Sustained Outrage

Your city government in action, pt. 11

Charleston’s zoning board (officially the Board of Zoning Appeals) meets Thursday morning, May 28.

Just two items on the agenda this time, but one could be a bit contentious.

Architects for Shane Holmes, DDS, are asking relief from parking requirements for a building Holmes hopes to build for his orthodontist business on Oakwood Road.

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Secret meetings, May 22, 2009

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Hurray! Today’s edition of the State Register does not list any meetings that violate the legal requirement for advance public notice.

But, there are a couple of emergency meeting notices online that seem kind of questionable — like the state Board of Medicine using an “emergency” notice to advise the public of its regular meeting. If it’s a regular meeting, you’d think they could publish the notice in time to meet the five-day requirement in state law. And oddly, the notice for that Board of Medicine meeting actually appears in the Register today … not sure whey they also listed it as an emergency meeting.

As we’ve reminded folks before, the West Virginia Open Governmental Proceedings Act requires agencies to send meeting notices to the Secretary of State in time for notices to appear in the State Register five days prior to a scheduled meeting. Every week, we list the agencies that didn’t comply, thanks to the Secretary of State’s office, which kindly marks those agencies with an asterick in the list of meetings published each Friday in the Register.

Your city government in action, pt. 10

The Charleston Urban Renewal Authority, or CURA, will hold its monthly meeting Wednesday morning (May 20). As the agenda shows, the CURA board will receive an update on some of the renovations planned for Haddad Riverfront Park.

CURA has put up $500,000 to build a new entrance into the seating area from Kanawha Boulevard, and to do some streetscape-style improvements to the Boulevard and sidewalk in front of the park. The city, through a separate federal earmark, is building a canopy over the amphitheater and an overlook at the foot of Court Street.

Several neighborhood projects are also up for consideration:

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Secret meetings, May 15, 2009

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Today’s edition of the State Register lists 3 violations of the West Virginia Open Governmental Proceedings Act.

Two of them were brought to us by the state Department of Environmental Protection, through the Coalbed Methane Review Board and the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. Both listed meetings that occurred yesterday.

The other was by the Public Defender Services Corp. in the 25th Judicial Circuit in Boone and Lincoln counties.

As we’ve reminded folks before, the West Virginia Open Governmental Proceedings Act requires agencies to send meeting notices to the Secretary of State in time for notices to appear in the State Register five days prior to a scheduled meeting. Every week, we list the agencies that didn’t comply, thanks to the Secretary of State’s office, which kindly marks those agencies with an asterick in the list of meetings published each Friday in the Register.

Secret meetings, May 8, 2009

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This week’s State Register contains violations of the West Virginia Open Governmental Proceedings Act by 3 different agencies:

— The state Health Care Authority, for a meeting scheduled Monday.

–  The Regional Intergovernmental Council, for a meeting on Tuesday.

–  The Water Development Authority, for separate board and auditing committee meetings yesterday (yeah — the meeting notice was published today for meetings held yesterday).

As we’ve reminded folks before, the West Virginia Open Governmental Proceedings Act requires agencies to send meeting notices to the Secretary of State in time for notices to appear in the State Register five days prior to a scheduled meeting. Every week, we list the agencies that didn’t comply, thanks to the Secretary of State’s office, which kindly marks those agencies with an asterick in the list of meetings published each Friday in the Register.

Charleston City Council meets Monday evening, as it does twice each month, rain or shine.

Mayor Danny Jones presides over these meetings, from the raised platform at the far end of the formal council chambers on the third floor of City Hall. Whether you like Danny or not, he rules the meetings with a certain style.

But council meetings can be a little dull, as most items on the agenda are voted upon with little or no discussion, let alone actual debate.

To see the wheels of city government really turn, plan to arrive an hour earlier, at 6 p.m., for the meeting of what my colleague Rusty Marks likes to call the powerful Finance Committee.

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Your city government in action, pt. 7

Charleston’s Municipal Planning Commission has just two items on the agenda for its meeting on Wednesday, May 6.

The first is somewhat interesting. A group of investors led by accountant Larry Pack that bought the old SportMart warehouse in the East End a couple years ago wants to lease the building to an auto detailing business. To do this, they need to get a zoning change for the property. (I wrote about this project in the Gazette today.)

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Your city government in action, pt.5

Yet another quasi-city agency, the Charleston Sanitary Board, also plans to meet Thursday.

I say quasi-city because, as its manager Larry Roller often points out, the sanitary board independent of city government, although Mayor Danny Jones is the board chairman. The group runs the sewage treatment plant in North Charleston, along with the sewage collection system, paid for by the monthly sanitary fee residents and business owners pay.

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Charleston’s zoning board (officially known as the Board of Zoning Appeals) meets at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, as they do twice each month — assuming there is business at hand.

There is just one item this time, according to the agenda.  A property owner in Kanawha City is requesting two setback variances in order to build an addition to his home at 5511 Virginia Ave.

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More to come on the Bayer explosion

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Wow. Lots of important information coming out in today’s congressional hearing on the August 2008 explosion at Bayer CropScience’s plant in Institute.

We’ve updated our story on the Gazette’s Web site, and we’ll be adding another story later tonight and covering in our print edition tomorrow as well. I also wanted to post that photo again, showing how close the MIC “day tank” is to the site of the explosion. Take a look, and then read what the congressional investigators said could have happened.

The House Committee on Commerce and Energy’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations has audio of the hearing online for streaming here or download here. They also have all of the prepared testimony available here.

Additional documents from the committee investigation include stuff about the Emergency Response (See page  69 of the .pdf file to read the Ann GreenCommunications memo on how to “marginalize” People Concerned About MIC and The Charleston Gazette), MIC records, information about efforts to conceal documents, and more photos.

We’ll be writing more about this in coming days, and don’t forget the Chemical Safety Board’s public meeting on its investigation starts at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the West Virginia State University Wilson Building in Multipurpose Room 103.