To whom it may Concern (i.e. All Prince William County residents and Tax payers):
It has come to our attention that Supervisor Wally Covington, Brentsville District Supervisor, intends to give away $100,000 from his discretionary magisterial funds to the non-profit organization Rainbow Riding. This resolution is to be voted on at the BOCS meeting on Tuesday, November 29.
Rainbow Riding is a worthwhile organization that provides therapy riding for children with physical and mental disabilities. People are often hesitant to say what they are thinking when questioning process. Especially when children are involved as beneficiaries. However, we cannot ignore irregularities when those irregularies involve public money.
Allow us to be crystal clear: This is not an issue regarding the credibility of Rainbow Riding or the services that they provide to a very specific population. Instead, this is an issue about how county funds are spent and the degree of transparency involved in the determination of who will receive these funds.
During the past year, this blog has posted several articles regarding the permitting process or lack thereof for a huge riding arena constructed for the Rainbow Riding facility. It became clear to citizens that Rainbow Riding was exempt from the regular processes that other residents are required to follow. For example, the county informed us that this huge building, equipped with seats and bleachers, and bathroom facilities, was classified as a “barn.” In the Rural Crescent, barns are not required to go through the permitting process. Then, as now, we dispute the idea that a huge complex riding arena the size of this structure is a barn. A riding arena is not a barn and a barn is not a riding arena.
From the very beginnings of negotiations with Toll Brothers, somehow Rainbow Riding became an integral part of that process. How did a small 501C (3) organization become entrenched in negotiations regarding county land use? The 45 acres that Rainbow Riding sits on is public that excludes the public at large.
Fast forward to the present. Paying only a pittance for the public land this organization occupies; now the taxpayers will be required to put $100,000 more into a private organization.
Does anyone else find it troublesome that Supervisor Covington’s immediate family members are in leadership roles at Rainbow Riding? Is there a fair process for the allocation of county funds to non-profits? Or better yet, is there even a process? How can citizens be assured that favoritism does not come in to play when taxpayer funds are being distributed to various organizations? Should being an elected official entitle one to take care of family and friends’ favorite charities and organizations? At what point do we question whether this isn’t nepotism?
Note: this article was originally published 11/24/11 in the evening. Thanksgiving night. I moved it up several days as I felt it was an important story to have out there. We do that with stories we want to keep active.
The time stamps stay behind the scenes and can be used for documentation should the need ever arise.