IOW attorney should reverse course

Published 10:32 am Saturday, November 8, 2014

If I were a tax-paying resident in Isle of Wight County, I’d be angry right now.

Really, really angry.

On Oct. 28, the Isle of Wight County Planning Commission held a public hearing on a rezoning request for a parcel of land in the Carrsville voting district. The public notice regarding the hearing was published prior to the hearing in The Daily Press, but not in The Tidewater News.

The board of supervisors will next hold a public hearing on the same request at its Nov. 20 meeting. The public notice for this hearing has been published in The Daily Press, but not in The Tidewater News.

Last week we told you that the attorney for Isle of Wight County, Mark Popovich, had made the unilateral decision to stop running certain legal notices in The Tidewater News, which covers the southern portion of the county, and The Smithfield Times, which covers the northern end (“IOW cuts paper out of advertising,” Stephen Cowles, Oct. 29.). Popovich’s reasoning was that he could save the county money by only having those notices published in The Daily Press, a daily newspaper based in Newport News that primarily covers the Peninsula, while still meeting legal notice requirements.

As I stated in last week’s column (“The right to know,” Tony Clark, Nov. 2) there are two problems with his theory, in that The Daily Press costs more to advertise in than The Tidewater News and The Smithfield Times combined while having no circulation in southern Isle of Wight County.

The spirit of Virginia’s legal notice requirement is to ensure that local governments make a good faith effort to disclose its actions, or potential actions, in a newspaper of general circulation in order to make those actions known to as many citizens as possible.

By making his decision without hearing public comment or receiving direction from the board of supervisors, Popovich did not act in good faith. His actions also resulted in fewer citizens being informed about their government’s activity on an issue that could potentially affect them, which goes against the very thing that public notice requirements are in place to ensure.

Isle of Wight County residents, as well as all those who feel it is important for government to operate with transparency, should be outraged. The board of supervisors in Isle of Wight County, to whom Popovich is accountable to, should demand he reverse course immediately. The foundation on which our nation was built will tolerate nothing less.

TONY CLARK is the publisher of The Tidewater News. He can be contacted at 562-3187 or