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...

Friday, July 28, 2006

Gum Control… Your life may depend on it.


Now and again, a story will come across our desk at the Iconoclast that is so serious… so profound… so relevant to our day to day lives… that we are instinctively prompted to shout… “Stop the presses”…we have something important to talk about!

That story is none other than… gum control.

Friends… this subject is so close to my heart… that I can hardly emphasize it too much:

I know, I know… you will say that gum does not kill people… people kill people.

But it is not as simple as that. Gums are a threat to civilization as we know it.

So, when I recently read in USA TODAY recently that Europe is trying to eradicate gum crime, I was absolutely ecstatic

Europe has long been the leader in progressive thinking. Way, way ahead of the rest of the world on so many issues. The Maginot Line is a good example of this leadership… providing almost perfect defenses against almost any conceivable threat that could possibly arise…

Well… maybe that is not the best example…

But gum control is and important issue.

So far as I know, there is no Constitutional Amendment guaranteeing the rights of the American people to unconditional access to, use of, and possession of gums of any description… whether it be automatics… or fully automatics… or for sporting purposes… or for self defense purposes… It really doesn’t matter…

Gums represent a serious threat to our civilization and must be reasonably regulated.

The fundamental fact is: the Founding Fathers of this great nation just did not envision the world we live in today. How could they?

How could they know of the vast variety of gums that would come to be available to the American society? Just walk into any Gum Store in America to see the danger. Gums of every description… and for what purpose… why I ask?

How many parents are aware of the dangers and leave gums unsecured and accessible to children?

How many children have to suffer the consequences of parental inattention?

Indeed a tragedy.

But seriously… gum control is probably a better idea than the Maginot Line…

We are talking about “gum” control and not “gun” control. You know, the nasty, sticky, black, gunk, that inconsiderate people spit out on the sidewalks to fowl the environment.

Do you know what we are talking about?

If not… just take a look at any sidewalk anywhere in America. It is an epidemic problem. Think of the germs. Think of the damage to public property. Think of the clean up cost.

Given the magnitude of the problem, obviously there are billions of people who don’t seem to give this problem a lot of thought. These are not stupid people. These are just people who don’t give a lot of thought to what they are doing. It is just like throwing a cigarette butt on the ground… the thinking is that there is no harm done.

Wrong!

Little acts of environmental degradation multiplied by a million or a billion adds up to some mighty serious environmental problems.

So, the Iconoclast gives a tip of the hat and wink to all of Europe for giving some badly needed attention to an important issue.

Seriously…

Maybe not as sexy as gun control… but gum control is still worth talking about. In fact, gum control has long been a topic of serious discussion in in other parts of the world.

To readers of the Iconoclast who come to us for somewhat serious albeit irreverent social-political commentary, and find this apparent tripe about gum control, I offer my apologies.

However, maybe, just maybe, this issue of gum control is not just so much tripe. Maybe we in America should give the issue a moment of meditation before we again fowl the environment by thoughtlessly spitting out that little gob of goo, otherwise known as gum.

The lesson to learn here is that individual citizens can make the world a little better by making very little bitty adjustments in personal behavior. This is only one example. How many other examples can you think of?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

ACLU still supports First Amendment



Freedom of Speech, the foundation of democracy.

The Iconoclast is pleased to report that the First Amendment to the Constitution is still alive and well at the American Civil Liberties Union.

Back in June, we reported on the ACLU proposed internal guidelines that would have effectively censored ACLU board members on what they could say in public, and control what questions they could ask of the ACLU executive director. The proposed guidelines would have also established other draconian measures to keep an eye on ACLU employees. By keeping an eye on, we mean monitoring what they say and think.

These guidelines have been widely condemned within the ACLU organization itself and elsewhere as being a hypocritical betrayal of the ACLU’s traditional role as a staunch defender of the Constitution and especially the First Amendment civil liberties relating to free speech.

In news, just released recently, the ACLU leadership has re-thought its proposed guidelines and has withdrawn the most odious of provisions.

The official ACLU statement on this course reversal can be seen by clicking here.

Freedom of speech… the first and perhaps the most important of our civil liberties… don’t take it for granted!!! Not for a second…even here in America the “home of the brave and land of the free.”

Little seeds of tyranny remain hidden and dormant, even where you least expect to find them, only to sprout and flourish when good citizens let down their guard.

Freedom!

Please take care of it.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Charlotte County: Questions of Accountability


Charlotte County Administrator Travel Expenses Raise Citizen Questions and Concerns!

Supervisors decree everything fine and dandy!

Administrator has reason to smile?



Now and again the Iconoclast receives tips from readers about “interesting situations” involving government officials across the Commonwealth. Such a story was recently forwarded to us by several friends in Southside Virginia.

The story involves Charlotte County government and the way it accounts for the expenditure of tax dollars… or doesn’t account… but at least thinks it does.

Confused yet?

Charlotte County is a small rural county in the vast region generally called Southside Virginia.

It would probably be fair to characterize Charlotte County as a tranquil but poor rural County. There are no cities and very few job opportunities for young people. For that matter there probably are not a lot of job opportunities left these days for anyone.

Charlotte County likely has more than its fair share of elderly, retired, people on fixed incomes, and poor people.

Most would agree that Charlotte County government has many needs and few public resources available to meet those needs. They need to make every dollar count.

More information on Charlotte County can be seen by clicking on this link.

The story that the Iconoclast will now address erupted in media reports about a month ago. Both The Richmond Times Dispatch and The Southside Messenger recently reported on this story in considerable detail.

However, the story goes back to at least last year.

It seems that the controversy started last year when a citizen of Charlotte County, one Mr. Larry Lail, made a request to the Charlotte County Administrator’s office for documentation of travel expenses incurred by long-time County Administrator Russell B. Clark and his Assistant County Administrator Stephanie Heintzelman.

Mr. Lail apparently wanted to see where these two top County officials were traveling to and how much the taxpayers of Charlotte County were paying for these activities. His request covered the years 2002 to 2004.

This request was by itself quite unremarkable.

In America, there is a fundamental presumption that all government functions belong to the people. That is why government records are typically referred to as “public records.”

Here in Virginia, the prevailing “sunshine law” is known as the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.

Under this law, most governmental documents are presumed to be available to any citizen upon request (there are a few exceptions to protect certain exempted public and private interests for good cause).

What was remarkable about Mr. Lail’s request was the reaction by Charlotte County government… or more accurately… unusual reaction.

Normally, one would presume that a citizen request for public documents would be fulfilled in just a few days as is required by law.

That did not happen.

The basic problem was that the County could not deliver the requested receipts for the travel expenses because those documents did not exist.

Supervisor Joseph Carey acknowledged that "...Mr. Lail discovered a flaw in the system, and the board took action to correct it…”

Long time Chairman of the Board Gary Walker offered: “We can’t give him what we don’t have… it’s not there.”

According to County Attorney Russell Slayton, the County has not required receipts for travel expenses in the past. Lawyer Slayton goes on to explain that the County is not required to provide anyone with receipts that do not exist.

Wow. All those years in law school certainly paid off!

If this legal explanation was not enough to put the matter to rest, the creative resolution passed by the Charlotte County Board of Supervisors would certainly do the trick.

By a vote of four in favor, the Board voted to approve a resolution to declare that all was “proper and reasonable" with travel expenses. Two Supervisors abstained from the vote and one Supervisor was absent.

The resolution stated in part “a review of past reimbursements has confirmed that those reimbursements were made in compliance with the county’s reimbursement policy.”

In case you are wondering, those voting for this creative resolution to decree all fine and dandy, were Chairman Haywood J. Hamlet, Vice Chairman Garland H. "Butch Hamlett, Jr., Supervisor Gary D. Walker, and Supervisor Nancy R. Carwile. Supervisors Ashley L. Myers and Joseph E. Carey, Sr. abstained from voting and Supervisor David M. Guill was absent from the vote.

Ok…

Now I have a few questions.

What policy?

What kind of official policy would knowingly leave this kind of gap in the County’s fiscal accountability systems? Remember… we are talking about a considerable amount of money here.

This is a gap big enough to drive a Mack truck through with the doors open!

How long has this been going on?

Who is responsible?

What kind of Board would allow this kind of problem to go unchecked for so many years?

What have the auditors been smoking all these years?

The Iconoclast sought to find answers to these questions.

As a first step, a representative from the Iconoclast contacted Charlotte County Administrator Russell B. Clark in June ask him to either respond to a series of specific questions or, if he chose, to respond generally to the situation as he saw fit.

We checked back with Mr. Clark last week with a reminder.

As of this date, County Administrator Clark has elected to ignore both options.

On the other hand, several citizens have openly expressed concerns that the Board’s action by passing the resolution was a “disappointment” and little more than an act to “sweep obvious problems under the rug.” Citizens question how the Board can decree something is "proper and reasonable" on faith without any factual evidence.

One source noted only four Supervisors out of a total of seven actually voted in favor of this dubious resolution.

This is hardly a confidence inspiring vote.

Most interesting, several sources reported that alleged “sloppy and/or questionable financial management” practices involving the same Charlotte County officials, most notably, County Administrator Clark, date back a good many years.

The Iconoclast wants to make it absolutely clear that it is not suggesting that any Charlotte County officials have misapplied public funds.

However, on the facts we have learned from media reports and other sources in the community, the Iconoclast would conclude that the circumstances indicate a fundamental lack of adequate financial management oversight by the Board of Supervisors, poor financial management by the administrative personnel, and a less than forthright response to legitimate questions of governmental accountibility by the members of the Board of Supervisors.

Bottom line, Charlotte County government is probably not going to be a top contender for any “Iconoclast Good Government Awards” in the foreseeable future.

When considering problems of sloppy financial management, whether it is in Charlotte County or elsewhere, it is important to keep in mind abuse and waste of public resources is not limited to only clear-cut cases of criminal misconduct.

Other sources of abuse and waste can and do result from bad judgment, incompetence, greed or ethical weaknesses.

If citizens do not pay attention, public officials will with alarming frequency take advantage of their apathy.

Citizens have the power to make a difference. Much waste and abuse can be prevented through citizen involvement.

Take for example Brenda Stewart, ordinary citizen in Chesterfield who uncovered travel expenses incurred by top Chesterfield County officials, including an $18,000 charter jet trip by the Chesterfield County Administrator and Chairman of the Board for matters that were arguably not even legitimate County business.

That County Administrator has since repaid the citizens the full amount for that lapse of judgment.

Another recent good example was citizen Lee Albright who exposed a culture of abuse by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries ,where state officials financed what can only be described as exotic travel… in this case an African safari… at taxpayer expense and then sought to cover up the abuse.

As a result of this citizen's demand for accountability, several senior state officials were shown the door.

It is not always easy for citizens to get the information they need from government agencies. Even though the law is clear, public officials with secrets to hide are sometimes very creative in resisting the prying eyes of concerned citizens.

This story in Charlotte County, Virginia is ongoing. The results may be months away. But it is good to see that Charlotte County citizens are exercising their rights as the lawful owners of the Charlotte County Courthouse and everything it contains.

Best wishes in this noble quest for responsible government.



NOTE: As always, the Iconoclast appreciates information submitted to it in confidence. Please keep us posted on developments.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Gavrilo Princip, Unintended Consequences, and Direct School Board Elections in Southside Virginia...

What does a Serbian assassin, a Vice Chariman of a Board of Supervisors, and direct School Board Elections have in common? Maybe more than you might think...

I'll admit it, I'm a huge history buff, and history is chalked full of examples of how the actions of a single individual has produced unimaginable and (often) unintended consequences. Potentially another example of this might soon manifest itself in Southside Virginia? Try to follow me on this one...

Take World War I for example: Gavrilo Princip, a Serbian nationalist, assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the Imperial Prince of the Austrian Empire, in the streets of Sarajevo. In Princip's twisted world, he thought the assassination of the Archduke would spurn a revolution which would free Slavic people from the "persona non grata" influence of the Austrian Crown. Gavrilo's actions most definately produced an unintended and unforeseen consequence.

Instead of advancing the emancipation of Slavic people from the Austrian Crown, these actions instead lead to what is know as the "domino theory" which ultimately lead to World War I - which lefts millions of people dead (including hundreds of thousands of Serbians) and some of the most vile and devastating warfare known to man...all of which were unintended. Bad move Gavrilo!

Ok, so now you're probably asking yourself "what in the hell does this have to do with School Board elections in Southside Virginia?" Fair enough... so just "fast forward" 92 years from Habsburg dominated eastern Europe to rural Southside Virginia. No problem, right? Now, here's another story of how the calculated actions of an individual might just produce unforseen and unintended consequences...



















Victims of unintended consequences? Serbian Assassin Gavrilo Princip (left), and Vice Chairman of the Buckingham County Board of Supervisors, Dr. Brian Bates (right).


For those of you who read the Iconoclast you may recall a recent piece about Dr. Brian Bates, Vice Chairman of Buckingham County's Board of Supervisors, who via an editorial in Farmville Herald (as a "private citizen" of course) advocated for the elimination of direct elections for Buckingham County School Board members.

Citizen Bates wants Buckingham to return to appointing School Board members by the County's Board of Supervisors, which he just so happens to be the Vice Chariman of...Dr. Bates - in his editorial - suggested he would lead a movement to gather enough signitures to put this issues to the voters - via a referendum - in the near future.

I guess the logic is this: if the two elected Boards (Board of Supervisors and School Board) can't come to a consensus in regard to the future direction of Schools in the County, then do away with the direct elections of School Board members (ie, "The Nuclear Option"!) Just allow the Board of Supervisors to appoint people who will share THEIR opinions....and we will all live happily ever after! Problem solved! right?

Needless to say, it appears that the voting public hasn't taken to Bates' proposition. People are funny, they prefer to vote when given the choice. I'm assuming that Supervisor Bates must have anticipated atleast SOME support for his idea (afterall he went through the trouble of writing an editorial in the local paper)and maybe Bates knows something we don't? Maybe?

If I had to guess, I would be willing to wager that Supervisor Bates wishes he could retract his letter, because of the unintendted consequences it appears to be producing. In matter of fact, it appears that a polar opposite "domino effect" is mounting as we speak in regard to Bates' "nuclear option" for Buckingham's School Board.

You see, Brian Lee, an educator and resident of Prince Edward County, has clearly articulated his oppostion of Bates' proposal to eliminate the direct elections of School Board members in near-by Buckingham County.

Mr. Lee clearly points out that the Commonwealth is actually a "late blommer" when it comes the direct elections for School Board members. It was only 1992 when legislation was passed in Virginia allowing for the direct elections of School Boards. Believe it or not, before this legislation was passed, Virginia was THE ONLY state that did not allow for elected local school boards.

But since 1992 the Commonwealth is making up for lost time in hurry, 102 of the 134 local school divisions in Virginia have changed or begun the process of changing from an appointed school board to an elected one and more than 60 percent of Virginia's current school board members are elected officials.

So you don't have to live in Buckingham County to see that the idea that voters - no matter the County or City - would willingly choose to strip their ability to directly elect School Board members. To believe voters would do so is illogical to the point of boarding on asinine...really.

Now Mr. Lee has recently started a grass roots movement to have School Board members directly elected in Prince Edward, the County where he lives and works as a teacher. Thus, alligning Prince Edward with the majority of School Boards in Virginia. What a super idea that every democracy loving citizen should support! And it is easier to do than you might think! It would take minimal organization and effort to do so, plus it would be virtually guaranteed to receive overwhelming approval by the voters of Prince Edward...no question! I mean think about it: how would you vote if asked if you wanted the right to, well, vote for something? (Remember in 1992 the voters of Buckingham voted in favor of directly electing School Board members by a 3,640 to 800 margin.)

We here at the Iconoclast feel that direct elections are the cornerstone of civic life, and we fully support Mr. Lee's efforts to gather support for a referrendum on this matter in Prince Edward, and we will help to promote this issue in order to get it on the ballot as soon as possible.

Process wise, it is too late to get such a referendum on the ballot in Prince Edward for this coming November. In regard to this matter, the Code of Virginia states,"The petition shall be signed by registered voters equal in number to at least ten percent of the number registered in such locality on the January 1 preceding its filing."

Therefore the citizens of Prince Edward have until January 1, 2007 to collect signitures from 10 percent of the registered voters in the County in order to have this issue appear on the ballot in November of 2007. In case you're wondering, 10 percent of the registered voters in Prince Edward would be 1,158 signatures.

So I guess this will give Mr. Lee and those who support his efforts ample time to collect the requied signitures for placing this issue before the voters of Prince Edward! But it would be best to start soon! (I'm thinking about 6 hours on a Saturday in front of the Wal-Mart in Farmville would likely be sufficeint!)


So back to Gavrilo Princip and the idea of unintended consequences. History tells us that Princip's decision to assassinate Archduke Ferdinand in the streets of Sarajevo did not help to immancipate the Serbian people, but instead resulted in World War I, and death of hundreds of thousands of Serbians. Though Supervisors Bates' proposal to eliminate the direct elction of School Board members in Buckingham County will not lead to global warfare, it might just have the opposite affect in the region. Which most definately was unintended. Sometimes the course of history is changed, but not in the manner in which one might have intended or plotted - but change happened all the same....Sort of ironic isn't it?

The Iconoclast looks forward to promoting the idea of direct elections for Scool Board members in Prince Edward!


Let the dominos fall!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Ok, time to cast your vote for the Lunenburg Special Election for Sheriff!

Ok, I know Tom and I have gone a little overboard on the polls here recently. But they are lots of fun aren't they?

Don't forget to get out and vote for real on August 8th! WV


Lunenburg Special Election for Sheriff: Who do you intend to vote for, or who would you vote for (that is if you only lived in the Old Free State!)
Randall L. Stoots
Jimmy Moses
Arthur Townsend
David Jackson
The ghost of Barney Fife
  
Free polls from Pollhost.com

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Shoot-Out at Not So "O.K. Corral" in Lunenburg County Tonight!!!



Update Report.

Sheriff Candidates Debate Tonight!!!

Check all handguns at the door please!


As a community service, the Iconoclast is pleased to publish this reminder that four candidates for special Sheriffs election of August 8th, will be debating this evening at 7:00 p.m. in the Harry Wellons Auditorum at the old Victoria High School.

This promises to be almost as much fun as the legendary shoot-out at the "O.K. Corral" figuratively speaking of course.

However, since the Iconoclast first reported on this special election back in May, the rhetoric has been rather hot, a lot like flying lead going in all different directions. Given the news reports of vandalism against a number of the candidates' campaign signs, it may be fair to say that some individuals (not necessairly the candidates themselves) have resorted to dirty tricks.

Not a good example of civilized behavior.

The original post entitled "Sheriff Stoots Shoots Self in the Foot in Lunenburg County" can be seen here.

Initially, the Iconoclast became interested in this story because of what seemed to be the inappropriate actions of the acting Sheriff Randall L Stoots following the sudden and unexpected death of former Sheriff Charles W. Stokes. And yes, the death of Sheriff was by natural causes in case you are not from Lunenburg and were wondering.

As we reported in May "...in a master stroke of political ham-fisted poor judgement, the newly appointed Sheriff Stoots first announces his intentions to run for Sherriff in the up-coming special election, and second, summarily fires two senior members of the Lunenburg County Sheriff's department, one Deputy Arthur Townsend (21 years with the department) and two Deputy Jimmy Moses (25 years with the Department.)"

At the time Sheriff Stoots explained something to the effect that the two fired Deputies were asked for their "continued support and cooperation" and then when he learned that both planned to also run in the special election, he sumarily fired them.

Since that time Sheriff Stoots has made a mighty effort to re-explain exactly what happened and why his actions were not just a dumb knee-jerk act of political retribution.

Many citizens from the community have weighed in on both sides, some with serious comments, and some not so serious.

Presently there are four candidates vying for the coveted position of High Sheriff of Lunenburg County, the Old Free State of Virginia. They are:

Acting Sheriff, Randall L. Stoots, 9 years experience in law enforcement.

Former Deputy Sheriff Jimmy Moses, 25 years with the Lunenburg County Sheriffs Department.

Former Deputy Arthur Townsend, 21 years with the Lunenburg County Sheriffs Department.

Mecklenburg Correctional Center Office David R. Jackson, 26 years with the Virginia Department of Corrections.

Both Deputies Moses and Townsend were previous close contenders the 2004 special election for Sheriff when the late Sheriff Stokes was elected in the aftermath of an earlier untimely death of another Sheriff. (Frankly, with this history of untimely deaths in office, I am not sure why anyone would want this job.)

The Iconoclast, wishing to be as fair as possible republishes here all of those comments for your reading enjoyment.

There are so far 32 separate comments on record. They are as follows in order of receipt:


At 11:09 AM, Anonymous said…
Sounds like Sheriff Stoots just gave a way the keys to the jail.

• At 5:13 PM, Conaway Haskins said…
I eagerly await what you find out. It's about time someone lit a fire under Lunenburg's figurative butt.

-- Conaway

• At 8:45 AM, Anonymous said…
I live in Virginia and this is the first time I've even heard of this County. Still this is interesting all the same, is the local media in the area covering this story? Seems like total BS to me.

• At 3:53 PM, Anonymous said…
Good insight and reporting!

• At 7:37 PM, Anonymous said…
Seems to me that the Sheriff would have been smarter to keep those two boys on the job and very busy so they wouldn't have so much time on their hands to campaign for the office of Sheriff.

• At 8:53 PM, Anonymous said…
Will,

It is just not right to make fun of Barney like this. Barney is a good lawman and may occasionally hit a few bumps in the road. But never, and I mean never, would he do something like this. So please, in the future, do law enforcement people everywhere a big favor and do not compare Barney to Sheriff Stoots.

Very sincerely,

Sheriff Andy Taylor
Mayberry, NC

PS. Y'all come down and see us sometime.

• At 9:17 AM, Anonymous said…
I would have to agree with my friend and collegue Sheriff Taylor. I personally find nothing wrong with Sheriff Stoot's behavior. He's a good man, and only has the best interest of the Citizens in mind.

Sincerely,

Sheriff Boss Hogg
Harzard County, TX

• At 8:24 AM, Anonymous said…
The blog site owner here presents himself as some sort of self-appointed country legalist with the community's best intentions in mind. He, however, is a the real Boss Hog of Brokeback Mountain. Besides, Barney Fife was a great guy. Just ask Andy Griffith.

Check this Hogg's blog.

He supports gay rights! Gay marriage! And who knows what other kind of perversion.

It's not about community for him except in the sense, perhaps, of communism. We heard about the free love movement and communism in the 1960s. Now we have the gay love movement. Gay sex, the gay lifestyle, etc. are OK if you really love someone. Just be free. Just love the opposite sex.

Guess what?

Freedom is not the be all and end all. America was built on Christian values by Christian people. And Christianity declares homosexuality immoral. It is nothing more than disguised pedophilia. Child molesters and homosexuals want to have sex with persons outside the confines of a God ordained, anatomically and biologically destined design (even Darwin would view homosexuality as a significant aberration.)

Human anatomy states that men were made for women, humans were made for humans, and adults made for adults, not some other combination. That's the truth. It is plainly obvious.

Romans 1:19-20 tells us, “What may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made."

You simply cannot deny it. It is inherently obvious. You would be a liar to deny it. Even Darwin would agree that humans evolved for those purposes. The sex roles of males and females from the plant kingdom to the animal kingdom are immutable and obvious. Penises were made for vaginas. Penises were not made for other penises. Vaginas were not made for other vaginas. But homosexuals would deny the truth.

Romans 1:25-27 tells us, "they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion."

If the propaganda were to say that we should all defy anatomy and only have one arm. How many people would be made unhappy, if they believed they had to remove their arm? Only the most disordered would actually enjoy having their arm removed. Maybe that is due penalty for your perversion. You choose homosexuality, then you cannot have children.

Stop the gay propaganda and set people's minds free. Thought control hasn't worked in China. It won't work here.

• At 8:25 AM, Truth 2025 said…
The blog site owner here presents himself as some sort of self-appointed country legalist with the community's best intentions in mind. He, however, is a the real Boss Hog of Brokeback Mountain. Besides, Barney Fife was a great guy. Just ask Andy Griffith.

Check this Hogg's blog.

He supports gay rights! Gay marriage! And who knows what other kind of perversion.

It's not about community for him except in the sense, perhaps, of communism. We heard about the free love movement and communism in the 1960s. Now we have the gay love movement. Gay sex, the gay lifestyle, etc. are OK if you really love someone. Just be free. Just love the opposite sex.

Guess what?

Freedom is not the be all and end all. America was built on Christian values by Christian people. And Christianity declares homosexuality immoral. It is nothing more than disguised pedophilia. Child molesters and homosexuals want to have sex with persons outside the confines of a God ordained, anatomically and biologically destined design (even Darwin would view homosexuality as a significant aberration.)

Human anatomy states that men were made for women, humans were made for humans, and adults made for adults, not some other combination. That's the truth. It is plainly obvious.

Romans 1:19-20 tells us, “What may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made."

You simply cannot deny it. It is inherently obvious. You would be a liar to deny it. Even Darwin would agree that humans evolved for those purposes. The sex roles of males and females from the plant kingdom to the animal kingdom are immutable and obvious. Penises were made for vaginas. Penises were not made for other penises. Vaginas were not made for other vaginas. But homosexuals would deny the truth.

Romans 1:25-27 tells us, "they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion."

If the propaganda were to say that we should all defy anatomy and only have one arm. How many people would be made unhappy, if they believed they had to remove their arm? Only the most disordered would actually enjoy having their arm removed. Maybe that is due penalty for your perversion. You choose homosexuality, then you cannot have children.

Stop the gay propaganda and set people's minds free. Thought control hasn't worked in China. It won't work here.

• At 8:25 AM, Truth 2025 said…
The blog site owner here presents himself as some sort of self-appointed country legalist with the community's best intentions in mind. He, however, is a the real Boss Hog of Brokeback Mountain. Besides, Barney Fife was a great guy. Just ask Andy Griffith.

Check this Hogg's blog.

He supports gay rights! Gay marriage! And who knows what other kind of perversion.

It's not about community for him except in the sense, perhaps, of communism. We heard about the free love movement and communism in the 1960s. Now we have the gay love movement. Gay sex, the gay lifestyle, etc. are OK if you really love someone. Just be free. Just love the opposite sex.

Guess what?

Freedom is not the be all and end all. America was built on Christian values by Christian people. And Christianity declares homosexuality immoral. It is nothing more than disguised pedophilia. Child molesters and homosexuals want to have sex with persons outside the confines of a God ordained, anatomically and biologically destined design (even Darwin would view homosexuality as a significant aberration.)

Human anatomy states that men were made for women, humans were made for humans, and adults made for adults, not some other combination. That's the truth. It is plainly obvious.

Romans 1:19-20 tells us, “What may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made."

You simply cannot deny it. It is inherently obvious. You would be a liar to deny it. Even Darwin would agree that humans evolved for those purposes. The sex roles of males and females from the plant kingdom to the animal kingdom are immutable and obvious. Penises were made for vaginas. Penises were not made for other penises. Vaginas were not made for other vaginas. But homosexuals would deny the truth.

Romans 1:25-27 tells us, "they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion."

If the propaganda were to say that we should all defy anatomy and only have one arm. How many people would be made unhappy, if they believed they had to remove their arm? Only the most disordered would actually enjoy having their arm removed. Maybe that is due penalty for your perversion. You choose homosexuality, then you cannot have children.

Stop the gay propaganda and set people's minds free. Thought control hasn't worked in China. It won't work here.

• At 9:03 AM, Anonymous said…
What's even better is that the mayor of the town is rumored to have put him up to it. This mayor is also the undertaker, fire chief, and once a furniture store owner as well.

• At 10:33 AM, Anonymous said…
Truth 2025 seems to be upset because you took a shot at Sheriff Taylor..funny!

• At 10:34 AM, Anonymous said…
What in the hell does gay marriage have to do with Sheriff Stoots' insane decision to fire two experiened Deputies????????

• At 11:08 AM, Anonymous said…
Truth 2025 has way, way too much time on his hands worrying about gays. When an individual fixates too much on any one thing, they begin to see the object of fixation everywhere. There is help out there for people so aflicted. But first they need to acknowledge that there is a problem.

• At 6:20 PM, Anonymous said…
Truth, what the hell is yor problem?

• At 10:08 PM, Anonymous said…
Ok. So we got some crackpots out there. Get back to the subject of Sheriff Stoots and his problem with judgment.

I would like to hear from Sheriff Stoots. Why should we vote for him? Does he have some ideas? What are they? We got some issues in Lunenburg and I would like to hear how he is going to address them.

So, Sheriff Stoots, what do you say?

• At 8:09 PM, Anonymous said…
We see recently that Sheriff Stoots' defenders are attempting in public letters to do damage control by justifying the dismissal of two deputies as appropriate behavior. All he is trying to do is to eliminate fair competition for the office of Sheriff. The voters see through this excuse and will send him a message on election day.

• At 9:02 AM, Anonymous said…
well before the last election

deruty Townsend lost his weapon,at central high school when he took off his gun belt to play basketball. To this date his gun has never been recovered. When sheriff Adams was alive he and mrs.Townsend caught deputy Townsend and the dispatcher having sex in the sheriff's office. He should have been fired then. Iannot vote for a person who cannot keep up with his own weapon.

• At 4:18 PM, Anonymous said…
This is getting juicy. Now, if Sheriff Stoots can just get some good dirt on former Deputy Jimmy Moses and the other dude, he will have it made on election day. So much for taking the high road. Lets get down and play in the mud.

• At 11:51 PM, Anonymous said…
Jimmy Moses is the best choice. He has a lot of experience, and is a nice man who would keep the citizens in mind. Also there have been spray-paint on some Moses and Townsend signs...what does htat say to you?

• At 10:53 PM, Curtis Brooks said…
I am a Sheriff Stoots Supporter and understand that he is probably the only man for the job that will break up the good ole boy PD's of Lunenburg County. Randall Stoots also had his personal property and signs vandalized but this was not mentioned in the paper. This county and the local newspapers are tendentious of our sheriff.
"Arthur Townsend and Jimmy Moses... Each having over two decades of experience" does not make them automatically qualified for the job.

• At 10:22 AM, Anonymous said…
If I had to guess it sounds as if Sheriff Stoops, and his supporters are attempting to do a little "damage control" at this moment. If Sheriff Stoops is interested in breaking the "good ole boy" system, then he will have his chance to do so come this August. But what qualatative standards do you apply to someone to determine if they are "good ole boys" or not, seems to be alot of "wiggle room" in this definition.

I don't know this to be true, but it wouldn't surprise me if Stoops (and some of his supporters) are attempting to martyr the Sheriff (by destroying his signs) in order to once again deflect attention from his silly decision.

If Stoops is confident that he is indeed the best man for the job, the voters will elect him. Dismissing the two deputies was a poor decison, and he should have know better...it just looks bad!

• At 4:26 PM, Anonymous said…
It is a shame that one small community has nothining else to do but make comments and threats to a man who is doing his job. NO ONE could ever understand the responsibility and stress that has been given to Sheriff Stoots who wants to do the job he was given with grace and honor. There have been to many years where people in authority have taken advantage of there position and gotten away with more then anyone could imagine and those individuals know who they are. I applaud the honest man and the only honest man on the ticket for Sheriff is STOOTS!!!!!!

• At 9:57 PM, Anonymous said…
I think your still missing the point..i assume that stoops was appointed to the postion to "hold hte postion" until a special election could be held..correct? if this is this case, then indeed it was poor decision (some might say stupid) to fire two senior deputies. If what you claim is true, then stoops will be vindicated in august...

still, good people can make bad decisions, and I think this is what the blog author is trying to communicate...

• At 1:23 PM, Anonymous said…
As a relative newcomer to Lunenburg, I don't know personally any of the candidates for the special election for Sheriff.

However, if I may observe, I would suggest that this discussion is a good thing and shows that there is some interest in the community to make things better.

Over the past three and a half years, I have listened to people grumble about the problems with our County officials here in Lunenburg. But when it comes to doing something about the problems, I see too much apathy.

So, I am happy to see this discussion on the special election for Sheriff. It is only one office but it is important.

And no, I am not prepared to endorse any one of the four candidates at this time. I am still listening and looking for answers.

Thanks.

• At 2:13 PM, Anonymous said…
All these problems the Sheriff is having is unfair. He was just doing what Barny would have done. Nip it! Nip it in the bud!

• At 2:31 PM, Jeff Paul said…
I personally know each of the three major candidates in this election. I have worked side by side with them all for several years as a law enforcement officer in Lunenburg county. I know alot that the general public doesn't know. Not from rumors or hearsay, but because I am behind the scenes with them. I know the answers to most questions you may have and will give them honestly. If I don't know the answer I will simply tell you I don't know. As far as Mr. Stoots goes, I've never really had any problems with Stoots until this whole firing of the Deputies scandal. Stoots has always seemd to be an ok, laid back, country boy kind of guy. I would never in a million years have expected him to do something like this. The two deputies that he fired were both honest, hard working deputies with lots of experience and were both an asset to our Sheriff's Office. I was extremely dissappointed with Mr. Stoot's "Insecurity" based decision. Some people say "well if Sheriff Stokes liked him enough to make him Chief Deputy, them he must be ok"...WRONG!! Sheriff Stokes told me himself that the only reason he made Stoots his chief deputy was... and I quote..."Because everybody else ran against me". Stoot's sidekick Curtis Brooks is obviously being fed information. The problem with that is that if you don't know the truth firsthand, then second hand information can get you in alot of trouble You can't always rely on what someone else tells you as being the truth. This is where the possibility of Slander Suits come into play. Mr Brooks needs to verify the information he is being fed before posting or printing it. He could be facing alot of trouble. Stoots and Brooks have both made comments that are at the least very misleading, but some are just flat out untrue. For example, Stoots having the same training as everyone else. This is a completely untrue comment that can be verified. I can personally tell you several areas of training that Townsend and Moses have had that Stoots has not. I find it interesting that Stoots thinks that the people of Lunenburg are not smart enough to realize that it is very unlikely that a person with only nine years of experience could possibly have as much continued training as someone with over twenty years experience. In closing, I would like to say that if anyone has a question that they would like answered truthfully, please let me know and I will gladly answer it for you if I know the answer. If you choose not to put them on this discussion you can e mail me personally at jpsjb@yahoo.com .

Thank you.

• At 1:49 PM, Anonymous said…
I think it is a shame that you would quote our previous Sheriff when he is not able to confirm or deny this quote. I knew Sheriff Stokes very well and have a hard time believing that this was his only reason. This only proves that you may not be a reliabe source and may be giving biased information. Are you still in law enforcement or just the lead singer of Southern Justice? Stoots is a very fair man and my support goes to him!! Go Sheriff Stoots!!

• At 12:42 AM, Anonymous said…
This is a lot of lies and crap on this website. All I have to say is get your facts straight or shut up.

• At 6:39 PM, Adam said…
I believe that any person in any organization should strive to excel, and work towards the highest position in that organization. If a senior deputy of 20 plus years has no aspirations to be sheriff then their goals are not being set high. (After saying this I do understand that some law enforcement officers want to do just that. Enforce the law and not do so much administrative.) A person should not be punished for wanting to make the best of themselves, and fulfill their goals. Author Townsend taught me and everyone one of my peers about drug abuse when we were children. He is friends with many people in the county and is a very nice man. Jimmy Moses is also a caring man that also has many friends in the county. Firing two men wishing to excel to the best of their abilities, and that have such a strong network in such a small county is political suicide.

• At 10:29 AM, Anonymous said…
I live in Lunenburg and cannot comprehend why people would vote for a whiny Sheriff like Stoots. All he ever does, it seems, is complain, complain, complain. "My wife is being threatened. She's scared to leave the house. My kids are in jeopardy. People throw their trash in my yard." What Stoots will never say is that his wife is going door-to-door every day handing out campaign literature. She sure seems scared to me. Townsend, on the other hand, won't talk to the press. Jackson is NOT a deputy, nor has he ever been - no experience in the field. So, it seems that my vote has to go to Jimmy Moses by default. I will say this, one local paper has printed fine interviews with all of them (except Townsend) and has done other articles about the race. If you want to know about these candidates pick up a few past issues of the Southside Messenger. Other than that, I can't wait for the "Royal Rumble" tomorrow night in Victoria!

• At 10:07 PM, Jeff Paul said…
First of all, if you choose to be at all credible don't be afraid to post your name. Quit leaving comments anonymously. I quoted what Sheriff Stokes told me because it is fact. That is word for word what he told me. Also, if it was so terrible for me to quote what the late Sheriff said, then it seems like your candidate Mr. Stoots has some explaining to do as well. Have you seen the articles in this weeks local papers? They are full of things that Mr Stoots says was told to him by Sheriff Stokes. Was it alright for him to print them but not me? In final rebuttle to your comment, yes I am still proudly employed as a police officer in Lunenburg County. If you know as much as you think you do, you wouldn't have to ask that. Since my article in the paper, several law enforcement officers within the boundaries of Lunenburg County (including deputies) as well as many citizens have come to me, shook my hand, thanked me, and expressed great gratitude for printing the facts. One comment (from law enforcement) was "I'm glad somebody's telling the truth around here". It's a shame that the only people who know the truth about the lies being told are law enforcement officers who can't openly tell the public because of their position. There is great concern within the law enforcement family in Lunenburg about Mr Stoots but it is not expressed due to employment concerns. Mr Stoots' latest articles are full of misleading information and flat out lies. I have known Stoots for a long time and it is extremely hard for me to believe that he has chosen this strategy for his campaign. I once highly respected Mr Stoots but am now extremely disappointed in his actions. I hope I have answered your questions and I invite you throw more at me if you want more facts. But once again, step out of your cowardly costume...be proud of what you believe in...let everyone know who is supporting Stoots...tell us who you are...but if you don't, I really don't blame you. I would be ashamed too.

Yours Truly,
Jeff Paul
Victoria PD


As of this date, July 20th, 2006, the Iconoclast has not endorsed any one of the four candidates.

The Iconoclast is unable to attend tonight's festivities, but wishes to encourage the good citizens Lunenburg County to attend tonight's debate.

Please, as soon as the dust settles and everybody runs out of bullets, send us your comments.

We are waiting breathlessly.

Good luck to all four candidates! May the best candidate win!

Ok, Elkton (and those interested in Elkton) Have your say now!


Do you believe Elkton's Town Council recent decision to terminate Angler Development's contract was a good one?
Yes, in the best interest of the Town its better to pull out of this deal now, rather than later.
No, a deal is a deal, this will only cause the Town more headaches.
Neither, can't we all just get along?
  
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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Congressman Goodlatte: Finally on the Correct Side of a Civil Rights Issue!


Congressman Bob Goodlatte, who is often on the wrong side of civil rights related issues, recently voted to reauthorize the 1965 Voting Rights Act. For this - as one of your 650,000 constituents - I congratulate you Congressman Goodlatte!

To a fanatical few, Goodlatte's vote to reauthorize the 1965 Voting Rights Act is viewed as a slap in the face to the Commonwealth's electoral sovranty. I feel the opposite. Those who are frustrated by Goodlatte's vote to renew this act give anemic justification for opposing Goodlatte's vote.

It appears these individuals/institutions (with this fringe view) believe that the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act somehow shackles the Commonwealth to years of strict draconian Federal oversight in regard to the election process. This simply isn't true. In case you're counting, only 33 Congressmen voted not to reauthorize the act. Fortunatley no Virginia Congressperson is part of this shameful group...

I suggest that these individuals review Virginia's torid and colorful past in regard to voting rights. Also, take a look at challenges that might be faced in the future.

Simply said, the reauthorizing of the 1965 Voting Rights Act is not an attempt to cede the electoral process to unnecessary Federal control or intervention. This act reassures all voters in the Commonwealth that the proper channels exist for maintaining a fair and open election process. Hopefully, the Commonwealth will not repeat the sins of the past (see above), but let's not "throw the baby out with the bathwater" on something so vital to basic democracy...agree?

After voting to renew the act Congressman Goodlatte stated, "I believe the right of each individual to vote is one of the most precious rights we hold as American citizens."

Amen to that Congressman Goodlatte!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

"Cesspool of Corruption and Inefficiency"


...City of Richmond.

So says former Governor and current Mayor L. Douglas Wilder of Capitol City.

Sometimes controversial Mayor right on target on issues of restoring integrity in city hall!



I really don’t like to cover the political scene in Richmond. There are a couple of reasons for this.

First, there are a lot of really good blogs out there that do a great job in giving the people of the region an unvarnished perspective on the ways of Richmond City government and the Richmond area politics.

Secondly, and most importantly, it is almost too easy to criticize and to make fun of the bad behavior of public officials in the Richmond area.

There are just too many cases of official goofiness, misbehavior, dumb ideas, bad ethics and out-right criminal activity.

To cover all this nonsense properly, I would have to quit my day job and probably hire some extra staff do the leg work, research and writing.

What is the fun in that?

So, I will leave it mostly in the hands of those many capable bloggers out there who do such a wonderful job.

Be that as it may, I was struck by a feature article in the Saturday edition of The Richmond Times Dispatch entitled “2 charged in theft of funds from city.”

At first glance, one would think that these front page headlines are likely to cause little stir in the Richmond City Hall. After years and years of one incredibly embarrassing scandal after another, what possibly could the indictment of two more City of Richmond officials ((one former and one current) do to raise the collective consciousness of the general public in demanding better oversight of city governmental functions?

Remember former Councilman Chuck Richardson, convicted for the distribution of heroin, contempt, and refusal to identify his suppliers, and sent to prison?

Remember, former Mayor Leonidas Young, convicted of fraud, obstruction and tax evasion, and sent to prison in 1999?

Remember, former Councilwoman Gwen Hedgepeth who was convicted for bribery. After she secretly recorded taking cash from a real estate developer and landlord for her vote in selecting a new mayor?

Councilwoman Hedgepeth was also implicated in the case of Robert Evans who ripped off the City and its taxpayers for an estimated $800,000, by cooking the books on council payment requests under the so called “Paygo” system.

It is perhaps interesting that both former Mayor Young and Councilwoman Hedgepeth were practicing members of the clergy.

There are other examples in recent years. I just can not remember them all.

The most recent indictments would no doubt pass with little notice given the history of corruption in the City of Richmond.

However, one thing makes this recent announcement of indictments noteworthy, in my view.

That one thing is Mayor L. Douglas Wilder.

When contacted about these indictments of city employees, Mayor Wilder stated: “Our administration has pledged to seek out and eliminate the cesspool of corruption and inefficiency that has characterized the Richmond government for too long.” He continued by saying “This examination of local government will be ongoing.”

No, excuses… No “weasel words”… No evasive “no comment”… dodge. No passing the buck to somebody else.

The man sounds like he is seriously disgusted with the situation and is going to do something about it!

Say what you will about the man, but you have got to respect Mayor Wilder’s colorful, direct and decisive words on this problem.

He may not be perfect. He certainly has his critics. And a few words alone will not make all well overnight.

But on this matter, he made an immediate decision to directly engage the issue and to give the citizens a sense of confidence that somebody cares and may actually do something.

Time will tell.

This is what citizens, taxpayers and voters want to see in political leadership when confronted with real problems.

Unfortunately, this is all too rare. Too often, this is not what the citizens get in their political leadership.

Too often political leadership, when confronted with problems of misconduct or ethical digressions within their administrations, react in “knee-jerk” fashion and leap to defensive positions, digging in, hiding and evading any effort to address the real problems.

Why would any political leader do this? Assuming that they have nothing to hide themselves, why would they want to duck and run?

All this accomplishes is to undermine public trust even further.

Inefficiency and corruption is not limited to only the City of Richmond as readers of the Iconoclast may have noticed over just the past year. There is no local government in Virginia that can say unequivocally that there is no room for improvement in efficiency and accountability. Just go back and look at the Iconoclast archives if you don't believe it.

Some local governments have a long way to go before the political leadership can say with a straight face that their administrations are efficient and accountable to the citizens.

Many current and aspiring local government political leaders can learn something from the Honorable Mayor L. Douglas Wilder.

It is called leadership.

Real leadership does not run and hide from problems.

Real leadership is always trying to make things better.

There is no shame for those who try and fail. Only time will tell if Mayor Wilder is successful in cleaning up the "cesspool of corruption and inefficiency" in Richmond city government.

On the other hand, there is nothing but shame for those who see the problems and choose to do nothing about them.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Have your say Buckingham!


Buckingham Residents: Do you support Supervisor Bates' idea of eliminating the direct election of School Board members ?
Yes, let the Board of Supervisors appoint School Board members, I can't be bothered.
No, I like the idea of directly electing the County's School Board members.
Neither, I only vote for American Idol contestants!
  
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Saturday, July 15, 2006

Shiver Me Timbers, Buckingham Supervisor Makes a Nasty Cut!




















More Buckingham County Scandal.

Leadership credibility sorely lacking.

If it were not so pittiful, it might be funny.


My friend Will, he is an eternal optimist, and is always trying to believe the best in people.

I, on the other hand, will admit, to be a bit of a cynic.

I personally believe that within every kind, honest and honorable sole, there is a crook scratching, clawing, and punching to get out.

Perhaps my attitude comes from my religious upbringing. Yes there is good in everybody. But there is also temptation all around us. And even good people fall from grace with alarming regularity.

That is why I go to church. I don’t even trust myself!

As some wise guy once said: “the Devil made me do it.”

This brings me to my story about the good Reverend Joe N. Chambers, Jr., Chairman of the Buckingham County Board of Supervisors.

Unfortunately some of these latent crooks decide to get involved in government now and again.

Surprise, surprise!!!

As readers of the Iconoclast are no doubt aware, the Vice Chairman of the Buckingham County Board of Supervisors, one Dr. Brian Bates (AKA Doctor Know-It-All, ©, “Ralphie”) has recently touched a match to a huge firestorm of controversy in Buckingham County involving his attempt to expunge from the face of the earth the Buckingham County School Board.

Unbelievable arrogance…

It went… KA-BOOM!!!... this past week.

I heard the blast all the way to Charlottesville!

Sources close to the situation have indicated that, the Board is feeling the heat and is hoping to send Dr. Bates into a state of permanent “leave of absence” to cool down the situation.

However, there is a new tiny little problem.

And maybe this is good news for Dr. Bates (Doctor Know-It-All ©, “Ralphie”).

It seems that the good Reverend Joe N. Chambers, Jr., Chairman of the Buckingham County Board of Supervisors has a few minor problems of his own.


The details of this new mess, involving the highest political leadership in Buckingham County, have been recently reported in the Daily Progress, in Charlottesville.


According to the article, it seems that the good Reverend Joe N. Chambers, Jr., Chairman of the Buckingham County Board of Supervisors may have “mistakenly” ripped off the timber on about 50 acres of isolated rural land of its valuable timber.

Chambers, and his two sons, have long time been know as being in the logging business in Buckingham County. It is a good and honorable business although it is sometimes known to be on the fringes of what we know to be modern “ethical” business. There is a lot of “off the books” activity.

I mean, you are out in the woods… what the hell… nobody is watching…

Except for this time, Mr. Harry D. Bruns II, of Charlottesville… one of my neighbors… took notice of about 50 acres of timber that came up missing.

Bottom line: the good Reverend Joe N. Chambers, Jr., Chairman of the Buckingham County Board of Supervisors is now facing a $115,280 state fine levied by the Virginia Department of Forestry for certain environmental violations and likely a serious civil law suit.

Reverend / Chairman Chambers asserted: “That’s the first time I got a fine” in 30 years.. He claims that it was all a mistake.

Reverend / Chairman Chambers has also suggested that this is all "politically motivated."

Politically motivated?

O.K... if you believe that, I've got a bridge in Manhattan for sale at an incredible price...

However, Mr. Bruns is not so understanding and seems concerned that his isolated property would have been ripped off with no notice were it not for the fact... that he just happened to catch it.

KA-BOOM, again!

Bruns stated: “He came in the back way through a locked gate on a private road… Selma was untended for a few years and this was very isolate in the back. He didn’t get to where it was visible from the road.”

How in hell do you make a 50 acre mistake?

That is a lot of real estate to just get confused about!!!

As for the official record, forestry officials have confirmed that good Reverend Joe N. Chambers, Jr., Chairman of the Buckingham County Board of Supervisors has had a few problems.

This includes, in recent years, citations for violations of the Virginia Silviculture Water Quality Act in Buckingham, Fluvania, and Nelson county and official records of at least 10 separate timber owners who have special orders or notices of required actions for stream violations on their lands.

That is three counties that he has had problems in just in case you didn't catch it.

This is the Chairman of the Buckingham County Board of Supervisors.

State forestry officials have indicated that property owners don’t get a lot of help from local Commonwealth’s Attorneys (the prosecutors).

Wonder why that is?

Given the tremendous value of missing timber that is involved across the Commonwealth (timber theft estimated to be worth up to $7 million per year), this appears at first glance to be very strange.

However, Commonweath’s Attorney, E. M. Wright, Jr., from Buckingham County (the prosecutor) seems to put some welcomed light on this issue.

Prosecutor Wright dropped the case against Chambers in January for reasons cited in the linked article.

He explained that stolen timber in Buckingham is fairly rare saying “I doubt if I’ve seen one a year. We have convicted some and sometimes the landowner and the wood cutter would settle.”

O.k… Maybe that sounds plausible...

But, let me speak as a cynic for a minute.

According to sources close to the ground in Buckingham County, Commonwealth’s Attorney E. M. Wright, just coincidentally, happens to also be the Buckingham County Attorney as a second job and... a second pay check.

As Commonwealth’s Attorney he is the prosecutor responsible for pursuing crooks and bad guys. This is a job that the voters gave him. He gets paid for this.

However as Buckingham County Attorney, a different and separate job. He is paid again, and quite handsomely I might add, by the Buckingham County Board of Supervisors to give the Board legal advice on a variety of County government matters.

This second job is a good job. It is also a good pay check… on top of and in addition to the pay check he gets to put bad guys away as Commonwealth's Attorney.

Think about that for a second.

Guess who signs that pay check and who probably has a lot of say about keeping Attorney E. M. Wright on the pay roll? Answer: The good Reverend Joe N. Chambers, Jr., Chairman of the Buckingham County Board of Supervisors.

Is there maybe a conflict of interest?

Do we really think that Commonwealth’s Attorney E. M. Wright has the purity of motivation, free of consideration of that attractive second pay check, to objectively pursue his boss, the good Reverend Joe N. Chambers, Jr., Chairman of the Buckingham County Board of Supervisors?

Call me a cynic… but I don’t think so.

I guess this is good news for Vice Chairman Brian Bates. He is not the only one who has problems on the Buckingham County Board of Supervisors.

The schools?

Until they clean up a few more fundamental problems with Buckingham County government, the schools, as critically important as they are, may be the lesser of more serious leadership and ethical problems.

Congratulations Vice Chairman Bates… you are no longer the only one on the spot.


Note: The photograph is of my favorite old time icons of foolishness, my friends Laural and Hardy. This is not to suggest the image of Chairman Chambers and Vice Chairman Bates. We would never want to suggest that the Buckingham Board of Supervisors might be led by fools.

Friday, July 14, 2006

A very scary guy


Recognize him now?

Jospeh Goebbels the archetype for modern propaganda, misinformation and disinformation.


No, the kindly looking "gentelman" featured in the July 8th, post is not a member of the local Board of Supervisors, in by-gone years.

Correct answer seems to have first been submitted by Jerry Griffin. Bingo! You get a cyber-cigar! Others got it right also.

It is heartening to see that others pay attention to history. We learn important lessons from history especially we learn to recognize danger when it is still in its infancy. By doing so, we can sometimes avoid a lot of misery.

The correct answer to our little quiz is Joseph Goebbels – the late Chief of the Reich Ministry of Information and Propaganda, from 1933 to 1945, for mass murderer Adolph Hitler and his Third Reich.

Geobbels was a very clever guy. A very bright guy. Excelling in academics he even held a PhD degree. That is why they called him Doctor Geobbels.

He did indeed pioneer the use of emerging technologies including the cinema, radio and…yes… even initiated in 1935 the very first application in the world of regular television service. With his natural intelligence, good education and appreciation of cutting edge technology, it is little wonder that he rose rapidly to the highest levels of Nazi leadership.

But don't let appearances of education, culture and refinement fool you.

Doctor Geobbels was a mean little man who fancied himself as a "ladies man" to compensate for his deep insecurities.

Goebles was a very scary guy. Very ambitious, passionate for his causes no mater how wrong they may be, ruthless in his dealings with perceived opponents. He had a win at any cost mentality and didn't care who had to pay the ultimate price. A very scary guy.

Remind you of anyone?

Goebbels is often pointed to by modern day political pundits as the archetype of those who would practice the dark sciences of propaganda, misinformation, and disinformation. His name is often invoked as the personification of bad government, running a muck, and deceiving the people into believing myths and lies typically for all sorts of improper motives.

Never could someone like this emerge in a position of power in a democracy… right?

Think again.

Even in America, “the home of the brave and land of the free” we see too often instances where our political leadership runs a muck and falls short of telling the people the truth. A little oversight here, a little cover-up there… it is a very slippery slope leading sometimes to wholesale abuse of political authority.

This can be seen in the highest or lowest political offices in the land… from the White House to the Courthouses.

Why, you might ask, in America, would our democratically elected government or any of its officials, ever want to fool the people?

I am not even going to attempt to answer that question!

Just remember, as American Psychologist Timothy Leary once wisely suggested: “Think for yourself and question authority.”

Don’t let scary people run your government.

Keep informed and question authority.

You will be glad you did.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Buckingham Official Evokes "Nuclear Option", New Southside Blogger Responds...


Normally Will covers all the "goings on" in Southside, but since I too have some family and friends in rural Southside Virginia I couldn't but help to notice the recent press in regard to an ugly (and very public) "war of words" between the Buckingham County Board of Supervisors and the County's School Board. You might even recall a piece that Will wrote a few months ago about this very issue.

Anyhow, it appears that an all out turf war has developed between the two elected boards. The issue seems to be over new school construction and the general future of the County's school system. Without knowing too much about all of the dynamics of this issue, it is obvious (to me) that the two elected boards have developed divergent opinions on how to address these very issues. Now, I don't live in Buckingham, but from what I can gather no one seems to question the need for upgrades and improvements to existing school facilities in Buckingham. Now it is up to civil debate if these upgrades include rehabing existing facilities, or contructing new facilities. This seems to be a fairly common debate in many communities throughout the Commonwealth...

But instead of acting like responsible and pragmatic elected offcials (I know this might be too high of a standard for some) and trying to work through these differences and find some area of common ground/understanding for the good of all the school children in the County, it appears that a member of Buckingham's Board of Supervisors recently chose to go on the offensive instead. Dr. Brian Bates, wrote a letter to the Farmville Herald (and get this) as a "citizen" and not the Vice-Chair of the County's Board of Supervisors. (Yes, he actually said this in his editorial!)

Well, citizen Bates in his editorial goes on to explain why he thinks the County should now have the Board of Supervisors appoint members to the School Board, as opposed to having them elected by the citizens of the County as they are now. Wow! I'm assuming that Dr. Bates doesn't have a doctorate in public relations, or well, diplomacy! (I do apologize for not linking Dr. Bates' editorial but the Herald DOES NOT archive their stories!)

Localities in Virginia appear to be split between appointing an electing School Board members. I really don't think there is anything wrong with either method. But for the Vice-Chair of the Board of Supervisors to wrtie a letter to the editor - during the middle of a contentious debate between the two boards - as a "citizen" seems nuts to me. Vice-Chariman Bates is either the most shrewd politician in Southside Virginia (think Tom Delay) or the most insane (think Tom Delay again)...I guess we will find out soon enough. I think in poker this is referred to as "going all in"!

Well, anyway a new blogger over in Prospect, Virginia - Ralphie - seems to have some close and personal connections to this issue, and he has an extremely colorful way of describing this situation in Buckingham. Give it a read if you get a chance, let's just say that Ralphie definitely "ain't from around these parts"....If citizen Bates was looking to "stir up a hornets nest" he just might have been successful! I wonder just how many Ralphie types live in Buckingham?

It certainly will be interesting to see how the citizens of Buckingham react to citizen Bates' proposition...stay tuned!

Related Reading:

Buckingham: Keep Electing School Board

Nuclear Option Chosen in War of Words

Monday, July 10, 2006

Town of Appalachia: A new sunrise.














An Update Report.

Brighter days to come.

The investigation widens.

Lessons for other communities.


Good news folks…

Metaphorically speaking, the good citizens of the little Town of Appalachia are waking up to a new sunrise and breathing in fresher air these days.

This is the result of the airing out of town hall and the removal of corrupt officials and their practices of cronyism and abuses of official offices for retribution, protection and financial gain.

As of this past week, the Appalachia Town Council was once again complete, with a full complement of Council members and… for the first time in a long time… a Mayor who didn’t have billowing clouds of corruption hanging over his head.


Readers of the Iconoclast will remember this most pitiful story that first broke last year.

The story started with reports that voters in this sleepy little Southwest Virginia Town were being bought off during the 2004 town elections with assorted bribes including six packs of beer, marijuana, and… the clincher… pork rinds! See previous posts here.

Initially it was kind of funny… but also so pitiful that a vote can be bought so cheap… A bag of pork rinds… Unbelievable…

But, as we now know, what started off as a bad joke has snowballed into a full blown Federal investigation and eventually a 300 page federal election-fraud indictment against 14 officials including the former Mayor, the former Town Manager, a former councilman, and others.

The trials for these initial indictments are scheduled for this fall.

Stealing votes, stealing elections, putting cronies in useful offices, abusing public offices for fun an profit. It was a slippery slope that took down the top dog politicians in the Town of Applachia.

The 300 page indictment is not the end of it. The investigation continues widen into organized illegal gambling, allegedly sanctioned and protected by town officials!

We can expect more "shoes to drop" in the coming months. Probably more indictments.

This is a sad story about a sorry bunch of politicians who sold out their integrity for money and inflated egos. This story is too often heard these days.

There are lessons that we might learn from the tragic experiences of thelittle Town of Appalachia. These lessons, if learned in time, can save others from suffering the same ignominious grief.

Just last week, the Iconoclast reported on an alarmingly similar case of cronyism and nepotism in Prince Edward County, Virginia.

We should know by now that cronyism and nepotism is a "gateway drug" for harder forms of official abuse of public office.

In the case of Appalachia, it apparently spread to retribution against political enemies and protection of illegal activities for friends. Now it is apparently extending to include large scale illegal gambling.

When politicians start giving out jobs to friends and family, those tainted employees are highly susceptible to other abuses.

Because of their connections, tainted employees serve a different master and may not follow the same rules that others are expected to follow. They know that they have friends in high places to whom they owe favors in return for their jobs and protection. Conditions are right for an escalating pattern of further abuse of public trust. Lots of temptations. A favor here. A favor there. Wheeling and dealing. Pretty soon, the public interest gets compromised and then forgotten and finally sacrificed completely.

The practice also sucks the morale out of honest public employees and sends message that integrity does not matter. Cronyism and nepotism, once it gets a toe hold, tends to spread and protect itself from perceived threats.

It is like a cancer on government. It keeps growing until it is killed or cut out.

But for now, back in the little Town of Appalachia the good town-folk can sleep a little easier knowing that they are back on the road to honest government. They have a ways to go yet and there will be some painful bridges to cross along the way.

But they are on their way to recovery.

And once they complete the process of cutting out the cancer of corrupt government, perhaps together the good citizens of Applachia will conclude that good government is worth jealously fighting for and protecting in the future for the common good of all citizens.

Congratulations citizens of Appalachia.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Can you identify this pioneer in radio, television and mass media?



Back in March, the Iconoclast introduced a new twist to our format to keep it fun, informative, and educational.

The idea then was to ask our readers to identify an image of an individual who - through their progressive ideals, thoughts, and actions - helped to shape our nation into not only the “home of the brave”, but also the “land of the free”.

The kindly looking gentleman pictured here was indeed a significant pioneer in the application of early radio and television technology and was unquestionably one of history’s most effective practitioners of the art and science of mass media. This man would make today’s master “spin doctors” pale by comparison!

From a purely technical perspective, this man could indeed be considered a progressive thinker… way ahead of his times… He helped shape the course of world events and contributed to the ascendancy of America as the world power we know today in ways he could have never imagined.

But be cautioned… not all progressive thinkers apply their innovations to honorable causes.

This is a trick question.

Who is this man and how did he contribute to make America “…the home of the brave and the land of the free”?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Seeking Higher Standards of Political Accountability in Virginia



Is the "Handcuffs and Prison Bars" standard of behavior good enough for Virginia elected officials?

How low can we set the bar for political accountability?

Is it time for recall reform in Virginia?


Readers of the Iconoclast may recall a series of articles we did back in February and March concerning Chesterfield County government officials and their high flying taste for jet fuel.

We poked some well deserved fun at County Administrator Lane Ramsey and Supervisor Dickie King for their $18,000 charter jet trip back to Chesterfield to deal with some unpleasantness involving the then Chairman of the Board and Supervisor Edward B. Barber .

All the while we made fun of County officials and their jet-setting around the country, there was a deadly serious personal tragedy and criminal matter unfolding in the life of then Chairman of the Board of Supervisors Edward B. Barber. The Iconoclast chose not to focus on what was then unproven allegations against this public official.

That personal tragedy and criminal matter came to a final head this past week and was reported in The Richmond Times Dispatch. The headlines read: “Chesterfield supervisor pleads guilty to sex counts.”

Allegations are now fact. I won’t go into the details here. You can read about it if you want. Frankly, I have no taste for or desire to “pile on” Supervisor Barber. Others are taking care of that nicely.

Since the plea agreement reduced the original felony sexual battery charges down to lower grade misdemeanor charges for essentially the same behavior, Supervisor Barber is legally permitted to retain his office representing the Midlothian District in Chesterfield County.

Thus far, and in spite of a fire storm of protest, Supervisor Barber seems determined to keep his elected seat as he is legally entitled to do. He is not a convicted felon which would automatically disqualify him from office.

Yes, citizens are collecting signatures to submit to the Circuit Court. No doubt they will get the requisite number of signatures. But the outcome is not at all certain. Supervisor Barber's "digression" did not involve any neglect of official duty, or misuse of office, or incompetence. Nor did the behavior clearly fit the other criteria stipulated by Virginia law for the removal of elected officials from office. By all accounts, Supervisor Barber has been a rather conscientious elected official.

So... exactly what grounds will a judge use to remove Supervisor Barber from office?

There are at least two high profile examples in Virginia of failed citizen petitions to remove from office bad elected officials: Richmond City Councilman Chuck Richardson in 1994 for self admitted drug use, and the York County Sheriff "Press" Williams for forcing sexual acts with an employe. Given the particulars of Virginia law, the likely results of a recall trial for Supervisor Barber remain doubtful and may be rendered moot by a politically forced resegnation in the coming days or weeks.

Nonetheless, there is an important public policy issue here that should be addressed. That issue is the inability of the people of Virginia to directly and democratically change the government when needed through lawful special recall elections.

What do voters in Virginia do about elected officials involved in objectionable behavior like in the Barber case but especially in cases where the behavior may be highly objectionable butless scandalous?

The case of former Lynchburg Mayor Carl B. Hutcherson Jr. is a fairly clear example of removal by felony conviction. Hutcherson resigned almost immediately as the felony conviction was disqualifying (of course Hutcherson may have had some appeals options still available).

But what if an elected official is alleged to be engaged in questionable moral or ethical behavior that falls short of a felony conviction? A good example of this is the recent case of former Richmond School Board Member Stephen B. Johnson. He was never charged, although he could have been. Mr. Johnson, after first having his provocative photos on the internet publicly exposed was then caught up in an embarrasing drug incident. While he was not legally disqualified, Mr. Johnson wisely chose to resign.

Even more basic, what if an elected official, by the preponderance of his or her actions or inactions, is deemed by the voters to no longer represent the interests of the voters? No particular reason... the voters are just fed up with the official maybe for a lot of little reasons.

The most dramatic recent example of this is the sucessful 2003 voter initiated special recall election of former California Governor Gray Davis.

The voters got fed up with Governor Gray Davis and went through the process provided by California law to compel a special recall election and democratically threw the guy unceremoniously out of office.

The process was not easy. This was a major endeavor involving a lot of work. It is not supposed to be easy. But the process is fair and democratic. It is a process that puts the final say into the hands of the citizens.

This is a good thing!

Here in Virginia, voters do not have the legal right to initiate a special recall election for any elected official. This is because of the unique provisions of Virginia Law that takes these important decisions out of the hands of the voters.

Specifically, Code of Virginia §24.2-233 provides that "Upon petition, a circuit court may remove from office any elected officer or officer who has been appointed to fill an elective office, residing within the jurisdiction of the court."

This Code provision goes on to spell out very limited and specific grounds by which an elected official may be removed including neglect of duty, misuse of office, incompetence in the performance of duties, various convictions of misdemeanor drug charges, and convictions of misdemeanor "hate crimes."

Golly... I didn't even know that there were any misdemeanor "hate crimes". I guess that means only a little hate was involved.

But, you get my point... by omission, there are lots of serious sins that are more or less tolerated as insufficient grounds for the removal of elected officials in Virginia.

The fact is, Virginia is one state that stands out in contrast with many other states as a non-recall state.

It is almost as if, our General Assembly does not trust the people to use good judgment in the political process. This is a curious thing and begs the question of why? Maybe this unusual law is a remanent of bad old days of Jim Crow. Or, maybe it is a reflection of the control mentality all too prevalent during the heyday of the Virginia Byrd Organization. Who knows?

As many as 36 of the 50 states allow special recall elections for at least locally elected officials (this would take care of the Barber case). In Virginia, no recall elections are permitted because instead we have a so called "recall trial." Only the circuit court judge can decide based on narrowly defined legal criteria. The final decision is taken away from the people.

Because of Virginia's rather unique laws (read non-voter friendly), we have here in Virginia what might be characterized as the "Handcuffs and Prison Bars Standard" of public accountability for elected officials.

So long as elected officials can avoid drug convictions, hate-crimes and felony convictions, there is a pretty good chance that anything else goes. Even misdemeanor sex crimes, deficient ethical behavior, and a whole host of other less than commendable behavior is "acceptable" for Virginia elected officials... at least so far as the law is concerned.

Perhaps it is time that the Virginia Governor, Attorney General and General Assembly take the initiative to reform Virginia's laws concerning the removal of unworthy elected officials.

The vast majority of all elected officials are good people who do a good job on behalf of the citizens who put them in office. These honorable civil servants set standards for their own behavior far higher than the law requires. These elected need not fear progressive recall laws.

However, as we know from the all to common news headlines, there are always a few elected officials who continue to dishonor their offices and push the envelope of ethical and/or moral behavior. These few "bad eggs" should not be allowed to hide behind weak and antiquated Virginia laws to keep their seats in office.

For that small minority of objectionable elected officials, Virginians deserve the right to initiate special recall elections.

Trust the voters to establish appropriate standards for public accountability for elected officials.

Make Virginia a "recall state."