Transparency News, 9/13/2022


September 13, 2022

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state & local news stories


Supporters of former president Donald Trump have swamped local election offices across the nation in recent weeks with a coordinated campaign of requests for 2020 voting records, in some cases paralyzing preparations for the fall election season. In nearly two dozen states and scores of counties, election officials are fielding what many describe as an unprecedented wave of public records requests in the final weeks of summer, one they say may be intended to hinder their work and weaken an already strained system. The avalanche of sometimes identically worded requests has forced some to dedicate days to the process of responding even as they scurry to finalize polling locations, mail out absentee ballots and prepare for early voting in October, officials said.
The Washington Post
And here are a few observations I had about the impact on VCOG and other state open government coalitions.

Spotsylvania School Board Chair Kirk Twigg on July 9 sent a letter to Jon Russell, then a special council at the Virginia Department of Education, informing him that Mark Taylor was "the final candidate for the superintendent position." The letter, which The Free Lance–Star obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, is dated the day after the School Board met in a closed session to discuss "the two finalists for the superintendent position." The board took no public vote at that meeting to recommend Taylor, who formerly was Spotsylvania County administrator and is a longtime friend of Twigg, for the position.  In the July 9 letter, Twigg wrote, "The Spotsylvania School Board and Mr. Mark Taylor are all in agreement that he is the final candidate for the superintendent position.
The Free Lance-Star

A Circuit Court judge has granted a motion on behalf of Scott Smith to remove Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj from prosecuting him on the charge of disorderly conduct at a 2021 School Board meeting. Judge James E. Plowman issued the order on Sept. 2, months after Biberaj and the Smiths’ attorney argued the recusal on May 2 and almost a year after the motion was first filed Oct. 22, 2021. Smith is the father of a student who was sexually assaulted at her high school. He was subsequently arrested at a Loudoun County School Board meeting and charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest without force after tussling with deputies. He was there to speak out against the School Board for what he believed was a failure to protect his daughter and engaging in a cover-up of the incident.  Smith was found guilty in District Court and is appealing the conviction.

A Rockingham County General District Court judge found Randell Snow, an Elkton Town Council member, not guilty of misdemeanor assault and battery on Monday. Jilliyn Rae-Anne Monger, who was an employee of the Elkton Area Community Center, accused Snow of grabbing her face mask and touching her during her work shift on Jan. 28. She filed a complaint with a magistrate on June 23. Both parties showed camera footage from the incident, which Evans said was different from Monger’s testimony. Monger said that on the second attempt, Snow tried to grab her mask in a downward motion. But the video, Evans said, showed Snow swiping sideways at her face, and not making contact.
Daily News Record