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Arlington County Board Adopts New Rule for Public Comment

We missed the news item, but on January 6, the Arlington Sun Gazette reported on January 6 that the Arlington County Board was adding a "new rule to public comment."

Here are the details, according to the Sun Gazette:

"Board members on Jan. 3 made a small but not necessarily insignificant change to the rules that cover their public meetings. It’s one that probably only civic wonks will have much interest in, but could change the dynamics of the sometimes marathon meetings.

"No longer will members of the public be able to remove any item from the County Board’s “consent agenda” for a full airing. While they will still be able to seek full discussion of items that are subject to Virginia’s public-hearing rules, in other cases members of the public will need to convince at least one board member to pull the item for discussion.

"The vote was 5-0 to make the change."

The newspaper then speculates the reason for the change, writing:

"The rules revision seems to target a very small but vocal type of civic activist, who have made a practice of having consent-agenda items removed from Saturday-morning meetings and then discussed at the subsequent Tuesday-evening gatherings. Often, county officials grumble privately, pulling the items off the consent agenda is merely to give the activists an opportunity to sound off – and not always about the topic at hand."

Additional details are contained in the three items that can be accessed at the Arlington County Board's January 3 organizational meeting agenda for its 2017 meeting procedures.

For information about open government in Virginia, visit the Virginia Coalition for Open Government website. VCOG is "a nonprofit alliance formed to promote expanded access to government records, meetings and other proceedings at the state and local level."

If you have a question or comment about the County Board's new meeting procedures, take a minute to ask your question or make your opinion known to the Arlington County Board. Just click-on the link below:

  • Call the County Board office at (703) 228-3130.

And tell them ACTA sent you.

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