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...

Monday, October 16, 2006

Big Bamboozler of Buckingham

Buckingham Schools make the grade!!!

But Buckingham Vice Chairman silent on big plans to remake School Board in his own image?

Is Supervisor Bates attempting to hoodwink community?

Greetings friends and former neighbors in Buckingham!

Recent news reports indicate that congratulations is in order for the Buckingham County School Division for having won accredidation for all division schools. A difficult challenge for any school division but all the more so when you have the political leadership engaged in open warfare as we have seen this past year in Buckingham.

Superintendent of Schools, Larry Massie gave appropriate recognition to all concerned for the accreditation success, including the students, teachers, principals staff and the School Board. He even acknowledged the important efforts of the Buckingham County Board of Supervisors which have "contributed to Buckingham County's ability to recruit and retain highly qualified instructional personnel."*

Yes indeed, it certainly helps when everyone is pulling in the same direction to get a tough job done, and it must be gratifying to see the good results of the cooperative efforts.

Speaking of everyone pulling in the same direction, what ever happened to Buckingham County Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman Brian Bates' plan to remake the Buckingham County School Board in his own image?

Because you asked, the Iconoclast has followed up on the story that originally broke in Buckingham earlier this summer.

This story was interesting because of the unusual reversal of normal circumstances. Like they say… there is no story in a case involving a dog biting a man… but when man bites a dog… now there is a story!

Such was the case when earlier this summer, Buckingham County Supervisor and Vice Chairman Brian Bates made a big splash in the local news concerning his plans to… how shall we say... roll back the principles of democracy a bit in Buckingham County to eliminate the pesky elected Buckingham County School Board that had been giving the Buckingham County Board of Supervisors some grief over the past year about how best to deal with the school facilities requirements for the county.

Supervisor Bates plan was to hold a new special referendum to reverse the 1998 county referendum that created a school board with members elected directly by the people. If successful, this new referendum would allow the Buckingham Board of Supervisors (himself included) to hand pick new school board members.

So, back in July, Supervisor Bates started his quest to gather signatures on a petition supporting a local referendum on changing from direct election of school board members to appointment by the Board of Supervisors. According to news reports, he needed only 865 signatures.

By August, The Farmville Herald reported that Supervisor Bates by his own account had collected a “pretty respectable” 512 signatures, but fell short of the needed 865 signatures. In the same news report Supervisor felt it appropriate to express offense to those who had suggested that he was trying to “take away the citizen’s right to vote” labeling that criticism as “dubious at best”.

Wow!!! 512 signatures in less than thirty days! Unbelievable!!!

On top of that, Supervisor Bates went on to claim that most of those 512 people who signed the petitions agreed with the Board of Supervisors position on the school facilities issue.

Gosh, it must be gratifying for a politician to enjoy such wide-spread support!

But then, it seems it is time for a reality check.

On the basis of emails we have received, it seems that some Buckingham County folks are skeptical of Supervisor Bates’ convenient claim of personal vindication of his position.

There were other questions.

If Supervisor Bates was so impressively successful in the petition drive in less than 30 days, wouldn't that suggest that the idea was an important one and that it enjoyed wide support? So, why stop now? Why not carry that petition forward and put the same question on the ballot in November 2007, concurrently with his re-election bid?

It only makes sense: if the refererendum is a good idea now, it will still be a good idea in 2007!

So in August, the Iconoclast asked Vice Chairman Bates for an independent verification of the petition signatures.

As of early September, the Iconoclast had received no word from Vice Chairman Bates.

That being the case, the Iconoclast again contacted Supervisor Bates directly by email at his office at Longwood University a few weeks ago. Again nothing.

We again contacted him last week and offered him a final opportunity to present his signatures of support or alternatively explain his position.

Thus far, Supervisor Bates has elected to ignore all of our invitations.


Perhaps it is because Vice Chairman Bates does not have and never did have 512 signatures supporting his plan. To borrow his own words, perhaps the petitions are... “dubious at best”.

Or perhaps, using our own words...the petitions and 512 signatures are a sheer fabrication so that Vice Chairman Bates could avoid having to admit that his initiative was such a humiliating failure.

If the signatures existed, it would be easy and wise for Vice Chairman Bates to allow an independent observer to drop by his office to see them.

Why would he claim to have the signatures if they did not exist?

What does it say about Vice Chairman Bates' character if he is making the whole story up?

Would a politician ever be so bold as to lie to his or her constituents? (This is obviously a rhetorical question.)

The Iconoclast offer to Supervisor Bates still stands: If Vice Chairman Bates produces the evidence, the Iconoclast will publish it here with apologies for ever doubting him.

On the other hand, if Vice Chairman Bates remains in hiding, we say his actions speak volumes concerning his character and worthyness to hold public office.

Has Supervisor Bates earned the new title: "The Big Bamboozler of Buckingham" ?

For all practical purposes, his actions seem to have put that question to rest.

NOTE: The quote (*) is from The Farmville Herald. The picture at the top of the page is not a real politician. It is the late, great W. C. Fields who sometimes played a variety of fictional roles including of that of bamboozling politicians and other assorted dishonorable characters. The picture below seems to be the real thing.


  • At 10/16/2006 8:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    He thought nobody would notice.

  • At 10/17/2006 9:19 AM, Anonymous mom of three said…

    I am really proud that everybody pulled together to show that the Buckingham schools could past the test. Superintendent Massie acted as both a wise leader and a scholar by commending essentially the entire community. Teamwork is important.

    But it does bother me, that a certain "headline hound" can take pot shots at the school board and then run for cover when things don't work out.

    Our school board is doing a good job in a bad situation. Wish I could say that about certain supervisors.

  • At 10/17/2006 9:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…


    I keep hoping Dr Bates will speak up and clear the record.. His silence is deafening.

  • At 10/17/2006 5:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    We no longer have kids in the Buckingham schools, but I still have enough memory to recall when we did.

    From these vague recollections, it seems to me that all this controversy we now have concerning what kind of schools, and where, etc. is to some degree the result of the failure of previous Boards of Supervisors to fix the problems when they had a chance. Well known problems were put off and the kids and teachers just had to learn to make do. They did and most survived it.

    But why would we want to go back to putting all the power in the hands of the Supervisors again? They had complete control for a good many years, and I remember how that turned out.

    Although it is not my battle to fight anymore, I say we need a school board that is ready, willing and able to fight for the education of the kids. We don't need a bunch of political lap dogs.

  • At 10/18/2006 10:31 PM, Anonymous Jim Bob said…

    I think it is cool that you are making Bates account for his own behavior. He is such an arrogant bastard always criticizing everybody else but never having to account for his own sorry ass. Turn up the heat.

  • At 10/19/2006 3:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Exactly what is it going to take to get someone to run against Brian Bates in the next election. Someone who is honest and looking out for the county's best interest. We have a vice-chair who is obviously a liar a chairman that has questionable character (at best). I think we need an entire new slate of elected officials to take over this county.

    The Board obviously has problems with the new Sheriff. They have shown him absolutely no support - if anything it looks like they are trying to put up roadblocks at every turn. I wonder why the Supervisors don't want the Sheriff of the County to do his job. Perhaps they have more to hide then we know about.

    Remember your safety and the safety of your children may be at stake when you vote for the supervisors in the next election.

    Perhaps DR. BATES or JOE CHAMBERS will decide to run for Sheriff next time. OOOOOOO that's scary.

  • At 10/24/2006 9:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It bothers me to no end that Buckingham is subjected to so much public fussing and fighting between our county leaders. It is like a bad marriage between people who got bigger but never really grew up.

    This isn't the first time that Mr. Bates acts all high handed and smarter than everybody else, just to stir up a hornets nest and then run. In spite of his overly high opinion of himself, he tends to be a little bit too fast and loose with the facts for my taste.

    We have a wonderful county and some really good people who are honest, trustworthy and perfectly capable of guiding this county back to respectability. Lets hope we have some real choices next year.

  • At 10/25/2006 3:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    any truth to the rumor Chairman Chambers has had more warrants served on him for illegally cutting timber in another county?

  • At 10/27/2006 3:52 PM, Blogger Will Vaught said…

    Readers, can anyone answer the previous writer's question? Please give us some details here.

  • At 10/30/2006 4:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Isn't that type of thing a matter of public record? Shouldn't there be some public records at the Courthouse or the Sheriff's Office?

  • At 11/16/2006 12:02 AM, Blogger Will Vaught said…

    Just by way of an update, the Iconoclast has not yet received a response from Vice Chairman Bates of Buckingham. This, in spite of multiple requests.

    New sources are telling us that Mr. Bates may have a little "vice" problem of his own and sometimes has trouble telling the truth.

    This may be the result of childhood insecurities or a temporary depravation of oxygen to the brain... who really knows? But bottom line... Bates has ignored all offers of independent verification of his petitions.

    Maybe the petitions exist only in a secret place in his sock drawer and that is private. We understand.

    We understand completely.


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