(A huge thank you to Steve Randolph for digging out the information!)
Part 1: The Players
Once upon a time during the first Dark Ages in Prince William County, in the year 1972, there were 7 magisterial districts and 7 supervisors. There was no at-large chairman. He was elected from the ranks. There was a school board. Each of the 7 members were appointed by the supervisor for that district. Well, there should have been a school board.
Five of the supervisors were new and 2 were incumbents.
From a frustrated friend of mine who prefers anonymity:
The $60,000 a year civil servants are who people turned to this past week in both Boston and in Texas. Public safety and support was mighty important. Yet the BOCS in Prince William County want to take a holiday away from this very group of people. Additionally, in the Texas plant explosion, a science teacher was the lead rescue person in getting the elderly and infirmed out of the convalescent home.
Taking a holiday away from municipal employees devalues their worth. Already Prince William County employees are overworked and treated disrespectfully. Just read a local blog. It has been this way since the crash. Many have no had respectable raises. Individuals are cannon fodder for local bloggers and those sitting around with an ax to grind.
Around 40 Prince William County residents weighed in on the county’s proposed budget Tuesday night at the McCoart administration building, most of them telling the Board of County Supervisors that the county needs more robust programs and not the cuts some supervisors are mulling.
Supervisors have, thus far, been split on both the proposed real-estate tax rate and whether to enhance or cut county programs. But many who showed up Tuesday said that cuts to the blueprint laid out by County Executive Melissa S. Peacor — which provides funding for additional police and firefighters, upgrades school fields, buys voting machines and hires school resource officers to safeguard the county’s middle schools, among other initiatives — would prove harmful.
If one reads the local conservative blogs one would think that most of the county wanted to cut the budget and move to a flat tax plan. Not so.
A top MARTA official tasked with helping overhaul the transit authority’s finances and business model has been indicted by a grand jury on charges of embezzlement.
The victim: the Washington, D.C., chapter of the Institute for Internal Auditors, an association whose members guard their employers against fraud.
“How did he think he would ever be able to get away with it?” said Michael Dixon, the chief deputy commonwealth’s attorney for Prince William County in the Virginia suburbs of Washington. “In this business, it is hard to be surprised sometimes.”
Perking up ears….did I hear Prince William County? Yes, I did. Who might this sterling character be? What top MARTA [Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority] official would have the Prince William County commonwealth’s attorney commenting on embezzlement?
Does anyone remember a character named Robin Howard? How about the kerfluffle that arose when Melissa Peacor recommended that the internal audit department for the county be let go? I seem to recall her being excoriated and ridiculed on blogs for suggesting that audits be handled differently. She was accused of cover up and basically picking on the folks. The Sheriff (of Notthingham) said “ Surely there will be a fair hearing for these whistle-blowers and they will not be summarily dismissed because Peacor wants to settle another score.”
It is no doubt this statement arises from my leadership of the nation’s toughest crackdown on criminal illegal immigration
In Prince William County, if you are arrested for a crime and it is determined that you are here illegally, then our law enforcement officers hand you over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Every person who is being arrested is checked, regardless of age, sex, race, etc. If upholding the Rule of Law makes me “an immigrant basher” than let them name call, I am willing to deal with such petty insults for the safety of Prince William County’s 425,000+ residents. Since we enacted our illegal immigration policy, there has been a 47.8% drop in violent crime and we have handed over more than 6,000 criminal illegal aliens to ICE.
One of my husband’s favorite sayings is “Captain Obvious” when someone says something so incredibly, well, obvious. There are parents in the PWC community that have suddenly come to the realization that our class sizes are woefully too full, so full, that quality instruction is being jepoardized. PWC school has reached the state’s legal limit for class size.
PWCS raised class sizes to the state limits this school year in response to current budget constraints. In the executive summary of the 2014 budget, Walts notes that reductions of teacher staffing ratios (or increases in class sizes) have led to savings of $4.3 million at the middle-school level and $5.3 million at the high school level. Walts also notes that next year’s budget does not restore those cuts.
In response to concerns about class sizes, Walts’s office has said it would cost $15 million annually to reduce average class sizes by one student at all levels. The Code of Virginia sets the following maximum class-size limits: 29 for kindergarten classes; 30 for grades one through three; and 35 for grades four through six. English classes are limited to 24 in grades one through 12, otherwise there are no state maximum class-size limits for grades seven and above, according to Dena Rosenkrantz, an attorney with the Virginia Education Association.
After taking several votes that ended up in a 4-4 tie, the Board of County Supervisors finally settled on an advertised tax rate of $1.195 which will amount to an average increase of 3.5%. This rate might go lower, it just cannot go any higher. The supervisors who supported the higher tax rate that passed were Caddigan, Nohe, Principi, May, and Jenkins. Stewart, Covington, and Candland voted against this rate.
Good for Caddigan, Nohe, Principi, May, and Jenkins to give us enough wiggle room to look at all scenarios. Teachers need a raise, a step increase and smaller class sizes. More school resource officers are needed. We need more police officers. Basically, if you talk to county employees, you will hear that they often do the work of 2 people. There doesn’t seem to be enough money to update IT products that would make the job of running a county easier.
Pete Candland gave an interesting presentation that called for increased money for teachers, more police officers and an investment in parks. What he didn’t explain to my satisfaction was where the money was coming from. He vaguely referenced FTE and carry over funds but I am not sure how that would work. It sounds like the county needs to fill those empty positions. Additionally, the increased money for teachers was not an across the board raise or step increase. Instead it was merit pay.
A local leader is changing his mind about the presence of officers in schools in the wake of the school shooting that killed 26 people last month in Newtown, Conn.
Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Cory Stewart originally pushed to cut the number of police officers in county schools due to budget problems. He estimated the cuts could save around $500,000 in the new fiscal budget.
However, Stewart is now pushing to increase the number of school resource officers throughout the county. Read more…
Tuesday brings another board of county supervisors meeting and more red meat for the blogosphere. The red meat lately has come from the supervisors budget time.
Remember last spring when Corey Stewart pretty much told us that if we were going to attract business we were going to have to have services that people wanted? He actually mouthed the words that taxes might go up. All that has been forsaken it appears and he is now back to Tea Party Mentality.
The problem with Tea Party Mentality is that Prince William County isn’t a poor county. We are the 9th richest county in the nation and have the second largest school system in the state. Our school system is suffering. Teachers aren’t getting raises and the per pupil classroom ratio is the highest in the state. There are rumblings now to “adjust” the amount of money given to the schools. Currently the school system receives 56.75% of the revenue. I certainly don’t think anyone intends to give the schools any more money. That would be a first. There are also rumblings about the BOCS having more input into the School Board budget. I do not believe this is legal. If it is, it shouldn’t be. Why have a school board then?
Today is the much awaited BOCS meeting where carry over funds are decided and where Pete Candland’s Conflict of Interest Resolution is supposed to be codified. County attorney Horan, many think at the direction of Chairman Corey Stewart, has advised that his Resolution would violate the law. Many citizens are crying FOUL over this suggestion.
Conflict of interest discussions have dominated the county landscape ever since Supervisor Wally Covington attempted to slide $100k to Rainbow riding where his wife served in a leadership capacity until very recently. Even though Covington pulled back his request after the blogosphere went wild over his audacity, it was like he had stepped in indelible horse manure and he simply has not been able to get it off his boots. The horsey stuff has also wafted over to the other supervisors and it has been behind most of the discussion about conflict of interest.
People in Prince William County government report that if Prince William County were an actual business, it would have gone bankrupt because of pure inefficiency and refusal to modernize. That sure paints a different picture than El Jefe the chairman paints.
Corey Stewart tried to tell us, in his recent letter to the editor in the News & Messenger, that Prince William County ranks above all others; so much so that the federal government ought to follow our model. Why is he crowing, blowing and bragging? He wants the supposed county accomplishments on his personal resume for his bid for Lt. Governor. Corey wants us to believe that our taxes haven’t risen and that government is acting responsibly, all while forking over tax payer money to his power broker buds heading up pet projects. In turn, his war chests are filled. Deepthroat tells another story.
Corey tries to sell the taxpayers a bill of goods based on tooth fairy money and spending. He tells us rubes what he thinks we want to hear. In the first place, if you lower the tax rate and raise the real estate assessment, you haven’t lowered taxes. Money talks and we know what walks.
The natives seem to be restless down at McCoart Building if one holds one’s ear to the ground and reads the blogs.
Although it does not seem like much is going on in Prince William County, actually, a great deal is happening, mostly behind the scenes. Maybe what isn’t happening is even more telling.
The Sheriff apparently has a bounty on his head (and other parts) and has had what is more politely described as a change of venue in the eyes of the county chair….at least according to the Sheriff of …Not-tingham. He has accused the chairman of having one outrageous temper tantrum over his mere existence.
Meanwhile, a little birdie has dropped a little roll of paper on my front porch telling of another temper tantrum directed at a rather high ranking employee. Does anyone have confirmation of such a thing happening? It was done in the public arena or semi-public. How many tantrums can one person have? I want a front row seat for this Tuesday’s BOCS meeting.
Corey should have and did apologize to Mr. Bergman for last week’s snit fit. I still don’t know what Mr. Bergman did wrong.
Corey also directed his anger at anonymous cowardly bloggers. Oooops! I expect he means some of that diatribe at me. Let’s discuss that before moving on. First off, I have never attacked anyone’s family. I have not and I will not. Anyone who knows me or knows this blog knows that does not happen. I will challenge a supervisor over his/her behavior as a supervisor or policy but I leave family out of it. Hell, we don’t even allow county employees to be attacked. They can’t fight back.
Corey, email me and I will gladly tell you my name. It isn’t a secret. I just chose not to put it on the Internet. I have children who are adults and who work in town. I don’t want my big mouth to have anything to do with their success or failure. If you don’t know who I am, you might be about the only person in town. Use email@example.com
The Henrico County Board of Supervisors has dropped the traditional prayer before its meetings.
At a June 12 meeting, the board took up the appeal of an approved plan of development for a mosque on Hungary Road. With dozens of Muslims in the packed meeting room, the Rev. Tommy Knighten, associate pastor for children and families at Staples Mill Road Baptist Church, delivered the invocation, closing with “in Christ’s name I pray.”
The next day, County Manager Virgil R. Hazelett received an email saying that such a prayer “at a government meeting that is set to determine the fate of a Muslim religious center serves no other purpose than to create an atmosphere of hostility.”
County Attorney Joseph P. Rapisarda Jr. declined to release the name of the email’s author.
The email went on to say, “It would sadden me greatly if I were to learn that Henrico County viewed me as less important due to my lack of membership in the ‘right’ group” and asked the board to stop having prayers at its meetings.
Last week I stipulated that we weren’t going to be hanging out on Sherwood Forest, mainly because I was uncomfortable with some unverified accusations. I know of too many disgruntled employees out there who want to take a shot here, there and everywhere at supervisors and the upper ranking management. That is not to say that I can’t read and file away information, however.
The Sheriff seems right on about Rainbow Riding. He says it is a fine charity but that we shouldn’t have to pay for it. He also alludes to a little too much family being involved. I can handle that and I agree. I have done much of this research myself so I am not uncomfortable with much of his findings. Most of it is a matter of public record. The taxpayers of Prince William County should not be footing the bill for Rainbow Riding. Period. The services are a luxury, not a necessity. Wounded Warriors have other resources. Perhaps military funds could help out there rather than the taxpayers.