Transparency News 9/7/18



September 7, 2018


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state & local news stories


A detailed review of 400 state government websites found that nearly all of them are deficient in some foundational functionalities, including load speeds, mobile readiness, security and accessibility. The review was conducted by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), a nonprofit public policy think tank that is based in Washington, D.C. ITIF compiled the findings of the review into a report dubbed Benchmarking State Government Websites, which the group recently released. As noted, the report assesses four criteria: page-load speed, mobile friendliness, security and accessibility. The evaluation found that only one state government-run website passed all of its tests: Virginia’s site for hunting and fishing licenses.

Embattled Bristol City Councilman Doug Fleenor on Thursday filed a lawsuit against the city, seeking to block an attempt to remove him from the council. The suit names the other elected council members — Mayor Kevin Mumpower, Vice Mayor Kevin Wingard, Bill Hartley and Neal Osborne — as defendants. Filed by attorney Michael Bragg of Abingdon, the action challenges the council’s authority to remove a duly elected member and the city charter that forms the basis for their actions. “The city will respond to Mr. Fleenor’s lawsuit in the appropriate forum,” Eads wrote in a text message. “However I would also like to note that [it] would be in the public’s best interest if Mr. Fleenor would release the documents he was served and any evidence associated with those documents to the public as soon as possible.”
Bristol Herald Courier


national stories of interest

A judge on Wednesday ordered Florida Gov. Rick Scott to release about three months' worth of meeting schedules and travel plans — including upcoming campaign events — and rejected his argument that the information should remain secret for security reasons. Circuit Judge Charles Dodson in Tallahassee ruled in favor of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. The group sued the governor in July demanding a complete copy of Scott's calendars for the period beginning July 20, 2018 and ending on Oct. 31, 2018. Scott claimed that the requested information that has not already been made public is protected by a public records exemption that covers surveillance techniques, procedures and personnel.
Tampa Bay Times





editorials & columns


Applause goes to the Charlottesville Planning Commission for acknowledging the importance of soliciting resident input in non-traditional ways.  The usual model is for residents to attend public hearings and similar meetings in order weigh in on municipal plans. This practice puts the onus on residents to come to city officials, rather than city officials taking the initiative to go to them. Plus, by the time public policy, land-use or other decisions get to the public hearing stage, they often already are far along the path to adoption. Municipal officials and private interests, savvy about how the system works, have been involved in shaping the products that are put before the public. Residents can register their displeasure or satisfaction, but might not have had the opportunity to influence those decisions and, sometimes, are merely presented with what appears to be a fait accompli .
The Daily Progress