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Kristin versus The Wimps

By Greg L | 25 August 2011 | Prince William County | 17 Comments

Today’s News & Messenger article about the Town of Dumfries exhibits an important lesson in political leadership that’s worthy of review by any current or aspiring elected official.  If you don’t get the fundamental concepts right, such as service vs. power, authority and responsibility, and what the role of a political leader is, it is terribly unlikely that any of the policies are going to be right, either.  In this case Kristin Forrester shows what the right fundamentals are and what they look like from someone who gets it when under pressure.  As for the rest of the council, they fall all over themselves acting like a bunch of eunuchs subservient to a Prince William County supervisor instead of representatives of the citizens of Dumfries.

Addressing her fellow council members, she said, “My questions to you was, ‘What are we going to do to help the county understand its obligations to us?’ Not the favors they want to consider doing for us if we impress them with our good behavior.”

“Something has to happen and it’s not going to happen in the next quarterly meeting.” Forrester said.

Before the council moved on to other business, Council member Dorothea Barr apologized for Forrester’s mother/momma comments.

“I think it was a rude and unkind thing to say and inappropriate in this forum,” Barr said.

Yohey and Vice Mayor Nancy West sent a letter to the News and Messenger about Forrester’s comments, which was published this week.

“This letter is to apologize to Mrs. Caddigan and to other county staff who were included in the outburst of this council member,” they wrote. “The actions of one council member do not reflect the feelings of the entire town council.

“We am deeply sorry that this action has taken place at a time when the Dumfries Town Council did have a good working relationship with Prince William County,” the letter stated. “We hope that in time this good relationship can be re-established.”

Forrester said the letter summed up and reinforced the points she made in the meeting to include the attitude of some of her fellow council members.

“This is exactly what I was saying. Either you make Maureen Caddigan happy or the town will pay,” she said.

Go get ‘em, tiger.  Show them what actually having a pair looks like.

It’s moments like this when things get passionate that you often get to see what people are really made of.  While the whole council seemed aghast to have Maureen Caddigan referred to as “Momma” who the council regularly goes begging to for the tax dollars the residents of Dumfries pay, there’s one member of the council who seems to actually understand what the rule of an elected official is - to fight for the interests of their constituents first.  This is not a government body subservient to the County Board of Supervisors, it is an independent body elected by the residents of Dumfries.  If those residents wanted lackeys, all they’d need to do is make a quick raid to Independent Hill where there’s a host of flunkies they could impress into service who similarly don’t seem to understand what an independent body answerable to the voters is all about.

The concept is actually pretty simple.  If you are an elected official, the only people who you need to like you are the ones who vote for you.  You don’t bow down to anyone else but the citizens you serve, you don’t tremble at the sight of a member of a different elected body, and you don’t fail to forcefully pursue the interests of your constituents because you’re scared that some other public official won’t be pleased.  That doesn’t necessarily mean that you are required to engage in a perpetual war against other public bodies, but you certainly don’t have to act like you work for them rather than your constituents.

All that often empty rhetoric about “leadership” that gets trotted out during election cycles is proffered not because it’s a nice sounding way to fill what might otherwise be dumb silence, it’s what voters are expecting out of their elected officials.  ”Leadership” isn’t about sitting on your butt acting like a flunkie to a different public body, staff, or some other functionary being worried what they think of you.  It’s about standing up for what’s right when others around you don’t have the courage to do so, not worrying who you’re going to upset, and fighting on behalf of your constituents.  ”Leadership” is never demonstrated when the exercise is easy, it’s always what separates the wheat from the chaff when it’s difficult and risky.

The residents of Dumfries actually have a leader in their midst, although there are plenty among them who clearly are not up to the task.  Cleaning house in that town cannot come soon enough, and if Forrester hasn’t already been elevated to a position where she can fight for a greater number of people by the time the next municipal election rolls around, she ought to be selected as mayor.  Given that the current mayor can’t seem to locate his manhood and a past mayor employed it in order to run a prostitution operation in Manassas Park, it’s about time this town had a chance to be lead by someone who’s got the balls for the job and can wield them with some degree of competence.



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17 Comments

  1. Lovettsville Lady said on 25 Aug 2011 at 11:02 pm:
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    Didn’t you just write about not attacking fellow republicans because the outcome is often not good and it can mean one’s demise in party politics? Or something like that? Is attacking republicans good in some instances but not others? When does it benefit a republican?

    I thought that politics was the art of compromise. Don’t people in office have to form alliances to get what their constituents want and need? When you don’t hold the purse strings, don’t you have play nice with those who do, to get money for your community? Or does this more direct and confrontational approach work well in PWC? I don’t recall such adversarial relationships between the town councils of Vienna and Herndon and the Fairfax BOS. Perhaps I was not aware of such confrontations? If the BOS in PWC is dominated by democrats then insulting the republicans on the board may just work to get what Kristin wants for Dumfries. But it will make it more difficult for her to garner support from republicans in PW for future offices, but that may not be her goal at all. She may have no interest in republican support or in any republican office.

    Kristin is no dummy, so I am sure she’s doing this for a good reason, one that she thinks will benefit her community. It certainly will be interesting to see if this approach works and the BOS starts to give Dumfries more respect and more funding. Please keep us informed!

  2. Greg L said on 25 Aug 2011 at 11:10 pm:
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    Dumfries Town Council is like a cage match usually, one that often turns to the ridiculous. When things are seriously broken someone needs to fight make things right, and that’s the case here. Kristin is the one with the courage to engage in the battle the people of Dumfries so desperately need to win.

    A good policy fight that demonstrates who the people are who fight for constituents and who the people are who just warm chairs so they can be important is critical here. Policy battles are very different that elections because the stakes are higher than just who sits in a chair. They determine what a municipality actually does.

  3. Lovettsville Lady said on 26 Aug 2011 at 1:27 am:
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    Thanks for the information. How does the BOS lady figure into this? Is it the policy to be nice to her because she holds the purse strings and Kristin wants to change that? Or something else?

    Engaging in battles is one thing, but name calling and offending people rarely accomplishes much, and is usually detrimental to any cause. That’s what I taught my kids, don’t call people names, it won’t make them like you or be nice to you. Offended people rarely do what we want them to do for us. People who we’ve insulted publicly rarely want to do us any favors. But obviously I know next to nothing about these particular issues. These tactics may be the only way to ”win” in Dumfries. But I wouldn’t count on much cooperation or help from the BOS. As I said, it will be interesting to see if these tactics work for Dumfries. I’m sure Kristin has a strategy in mind and knows what she’s doing.

  4. Anonymous said on 26 Aug 2011 at 6:54 am:
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    Well, here go the Caddigan haters again ……..Could not bash her during the primary election since no Republican had the guts to run against her. So now its open season. So, we hear from a disgruntled Dumfries Town Counsel Member, Kristin Forrester. Forrester’s false and misdirected comments about Maureen Caddigan were nothing more than a childish tantrum. Grow up, girl!! Verbal attracts on our leaders will not get you want from the Town or the BOS. Those of us who have lived in this District for the past 25 years (like me) know that Maureen gets things done. Maureen has been a great asset to the community and the county and does not need to be called down by a “nobody” and “do nothing” frustrated Dumfries counsel member like Forrester. Somebody get Forrester a copy of “How to Make Friends and Influence People.” Congratulations to Mayor West for doing the right thing by writing a letter to apologize to Caddigan for Forrester’s lack of professionalism and disrespect.

  5. Curious said on 26 Aug 2011 at 7:45 am:
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    Do Dumfries residents pay the same amount of taxes as County residents?

    I heard that Dumfries residents pay substantially less taxes than County residents but they then argue that they get less services from the County.

    Can someone enlighten us on this?

  6. Ray Beverage said on 26 Aug 2011 at 9:15 am:
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    Just an observation…the words of Ms. Forrester have an echo that reaches back to 1975. Sounds almost like some of the points made by the Mayor of the Town of Manassas vs. PWC BOCS of that time.

  7. Steve Thomas said on 26 Aug 2011 at 10:12 am:
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    Ray,

    And who might that Mayor have been?

  8. Homer J. Simpson said on 26 Aug 2011 at 11:37 am:
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    Maybe no Republican stepped forward to challenge her because they didn’t feel like arguing with a delusional crazy person for four months.

  9. Greg L said on 26 Aug 2011 at 11:44 am:
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    That mayor would have been Harry Parrish. If Kristen Forrester is fighting the same kind of battle, she’s in good company.

  10. Classic Rock said on 26 Aug 2011 at 2:09 pm:
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    Everybody is missing the point. This issue here is not Maureen Caddigan’s leadership, which in my opinion has been exceptional. The issue is that Forrester just doesn’t get it – she doesn’t understand the relationship between the Town of Dumfries and the PWCBOS, who provides what and at what cost, etc. So, watch the papers next week. Somebody who should know how the PWCBOS and the “Towns” relationships work will explain it for Ms. Forrester and others who are misinformed or uneducated on the process.

    That’s my 2 cents worth. Stay safe tomorrow.

  11. Lovettsville Lady said on 26 Aug 2011 at 3:35 pm:
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    How did things turn out for Harry Parrish? Did yelling at the BOS work for him? He went on to become a delegate, right?

    Why would one town pay less in county taxes? I know it doesn’t work that way in Fairfax. In the town of Vienna we paid the same real estate taxes as the rest of the county and we paid an additional tax to the town of Vienna for our wonderful town services and parks.

  12. Ray Beverage said on 26 Aug 2011 at 8:54 pm:
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    @Lovettsville Lady

    How it turned out? The Commonwealth back in ‘75 said no more Independent Cities after July 1, 1975. The battle between then Mayor Parrish and the BOCS was over a lot of issues, several similar to points raised in Dumfries. Since the issues could not be worked out, Mayor said he would just file to incorporate as a city; the application went in and the City of Manassas was created, with Manassas Park following on the heels….hence their moniker as being the “Last City”. Lots of details of the battle between Mayor Harry Parrish and the BOCS are on file at RELIC in Bull Run Library.

    And the City took the Airport and the water with the creation. Funny thing about the Airport - a wise old soul in the City told me the story how the then-BOCS did not want it as they saw no viable future for it aside from Colgan Air.

  13. Lovettsville Lady said on 27 Aug 2011 at 12:01 am:
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    What was the advantage to being a city rather than a town? Their own schools? Not having to pay county taxes? Other things?

    Is that what Kristin hopes to accomplish? Making Dumfries a city like Manassas? Might that work?

  14. Ray Beverage said on 27 Aug 2011 at 1:57 pm:
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    @Lovettsville Lady

    You pretty much hit the nail on the head - the advantage to being a City is really control over all aspects of governement operations which gets spelled out by the GA in the City Charter….for that matter, even an incorporated Town such as Dumfries which has a GA Charter. The Charter details all the Statutory Authority & Powers from Virginia Code Title 15.2 and as Greg pointed out, the Town/City governing body is elected by their respective jurisdictions, and responsible to them only. Relationship with other local government must be in writing.

    Within the relationship Cities & Towns to County (since PWC is the largest of the three local form of government bodies), there is first a Shared Services Agreement for those things the County would operate (library, entities such Human Service Agencies if the Town/City does not have its own, schools if not operated internally, etc etc etc). Next to that, is the Local Government Agreement to spell out any relationship specifics (such as County builds a road to a certain point, or transfers a road to VDOT and the Town/City agrees, integration of Town/City Comp Plans with County, and on and on…). In some cases, such as between Manassas & Manassas Park for a couple of things such as Housng Voucher Program, there is a Joint Exercise of Powers Agreement.

    I personally do not think Ms. Forrester wants to become a city (plus we have the moritorium in Virginia on having any more cities chartered). What I think her point is that the relationship is not based on anything I mentioned above, it has become more of “PWC says make it happen” and towns are supposed to do it. My view is she wants the defined in-writing relationship to exist. Of course, in dealing with PWC through sitting on a joint local commission of PWC, Manassas, and Manassas Park, I bet the written agreement is so long ago, nobody could pull out a copy to read it.

  15. Lovettsville Lady said on 27 Aug 2011 at 2:56 pm:
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    If she wants that kind of agreement, wouldn’t it behoove her to ask for it? Propose some kind of commission, and garner support for it, if that’s her goal? Without alliances it’s difficult to accomplish anything in politics. Kristin must have her alliances already established in Dumfries and PWC. Perhaps someone can explain her goals to us. Although at this point, I don’t see the BOS cooperating with her on much of anything that she wants. That’s the problem with going nasty, it usually doesn’t work. But who knows? She’s smart, she must have strong alliances, and she knows far better than I do what will work in her neck of the woods.

  16. Anonymous said on 28 Aug 2011 at 7:45 pm:
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    Classic Rock,

    Would that have anything to do with the County Attorney’s FOIA request for the video tape of the Dumfries Town Council meeting?

    Seriously, why is the county wasting time and taxpayer dollars doing this other than to assuage Caddigan’s delusional paranoia?

  17. Anonymous said on 29 Aug 2011 at 9:49 am:
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    Dear Anonymous. It has nothing to do with the County Attorney’s legal right, as well as your own legal right, to request a FOIA for a video of a public meeting.

    You obviously misread or did not understand my post. Let me try again and this time please read slowly.

    This “Town” issue here is not about Maureen Caddigan or any other member of the PWCBOS. The issue is how the “Towns” work with the PWCBOS, and vice versa, who does want, what are services provided, what the process is, etc, and as I am sure you know, there are more towns in this County besides Dumfries.

    The purpose of the PWC article that will appear in the paper shortly is to explain how that Town/PWCBOS process works, not to apologize to any PWBOS member for doing their job or criticize any Dumfries Town Council member for not knowing theirs. It is within the County’s responsibility to educate people, like your self, on how the County process works, and therefore it is not a waste of their time or your money.

    Have a nice day.

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