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...

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.


  • At 7/15/2006 6:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Do these ass clowns really think the voters of Buckingham are going to let this Board tell us who gets to serve on the School Board?


  • At 7/16/2006 1:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Maybe there is nothing funny going on with Chairman Chambers and the commonwealths attorney/county attorney Mr. Wright. But it sure makes one wonder just how objective the commonwealths attorney can be when his alterego, the county attorney is picking up his paycheck from Chairman Chambers so to speak.

  • At 7/16/2006 3:26 PM, Anonymous Tim S. said…

    Tom, you may be a cynic but maybe for a good reason. Here in Lynchburg our Honorable Mayor, the Reverend Carl B. Hutcherson, Jr. was just convicted of ripping off his church's charity fund to meet some personal expenses. His problem was that he did not have a good old boy Commonwealth's Attorney on a tight leash. Unfortunately for him, Mayor Hutcherson had to tangle with the Feds. With the felony conviction, he is now history.

  • At 7/16/2006 4:21 PM, Anonymous been there and done that said…

    Don't forget Dr. Leonidas Young, former Mayor of our fair city of Richmond and pastor of the Fourth Baptist Church. In the end, he pleaded guilty to fraud, obstruction, and tax evasion. Power has a way of going to some peoples heads. It doesn't matter how holy or smart they think they might be.

  • At 7/16/2006 5:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    That is real interesting that Chairman Chambers figures that this embarrassing situation is "politically motivated."

    I swear, do all politicians say the first thing that pops into their heads and assume that people fall for it?

    How does Chairman Chamber's figure that his unauthorized cutting of somebody elses timber has become some kind of "politically motivated" act against him?

    In this regard Chairman Chambers and Vice Chairman Bates are two sorry peas in a pod. They can't accept responsibility for their own actions and want to blame everything on somebody else.

  • At 7/16/2006 10:31 PM, Anonymous Trees Grow Back said…

    I agree. Mr. Burns is trying to stain the name of a good man and community leader. So Mr. Chambers axed 50 acres of his hardwoods with a value of over 100K? Stop your crying, it will grow back by the times his grandkids finish college.

    Surely smells of dirty politics on Mr. Burn's part to me.

  • At 7/17/2006 10:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    That is interesting about the Commonwealth's Attorney wearing also the hat of the County Attorney.

    How were we supposed to know that? There seems to be no mention of who the County Attorney is on the County's website. Is this a secret? How long has this been going on?

    I guess if our County officials get in a bind they know that they have friends in high places.

  • At 7/17/2006 4:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    One thing you seem to be overlooking is that Laurel and Hardy were acting. Chambers & Bates are serious.

    There's an idea, the Bates n' Chambers comedy hour. Broadcasted once a month live from Buckingham County's Court House.

  • At 7/17/2006 5:19 PM, Blogger Tom Wise said…

    Have your say Buckingham: Look at the web poll just posted today...

  • At 7/18/2006 10:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I suppose it would be too much to ask that the County Administrator investigate whether it is appropriate or not to have Mr. Wright as the county lawyer and the prosecutor at the same time. Seems like someone should be looking into this question.

  • At 7/18/2006 4:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    "politically motivated" I think not, if it is why do it more than a year out from the next election? After all voters have a short memory, who gonna remember this in November 2007?

    Country mouse

  • At 7/19/2006 12:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Many have asked if Dr. Know it all has children in the Buckingham county Schools--answer no--he is not married and as far as the public knows has no children.

  • At 7/22/2006 5:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I have a question...What happens if E.M. Wright while wearing his Commonwealth's Attorney hat, must prosecute someone, whether corporate or private whom has hired him as their personal attorney and holds him on retainer, which I would assume any smart business man (timber or otherwise) would? Does the deeper pocket win? And as for Mr. Chambers...he has been cutting timber long enough to know better!! A 50 acre mistake for someone who has been in the timber business as long as Mr. Chambers has been is no mistake. He saw $$ and figured no one would notice. Are these people we want leading our County????? I think not!!

  • At 7/07/2011 2:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    a good man named keith smith said mr. chambers "accidently" cut some of his timber while cutting some neighboring wood. when he informed the good pastor mr. chambers told him he'd come by at the end of the week and they'd get it straight. being a goodhearted gentlemen, keith smith thought he'd take the reverend at his word. end of the week came and when mr. smith finally got a hold of mr. chambers he was told "my equipment is out of those woods, you'll never prove i was in there."


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