Yesterday, Graham Moomaw wrote in the Progress that brand-new city councilor Kathy Galvin had suggested the city look at becoming a town in an e-mail to other members of Council and several city staffers the day before. Galvin thought that might be a solution to the problem of funding education if Del. Rob Bell’s proposed budget amendment becomes law, since it would cut $2.6M from city schools’ $68M budget and give that money to county schools. Interviewed recipients of the e-mail said that they didn’t entirely understand what she was proposing. Then, today, the paper’s Aaron Richardson talked to members of the Albemarle Board of Supervisors, who agree that reversion to town status would be a difficult, drawn-out process that probably isn’t going to happen.
What makes this storyline awkward is that there’s not actually a proposal on the table for reversion. Instead, the nascent idea of a single councilor, presented in the form of an e-mail to a small group of colleagues, is being exposed to wider criticism long before it’s reached the point of thoughtfulness that would allow it to withstand that criticism, or even have a useful discussion about it. I think there are a couple of possibilities as to what this is about. The first is the simplest explanation—Galvin sent an e-mail, the Progress got lucky and got a copy, and they’re turning it into rather a larger story than the facts justify. The second is perhaps more fun. Note that the Progress says only that they “obtained” the e-mail. Normally if they get something via a FOIA request, they specifically point that out, so that omission is noteworthy. If Council is looking for a cudgel to use against the county on the school funding issue, leaking an e-mail about reversion is one method of accomplishing that. It remains to be seen which is the case.