Albemarle County has entered uncharted territory in their latest attempt to attract participation in an advisory body.

The “AC44 Working Group” was convened by Albemarle County for the following purpose:

Working Group members will advise County staff on Comprehensive Plan recommendations and community engagement approaches, as well as support community outreach efforts by sharing information with their networks, neighborhoods, and/or communities.

Duties of the Working Group are defined as:

  • Review and provide feedback on the Comprehensive Plan Community Engagement Plan and related outreach materials;
  • Advise staff on plans for public input opportunities (community workshops, pop-ups, focus groups, etc.);
  • Actively encourage participation, build relationships, and engage community members outside of regularly planned meetings and events (social media posts and sharing of County posts to interest groups);
  • Participate in, observe, and attend public meetings;
  • Review written summaries of public input, policy and planning options, and draft plan content;
  • Advise staff on Comprehensive Plan recommendations, based on research, summaries of public input, and planning best practices; and
  • Attend monthly Working Group meetings, learn about planning and development concepts, and review advance materials, as needed.

And, in a scheme certainly concocted by Albemarle County’s Office of Equity & Inclusion, participants from the following micro-groups were prioritized over others:

  • Below the age of 35
  • Over the age of 65
  • Are renters
  • Have attained no more than an Associate’s degree / some college credit
  • Part of low-to-moderate income households
  • Speak multiple languages at home
  • African American, Black, Hispanic or Latino
  • Foreign-born or non-US citizens
  • Work in Albemarle County, and wish to reside in Albemarle County

In other words, preference is given to:

  • Non-middle-aged
  • Non-homeowners
  • Lesser-educated
  • Poor
  • Non-native-English speaking
  • Non-White
  • Non-native
  • Non-residents

And for these qualifications and their associated imputed “expertise,” AC44 Working Group participants will be paid $15 per hour.

Time Commitment & Compensation: The anticipated time commitment for Working Group members is 10 hours per month. Working Group members will be paid at a rate of approximately $15 per hour for their time and expertise shared with County staff.

But it gets stranger.

Those who completed applications were compelled to answer an additional round of questions, apparently inadvertently left-off the initial form.

The first query focuses on “challenges” (previously known as disabilities), including “cognitive challenges.” Despite claims to the contrary, presumably, candidates with “challenges” will be favored over the “non-challenged.”

Not satisfied with the traditional demographic information collected in such processes, Albemarle County is requesting intimate, personal information regarding sexual identity (and by association in some responses, sexual practice). Applicants are requested to “select all that you identify with”:

The decision-making process in Albemarle County clearly has been hijacked by the Office of Equity & Inclusion. Forgoing rational qualification standards for advisory positions—in lieu of sexual- or identity-politics benchmarks—is undeniably irrational. The product of the AC44 Working Group is likely to reflect that irrationality.

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Rob Schilling is founder of the multi-award-winning Schilling Show Blog and News, proprietor of Schilling Show Media; host of both the Schilling Show Unleashed Podcast and WINA's The Schilling Show heard weekdays at noon; husband; father; worship leader, Christian recording artist and Community Watchdog.


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