Transparency News, 9/8/21


September 8, 2021
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state & local news stories

Charlottesville Mayor Nikuyah Walker apologized for the firing of Police Chief RaShall Brackney during Tuesday’s City Council meeting. Last week, City Manager Chip Boyles exercised his right to terminate Brackney’s employment contract upon 90 days’ notice. Brackney, who was hired by the city in June 2018, will be on paid administrative leave until Nov. 30. Brackney has not commented on the termination publicly. Boyles did not address the termination of Brackney’s contract during the City Manager’s Response period of the meeting. Boyles did not give a reason for Brackney’s termination. Walker moved to add discussion of Brackney’s termination to the night’s agenda. Her motion was not seconded and therefore was not added to the agenda. Members of the community demanded answers about Brackney’s firing during the meeting. 
The Daily Progress

Faced with biting criticism from Republican  Prince William supervisors, Police Chief Peter Newsham on Tuesday defended his investigation into what he called a “potentially” threatening email sent to the board from a local resident that contained the subject line: “government target.” “There’s been allegations that this investigation was done for a political purpose. Nothing could be further from the truth,” Police Chief Peter Newsham told the board during their Sept. 7 meeting. Newsham’s remarks came after the board’s three Republican supervisors spent nearly an hour questioning him about the police department’s response to an Aug. 3 email sent to the supervisors by Dumfries resident Robert Hand, a local gun-rights activist. The email was critical of several Democrats on the board. 
Prince William Times

Southampton County School Board Chair Dr. Deborah Goodwyn recently offered a summary to the school board of a July 14 relationship-building meeting that took place between county and school leaders. She highlighted the school system’s preferred approach to communication and collaboration between it and county leadership. “Now, when we talked about requesting information, they can request information of us, but when they request information, we were thinking that it’s information that would be helpful to the Board of Supervisors in making informed decisions,” Goodwyn said. “And when we were on that topic, for example, we talked about if the Board of Supervisors had potential businesses coming into the area, then Dr. Shannon would be happy to meet with potential businesses to talk about the school system, to talk about how we could make sure we have a workforce that’s qualified for the businesses coming in.” Goodwyn said she wanted to assure the school board that when she, Pope and Shannon talked about exchanging information, they talked about how to request information and were thinking that if the Board of Supervisors needed or wanted information that would help it make better, informed decisions related to their area of responsibility, school leaders would be happy to comply.  “We did not mean that they could ask us any question and we would feel compelled to answer,” she said. “FOIA, the Freedom of Information Act, refers to documents. So, of course, there’s a document that is available to the public — if they want it, they can certainly get it.”
The Tidewater News

The Pound Town Council has told the Wise County Board of Supervisors it opposes a proposed request for the Virginia General Assembly to repeal the town’s charter. Tuesday’s emergency meeting was held in an outside picnic area because town hall and employees had been exposed to COVID-19, according to Mayor Stacey Carson. At least 25 town residents and members of the public filled picnic tables, though, to hear the depleted three-member council adopt the resolution by Clifton Cauthorne. The resolution “rejects the narrative being put forward” in the county draft that “the town has a total disregard for the basic tenets of a local government.” It cites the county draft’s claims that town government is not able to provide a “fiscally responsible and safe environment” or to guarantee protection of citizens, persons and property.
Times News
stories from around the country
Minnesota State Patrol officers purged emails and texts after protests over the death of George Floyd last year, according to a transcript of court testimony released Friday. Maj. Joseph Dwyer said he and a "vast majority" of the Minnesota State Patrol deleted the messages during the summer of 2020, according to testimony from a hearing July 28 in an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit alleging the agency used unnecessary and excessive force to target journalists who covered the protests. Dwyer said supervisors did not order the purge; it is a "standard practice" for patrol members to delete texts and emails periodically or after a major event. "You just decided, shortly after the George Floyd protests, this would be a good time to clean out my inbox?" ACLU attorney Kevin Riach asked, according to the transcript. Minnesota law requires the State Patrol to keep records of official activity and allows members to delete messages only under a schedule approved by a state records panel, said Don Gemberling, spokesperson for the nonprofit Minnesota Coalition on Government Information. 
USA Today