Transparency News 8/6/13


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

State and Local Stories


Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II urged Gov. Robert F. McDonnell on Monday to call a special General Assembly session to repair “severe holes” in the state’s ethics laws. With McDonnell embroiled in a gifts scandal over luxury items, five-figure monetary gifts and $120,000 in loans from a Virginia businessman, the Republican candidate to succeed him said Virginia cannot wait until the legislature reconvenes in January to tighten the state’s lax disclosure requirements.
Washington Post

A former assistant Virginia attorney general who says she was fired after allegedly posting unfavorable remarks about her then-boss, Ken Cuccinelli, on a newspaper website has filed suit against him. Samantha Vanterpool of Annandale filed suit in U.S. District Court in Richmond on Friday against Cuccinelli and his former chief deputy, Charles E. James Jr., now in private practice in Richmond.

Ben Flora, mayor of the town of Boones Mill in Franklin County, confirmed Monday that the town council voted unanimously Thursday after a special meeting to fire Lynn Frith, the town’s longtime manager, colorful police chief and utilities supervisor. Flora, citing privacy and personnel laws, would not comment about the reasons for Frith’s firing. “It was not an overnight decision,” he said. Frith, 64, said Monday that friction with the town council began in March after he determined during budget meetings that Flora was charging the cost of his personal cellphone, as well as the cellphone of his mother, to the town. He said he reported his findings to the office of the commonwealth’s attorney for Franklin County.
Roanoke Times

The Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors adopted a more detailed and stringent credit-card use policy for county employees — including supervisors — that imposes disciplinary action for misuse. Supervisors unanimously supported Callands-Gretna Supervisor Jerry Hagerman’s idea with a 7-0 vote during their regular meeting Monday night. County Finance Director Kim Vanderhyde wrote the new policy, incorporating Hagerman’s proposal and rules from other localities. The change updates and expands the county’s policy from a scant one paragraph to five pages.
Register & Bee

In a modern age deeply embedded in the world wide web, Culpeper Town Council is considering a first-ever all-inclusive policy for computer use among town employees. The proposed document is especially heavy on guidelines for social media use among town employees, including use of personal accounts.  The 11-page document additionally proposes rules for the use of email and cell phones in a policy recently considered by the town council technology committee.

Most of the more than two dozen residents attending last week’s community briefing on the Board of Supervisors’ proposal for by-right schools agreed that public involvement should be viewed as an important component in the review process. “The idea of not having public input into where schools are located is ludicrous,” Lincoln-area resident Jean Brown said.
Leesburg Today

Internet billionaire Jeff Bezos of fame announced plans Monday to buy the Washington Post Co.’s flagship newspaper and its newspaper publishing business for $250 million.
Washington Times

National Stories

secretive U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration unit is funneling information from intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a massive database of telephone records to authorities across the nation to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans.

The latest revelations published by Glenn Greenwald at the Guardian on the NSA surveillance scandal illustrate how Congress has been blocked from basic oversight with regards to the agency’s sprawling spy dragnets. Undermining claims that Congress was made fully aware of NSA programs which essentially hoard and track information on nearly every aspect of online and phone communications within and going out of the United States, two House members provided information on how they were blocked from basic information on the controversial programs.

Public schools don’t have free rein to ban speech that they deem to be offensive, especially if the speech comments on a social issue, the Third Circuit ruled in a split en banc opinion in a case brought by two Easton middle school students who were suspended after wearing breast-cancer awareness bracelets that said “I ♥ boobies.”
The Legal Intelligencer

The dead can't vote, but they can give money to politicians. Thirty-two people listed on federal campaign records as "deceased" have contributed more than $586,000 to congressional and presidential candidates and political parties since Jan. 1, 2009, according to a USA TODAY analysis of Federal Election Commission filings
USA Today

Tucson Unified School District must reveal the names of the three unsuccessful superintendent candidates interviewed by the Governing Board, a Pima County Superior Court judge has ruled. The district has 10 days to release the names or appeal. District officials said on Friday they did not know if the board would appeal. Only H.T. Sanchez, who was appointed last month, has been identified.
Arizona Daily Star

Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel's office issued an opinion Monday saying the names of teachers who were trained as security guards and received stipends to purchase handguns cannot be withheld by the Clarksville School District. Superintendent David Hopkins has not fulfilled a Freedom of Information Act request submitted last week by The Courier for the names of the 22 district employees who each received $1,100 to purchase 9 mm pistols and holsters. The district's attorney, Jay Bequette of Little Rock, cited an expired exemption for "risk or security assessments" and a second exemption for information that if released would create "a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy," although previous attorney general opinions indicate the information is releasable.
The (Russellville, Ark.) Courier

Florida Gov. Rick Scott will soon launch a new hunt for noncitizens on Florida's voter roll, a move that's sure to provoke new cries of a voter "purge" as Scott ramps up his own re-election effort. Similar searches a year ago were rife with errors, found few ineligible voters and led to lawsuits by advocacy groups who said it disproportionately targeted Hispanics, Haitians and other minority groups. Those searches were handled clumsily and angered county election supervisors, who lost confidence in the state's list of names.
Tampa Bay Times, via Governing

At least three people were killed when a gunman opened fire at a Pennsylvania municipal building during a meeting, before he was tackled by a local official and shot with his own gun, a witness said.
Fox News