Transparency News 9/12/17

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

VCOG's annual conference is Nov. 16 in Richmond. Click below for tickets and registration details.

Eventbrite - ACCESS 2017: VCOG's Annual Conference

State and Local Stories

Prince William County Schools Superintendent Steven Walts is asking a judge to throw out a suit brought against him by school board Chairman Ryan Sawyers, who claims Walts is unjustly denying him access to email correspondence from his predecessor on the board, Milton Johns. Walts contends that only the school board itself controls these emails, and he thinks Sawyers is being too broad in his bid to have unfettered access to Johns’ emails. Instead, Walts believes the chairman needs to either secure a vote from the board allowing him to see specific messages or file a records request under Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act to get what he’s looking for. Sawyers argues that he has a right to see emails connected to his office as he conducts school board business.

The Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership at the University of Virginia is now seeking applicants for our 2018 Political Leaders Program. The Political Leaders Program (PLP) is Sorensen’s flagship program. It brings together Virginians from across the political spectrum and all around the Commonwealth for a unique learning experience. The PLP helps to develop leaders who are considering a greater role in public service or community leadership in Virginia.
Sorensen Institute

National Stories

A government backlog of 700,000 security clearance reviews has led agencies like the Defense Department to inadvertently issue interim passes to criminals — even rapists and killers — prompting calls for better and faster vetting of people with access to the nation's secrets. The pileup, which is government-wide, is causing work delays for both federal and private intelligence efforts. It takes about four months to acquire a clearance to gain access to "secret" information on a need-to-know basis, and nine to 10 months for "top-secret" clearance.

A Maryland judge ordered the state bar to open an investigation Monday into the three lawyers who helped former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delete her private emails. Anne Arundel County Circuit Court Judge Paul F. Harris Jr. said the complaints lodged against David E. Kendall, Cheryl Mills and Heather Samuelson were egregious and the state bar couldn’t dismiss them as frivolous. “There are allegations of destroying evidence,” Judge Harris said at a hearing Monday morning.
Washington Times

In 2017, local and state governments in the United States publish open data on everything from animal licenses to zoning. What we don’t know is how residents use this huge variety of public information. As more state and local governments connect their residents to open data, what kind of open data releases should be a priority? To start to answer these questions, we analyzed the text descriptions of open datasets from 141 cities and state governments across the country — a total of 21,000 individual open datasets — and scored them based on views and downloads to figure out which types of data are most popular. Based on our analysis, the most popular types of open data are:
Sunlight Foundation

A federal administrative judge on Monday prohibited members of the public and media from attedning a Homeland Security Department hearing on the cancellation of a contract for a groundbreaking technology that allow the agency to detect bioterrorist threats. Judge Allan H. Goodman of the U.S. Civilian Board of Contract Appeals issued the order barring the public from the hearing and prohibiting anyone involved – including lawyers or witnesses in the case – from talking about the proceedings, The Los Angeles Times reported.
Fox News

The District has denied a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request from FOX 5 for any and all past complaints made against an officer spotted wearing an offensive t-shirt in July. The D.C. government's response highlights the District as one of the most secretive jurisdictions in our area when it comes to police internal investigation records, according to communications lawyer Dana Green of Levine Sullivan Koch and Schulz.
Fox 5


The Pilot reported in July that Kimberly Ann Ward had been fired – but didn’t face a court case – following the discovery of $8,000 in fraudulent credit card charges. The onetime Portsmouth Redevelopment and Housing Authority worker was among a handful of PRHA employees who had an agency credit card. It was past time. Ward is innocent unless and until proven guilty, but police and prosecutors were duty-bound to follow wherever the law takes them. Abuse of thousands of dollars cannot be forgiven so cavalierly.  “I was mystified as to why the housing authority, particularly the board, wasn’t pressing charges,” Councilman Bill Moody told me Friday. He was among the officials who earlier had called for prosecution if there was evidence of the misuse of thousands of dollars. “Why they decided not to, they owe an explanation to the public,” Moody added.
Roger Chesley, Virginian-Pilot