Controversy brewing over council meeting start times in Petersburg

PETERSBURG, Va. (WRIC) — A controversy is brewing in Petersburg regarding the start times of city council meetings.

Tuesday afternoon, city council members will meet and possibly elect a new mayor or possibly re-elect current Mayor W. Howard Myers.

However, some residents want the council to change the time of the meeting from noon to at least 6 p.m. in the evening so more residents who work can attend and offer input.

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Petersburg city leaders have been accused of conducting meetings at inconvenient times. In fact, the ACLU recently sent a certified letter to council members addressing that concern.

0439e6c3e3a04b8e94de03ce72eb745b“We understand Petersburg is having some very serious issues right now but that makes it more important that those issues be discussed openly when people can attend and participate in those discussions,” said ACLU spokesman Bill Farrar.

Councilman John Hart, Sr. said he is not opposed to changing the scheduled time, because he has heard the complaints.

c64e7b607e914f0ca5591984b826303a“I’m open to either one (12 p.m. or 6 p.m.),” he said. All they have to do is get three other votes and they could move the meeting. If everybody wants to move the time I’ll vote in favor for it,.”

Farrar said following the tradition of conducting the meeting at noon is not a good excuse.

“Precedent is less important to us than public interest,” Farrar explained. “It’s really time for government and leaders to stop doing things just because that’s the way we’ve been doing it in the past and really think about the public and what’s the right thing to do.”

Councilwoman Treska Wilson-Smith also agreed that the time should be changed.

This is a developing story. Stay with 8News online and on air for the latest updates.

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