Corruption news for Arkansas, from the Arkansas Times:
A jury awarded Bob Means, a psychologist, $110,442 for his firing in July 2008 from a contract job at the Hot Springs Rehabilitation Center. He'd worked there for 37 years. It's an agency of state Rehabilitation Services, a division of the Arkansas Workforce Education Department.
Means said he was fired by Robert Trevino, director of Rehabilitation Services, because he had complained for months to a variety of people — including the U.S. Office of Inspector General, a state senator, the governor's office and his supervisor — about money wasted on services provided to a client who was ineligible.
Read the rest of the story at the Arkansas Times.
Corruption news for Utah, from the Salt Lake Tribune:
Under a law passed two years ago, state officials and candidates are banned from spending campaign donations for personal use. But a loophole allowed them last year to use the money for golf, gym memberships, rent, express lane passes, clothes, luggage and wedding gifts.
Some also used donations — which come largely from special interests that seek to influence legislation — on church contributions, dry cleaning, child care, home Internet and computers, and apparently even tickets to the top of the 100-story John Hancock Building in Chicago.
The law allows such spending if it is “for a political purpose” for campaigns, or “to fulfill a duty or activity of an officeholder.”
Read the rest of the story at the Salt Lake Tribune.
Corruption news for New Jersey, from The Courier News:
The employment contracts the state governments negotiate and sign with unionized state workers, that public colleges and universities sign with professors and other staff, that towns and cities sign with police officers and firefighters and that school districts sign with teachers — they should all be posted online, current contracts and previous ones. It should be a state mandate that touches every level of government in New Jersey.
Taxpayers have a right to see this information and to compare different contracts to see where there are excesses.
Read the rest of the story at The Courier News.
Corruption news for Delaware, from The News Journal:
Reforms over the past 35 years have forced more transparency on state, county and municipal governments in Delaware.But its two publicly supported universities remain stark exceptions.
Since 1977, the University of Delaware has followed different rules from other taxpayer-financed state entities. UD is excluded from most requirements of the Freedom of Information Act, limiting taxpayers' and students' view of its operations. In 1990, the Legislature granted Delaware State University the same status.
In Delaware, a group of lawmakers is trying to breathe new life into House Bill 126, which would force the universities to operate more openly.
Read the rest of the story at The News Journal.
Corruption news for Tennessee, from the Knoxville News Sentinel:
The effort to gut Tennessee's Open Meetings Act has been called off for this legislative session, a welcome development that shows many in Nashville understand the importance of transparency in local government. House Speaker Beth Harwell stepped in to voice opposition to a bill that would allow members of local legislative bodies to meet in private as long as a quorum isn't present, The Associated Press reported Tuesday.
The sunshine law requires that government bodies like county commissions, school boards and city councils give sufficient public notice of their meetings and bars two or more members from deliberating in secret.
Read the rest of the story at the Knoxville News Sentinel.
Corruption news for Idaho, from the Idaho Statesman:
Republican House Speaker Lawerence Denney said Thursday he may fire his appointee to Idaho's redistricting commission because some members of his caucus don't think she did enough to protect the state's dominant political party's interests.The commission member, former GOP state Rep. Dolores Crow, said she has no plans to quit, setting the stage for a possible standoff just a day after the Idaho Supreme Court ruled 4-1 to throw out newly drawn political boundaries on grounds they split too many counties to be legal.
"They thought it gave too much away," Denney said in an interview in his third-floor Capitol office, adding he thinks it's within his power to remove Crow against her will.
Read the rest of the story at the Idaho Statesman.
Corruption news for Oregon, from The Oregonian:
The Oregon House Committee on Business and Labor Thursday moved a draft bill forward that would prohibit the state retirement system from releasing the names of individual retirees. The committee bill has no formal sponsor, and was offered as a courtesy to a coalition of public employee unions.
The unions contend no public interest is served in releasing individual retiree names and benefits, while they say the information does inflame public opinion against their members. Newspapers contend the information is essential, both for general transparency of the taxpayer-funded system and to identify specific instances of pension spiking, double dipping and patronage.
Read the rest of the story at The Oregonian.
Corruption news for West Virginia, from the Charleston Daily Mail:
House lawmakers unanimously passed a fix to the state's Freedom of Information Act Wednesday following a failed attempt by Republicans to include far greater changes in the bill. In order to correct a perceived loophole in the state's Freedom of Information laws, the bill expands the definition of what is considered a public record. In the past, the so-called loophole has been used to keep the personal e-mails of public officials from being released.
The bill is designed to counter a 2009 state Supreme Court ruling that denied a FOIA request from The Associated Press seeking the release of 13 e-mails between former Supreme Court Chief Justice Elliot "Spike" Maynard and then-Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship.
Read the rest of the story at the Charleston Daily Mail.
Corruption news for Michigan, from the Detroit Free Press:
Gov. Rick Snyder on Wednesday called for stricter ethics, lobbying and campaign finance laws, including tighter controls on officials who leave state government to go work for contractors they dealt with in their official capacities. Snyder (pictured, right) announced the measure in his State of the State address as part of a broad set of transparency and good government reforms he said he wants to see.
“We should have stronger rules for state officials who negotiate contracts while in government service,” Snyder said.
Read the rest of the story at the Detroit Free Press.
Corruption news for Oklahoma, from the Shawnee News-Star:
Sen. David Holt, R-Oklahoma City, has filed legislation to make the Oklahoma Legislature subject to the Open Meetings and Open Records Acts. Those two statutes have long provided transparency to all levels of government, but not the Legislature, which exempted itself.
“I spent five years serving in the Oklahoma City government, where we were subject to the Open Meetings and Open Records Acts,” Holt (pictured, right) said. “It is almost a universally held opinion that the City of Oklahoma City has produced some of the most innovative and effective government in our state the last 20 years, and that was done while subject to these important taxpayer protections. I believe it is time the Legislature embraced these acts.”
Read the rest of the story at the Shawnee News-Star.