Transparency News 8/7/19



August 7, 2019


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state & local news stories


“I was ethical then and I am ethical now.”

A fraud case involving a $600,000-plus payment for synthetic turf for Courtland High School’s football field does not appear to be linked to two other thefts from Spotsylvania County government, the Virginia State Police said. “There is no evidence to suggest any of the three incidents is connected,” state police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said in a prepared statement. The other two thefts involved a paycheck for a former high-ranking employee and gift card accounts. Officials have not released how much was stolen in those thefts. Geller said the thefts are a case of “cyber phishing scams” and that the investigation started Aug. 1. Phishing scams are cases in which thieves use emails or text messages to trick victims into giving them personal information, such as passwords and account numbers.
The Free Lance-Star

Costs to uncover and litigate the alleged embezzlement at the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority have risen to over $1.2 million. After exiting a closed session Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors increased the cap on what it may have to pay Sands Anderson — the law firm representing the authority in litigation regarding the alleged embezzlement at the EDA — from $500,000 to $750,000.
The Northern Virginia Daily

Tuesday’s meeting will revisit the Strasburg Town Council Code of Conduct and Ethics, which member Scott Terndrup said had not been updated or likely viewed in several years. “The Code of Conduct was originally a council pledge to our citizens to behave well on their behalf. That was 13 years ago,” he said. “There was kind of a broken trust at that time between the council and the citizens at large.” Commenting on the matter, Councilwoman Taralyn Nicholson said she took offense to Terndrup’s mentions of previous council members being unethical — in particular, council members who served in 2006. Explaining she served  on council in 2006, she said, “I was ethical then and I am ethical now.” Terndrup said he also served in 2006. “At my very first meeting, half, four members, walked out of the meeting, so we could not even have a business meeting,” he said. “I sat here and listened to council members up there challenge each other to fistfights out in the parking lot. “It was the mayor, [Tim] Taylor, who came at that point and said, ‘We have to do some healing here...’ I’m saying, as a council, honestly you were kind of a laughing stock. “And so this [code] was meant to repair a sense of trust. This wasn’t aimed at, certainly, you.”
The Northern Virginia Daily


stories of national interest

A federal appeals court has revived a libel suit former Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin filed against The New York Timesover an editorial linking Palin to the 2011 shooting rampage in Arizona that wounded then-Rep. Gabby Giffords and killed six others. The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals said a district court judge in Manhattan erred when he dismissed Palin’s lawsuit over the 2017 editorial prompted by a similar shooting attack in Virginia that badly injured Rep. Steve Scalise as he and other lawmakers practiced for a congressional baseball game.

Federal agencies must produce thousands of pages monthly of records pertaining to the killing of Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi because learning about his disappearance as quickly as possible is of "paramount importance," a judge said Tuesday. Representatives of the U.S. Department of State and Department of Defense had told U.S. District Judge Paul A. Engelmayer that producing 5,000 pages monthly makes it impossible to respond in a timely fashion to other Freedom of Information Act requests. Engelmayer ordered the agencies to get it done anyway, saying the disappearance of the Washington Post columnist and Saudi national was of "considerable public importance."
Minneapolis Star Tribune