Transparency News 9/18/19



September 18, 2019


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state & local news stories


Almost four months after 16 people were shot by a city employee, police plan to reveal findings from the criminal investigation next week. On Tuesday, the public will hear what police have determined happened on the day of the mass shooting, Mayor Bobby Dyer said. Police also will provide more details about the shooter and his work history, Dyer said.
The Virginian-Pilot

McGuireWoods LLP charged Eastern Virginia Medical School more than $365,000 for their investigation into Gov. Ralph Northam’s racist yearbook photo, according to copies of two invoices sent to the school. Details of the law firm’s investigation were released in May, but the report was “inconclusive” on whether Gov. Northam is in a racist photo that appears on his 1984 EVMS yearbook page. The first invoice billed to the school on March 31 is for $76,141,36 and charges for work done during the month of February. A second and final invoice was billed to the school in August for work done during the months of March, April, May, and June. It charges $291,785.27. News 3 obtained the invoices through a Freedom of Information Act request.

A petition to remove Strasburg Mayor Richard Orndorff Jr. from office was filed in Shenandoah County Circuit Court on Monday. The petition includes 112 signatures from town residents who said they were registered to vote. “Christie Monahan, et al” is listed as the plaintiff in the case. This is the first step in a process to potentially remove the mayor from office through a referendum election ordered by a judge. The petition follows several months of unrest in town and on social media after Orndorff drove a John Deere Gator recreational vehicle into the Strasburg Town Library on May 17 during the first night of the town’s Mayfest celebration. Orndorff has been charged by Virginia State Police with two misdemeanors — driving under the influence of alcohol and driving a recreational vehicle on a public highway.
The Northern Virginia Daily


stories of national interest

The federal Judiciary’s national policy making body today approved a new model employment dispute resolution (EDR) plan that will simplify and expand the options for addressing wrongful workplace conduct and, in other action, took steps to make electronic access to court records free for more users. The Judicial Conference doubled the quarterly fee waiver for users of the Public Access to Court Electronic Records system (PACER) from $15 to $30. This will result in more than 75 percent of the system’s users paying no fee in a given quarter. This was his second DUI charge in five years.
U.S. Courts

An Ann Arbor, Michigan, City Council member won’t be getting a fee waiver for a Freedom of Information Act request seeking copies of Mayor Christopher Taylor’s emails. Council voted 5-4 Monday night, Sept. 16, against waiving the $217 the city wants to charge Council Member Jeff Hayner, D-1st Ward, for processing his FOIA request. Council Member Ali Ramlawi, D-5th Ward, argued it would set a bad precedent to waive fees in a case like this, which “could be interpreted as a fishing expedition or a witch hunt.” Hayner believes Taylor uses a personal email account to conduct city business, in violation of a council rules.




editorials & columns


The contretemps over a ghost-written op-ed in a sister newspaper has turned out to “have legs,” as we say in the business. That is, the story has shown stamina and has been of continuing interest to many people, especially those of us concerned with ethics in the news business. Since ethics in the news business ought to be of concern to everyone, due to the great influence wielded by the media and by those allowed to use media outlets, we wanted to address the issue here. And if that isn’t enough to woo your interest, consider that the contretemps also involves a state-supported university, where your tax dollars are at work. We can’t promise to prevent every attempt to abuse our policy of allowing others to have their say in our publication, whether op-eds or letters to the editor. But we are alert to the possibility of such manipulation and do our very best to avert it.
The Daily Progress