Board should ‘comply with the law’
Published 10:47 am Wednesday, April 26, 2017
The Virginia Freedom of Information Advisory (FOIA) Council in its March 17 advisory opinion explains that the Charlotte County Board of Supervisors failed to satisfy the closed meeting requirements of the FOIA on Nov. 8. Their full opinion is on the council’s website as number AO-03-17 at foiacouncil.dls.virginia.gov.
The motion for a closed meeting must include a subject (what the meeting is about, e.g., county administrator’s performance), the purpose (why the meeting is held, e.g., discuss personnel matters) and a citation to a specific Code of Virginia exemption (a numbered paragraph).
The spoken words on the county’s recording of the Nov. 8 meeting included no code citation. Instead of citing the code, the maker of the motion said, “I don’t need to name all these numbers.”
Yet, the minutes for the Nov. 8 meeting show that the closed meeting motion included, “Pursuant to Code Section 2.2-3711.A.1.”
To be clear, the minutes, which were approved by all board members, recorded words which were not spoken. I believe covering up an omission with false minutes is more serious than the omission.
The council’s opinion also noted that the model closed meeting language in the board’s agenda packet omits the required element of “subject” as did the motion and minutes for the Nov. 8 meeting.
I ask that the board comply with law and include all three required elements in closed meeting motions.
No public minutes are available for the following board meetings this year:
• Feb. 21 at 5 p.m. for a Commonwealth Regional Council work session.
• Feb. 21 at 6 p.m. for a joint budget work session with the Charlotte County School Board (school board has minutes on their website).
• March 14 for a budget work session — immediately following the regular board meeting.
• March 22 at 9 a.m. for a budget work session
• April 3 at 9 a.m. for a budget work session.
The approved minutes for Feb. 14 are misleading as they state the board would adjourn until March 14, and the approved March 14 minutes are misleading as they stated the board would adjourn until April 11, all when as described above interim meetings were held.
Section 2.2-3707.I of the Code of Virginia requires written minutes of all board of supervisors’ open meetings.
I ask the board to comply with the law and prepare minutes for all open meetings.
Terry Ramsey is a guest columnist, a 1967 graduate of Randolph-Henry High School and a resident of Charlotte Court House. His email address is Terrill.Ramsey@outlook.com.