Transparency News, 5/13/2022



May 13, 2022

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access/transparency stories

A closed session scheduled for May 17 could be a flash point in a Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors’ search for a new county administrator. Three candidates were interviewed in early April, but the full Board has not yet met to discuss the individuals — and that tops the agenda for the closed session. However, opinions on the process so far vary from it having been “contaminated” to a hearty endorsement of one candidate. There have also been hints of possibly re-opening the search for the position, which has been available since early January. Chairman Vic Ingram said the Board does not agree on the three candidates so far and doesn’t think someone would want to come here to work without a unanimous endorsement. Ingram was also concerned that a potential candidate was “leaked” on a local individual’s Facebook page.
Chatham Star Tribune

In another case of members of the Morgantown Police Department butting heads with city officials, the president of the local FOP says the city has refused to grant his FOIA request. The city police officers, who are members of the Monongalia-Preston Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 87, filed their complaint May 11 in Monongalia Circuit Court against the City of Morgantown. According to the complaint, Lodge 87 President Brandon Viola filed a Freedom of Information Act request April 4 to the city asking for a copy of a Wage and Compensation Study that had been mentioned during the February 22 Morgantown City Council meeting. During that meeting, it was said the study had been completed by GovHR for Fiscal Year 2022, and that salary and budget decisions were made with information from that study. Viola also asked City Manager Kim Haws for a list of hourly rates paid to city employees in the 2021 calendar year. 
West Virginia Record

editorials & columns


SPEAKING at a Tea Party gathering on April 23, Spotsylvania County School Board Chair Kirk Twigg made reference to unflattering attention he has received in the national media. “Hey,” he said, “that’s all part of the game. If you’re impacting change, you’re going to be in some kind of limelight.” As discussed in Thursday’s editorial, what Twigg means by “change” is unclear. His unwillingness to be forthcoming about his plans is having an unsettling effect on the Spotsylvania County School system. One of the School Board’s first actions under Twigg’s leadership was to fire the superintendent without cause. After several delays in starting the search for a replacement, the School Board hired GR Consulting. While the company’s representative remains upbeat that a good candidate will emerge, it’s not unreasonable to infer that the School Board’s actions could hinder the search. “If there were ever a time to come together,” she said at a work session, “this is it.” She noted that candidates will be looking at tapes of past board meetings to see what kind of situation they are inheriting. Twigg’s inability to run civil, productive meetings, and his unwillingness to explain where he is leading the school system are just a few reasons that some well-qualified candidates may pass on applying.
The Free Lance-Star

Seventy-one Waynesboro city government employees, 30 of them full-time employees, are paid less than $15 per hour, according to data provided by the city to Augusta Free Press. The 3 percent pay raise approved by Waynesboro City Council this week will push three of them past the living wage threshold come July 1. Among the full-time city positions under $15 per hour, 24 of them are in Public Works. Last week, Public Works Department cited staffing shortages in an announcement that it is suspending bulk collection services.
Augusta Free Press

It’s easy to get citizens to fill the room for a public hearing on a controversial rezoning or conditional use permit. We get it. Few of us want anything in our neighborhood that would detract from our quality of life, much less potentially harm our property’s value. Yet, citizen engagement is much less robust when it comes time for a city or county to update its comprehensive plan — arguably the time to have a much more meaningful impact on land use decisions. In fact, the best time to have a say on how and where Suffolk grows is right now, as city leaders begin the first update of the community’s comprehensive plan in seven years.
Suffolk News-Herald