Charlottesville’s corrupt political machine has reemerged with a vengeance through the reinstatement of a Democrat-favored backroom process abandoned years ago.

As reported by Rachana Dixit in the September 25, 2010 edition of the Daily Progress, the Charlottesville School Board has decided to hold “private” interviews of applicants hoping to fill the seat to be vacated by Dr. Alvin Edwards on October 31.

Edwards’ August 5 resignation announcement was timed so that Charlottesville voters would be disenfranchised of the opportunity to elect his successor. It was Dr. Edwards’ deliberate timing that gave his school board cronies the power to appoint rather than elect his replacement.

In Dixit’s story, the head of the Virginia Coalition for Open Government, Megan H. Rhyne, took issue with the Charlottesville board’s proposed closed-door maneuverings, citing procedural transparency as a key element of public trust.

In a recent statewide news release, Rhyne also was openly critical of the Albemarle County School Board. She strongly criticized that organization’s closet interviews to replace Brian Wheeler, whose resignation announcement was made on the same day as Edwards’ (and which also broadly and purposefully disenfranchised Albemarle County voters).

As quoted in the Progress, former appointed Charlottesville School Board member and later Clerk of the Board, Linda Bowen, defended the proposed clandestine process:

“When City Council made their appointments they were also done in closed session,” Bowen said, referring to when the School Board was appointed and not elected.

Charlottesville’s School Board was an appointed body until a citizen-led petition drive put the issue onto the November 2005 ballot.  Over vociferous public objections of each Democrat then on council—David Brown, Blake Caravati, Kendra Hamilton, and Kevin Lynch—the measure was passed with over 70% voter approval.

In recounting history, however, both Dixit and Bowen overlooked a fundamentally critical fact: Charlottesville City Council’s final School Board appointment (2005) was conducted with open interviews! The revised appointment interview process was a failed last-ditch attempt by council Democrats (and the Charlottesville Democrat Committee) to defeat the Elected School Board referendum that was to appear on that November’s ballot.

From the 2005 council minutes:

NOTICE OF SPECIAL MEETING

A SPECIAL MEETING OF THE CHARLOTTESVILLE CITY COUNCIL WILL BE HELD ON Tuesday, June 21, 2005 AT 5:00 p.m. IN THE Basement Conference Room.

THE PROPOSED AGENDAS IS AS FOLLOWS:

Interviews: Charlottesville School Board (held in open session) [emphasis added]

Closed session as provided by Section 2-2.3712 of the Virginia Code

BY ORDER OF THE MAYOR                                                            BY Jeanne Cox

BASEMENT CONFERENCE ROOM — June 21, 2005

Council met in special session on this date with the following members present: Dr. Brown, Mr. Caravati, Ms. Hamilton, Mr. Lynch, Mr. Schilling.

Council interviewed the following candidates for the School Board: Rev. Alvin Edwards, Kenneth Jackson, Joseph Mooney, Louis Bograd, David Randle and Karen Waters.

While Bowen can claim institutional protectionism or failing memory for her journalistically incomplete statement, Dixit has no such excuse. Her cursory coverage is a direct result of failure to reference appropriately knowledgeable primary sources prior to publication. Her editorial overseers should have been well aware of the 2005 appointment process and are equally guilty of historical adulteration.

But the real culprit here is the arrogant, non-responsive and intellectually monolithic Charlottesville School Board—under the direction of board chair, Leah Puryear. They have discarded established protocol and ignored overwhelming public opinion in their insistence on transacting clandestine appointment interviews.

Holding private interviews to replace a resigning elected school board member is bad public policy, it is contrary to the public interest, and ultimately, it discourages future participation in what appears to be an exclusive confederacy. Charlottesville voters deserve much better from their elected “representatives.”

Contact the errant school board members and urge their consent to open interviews:

Mrs. Leah Puryear / Chair

2415 Kerry Lane
Charlottesville, Virginia 22901

(434) 964-1275
lcp6f@virginia.edu

Mrs. Colette Blount

1523 Amherst Street
Charlottesville, VA 22903

(434) 295-5847
cvilleblount@yahoo.com

Mrs. Llezelle A. Dugger / Vice Chair

428 2nd Street, NE
Charlottesville, VA 22902

(434) 806-9238
llezelle@llezelle.com

Mrs. Kathleen Galvin

712 Lyons Avenue
Charlottesville, VA 22902

(434) 979-2890
galvink@cstone.net

Mr. Ned Michie

1704 Concord Drive
Charlottesville, Virginia 22901

(434) 296-6961
nedmichie@aol.com

Mr. Juandiego R. Wade

909 St. Charles Avenue
Charlottesville, VA 22901

(434) 293-7432
grantwade@embarqmail.com

3 COMMENTS

  1. LOL! The independent school board movement was one of the triumphs of Rob’s career on city council. Of course, the whole theory behind that was that it was better for the school board to be accountable to voters than to city council. How ironic that council actually required transparency while the new bosses don’t seem to have noticed the board has taken a step backward… Note to self: When crafting transformational change, read the fine print…

  2. And since you were there (and you opposed the elected school board), you know it’s disingenuous to give the council credit for “required transparency.” Public interviews were only done out of desperation in a last-ditch attempt to defeat the measure and maintain the power of appointment.

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