Whenever you hear a phrase like “sincerely apologize” or, in the case of Governor McDonnell’s uranium-mining study, “extremely transparent,” my spider-sense starts tingling with mistrust about what is being said. Of course, there may be absolutely no grounds to discount the “sincere apology” of a friend who forgot to pick you up at the airport on time, for example, but in the case of Gov. McDonnell and his administration, my lie detector is constantly on alert.
The sheer fact that “key” documents will be initially withheld from Virginians is itself a red flag that politics is playing a role in the uranium mining study group. Why else would Gov. McDonnell want to keep the documents out of the public eye until the final public report is released? Wouldn’t he score political cookie points by keeping the meeting process entirely transparent? If so, what his restraining his decision to do so?
Like Robert Burnley, a former Virginia environmental director, pointed out, “They need to go overboard to be public on this because it’s so important.” Instead, Gov. McDonnell has in many respects done the exact opposite and many Virginians suspect why.
As much as Virginia Uranium Inc. (VUI) would like to make it a secret, it’s wide knowledge to anyone who’s followed the issue of uranium mining in Southside Virginia that VUI has lobbied decision makers hard to lift the moratorium on uranium mining in Virginia. With so many lobbyists and so much money on the line in the event of a lift on Virginia’s uranium ban, lawmakers have no doubt found it difficult to shut out the din of pros for uranium mining instead of focusing on the clear public health, economic, and environmental consequences.
But, the McDonnell administration says, four meetings of the group will be made public! Thanks for the nod to democracy and transparency King McDonnell. May I also view the public report when it’s finished too (yes my liege, I do know how to read)?
As one observer pointed out, it is ironic that a conservative administration would be implicitly making the assumption that government is the real and final arbiter of truth and consequently that the people of Virginia are not smart enough, knowledgeable enough, or perhaps concerned enough with the proceedings of the uranium mining study group to fully appreciate a truly open meeting process on the issue.
Not surprisingly, McDonnell is completely wrong to make these assumptions. Virginians want an open meeting process on this issue for the sheer shake of transparency but also because, as mentioned above, this issue is so important, important enough to hold the welfare of numerous generations of Virginians in how the issue of uranium mining is ultimately decided.