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Saturday, November 26, 2022
ArlingtonOpinionLetter: Is Arlington board trying to stifle discourse?

Letter: Is Arlington board trying to stifle discourse?

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Editor: Every third Saturday of the month, the County Board starts its meeting with public comment.

As those who get up for the 8:30 start know, about ten speakers sign up to talk two minutes each. Residents describe concerns, offer accolades, or simply raise awareness of issues dear to them.

After the last speaker, it’s typical for most – if not all – of the five Board members to respond. Members versed in a topic often provide important perspective. Members deepen the dialogue by bouncing comments off each other. They may express particular interest in a topic, and offer follow-up that gives residents a strong sense of being heard.

This process of give and take took a worrisome turn Saturday, Feb. 20.


In his second meeting as chair, Matt de Ferranti undermined the dialogue. He gave cursory responses to each speaker (asking the county manager to chip in briefly) and gave the floor to one other member for a short comment.

Unlike past meetings, viewers were left with no idea how other members view the range of topics presented. We did not benefit from any give-and-take among members.  It was no longer a conversation.

It’s unclear why Mr. de Ferranti appears to want to gut the integrity of this forum. Why clamp down on what has been a healthy chance for conversation between and among residents and County Board members?

Please restore the integrity and purpose of this important dialogue.

Kit Norland, Arlington

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