The Bulletin

Lobbyists dodge disclosure, Charlottesville considers an elected mayor and more headlines

By: and - July 24, 2018 7:56 am

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Lobbyists dodge disclosure

Recently unmuzzled veteran lobbyist and former journalist Steve Haner, who is now a contributing editor to the public policy blog Bacon’s Rebellion, has a column in the Times-Dispatch about a disclosure form lobbyists file every July 1 with the Virginia Conflicts of Interest and Ethics Advisory Council. They are supposed to list “with as much specificity as possible” the “executive and legislative actions and procurement transactions” they sought to influence.
“Most of them don’t,” Haner writes. “The directive is ignored and never enforced.”

Charlottesville considers elected mayor

Members of the city’s five-member council currently appoint a mayor from within their ranks but are wondering whether they should make the position more than just ceremonial and let voters choose who gets the job, reports Chris Suarez at The Daily Progress.

“‘I’m not sure the mayor should have complete veto power or be some kind of dictator, but they could have a different level of influence and it would help with accountability,” Councilor Wes Bellamy told the paper.

Richmond is the only city in the state that has a strong-mayor form of government, in which the mayor is a full-time city employee and hires a chief administrator to oversee day-to-day city operations. More than a decade into the new system, distrust between Richmond council members and three successive mayoral administrations have plagued annual budget deliberations and debates over major projects, prompting some on council to question whether the new structure will ever work well.

But Charlottesville doesn’t have to go full strong-mayor. Things are smoother in other Virginia cities where residents directly elect mayors as part of a council-manager form of government. The positions come with varying levels of authority. In Lexington, for instance, the mayor leads council meetings and breaks tie votes.

Pipeline problems continue

Regulators in West Virginia issued their sixth violation against the Mountain Valley Pipeline for allowing muddy runoff to flow from construction sites, reports Laurence Hammack at The Roanoke Times.

Opponents of the project, including a former DEQ regulator, called the repeated failures “pretty extraordinary,” according to the paper. The company has said it’s working to improve erosion controls.

Runoff can contaminate wells and other water supplies.

The Times also has a new photo gallery showing the progress of construction in Roanoke, Franklin and Montgomery counties.

More news

  • A 36-year-old was arrested in Roanoke for throwing a brick through the glass front door of U.S. Sen. Mark Warner’s office. – The Washington Post
  • Norfolk Public Schools is launching a new program to increase socioeconomic diversity in preschool classes. – The Virginian Pilot
  • Consultants hired to create a new energy plan for the state say they’ll emphasize offshore wind power. – The Daily Press
  • A Lynchburg man who successfully appealed drug trafficking charges is suing a federal prosecutor and a Bedford County sheriff’s deputy for $10.5 million, alleging they made up evidence. – The News & Advance
  • A large bourbon barrel cooperage is planned for Smyth County. The company behind it plans to invest $26 million and hire 160 employees. – The Bristol Herald Courier

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Ned Oliver
Ned Oliver

Ned, a Lexington native, has been a fulltime journalist since 2008, beginning at The News-Gazette in Lexington, and including stints at the Berkshire Eagle, in Berkshire County, Mass., and the Times-Dispatch and Style Weekly in Richmond. He is a graduate of Bard College at Simon’s Rock, in Great Barrington, Mass. He was named Virginia's outstanding journalist for 2020 by the Virginia Press Association.

Robert Zullo
Robert Zullo

Robert spent 13 years as a reporter and editor at weekly and daily newspapers before becoming editor of the Virginia Mercury in 2018. He was a staff writer and managing editor at Worrall Community Newspapers in Union, N.J., before spending five years in south Louisiana covering hurricanes, oil spills and Good Friday crawfish boils as a reporter and city editor for the The Courier and the Daily Comet newspapers in Houma and Thibodaux. He covered Richmond city hall for the Richmond Times-Dispatch from 2012 to 2013 and worked as a general assignment and city hall reporter for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from 2013 to 2016. He returned to Richmond in 2016 to cover energy, environment and transportation for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. He grew up in Miami, Fla., and central New Jersey. A former waiter, armored car guard and appliance deliveryman, he is a graduate of the College of William and Mary. Contact him at [email protected]