When someone proposes to use public money for a housing project, the public deserves a say in the matter. Apparently West Virginia Housing Development Fund officials aren't clear on that.
At one time the WVHDF sought comments, both pro and con, on housing projects it was considering for federal subsidies in the form of loans or tax credits. That ended after controversy in 2009 about a proposal in Mason County.
Despite opposition by the Kanawha County Commission and people living around a proposed housing development near Charleston, the WVHDF has approved tax credits for the project. That prompted commissioners to ask the fund to resume using an old rule, not being enforced now, requiring letters of support be submitted in such situations.
WVHDF officials have decided county commissions and municipal councils can send letters reflecting their opinions on proposed housing projects. The public still is left out in the cold, unless those with opinions can convince their elected officials to speak for them.
It gets worse. According to a published report, the WVHDF system used to decide whether housing projects can receive funds will take into account only letters of support. Those in opposition don't matter, it seems.
WVHDF officials' reasoning is, in a word, crazy. Also according to a published report, they fear letters opposing housing projects may contain racist statements that could lead to lawsuits under federal anti-discrimination law.
Remember, we told you the fund's rationale was ridiculous.
So let's see if we can get this straight: If the WVHDF is considering whether a housing proposal merits federal aid, it will welcome letters of support - but shun opponents. That is more than absurd.
It is outrageous. In effect, it gives housing developers the advantage of a WVHDF insisting steadfastly on viewing their requests for help through rose-colored glasses.
That is not how government accountable to the people operates.