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Peter Candland Proposes Eliminating Slush Funds

By Greg L | 16 May 2012 | Prince William County | 10 Comments

A while back, fellow blogger Al Alborn predicted that the debacle Wally Convington precipitated over his attempt to funnel about $200,000 in taxpayer money to the charity his wife runs would end the practice of allowing supervisors to dole out excess “magisterial district funds.”  It looks like Al was right, with Supervisor Pete Candland making a motion on Tuesday that will likely be the final battle in the county over this slush fund.

Last November the writing was on the wall, and Alborn nailed it:

After pondering this a bit, it occurred to me that Supervisor Covington might have done Prince William County a great service. Most people are against discretionary funds; however, not enough to force change. This rather egregious misuse (IMHO) of public funds might just be the catalyst for change we need to finally reform the use and distribution of discretionary funds (or, more to the point, eliminate them).

Candland’s motion has caught not only the attention of Alborn, but the Washington Post and InsideNova as well, which are jumping on this story so quickly they haven’t even had a chance to interview Supervisor Candland about his intentions yet and are basing their stories solely on the video record of Tuesday’s meeting of the Board of County Supervisors.  We haven’t had the media rush towards a story this quickly since the illegal immigration debate started back in 2007.  As far as political hay goes, everyone outside of these supervisors think this practice of handing out taxpayer cash to friends, family and political allies is deplorable and no supervisor I’ve spoken with is eager to defend the practice, making it one of those stories the media just can’t get enough of.  It’s journalistic red meat, to the extent the term “journalism” actually retains any meaning these days.

During this year’s budget season board members treated freshman Supervisor Candland pretty harshly, with Marty Nohe even going so far as to remove park projects from the Gainesville District in this year’s budget after Supervisor Candland wouldn’t play along with a proposed tax hike.  Candland was determined to hold the line on taxes and not only given no support on this from fellow board members, but it seemed that some of his colleagues went out of their way to try to ridicule him for pushing for budget savings right up to the very end.  Although I don’t think Candland actually decided at that point he was going to fire right back at them at the next opportunity, making the biggest abusers of magisterial district funds like Caddigan, Nohe, Principi and Covington have to take a public stand on whether their slush funds are a good idea in a public vote makes for one hell of a “back atcha” moment.

Chew on that for a bit, you terds.  You want to hike my taxes and still sit on half a million dollars or more of taxpayer money you’ve hoarded to hand out for political favors to friends and family?  The electorate will burn you down.

Does Supervisor Candland’s proposal by itself embarrass the Board sufficiently to make this a done deal?  Will our supervisors avert their gaze from us as we question them about why they had their hands in the cookie jar before dinner and earnestly promise us they won’t do this ever again?  Not likely.  This is going to take some grassroots effort, as you aren’t going to get politicians to give up the opportunity to buy votes with taxpayer cash very easily.  They’ve been hearing complaints about this sort of corruption for years and never was a thing done about it.  It was only when Supervisor Candland made this motion that there was even an agenda item scheduled to discuss this and so far no other Supervisors have had the guts to go on the record about it, other than Frank Principi actually trying to defend the practice.  The board members who have been abusing the taxpayers for so long aren’t going to give this up without a fight, if they think they can win and not suffer too badly for it.

I encourage every reader to email bocs@pwcgov.org and demand the board return all unspent magisterial district funds to the general fund and bring office budgets into the normal budgeting process.  That email address goes to all of the supervisors, which makes it possible to not only reach out to all the miscreants who are stealing our money to further their political careers, but to those who would like to see these district funds abolished and could probably use the pick-me-up of seeing exactly what kind of contempt is being hurled by the voters at their elected representatives.  Here’s a sample email to get you started:

Dear Supervisors

I’m sick and tired of you building a political slush fund with the taxes you confiscate from me and my family.  Every dollar you seize from us so you can lavish gifts on non-governmental entities in return for political favor is a dollar I can’t use to take care of my family.  My family has been through hard times the past few years and it’s not getting much better.  If you don’t actually need that money for core government operations, I’d like to keep it.

Actually, I demand I keep it.  When this country was founded the people had a fairly novel way of dealing with would-be royalty that thought it deserved special privileges at the public’s expense.  Although it’s more of a challenge to easily find tar and feathers these days, I’m sure if I was sufficiently motivated by say, watching you vote to keep political slush funds in Prince William County, I’d overcome those difficulties and figure out a way to lay my hands on some.  They have driveway sealant pretty cheap at Home Depot, and I never really cared for those feather pillows the wife put on our bed, anyways.

By the way, if you can tell me how your name is spelled and how tall you are, it would be much appreciated.  When we burn figures in effigy in the parking lot of the McCourt Building that Tuesday evening we want to make sure the signs around the necks have the proper spelling of your names, and we don’t want to unintentionally insult you by making your likeness too short.  If that ended up on the news and we got it wrong, we’d feel pretty bad about it.

Sincerely,
Your name and address

Go get ‘em, folks.  You will never have another opportunity to put an end to this.  If the taxpayers fail on this now, Supervisors will know they can get away with anything.

UPDATE: Supervisor Candland has released a statement on this, and by the looks of it he’s going to be dedicated to this fight (emphasis added):

“After spending a few months on the Board, it became abundantly clear that this practice of individual Supervisors doling out taxpayer money outside of the normal budget process is outdated and unneeded.  Even if everything about this process is above-board, no one can deny the overwhelming appearance of impropriety.  When the public sees an individual Supervisor freely handing out money to pet causes, it raises doubts about our local government and it taints the recipient of the money in a cloud of questions.  Over the next few weeks leading up to the June 5th meeting when we vote to do away with this process, I need committed citizens to rise up, be heard and contact your Board of County Supervisors.”



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10 Comments

  1. Badger said on 16 May 2012 at 4:46 am:
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    Good post, Greg. I would expect the local Tea Party as well as State Conservative Groups, bloggers and pundits to weigh in on this one. None of our Supervisors, and particularly Chairman Stewart, can claim to be a true fiscal conservative as long as this practice endures… except for Supervisor Peter Candland.

  2. Anonymous said on 16 May 2012 at 5:02 am:
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    Geeee… I wish I knew someone who could produce a really slick video for youtube about this… I’m guessing it would quickly go viral.

  3. Anonymous said on 16 May 2012 at 7:22 am:
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    The last paragraph of the Washington Post article,

    “After Candland, it was Supervisor John D. Jenkins’ (D-Neabsco) turn to speak Tuesday afternoon. He asked that $500 from his district fund account be placed on a subsequent agenda for the Castaways Reportory Theatre.”

    Talk about bad timing…

  4. Doug Brown said on 16 May 2012 at 8:26 am:
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    I hear Mark Wolfe is going to hold a special benefit ballet for the supervisors if they lose their slush funds. It will be the Ballet Ruse at the Hylton Center and the Supervisors will dress up as cashiers and ticket takers, usher the patrons in and book to the nearest Rappaport bar where they will yuk it up about how long the audience will sit there in the dark waiting for the curtain to rise.

  5. Sheriff of Nottingham said on 16 May 2012 at 1:39 pm:
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    I have fumed about this shameful practice for years and never expected any of these self-serving narcissists to ever pry their fingers off the key to the public treasury.

    Then along comes this Candland kid, and wow!

    I am now motivated to do more — to actually speak out. I have actually become a blogger on the band of thieves who act like Robin Hood of old (stealing from the rich to give to the poor and ultimately making more people poor and then leaving them in the lurch).

    Here is my blog address:

    http://sheriffofnottinghampwc.blogspot.com

    As I listened to the replay of the meeting, it was clear the other Supervisors were reeling and did not know what to do other than try to put if off and get Candland into the proverbial woodshed.

    I hope he stays strong.

  6. Kurt V. said on 16 May 2012 at 4:08 pm:
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    I hope the Supervisors don’t make all of the people they have given money to over the years line up to testify on their behalf. That would be an “insult” to some great groups and to the folks who pay taxes around here. I hope these folks have more pride and dignity than to involve themselves in such a demeaning spectacle.

    I would not want the folks who represent the many worthwhile charities in Prince William County (and perhaps a few not so worthwhile) forced to humiliate themselves by being pressured to speak on their benefactor’s behalf.

    If we see that, we will witness the price of taking money for votes and support. It won’t be pretty.

  7. Badger said on 16 May 2012 at 4:11 pm:
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    @Sheriff of Nottingham You’re a little late to this game, Sheriff. People have been working on this for months.

    In any case, welcome! The more the merrier.

  8. Al Alborn said on 16 May 2012 at 5:37 pm:
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    Greg,

    Thanks for the “shout out”. Of course, we have both been watching this since last year. I agree that we need “grass roots” support as such an opportunity doesn’t come along that often. Kurt V. “nailed it” when he said there will probably be a long line of folks signed up to speak on behalf of continuing discretionary funds. We need an equally long line of taxpayers sharing their opinion (and I have seen no public support for discretionary funds, have you?)

    The point is that (speaking for myself) we aren’t necessarily against these groups (when they can do something quicker, faster, cheaper than the Government), we are against a process that forces them to make the rounds to seven Supervisors (well… Six not counting Candland, and Corey Stewart doesn’t play this game) asking for small handouts. They should reconcile their budget request annually and send it to OMB to be included in the formal process. We do need to have a process to centrally handle emergencies (like every other County in Northern Virginia) rather than have to “make the rounds” to eight people for a hand-out.

    Sheriff of Nottingham, welcome to the party! You may want to “catch up” and review some of
    Greg’s earlier posts or check out my blog, http://albornbiz.blogspot.com/ If you go back far enough, you’ll find the post Greg “shouted out” last year for starting this discussion as well as dozens of Post’s between then and now. We’ve been at this a long time.

    Sheriff, I hope you introduce yourself at the 5 June BOCS meeting (I couldn’t find your name on your blog. I really recommend identifying yourself. I gave up using an alias a long time ago preferring to stand behind my opinions. People know where to find me if they want to talk.) I assume you’ll be there, as will I.

    Let’s bring this home, Greg!

  9. Harry said on 17 May 2012 at 7:14 am:
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    This isn’t just a ‘conservative” issue, it’s a good government issue. If the “re-elect-me” funding is such a good thing for a good cause, they should be included in the county budget. Most of the $ go to the same organizations each year.

  10. Spellchecker said on 17 May 2012 at 9:38 am:
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    It’s “turds,” Greg, vice “terds.”

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