news stories
Sen. Mamie Locke became chair of the FOIA Council at yesterday's virtual meeting. She replaces Sen. Richard Stuart, who has rotated on and off as chair over multiple terms. Newly appointed council member Del. Marcus Simon was voted in as vice-chair.
Tuckahoe District (Henrico) Supervisor Patricia S. O’Bannon has been reappointed to various committees and boards of the National Association of Counties. O’Bannon will serve as a vice chair of the International Economic Development Task Force and as a member of the Healthy Counties Initiative Advisory Board, Information Technology Standing Committee, Large Urban County Caucus Steering Committee and Resilient Counties Advisory Board.
NOTE: O'Bannon is a member of VCOG's board of directors
Henrico Citizen

The Virginia State Police in a filing this week defended redacting the bulk of its Unite the Right rally operations plan in response to a Freedom of Information Act request. The filing in response to a judges findings to the contrary argues that the portions of the plan that were withheld were properly redacted. Counsel for VSP has repeatedly argued that the information contained within the report is tactical and is, therefore, exempt from FOIA. Charlottesville Circuit Court Judge Richard E. Moore ruled against that argument in March 2018, ruling that the plan must be turned over. However, Moore also required the report to be redacted in camera so he could review the redactions. Counsel for VSP lists its arguments for the redactions, largely arguing that the portions excised from the report are tactical in nature or contain individual identifying information. “Respondents have no further responses to additional portions of the Operational Plan ordered by the Court to be unredacted,” the response reads. “However, the above responses and lack of further responses to the Court’s removal of redactions in their entirety remain subject to the Respondent’s continuing objection that the entire VSP Operational Plan is exempt from disclosure under Virginia Code.” The response also addresses an issue raised in Moore’s most recent letter that the state police brought up new exceptions related to cell phone and telephone numbers that had not been previously raised or briefed.
The Daily Progress

Charlottesville City Council is getting heat from residents and members of the Police Civilian Review Board for not involving the oversight panel in a planned listening session on policing. Two members of the existing board and three from the initial panel grilled the council on its interactions with the CRB during the council’s meeting on Monday. The flashpoint came Monday afternoon when board members learned they would not be allowed to participate in Tuesday’s listening session. Resident Ang Conn asked why the CRB wasn’t consulted or invited to the session and that “It just seems to me that council isn’t being transparent.”
The Daily Progress

Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork producer, has ended its legal fight to prevent the release of information about an outbreak of COVID-19 cases among workers at its South Dakota plant and agreed to give the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration documents it had sought. The company, owned by China-based WH Group and headquartered in the city of Smithfield, had filed a federal lawsuit as Smithfield Packaged Meats Co. in South Dakota to stop the OSHA records request.
The Virginian-Pilot
stories of national interest
"The court is working with police to investigate how the Daily Mail obtained the copies of the two videos."
Newly published body-camera footage shows the initial moments of George Floyd's arrest and the final moments of his life. The Daily Mail published Monday partial footage from the body cameras of two Minneapolis police officers involved in Floyd’s arrest on May 25.  The videos, which the British newspaper describes as "leaked," show about 10 minutes from former Officer Thomas Lane’s bodycam and about 18 minutes from former Officer J. Kueng’s bodycam. Transcripts from the videos were released in mid-July. A Hennepin County judge allowed journalists and the public to view the footage by appointment. Previously, the only way to view the videos was in person at the courthouse. Judge Peter Cahill has not yet ruled on a motion by a coalition of news organizations seeking public access to the videos. Hennepin County District Court spokesman Spenser Bickett told USA TODAY the court is working with police to investigate how the Daily Mail obtained the copies of the two videos, which were submitted to the court on July 7, but declined further comment.
USA Today