Opacity in government

It’s probably easier to find out what bills the Peoples Assembly of Kazakhstan has passed than to learn what your local Loudoun Board of Supervisors is up to.

Forget the local “news”papers, of course, which are too busy reporting such front-page scoops as the opening of furniture stores and pictures of pets in need of homes to bother following up on any of the very developer-friendly initiatives of your elected representatives.

The only place you’ll find less news per square foot is in the voluminous “news”letters our very media savvy

Big Win for Loudoun! Scott York brings German oom-pah band to visit!

Board has been inundating us with since their election, filled with such “newsflashes” as announcements of canned food drives, picnics, and events by various community arts organizations (whose budgets they zeroed out this year, but never mind)—not to mention Scott York’s recent “ACTION REPORT” announcing yet another incredible payoff of his high-level business promotion junket trip to Germany: the upcoming visit to Loudoun of a German oom-pah band from Loudoun’s very own partnerdisrict Main-Taunus-Kreis. (“Our partnership continues to expand!” trumpets York).

That leaves the newly revamped, extremely user-friendly, totally redesigned, relogoed Loudoun County website, where if you want to find out how your Board voted on recent bills . . . good luck: as utilized by your Board, it is in fact a textbook example of how not to tell the public what you’re doing. Although it looks very pretty.

If you were hoping to find out, for example, about the Board’s approval last week of the new Zoning Ordinance Action Group, simply go to loudoun.gov, click “Board of Supervisors”, click “documents,”click the folder “Board of Supervisors Business Meetings, Public Hearing, and Special Meetings,” double click on the “2012” folder,  scroll all the way down to “09-05-12 BOS Meeting” and double click on that, then scroll down and click to download the “09-05-12 BOS Action Report final2” pdf file, scroll down to Item # 14A, where you will learn that the Board approved the creation of the ZOAG by an 8-0-1 vote (Suzanne Volpe absent, no doubt exhausted by “fighting with everything she has in her” to keep unchanged the name of a road in her district that is named after a subdivision); then simply go back to the “09-05-12 BOS Meeting” folder, click to download the pdf file “Item 14A Revised Motion ZOAG” to discover that the Board had decided to expand the number of “stakeholder” groups to be represented on the “Action Group” per Attachment 2, which although they don’t tell you where you can find said attachment 2, simply go back to the “09-05-12 BOS Meeting” folder and click to download the pdf file “Item 14a-Creation of Zoning Ordinance Action Group Complete” and scroll down to find Attachment 2, where you will learn in a footnote that the majority of the “Action Group” is to consist of representatives of the development industry, including but not limited to the Dulles Area Realtors, the Northern Virginia Building Industry Association, the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties, and the Loudoun Chamber of Commerce.

Similarly, the initiative by Chairman York (R-Kincora) to get a new state law passed allowing Loudoun to apply the sales tax receipts from an extremely minor league baseball stadium for the purpose of financing the construction of said extremely minor league baseball stadium, thereby saving the promoters of said development and extremely minor league baseball team the irritation of having to pay for it themselves, which of course is hardly reasonable given how close a friend the promoter of said team is to Chairman York, was “consented to” by the Board without having to upset themselves or anyone else by having to mention in public what they were consenting to.

This, of course, used to be what an extinct job occupation called “reporter” was for—to ask a couple of actual questions to find out what is really going on.

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