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Posted Monday, July 2, 2012 - 1:31pm in czarek's blog

In a June 30, 2012 editorial, the Washington Post came down on Mayor Vincent Gray's proposed amendments to the DC FOIA which would weaken the law. Specifically, the Post points to provisions that would broaden exemptions to the law without justification. "If there’s been any problem with the city’s FOIA laws, it is not that records are being disclosed that shouldn’t be," the editorial states. The D.C.

Posted Wednesday, February 29, 2012 - 12:34pm in sknight's blog

Internal emails from a public-private agency at the heart of the Harry Thomas corruption scandal reveal that senior officials were concerned that money was being improperly spent as early as 2008, according to The Washington Post.

Worried about a lack of oversight, the Children and Youth Investment Trust Fund vice president of finance Timothy Fitzsimmons told colleagues in February 2008 email that he feared the fund was becoming a “check-on-demand place.”

Posted Wednesday, January 4, 2012 - 8:54am in czarek's blog

After last year's release of the right-to-wrong erasures on the D.C. Comprehensive Assessment System tests triggered doubt as to their credibility, reporters asked for the 2011 data under D.C. FOIA. Assuming that information would be released as the 2010 data were, reporters were surprised to see a Dec. 23 announcement that D.C. was looking to hire a private consultant to study the results to ensure their validity. This would likely set release back by months, if not years, writes Washington Post education columnist Jay Mathews. The 2010 data, which also prompted a D.C.

Posted Monday, September 26, 2011 - 10:36am in Guest's blog
#000000; overflow: hidden; border-top: medium none; border-right: medium none; text-decoration: none"> The D.C. Council met behind closed doors to talk about its conduct and other personnel matters after a fall session that began this week with officials swearing and hurling insults at each other.

Thursday afternoon's meeting, which lasted more than two hours, was closed immediately after it opened with police officers escorting members of the news media out and standing guard at the door. During the voice vote to close the meeting, none of the nine council members present objected.

Posted Monday, September 26, 2011 - 10:31am in Guest's blog

D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown arrived in a conference room for what he said would be a closed door council meeting because it involved personnel matters that he said were consistent with the open meeting act. 

But reporters refused to leave, saying the real agenda was recent feuding and cursing among council members divided over raising taxes on high income residents.

WTOP and ABC7's Mark Segraves shot a photo of Brown's agenda, listing decorum and communications and the handwritten word "profanity,” arguing it was a violation of the open meetings law to exclude the media.

After council members voted unanimously for reporters to leave and they still refused, Brown called police.

Posted Friday, September 23, 2011 - 10:28am in Guest's blog

After a rough-and-tumble Tuesday, the D.C. Council did little to help itself today when its members opted to close a meeting to the press. Journalists present protested the move, which they claimed violated the District's Open Meetings Act. (Check out TBD's handy timeline on what happened.)

A picture of the agenda by WTOP's Mark Segraves showed little more than agenda points on "Decorum and Communication," "Internal Code of Conduct" and "Financial Disclosure and Forms for Members & Staff." A final bullet point simply said "Other"; "Profanities" was scribbled on the agenda in pen, a reference to some naughty words that were lobbed between councilmembers on Monday.

Posted Thursday, September 22, 2011 - 4:13pm in Guest's blog

The D.C. Council ordered security to remove reporters while it held a closed-door session Thursday. The meeting came on the heels of what was reported as a contentious private breakfast meeting earlier in the week. It is still unclear whether the Council followed proper procedure to close the meeting.

 Click here to read more.

Posted Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - 9:54am in Guest's blog

D.C. Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown on Monday pledged to revisit open-ended laws that govern how city legislators can spend money from constituent service accounts as part of a sweeping ethics reform bill that he says is decades overdue and intended to diffuse mounting distrust of city government.

There are expenses “that just don’t make any sense, that just shouldn’t be,” Mr. Brown said of recent disclosures that council members have spent money from the lightly regulated constituent service accounts for catering, rent payments and professional sports tickets. “But I don’t think we should throw the baby out with the bath water either.”

Posted Friday, September 2, 2011 - 12:05pm in Guest's blog
#000000; overflow: hidden; border-top: medium none; border-right: medium none; text-decoration: none"> An audit of the District's $10 million grant program for HIV/AIDS residential services has verified serious flaws in the city's oversight of the dollars it doled out.

The Department of Health's HIV/AIDS administration's poor monitoring allowed at least one grant recipient to receive reimbursements for an employee who didn't exist, among other issues.

Posted Wednesday, August 31, 2011 - 12:25pm in Guest's blog

The District is suing a nonprofit for allegedly diverting more than $300,000 in city grants intended to fund a job-training center for people with HIV/AIDS to instead renovate what became the Stadium Club, a popular nightspot that boasts “five-star dining” and nude dancers.

The office of the D.C. attorney general filed suit Tuesday against Cornell Jones, a former drug kingpin who founded a nonprofit organization called Miracle Hands three years after he served nine years on a 27-year sentence for drug distribution.

For more of this story, click here.

Posted Friday, August 26, 2011 - 10:37am in Guest's blog

A special investigative committee formed by the D.C. Council concluded in a report released Tuesday that “nepotism and cronyism” in the hiring practices of Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s administration violated local and federal law and damaged the city’s reputation.

The report, released after a six-month council investigation, portrays Gray (D) as “disconnected” and aloof as he allowed several top aides to control critical personnel decisions in the early days of his administration.

For more of this story, click here.

Posted Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 9:35am in Guest's blog

The District’s efficient corps of parking meter enforcement officers are raking in revenue for the cash-strapped city at a dizzying rate this year.

Their parking tickets reap $1.5 million a week, or $219,000 a day, or $450 a minute or $8 a second, according to the folks at AAA, who are fond of dissecting numbers like the overall $80 million in ticket revenue last year.

Click here, to continue to read this story.

Posted Monday, August 22, 2011 - 9:46am in Guest's blog

 A recall is basically a vote to yank someone out of office before the end of their term, and January 2012 marks the start of the period during which elected officials not up for re-election that year can be subject to such efforts. Among those targeted are Mayor Vince Gray, D.C. Council Chair Kwame Brown and Thomas.

To read more of this story, click here.

Posted Friday, August 5, 2011 - 8:24am in Guest's blog

The Taxicab Commission has amended its open-meetings policy to expressly permit recording (audio and video), and to release a recording or transcript of each meeting free of charge.  Click here for the new policy.

Recording is just one of many issues, and this is just one of 100 plus boards and commissions. 

Posted Thursday, June 23, 2011 - 11:14am in czarek's blog

Two reporters were led away from a meeting of the D.C. Taxicab Commission in handcuffs and a third was barred from entry, a Washington Post columnist reported. The June 22 meeting of the commission -- a public body -- was the sort of meeting covered by the new D.C. Open Meetings Act. According to the article, attendees assert the commissioners violated the law by having the reporters removed by U.S. Park Police.

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