Applauding the board’s discussion

Published 8:47 am Thursday, August 18, 2016

At the August board of supervisors meeting, I witnessed the first real discussion and a split in voting on a subject since I started attending meetings. 

It was healthy dialogue and I applaud the supervisors for this exercise in real democracy. This is what we citizens need and want on other subjects. Openness leads to more transparency and accountability. I am hopeful that the wave will continue and the supervisors who have been silent will start questioning more. 

Many of them have served a long time, but, on each and every subject, their focus should be on what is right for the citizens — not their fellow supervisors. 

Recently, after complimenting supervisors for rigorous discussion on one subject, I also delivered these comments:

Searching back through the last 20 years of articles at The Charlotte Gazette, I’ve learned the call for greater transparency and accountability has gone on for a long time. Yet here we are, with the same problems and some of the same people in power.

Last month, Ludy Collie and I spoke, on behalf of over 800 taxpayers of this county, asking for some simple changes, one concerning meals. What I find most upsetting about the lunches before meetings was the possibility that the real discussion of county business was being done outside the ears of the public. 

Since that would be against open meeting laws, I don’t want to think that would happen, but at the July meeting, supervisors voted to appoint Gary Walker and R.B. Clark to the Virginia’s Heartland Industrial Facilities Authority board. What do supervisors know about the authority?   

There was no discussion in the open meeting. Are the supervisors trusting that Clark and Walker are handling everything correctly? 

Clark’s involvement in the authority goes back to the inception. I can trace it. Walker back to 2002. Walker has been in the role of chair for most of those years; Clark as treasurer. When asked neither produced complete minutes of this authority. Clark commented, “Can’t give you what we don’t have,” and “I’ve turned everything over to my lawyer.” Prince Edward County, for one, has recently referred to Charlotte County as the “fiscal agent” for the authority and stated that Charlotte’s attorney was making recommendations. What do the supervisors know about this?

Supervisors were elected by the citizens to do a job and they took an oath of office. I believe in consequences for actions or inactions. Sadly, I have read in old Gazettes about two special grand juries in the past. The then board, some of which are still supervisors, felt it necessary to hire the high-priced Richmond law firm of Troutman Sanders for representation. Why?

I ask again for respect for the 800 taxpayers who asked for citizens’ comments to be in the minutes, meetings to be held at times when citizens can attend and, for goodness sake, stop eating lunch on the taxpayers’ dime.

Kay Pierantoni is a Wylliesburg resident. She can be reached at