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The Palace Coup At McCoart

By Greg L | 18 June 2013 | Crime, Prince William County | 22 Comments

Just who runs the Prince William County government these days?  Who makes the decisions, and who minds the store?

If you thought that our elected officials, the members of the Board of County Supervisors were in charge, you would be wrong.  They certainly have a role, but when elected officials butt heads with county staff about what our government is doing it is the staff that has the last word.  Perhaps you thought democracy was a foundational principle in local government.  Perhaps you thought that because the Board of Supervisors had the technical authority to hire and fire staff that they’d be able to direct what staff does and how they do it.  Perhaps you swallowed all that inspirational gibberish that government peddles to the masses that talk about how wonderful a system of government we have and how it’s supposed to reflect the will of the people.

Clearly you have been mislead.

Supervisor Pete Candland is trying to get to the bottom of “logo-gate.”  He wants to know how much money and effort was secretly spent by county staff developing logos for the county and who made the decisions.  Candland sent a request to County Executive Melissa Peacor — someone who is nominally an employee of the Board of Supervisors of which Candland is a member — asking for this information.

That should be pretty unremarkable.  A superior asks someone who works for them for information about how they are performing their duties.  You’d expect they provide that information immediately, right?

That’s not what happened.  County Executive Melissa Peacor got Woodbridge District Supervisor Frank Principi to object.  Now Candland’s request for information from the county employees he is charged with supervising is being treated as a Freedom of Information Act request as if he’s some random citizen instead of an elected official.  Candland will be personally liable for whatever costs the county can claim are related to looking for documents related to his questions and producing copies.  The best part is that if the information he is asking for isn’t in a document, the county won’t provide him with an answer.

I can just see how this is going to turn out.  ”The county was unable to find any documents responsive to your request.  By the way you personally owe us $435 for telling you this.”

If this behavior reminds you of the kind of complaints leveled against King George in the Declaration of Independence, you’re not alone.  This is tyranny, plain and simple.  This is the behavior of utter tyrants who think they have some authority to hand the taxpayer’s money over to friends and acquaintances so they can pursue inconsequential and stupid diversions that serve the public in no way whatsoever, all without having to answer to anyone — even the people who nominally employ them.  At their disposal are all the awesome and fearsome powers of government which they can similarly employ to their own ends equally without oversight and to what ends we can only imagine.

This has only happened because our elected officials have collectively acted as meek lapdogs hoping to get whatever favors and approval our county executive and the rest of the staff are willing to dispense. Governance is nearly dead in Prince William County, and if the Board of County Supervisors does not quickly correct this problem with a mass firing of the miscreants who are responsible for this coup, those supervisors unable or unwilling to restore democracy in our government need to be vigorously drummed out of office.

Our Board of Supervisors will have the chance to choose which heads will roll, but roll they will.  It will either be the heads of the tyrants, or it will be the heads of the weak-kneed, unprincipled, collection of milquetoasts that currently misrepresent several magisterial districts in this county who permitted this to happen.

UPDATE: The Washington Post reports that the request for information has now become a Board Directive, so Candland isn’t going to have to pay for a FOIA request to get information from the government employees he is supposed to be overseeing.  While that seems to have resolved the immediate issue, nothing has been done to resolve the issue of how Melissa Peacor and county staff are trying to run county government as their own personal enterprise and how the Board has collectively failed to stop that from happening.



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22 Comments

  1. Anonymous said on 18 Jun 2013 at 3:43 pm:
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    That is insane. A FOIA request from a BOCS? Peacor has entered an alternate reality. Bye. Wow

  2. Anonymous said on 18 Jun 2013 at 3:50 pm:
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    What a bitch!

  3. Anonymous said on 18 Jun 2013 at 4:00 pm:
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    This should be picked up by talk shows and news as a prime example of everything that is wrong with an all powerful bureaucracy; it has reached the point where bureaucrats are telling elected reps to go pound sand in response to requests related to supervision of programs and policies. Sean, Rush , etc would love this anecdote…

  4. Done with 'em said on 18 Jun 2013 at 4:00 pm:
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    She really needs to go.

  5. Brian L. said on 18 Jun 2013 at 6:35 pm:
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    We’ve come a long way, catching up with the Soviet Union’s burdensome disaster of a bureaucracy. At every level, incidentally — I can’t find one single area in American life where we deal with LESS government on a daily basis than we did 20 years ago. What a testament to our “conservatism” this trend is. (At least the good news is that we already know how things are going to play out, the Soviets were real trailblazers on the road we’re collectively taking.)

    I’d call it sad, but I’m beyond it by now.

  6. T2T said on 18 Jun 2013 at 6:47 pm:
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    This is just horrendous. All government agencies - state, local and federal, offer to provide information requested via the FOIA for a nominal amount. I say, at best, it should cost only about $5.00 a page. When a government provides this service, they clearly are not recovering all of their costs for the efforts to locate and provide this information for the requester. However, as part of the process of being a public service to the citizens, they provide the information as requested — as long as it is not confidential or sensitive data.

    I can understand where the PWC executive branch might consider the request “sensitive” because it will truly shine the light on those clearly in the wrong here. So, it’s easy to understand why they’re making it next to impossible to get this information for Supervisor Candland.

    We need resignations. We need to see these soon. These cronies running the McCoart facility are bleeding the taxpayer dollars without any care about what they are doing. I’m sure this single “logo” issue is just the tip of the iceberg, too. All it takes is one string to come loose and the whole ball will unravel quite quickly.

    Finally, I don’t like to bring up campaigning or that nature, unless it is clearly a topic being discussed. However, it appears that Candland’s campaign might be ramping up for the next step on this issue. I suspect, and hope that this could be the case. With that said, a request for funds has been made by Pete’s campaign to cover some of these costs. If you can, please consider checking out www.petecandland.com and click on the “Donate” option. I’m all done with giving contributions to higher-level politicians who do nothing but rake over the citizens. At the national level, our country is in a crisis. However, we have a major crisis, or multiple crisis, at the local level. We need to fight this greed a corruption at the local level and stop it before it gets too large. We need to put an END to this mess in the PWC government right now.

    Thanks !!

  7. john said on 18 Jun 2013 at 9:25 pm:
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    Didn’t Al Alborn go through this FOIA drill recently?

    Peacor and her ilk have got to go!

    Of the people!
    By the people!
    For the people!

    Now where have I heard that?

  8. Bob said on 18 Jun 2013 at 9:55 pm:
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    County staff works for the residents and tax payers of the County…the BOS gives direction and sets policy for staff to follow. Candland is not a supervisor of a staff member…with that philosophy there would be total chaos. can you imagine if every BOS member went to a staff member and told them to do something? The logo is a joke and for that, he has a right to be mad. But he has been out to get her from his first day in office and he is just using this as his tool to get to her. From what I have heard, she has given information to him….he is grandstanding. Typical local government.

  9. Greg L said on 19 Jun 2013 at 12:29 am:
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    Um , Candland is a supervisor, and he represents the residents as a function of his office.

    If we had eight supervisors actually bothering to ask county staff how they’re using county resources, we might end up with what’s colloquially called “oversight.” It’s a novel concept for Prince William County Government, but it is kind of a good one.

  10. Duffy said on 19 Jun 2013 at 2:58 am:
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    Why is Pete Candland in campaign mode? the campaign is over.

  11. T2T said on 19 Jun 2013 at 6:05 am:
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    Pete Candland isn’t in campaign mode - to my knowledge. I was just passing along information received. It could mean that contributions are desired to push ahead with uncovering more gross over-reach of the county executive’s office. Also, a supervisor doesn’t make a large salary. I haven’t checked recently, but it doesn’t seem to be all that great, considering what balances have to occur in one’s lives - a regular career, time away from that career to serve the citizens of the district, etc. Similar pitches can be seen in local delegates, too. While their salary is quite meager, their general expenses can far exceed the stipend that they are provided.

    Again, I’m not campaigning or soliciting for a campaign. However, I am being a messenger. I am sharing information that is being presented, so that county residents can have a good idea of what really is going on. Another thought as to Candland campaigning, with the direction that things are headed, I’d be surprised if Corey Stewart serves out his term. My guess is that this whole Bi-county parkway disaster, and his relationship with developers, will get the best of him and he’ll cave … sooner or later. In that case, then why shouldn’t any particular supervisor in the county have their campaign prepared to move ahead if necessary?

    Also, from today’s Post Local as of a few hours ago: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/local/wp/2013/06/19/prince-william-logo-controversy-boils-over-supervisor-files-a-foia-request-for-answers/

    Clearly, these issues are news for the whole metro area. As much as some would probably like to keep this information localized, it doesn’t appear to be so. With the way this is coming out, careers will end. People like county executive Peacor, could potentially be “damaged goods” when all is said and done. She could be out of a job, yet the reputation reports could also be so bad that she’d not be able to work in local government again, with the probable exception of Detroit, Michigan. She’d fit right in with that city and their Titanic issues they face.

  12. T2T said on 19 Jun 2013 at 6:16 am:
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    Duffy,

    Actually, here might be a better answer. It explains how the Candland campaign is seeking to raise funds to get the necessary funds in order to proceed with a FOIA request to get the bottom of “LogoGate” at the McCoart building and in the county executive wing.

    http://sheriffofnottinghampwc.blogspot.com/2013/06/supervisor-principi-county-executive.html

    It sounds like Tuesday’s meeting was quite an entertaining one.

  13. Riley said on 19 Jun 2013 at 7:32 am:
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    They are titled “Supervisor” for a reason - to supervise county staff and the spending of taxpayers’ dollars. As far as I can tell, only Candland is doing that job. The rest of them are simply enjoying the title and allowing top staff to run amok.

  14. may ferris said on 19 Jun 2013 at 12:41 pm:
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    C’mon, boys. Have a heart! Think about the mortgages these supervisors have on their homes. They’ve got to live, right? Let’s not bring reality down upon them, as they have upon us. That just doesn’t seem fair.

  15. Ya got it partly right said on 19 Jun 2013 at 6:14 pm:
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    Not saying I disagree withthe fact something needs to be done. You are absolutely right. However, you and Riley are dead wrong about who the Supervisors “supervise”. Not one county employees except for Peacor and whatever lackeys work in that Supercisor’s office answers to a supervisor. Chief Dean made that pretty clear when Stewart called him to his office and Dean declined. Remember that? If you don’t believe it then ask a supervisor.

  16. newt hoenikker said on 19 Jun 2013 at 10:14 pm:
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    Looking at the latest news stories it is pretty clear that the board set aside $30,000 for logo design. So did they or did they not want a logo?

  17. Riley said on 20 Jun 2013 at 7:43 am:
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    But they’re NOT even supervising those employees. Peacor runs THEM.

  18. Anonymous said on 20 Jun 2013 at 7:54 am:
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    Hmmmmm…. checks and balances anyone?

  19. Scout said on 21 Jun 2013 at 5:17 am:
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    The logo furor seems to bespeak mass hysteria. Whether or not one likes the logo, is this really a problem? If so, where does it rank in the hierarchy of problems facing a county like Prince William? I’d be surprised if there is any objective measurement that can put it in the top 500 problems facing the Board and the staff. Nonetheless, reading about it here and at other sites, it looks like one of those issues that won’t get resolved until there have been a few buildings burned to the ground and some public summary executions by the torch and pitchfork set. Some sense of context and priorities might be helpful.

    It just goes to show how easily people can be stirred up by pols pursuing their own agendas.

  20. Anonymous said on 21 Jun 2013 at 4:26 pm:
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    It’s not about the logo, it’s about the dishonest behavior in government. Had the Peacor crew been forthright to begin with, it wouldn’t be nearly the mess it is today. If you had been reading the blogs, you’d know that.

  21. Scout said on 22 Jun 2013 at 9:42 am:
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    The blogs are at least half the problem, Anon. People can get spun up really easily in this medium over very small issues.

  22. Anonymous said on 22 Jun 2013 at 10:58 am:
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    If transparency were a reality instead of something that the PWC officials only paid lip service to, then “the blogs” wouldn’t be a “problem”. Dishonesty in government is not a “very small issue”.

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