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VA Court To Review "Official" Email Rules 102

imac.usr writes "The Virginia Supreme Court will hear arguments today on a case brought by a Fairfax County resident alleging that the county's school board members violated the state's Freedom of Information Act. The suit alleges that board members colluded to close an elementary school in the county through rapid exchange of emails with each other. The state's FOIA rules stipulate that such exchanges can not constitute 'virtually simultaneous interaction' and that any assemblage of three or more members constitutes a formal meeting which must be announced. The article notes similar suits are popping up across the country, highlighting one of the difficulties governments face in balancing communication with transparency."
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VA Court To Review "Official" Email Rules

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  • The fix was in. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mbone ( 558574 ) on Monday April 16, 2012 @01:09PM (#39701433)

    As it happens, my son went to Clifton Elementary, and the fix was definitely in on its closures. The pretty solid feeling against closure on the part of the Clifton Community was ignored, and a lot of people in the town feel railroaded. (The presumption is that some real estate developer wants the prime real estate the school sits on, and spread enough money around to make it happen.)

  • By the end of the week we'll accomplish what would've taken half an hour, but it will be in secret and nobody will be the wiser.

    Except that there will be a written record of 100% of the entire discussion.

    Frankly, I fail to see the problem here. As long as record are kept, these email discussions are even better than having minutes of meetings from a public transparency perspective. Of course, it all involves the public actually having access to the emails, so there's probably an issue there.

  • Re:The fix was in. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by darkmeridian ( 119044 ) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (gnauhc.mailliw)> on Monday April 16, 2012 @01:41PM (#39701747) Homepage

    Yep. One unanswered question is whether or not the emails and electronic exchanges were logged using official servers. Sarah Palin allegedly used her personal email account to discuss state business outside the scrutiny of disclosure laws. Closing down a bunch of schools without a public hearing per se over unlogged email exchanges would be contrary to good, transparent government.

  • Re:The fix was in. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 16, 2012 @02:44PM (#39702501)

    I too live in the Clifton area. I recall that one of the biggest issues was the cost per child to renovate the building. Clifton housed about 300 students. The neighboring schools housed 600-900 each, with capacity to absorb the Clifton students. The District's budget has been pinched, like most local governments. It seemed to make more sense to mothball the school and redistribute the students. The building has been vacant nearly a year now, and the only offer to "purchase" has been from some former Clifton parents who what to turn it into a magnet school, at taxpayer expense. If the fix is in, who is benefiting? A lot of board members lost their seats, or chose not to run because of this issue, including the Springfield rep. I don't see her driving a new Ferrari.

  • Re:Which "NDAA"? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by KiahZero ( 610862 ) on Monday April 16, 2012 @03:01PM (#39702703)

    There isn't a trial (in the sense of adjudicating guilt or innocence) but there is initial and triennial judicial review of the detention, so it would be rather difficult to imprison random Americans under this authority (unless you're assuming falsification of evidence like birth records, in which case there's not a damn thing that can stop the imprisonment of anyone).

Help! I'm trapped in a PDP 11/70!