Articles from April 2008



Congrats

The Free Lance–Star:

WFLS-FM has been named the Virginia Associated Press Broadcasters’ Outstanding News Operation for the third straight year and fifth time since 2000.

The award was one of several the station received yesterday at the VAPB’s annual awards luncheon.

The out-of-state panel of judges noted that WFLS covered a wide range of stories with a “large-market sound.” The station, which is owned by The Free Lance-Star Cos., also received the Outstanding News Operation award in 2000, ’04, ’06 and ’07.

WJMA in Orange received the Meritorious Award for Outstanding News Operation.

WFLS also won eight Superior Awards yesterday:

Best Spot News Coverage for reports on a fiery crash involving several tractor-trailers on Interstate 95 in Caroline County last June.

Continuing News Coverage for “What’s Polluting Fairview Beach?” The coverage of that issue also received a Meritorious Award for the Douglas Southall Freeman Award for Public Service Through Radio Journalism.

Best Feature for “The Weiner Is,” about a hot dog-eating contest at the University of Mary Washington.

Best Documentary or In-Depth Report for “Focus: Recovering From a Brain Injury.”

Best Effort by an Individual Reporter and Best News Anchor: Deirdre Blake.

Best Web Site; wfls news.com has won that award each year since the category’s inception in 2005.

The WFLS news staff includes Niche Herman, Nancy Ball, Deirdre Blake, Bill Dubensky and News Director Frank Hammon.

Paging Caroline BOS.

In King George County, from The Free Lance–Star:

Supervisor Dale Sisson asked if early June would be a realistic estimate to start service [of wireless Internet service]. [Allen] Taliaferro [a director with Virginia Broadband] wouldn’t give an exact date, but said he felt comfortable with June.

But don’t worry, Jeff Sili is kindly going to provide you with a map of where to move to so you can receive high-speed internet here in Caroline County (2008-03-11 BOS Minutes):

Supervisor Sili said that those people [who currently provide broadband services to the County] are going to come back in April to lay out the areas where they plan to grow and hopefully they will publish those.

How considerate.

Why does the county refuse to do what it needs to do?

Especially after Delegate Chris Peace bothered to get a bill (HB1329) passed that would allow wireless Internet providers to use state own communication towers to provide internet service to unserved areas.

Another bonus, according to what Mr. Thomas said during the January 8th BOS meeting, is the following: When a cell phone tower is approved by the county, the ordinances included a provision that allows the county to use the towers for the county’s telecom needs. As the county is required to create a Wireless Service Authority, Virginia Broadband (or any other company doing the service) would be allowed to use the cell towers (through the ordinance) to provide service (2008-01-08 BOS Minutes):

Chairman Thomas said that in all of our ordinances when they get a cell tower, they have to allow County access. He said so if they create a County utility, then that is a service and they have to allow access. Chairman Thomas asked Mr. Emerson if this sounded like it would work.

Mr. Emerson responded that it sounds like it, but he would have to look at it.

And for those areas without cell phone towers, all that would need to be installed is a pole (about the size of a telephone pole) according a story on Spotsylvania County’s plans (The Free Lance–Star):

Scott advised that towers would probably be no taller than a telephone pole.

But, you know, whatever guys: whenever you get around to it.

State Fair of Virginia costing Caroline County more money…

For “contractual services”? Eh?

Subsection of line item #032500-3160 “Other Contractual Services”:

“State Fair Contractual Services”:

Department [Fire/Rescue] Request: $11,760

County Admin Recommends: $11,760

Hooray.

And the Department of Fire, Rescue, and Emergency Management seems to think they’re unprepared for a incident at the State Fair considering they requested the following (the items weren’t approved):

DFR 06-01″Hard Access Response Units (2) State Fair”: 65,100

DFR 06-03 “Mini Pumper Fire Unit – State Fair”: $235,000

So, what exactly was the Board of Supervisors advertising for in 2007?

You tell me.

Here’s an interesting line item in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2007/2008 budget:

11010 ** BOARD OF SUPERVISORS **

011010-3600 ADVERTISING

For FY 2004/2005 (July 1, 2004 – June 30, 2005) Actual: $6,744

FY 05/06 (July 1, 2005 – June 30, 2006) Actual: $6,320 — -6.29%

FY 06/07 (July 1, 2006 – June 30, 2007) Actual: $12,720 — +101.27%

FY 2008:

  • Budgeted: $2,000
  • Actual on December 31, 2007: $16,387
  • Projected [simply the first half multiplied by 2]: $32,774

So, what exactly was being advertised?

Am I the only one that finds a massive increase in “advertising” in an election year to be suspicious?

Would it be all those “constituent meetings” that were being held by the Board members (three of which had seats that were in the process of being challenged) were being advertised heavily by the county?

How exactly was there more than the whole previous year’s expenditures spent in just one half of a year? (And remember that FY 06/07 [which had a 101.27% increase over the previous year] would include the first half of 2007.)

Up next: The Board of Supervisors requests a pay raise (and has their request approved in the proposed budget by the County Administrator).

A brief post on IT security:

The Register:

Better known for its presentation of stunning examples of how not to develop code, The Daily WTF this week exposed a horrendous case of information loss when it published an article on a critical flaw in the Oklahoma Department of Corrections website.

Thanks to developers seeding browser GET requests with the SQL queries required to retrieve the data the visitor wants to see and then failing to perform any input validation on the information being presented in those queries, it was possible (until recently) to extract any sensitive information from the database at will.

While having the ability to do this to any database of personal information maintained by a government body is a problem, the fact that it concerned the state’s Sexual and Violent Offender Registry means that there is more likely to be individuals and groups of people with a motivation to obtain or hide records in the database, and not necessarily socially beneficial motivation.

Muddying the picture was the fact that the database extended to every offender that had been sentenced to probation or incarceration within the Oklahoma Correction system, and not just those convicted of sexual or violent offences. A little bit of digging allowed the retrieval of Department of Corrections employee records and medical activity.

When notified of the flaw, the Department of Corrections modified the site so as to close the hole as reported, at least that is what initially appeared to be the case. It was soon discovered that the only change had been to perform a case-sensitive look up of some table data, effectively leaving the hole wide open. It wasn’t until it was shown that employee data could be returned that the hole appeared to be closed off for good.

The unfortunate developers executed several critical errors in establishing the site. First, they allowed a database with sensitive content to face the outside Internet. Second, they allowed queries from the website to access any of the information in that database. Third, they placed the SQL queries required to extract information inside GET requests from the browser (most easily recognised as the part of the URL after the question mark(?) if it is there).

Finally, and possibly most critically, they did not perform any filtering of the anonymous GET requests, happily executing the SQL requests and returning the results.

Fortunately for the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, Alex Papadimoulis (the editor at The Daily WTF who uncovered the extent of the problem) did not appear to do any more than verify that SELECT statements could be modified at will.

If the administration of the database was anything like the weakness in the website, then it is considered extremely likely that the database user represented by the website had the ability to INSERT, DELETE, DROP, CREATE and had permissions on databases outside the one that held the sexual offender data.

Wow, the ability to add someone as a sex offender or add yourself as an employee of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections.

Comforting…

Tax rate hearing video online.

I’ve converted and uploaded the video of the tax rate hearing from the April 8, 2008 Board of Supervisors meeting.

Watch as Jeff Sili pushes for a $0.07 to $0.12 tax rate increase while everyone else wants a $0.045 (Popowicz) or a $0.05 (Acors, Rozell, Thomas) rate increase. This guy (Sili) is a Republican right? That’s what that (R) besides his name means right? A Republican (and Chairman of the Caroline County Republican Committee no less) wanted to give you an increase in your tax bill between $70/$100,000 to $120/$100,000.

The video’s about 42 minutes long and 105 MB big. If you’re on dial-up, grab a copy of GetRight (so you can resume the download if your internet connection dies), use the link for direct download (after the embedded video), and use Moyea FLV Player to play the file after it finishes downloading.

There is some great banter between Acors, Popowicz, and Thomas in the 12 to 13 minute mark, by the way. :)

Time to execute some POSes.

FOX News:

The Supreme Court upheld the most common method of lethal injections executions Wednesday, clearing the way for states to resume executions that have been on hold for nearly 7 months.

The justices, by a 7-2 vote, turned back a constitutional challenge to the procedures in place in Kentucky, which uses three drugs to sedate, paralyze and kill inmates. Similar methods are used by roughly three dozen states.

The governor of Virginia lifted his state’s moratorium on executions two hours after the high court issued its ruling.

I say we start with John Allen Muhammad and Paul Warner Powell. (Yes, I know they both have pending appeals.)

Twittering Board of Supervisors Meeting

I’ll be Twittering the Board of Supervisors meeting and providing update during the meeting via text messages with my cell. Check the left sidebar under “Twitter” for updates. Doesn’t look like there’s that much interesting stuff during this meeting but I’ve got nothing else to do. :)

Classy: “We are past the point of debates.”

Richmond Times-Dispatch:

Former Gov. Jim Gilmore has rejected a call by Del. Robert G. Marshall of Prince William County to hold five debates before Republican delegates choose the party’s U.S. Senate nominee at a convention May 31.

“We are past the point of debates,” Gilmore spokeswoman Ana Gamonal said. “Seventy-five percent of the delegates already have been elected, and they know where Jim Gilmore stands.”

[…]

Marshall said debates would be useful because Gilmore has taken inconsistent positions on such issues as abortion and illegal immigration. He said there have been no more than six joint appearances.

“This is a disservice to Republican voters,” Marshall said.

Video of the Board of Supervisor meetings on I’m Surrounded By Idiots

I’m in the processing of adding video from the Board of Supervisors meetings to the blog. So far, I’ve gotten part of the March 18, 2008 meeting converted and uploaded. The rest should be done in the coming days.

I’m doing this in an attempt to increase the awareness of the citizens of Caroline County of the going-ons of their government.

For those on dial-up, it may be in your best interest to use the links at the bottom of the video pages, add them to a download manager (such as GetRight), download them during the night, and then view them using a FLV player (I use Moyea FLV Player).