Last evening’s grueling budget mark-up session of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors left implementation of the the Rule of Law Resolution intact while cutting about $6.7 million from the county’s budget, as was reported in the Gainesville Times. Chairman Corey Stewart had proposed consideration about about $20 million in cuts, which would have raised average tax bills by only a fractional portion of a slice of pizza (about a single dollar, using the old method of determining the monetary value of changes in average tax bills), but as expected the straw polls among supervisors didn’t result in consensus on all of these proposals. The current budget mark-up would establish a tax rate of $0.97 per hundred dollars of assessed value, which is awfully close to the maximum tax rate of $0.968 that Corey Stewart and John Stirrup advocated earlier in the budget process.
The fiscal conservatives on the board are clearly Corey Stewart and John Stirrup, which voted in favor of all of the cuts. They were joined most frequently in the minority by Wally Covington and Mike May when these proposals didn’t receive majority support. Despite the clear potential for acrimony given the significance of some of these decisions, this board meeting was pleasant and at times light-hearted, and it was a pleasure to see the board work so well together. There was a definite desire by all of the members to develop a consensus on these proposals, and that good working relationship absolutely helped to get the board through a pretty long list of decisions in one evening.
Perhaps one of the most significant decisions was to forgo the installation of video cameras in the patrol cars of the Prince William County Police Department, for a savings of about $3.1 million. Staff, and some supervisors were concerned that these were essential to protect officers from charges of racial profiling, and it looked like it was going to be difficult to find a solid consensus on the board regarding this item. A discussion then started about what policy changes might be made in order to make these cameras unnecessary, which could have been an indication that the Rule of Law Resolution could be in trouble. After a dinner break, the board went into closed session to get advice from County Attorney Ross Horton, and it became pretty clear that the Rule of Law Resolution was not going to be rescinded, since the police officers for the Criminal Alien Unit were retained, while the line item for cutting the cameras out of the budget got unanimous approval.
There are a couple of potential explanations that might fit. One of those is that instead of subjecting all persons detained to questioning about their immigration status if there’s probable cause to do so, that some other non-arbitrary standard could be used to trigger an officer’s questioning of legal status. The police department could come up with a list of offenses which would automatically trigger this question for all persons detained, essentially removing the probable cause issue which the county attorney is most concerned with. If criteria are 100% related to behavior or procedure, the potential for charges of racial profiling are dramatically reduced, if not eliminated.
Another possible policy change would be to simply subject everyone to questioning, in the same manner that TSA screens everyone who gets on an airplane, regardless of whether anyone might have probable cause to think they might be a terrorist or not. This was how the Rule of Law Resolution was originally proposed, and for a couple of reasons the Supervisors decided to change this to a probable cause standard. If every single person encountered by the police is questioned about their legal status, then it is going to be effectively impossible for someone to claim racial profiling, even if it does create some situations where police will be questioning persons who are pretty clearly not illegal aliens solely for the purposes of satisfying a strategy of liability mitigation.
There may be other opportunities here, but these are the two that seem most likely to substantially reduce the need for video cameras in the county’s patrol cars that would also leave the Rule of Law Resolution intact, which is pretty clearly the case. I haven’t heard what the specific changes might be that the Supervisors are considering, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the concerns here are all about the probable cause standard, and there’s not a huge array of realistic options to choose from when considering a policy change. If I’ve divined what’s going on here correctly, this discussion could result in a real benefit to the county by absolutely undercutting any thin opportunity for the illegal alien lobby to even try to sue the county.
So far this is looking like another solid defeat for the illegal alien lobby. I can’t help but wonder if having Gaudencio Fernandez read the “honest message” from the billboard he erected on Prince William Street in Manassas didn’t help this happen in some small way. It’s also another victory for Prince William County taxpayers, which are going to benefit from a second straight year of strong fiscal restraint by the Board of Supervisors, a welcome departure from the pattern of double-digit tax bill increases under the Connaughton board, which took away pizza after pizza from Prince William County taxpayers.
The opinions expressed here are solely the views of the author, and not representative of the position of any organization, political party, doughnut shop, knitting guild, or waste recycling facility, but may be correctly attributed to the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy. If anything in the above article has offended you, please click here to receive an immediate apology.