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New board, same issues

Cumberland County voters stated their feelings about the Board of Supervisors loud and clear at the ballot box last November sweeping out the incumbents and replacing them with five new faces. It was clear the voters wanted a fresh start.

But a recent meeting with Green Ridge, the company responsible for developing the proposed mega landfill, has some citizens wondering if it’s not just the same old song and dance.

The new supervisors met with Green Ridge Dec. 9, before they were sworn in as supervisors. The meeting was technically legal, although the fact the public was not informed or invited to listen is a disappointing start for a board tasked with reestablishing the trust of its citizens.

County Administrator Don Unmussig is correct when he talks about the training program needed for the new supervisors. It is common for newly-elected officials to spend time hearing from department heads and learning about the intricacies of county government before they take office. But allowing an entirely new board to spend time with the developer of the controversial landfill project outside the knowledge and view of the public was a mistake.

By inviting Green Ridge to be a part of the training process, Unmussig did his board a disservice and caused them to start their term with doubts about the genuineness of their commitment to transparency.

On a positive note, the board eliminated the 3-minute time limit for public comments giving the public more time to express their opinions. During the official meeting last week, eight speakers spoke for more than 45 minutes. Hopefully, this is not a one-time thing and will be done more often to give the citizens un-timed opportunities to express their viewpoints. While un-timed comments may not be practical at every meeting, it should be the rule more times than not.

More moves to invite and involve the community in the governmental process and less secret meetings with mega landfill companies will go a long way toward rebuilding trust with the voters in Cumberland County.