My latest op-ed, title above, appeared in The Virginian-Pilot Thursday. I was appalled to read that Norfolk has decided to no longer release records of its bar task force, citing an exemption allowed in Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act. That we don’t even know what makes up the task force tells you that something is amiss here.
Add to that the proposed charter change that council reportedly first discussed at its retreat in September and then was included in its legislative package just days later, and you have a recipe for an increasing lack of transparency here.
I thought we had made some progress in Norfolk. As I look back to my civic resolutions column from two years ago, Norfolk started broadcasting its work sessions, allowing the public a glimpse into the workings of those who would represent us. We have a process for volunteering and an application (pdf) for appointment to boards and commissions, and board, commissions and authorities member lists, including dates that the appointments expire.
But we can’t allow that. Norfolk’s leadership has to know that citizen engagement is an important part of a thriving city. And they have to do more to make that happen. It can’t always be our responsibility to respond to their actions, especially when we only learn of the actions after the fact.
Government embrace of transparency is a requirement, not an option. And I really hope Norfolk looks at itself and figures out that we citizens are partners here, not adversaries.
My column appears in The Virginian-Pilot on Wednesdays (unless something comes up, in which case it’s Thursdays). You can see the columns as they are published here, or navigate to them from the PilotOnline.com homepage by clicking on Opinion and then choosing my name at the bottom of the dropdown list. You can also see the columns by liking my Facebook page. Although my column appears weekly, I am not and have never been an employee of The Virginian-Pilot.Follow @vpaige