Transparency News 5/1/12: break or meeting; Law School Transparency; don't say THAT word; VOTE

 


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

State and Local Stories

Tidewater News: The head of the Virginia Press Association called the Southampton County supervisors’ discussion in a hallway during a Wednesday budget workshop an illegal closed-door session. Drewryville District Supervisor Dallas Jones, chairman of the board, said Friday they did not break the law. Ivor-Berlin District Supervisor Ronnie West agreed. At the start of the meeting to work on the county’s proposed $52 million budget, supervisors discussed whether comments would be taken from the more than 600 people at Southampton High School. Jerusalem District Supervisor Dr. Alan Edwards understood that was the planned format, while Jones disagreed. After some discussion, Jones suggested the board take a five-minute break. The seven supervisors filed into a hallway.

The Schilling Show: Immediately upon the release of investigative findings implicating (now former) Charlottesville Communications Director, Ric Barrick, in a public bid-rigging and cover-up scandal, Barrick resigned his $95,000 per year position. Following Barrick’s public self-termination, Jones punished Barrick with…a new job—one that pays the full-time equivalent salary of $55,000 per year, and one which appears to have no definite termination date. In the course of the police investigation into “Barrick-gate,” the former Communications director freely admitted to permanently deleting emails and other public electronic documents in order to conceal his misdeeds—this in clear violation of the Virginia Public Records Act. While Jones did not respond publicly to Barrick’s attempted cover-up through the destruction of evidence, the incident caught the attention of the Library of Virginia, which oversees public records administration.

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National Stories

On the eve of the first anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden, White House counterterrorism chief John Brennan said today that documents recovered from bin Laden's compound in Pakistan show that he was dour about the future of al-Qaeda. In a speech at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, Brennan said some of these documents will be published online by West Point's Combating Terrorism Center this week for the public to see for itself.
USA Today

Under a new freedom of information code for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey that was set to go into effect April 15, the public authority has released 22,000 pages of documents on the Internet — including every response to a Freedom of Information Act request received in 2011.
TechPresident

A Texas judge has dismissed a defamation lawsuit against a neighborhood blogger in Dallas, who was sued by a local bar owner for posting stories about customer violence and business ordinance violations. This ruling effectively puts an end to the nearly 18-month litigation battle between Avi Adelman, the 56-year-old editor and publisher of the hyper-local news site BarkingDogs.org, and Fernando Rosales, the former owner of the bar Lost Society, that was closed in October after Rosales was arrested for possession of a controlled substance.
Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

The chief justice of the Illinois Supreme Court has announced another expansion of the state’s experiment with cameras in the courtrooms, saying it appeared to be working well in the circuit courts where it already is being tried.
First Amendment Center

Journalists opposing the controversial Illinois eavesdropping statute expressed relief when a Chicago official announced that police do not plan to enforce the law when the city hosts the NATO summit in May. A state representative also introduced a bill last week to make it legal to audio record police officers in public.
Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

Law School Transparency has unveiled a comprehensive database detailing a broad range of information designed to guide prospective law students about what they might be getting into — including school-by-school statistics about post-graduation employment and salaries; tuition rates; and student debt loads.
National Law Journal

The most versatile of the classic Anglo-Saxon swear words has, diligent research reveals, made just one appearance in oral arguments before the Supreme Court. The cursing, in 1971, probably won the case, which concerned the prosecution of a vulgar protest against the draft during the Vietnam War. By repeating the word in court, the protester’s lawyer showed that it could have a role in public discourse. Over the next two decades or so, the word was used in nine Supreme Court decisions, typically in quotations of something a criminal had said. Its last appearance was in 1993. Popular culture has grown coarser over the years, and the word is commonplace in hit songs and ubiquitous on cable television. The Supreme Court has moved in the opposite direction. The justices do not want to hear the word even when the case before them turns on it.
New York Times


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Editorials/Columns

Daily Press: For months, Americans have been barraged with microscopic details and "in-depth analysis" of this year's presidential election. For many voters, the November Election Day can't get here fast enough. Yet something will happen today in many Virginia localities that will likely have a far greater impact on citizens' everyday lives: city and town elections will decide who gets to make important decisions on their behalf.




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