Another “F” for Transparency

By Peter Galuszka

Imagine learning that a court date or a city council meeting is to be held in two days. You show up at the door, only to be told by a guard that admittance is by invitation only. You will have to leave.

That, in essence, is how the administration of Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell seems to be handling public access regarding the hottest environmental issue the Old Dominion now faces: uranium mining.

McDonnell initially drew widespread criticism for having closed sessions for a state government group planning to recommend by next year whether to end Virginia’s nearly three decades’ long ban on uranium mining. The governor then promised that some of the meetings will be open.

On April 4, his people held a meeting to discuss must that issue in Richmond. Yet the meeting sounded a very sour note.

Only two days’ notice was given that it would be held. Most of the public was not invited. A handful of select environmentalists, such as the Roanoke River Basin Association, near where the uranium may be mined, were invited.

The meeting should not have been limited to a “pre-selected audience,” Megan Rhyne, executive director of the Virginia Coalition for Open Government, a non-profit group, was quoted as saying. She did praise McDonnell for at least having the meeting.

Perhaps, but the entire modus operandi of the McDonnell Administration gravitates towards closed door sessions with lots of lobbyists and big-time political contributors in tow.

And Virginia’s tendency towards closed-door politics is nothing new. The State Integrity Investigation, a collaboration of the Center for Public Integrity, Public Radio International and Global Integrity rated Virginia “F” for transparency, along with seven other states, including North Dakota, Michigan, South Carolina, Maine, Wyoming, South Dakota and Georgia. Five states rated highest, including New Jersey and California.

It seems the concept of government openness is still a new one to the McDonnell Administration.

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  1. DJRippert Avatar

    Two points:

    1. While I generally think Bob McDonnell has done a good job as governor, environmental issues is a big minus for him. He has supported industry to the detriment of the environment on many occasions.

    2. Virginia deserves an F for transparency. In fact, a G or L might be a better letter to pick. F may be too kind. Our state government is essentially unaccountable for anything. Meanwhile, what little remains of the MSM in Virginia is writing puff pieces about the best recipes for cooking Virginia ham.

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