Transparency News, 9/30/2022


September 30, 2022

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state & local news stories


The FOIA Council will meet Monday, Oct. 3, at 1 p.m. in the Capitol Building. A new chair and vice chair will be selected, the e-meetings best practices draft will be discussed and the council will hold a legislative preview session. The meeting will not be live-streamed (boo!).
Click here for the full agenda

Emails between a special prosecutor and the Colonial Heights City Attorney show that the investigation into former Police Chief Jeff Faries resulted in no charges due to a delay in reporting the incident to police, not a lack of evidence. Faries resigned from his position earlier this year amid allegations of “inappropriate behavior and interactions in an off-duty capacity.” Faries was a coach on the high school softball team at the time.  According to the special prosecutor assigned to the case, Lynchburg’s Commonwealth Attorney Bethany Harrison, the allegations occurred between January 2021 and May 2021. The statute of limitations for these specific charges is one year, meaning charges cannot be pressed more than a year after the alleged incident occurred.  According to documents obtained by Virginia Scope using a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, Harrison sent a letter to a member of the Colonial Heights City Council on Sept. 12 of this year explaining why she is unable to press charges against Faries for certain allegations. On Sept. 19, 2022, at 12:08 pm, Colonial Heights City Attorney Hugh Fisher asked for clarification from Harrison over email. This interaction was also obtained by Virginia Scope through a FOIA request. 
Virginia Scope

Rappahannock County is expected to miss its first quarterly payment deadline for regional broadband expansion project after two members were absent from a Broadband Authority meeting on Monday. The Broadband Authority, comprised of the same members of the Board of Supervisors, will take up the issue at a joint meeting on Monday, Oct. 3, two days past the Oct. 1 quarterly payment deadline for broadband expansion that the county agreed to meet. While Chair and Wakefield Supervisor Debbie Donehey could have called a special meeting for Friday, she said on Tuesday she chose to hold it during the regular Board of Supervisors meeting to make it as convenient as possible for members of the Broadband Authority. Piedmont Supervisor Christine Smith and Jackson Supervisor Ron Frazier skipped out on the Sept. 26 Broadband Authority meeting, leaving the body without a physical quorum and unable to vote on the payment. Smith and Frazier encouraged Donehey to continue the Sept. 19 Broadband Authority meeting to this week, but did not give her a reason on why they were not able to attend on Monday. Smith said in an interview on Tuesday that she would have attended a special-called meeting for later this week to discuss the payment, and that she plans to attend the joint meeting next week. She declined to say whether or not she plans to approve the payment. Frazier on Tuesday did not return a request seeking comment on whether he plans to attend next week’s meeting.
Rappahannock News

On Sept. 6, at the end of a long Prince William Board of County Supervisors’ meeting, Jeanine  Lawson, R-Brentsville, took the mic. First, she thanked constituents for their help with various things. Then she lit into Amazon. Lawson used her “supervisor’s time” to express her displeasure, even her “disgust,” at how the mammoth data center company had dealt with residents of Great Oak subdivision near Manassas, who were complaining about the noise coming from an Amazon complex next door. Amazon Web Services had refused to answer basic questions posed to the company, she said. “Everything that the community is asking regarding these problems with noise, AWS is, their canned response is always, ‘It's proprietary.’ It's proprietary to the point where like, they won't even tell you what they had for lunch.” In Prince William County and elsewhere, data center companies routinely ask local officials to sign non-disclosure agreements that bind them from discussing company information. In both Prince William and Loudoun, data center projects may get code names, like “Buffalo” or “Viper” to hide their identities. In Fauquier County, secrecy stalked a zoning code amendment that paved the way for an Amazon application for a data center in Warrenton. 
Prince William Times

stories of national interest

Tens of millions of small U.S. companies will soon be required to provide the government with details on their owners and others who benefit from them under a regulation that became final on Thursday and is intended to peel back the layers of ownership that often hide unlawfully obtained assets. The Treasury Department said it was moving to create a database that will contain personal information on the owners of at least 32 million U.S. businesses as part of an effort to combat illicit finance.
The Virginian-Pilot