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Project News: Media Monday for June 6th, 2011

June 7, 2011

Ok, NOW its time for Media Monday. Not much preface needed this time, but three quick notes. One, we’ve added a round-up at the top of the big news in local government as we reported and other news we may not have covered immediately. Secondly, we’re dividing our massive collection of links to interesting stories at the bottom into categories so that you can better decide what to read. Again, we don’t endorse all the opinions we link to, but we think they’re important for decision makers and activists to know about….but you aren’t reading them from what we can tell in our stats (naughty naughty). But that’s ok… may just be overwhelmed, so we’re breaking it down for you to decide how to better use your reading time. Finally, we’re introducing “Craig’s Thoughts.” This will be an irregular feature, but simply put, these will be editorials on the state of media coverage here in Shenandoah County. Again, I’m trying my hardest to keep my personal opinion out of our governmental coverage, but when it comes to my fellow media….well, I’m entitled to some opinions there, aren’t I?

The Week That Was

This was something of a slow week in Shenandoah County politics. Or was supposed to be, anyways. The only real thing that was slated was a Board Worksession on Thursday for the County Board of Supervisors. However, the whole thing got shook up Thursday afternoon with reports that Al Mitchell would not be seeking a fifth (fourth consecutive) term as Commonwealth’s Attorney. This was quickly topped with news that Woodstock Mayor, riding a wave of publicity off the Town Council’s concerted effort to reach a balanced budget, had decided to run for the open seat. You can check up our updated analysis on this still developing story here. In other (but expected news) Cindy George confirmed she would run for a sixth term, while Sheriff Tim Carter has filed papers for his third term and Sonya Giersh Williams, the 6th District Rep on the School Board, filed for her second.

Valley Herald: A little thin on government this week. The only major story they had was on the cracks found at Signal Knob Middle School. Not directly related to County Government but still of interest was an article on the current hay crop. You may think they’re headed for another low grade but…we’ll give them a bye this week. Why? Well, and this is an assumption on our part, but we’re fairly certainly they go to print sometime on Thursday afternoon. There’s a good chance Mitchell’s announcement missed the deadline, and they certainly wouldn’t have gotten a report on the Worksession in (though we don’t think they were there, but we’ll reserve judgment until next week). A continued kudos to them for including a weekly list of local government meetings. We’re still a little disappointed of their redistricting coverage, and one nonpolitical note: seriously, I think that Home Instead’s kit for tracking your elderly parents health is nice, but its clearly a marketing ploy. It might’ve been slow, but c’mon–make them buy ad space like everyone else. So for this week we’ll give them a B, and hope they can keep up the improvement.

Free Press: A solid week, yet again. The Free Press shows what to do when you have a slow week–root around a little. They had an interesting story about the state of a probe into the finances of the New Market Fire Department, a cursory article on the state of election filings (sans Mitchell), and an article on the Courthouse’s completion. The Courthouse article was a good example of what the Press does–this was one of their typical “wrap-up” articles where they detail the whole process and of course, try to score some points on what they find to be excessive spending. So yeah, it was biased, but again, at least somebody’s talking and there’s a paper that’s not afraid to go into a whole lot of background. So a B+ for effort despite a dearth of news.

NVDaily: Better late than never, I suppose. The Daily had an article this week about the passing of line of duty insurance costs from the state to the localities and, finally, praise Hosanna, one on redistricting! And it even led off with news of the Fort Valley change! We’re a little miffed they didn’t go into detail on the changes in other precinct lines or the creation of the new Riverbends precinct, but its still good to finally get this out information out there. They also were the first to report Mitchell’s retirement, first with breaking news then a standard story. Finally, they also had a story on Senator Obenshain’s re-elect bid and an interesting story on a grant awarded to Woodstock to study the impact of a possible collapse of the Woodstock Reservoir Dam. We think they deserve an A for staying on top of the big stories while taking advantage of a lull to do some reporting on issues they’ve slack on.

Craig’s Thoughts

As noted above, this was a slow week….until Thursday, when news of Al Mitchell’s retirement dropped. So that got me thinking–when’s the best time to drop a local story? Well, the thing to keep in mind is that local news doesn’t operate on a 24 Hour News Cycle like the national political sphere. Ok, I do, but even people who visit this site are likely only checking us out once every few days. We just don’t have that kind of readership yet to change how politics is reported and consumed. The papers still dominate, although the Daily does do their best to get breaking news up the same day. Fundamentally, though, people won’t be consuming it the next day. Keep in mind that the papers have limited space, due to the fact that their driven by advertisements, so not every story will be in every paper….which is alright. Major stories, though, will be reported by all. Adding to the complication is that two of the papers are weeklies and so they won’t be reporting on stories that happen after their deadline til the next week. So if you want maximum impact that week, I’d say Tuesday is the key day….you should make it in both the Press and the Herald. Don’t want the Press in on it? Thursday’s your day, though as we saw, the Herald may not get it in time. Keep in mind, too, that waiting gives the Press more time to sharpen their knives if they don’t care for you (or you don’t care for them). So as with all things, it’s ultimately an art, not a science.

Must Reads

Editor’s Note: Inclusion of articles in this list in no way indicates endorsement by Shenandoah Sunshine. We simply present this list as group of articles that caught our eye this week on issues related to government transparency and state and local government from around the Commonwealth and Nation. Note this week we’ll start grouping these into sections for you to pick out just what you want to read.

Elections and Campaigns
Goodlatte may face tea party challenge–Roanoke Times
An Obscene Mess (Opinion Blog)–Citizen Tom

Nonprofits and Government
SPCA More Dependent Than Ever On Governments–Staunton News Leader

House, Senate Still Far Apart on Redistricting–Washington Post
Legislators to Return Next Week for Redistricting Work–Virginia Statehouse News
Democrats want to strengthen black votes, bring competition to 4th District–Virginia Statehouse News
Rural Legislator’s Power Ebbs as Populations Shift–NYTImes
Assembly Redrawing Federal Districts–
Redistricting Session on Thursday Just a Prelude–Times Dispatch
The Region Deserves One Congressman (Editorials)–Roanoke Times

Law Enforcement/Corrections/Legal System
Better Communication Might Have Saved Love’s Life–Daily Progress
Police Officers Online: On the blue line, ignorance is not bliss (Editorial)–Daily Press
There’s No ‘Jerk’ Exception to the First Amendment (Editorial)–Richmond Times Dispatch
McDonnell Right to Show Some Caution (Editorial)–Daily Progress
Sex Offender Program is Running Out of Room–Richmond Times Dispatch
Because of Assembly Inaction, Courts Limp Along (Editorial)–Times Dispatch
Troopers Ranks are thin–Martinsville Bulletin
New state air-gun law worries Fairfax–Washington Examiner

Open Government/Transparency/Politics and Social Media
4 Officials and an Attorney–Virginia Coalition for Open Government
BAR Issue to be put on upcoming agenda–Northern Virginia Daily
The Washington Post’s FOIA Double Standard (Editorial)–Washington Examiner
Jordan Elbridge Schools Inundated with FOIL Requests–Syracuse News
Senate Approves FOIA Restrictions–Daily Herald
Tracking Your Legislators with Ease (Editorial)–Virginia Pilot
People Should Be Able to Record Town Hall Meetings (Editorial)–
National Archives hires 1st “Wikipedian in Residence” to Connect with Internet Encylopedia-Washington Post
Governments can charge licensing fess for GIS Data–
2011 Open government fight was mostly success (Editorial)–
Public denied access to California lawmaker’s appointment calendars–San Jose Mercury News
Federal court finds prosecutor violated blogger’s rights–
Senator Anthony Deluca Records Demanded–News Journal

Are you a public manager? How to use wikis in government!–GovLoop
Should Americans Care about Superinjuctions?–techpresident
Planning 2.0 Gives Mapping Power to Citizens–techpresident
YouTown App for Local Government info–techpresident
Palin Emails will be a searchable database–techpresident
Enabling the civic social layer–GovFresh
The Government Man and the Plain Language Act–GovLoop
Localism needs bespoke, not scale–GovLoop
Officials call for protecting free expression on the internet–
FOIA: Ensuring the Government Sees Sunshine (opinion blog)–
Ensuring the Government Sees Sunshine (Editorial)–Virginian Pilot
The Benefits of Social Media: Employee Engagement–GovLoop
How the Library of Congress is building the Twitter archive–O’Riley Radar
I Don’t Care About Anyone But Me–Hyper-Local Gov 2.0–GovLoop
Breaking Free from PowerPoint–GovLoop
How Our Laws are Written Unclearly (editorial)–Governing People
Social media: Changing the Lgislative Communications Paradigm–e.politics
Grand jury sees the future and its on Facebook–The San Luis Ospibo Tribune
New Hampshire Town Airs Dirty Laundry Online–Sunshine Review
Making Use of Feedback on Public Services–Governing People

Education/Social Services
UVA Author Says College Students Not Learning Enough–Daily Progress
VA Localities May Have to Repaid Millions in Misspent Social Services Funds for Teens, Kids–AP
Report: Virginia Failing to Protect Mentally Ill–Staunton News Leader

More schools rethinking zero tolerance discipline stand–Washington Post
City Council has questions on social services audit–Roanoke Times
Important and Costly (Editorial)–Daily Press
Montgomery Student Wields Power on School Board–Washington Post
Mental health: Clarity, lost (Editorial)–Times Dispatch
In Hours of Need, Some Mentally Ill Find Closed Doors–Virginian Pilot

Franklin County Sheriff’s Office
(Ed–For those who are unfamiliar, Republican Sheriff Ewell Hunt of Franklin County is under fire for giving what many feel was inadequate warning to neighboring law enforcement agencies after he received a tip from Deputy Steve Agee’s wife that he was traveling to Salem to kill his ex-wife. Agee killed his ex-wife at a Roanoke Sheetz. Agee was driving a marked Franklin County Cruiser. We find this story of interest because of 1) the effort to recall Ewell, which in Virginia is very different from what many expect from California and Wisconsin’s experiences and 2) because the effort is largely being spurred through social media)
Franklin County citizens seek to oust Sheriff Ewell Hunt with petition drive, Facebook page–Roanoke Times
Rally to Oust Franklin County Sheriff Becomes Political Event–Roanoke Times
Order Added to Confusion–Roanoke Times
Partial Police Transcript of Call Released–Martinsville Bulletin
Hunt Defends Actions–Martinsville Bulletin
Franklin county sheriff’s actions under scrutiny after memorial day shooting–Roanoke Times
A Barrier to Accountability (Editorial)–Roanoke Times

McDonnell Says Virginia Among Few States Heading Towards Budget Surplus–
Historic Renovation will Continue (Editorial)–Roanoke Times
McDonnell Announces Initiative to Save State Funds–Times Dispatch
States Plan Deeper Cuts and Higher Taxes, Survey Finds–NYTimes
Frugality Tip Could Net Virginia State Worker $2500–FOX5 DC
State and Local Governments Keep Saving Amid Slow Economic Growth–Government Technology

Conference Speakers Tout Benefits of Wind Power–
$2B in Virginia Transportation Dollars Will Not Be Used on Roads–Washington Examiner

On immigration, a new state push (Editorial)–Virginian Pilot

Publishing News–Rebooting Online News Presentation–O’Riley Radar
None of Us Are Twapped–GovLoop

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