Resolution, agenda questioned

Published 1:02 pm Thursday, June 21, 2018

A request by a member of the public during both the June 11 and May Buckingham County Board of Supervisors meetings prompted an inquiry by The Herald into what determines which items are placed on the board agenda or discussed.

Frank Howe, a Buckingham resident, asked that the county request the General Assembly to enact legislation on weapons following instances of mass shootings in the United States.

Howe presented a resolution for the board stating:

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“We, the members of the Buckingham County Board of Supervisors call upon the members of the Virginia General Assembly to enact legislation to prohibit private citizens from buying, selling or owning assault weapons and or high capacity ammunition magazines.”

Howe said since the May meeting, there were two school shootings in Santa Fe, Texas and Noblesville, Indiana. Ten died in the Santa Fe shooting.

“Tonight, only one of you needs to make the suggested motion, and then only one of you needs to second that motion, and then only two more need to vote in favor of this motion requiring conscience, character and courage,” Howe said.

“What kind of society do we wish to have?” Howe said. “One in which, due to distrust, anger and fear, we heavily arm ourselves and eye our neighbors, our law enforcement and even our government with suspicion, or one in which we try to protect and care for each other as fellow Americans and fellow human beings.”

During the May meeting, Howe noted the threat that weapons such as an AR-15 semi-automatic weapon owned by someone with dangerous intent could have in a public area. He said while hand grenades are illegal for residents to own, AR-15 weapons are not, and both can endanger lives.

“Tonight, I’m not asking you to make a law, I’m asking you to take a stand,” Howe said.

County Administrator Rebecca Carter said in a May email, following the May board meeting, that she consulted the board chairman, Danny Allen, regarding placing the matter on the June agenda.

“He said this should not be on the agenda as it is not something the board has discussed to be placed on the agenda,” Carter said.

In emails June 13 following June 11’s meeting, Carter said board members can bring up subjects not on the agenda during the portion of the meeting designated as “other board matters.”

“Any general business I or our county staff have to bring before the board is placed on the agenda,” Carter said, “if other board members want items on the board I consult with the chairman. If the chairman does not agree the board members may bring items up under ‘other board matters’ on the agenda.”

Carter said funding requests, such as requests made by county agencies that go beyond its budgeted needs, typically need the board’s approval.

Requests similar to Howe’s, Carter said, are citizens requests, which would also need the board’s approval to be added to the agenda. However, Carter said unless citizens represent an organization, she would not have authority to place the item on the agenda.

“He did not request to be placed on the agenda to be an agenda item,” Carter said. “But unless he represents a group or organization I would not have had authority to place him on the agenda.”

“Frank did not mention he was representing anyone else. He spoke at public comment, so it should be categorized as a citizen request,” Carter said.

Carter said she brought up the request by Howe to the board before the June meeting.

“I provided the board with a memo saying that the chairman did not wish to have the board take any consideration of Frank’s request so it is not placed as a board action request,” Carter said.

“I stated in the memo if any of them wanted to bring the matter up they could under ‘other board matters,’” Carter said.

The Herald has contacted Allen for comment, but Allen did not respond before presstime.

The Herald has also emailed District Four Supervisor Morgan Dunnavant, District Two Supervisor Donnie Bryan, District Five Supervisor Harry Bryant, District One Supervisor Robert “Bobby” Jones, and called District Six Supervisor Joe Chambers for comment.

Bryan said in an email that he was not present for the June and did not provide additional comment.

Chambers, in a Wednesday phone interview, said he typically considers the requests or concerns voiced by the majority of constituents in his district.

“I’ve got 1,700 people in my district,” Chamber said. “I’ve got to go by what the majority says. I represent more than one person.”

He said he would not have had the time to contact the majority of his district to receive their input on the resolution, and feels they would need to voice an opinion before the board makes a decision.

“I think everybody should have some input in it,” Chambers said.