Va. FOIA & access in the news

Loudoun County Chairman Scott K. York (I-At Large) has submitted a request under the Freedom of Information Act to try and find the truth about reports that have circulated about the Planning Commission since last week. York confirmed this weekend he has submitted a FOIA request to Commissioner Sandra Chaloux (Dulles) in an attempt to uncover any e-mails she may have sent regarding the Planning Commission's work session on the Countywide Transportation Plan. Last week reports circulated that an e-mail was sent to some members of the commission encouraging them not to attend the Thursday, June 25 work session because lack of a quorum would likely force the delay the public hearing on the CTP until September. More recently, sources have said the e-mail in question reflected a more unilateral decision on Chaloux's part not to attend the meeting, knowing that her absence would leave the panel without a quorum to conduct business.

A proposal to keep jurors anonymous in all criminal trials is under consideration by the Virginia Supreme Court.

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine's office has rejected a second request under the state's Freedom of Information Act for records of where he has traveled, when and for whom.   Kaine's office on Monday denied an Associated Press request for information on where the chief executive and Democratic National Committee chairman has traveled, on whose behalf, and what it cost.,0,1080724.story

A woman who filed an open-records lawsuit against the director of the Warren County Department of Social Services and the chairwoman of its board is now seeking financial sanctions against the agency as well. In a 12-page document mailed to General District Court on June 26, David Zachary Kaufman, of the Kaufman Law firm in Fairfax, says that sanctions should be imposed against Social Services for failing to comply with an agreement to provide his client, Linda B. Selover of Front Royal, with documents that she was seeking as a result of the lawsuit. Selover filed a petition in General District Court on May 15, 2008, alleging that her rights under Virginia's Freedom of Information Act were violated by the department's director, Ronald L. King, and its board chairwoman, Prudence B. Mathews. Selover sought minutes of Social Services board meetings, audio recordings, e-mails and memos "which may shed light on their investigation of abuse of vulnerable individuals," she has said. In September, with Judge W. Dale Houff presiding, Selover's attorney, and County Attorney Blair D. Mitchell signed the terms of an agreement as to which documents the agency would provide.

An interesting dispatch from Bath County, the home of gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds / Just a few days after Deeds' June 9 primary victory, a stranger showed up at the Bath County Courthouse, asking to review Deeds personal and legal records. Bath is the Virginia's second least populated county. There aren't a lot of strangers there. So the young man attracted a bit of attention from the clerks at the courthouse and then from Chris Singleton, Bath's part-time Commonwealth Attorney, who just happens to be Deeds' former law partner. Who was he? He was Republican operative Jared Wheeler, and he spent a couple solid days sifting through records in the county courthouse. Though he attracted attention, the folks in Bath said they were careful to give Wheeler everything he asked for and be as helpful as they could.

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