Letter — Virtual meetings not cutting it in Buckingham
Published 6:00 am Friday, January 8, 2021
To the Editor:
On Monday next, January 11, the Buckingham Board of Supervisors (BOS) will meet to conduct county business.
There are two public hearings scheduled for the meeting. The county will meet in the administrative bunker and may allow a few citizens to attend. The COVID virus controls the number of persons attending per instructions of the governor. The current allowance is about 20 with proper distancing and masks.
This is a joint meeting with the Planning Commission. This most unfortunate scheduling means that with the Board of Supervisors’ seven members and the Planning Commission with seven leaves only seven seats for the public. From that seven, there is an array of ancillary staff, which may include a couple of constitutional officers and several administrative persons that will prohibit any seats for the public.
It is a clear violation of the concept of open government. The BOS is really concerned in guiding the public business, but they seem vexed by the public consuming their time with questions and criticisms. Should the citizens of Buckingham just ignore this trend, or could the county simply find a larger venue for this event?
The absurdist YouTube adventures have been a resounding failure, as the county knows there is little if any connectivity in Buckingham. I am well into my 70s and do not have the time to watch the video “buffering” every three minutes. What takes an hour to view in high-speed territory may mean two or three hours of very choppy film far from the bunker.
Two sessions have been without any sound. Two hours of mime debate is an abuse of the public. Get it right or shut it down. This has been evolving since last year with little discernible progress. Virtual is not of much value or virtue when 70% of the public lacks a computer to access the product. Even with a computer, there is poor connectivity in the county.
The challenge is advanced by the lack of procedure. It is difficult to know who is speaking. Several of the supervisors seem to move away from their microphones when they speak to the issues. Perhaps the county is waiting for the commonwealth to intervene and provide some assistance as to how a county government might effectively conduct meetings and communicate with the public.