A Lack of Charlottesville Sunshine in Staunton

“The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.” — Patrick Henry

Last weekend, Charlottesville City Council went over the mountain to hold a retreat at The Stonewall Jackson Hotel in Staunton. 

Kudos to Brian Wheeler of Charlottesville Tomorrow for following the Council over the mountain.  No other member of the public or media attended this open meeting of the City government.  Brian’s report can be found here.

While such distant retreats are normal for Charlottesville City Council, most local governments choose to stay close to home for their retreats.  Albemarle Countyholds such retreats at Zehmer Hall at the University of Virginia, Greene County has held their last two retreats at The Rosebrook Inn in Greene.

Why then would Charlottesville choose to go so far from the City?

The Free Enterprise Forum believes it is a deliberate (albeit legal) attempt to hold strategic discussions outside of the normal public view. 

While we recognize Charlottesville City Council could, if properly advertised, hold a public meeting in Las Vegas or Vail, we do not believe such a meeting would be serving the needs of the citizens. 

“In America, the government belongs to the people. Inherent in our system of self-government is the idea that the People have the right to know what our government and government officials are doing and to hold them accountable for their actions. State and federal freedom of information (or “sunshine”) laws, which include laws that guarantee access to both public meetings and public records, are one of the primary ways of ensuring such accountability.” — Citizen Access Project

Understanding that a distant locale has been the tradition for City Council for sometime, the Free Enterprise Forum asks City Council to explain the rationale for such decision.  Absent a compelling reason, we believe such meetings of local governing bodies should be held locally.

Sunshine is good.

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2 responses

  1. […] Free Enterprise Forum Blog Dedicated to discussing local government policy issues in Central VA « A Lack of Charlottesville Sunshine in Staunton […]

  2. Maybe the Charlottesville City Council heard how beautiful the Stonewall Jackson Hotel is. Maybe they needed some “small town” hospitality. Maybe because we (the people of Staunton, Waynesboro, Aug Co.) travel to your side of the mountain & the city of Charlottesville & spend our money that your city council felt compelled to “give back” to some of your city’s major spenders. Maybe government & the people of this great nation are just too used to spending money they shouldn’t be spending. Maybe!!!! Maybe government needs to remember that they are servants BY CHOICE and respect that the money they spend belongs to the people they serve.

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