Government bodies adjourning into “Closed Sessions,” tossing out the press, non-privileged members of its own staff, and the general public, and either keeping no minutes or minutes marked “eyes only,” should, as a general principle, be kept to an absolute and necessary minimum.
Faced with the necessity of making an interim appointment to Town Council, our neighbors in Purcellville earlier this year voted unanimously to make the names of active candidates for the post public, and went so far as to interview them in sessions open to the public and press.
Purcellville Mayor Kwasi Frasier, faced with time constraints and all the other all-too obvious difficulties of properly vetting candidates, called for “open discussions in the public eye.” Councilman John Nave reportedly argued that the process “. . . . needs to be fair and transparent for the town to move forward — open it up. It’s the right thing to do.”
Middleburg’s Town Council, for what we are sure thought were good and sufficient reasons voted to close its process.
And in their defense, Purcellville did the same, . . . but only for some of its deliberations.
We believe Middleburg should have followed Purcellville’s example, doing its best to make as much of the process as they thought appropriate, open and transparent.
“Closed sessions” of any legislature should be rare, and called only when absolutely necessary and legally required. Closed sessions in Middleburg should be rare indeed.