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Hanover supervisors want to water down the sunshine law.
Monday, July 29, 2013
The people of Hanover County must be a real bunch of buttinskies. They have the audacity to think they should be informed about matters they would be better off leaving to the wisdom of their elected representatives on the board of supervisors.
Matters like, say, a proposed rendering plant next to a suburban neighborhood. Or an increase in the real estate tax rate. Or a raise supervisors wish to award themselves.
Hanover residents seem to think that the Freedom of Information Act is all about them, that the law was intended to make sure they are served by an open and transparent government.
Hanover supervisors say the law is really intended for their convenience, and it needs to be rewritten to avoid having a lot of nosey people show up at board meetings.
Supervisors last week voted unanimously to ask the legislature to revise state law so three or more members can meet in secret, as long as that doesn’t constitute a majority, to discuss public business. Like Roanoke City Council, the board has seven members.
Now, the law says the public must be notified in advance when and where a meeting will take place if three elected members want to hash out topics that fall under their official duties.
That doesn’t stop council members and supervisors from going to a baseball game or FloydFest. They can, as long as they avoid huddles and limit any chance encounters to chit-chat about RBIs and bluegrass.
But Hanover Supervisor Chairman Canova Peterson told the Richmond TimesDispatch that it’s a bother for the county administrator to have four separate conversations — “two-by-twos” — when he wants to get board members up to speed without including the public in that process.
The people of Hanover have the silly idea that those conversations should take place when all supervisors gather for a public meeting.
The people of Hanover and every other locality in Virginia would be advised to butt in one more time and let their elected officials know if they don’t like open government, they are under no obligation to seek election.
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