After receiving a May 14 report from the Loudoun County Courts Grounds and Facilities Committee (CGFC), members of the Board of Supervisors’ Finance/Government Services and Operations Committee (FGSOC) asked that County Attorney Jack Roberts brief board members privately about the holiday displays the CGFC is considering.
CGFC Chair Clint Good briefly outlined his committee’s preliminary recommendations for county-owned holiday displays on the courthouse grounds, including a Christmas tree, crèche, menorah, Santa with sleigh and reindeer, wreaths and garlands. The recommendations include such details as the size and locations of the proposed displays.
FGSOC members had few questions or comments about the appearance of the proposed displays. Leesburg District Supervisor Ken Reid said he preferred that the displays be close together, rather than scattered across the courthouse grounds.
Much of the discussion focused on legal concerns and a in which Roberts gave the CGFC legal advice.
“This is an area with a lot of legal land mines,” Roberts said when asked about the closed session. He said he would like to have a similar opportunity to meet with board members, either in closed session or in individual briefings. Such briefings are legal as long as no more than two supervisors meet with staff at one time.
Supervisor Shawn Williams said to Roberts, “I guess the question I have would be … when Clint comes back and recommends the crèche and menorah, things of this nature that do have a religious element to them, you have vetted those against the case law, against the Attorney General’s—those have been vetted legally.”
“I would like to meet with each of you, give you my candid thoughts on the pros and cons of various approaches,” Roberts replied.
FGSOC chair Ralph Buona said there would not be sufficient time to hold a closed session before the CGFC makes its final recommendation in June. He asked Roberts to give the supervisors private briefings.
FGSOC member Scott York said he was concerned about the CGFC’s May 8 closed session, and that some members of the public and press had been locked out of the building while the closed session was taking place.
Roberts assured York members of the public were invited back into the room in time to hear the CGFC certify that the closed session was held legally. He suggested the committee hold future meetings in the County Government Center, where it would be less likely the public might be locked out of the building after regular business hours.