Governor Northam’s administration is planning five community forums to get input on Virginia’s first-ever Strategic Plan for Diversity and Inclusive Excellence. The forums will be in Charlottesville, Harrisonburg, Bristol, Falls Church and Norfolk throughout March.
Appalachian Voices says, “The governor’s press release said the forums are to get public input on a draft plan to address systemic inequities in state government on issues including education, healthcare and job opportunities. Despite the heightened focus on the need for environmental justice in decision-making by the state on issues like fracked-gas pipelines and gas plants, the press release made no specific mention of the environment.”
When Appalachian Voices asked the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion about the format for public engagement, the office replied: “These are working sessions where we foster conversation and dialogue. There will be time for both verbal and virtual public comment. …As much as we would like to hear from everyone, we are unable to do so. Public comments and/or questions will have up to a minute per person. In addition, we are prepared to receive written questions/comments/suggestions.”
The first forum was held in Norfolk on March 2, 2020. The remaining four forums will all be from 6:00 PM to 8:30 PM at these locations:
- Monday March 9, 2020, Charlottesville, Charlottesville High School, Media Center, 1400 Melbourne Rd.
- Wednesday March 18, 2020, Harrisonburg: Harrisonburg City Hall, 409 South Main St.
- Wednesday March 25, 2020, Northern Virginia: James Lee Community Center, 2855 Annandale Rd,. Falls Church
- Wednesday March 31, 2020, Bristol: Bristol Virginia Public Schools, School Board Office, 220 Lee St.
Registration is not required, but space is limited at all the venues, and those interested in attending are urged to pre-register here.
In a related story, Virginia Mercury reported on March 4, 2020 that Governor signs bill making Virginia Council on Environmental Justice permanent.