The Commonwealth Iconoclast

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

Wednesday, 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


  • At 7/12/2006 12:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Now I will give Brian this, he is more attractive to look at than Kim Jon Il, but, you know the two definately have lots of similarities now that I think about it. such as: egos the size of a small continent, they love control, and they both think they are the center of the universe.

    Supervisor Bates' fingerprints have been on loads of other controversies in our County and region for several years. Indeed he might have just dealed himself a bad hand this time.

    "We have learned that power is a positive force if it is used for positive purposes."

  • At 7/12/2006 1:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Supervisor Bates is out collecting signatures these days. I just hope he comes by my house. I can probably arrange for that well deserved ass kicking that others have suggested.

  • At 7/12/2006 1:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Supervisor Bates is a very intelligent man who means well most of the time. Unfortunately, his personality has become an issue and he has become a lightning rod for too much controversy. Perhaps, he would be wise to step back and take a leave of absence. We all need a breather here and we need to start solving some of these school problems. Thank you.

  • At 7/12/2006 3:29 PM, Anonymous CeCe said…

    Mr. Woodley's editorial in the Farmville Herald states that voters in Buckingham "overwhelmingly embraced elected School Boards in a November, 1992 referendum by a vote of 3,630 to 800."

    People are funny like that I guess, they seem to prefer to vote for their elected officials.

    I see that Dr. Know-it-All is a Archaeology professor at Longwood in Farmville.

    I say it's about time the voters in Buckingham send Dr. Know-it-All back to the stone ages where he belongs.

  • At 7/12/2006 8:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Maybe Bates should take a permanent leave of absence.

  • At 7/12/2006 11:32 PM, Anonymous a concerned parent said…

    This has all been very entertaining, especially the comments. But it is important to remember the serious underlying issues. This is about serving the needs of the children of Buckingham County.

    The problem, it seems to me, is that Supervisor Bates has unwisely and inappropriately interjected his personality to dominate an issue that in reality belongs to no one person. It is a community issue and it belongs to those citizens who have something at stake.

    By interjecting his personality through such grandstanding, the issue becomes all about Supervisor Bates' little war against those who disagree with him. The move to eliminate the elected school board is an obvious ploy to vanquish his perceived "enemies" who, in this case, appear to represent a large part of Buckingham County.

    Given that Supervisor Bates has thrown down the gauntlet so brazenly, to challenge so many, it is going to be very difficult for him to gracefully deescalate the crisis he has created.

    I agree with the previous writer, it would be best if Supervisor Bates would remove himself from the situation so that the community can move ahead.

  • At 7/13/2006 12:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Maybe the citizens of Buckingham organize a "counter petition" to recall Brain Bates from the Board? Now I'd be willing to help canvas he county for folks to sign that!

    It appears that Bates' ego is bigger than his brains.

  • At 7/13/2006 10:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Supervisor Bates recent letter to the Herald opens by suggesting that he is writing as a taxpayer of Buckingham and not in his capacity as a member of the Board of Supervisors. While it is perhaps true that he is a taxpayer, this opening statement reveals to me that Supervisor Bates is presuming that the average Buckingham citizen has a very low level of intellegence and will accept anything he says as unquestioned fact.

    This notion that Supervisor Bates can somehow compartmentalize his various roles into separate "boxes" and that they have nothing to do with each other is rediculous. That he would even say this is enough to give me pause to question his fittness to serve in office. What else is he saying that doesn't make any sense?

    If Supervisor Bates wants to speak as a taxpayer and restore his credibility, he should tender his resignation from office immediately. Maybe then we citizens can believe that he is speaking from true conviction and not to advance his not so well concealed hidden agenda.

    By the way, just wondering,does Supervisor Bates have any children in the schools?

  • At 7/13/2006 10:06 AM, Blogger Tom Wise said…

    Actually, there are provisions in Virginia to recall elected officials, but (as Will pointed out on July 5th) in Virginia it is a complicated process, and rarely used. Bates's actions really appear to be poor judgment, and not - in my opinion - egregious enough to warrant a recall.

    I agree 100 percent with the comments provided by "a concerned parent", this person points out that Mr. Bates is using this as an attempt to seek retribution againts perceived poltical enemies on the School Board.

    I will also like to note, that from all of my sources, Buckingham's School Board appears to have the reputation of being a reponsive, and professional elected body. It doesn't appear though that Buckingham's BOS is generally thought of in the same manner, to say the least.

    Additionally, I've received multiple e-mails which suggest that Vice Chairman Bates favorie machination - during a controversy - is to suddenly become a "private citizen" as opposed to his elected or appointed position. Citizen Bates then feels free to say what he wants...As Mr. Woodley (editor of the Herald) points out, this is a ludicrous and asinine position to assume. It is impossible for an elected official to move back and forth from "citizen" to an elected official, when they see fit.

    Either way in my opinion Vice Chairman Bates's letter last week to the Herald is tantamout to political suicide. Think about it: do you really think voters will vote to approve a referendum to take away their ability to vote? Afterall, in 1992 the voters in Buckingham OVERWHELMINGLY voted (via a referendum) to directly elect the County's School Board.

    In closing, I would advise Vice Chairman Bates to "lay low" for the next few years. Also, I don't think it would be advisable to go "door to door" and ask people sign a petition in order to take thier ability to vote away from them...once again if I were advising Bates I'd tell him to stop writing letters to the editor, and just hope the voters of Buckingham have amnesia before the next election...


  • At 7/13/2006 12:09 PM, Blogger Ralphie said…

    Howdy! I go out of town for a few days and a bunch of ruckus is kicked up. Thanks for the mention Mr. Wise, you boys do some fine handy work!

    Back home we'd say Dr. Know-it-All has a severe case of armadillo brain.

    You know I see where Dr. Know-it-All has a fancy computer page. He must be reading. Since you love writing letters Dr. Know-it-All why don't you come in here and do some explaining?

    But now that I think about it, skunks usually like to spray and then run for cover.

    Have a good one!

  • At 7/14/2006 5:17 PM, Anonymous mom of three said…

    Mr. Bates, is probably the biggest problem in this school dispute, but the Buckingham County government has has other problems. I think they all contribute to make this problem with the schools worse. You should look into this matter more deeply. Thank you so much for giving us parents an opportunity to speak our minds

  • At 7/16/2006 2:06 PM, Anonymous dillwyn dad said…

    Seems to me that a lot of these problems started when Bates came on the board. Of course, there is plenty of room for different opinions on how our little county can best serve the kids. And I am not saying that there is any one perfect answer. But this issue is just too important to entrust to one bully who can't work with others. Thanks.

  • At 7/17/2006 11:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    1st-hand experience: Ego beyond belief, will not accept anyone's "opinion" if it differs from his own i.e. will not let you posess your own opinion because you are not entitled and at his level, will make war on anyone that disagrees with him about anything, nowhere near as intelligent as he thinks he is (maybe his greatest downfall,) manipulation is his greatest past-time, in it for the sole purpose of self-promotion. I'm getting sick to my stomach thinking about it. Best thing for him to do is to go away forever - maybe dig things up on a deserted island somewhere so the rest of us don't have to put up with it.

  • At 7/17/2006 4:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    i concur with your description of Bates 101%. You obviously know him too. He can't even participate in something as benign as a local volunteer organization (not metioning names) without causing a stink. sad, sad, sad

    by the way, does he have any kids in the County's school system. Or does he send them to Fuqua or something?

    Thank you Tom for this forum. The frustration level with Bates and certain other members of the Board is high at this moment. This forum has provided a bit of satifaction and release.

    Keep up the good work!

  • At 7/18/2006 2:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Seems to me that the solution to the current impasse is easy.

    The Board of Supervisors should provide a certain amount of money each year for addressing school facilities needs. The School Board should then decide what priorities the money should be invested in.

    In the event that either board is irresponsible (for example if the Supervisors fail to achieve reasonable funding levels, or if the School Board spends the available money unwisely) then the voters have a very clear picture of which rascals should be thrown out of office at the next election.

    We voters elected a Board of Supervisors AND A SEPARATE School Board. We expect both boards to do their respective jobs.

    It is not appropriate that one individual impose his will on everybody else.

  • At 7/19/2006 5:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Just wondering if Supervisor Bates has any thoughts on this matter that he would like to share with the rest of us or is he on some kind of vacation. Just wondering.

  • At 7/19/2006 6:50 PM, Blogger Ralphie said…

    If I may offer, a boy with his stupendous intellegence might be a little bit uncomfortable trying to communicate with uneducated people like us. Besides, these days he is probably off on some mountain top discussing the meaning of life with the Dali Lama.

  • At 7/20/2006 9:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I see BB received his PHD from the "University of London"...I wonder if this is an accredited school? It just seems odd to me.

    I'm sure Longwood properly vets all of its academic staff. I studied at Middlesex University in London for a semester. I guess it is reasonable to assume nothing is shady there.

    You never know though - crazier things have been known to happen.

  • At 7/21/2006 10:04 PM, Blogger Brian Lee said…

    Attention Prince Edward County residents. If you want to change the way your school board is selected please click on the link below.


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