Knowledge comes from unfettered access to information. Currently the City of Richmond lags far behind the other six most populous cities in Virginia (Alexandria, Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Virginia Beach) in terms of the information that is made available to its citizens and their ease of acquiring said information. The City of Richmond impedes the public’s access to information and participation in many ways. A short list of what the City does not do is below. For a complete list of the comparisons between the seven cities go to: http://cityhallreview.com/opengov/index.html
City Council does not post meeting agendas on its website.
City Council does not broadcast meetings at which most deliberations occur.
City Council does not hold public hearings at convenient times
City Council does not post meeting videos on its webpage.
City Council does not provide for downloading its meeting audios.
City Council does not archive meeting audios on its webpage.
City Council does not post all reports or presentations on its webpage.
City Council does not report deliberations in its minutes.
City Council does not report public comments in its minutes.
The Planning Commission provides very limited meeting information on its webpage.
The Board of Zoning Appeals provides no meeting information on its webpage.
People who want public accountability and the opportunity for meaningful participation in the City of Richmond government can and must change the status quo. Armed with information and the opportunity to participate, the public can be a watchdog, an agent of change and a collaborative partner in the decision-making process. As the Capital of the Commonwealth and the epicenter of the development of America’s popular government, the City of Richmond should be at the top of the list for offering unfettered citizen access to public information. The people can open city hall through a united and relentless demand for change. The Richmond Open Government Project intends to start this demand for change with the following petition to City of Richmond’s government leaders:
As a citizen, stakeholder, or candidate for political office in the City of Richmond, I pledge to call for, support, and vote for the following:
That the City government, in accordance with state law, immediately begin to publish City Council minutes that include a summary of the discussion on matters considered.
That the City government broadcast live all regular public meetings on the City website; and
That the City government commit to raising its open government standards to a level that meets or exceeds those of the other six most populous cities in the Commonwealth of Virginia.