‘A Very Merry Unbirthday’

By. Neil Williamson, President

mad-hatter-1-300x240Yesterday’s (6/6) discussion of the approved US29 Western Bypass at the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors meeting  looked more like Allison in Wonderland’s Mad Hatter’s Tea Party than local governance.

The meeting opened with a large number of speakers (including this writer) sharing their thoughts about the Western Bypass project, under the “other matters from the public” portion of the meeting.  BOS Chair Ann Mallek (D-White Hall) (who has consistently been opposed to the project) made a motion to that the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors officially support the Western Bypass.  Her motion of support was seconded by Supervisor Christopher Dumler (D-Scottsville). 

Supervisor Ken Boyd (R-Rivanna) indicated he thought the 4-2 vote by the previous Board of Supervisors was indicative of Board policy on this issue and that a majority vote was needed to reconsider the decision.  Mallek countered that her motion was about this specific project and this Board had not voted on this specific proposal. 

County Attorney Larry Davis, in his new role as BOS referee determined the motion on the floor was different from the motion that was voted on last July and did not require a majority to consider.

In discussing the motion, Supervisor Duane Snow (R-Samuel Miller) questioned the chair motives regarding the phrasing of the motion.  Charlottesville Tomorrow’s story in this morning’s Daily Progress includes the following quote:

“By having this motion put forward and then having it defeated, they hope they will tie the hands of us going forward because by the negative vote they hope to kill the bypass,” Snow said.

When the vote came forward, to no one’s surprise, it was deadlocked three to three with Dennis Rooker (I-Jack Jouett) joining the Chair and Dumler in voting against the motion they brought forward.

Then sensing parliamentary positioning, Boyd made a motion (that he indicated he would be voting against) to direct the Board’s representatives on the Metropolitan Planning Organization not to support the Western Bypass.

In discussion, Rooker argued that Boyd’s motion was a new topic that was not announced and should wait to be placed on another agenda.  Boyd countered that the motion was directly related to the agenda item.  In this instance, Referee Davis sided with Boyd and the motion moved forward.

Boyd’s motion also failed on a 3-3 vote.

In a post last year, we explained the importance of counting to four in order to get anything accomplished by Albemarle’s six member Board of Supervisors.

A summary of yesterday’s activities:  bypass opponents made a motion to support the project that they then voted against; bypass supporters made a motion not to support the project that they then voted against.

The Free Enterprise Forum believes each of the motionAlice_in_Wonderlands were  politically motivated parliamentary pirouettes that never had a chance  of garnering a fourth vote.

As Alice said in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass :

“It would be so nice if something made sense for a change.”

Respectfully submitted,

Neil Williamson


20070731williamson Neil Williamson is the President of The Free Enterprise Forum, a privately funded public policy organization covering the City of Charlottesville as well as Albemarle, Greene, Fluvanna, Louisa and  Nelson County.  For more information visit the website www.freeenterpriseforum.org

Image Credit: Walt Disney


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