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 firstname.lastname@example.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:
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.
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.”
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.
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