To the Editor;
I wanted to set the record straight for why it
appears the public will have to wait for council to make a final decision on
the design for King Street as part of the Downtown Improvements. At the Town
Council meeting of Sept. 10, 2013, a group of petitioners spoke about their
concerns about the current project design and their desire to have it
reconsidered. At that time the Mayor indicated she would ask for this
motion at the Council’s Oct. 8 meeting. Why?
In order to afford adequate notice to the public of the timing of the vote so
no parties would be taken off guard.
At our council meeting of Sept. 24, I notified council I would need to participate in the Town Council meeting of Oct. 8 remotely under the provisions of Virginia Code Section 2.2-3708.1 due to work obligations. Prior to Sept. 24, I had communicated my work travel requirements with the Town Manager and the Mayor to determine how best to minimize the impact to council and worked with my employer to develop a travel schedule that allowed me to meet both my job and council responsibilities.
As council members all of us have day jobs, and from time to time those jobs require travel conflicts. The council recently accommodated this by unanimous vote to allow Vice Mayor Dave Butler to participate remotely in meetings in July. I voted to allow the Vice Mayor’s remote participation because he met the criteria of the State Code and the full participation of the council whenever possible is in the public’s interest. Those meetings included a controversial vote on the North-South Corridor for which Vice Mayor Butler was a critical deciding vote for the majority. I voted in the minority. The council has also accommodated remote participation for Council Member Marty Martinez. The council voted to allow remote participation for Council Member Hammler as well, however she ended up not needing to participate remotely. These votes were also without objection by any council member.
Therefore I was surprised after making advance notification and arrangements to enable remote participation for the Oct. 8, meeting that Vice Mayor Butler, Council Member Martinez and Council Member Burk voted to block my participation during our work session of Oct. 7. The end result being that the members of the business community and public who have had the expectation for the council to consider this item and make a final decision since Sept. 10 will be denied that opportunity. The justification: “The council can just defer the action for two more weeks.” The likely impact being to move this decision to a council meeting with a busy agenda and requiring the community to remobilize to come out for a second meeting.
Unfortunately, with my obligations to my employer and the last-minute timing of this action by Vice Mayor Butler, Council Member Martinez and Council Member Burk, I could not modify my trip to be on hand for the council meeting on Oct. 8. I will still be available to dial in and participate electronically, as this council has allowed others to do, in the event that more reasonable heads prevail and allow council to do the work that is on our Agenda for this meeting. I apologize to the public that despite making arrangements to participate remotely so the full council could take action on this item, these members have decided to take advantage of my work obligations in an effort to delay council action.
Leesburg Town Council