Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Bestpitch says a thousand times “no” on consent agenda

Councilman Bill Bestpitch

At the first Roanoke City Council meeting on July 6 new council member Bill Bestpitch came onboard ready to take on the transparency challenge. To the surprise of his colleagues Bestpitch asked for the removal of a closed session on the consent agenda.

He then explained to his puzzled colleagues that he wanted to add transparency to the standard language.

Under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), not only does a closed session require specific language – it also requires a subject. FOIA states that an approved motion for a closed session must “identify the subject matter” and that:

A general reference to the subject matter of the closed meeting shall not be sufficient to satisfy the requirements for holding a closed meeting.

Bestpitch will not belabor every council meeting by asking that each closed session be removed from the consent agenda and considered separately. He will instead simply vote “no” on every consent agenda containing a closed session until his colleagues get the point.

In other business:

Congressman Bob Goodlatte is pushing to have the $51 million renovation to the Poff building rescinded in an argument he is making to the General Services Administration and the General Accounting Office. He contends that the pricey renovation is a waste of money. The $51 million is part of federal stimulus funding.

Mayor David Bowers reminded everyone that there are 450 jobs at stake at the Veterans Administration located in the Poff building. “The policy of Roanoke City council is that we do everything to make sure that government offices remain in the center of the city where they are most accessible,” said Bowers.

City Manager Chris Morrill added that during the three-year renovation it would be necessary to temporarily relocate the VA in the central downtown district. “People should be able to access their government,” said Morrill. He said as far back as President Jimmy Carter and now President Barrack Obama executive orders mandate that government services remain centrally located in downtown areas.

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Politics, Roanoke City Politics

Tags: , ,

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