The Commonwealth Iconoclast

A site dedicated to covering issues relevant to the Commonwealth of Virginia, and nation at large, plus other interesting things too, as I see fit...

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

PRINCE EDWARD ADMINISTRATOR ON THE WAY OUT?



COUNTY ADMINISTRATOR MILDRED B. HAMPTON LEAVES BOARD HANGING OUT TO DRY

BOARD WEIGHING OPTIONS?

The Iconoclast does not post raw unsubstantiated rumors. We could if we wanted to. But we prefer not to…just as a matter of principle.

Over the past year, the Iconoclast has heard a number of rumors concerning inner workings of Prince Edward County government. Some of this stuff is really interesting and rings true but for various reasons we prefer not to publish it. The information may scandalously embarrassing but not really central to the public debate. Also, some of the information is indeed related to the public debate but difficult to verify. Nonetheless, the Iconoclast greatly appreciates these tidbits of information as they provide useful background and may eventually lead to something important.

And that is exactly what has happened!

Over the past month,multiple sources, including official County records, have revealed that the Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors is now weighing its options concerning the future of the long time County Administrator, Mildred B. Hampton.

The Iconoclast started hearing “official” rumblings about a year ago concerning problems in the County Administrator’s office. These problems included questions of “poor performance” and “inappropriate behavior” by the County Administrator. We also received some really interesting information from “people in the know” regarding the alleged problems. For the reasons cited above, the Iconoclast will not elaborate.

While Prince Edward County has experienced a number of public problems and missteps over the past few years, there was little public indication that any of the controversy was directly tied to the County’s top executive. Typically, when controversies have erupted, the County Administrator was silent and on the sidelines deferring to the County Attorney, other subordinate staff, or Board members to take the heat.

However, reliable sources tell the Iconoclast that “Susie” likes to work “under cover” and has her hand in just about everything… including most of the problems and controversies experienced by the County in recent years.

This may be causing some frustrations for Supervisors who have to answer to the public, especially since nearly all of the blame for the various controversies involving County government in the past few years has wound up falling at the feet of the Board of Supervisors. Sources tell the Iconoclast that in Prince Edward County, Supervisors come and go…but the “Queen Susie” is forever.

But maybe not this time…

In a not so surprising turn of events, sources close to the Courthouse scene have provided to the Iconoclast official County records indicating that the Board of Supervisors recently met behind closed doors on “personnel matters” and held a late-night vote of confidence / no-confidence in which the County Administrator survived only by the narrowest of margins.

While official records are silent on the reasons, sources indicate that the recent development is partially a result of continuing job performance concerns. However, more significantly, there is a growing perception that the Administrator’s management style is contributing to the declining public confidence in County government and the Board of Supervisors. As a result, some Supervisors feel that new administrative leadership is needed to restore public confidence.

While personnel records are privileged information, public records of official Board actions, even those taken in late-night meetings where no one is watching, are not protected.One final note…

The chief executive of any local government holds a position of serious public trust and responsibility. The County Administrator’s close brush with termination on January 10, 2006… over a month ago… is something that most people would consider as important news. Indeed this news is presently common knowledge with the “Main Street” crowd.

So... the Iconoclast is wondering why The Farmville Herald, the local newspaper, has elected to not report on this important matter of public interest. Just wondering… As always comments are invited and appreciated.

Note: The Iconoclast is seeking more “inside” information on this breaking news. Please contact us with insights, facts, figures, dates and opinions (you know what we are looking for). If needed, you may submit information clearly labeled as “source confidential.” Your identity will be protected. Our sincere thanks go out to our sources, past and future.

24 Comments:

  • At 2/22/2006 8:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Yes, it is funny that the Herald somehow missed this story?

    You are being wayyyy to nice to queen susie, to put it bluntly, she is a ruthless tactician, who has essentially run the County her way for the past 20 + years. Maybe this is a sign the party - all fiananced at taxpayer expense - might be coming to an end soon?

    I guess the funny thing is that when you consider that she has easily had the most influence on County affairs for a long time, but has never received a single vote for office. This is not how it is suppose to work!

    Thanks for shedding some needed light on this issue. These questions are long overdue!

     
  • At 2/22/2006 10:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    IT'S RIDICULOUS THAT CITIZENS IN FARMVILLE AND PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY HAVE TO RELY ON A BLOG IN ORDER FOR A STORY LIKE THIS TO BE REPORTED. THE HERALD IS OBVIOUSLY PART OF THE PROBLEM. THANK YOU! I'M GOING TO CANCEL MY SUBSCRIPTION IMMEDIATELY!

     
  • At 2/23/2006 7:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The Happydale Herald tends to avoid certain issues and likes to promote the illusion of tranquility and harmony. Great for weddings and other feel good issues, but not for things like this.

     
  • At 2/23/2006 8:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The shenanigans of the county administrator have been regular courthouse scuttlebutt for years. But since when do the supervisors give a rip? And please don't tell me that they didn't know.

     
  • At 2/23/2006 8:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    How about we send "Queen Susie" of Prince Edward County and "King Ramsey" of Chesterfield County on an around the world flight together?

     
  • At 2/23/2006 9:46 AM, Blogger Will Vaught said…

    I do not want to "beat up" on Ms. Hampton, but to rather ask the questions why certain members of the Board accept what appears to be questionable behavior (and likely ethics) with out question?

    I will say that usually when incompetence is tolerated, there is usually a reason for it. Think about it...

    Though the previous post was in jest, I do think you make a good point my connecting the CA's of PE and Chesterfield. As in the case of the long-time adminstrator from Chesterfield, Lane Ramsey, when you make questionable decisions (like paying $18,000 for an "emergency" flight back hom on taxpayer dime) people will question you. No one, especially public officials, are beyond reproach. Do think that Mr. Ramsey is thrilled that his picture is plastered on front page of the RTD? with his judgment being questioned? I would guess the answer to that is a big NO!

    It appears that PE County has been mired in controversy after controversey for the past few years. Therefore, at some point you start to have to look at who's suppose to be in charge. That doesn't mean all of the blame should be place there, but it is a good place to possible start.

     
  • At 2/23/2006 11:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    As a relatively recent transplant to the area, I don't know the people and their personalities personally. However, I have had an opportunity to observe and speculate academically on what I perceive to be the dynamics of local government in the area over the past five and a half years.

    Frankly, there is probably a legitimate need for a comprehensive evaluation of Prince Edward County government from top to bottom.

    As an observer, it seems to me that the county leadership has fallen into a rut of complacency and has been accepting the standard "laissez-faire" when it should have been demanding the standard of "excellence" instead. This happens in the business world too and the result is normally banckruptsy when the organization collapses from its own inefficiency.

    The problem with unique to governmental organizations is that the real world economic constraints that normally force needed course corrections in a timely fashion are absent or too weak to be effective. Consequently, management ineficiencies, erroneous business assumptions, and bad decision making processes are left unattended and almost always get worse over time.

    Having only casually observed the county these past several yers, it seems fairly obvious that there is probably little effort or interest in the routine organizational performance evaluations. This is probably the result of the "part-time" nature of the job of Supervisor. Consequently, unlike in the real world, when mistakes have been made, there seems to be no one asking the all important question of "how is my driving?" No one is evaluating the consequences of bad judgment. So the same mistakes are made over and over with predictably undesirable results.

    This does not mean that the Supervisors are bad people; just that they may not know quite what their job responsibilities are and may not have the management skills needed to address the specific organizational challenge that they are faced with. This problem presents quite a dilema when the County's chief executive, who is supposed to be providing professional guidance for the board, may not herself be fully capable of providing the needed expertise...the old "blind leading the blind" problem.

    The good news is that the first step in addressing this kind of organizational problem is to recognize that there is a problem in the first place. I do know that some of the Supervisors are bringing some excellent real world business acumen to the table and are trying to apply that knowledge to the "local government model"...not an easy thing to do... but encouraging.

    Bottom line: while this revelation may be unsettling news to those personally involved, I see it as a healthy sign that community leadership may be recognizing the problems of complacency and working towards a more effective "business model" for dealing with the challenges facing Prince Edward County.

     
  • At 2/23/2006 1:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    One does need to understand the dynamics of the Herald. Once upon a time, for almost all of the twentieth century in fact, the Herald never wrote anything negative about anyone or anything in Farmville, because most of us are related in some way, shape, or form. Things haven't changed all that much, as it's also hard to write anything against Buckie and the Board, because Buckie has served as the Herald's business manager. Journalistic responsibility? Doesn't exist; we might offend someone, or worse yet, cause someone to cancel a subscription.

     
  • At 2/23/2006 4:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Buckie and the Farmville Herald? That's interesting. That may explain a few things. So does this mean that the Herald will never cover this story?

     
  • At 2/23/2006 11:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Don't you find it interesting in an area known for its 4-year institutions of higher education, that the Co. Admin. doesn't even have a college education?

     
  • At 2/24/2006 8:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    One of the previous comments struck me as relevant to the matter of qualifications and job performance. If the Board sets its sights on excellence, it will no doubt fall short of its goal but still end up getting very good results. But if the Board does not really care about setting high standards, or any standards at all, this is what you get.

     
  • At 2/24/2006 9:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Another edition of the Herald out, but still not a peep about this issue. But rather a great story about an upcoming "boundry adjustment" by the Town. Sure, it's a news worthy story but it appears to be just what the editors of the Herald like: easy to explain, and fairly non-controversial.

    I'm still waiting for a real journalist to be hired by the Herald. How much longer will I have to wait?

     
  • At 2/24/2006 3:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Not surprised one iota that queen susie doesn't have a college degree. The last time i checked you had to actually put forth an honest effort and discipline in order to get a 4-year degree.

    If Longwood awarded degrees based on one's ability to be play callous back door politics she'd have a Ph.D!

     
  • At 2/24/2006 5:46 PM, Blogger Will Vaught said…

    I understand that some individuals are frustrated, and are using this forum to "blow off some steam", but I think it's important to focus comments in regard to the present relationship between the County Adminstrator and members of the BOS...plese keep this in mind before you post.

     
  • At 2/26/2006 2:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Ok. Let me offer some observations.

    So, now we know that there are problems with the county administrator. Interesting, but I am not sure this really helps us much.

    The board responsible for the administrator seems split on what to do, is not informing the public as to the nature of the problems, and is not telling us what if anything they are doing about the situation.

    How are we supposed to know if or when the problems are resolved or if those problems are just being tolerated, a practice we see all too often with elected officials?

    It would seem that the board owes the public some kind of public reassurance and resolution. Since we don't know the exact nature of the problems, or even if those problems are resolvable, it seems the board has two basic options.

    If indeed possible, the first option would be to hold another vote of confidence (hopefully not another late-night vote) and show by unanimous vote that the entire board is solid in its confidence that the problems that may have existed are now satisfactorily resolved.

    On the other hand, if the board can not achieve a clean vote of confidence within a reasonable length of time, the board has an obligation to move ahead with an open and orderly transition to a install a new administrator.

    What ever the case, I would hope that the board recognizes their responsibility to come clean with the public and do what is necessary to restore public confidence.

    The board needs to do a better job in letting the public know that they are looking out for the citizens and not just keeping up appearances.

    Thanks.

     
  • At 2/26/2006 7:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    i think your analysis is interesting, but you're making the current situation sound way more complex than it actually is

    Certain members of the Board and the County's Administrator have had a "you scratch my back, i'll scratch your back" for a long time now.

    So for a long time now both the BOS and CA have "dirt" on one another from years and years of carefreee dealings. this is why hampton doesn't have much to say when times get hard, and this is why the board tends to clam up too.

    let's give them this, 5 members of the Board and certain higher ups might be on a sinking ship, but no one will ever jump off. It will be up the voters to make them walk the plank one day.

     
  • At 2/26/2006 8:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    My God, thats a pretty cynical assessment. I certainly hope that the board steps up to the plate and proves it wrong. I don't think we can afford that kind of nonesense.

     
  • At 3/01/2006 11:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The supervisors need to turn over a new leaf and get some new professional management that isn't bogged down with a lot of "baggage" from past problems. We need somebody in there who is above reproach...and not somebody's cousin, niece, buddy, etc who needs a job.

     
  • At 3/23/2006 9:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Prince Edward County is not a very good place to raise a family. The leadership in this county is horrible. It is still and it seems that it will always be the "good old boy network."

     
  • At 3/26/2006 3:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Don't worry my friend, people are getting wise to that bunch running the courthouse.

     
  • At 4/05/2006 3:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The Supervisors know what is going on and continue to destroy the county. The Crestview situation is a case in point where instead of researching a problem, they just make a knee-jerk decision...and look at the schools in Prince Edward, a teacher was put in the hospital due to three gang fights, all that started before 8 a.m. in the morning. Thats some great leadership

     
  • At 6/21/2006 3:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    This is the damnedest bunch I think I have ever seen. When is anybody in the courthouse going to start accepting responsibility for anything. The responsibility should stop at the top office. All I see in the courthouse is scurrying around to hide who is to blame.

     
  • At 6/30/2006 1:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Some of the supervisors (i dont want to name names) seem to be covering up some problems and not fixing things the proper way. It will come out in time.

     
  • At 9/28/2006 12:17 AM, Blogger Will Vaught said…

    I am listening. I feel your pain. It is about to come out. Certain leaders of your community had better start taking action or face the consequences. Thanks.

     

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