Saying No to Secrecy

Saying No to Secrecy

McLean Citizens Association raises concerns about the growing veil of secrecy around Dulles Corridor Rail project.

The McLean Citizens Association (MCA) is not a fan of secrets — particularly when they pertain to the Dulles Corridor Metrorail project.

At its May 2 Board of Directors adopted a resolution expressing the McLean Citizens Association’s concern about the “excessive secrecy which has developed around the Dulles Rail project.” In the resolution, the MCA requests that public officials open the process to public view.

“They need to release as much information as possible about the project as it moves forward,” said Dan Alcorn, co-chair of the McLean Citizens Association Transportation committee.

The MCA was inspired to draft a resolution on the issue after reading newspaper articles in the Washington Post and the Washington Examiner that described a growing atmosphere of secrecy surrounding the deliberations between the Commonwealth of Virginia and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) regarding the progress of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail project.

The need for closed sessions has been attributed to concerns about litigation, however many members of the McLean Citizens Association are still suspect.

“In the article, one of the board members indicated that discussion may have gone well beyond that limit,” said Alcorn.

HOWEVER, MCA Board member Margaret Malone expressed concern about basing a resolution on information obtained via newspaper articles.

“I think that writing a resolution based on one Washington Post article is premature,” said Malone.

But MCA Board member Darren Ewing said the resolution was well warranted and timely.

“This is not something we’re just reading in the paper and surmising,” said Ewing. “This is a fact — these meetings are closed.”

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority is slated to manage the Dulles Rail project, and MWAA representatives have said that the organization is not subject to either the Federal Freedom of Information Act, or the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.

Rosemary Ryan, a legislative aide in Dranesville District Supervisor Joan DuBois’ office, said Supervisor DuBois is currently looking into MWAA’s claim that it is not subject to the Federal and Virginia Freedom of Information Acts.

“Supervisor DuBois did contact MWAA, and I will have more information for the transportation committee,” said Ryan.

After incorporating a few minor changes in wording, the MCA Board ultimately voted to approve the resolution, which urges the Virginia General Assembly to enact changes to the Virginia Public Private Transportation Act or other laws “deemed to support excessive secrecy for this and similar projects.” The resolution also requests that Congress and the Virginia General Assembly enact changes to statutes governing the Airports Authority to make it subject to open government laws.