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Letters to the editor for April 28, 2021

Letters to the editor for April 28, 2021

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A comment about public meeting comments

The vice mayor’s remarks at the end of April 13 meeting of city council should not go unnoticed by Lynchburg voters.

At issue was a suggestion to amend council’s rules of procedure to align deadlines for citizens’ requests to address council regarding published agenda items with dates the agendas are published. The city attorney stated council’s rules facilitate managing city council meetings, but council may modify them at will. The only impediment to the suggested amendment appeared to be ensuring that prior to granting requests, the clerk would have sufficient time to ensure citizens’ requests to speak meet certain screening criteria meant to eliminate frivolous requests.

However, the vice mayor, without appearing to desire any discussion, immediately stated his opposition to amending council’s rules to facilitate citizens’ requests to address council, saying the amendment would “more or less turn every [city council] meeting into a series of public hearings.”

The vice mayor’s remarks, immediately endorsed by the Ward II councilman, seem to constitute a step toward intimidation and censorship of residents while painting city council and the clerk as victims of unnecessary work and time constraints, should a single citizen wish to address city council.

Anyone familiar with city council meetings knows they typically are sparsely attended by residents, unless a public hearing to address a community hot-button issue is scheduled. It seems unreasonable to assume the proposed amendment would lead to significant increases in citizens’ requests to address city council at its meetings or to bog down council’s proceedings.

True leaders don’t avoid hearing their constituents face to face; influential officeholders who shrink from doing so have typically attained their positions to gain more power and ascend the political ladder to exercise more control. Which type of leaders do voters want representing them?





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