Four County Organizations Request A Move Towards “Fair and Balanced” Local Government

Update January 12 — Supervisors said they understand why the community might feel excluded from the process and agreed to consider the petition presented by civic groups. They asked for a staff review, so stay tuned to see if any Supervisor recommends specific changes to the current Rules of Procedure.  In the meantime, share your views on open government with Supervisors!

Sports teams compete on level playing fields – but that’s not the way the Board of County Supervisors makes land use decisions in Prince William County.  The game is rigged, and the umpires are biased.

The blatant tilt to approve whatever is requested by the development industry, without consideration of the consequences, was demonstrated clearly when the Board adopted the Environment Chapter of the Comprehensive Plan in December 2010.

After the public hearing was closed, the development industry were invited to give yet another sales pitch for their support of last-minute revisions (which had been presented with no advance public notice by the Chair of the Board, after private meetings with industry officials).   The Board Chair blocked any opportunity for response, making sure the elected supervisors heard only one side of the debate.  One supervisor objected, but the other Board members sat quietly as the seesaw was tilted towards one point of view.

Now, as described in the News and Messenger and the Woodbridge Patch, four county organizations are petitioning the Board to use a more-transparent approach to making decisions.  The petition still allows supervisors total flexibility in voting their conscience (or whatever else shapes their decisions), but would require public release of proposed significant changes to major proposals before the Board.

The petition requests at least three business days of public review before supervisors vote.  Sunshine is a great disinfectant, and the petition seeks to minimize the appearance of “back-room deals,  preordained conclusions, collusion on the part of other Supervisors, and preferential deference to some stakeholders.”

School teachers in civics/government class stress that citizen involvement is essential in a democracy; we get the government we ask for.   The petition asks for transparency and a fair process.  Sound good to you?  Wait and see how the Board responds…

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