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Jeff Branscome writes about Spotsylvania County.

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My Objection

Several people e-mailed me this morning wanting to know what I was trying to object to last night before the supervisors entered their closed meeting.

 Here is the scoop.

Last night, County Attorney Jacob Stroman had added to the closed-meeting agenda this:  "Discussion of the Spotsylvania County Code of Ethics and various factual issues arising out of Spotsylvania County v Jake Payne.”

I informed my editor that this was added to the agenda. After reviewing the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, we believe discussing that item could be in violation of the Act. I was instructed to stand up after Mr. Stroman read the agenda and object to the closed meeting with this statement:

“I am Dan Telvock, a reporter for The Free Lance-Star. I believe a closed session under these circumstances will violate the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, Section 2.2-3700 of the Code of Virginia. Specifically, I believe that you cannot discuss in closed session the actions of anyone that you do not hire, fire or evaluate.  Supervisors are elected by the public, not by the board, who have no authority over their conduct.  Further, the Code of Ethics is a public document and discussion of its application is not proper under the Freedom of Information Act.  I respectfully request that you not meet in closed session and that my objection be recorded in the minutes of this meeting.”

I had also planned to cite Attorney General’s Opinion 2000 #042 to bolster the objection.

Mr. Stroman called me out of order. I repeated that I just wanted to make sure my objection was included in the official minutes, and he again said I was out of order. Mr. Stroman said he would discuss the matter with me after supervisors voted to meet in closed session.

After supervisors voted to enter into closed session, Mr. Stroman approached me and said I was out of line. He asked me what my objection was and I started to read the statement to him. He then asked me to provide his assistant with the Attorney General’s opinion, which I did.  

I was concerned that my objection would not get into the official record, so I quickly wrote the objection on a piece of paper and handed it to the clerk. She made copies for each supervisor and Mr. Stroman.

 Supervisors came out of closed session, and Mr. Stroman announced that they were going to return to closed session to get legal advice pertaining to an objection from someone in the audience.

After a short period of time, supervisors exited closed session again and Mr. Stroman announced that they removed the item to which I had objected from discussion so he and his staff could have more time reviewing my objection.

Permalink: http://news.fredericksburg.com/spotsygovt/2008/08/13/my-objection/

  • gramps

    that excused himself, citing a conflict of interest, from prosecuting the County case against Mr. Payne? If so, why does not his “conflict” preclude him from advising the BOS in this instance?

  • lgross

    this is an excellent point.

    It appears to me that the BOS and their attorney need to explain what happened and why – and their position on it and what it was that Mr. Telvock did not do correctly.

    Because viewing the broadcast showed he was treated rudely and further – since the County Attorney is not an elected office nor was he conducting the meeting – where is his authority to rule the objection out of order in the first place?

  • Fredtastic

    Stroman is a real arrogant piece of work. Good job challenging them on this and keep us in the loop on how it turns out. Stroman is good at protecting himself and his superiors (Supervisors) but not the County and its citizens.

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