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...

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

SHOOTING ITSELF IN THE FOOT AGAIN?


PRINCE EDWARD BOARD OF SUPERVISORS SEEKS LEGAL ADVICE

WHAT HAPPENED?!


The ongoing story, previously covered in the Iconoclast, continues in Prince Edward County with new revelations of confusion and dysfunction in the County government.

This past December, the Board of Supervisors adopted a new policy to reorganize the Prince Edward County Planning Commission. This new policy will effectively exclude the nearly one third of the entire County population from eligibility to serve on the Planning Commission in an apparent attempt to limit the influence of the Town of Farmville citizens in County related planning matters.

The story continues.

Front page headlines in the February 10th edition of The Farmville Herald read “Commission Still Intact?” The central question is: “Does Prince Edward have a planning commission?” The answer, according to the Herald: “Apparently no and yes.”

“No and yes”…? How can they have it both ways? What is going on?

According to the Herald, County Attorney Jill Dickerson gives this explanation of the December 13, 2005 policy to address Planning Commission composition: “They still continue as planning commission members, it’s just… trying to determine when each individual planning commission member’s term ends, other than (Lockett District Supervisor Robert (Bobby) Jones who serves as the board’s representative on the Commission) which is set by his position as a board member.”

Gosh, golly… that makes things really clear…right? According to Attorney Dickerson, seems quite sure about Supervisor Jones still being on the Planning Commission but not too sure about everybody else.

What part of the official records of Prince Edward County that read “all terms end as of December 31, 2005” does County Attorney Jill Dickerson not quite understand? Did the Board specifically name any appointments or reappointments to take office January 1, 2006? No. There is no evidence that they did and the Board certainly can not presume that specific appointments are somehow implied by their action. Fact is, all members of the Planning Commission ceased to exist at midnight December 31, 2005.

Lawyer Dickerson’s clearly equivocal “legal opinion” does not get the Board out of this mess…namely the dissolution the Prince Edward County Planning Commission as of January 1, 2006, and the complete stop of all legitimate planning functions for Prince Edward County. Since the Board made no new appointments, there are no members of the Planning Commission! Since Planning Commissions are mandated by State law and required for certain legal functions, the consequences of not having a Planning Commission can be quite serious.

But there are other obvious questions…

County Attorney Dickerson suggests that there may be questions about Planning Commission terms “…other than (Lockett District Supervisor Robert (Bobby) Jones who serves as the board’s representative on the Commission) which is set by his position as a board member.”

Really?

Why does County Attorney Dickerson have such clarity of understanding that somehow Supervisor Jones is still a serving member of the Planning Commission? Where is that written?
Why Supervisor Jones?

Wouldn’t any one of the other Board members have the same right to serve on the Planning Commission? Are all the other Supervisors unqualified? Has anyone bothered to ask? What about the policy to advertise the expiring terms? Does anyone else have a right to apply?

So, why does County Attorney Dickerson just assume that Supervisor Jones holds a position automatically with no evaluation of his qualifications and no official appointment? Indeed, according to the Board’s new policy, what real “knowledge” or “background” does Supervisor Jones possess that would qualify him over all other board members to serve on the Planning Commission?

While Supervisor Jones may indeed have some good qualifications, how does the Board really know that Supervisor Jones is the best Board member to serve on the Prince Edward County Planning Commission if it makes no attempt to look at its options? (I promise there will be more on Supervisor Robert “Bobby” Jones later!)

One final point.

Is the Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors really interested in addressing citizen concerns by reorganizing the Planning Commission? Is the Board really interested in being fair to all citizens including roughly six thousand County residents who live in Farmville? Is the Board really serious about outreaching to the citizens to recruit new blood and new talent to restore public confidence in the County’s Planning Commission?

Or, is the Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors inappropriately clinging to control by excluding new blood from the Planning Commission and further promoting organizational inbreeding of the same old personalities who got them in to the mess in the first place.

With Chairman Buckie and his four like-minded fellow Supervisors firmly in charge, there seems to be little doubt which direction this Board is going.

But, there is always hope. Perhaps some of those Supervisors will start remembering the citizens they represent and start working for those citizens instead of against them! Wouldn’t that be grand?

Stay tuned and keep your comments coming!


Disclaimer: In the use of the expression “SHOOTING ITSELF IN THE FOOT AGAIN?” the Iconoclast disclaims any implication or insinuation of making fun of or ridiculing any public official including Delegate John Reid of Virginia or Vice President Richard Cheney of the United States of America regarding the mishandling of firearms. The Iconoclast supports the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution and urges all citizens and politicians to follow all appropriate firearm safety rules. Thankfully, here in Virginia, our Republican politicians do not normally shoot their friends.

12 Comments:

  • At 2/14/2006 12:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'd like to know who in the hell is suppose to be in charge of the County's official business? What does the County's Adminstrator, or the other professional staff, do all day? Play solitaire?

     
  • At 2/14/2006 2:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Will, it is obvious that Buckie and his buddies are getting bad advice and probably don't even realize how foolish they are beginning to look. Frankly, I would have expected better judgement from these people. They need damage control and quick.

     
  • At 2/14/2006 4:25 PM, Blogger Will Vaught said…

    It appears that whatever the PE pays their County attorney it's probably too much (well, unless she's giving advise for free, and in that case it's still not worth it)

    Hmmm, solitare? I hear this is a popular activity among some of the top executives in the County, anon. 12:37, funny that you should mention this...

     
  • At 2/14/2006 4:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Will, or anyone else: Does anyone know what or where Prine Edward's Attorney practices? It appears that she does some work in real estate, but that is all that I could find...I've only lived in Farmville for a few years, so I will ask around.

    Having witnessed her in action it's quite funny to watch, but sad when you consider County tax dollars are being spent (likely @ 200 an hour) for her legal "expertise".

    I've seen a competent local government attorney in action. After watching her give legal advise at one of the BOS meetings, if I had to critique her (in my best Simon Cowell impersonation) I'd have to tell her that her performance was absolutley the worst impersonation of a competent attorney I'd ever seen, period - to the point of being hallarious. (no,really)

    I'm not trying to be ugly, she might be a great person, but just a lousy lawyer. But in all honestly, she really does not appear to have a clue in what she is talking about. Which Will has pointed out in this blog entry.

    Here's a task for a vigilant citizen in PE that has more free time than I do: find how much PE last year spent on legal expenses. I'd be interested to know. I don't think it's too much to ask that PE have legal council that understands basic municipal law and procedures, but then again, maybe it is!

     
  • At 2/14/2006 5:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The ruling majority on the Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors doesn't have to try to look stupid. You are what you are.

     
  • At 2/14/2006 7:30 PM, Blogger Will Vaught said…

    anon. 452: you bring up some good points. i too have witnessed PE county's attorney "in action" (from a dvd of a meeting) i generally agree with your assessment. i'm not sure what her day job is, but i do hope she is better at it than she is handling the legal affairs of the County...

    And yes, I too would love to see how much PE spends on legal related services each year...anyone out there care to inform us?

    I still think all of this speaks to a greater issue. this issue being that a general "culture of incompetence" seems to permeate the PE Courthouse (e.g. county adminstrator, assistand admin, planner, attorney, and certian memmbers of the BOS), and I think this is what I have atleast tried to point out, and hopefully change one day..as I siad in othe post, the most effecient, well-run local governments are those in which you hear nothing about. This surely is not the case in PE, and thus this is why I have focused much of this blog's attention on PE - (not to mentiion i lived in the area for many years too)

    please also note that I know that PE as many dedicated and professional members of their staff and BOS (ok 3 members of the BOS)..

     
  • At 2/14/2006 8:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Will, I take some exception with your characterization that "the most efficient, well-run local governments are those in which you hear nothing about." Just because you don't heare about problems in the Courthouse, you should not jump to the conclusion that their are none. There are plenty of problems but the County officials are good at keeping up appearances.

    The Farmville Herald does a creditable job on many things, but is not known for its hard hitting investigative journalism. The Herald is not likely to do anything that might threaten the establishment in the Courthouse. For example, don't expect the Herald to be critical of Chairman Fore even if he deserves it. Lets just say that Prince Edward County is a very small community and there are lots of old relationships to protect.

     
  • At 2/14/2006 9:16 PM, Blogger Will Vaught said…

    i agree, just because things are quit and no overt controversies exist doesn't mean that everything is on the "up and up" - good point. At least in PE the officials don't have the luxury of keeping thier shortcomings/conflict/incompetence in their little circles anymore...

    Your points about the Herald are very ture..

     
  • At 2/15/2006 8:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I don't really understand it, but it does seem that some of the membrs of the Board of Supervisors have a vindictive motive to keep us town people "out of their business." But it is really our business too. It is sad to see this "siege mentality" with our county leaders. Why are they afraid of the town? Why do they treat us this way?

     
  • At 2/16/2006 11:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The answer to the last questions: They, have their reasons...but don't hold your breath for an explanation.

     
  • At 2/17/2006 10:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The comments attributed to Board Supervisors Fore and Ward in Thursday's Farmville Herald were telling.

    Fore: "The board has already acted on the recommendation of the planning commission, which excludes the Town of Farmville. That's the end of it."

    Ward: [It's] "one of those issues that we should not feel any smaller if we reconsider."

    Who sounds "smaller" on this issue? Whom would you rather have leading this Board?

     
  • At 2/17/2006 4:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Buckie is fond of sweeping things under the rug. The comment "thats the end of it" is just so... so... Buckie like!

     

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