Sustained Outrage

STOP Violence Against Women grants announced

On Friday, Gov. Joe Manchin announced the distribution of federal funds from the Office on Violence Against Women, a part of the U.S. Department of Justice. All told, 24 projects in West Virginia received almost $1 million in grant money. The grants are part of the STOP (Services, Training, Officers, Prosecutors) Program, initiated under the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 and renewed in the Violence Against Women Act of 2000 and Violence Against Women Act of 2005.

“The purpose of these funds is to establish or enhance teams whose core members include victim service providers, law enforcement, and prosecution to improve the criminal justice system’s response to violence against women,” the governor’s news release states. “Grants provide personnel, equipment, enhancement of those teams. Additionally, statewide projects are funded to provide training and educational opportunities for all victim service providers, law enforcement, prosecution, and court personnel across the state.”

The funds are administered locally by the state Division of Criminal Justice Services. A complete list of the agencies and the amounts awarded is after the jump.

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DEP Secrecy II: Protecting PPG

I wrote last week about how the state Department of Environmental Protection didn’t want to give me a copy of the “plan” submitted by PPG Industries for fixing mercury water pollution violations at the company’s Marshall County plant.

raymondfranks1.JPGWell, yesterday, I got a response back from DEP General Counsel Ray Franks (left) to my formal request for that document …  so I thought I would share it with readers. I’ve posted the response letter here.

By way of background, remember that this “plan” was enough to convince DEP Secretary Randy Huffman to file a friendly lawsuit against PPG, to help the company fend off a troublesome legal effort by some pesky environmental groups to force the company to follow the Clean Water Act. It was only the latest in a long line of efforts by DEP to help PPG delay major reductions in the mercury emissions from the Natrium facility.

But when I asked DEP spokeswoman Kathy Cosco for a copy of this great plan, she told me:

… Is a working document that the agency is using in the deliberative process of negotiating a settlement agreement with the company. Therefore, at this time it is not a document that we can share, even in response to a FOIA request.

I expected that, because DEP enforcement chief Mike Zeto loves to pretend that every single piece of paper in his office that might have some vague bit to do with “enforcement proceedings” is off-limits to the public.

But apparently Franks was starting to understand that Zeto’s on shaky ground, because his response to my request indicates he’s cooked up some other excuse not to tell the public what PPG’s plan is …

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