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Civic Federation May Aim at County Board's 'Comment' Rule

In his County Notes column in this week's Arlington Sun Gazette (page 4), Scott McCaffrey writes, "The Arlington County Civic Federation next month will take up a resolution expressing concern about recent changes to the County Board’s public-comment period."

According to McCaffrey:

"Introduced at the federation’s Feb. 7 meeting by delegate Suzanne Sundburg, the resolution says too many items on the County Board’s monthly “consent agenda” feature “errors of fact, items lacking staff reports and other essential supporting documents and information, and items that have not properly followed the [County] Board’s guidelines for a full public process” to justifying reducing the amount of public scrutiny.

"The resolution will be discussed, and possibly voted on, at the Civic Federation’s March 7 meeting.

"In January, County Board members instituted new rules for public comment on the consent agenda, a part of the meeting that is supposed to include non-controversial items not requiring a great deal of discussion at board meetings.

"The 5-0 vote to change the rules reduces the ability of some citizen-activists to “pull” items off the consent agenda for a full hearing. Members of the public now must ask individual County Board members to pull specific items off for discussion."

He quotes Sundburg, again, when he writes:

"Sundburg, however, notes that the decision was made without input from the public or the Civic Federation, and runs afoul of “the board’s stated goals of improving government transparency and encouraging greater public participation."

A draft of the resolution is not yet available at the Arlington County Civic Federation's website, but a draft should be available near the end of February.

We growled on January 29, 2017 about the Arlington County Board's new public comment guidelines.

Growls readers who are Arlington County taxpayers are encouraged to comment on the Arlington County Board's revised public comment policy. Just click-on the following link to send the Board a message:

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

And tell them ACTA sent you.

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