Petition demands attention

Published 1:00 pm Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Almost 800 people have signed a petition demanding stricter regulation of food expenses charged to the county for the board of supervisors, and changes in how the Charlotte County Board of Supervisors runs meetings. The petition was created by two Charlotte County residents — Kay Pierantoni and Ludy Collie.

The petition has not been officially presented to the board, and there haven’t been any direct conversations between the board and the petitioners, according to Board of Supervisors Chairman Haywood Hamlet.

“I love Charlotte County, I’d do anything I can for Charlotte County,” said Hamlet. “Nobody appreciates the good that we do, they’re just looking for something bad. It hurts; it hurts, but I’m not a quitter. It makes me want to fight harder.”

The petition first focuses on the food, specifically referring to routine lunches before board meetings, according to Pierantoni. “We want you to stop eating before meetings and charging to us,” reads the petition. “If you feel the need to break bread together, bring your own sandwich. If any other meals are charged to the county, we want the business purpose and attendees to be put on detailed restaurant receipt (so we can see what you eat and drink) and (the) amount charged to be reasonable amounts.”

It then requests for a record of citizen comments during the public session of board meetings to be included in the minutes. According to the petition, “All other counties in Virginia show this respect to their citizens.” The petition’s final demand called for evening meetings after 5 p.m., “preferably at 7 p.m.,” rather than board meetings scheduled for 1:30 p.m. It read, “Most counties in Virginia do this. Before 5 p.m., we are working so we can feed our families and pay our taxes. Don’t say you can’t do it. Meeting times can be changed.”

Hamlet said after Tuesday’s meetings, the board will likely record the names of the people who speak at the board meetings during the public sessions.

Pierantoni said even though the petition didn’t ask for citizens’ contact information such as addresses or phone numbers, just a name, “people were afraid to sign it.” “The people’s voices are not being heard,” said Pierantoni. “That is not democracy.”