By Diana McFarland
An attempt to block a resident critical of the county from serving on the Isle of Wight Planning Commission failed Thursday in a 3-2 vote.
Smithfield Supervisor Al Casteen asked the Board of Su- pervisors to appoint Jim Minton of Smithfield to the Planning Commission. Board and commission appointments have rarely been challenged, but last week, Chairman Tom Wright and New- port Supervisor Stan Clark asked if Casteen's pick was the same Minton who had written letters to the editor of The Smithfield Times that were critical of the county.
Wright asked Casteen to check and see if Minton was the same person as the critical letter writer and "report back."
Casteen said he didn't know.
"Are you sure you don't want to check that out first?" said Clark.
Clark said there are people in the Newport District he wouldn't appoint to the Planning Commission because they are critical of the county.
"I don't want that to be a criteria for future appointees. I'm comfortable with the guy," he said.
Minton was appointed temporarily a few months ago to serve out the remaining term of Lee Winslett on the Planning Commission. However, since Winslett's actual term expired in February, Minton had to be reap- pointed for a four-year term.
Casteen said he got Minton's name from the town of Smithfield's "talent bank."
Minton wrote two letters to the editor of The Smithfield Times — one in January 2010 and one in February 2011.
The one published in the Feb. 9 issue of The Smithfield Times stated:
"I read with amusement the recent articles for and/or against the Isle of Wight Board of Super- visors. Mr. (Tom) Finderson, I cannot agree with your letter, however, I commend you for staying up on the issues and being involved in the political process. We do not all have to agree on the issues, but we do need to be involved. The democratic process is built for, by, and of the people. But if we all sit on our hands and do nothing, then the democratic process has failed. The old saying "complacency is consent", comes to mind.
"Now, I for one am embarrassed by the behavior of our board. The antics remind me of high schools shenanigans, with two or three members bullying the rest. But if the citizens of this county do not get involved in the political process, the childish behavior and irresponsible spending will continue."
According to Wright, Minton's comments would disqualify him from serv- ing on the Planning Commission.
Isle of Wight County Attorney Paul Burton said there were few reasons a person could be removed, such as being convicted of a felony.
That information brought a pause to the discussion.
Hardy Supervisor JoAnn Hall said, "I want to make sure that who is on there is on there to serve the entire county."
Casteen thought Minton was the man for the job.
"I think he will serve well and appropriately with the group," he said.
Wright and Clark cast the two dissenting votes, but it was not enough to keep Minton from serving Isle of Wight County as a Smithfield appointee of the Planning Commission.
Supervisors impose information limit
The Isle of Wight Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 Thursday to try and require that any information requests by supervisors go through County Administrator Doug Caskey.
The requirement is for requests to employees below the supervisor level. Casteen cast the only dissenting vote for the policy introduced by Newport District San Clark.
The requirement is similar to one passed in 2009, in which former Hardy District Supervisor Jim Brown insisted that his approval be given before staff could respond to an information request by a supervisor.