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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.
- 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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