What need for ethical reform on the Board of County Supervisors could possibly be more obvious than Supervisor Candland’s proposal that would call on supervisors to recuse themselves from votes where they or immediate family members serve on the board of entities getting county funding? Wally Covington’s latest proposal to ladle gobs of taxpayer cash out to Rainbow Riding, where his wife sits on the Board of Directors is a blindingly obvious example. Anyone with any amount of ethical sense, nevermind an interest in political self-protection should be falling all over this opportunity to prove to the electorate they can be trusted with public funds.
But not this board. It’s becoming painfully clear that handing out taxpayer cash to friends and family is the only purpose some have for sitting on it.
When Supervisor Candland, along with the help of Mike May started his efforts to reform the board’s ethical practices the first inclination of the rest of the board was to punish Candland by eliminating Catharpin Park from the county’s capital plan and adding bizarre restrictions on Supervisor activities that are only being applied to Supervisor Candland’s office. That was the price other supervisors demanded for going along with his proposal. They’ll take some restrictions on handing out taxpayer money to their friends, but only if they can beat down the one person with the ethical principles to stop the political payback gravy train. I’m not speculating on this, I have that right from the mouth of one of the supervisors.
Candland’s first proposal didn’t address the issue of a supervisor voting on funding for an entity where they or an immediate family member had a leadership role in that entity. The Sheriff sums up the problem neatly in one of his recent posts:
As Board members of the Boys and Girls Club, each of these individuals has an affirmative fiduciary duty as Board members of that charity to act at all times in the best interests of the charity.
At the very same time, these four individuals are elected to the BOCS by the citizens of Prince William County and each has a legal fiduciary duty to act at all times in the best interests of the County.
The conflict of interest is not hypothetical — IT IS REAL!
Now Supervisor Candland has circled back to resolve that issue (link, PDF document), and the board is doing everything it can to obstruct and delay a vote on it to the point members are brazenly lying about not having seen the proposal before the meeting. Ironically, the same supervisor peddling this obvious falsehood is the same supervisor who introduced amendments to Candland’s initial ethics proposal without sharing them with either Supervisor Candland or Supervisor Mike May. Once again, rules only seem to apply to Supervisor Candland, while the rest of the board can do whatever it wants. This is utterly disgusting, and the longer this goes on, the more resolved I am to see each of these petty tyrants removed from office by any legal means possible.
To that end, there is one opportunity in the Virginia Code to recall elected officials under Section 24.2-233 of the Code of Virginia. It requires that petitions be gathered with the signatures of 10% of the number of people who voted in the most recent election for that position, submitted to the court, and a trial held to determine whether that official’s behavior justifies removal. In most cases the number of signatures required is less than 800, which is a fair amount of work but it’s hardly unattainable. Activists have already been drafting complaints for a number of supervisors and signature collection will soon be ready to start. If Supervisor Candland’s ethics proposal fails, I anticipate that the next day a door-to-door effort will begin seeking to remove at least one of these miscreants.
This board has gotten entirely out of control, and it’s time for the people to take back control of their own local government.
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.
Leave a Reply