Week in Review: Hidden public records and bulletproof vests

By Bre Payton | Watchdog.org Virginia Bureau

This week, public records remain hidden, even from the government audits.

This week, public records remain hidden, and a county supervisor called for bulletproof vests in a feisty Facebook exchange.

A new poll revealed that Virginians are more concerned about economic issues than Medicaid.

This is your week in review.

Virginia hides public records behind third-party contract

A two-month Watchdog.org investigation has made one thing clear — Virginia’s contract with a third-party company to manage welfare transaction data means no one can check to see if people are breaking the law.

It’s illegal to buy certain things, such as alcohol or lottery tickets, with that debit card in Virginia. But once taxpayer dollars are transferred to someone’s bank account it becomes private information.

Not even the Virginia Department of Social Services can run an audit.

Fauquier supervisor: County critics ‘will need Kevlar’

A verbal war of words has triggered one official’s call for bulletproof vests in Fauquier County.

Supervisor Holder Trumbo, in a feisty Facebook exchange with his political critics, wrote: “I (sic) sick of this nonsense and am going to stand up for my county and if you can’t take it you’re in for a pretty rough ride.”

“A sleeping giant is waking up and folks who attack without good reason will need their Kevlar,” the Republican supervisor wrote.

Martha Boneta, a local farmer embroiled in a long-running legal battle with the county over land-use and “special event” issues, said she was “heartbroken” over Trumbo’s latest salvo.

Give economic issues priority, Virginians say in Quinnipiac poll

Gov. Terry McAuliffe told budget negotiators Medicaid is the “most important decision” facing the Legislature.

Virginians see things differently, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday.

Just 4 percent of Virginians polled said Medicaid should be for the priority for McAuliffe and the Legislature in 2014. Nine percent said health care should be the top focus.

Jobs, unemployment and the economy won out, with 27 percent of respondents giving it top priority.

Washington Post, McAuliffe sing sad song for hospital with poor track record

Perhaps the Washington Post editorial team could have done a little more fact checking before defending a hospital that had to repay the feds for over-billing Medicare — and has a sketchy safety ranking.

In a March 15 editorial, “The GOP plays chicken with Virginians’ health,” the editorial board mentioned Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s stop at Mary Washington Hospital in Fredericksburg on his statewide campaign to expand Medicaid, a campaign that’s meant to drum up support for supposedly financially foundering hospitals.

Republicans criticized McAuliffe’s visit, claiming the hospital had more than $185 million in the bank and paid its CEO nearly $1 million.

Watchdog.org files FOIA request to Department of Health to determine if abortions were properly reported

Watchdog.org has filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Virginia Department of Health for records involving abortions performed on two 14-year-olds.

VDH has a legal obligation to report these abortions to the police, as they are required to report instances of potential sexual abuse.

The Family Foundation, a conservative advocacy group based in Richmond, submitted a FOIA request to VDH to determine whether the department took the legally required follow-up actions.

VDH responded to the request by saying it had no relevant records, but an inspection report from February 2013 says otherwise.

Contact Bre Payton at bpayton@watchdog.org or follow her on Twitter @Bre payton.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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