Keeping the light shining bright

Published 12:57 pm Tuesday, September 13, 2016

After more than two weeks of silence and countless telephone calls and emails, a public call to disclose information and a Virginia Freedom of Information Act request on our part, taxpayers now know the action as a result of a closed session that took place during an Aug. 23 Crossroads Community Services Board meeting.

In a Thursday telephone call and through emails from board Chairman and Lunenburg representative Sidney Smyth, we learned the board agreed to purchase property adjacent to its main offices for $1.5 million, intending to expand and start new programs in the purchased spaces.

No matter if it were $1.50 spent or $1.5 million, it shouldn’t have taken more than two weeks for the public to learn of something representatives took action on in an open meeting by casting a vote.

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The votes the board representatives cast to accept the clandestine recommendation from its finance committee concerning a real estate matter were on behalf of the people they represent in Amelia, Buckingham, Charlotte, Cumberland, Nottoway, Lunenburg and Prince Edward counties’. And it took those counties residents entirely too long to learn of how their money was spent and what their government was doing.

Crossroads operates using a variety of funding resources from all levels of government — much of which include taxpayer dollars from those who live in its service area. They, too, shouldn’t have had to wait more than two weeks to learn where their money went.

Let this be a lesson that, as Louis Brandeis said in 1913, “If the broad light of day could be let in upon men’s actions, it would purify them as the sun disinfects.”

We intend to keep that light shining brightly, not only on Crossroads, but on all of the  governments and taxpayer-supported entities we cover.