I called the Richmond City Clerk's office about two weeks ago to ask about Mayor Elect Dwight Clinton Jones' swearing in. Though the Clerk's office was not organizing the event, Mrs. Sears-Thomas offered that they had heard that it would be held on December 31 but that it would be a "private" event. The Times Dispatch reported the private swearing ceremony on Dec. 9, 2008.
At the time, it struck me as unusual that the swearing in of an elected public official would be a private ceremony. I paid it little mind and thought it would get straightened out in time for the actual event. I called the Clerk's office again today [4:49 PM] to see if they could provide any additional information regarding the swearing in. The clerk's office told me that there would be a public swearing in on Jan. 10. I asked, "What about the swearing in tomorrow?" and Ms. Craighead responded that it was going to be "private." I asked, "Isn't that unusual?" She responded she wasn't sure because this would be her first time going through the process. She offered to give me the number of the Mayor Elect's transition team.
I called the number she provided at 4:51 PM, and it was answered by Margaret Pugh who is serving on the transition team. I asked about the swearing in and she told me about the event on January 10. I asked, "What about the swearing in tomorrow?" To which Ms. Pugh responded that was "more of a personal type of event." I was shocked and said that it was unusual for a publicly elected official to have a private swearing in. I asked if the Press would be permitted to attend because I would be much more interested in reporting the event than criticizing it as being closed to the public. I left my name and number and Ms. Pugh said she would talk with the Mayor Elect's assistant.
Could this be a sign of another secretive and privileged administration? Can you imagine if President Elect Obama proposed holding a private swearing in ceremony? Why not hold the mayoral inauguration in Council Chambers in conjunction with Council's ceremonies on Friday, January 2, 2008 at 10 AM? What better way to demonstrate a willingness to work hand in hand with the Council?