Today in #OpenGov 7/31/2014


Keep reading for today’s look at #OpenGov news, events, and analysis, including expedited firing processes at the VA, press censorship in India, and the latest developments in the federal investigation into the operation of New York’s Moreland Commission.

A newspaper with the headline Open Gov

National News

  • The House has passed a bipartisan bill that would make it easier to fire people in leadership positions at the VA. Employees would stop receiving pay on the day of their termination, and would have three weeks to file an appeal with the Merit Systems Protection Board. While the legislation passed 420-5, some expressed concerns that the expedited firings would violate due process. (GovExec)
  • In yet another instance of revolving-door politics inside the Beltway, incoming House Majority Whip Steve Scalise has hired Bill Hughes, a retail industry lobbyist, to head his policy team in his new House leadership office. (The Hill)
  • FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has expressed concern over Verizon’s new policy of throttling Internet speeds for users with (grandfathered) unlimited data plans, and has asked the company to justify its policy. (Ars Technica)
  • Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) have introduced legislation in the Senate that would amend the Family Educational Rights and Protection Act (FERPA) to define security practices and responsibilities for educational organizations and other entities that handle student data, including explicit prohibitions on providing personally identifiable information for marketing purposes. (Government Technology)

International News

  • Jordi Pujol, a figurehead for the Catalan nationalist movement, has been stripped from leadership and honorary leadership roles in Convergencia i Unio, Spain’s Catalan nationalist party after revealing that he had hidden millions of euros of his inheritance from Spanish tax authorities. (Reuters)
  • Although the recently-passed First Nations Financial Transparency Act requires First Nations chiefs and band councils to have published their financial statements online by the end of the day Tuesday via the Department of Aboriginal Affairs, few of the officials had done so. (CBC)
  • India is no stranger to restricted press freedoms. This time around, a combination of media cross-ownership and close relationships between moneyed interests, political actors, and the press have prompted the resignation of several high-profile journalists in recent months. (New York Times)

State and Local News

  • U.S. Attorney in Manhattan Preet Bharara has warned New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office against interfering with ongoing investigations into ethics cases left unresolved by the Moreland Commission, an ethics commission created and later dissolved by the governor. The New York Times reported last week on evidence that the governor’s office had interfered with the work of the commission, several commission members issued statements in response to the Times article, seemingly at the behest of the Cuomo administration. (New York Times)
  • Former New York City councilman Daniel Halloran III (R-Queens) was found guilty on Tuesday of taking bribes to facilitate the embezzlement of city funds and arranging for payoffs in a scheme to allow former State Sen. Malcom A. Smith, a Democrat, to run for mayor as a Republican. (New York Times)
  • When the executive director of Georgia’s State Ethics Commission, Holly LaBerge, claimed last week that the governor’s office had attempted to pressure her into settling ethics complaints involving Governor Nathan Deal’s 2010 election campaign, the governor claimed that he didn’t really know her. Nevertheless, recent documents obtained by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reveal that Deal wrote a recommendation letter for LaBerge in June of 2013. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
  • The Florida Commission on Ethics dropped ethics complaints against both former Governor Charlie Crist and current governor Rick Scott, on the grounds that there was no legal reason to investigate the complaints. (Sarasota Herald-Tribune)

Events Today

  • From Big Data to Cloud Computing: How IT is Creating a New Era of Disruptive Innovation. Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. Thurs., 7/31. 1101 K Street NW, Washington, D.C.

Do you want to track transparency news? You can follow the progress of relevant bills, court cases, and regulations using Scout. You can also get Today in #OpenGov sent directly to your preferred news reader. If you would like suggest an event, please email by 7 am on the Monday prior to the event.