Prince William

Citizens for Balanced Growth

BOCS’ Latest Power Grabs Include Green New Deal-Style Mandate on All + Financial Lawsuit Against Dissenters

[Mass email to Prince William County citizens]

Fellow Prince William county citizens, taxpayers, homeowners, and consumers:

Here are some recent developments regarding Prince William County’s short- and long-term political and economic situation that we think you should be aware of.

First the Republicans — In the previous decade-and-a-half of usually 6-2 Republican-majority Boards of County Supervisors (BOCS), a majority of Republican supervisors and two Democrats, John Jenkins and Hilda Barg, typically favored out-of-control residential growth that overcrowded our roads and schools, damaged the environment, reduced property values, and then forced taxpayers to indirectly subsidize the very thing that was tormenting them.  For 14 years we, Prince William Citizens for Balanced Growth (PWCBG), joined with allies to relentlessly fight against this misgovernance and corruption — unmasking and working against the BOCS supervisors who endlessly supported it.

Then the Democrats — Since Jan 2020, the county has had a Democratic majority BOCS that has consistently shown its clear intent to imitate the previous Republicans’ abuse of taxpayers and citizens.  This includes continued and possibly even intensified overcrowding of schools and roads and environmental damage, as the Dem majority one-by-one approves small-area residential development plans to increase the county’s population by a total of ~100,000 as soon as possible.  But in addition to happily imitating their predecessors’ abusive land use policies, the new Dem BOCS majority has now virtually unanimously shown that it also intends to systematically violate citizens’ First Amendment rights, ignore the rule of law when convenient, increase taxes and spending even during severe economic downturns, abuse minority homeowners and workers, and financially attack dissenters.  (See, for example:  https://www.princewilliamtimes.com/news/supervisors-seek-reimbursement-for-95-000-in-legal-fees-for-failed-foia-lawsuit/article_2a68280c-24eb-11eb-b9a2-2ff2ae0e207c.html  and   https://pwcbg.org/2020/10/judges-ruling-on-prince-william-supervisors-actions-sets-dangerous-precedent-what-you-can-do/  and  https://pwcbg.org/2020/10/wheeler-violated-laws-jurisdictions-in-godwin-bypass-gambit-foia-case-denied-on-technicality-rule-of-law-how-to-create-real-unity/  and  https://pwcbg.org/2020/09/wheeler-shills-big-for-developers-in-west-county-continues-assault-on-rights-rule-of-law-low-cost-housing-residents-leading-local-news-org-muzzled/  and  https://pwcbg.org/2020/07/summary-updates-bocs-chair-wheeler-undermining-our-freedoms-prosperity-11-examples/  and  https://pwcbg.org/2020/06/letter-to-bocs-on-19-may-bipartisan-vote-ending-lockdown/  and  https://pwcbg.org/2020/04/urgent-plea-to-bocs-dem-majority-regarding-31-march-chance-to-fix-defects-in-devlin-rezoning/  and  https://pwcbg.org/2020/03/chair-wheeler-holding-semi-public-31-mar-bocs-meeting-to-implement-greatly-increased-emergency-powers-suspension-of-public-comment/

Furthermore, as if all of the above were not enough, the BOCS Dem majority is also proudly indulging itself in increasingly expensive, yet unexamined social policies — policies pursued with great zealotry and incantantion, but no supporting data or evidence, definitions of terms, standards to determine success, or impact statements, including economic impact.   Political zealotry is no substitute for professionalism and policies built on cool analysis of facts, data, evidence, and impacts on citizens, especially economic impacts. 

Boy, have I got a Green New Deal for you — A case in point is the following “Green New Deal”-style proposal to be voted on by the BOCS on November 17, Tuesday .  Mandates to be enforced include the following (see attached BOCS agenda for 17 Nov, item 13D, for full text):   

“…BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Prince William Board of County Supervisors directs staff to incorporate into the Comprehensive Plan goals of 100% of Prince William County’s electricity to be from renewable sources by 2035, for Prince William County Government operations to achieve 100% renewable electricity by 2030, and for Prince William County Government to be 100% carbon neutral by 2050;

“BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Prince William Board of County Supervisors directs staff to begin to work on recommendations for the creation of a public advisory body charged with advising on potential enhancements to the Community Energy Master Plan (CEMP) to achieve the goals of the above-stated Comprehensive Plan changes; …”

So here we have yet more uninformed, recklessly undefined and unsubstantiated, yet mandated county policy that sounds fine at first, until one scratches even a millimeter below the surface.  (See the following, including the first three bullets, for a vision of where the county seems to actually be headed if it continues to adopt politically trendy, but poorly-conceived policies:  https://pwcbg.org/2020/11/wsj-is-californias-current-trajectory-also-pw-county-and-virginias-just-a-few-years-behind/   See also Q6 in the 12 November email below.)

Note that Kenny Boddye-D, the Occoquan Supervisor who is sponsoring this measure, has not responded to any of our seven questions in the 12 November email below.  Such unwillingness to be held answerable or accountable to anyone — least of all ordinary taxpayers, citizens, homeowners, and voters — seems, increasingly, to be part of the ruling Democrats’ playbook in Prince William County.  (For example, Potomac Local  noted in a 2 Nov 2020 email to subscribers that with regard to the Manassas mayoral and city council candidates, “none of the Democrats agreed to be interviewed about their campaign(s).”  Potomac Local also reported on 27 Oct that attempts by the Prince William Chamber of Commerce to invite the Manassas Democratic candidates to attend candidate forums were also unsuccessful.)

You get what you pay for — Remember that the kind of local government we get depends on us:  whether it is doctrinaire, oppressive, extremist, and unresponsive … or whether it instead is truly working for all citizens, the greatest good for the greatest number while protecting the rights of all minority groups.  Bad government depends on our apathy and willingness to look the other way, while good government depends on our willingness to speak up and protest when our rights and well-being are threatened.  The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.

We end with a quote from an 1858 speech by Abraham Lincoln:  “What constitutes the bulwark of our own liberty and independence?”  He then answered, “It is not our frowning battlements, our bristling sea coasts, our army and our navy. … Our reliance is in the love of liberty which God has planted in us.”

You may want to contact the  BOCS@pwcgov.org  to protest against this Green New Deal-style proposal and county-government-financed attacks on political dissent as described in the first hyperlink above.  Also please feel free to share via email, social media, etc. the following link to this item:   https://pwcbg.org/2020/11/pwc-bocs-latest-power-grabs-include-green-new-deal-style-mandate-on-all-financial-assault-on-dissenters/

Sincerely,

Ralph & Kathy Stephenson
Prince William Citizens for Balanced Growth

Only in the bright light of public scrutiny can the common good be secured,
while in darkness and obscurity the interests of the powerful and affluent prevail.



———- Forwarded message ———
From: Stephenson, Ralph & Kathy <stephenrkg@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, Nov 12, 2020, 2:20 PM
Subject: Kenny: Questionsd on Cost/Mitigations of BOCS Proposal for All Electricity To Be 100% Green by 2035
To: Boddye, Kenny <kboddye@pwcgov.org>
Cc: Stephenson, Ralph & Kathy <stephenrkg@gmail.com>

Hi, Kenny.  Hope you’re doing well and will be able to take a well-deserved break or two with loved ones over the holidays.

At the bottom of this thread, we’ve excerpted key passages from the attachment, the green electricity proposal that you’ll be sponsoring for the 17 Nov BOCS meeting.  Here are some questions about that proposal:

Q1:  What will this proposal, if implemented, cost electricity users per year each year, including estimated inflation, from 2020 thru 2035?

Q2:  Ditto for Prince William County Government operations thru 2030 to achieve 100% renewable electricity and thru 2050 for PWC Government to be 100% carbon neutral?

Q3:  What will be the cost to and economic impact on businesses, consumers, homeowners, renters, and taxpayers?

Q4:  If the financial, economic, and possible environmental costs of these proposals are not known, why is this proposal being presented before they are known and advertised, and thus without county business, consumer, and taxpayer knowledge of what the BOCS is signing us up for?

Q5:  Wouldn’t a slower pace of residential development, allowing schools and roads to catch up to demand, and preserving the Rural Crescent help the county meet reasonable green goals?  Yet, current county planning intends to increase the population by at least 100,000 over the next few years.  Won’t that make meeting green goals even more difficult, perhaps even requiring relatively last-minute, poorly-conceived, draconian financial, economic, and environmental measures that will severely damage the county’s economy, taxpayers, and consumers?  (Economic and financial weakness, on the one hand, and successful environmental preservation, on the other hand, rarely, if ever, go hand-in-hand.)

Q6:  Has any serious thought been given to possible, even likely, unintended negative consequences of the attached proposal?  For example, see second question of Q5 paragraph above.  Please note that the massive, ever-worsening yearly fires in California (and other West Coast states) have been largely caused by irrational, extremely expensive, politically- (not economically- and environmentally-) driven environmental regulations such as banning controlled forest burns and enforcing on public utilities mandates they cannot meet, resulting in underfunded, overburdened, poorly-maintained electricity networks, leading to fires and other environmental damage that has actually greatly worsened air pollution, and thus probably climate change as well, throughout many parts of the Western US.  These are examples of the unintended negative environmental consequences that can result when naive environmental purism is aggressively pursued. (Note: We actually follow such issues because one of us grew up in California and both of us still have strong ties to the region.)

Q7:  Is nuclear power, such as from the nearby Lake Anna facility, being considered by PW County as part of its proposed green solution? [Q7 not in original email to Supervisor Boddye.]

Please always question orthodoxy, especially political orthodoxy.


Yours truly,

Ralph & Kathy Stephenson
Prince William Citizens for Balanced Growth

Only in the bright light of public scrutiny can the common good be secured,
while in darkness and obscurity the interests of the powerful and affluent prevail.

WSJ: Is California’s Current Trajectory also PW County and Virginia’s … Just a Few Years Behind?

OPINION  COMMENTARY (The Wall Street Journal)
California, Love It and Leave It
Bad policy has made the state unlivable, so I moved my family and my venture-capital firm to Texas.
By Joe Lonsdale
Nov. 15, 2020 3:37 pm ET

I love California, but I had to leave. I grew up in Fremont, attended Stanford, and have spent most of my adult life in the San Francisco Bay Area, founding technology companies like Palantir and Addepar and investing in many others. In 2011 I founded 8VC, a venture-capital firm that today manages more than $3.6 billion in committed capital. Few top venture capitalists consider living anywhere other than California and a handful of global financial centers, but I am moving myself and dozens of my 8VC colleagues to a new land of opportunity: Texas.

The harsh truth is that California has fallen into disrepair. Bad policies discourage business and innovation, stifle opportunity and make life in major cities ugly and unpleasant.

Forty years ago my parents came to California because you could accomplish anything in the Golden State. Government policy facilitated the entrepreneurial spirit. Dreamers and doers could thrive. The burst of activity in tech, finance, medicine, energy and many other industries lasted for decades. But now a state like Texas provides these opportunities without the problems and baggage California has accumulated. Let me mention a few personal examples:

• Public safety. Ill-conceived criminal-justice reforms and radical district attorneys are taking a toll on urban life. Three of my colleagues’ wives have been harassed and chased by derelicts in San Francisco’s streets, which are littered with needles and human waste. My wife is afraid to walk around the city with our young daughters. Police often don’t even respond to harassment and property crime, which has surged; San Francisco’s property-crime rate is now the nation’s highest.

• Electricity. The wildfire smoke that has blanketed California cities is one thing. But power outages, which left us stressed about spoiling breast milk for our daughter, are the direct result of California government incompetence. Last year the state had 25,000 blackouts, and this year has been even worse. The electricity turns on and off, as in Third World countries. Meanwhile, Texas has its own energy grid, with a plentiful and diverse supply. It’s nice to turn on the lights whenever we want.

• Responsiveness. In the early days of the pandemic in March, 8VC entreated the mayor of San Francisco and city staff to clarify rules to allow our critical employees to work on accelerating Covid-19 testing and the development of therapeutics. The city didn’t deign to respond. Government officials in Texas, by contrast, care about business. They return calls.

• Housing. California’s restrictive zoning laws make it nearly impossible for many essential low- and middle-income workers to live anywhere near major cities. In Texas, permissive zoning allows every member of our staff to live close to work and spend time with friends and family instead of enduring grueling commutes.

That’s not all. The California government is beholden to public-employee unions and spending is out of control. A broken environmental review process means it takes a decade of paying lawyers to build anything. Legislation makes it impossible for businesses to hire contractors without an exemption—granted by friends in the legislature, as with the music industry, or won by spending hundreds of millions on a referendum, as gig-economy companies with drivers just did. This isn’t how business is done in developed countries.

Politics in the state is in many ways closed off to different ideas. We grew weary of California’s intolerant far left, which would rather demonize opponents than discuss honest differences of opinion.

I will continue investing in Silicon Valley startups and fighting to help the state. I’m optimistic that over the long run, California can return to the values that once made it the dynamic center of global technology entrepreneurship. But until priorities change, the state will keep losing its top builders and creators.

In 2000 or 2010, it made sense to build in San Francisco. That’s where all the talent was, but not anymore. Except for a few concentrated parts of advanced biotech and software infrastructure technology, talented people are building top technology firms all over the country. This disaggregation of talent will spread prosperity across the U.S. Some of my most prolific entrepreneurial friends from California have moved with us here to Texas. Others have left for Miami, Nashville, Las Vegas and other great American cities. Six of our portfolio companies are already based in Austin and employ hundreds of people.

Our investments follow the talent. We’re betting that the future of America is going to be built in the middle of the country, in places with good government and a reasonable cost of living. In other words, places like Texas.

My firm has a motto: “The world is broken, let’s fix it.” We invest in technologies and people who will transform major industries and improve the lives of millions. It’s tragic that California is no longer hospitable to that mission, but beautiful that Texas is. Our job as entrepreneurs and investors is to build the future, and I know of no better place to do so than Texas.

Mr. Lonsdale is a general partner at the venture-capital firm 8VC.

Judge’s Ruling on PW Supervisors’ Actions Sets Dangerous Precedent, Plaintiffs To Refile; WHAT YOU CAN DO

[PWCBG 20 October 2020 mass e-mail to Prince William County citizens]

 

Citizens, taxpayers, voters:

We’ve been in close contact with Brett Gloss and other plaintiffs who filed the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) legal complaint against the Prince William Board of County Supervisors (BOCS) Democratic majority regarding the Dems’ 31 May meeting that illegally excluded the 3 Republican BOCS supervisors.  We are writing this message with the plaintiffs’ knowledge and support.

We support the plaintiffs’ current intent to file a motion to Fairfax County Judge Dennis J. Smith to reconsider his decision and, if unsuccessful, after that to possibly file an appeal.  As we, Brett, and his co-plaintiffs have suggested, the judge failed to look at the statute in plain language and imposed an insurmountable bar which required the plaintiffs to prove intent. The statute does not require proof of intent, only that the 5 Dems attended and public business was discussed.

Judge Smith also inappropriately applied the public forum exception because, in his view, the defendants did not arrange the meeting, thus the meeting was not subject to FOIA law.  But testimony from the defendants clearly established that the police chief arranged the meeting, and the police chief, of course, reports directly to the BOCS.  The judge’s judicial activist reasoning in this case creates a huge loophole for future violators to keep the public in the dark:  just get a subordinate office to schedule the meeting.  A county government entity arranged the 31 May meeting and only select members of the public (those with ties to Supervisor Bailey’s husband) were able to attend.  County citizens and the press were kept in the dark.

Here are some of our unanswered questions about the judge’s ruling:

•    Why did it fall to private citizens to file suit in this case and be subject to a high-hurdle burden of proof?  Why were county or state attorneys/prosecutors not even investigating this apparent FOIA violation, much less bringing charges themselves, with all the resources of the state behind them?
•    As previously noted, proof of intent is not a requirement to show guilt in this case.  However, from an ethical not a legal standpoint, if innocent of intent to exclude the other 3 BOCS members from the meeting, why didn’t even one of the 5 Dems, particularly Chair Wheeler, bother to call and invite even one of the 3 Republicans as soon as it was obvious they weren’t at the meeting — particularly Supervisor Candland, whose district was directly affected by the riots being discussed?
•    Again from an ethical standpoint, why has Chair Wheeler apparently still not apologized to the public or any of the 3 Republicans for excluding them — in clear breach of common decency and her role as at-large BOCS chair representing the entire county?

This ruling, if left unrevised, sets a very dangerous precedent that will increasingly put local government decisionmaking in the shadows with little or no accountability — an outcome clearly desired by Chair Wheeler, who has repeatedly and unprecedentedly tried to limit citizen free speech and the right to petition the government at BOCS meetings, as well as the right to peaceably assemble.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:   Since the state and county government are not doing their job to litigate FOIA law in this case, it falls to private citizens to do so.  Here is the  plaintiffs’ GoFundMe site to cover their ongoing legal fees to help keep our government transparent, accountable, and in service to all the public — not just a few favored groups.  [See:  https://gf.me/u/yaamck (the GoFundMe site also linked above)  and   https://pwcbg.org/2020/10/judges-ruling-on-prince-william-supervisors-actions-sets-dangerous-precedent-what-you-can-do/  and  https://potomaclocal.com/2020/10/20/opinion-judges-ruling-on-prince-william-supervisors-actions-sets-dangerous-precedent/ (this article on the pwcbg.org and Potomac Local websites).  Please share any and all of the links above via email, social media, etc.]

We thank the plaintiffs for their civic virtue; we support them and urge readers to do so, too. 


Ralph & Kathy Stephenson
Prince William Citizens for Balanced Growth

Only in the bright light of public scrutiny can the common good be secured,
while in darkness and obscurity the interests of the powerful and affluent prevail.

Wheeler Violated Laws, Jurisdictions in Godwin Bypass Gambit; FOIA Case Denied on Technicality; Rule of Law & How To Create Real Unity

[PWCBG 13 October 2020 mass e-mail to Prince William County citizens]

Fellow citizens, the purpose of the following is to keep you apprised of recent developments regarding the Prince William County Board of Supervisors (BOCS), land use, rule of law, etc.  This message is hyperlinked here:  https://pwcbg.org/2020/10/wheeler-violated-laws-jurisdictions-in-godwin-bypass-gambit-foia-case-denied-on-technicality-rule-of-law-how-to-create-real-unity/   Please share via email, social media, etc.


1.  In her pro-residential developer Godwin Bypass gambit on 8 September, Chair Wheeler:  overruled a unanimous BOCS decision from a few weeks earlier; violated multiple laws, jurisdictions, best practices, and citizens’ right to petition the government; and ignored citizen protests and the advice of multiple independent experts.  (See https://potomaclocal.com/2020/10/08/defer-action-on-route-28-project-due-to-flawed-process/  and pp. 13-16 here  https://colesdistrict.org/wp-content/uploads/9th-Edition.pdf   See also:  https://pwcbg.org/2020/09/wheeler-shills-big-for-developers-in-west-county-continues-assault-on-rights-rule-of-law-low-cost-housing-residents-leading-local-news-org-muzzled/ )


2.  A retired Fairfax County judge, with strong Democratic Party ties, dismissed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) case from Prince William County citizens against the BOCS Dem majority.  If that headline sounds a little strange to you, keep reading; the story gets even stranger.

In what seems best described, at least in our laymen’s terms, as winning on a technicality, retired Fairfax County Judge Dennis J. Smith dismissed the FOIA lawsuit, apparently requiring proof from the citizen plaintiffs that the BOCS Dems knew or should have known it was a public meeting and requiring proof that the BOCS Dems thus willfully violated the FOIA statute.  A high bar, a heavy burden of proof indeed.

” ‘This was about, let’s get rid of the Republican slate [the three Republican members of the BOCS], and if we get rid of the Republican slate then we won’t have any interference’ in influencing police actions, [plaintiffs’ attorney] Kachourouff told the judge near the hearing’s end.  [Judge] Smith said he might agree with Kachouroff’s assessment if Kachouroff had provided evidence to support that conclusion, but said he had not.”  (See https://www.princewilliamtimes.com/news/breaking-judge-rules-in-favor-of-prince-william-supervisors-accused-of-breaking-foia-law/article_1534994e-08e3-11eb-b8eb-ab64459d84ef.html  (including paragraphs 17-18)  and  https://potomaclocal.com/2020/10/08/resident-who-sued-prince-william-supervisors-over-meeting-law-strikes-out-in-court/  and “example” #5 of  https://pwcbg.org/2020/06/bocs-chairs-disregard-for-others-rule-of-law-is-undermining-our-freedoms-prosperity-11-examples/)

Now let’s briefly discuss retired Fairfax County Judge Smith.  It’s not easy to find news media or other public coverage of judges’ political leanings, but here are two clues we found after a little searching. 

In early November 2012 Judge Smith ensured that Fairfax County Democrats have the authority to patrol inside voting areas on election day and to openly challenge voting officials, a tactic apparently now in Northern Virginia (NoVA) Dems’ playbook, a tactic with strong potential to become a new form of voting fraud/intimidation.  (And you thought the voting area, which includes your sign-in area and polling booth, was safe from politicization.  Think again.)  Furthermore, the judge’s support and enthusiasm was apparently not restricted to his ruling, but extended beyond that to an apparently unsolicited warning that “precinct judges cannot arbitrarily restrict poll watchers’ rights, and [he] said he is ready to intervene on Election Day if necessary.”  (See:  https://valawyersweekly.com/2012/11/05/judge-denies-dems-request-on-poll-watchers/ and  https://www.fairfaxdemocrats.org/2012/11/03/fairfax-democrats-victorious-over-board-of-elections/)

NoVA Dems revere Judge Smith so much that on his retirement in 2015, 22 Dems — but only 4 Republicans — (all 26 were lawmakers from NoVA) sponsored the Assembly resolution commending him.  This was at a time when Republicans outnumbered Dems in the Assembly > 2 to 1.  (See:  https://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?151+ful+HJ675)

Questions:  We willingly suspend our disbelief regarding impartiality and defer to the judge, of course, because we believe in the rule of law.  But even if we somehow accept that this was a meeting of county officials called by county officials to discuss police policy, but no business (or only informal business, which doesn’t count) was discussed, nevertheless, questions remain about the 5 BOCS Dems’ behavior:

  • If innocent of intent to exclude the other 3 BOCS members from the 31 May meeting, why didn’t even one of the 5 Dems, particularly Chair Wheeler, bother to call and invite even one of the 3 Republicans as soon as it was obvious they weren’t at the meeting — particularly Supervisor Candland, whose district was directly affected by the riots?
  • Why has Chair Wheeler apparently still not apologized to any of the 3 Republicans for excluding them — in clear breach of common decency and her responsibilities as BOCS chair? 
  • Why did it fall to private citizens to file suit in this case and be subject to a high-hurdle burden of proof?  Why were county or state attorneys/prosecutors not even investigating this apparent FOIA violation, much less bringing charges themselves, with all the resources of the state behind them?  (The answer to the last question is obvious:  because Virginia is now a one-party monopoly, the first time since 2001.)
  • If the FOIA issues were truly no big deal, why was County Attorney Michelle Robl — who has made it abundantly clear that she works primarily for and is the protector of Chair Wheeler — so quick to require formal FOIA training for the BOCS right after the 31 May meeting?  (No one has accused the 3 Republican supervisors of violating FOIA meeting rules, so the training was not necessarily needed immediately for them.) 

3.  Not so fast, Chair Wheeler, Supervisor Franklin; Rule of Law IS Your Business — As explained above, the judge’s decision is far from the moral absolution Wheeler claims it is in her 9 September official email.  She and the other BOCS Dems appear to have escaped sanction only because it was too difficult to prove what a BOCS meeting would be, in this context, and to prove harmful intent by the BOCS Dems. 

Wheeler titled her official email about the FOIA case “Getting on With Business” and said (in boldface type):  “Now that this matter has been dismissed, let’s get on with seeing to the business of Prince William County and serving its residents.”  Likewise, Supervisor Franklin said: “I’m glad it’s over and I’m looking forward to getting back to the real business of the county instead of the shenanigans.” 

Chair Wheeler, Supervisor Franklin:  Please consider that you and the other six supervisors are, effectively, the chief executives and legislators of the county government, the bureaucracy of which assists you in carrying out your executive duties.  Respecting the rule of law, the Bill of Rights, FOIA law, all law — in spirit and letter — and respecting all the residents of the county, both east and west, the quality of their roads and schools, and wisely and judiciously using their tax money  is not a nuisance, an annoyance, “shenanigans” or an obstruction to “getting on with ‘real’ business.”  It is your business.  Ensuring the greatest good for the greatest number, guaranteeing the basic rights of all minority groups, and supporting equal opportunity within the rule of law is your business.  You have no other constructive business of significance.  It’s unsettling to us, and dangerous to the county, that you often seem to take so lightly the rule of law and respecting all the citizens of the county.

What the Rule of Law Isn’tAt the 22 September BOCS meeting at which the defining of important new policymaking terms proposed by the BOCS Dems such as “equity lens,” “equity in housing,” “affordable housing,” and “environmental justice” was discussed, Supervisor Franklin made the following truly remarkable statement.  She said:  “To be honest, when developers come to me I tell them it’s up to them to figure out how to get to what I want.  So if they want to do workforce housing or affordable housing, you’re right, there is no definition — we’re working on it — but I tell them ‘if you guys want to do this project in my district, it’s up to you to figure out and it’s up to me to agree with it.’  So some of that is just being pro-active in those discussions.  I do want to make sure we’re clear on what we’re doing.” (See:  https://pwcgov.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=23&clip_id=2763, 3:12:40 thru 3:13:05 )

Minus Supervisor Franklin’s lawless approach in the quote immediately above — which, regardless of possibly some good initial intentions, is rife with corrupt possibilities and likelihoods now and in the future — we wish the 5 Dems would’ve approved Supervisor Candland’s effort to define the Dems’ new policy terms at the 6 October BOCS meeting.  But instead they once again defeated a constructive Republican proposal on a 5-3 party-line vote.  (See https://pwcgov.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=23&clip_id=2766, 2:45-3:12 and 3:12-3:52.)  We also wish Supervisor Franklin, Chair Wheeler, and the other 3 Dems would’ve allowed Supervisor Lawson — and, by extension, Brentsville District’s residents — the same courtesy and discretion over residential development in our district, rather than intrusively jamming the Devlin Rd. project down our throats in March, against virtually unanimous opposition, including 1,000 petitioners.  Likewise, for Supervisor Vega and her constituents in the illegal Godwin Bypass reversal on 8 September.  (See #1 above.)


4.  How To Create Real Unity — Now combine the info above with all of the following info, to name just a few examples:  https://pwcbg.org/2020/09/wheeler-shills-big-for-developers-in-west-county-continues-assault-on-rights-rule-of-law-low-cost-housing-residents-leading-local-news-org-muzzled/  and  https://pwcbg.org/2020/07/summary-updates-bocs-chair-wheeler-undermining-our-freedoms-prosperity-11-examples/  and  https://pwcbg.org/2020/06/letter-to-bocs-on-19-may-bipartisan-vote-ending-lockdown/  and  https://pwcbg.org/2020/04/urgent-plea-to-bocs-dem-majority-regarding-31-march-chance-to-fix-defects-in-devlin-rezoning/  and  https://pwcbg.org/2020/03/chair-wheeler-holding-semi-public-31-mar-bocs-meeting-to-implement-greatly-increased-emergency-powers-suspension-of-public-comment/  and  https://pwcbg.org/2020/03/pwcbg-speeches-propose-better-way-decreased-devlin-density-debunk-developer-myths-on-proffers-lawsuits/etc .)

Rather than treating the Western half of the county like conquered, occupied territory, like the enemy, as the 5 BOCS Dems have already so often done in the first 9+ months of their four-year terms, which will only result in endless disunity, political rebelliousness, and anger among residents who can think for themselves and don’t like being bullied — rather than that, how about a new approach?  Chair Wheeler, you regularly speak about the need for unity, but then refuse to truly acknowledge anyone but those with whom you agree.  You refuse to compromise on major issues.  That implies that by “unity” you really mean “capitulation” by and complete defeat of anyone who prevents you from getting your way.   So how about listening now to those with whom you disagree, compromising, and finding more chances for win-win and less win-lose.  The illusion of politics and power is “once in power, always in power.”  But the cycles of politics and the hubris of power tend to suggest differently for those who ignore the people or run their stewardships into the ground.  Besides, when you love the people, all the people, they tend to love you back.


Sincerely,

Ralph & Kathy Stephenson
Prince William Citizens for Balanced Growth

Only in the bright light of public scrutiny can the common good be secured,
while in darkness and obscurity the interests of the powerful and affluent prevail.

Wheeler’s Big Shill for Developers in West County, Continued Assault on Rights, Rule of Law, Even Low-Cost-Housing Residents; Leading Local News Org Muzzled

[30 Sep 2020 mass email from Prince William Citizens for Balanced Growth, PWCBG, to county citizens]


Fellow Prince William (PW) County citizens, parents with schoolchildren, commuters, and taxpayers, please be advised of the following:

Ignoring Rule of Law, Democratic Principles — Board of County Supervisors (BOCS) Chair Wheeler began her tenure glorifying the county’s rapid population growth and promising more of the same.  She did so with no acknowledgement of or sympathy toward citizens in the western half of the county who have actually experienced this rapid growth very negatively — as increasingly overcrowded roads and schools, damage to the environment, and concurrently rising taxes and declining services due to excessive tax-negative residential development.  (See:  https://pwcbg.org/2020/03/bocs-chair-wheelers-7-jan-2020-state-of-the-county-address/)  She then attempted to unilaterally supersede federal 2d Amendment law with county resolutions, much like pre-Civil War Southern nullificationists and post-Reconstruction segregationists who believed that states could ignore federal laws they didn’t like.  Following that, because of her intolerance toward views other than her own, she began an assault, unprecedented in modern PW County history, on citizens’ 1st Amendment freedoms and the rule of law.  (See, for example: https://pwcbg.org/2020/07/summary-updates-bocs-chair-wheeler-undermining-our-freedoms-prosperity-11-examples/ and https://www.insidenova.com/headlines/lawsuit-five-prince-william-county-supervisors-violated-open-meeting-laws-in-wake-of-protests/article_704036dc-d8cc-11ea-a3ea-af3a51cd6720.html)

Chair Wheeler has undoubtedly convinced herself that her anti-democratic, authoritarian, elitist attitudes are serving a higher purpose that the public does not properly support or understand as well as she does.  But isn’t that how tyranny always starts, justifies itself, and endures?


Chillin’ with the Shills — Now Chair Wheeler is pivoting back to a more traditional form of BOCS corruption:  shilling for residential developers.  With the help of the county’s former and still-de-facto Planning Director Rebecca Horner and hurried, slipshod residential development planning work by Planning Staff, Wheeler is proceeding hastily to get housing for over 100,000 more people into the county planning pipeline, approved, and built as quickly as possible.  Yes, you read that right:  > 100,000 people.   (As a prime example of what we’re describing immediately above, see the following email exchange between us and Ms. Horner:  https://pwcbg.org/2020/09/pwcbg-planning-commission-planning-chief-e-mail-exchange-regarding-slipshod-obfuscatory-non-citizen-friendly-innovation-small-area-plan/Note that Horner says, per her and Wheeler’s plan, that Innovation Park, which was supposed to be a commercial area, now “would have between 2,377 and 4,073 dwelling units” and 5,360 to 9214 people. (Innovation Park is approximately bounded by Hornbaker Rd., Wellington Rd, Godwin Dr., and Rte 28.)  Imagine that much overcrowding and tax-negative development in your backyard, and the impact on schools, traffic, and taxes.

County-wide there are already over 12,000-approved-but-not-yet-built houses in the residential development pipeline, and just under 24,000 more that Wheeler and Horner want approved as soon as possible, according to the county’s just-released 2020 development “build-out analysis.”  36,000 new housing units with a traditional county average of about 3 occupants per unit = ~108,000 new residents coming soon to a county already coughing and choking on its current residential development exhaust fumes.  (See the full build-out analysis here, especially pp 6-7:  https://eservice.pwcgov.org/planning/documents/buildoutanalysis/2019_Publication.pdf)  

Tactics Chair Wheeler and her allies are frequently using to achieve the explosive, out-of-control residential development growth described above are as follows, with examples included in the sub-headed sections following the four bullets immediately below:

  • not divulging agenda items until the very last minute without the required advance notice, or with no notice at all;
  • suppression of public comment at BOCS meetings (regarding, for example, residential development items on the meeting agenda) until after it’s too late and the vote has already been taken; and
  • increasingly putting items of great public interest on the 2 pm BOCS meeting agenda when most people are at work, so the working public will be unable to respond in a timely fashion.
  • Also, for examples of how the county attorney’s extreme risk aversion and pro-developer lens helps residential developers & Wheeler thwart the people’s interests, see:  https://pwcbg.org/2020/03/open-letter-holding-pw-county-attorney-accountable-on-land-use-covid-19/)

To further boost the out-of-control residential development planning above, some residential developers and their allies are already claiming that today’s somewhat lower commuter traffic volume will outlast the pandemic and become permanent.  But that’s a highly-speculative, self-serving bet by developers — with no risk to them but high risk to commuters and taxpayers.  This developer bet is based on no reliable evidence whatsoever regarding the future.  Instead, why not wait until the economy continues its revival over the next year or two, until the dust settles and we have more information about traffic volume and flows?  Why not wait until then before foolishly rushing off and committing to thousands of new, mostly tax-negative houses that the county can ill afford, or before committing to extremely expensive roads such as the Wheeler/Godwin Bypass, as its ability to improve end-to-end traffic flow (Manassas and points south to the Rte 28-I-66 junction and beyond) is highly questionable.


Working for big Fairfax and Loudoun County residential developer interests — In March 2020, Chair Wheeler forced through the 516-house Devlin Rd residential proposal, despite unresolved flooding, toxic waste, eminent domain, road funding, and school overcrowding issues.  This was to please Stanley-Martin Homes, based in Fairfax County, and owned by foreign (Japanese) interests.  (See:  https://pwcbg.org/2020/02/secrets-of-devlin-road-that-developers-will-never-tell-you/  and  https://pwcbg.org/2020/03/second-chance-for-5-new-bocs-members-deceived-by-developers-on-devlin2-pwcbg-suggests-tax-relief-for-local-employers-employees-facing-layoffs/)

Wheeler also invited her Democratic Loudoun County counterpart and NoVA transportation (NVTA) chief to the Prince William (PW) BOCS 8 Sep 2020 meeting to lecture and threaten the county that it would lose funding if it didn’t do the bidding of Fairfax, Loudoun, and other non-PWC development interests, leading the other four BOCS Dems, in lockstep with Wheeler, to overturn the previous unanimous BOCS decision to widen Rte 28, choosing instead the proposed Godwin Rd bypass (red option 2B in map below.) 

Though required, there was no advance notice of this proposal given in the BOCS agenda.  The Wheeler/Godwin Bypass will open up more opportunities for residential developers, especially along the southern reaches of Rte 28 (between Manassas and Rte 17), while destroying the low-cost houses of many residents for whom “fair market” remuneration will probably not be enough to find livable housing in the area and who thus have nowhere else to go.  The bypass will also destroy a large wetland area.  And this from a BOCS Dem majority that incessantly, sanctimoniously, and hypocritically claims that helping the underserved, ensuring low-cost housing, and protecting the environment are among its top priorities.  (See:   https://pwcbg.org/2020/07/summary-updates-bocs-chair-wheeler-undermining-our-freedoms-prosperity-11-examples/  and  https://pwcbg.org/2020/06/letter-to-bocs-on-19-may-bipartisan-vote-ending-lockdown/)

We wonder if dumping PW and Fauquier county commuter traffic on Rte 28 north of Yorkshire will even improve congestion, or just move the chokepoints to Godwin Dr. and north to another highly congested area (Rte 28 just south of the Compton Rd intersection and Rte 29 and I-66 interchanges), making that area almost completely impassable during peak traffic periods.  In other words, will Wheeler’s Bypass really solve the problem, or be more like rearranging the deck chairs on a sinking Titanic?   If the Bypass fails to solve the problem in the long-term, not just for a few months or a year or two — as we think is likely, especially if developers build thousands of new houses along Rte 28 in PW County — then Chair Wheeler and the four lockstep Dems will have wasted somewhere between $200 and $300 million in taxpayer-approved road bonds.  So why are Chair Wheeler and her four Dems taking such a risky gamble with so much taxpayer money?  Is it perhaps not so much to improve traffic as it is to open up Rte 28 to more residential development —  i.e., to do the bidding of fat-cat residential developer friends and their bigwig Democratic Party friends outside the county?


Ann…toinette Wheeler says:  Let them eat cake (“them” meaning poor minorities she is needlessly, cruelly making homeless) — Equally troubling, and distressing, is the treatment of local PW residents by Chair Wheeler on 15 September when they tried to protest losing their irreplaceably-low-cost homes due to the BOCS Dems’ decision a week earlier.  They were locked out of the BOCS meetingplace and not allowed to speak.  (Please see:  Prince William Conservation Alliance leader and former county Planning Commissioner Kim Hosen’s editorial here https://www.princewilliamtimes.com/opinion/letter-county-board-s-reversal-on-bypass-broke-trust/article_c921da9a-f84c-11ea-a2b6-e3bc6fb21617.html and Potomac Local reporting here  https://potomaclocal.com/2020/09/16/angry-residents-stand-to-lose-homes-shut-out-of-county-meeting/  and here  https://potomaclocal.com/2020/09/08/prince-william-reverses-course-opts-for-godwin-drive-extension/)

It’s hard for us to comprehend how anyone, even Chair Wheeler, could be capable of such hypocrisy and cynicism, such cruelty toward her fellow citizens, especially underserved citizens that she and the BOCS Dem majority endlessly claim they want to protect — though apparently only when its politically convenient or when it first suits their fat-cat residential developer friends’ interests.   Chair Wheeler seems to have great difficulty accepting the adult responsibility of respecting the First Amendment rights of others with whom she disagrees, but instead seems to see them as undeserving “deplorables.”  Abuse and displacement of ordinary citizens is, of course, commonplace in China, Russia, and other police states around the world, but are we now comfortable with it happening in the United States, the birthplace of almost 250 years of ever-broadening freedom, education, and prosperity for the masses and a mecca to the world of freedom and prosperity?  Are we comfortable with it happening in our county?   Remember that a violation of the rights of one group is a violation of the rights of all, and today’s oppression of others can become tomorrow’s oppression of you or me.


Ever-obedient and obsequious to the Party Komissar — We wonder why the other four members of the Dem majority, with only occasional exceptions on usually symbolic votes, continue to obediently and robotically follow Komissar Wheeler over the cliff of abusive policy decisions that damage ordinary people, including those whom they repeatedly — but increasingly hollowly — claim to be protecting.  The Wheeler/Godwin Bypass decision discussed above was a 180-degree reversal so embarrassingly abrupt that it must have given even the BOCS Dems whiplash.  It also showed, once again, as do many other examples above and below, how direspectful the BOCS Dem majority is, under Wheeler’s leadership and influence, toward ordinary citizens and their rights, including those who, despite their busy lives, take the time and trouble to come address their elected representatives on policies and issues that directly affect them as ordinary taxpayers, parents, commuters, homeowners, etc.  (See:  https://pwcbg.org/2020/09/sup-candland-dem-majority-continues-to-block-devalue-public-comment-free-speech-before-bocs-votes/)

The four Dem supervisors are accomplished people, each with undoubtedly much to offer in his/her own right.  Do they wish to be known for that and as individuals, or instead as sycophants and witting accomplices to the sort of Chair Wheeler-inspired madness described above and below, mere cogs in her machine?   Or are they now, as they were earlier this year, focused on other issues, possibly even uninterested in land use and budget/taxes issues, even though land use and budget/taxes are their core BOCS responsibilities?  (See:  https://pwcbg.org/2020/04/bocs-majoritys-incompetence-vindictiveness-false-pride-devlined-west-county-tax-increases-despite-growing-business-jobs-meltdown/)


BCP advocacy + shameless hypocrisy on low-cost housing Wheeler’s sneaky Godwin Bypass victory emboldened her at the time to further lecture county citizens on one of her, former BOCS Chair Stewart, and residential developers’ most cherished, fetishistic visions of all:  building the Bi-County Parkway (BCP).  (See:  https://potomaclocal.com/2020/09/08/prince-william-reverses-course-opts-for-godwin-drive-extension/ )  County commuters, who have suffered for decades with increasingly congested I-66 (West-East) and I-95 (South-North) commutes, may be surprised to learn that what they really need is a route from south county to Dulles Airport in the west.  But while BCP is a road to nowhere for commuters and industry, just like Chair Wheeler’s last-minute Godwin reversal it’s a stairway to heaven for residential developers who want to force open the Rural Crescent to thousands of new houses.  In the coming months, watch for Chair Wheeler to try to sneak the BCP back into county planning and then deny involvement or responsibility (in a process over which she has complete control), as she’s already done once recently.  (See:  https://pwcbg.org/2020/09/our-13-july-exchange-w-sup-boddye-confirming-his-opposition-to-bcp-wheeler-proposal/)  She owes it to her NoVA developer buddies and Virginia Democratic Party bosses, and to her obvious ambition for future statewide office.

We met with Wheeler on 5 March to discuss our and other local citizens’ virtually unanimous disagreement with the Devlin Rd. residential proposal, which attracted over 1,000 petition signatures in opposition.  It’s interesting that instead of courteously listening to our request and rationale, Wheeler chose instead to cut us off almost as soon as we had begun and to instead launch into two very emotional tirades.  One Wheeler tirade was in support of the BCP.   In her other tirade, she accused west county residents of elitist opposition to low-cost housing near our neighborhoods.  (See this link for a Democratic friend’s explanation last year of this nonsensical red herring argument/ad hominem line of attack by residential developers and their Democratic Party allies:   https://pwcbg.org/2019/10/stopping-the-many-headed-monster-of-out-of-control-residential-development/  Also, more in paragraph below on this topic.)   So in the fever swamps of Chair Wheeler’s imagination, west county residents are elitists because … we’ve had the temerity to increasingly oppose ongoing developer efforts for the last 20 years or more to further overcrowd our roads and schools, damage our environment, and then via tax-negative housing force us to indirectly subsidize the very things that are tormenting us.   (According to very reliable sources, Potomac Supervisor Bailey is afflicted by an even more intolerant version of this prejudice toward residents of the western half of the county.)

How the 1% lives + more shameless hypocrisy on low-cost housing — Well now, about that elitism Chair Wheeler mentions, immediately below are overhead shots of her ritzy five-acre estate on 13931 Shelter Manor Dr, Haymarket VA 20169, with above-ground swimming pool to the right.   Notice that there’s no low-cost housing anywhere nearby.  On the other hand, to our knowledge, west county citizens have rarely, if ever, seriously opposed new apartment construction when it came before the BOCS for approval.  Many of us have friends/family/fellow church congregants in nearby subsidized and/or relatively low-cost apartments, people who we know well and with whom we fellowship often.  We count at least three such complexes within about a mile of our house; many more within three miles.  However, we see no such low-cost housing near the multi-acre estate houses and country clubs, respectively, where Chair Wheeler has been living.  But, you see, Chair Wheeler (who typically praises herself several times a week via her emails and county website) knows what’s best for you, what you should think and do — while exalted elites such as herself are above such petty considerations as the expectations, policies, and decrees they like to put upon others.  (For more info on at least some of Chair Wheeler’s wealth, see:  https://www.pwcgov.org/government/bocs/Documents/WheelerSOEI20.PDF   See two paragraphs below for info on her second Haymarket-area domicile.)

Note:  Virtually all tax-negative housing being built in the county — other than apartments– is nowhere near sufficiently low-cost to be affordable to the poor.  In recent years, say 2014-18, a house/dwelling unit has been “tax-negative” if it’s in the ~$450K per unit or lower range; the $450K number is, undoubtedly, higher now with ever-rising county taxes and rising house prices.  (Serious developer proffers — not the typical short-term kind with $ values highly overstated by developers — can somewhat improve the tax negative equation for the county.)

Chair Wheeler’s amply documented behavior above, including toward poor and minority citizens who are in her way and who she’s making homeless, her uncaring and police state attitudes and behavior toward all who were suffering during the economic shutdown and those publicly protesting out of desperation, and her contempt toward her constituents in the western half of the county are beyond comprehension to us, especially in a free country like ours with freedom-loving people.  But maybe Chair Wheeler’s attitudes and behavior become more decipherable if one realizes that she may not even be living in PW County much, if at all, anymore.  By her own account, in July she sold her five-acre Haymarket estate and supposedly moved into a much smaller rental-unit townhouse located at 6206 Lawson Drive, Haymarket, VA 20169 next to a golf course.  Note that she is thus apparently no longer paying the county real estate taxes which she was so quick to increase — along with business taxes — even during the economic meltdown that began in March.  By the way, her estate sold for $956K, $200K above its assessed value, and $414K more than what she paid for it in 2001.


But one can always make time for a little mob rule — Although we’ve noted that Chair Wheeler has recently pivoted to land use issues, mostly, she has not entirely left behind her affinity for mob rule tactics and implicit threats of violence — by proxy — against her opponents.  For example, on 14 July a single senior citizen trying to routinely enter the county’s McCoart building was violently assaulted by a gang of young “social justice warrior” activists and other groups — blocking the entrance — who have repeatedly allied themselves with the BOCS Dem majority and visa versa.  (See:  https://potomaclocal.com/2020/07/21/surveillance-video-shows-mob-attack-man-outside-prince-william-government-center/ )  This followed the 16 June incidents we reported earlier in which Wheeler tolerated screaming, foul-mouthed verbal assaults on the two female Republican supervisors, which clearly flouts BOCS rules and procedures … and normal civilized discourse.  (See: https://pwcbg.org/2020/07/summary-updates-bocs-chair-wheeler-undermining-our-freedoms-prosperity-11-examples/)

Because of Wheeler’s toleration (and the BOCS majority’s at least tacit support for) the first incident on 16 June, participated in by purported members or advocates of an organization which she publicly supports and visa versa, we believe she is at least partly to blame for the second incident on 14 July.

Speaking of the 16 June incident (see video immediately above), we would like to believe that those involved who appropriated and abused CASA’s name were doing so without CASA’s assent.  However, if you were a leader of CASA and saw this misuse and mis-appropriation of your name to support goon-like public threats, wouldn’t you issue a statement showing convincingly that there was no connection between them and you, unequivocally distancing your organization from them?  Or if there were a connection, wouldn’t you ensure that organizational disciplinary action was taken against them and apologies made to the public and the two supervisors?  Yet, we are unaware of any such political distancing and/or apologies.  (If we missed such an event or events, we’d love to hear about it.)  Nevertheless, on 14 August Chair Wheeler proudly reported that she and the BOCS rewarded CASA with $110K in Covid funds, which to us implies redoubled tacit support for the lawless disruption of the 16 June BOCS meeting by alleged representatives of that organization.  (See:  https://www.alliancegpw.org/disasterfund)

Chair Wheeler is, in our view, an utterly unprincipled politician who will say or do almost anything to further her agenda.  She is driven by authoritarian intolerance and exclusion of others with differing views, driven by extremist ideologies which she states as declarative truths, as givens, though in our experience they do not withstand even the slightest scrutiny, nor is she inclined to even try to defend them with rational arguments.

Wheeler supporters have in recent months contacted us and either warned us never to criticize Wheeler or anyone else in the BOCS Dem majority in any way and/or resorted to adolescent name-calling.  We reminded the first one of why the First Amendment is first, and chided the second on her outrageous bigotry thinly disguised as its opposite.  (Friends who’ve publicly opposed Wheeler have shared with us similar experiences with her street-mob supporters.)  If, like those just described, you’re among the perhaps 5-10% of county voters who approve of Chair Wheeler’s anti-rule-of-law, anti-democratic, Orwellian mindset and methods and believe that everyone else and their rights as Americans should be suppressed if you disagree with them, then you’re in luck.  However, if you’re among the rest of us who love America’s freedoms and opportunity and wish to form an ever-more-inclusive, ever-“more-perfect union”– including, undoubtedly, the majority of those who voted for Wheeler but never expected that she would make it her mission to try to reduce or eliminate those rights as they relate to our county government — then you should closely monitor this BOCS Dem majority, especially Chair Wheeler.  Regularly make your wishes known to and, when necessary, criticize her and them.  Try to convince them to do better, to listen to something more than their worst instincts and residential developers, and to be more respectful of others’ differing views and constitutional rights.  Same goes for any of the BOCS Republicans if they ever start shilling for residential developers, as many Republican supervisors (Stewart, Nohe, Covington, Connaughton, and others) routinely did in past Republican-run BOCS.


First Amendment rights and news media censorship in PW County — It’s your government, your county.  Sadly, it’s also your First Amendment rights that are at stake now; use them or lose them.   In other words, use them or wait for a time not far distant when it may become completely unacceptable socially, culturally, politically, and professionally for all but a few politically-favored groups — to which you may not belong — to do so.  Case in point: Potomac Local reports on 28 September (through publisher Uriah Kiser) that it has been barred from Facebook “after 10 years of continuously posting content to the site,” apparently because of the very reporting we reference above, due to “political activists who have taken to Facebook to call for ‘defunding’ our local news organization.”  A deeply disturbing act of political censorship, abridgement of freedom of the press, and McCarthyism in our very own Prince William County.  We wonder if the local news media will complain to Facebook on Potomac Local’s behalf, or if they, too, believe that the First Amendment, including freedom of the press, is no longer as important as other political and business considerations.  We also wonder if Chair Wheeler and the BOCS Dem majority, to ensure freedom of the press and the other First Amendment rights to all of us, will insist on the same, even from their street mob allies.

Here’s a link to this item:  https://pwcbg.org/2020/09/wheeler-shills-big-for-developers-in-west-county-continues-assault-on-rights-rule-of-law-low-cost-housing-residents-leading-local-news-org-muzzled/   Please share via email, social media, etc.

Yours truly,

Ralph & Kathy Stephenson
Prince William Citizens for Balanced Growth

Only in the bright light of public scrutiny can the common good be secured,
while in darkness and obscurity the interests of the powerful and affluent prevail

Sup Candland: Dem Majority Continues To Block, Devalue Public Comment, Free Speech Before BOCS Votes



Dear Friends:

Over the years, I have expressed to you my deep-rooted belief that the government should be transparent and accountable to the citizens it represents. With your help, we have passed several significant reforms right here in Prince William County. 

A few years ago, I introduced a resolution to implement a vote tracking system that would allow residents to look up the votes of each member of the Board of County Supervisors and see how their elected officials are representing them. Too often, politicians make grand promises during campaigns, but after they’re in power – they vote the opposite way. These politicians hope the folks they represent don’t have the time or resources to do the time-consuming research on their voting records. 

However, I’m proud to announce this past Tuesday my long sought public vote record project became a reality as a new service for residents called VoteCast was approved. This will open up the voting history of each elected official in Prince William County. Once VoteCast is up and running, anyone will be able to search votes by the elected official or by topic. This is a big win for transparency in our county and holding elected officials accountable for their records.

However, as with most Board meetings recently, there was good and bad. 

For the last several weeks, we have seen Chair Wheeler, supported by her Democratic allies, refuse to have Public Comment Time before votes are taken. On Tuesday, despite our strong objections, this practice of ignoring residents’ comments before taking votes continued.

This is a terrible policy that allows taking action before residents have a chance to be heard! In fact, it was on full display the day Chair Wheeler brought forward a motion to reconsider the Rt. 28 Bypass.

The order of business that day was to invite the Chair of both the NVTA and the Loudoun Board of County Supervisors, Phyllis Randall, who holds both positions, to speak before allowing our residents the same right. Her sole purpose in our chambers was not to represent the interests of approximately 70 of our homeowners that will be impacted by construction of the Rt. 28 Bypass, but to squeeze the Prince William Board of County Supervisors to approve the project by holding over our heads her unilateral decision to re-appropriate $89 million of our tax dollars that had been granted for improving the 28 corridor if we did not reconsider a decision made unanimously no more than 30 days prior.

But residents weren’t given an opportunity to speak before the vote was taken.

Needless to say Ms. Randall received her request, even though it went directly against the desires of the many actual Prince William Residents who will be impacted. 
 
This tactic to suppress the voices of the residents of Prince William County was completely disrespectful to those whose lives will be permanently impacted by this road project.

You can watch a clip of my comments and a clip of the vote to bring Public Comment Time to the front of the meeting HERE (edited for time):
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WEI1vuVB1Nk&feature=youtu.be

If you would like to email Chair Wheeler and ask her to move Public Comment Time before votes are cast, please send your email to bocs@pwcgov.org. 

You have my word that I will continue fighting for government transparency and accountability, and giving each person in Prince William County the opportunity to be heard.  

Sincerely,

Pete Candland, Supervisor
Gainesville Magisterial District

Our 13 July Exchange w/ Sup. Boddye Confirming His Opposition to BCP, Wheeler Proposal

——– Forwarded Message ——–

Subject:Re: Kenny Do You Still Support the Rural Crescent (RC)? If So You Must Vote14 Jul Against BCP, Which Will Destroy the RC
Date:Mon, 13 Jul 2020 22:59:00 -0400
From:Stephenson, Ralph
To:Boddye, Kenny <kboddye@pwcgov.org>
CC:Vega, Yesli <yvega@pwcgov.org>, Candland, Peter <gainesville@pwcgov.org>, Candland, Peter <PCandland@pwcgov.org>, Jeanine Lawson <jlawson@pwcgov.org>

Thank you, Kenny, for being a man of your word on the RC.  Appreciate your support.   : )  Regards, Ralph & Kathy


On Mon, Jul 13, 2020, 10:14 PM Boddye, Kenny <kboddye@pwcgov.org> wrote:

Good Evening Ralph & Kathy,

Thank you for reaching out to me about this. The Board was not made aware of the recommendations of the Economic Recovery Taskforce until we were given an early version of the agenda, which was on Thursday. I had a meeting with our Economic Development Department today about the set of programs in that package and resolution, including the Bi-County Parkway. While I doubt Christina Winn was aware of the history of it (she was only hired and brought into the county last year, after all) I have no doubt members of her team have been around long enough to know that it should not have been included without some sort of forewarning of the public or the Supervisors.

That all said, I do not support the Bi-County Parkway. As you illustrated below, the Bi-County Parkway and the Rural Crescent are diametrically opposed, and with our current land use policies and developer culture, one cannot exist if the other does. I maintain that we should not be introducing the CR-1 (cluster, sewer and water) zoning or the Bi-County Parkway as we have not even introduced incentives to conserve, retain and promote the Rural Crescent.

I have already signaled to Supervisors Vega and Candland that I’m willing to support a motion to amend the resolution to remove the Bi-County Parkway and Data Center Overlay expansion items from the list of programs put forth in that agenda item. I have also voiced this to Chair Wheeler and Supervisor Franklin.

I will not support the resolution and program package as is, and you know how the math of the BOCS works – without my vote or that of Supervisors Candland, Vega and Lawson, the other Supervisors cannot pass anything.

Thank you again for reaching out and feel free to share my stance.

Kenny A. Boddye

Occoquan District Supervisor

2241-K Tacketts Mill Drive | Woodbridge VA, 22192

(E) KBoddye@pwcgov.org | (O) 703-792-4643 | (C) 703-638-8430


From: Stephenson, Ralph & Kathy
Sent: Monday, July 13, 2020 9:59 PM
To: Boddye, Kenny <kboddye@pwcgov.org>
Cc: Stephenson, Ralph & Kathy
Subject: Kenny Do You Still Support the Rural Crescent (RC)? If So You Must Vote14 Jul Against BCP, Which Will Destroy the RC

Hi, Kenny.  Greetings to you.  Hope you’re healthy and doing well.

As we believe you already know, the Bi-County Parkway will break open the Rural Crescent to residential developers to build — over time — thousands of new houses there.  It will thus effectively end the Rural Crescent (RC).

We and many others supported you during the 2019 campaign precisely because you repeatedly and passionately promised then and since that you would protect the RC from residential developers and place some other limits on residential development as well, unlike the other successful and unsuccessful BOCS Democratic candidates.
 
You cannot support both the BCP and the RC — they are mutually exclusive, mutually incompatible goals.  If you support the Rural Crescent, you also cannot march in lockstep with the other four Democrats who will almost certainly enthusiastically support BCP.  (Victor Angry, as you know, opposed the joint Candland-Principi-Lawson proposal to support the RC last summer, as did your predecessor Ruth Anderson.  Chair Wheeler made it very clear to us on 5 March, our only meeting with her, that she enthusiastically and categorically supports BCP.  It’s hard to imagine Franklin and Bailey, who so far have not been friendly to west- and mid-county, not voting with Wheeler.)

Also, if this is such a great idea, why is it being handled in such a sneaky manner, buried amid Covid-19 funding votes and only being revealed at the last minute?  We hope you agree that transparency in government and democratic processes are an integral part of democracy and freedom, yet Chair Wheeler is once again showing her contempt for transparency and democratic processes.
 
So, Kenny, will you honor your repeated campaign pledge to protect the Rural Crescent?  If so, you must vote against the BCP tomorrow.  No excuses.  Your vote will, undoubtedly, be the deciding vote.

Regards,

Ralph & Kathy, Prince William Citizens for Balanced Growth


——– Forwarded Message ——–

Only in the bright light of public scrutiny can the common good be secured,
while in darkness and obscurity the interests of the powerful and affluent prevail.

Subject:ALERT: Bi-County Parkway is back
Date:Tue, 14 Jul 2020 00:04:29 +0000
From:Supervisor Pete Candland <gainesville@pwcgov.org>
Reply-To:Supervisor Pete Candland <gainesville@pwcgov.org>
To:Ralph & Kathy Stephenson
Dear Friends,

Since being elected to represent you almost eight years ago, I have heard people refer to the Bi-County Parkway (a highway that runs north from I-66 to Rt. 50) as the “Zombie Highway” since it is a project that never seems to die. A few years ago, I joined thousands of Prince William County residents and opposed this highway that would destroy the Rural Crescent, add more traffic to our roads, and build a truck super-highway from I-95 to Rt. 50 in Loudoun. 

The people of Prince William County realized very quickly that the Bi-County Parkway wasn’t about “getting to Dulles Airport quicker” as we were told, but about being a windfall of new housing developments along the route and easing truck traffic along the Beltway.

I stood with many of you as we fought VDOT and a Governor’s administration that was intent on ramming this project through. In the end, they both backed down and we took a step further and had the project removed from our County’s Comprehensive Plan. 

But like all good zombie movies, the villain never seems to die. 

Hidden deep within a COVID-19 economic development package on tomorrow’s agenda is a vote to support the Bi-County Parkway. It is clear that the big developers who tried to brazenly ram this project through seven years ago, are trying to sneak it through tomorrow.

You can read the agenda item 9-B by CLICKING ON THIS LINK.

Please take a few minutes and send an email to the entire Board of County Supervisors at bocs@pwcgov.org and express your opinion on the Bi-County Parkway. 

Once again, it is time to stand against this “Zombie Highway.”

Sincerely,
Pete Candland, Supervisor
Gainesville Magisterial District

PWCBG e-mail exchange w/ County Planning Chief regarding sloppy, obfuscatory, non-citizen-friendly Innovation Small Area Plan

——– Forwarded Message ——–

Subject:RE: Updated Query to Planning Staff on Small Area Plans (PC Hearing Agenda for July 15, 22 on Innovation)
Date:Fri, 31 Jul 2020 20:03:56 +0000
From:Horner, Rebecca <RHorner@pwcgov.org>
To:Stephenson, Ralph & Kathy
CC:McGettigan, David <dmcgettigan@pwcgov.org>, Donohoe, Stephen L. <sdonohoe@pwcgov.org>, Cynthia Moses-Nedd <cmnedd@hotmail.com>, Taylor, Don <windyknoll2@gmail.com>, colesplanning@gmail.com <colesplanning@gmail.com>, jmcpwccommission@gmail.com <jmcpwccommission@gmail.com>, McKay, Patti <pattimckay@msn.com>, Berry, Richard <Riccar1110@aol.com>, Rob Perry <occoquanplanning@gmail.com>, neabscopc@gmail.com <neabscopc@gmail.com>

Good afternoon,

The draft Innovation Park Small Area Plan provides the number of anticipated households in the study area on page 95 in the table, which is copied below.  This indicates that the build-out of the small area plan would have between 2,377 and 4,073 dwelling units.  This number includes the existing 311 garden apartments (The Regency) that are in the R-16 zoning district shown on page 12.  The Regency Apartments development is considered complete and no additional units are anticipated. It has a density a little over 12 units/acre.

The plan does not estimate price ranges for housing units nor is a fiscal impact analysis prepared or included; however, having a vibrant, mixed-use town center in Innovation Park is expected to attract additional jobs and support the growing George Mason University.  The region’s Transportation Planning Board has set a goal of locating jobs and housing together to reduce the region’s traffic congestion. The draft Innovation Park Small Area Plan does exactly that by locating housing near jobs.  Innovation Park currently has over 5,800 jobs with a potential growth to over 28,000 jobs. In addition, the Mobility section of the draft Innovation Small Area Plan lays out a robust set of transit options including a new VRE Station, commuter bus service, and shuttle service.  This, with the internal trip capture that occurs in a mixed-use community, is expected to reduce the traffic impacts of the plan.

Based on input from the School District, the plan does quantify the projected impacts on schools (p. 208) as well as other services in the Small Area Plan’s Level of Service section. 

From discussions with the School District, our understanding is that the boundaries have been approved for Gainesville High School (previously the 13th High School) which will go into effect for the 2021-2022 school year. I further understand that portions of Unity Reed (formerly Stonewall Jackson High School) would fall into the boundary of the new Gainesville High School. In addition, my understanding is that Patriot High School’s boundary will be adjusted and take some students in the southwestern portion of the draft Innovation Park Small Area Plan. With the new boundaries, high school students living in the study area would be expected to attend either Unity Reed or Patriot High School. As for Marsteller Middle School, the projected 2024 capacity drops from the current 104.3% to 91.9%. This is understood to be accomplished by elementary school cohorts that feed into Marsteller MS are trending smaller. This is a trend the PWC school system has expressed seeing in many locations within the Division. As for Ellis Elementary school capacity, the current School’s CIP does show that an additional elementary school (Rosemont Lewis) scheduled for 2023-2024 would offer relief of the capacity at Ellis Elementary. Lastly in the Level of Service for Schools section on page 208, the draft Plan does mention that if student generation warrants, staff will evaluate a new Elementary school potentially utilizing an DPPO – Densely populated pedestrian-oriented developments elementary school design in or adjacent to the Town Center.

Detailed impacts are evaluated during the rezoning process.  The Comprehensive Plan, as well as its small area plans, is a guide for rezonings, but does not rezone any property.  Each development would be evaluated separately through the rezoning process which requires public hearings before the Planning Commission and Board of County Supervisors. The rezoning for the Innovation town center is REZ2016-0030.  This rezoning is on hold pending a resubmission by the applicant.

Small Area Plans provide in-depth planning of an area with workshops to solicit citizen input.  These planning efforts are coordinated and completed by the Prince William County Planning Office.  In the current Comprehensive Plan, the centers of commerce/centers of community proposed in 2010 identified areas where this type of detailed planning should occur, but it was to be largely coordinated by the developer when they brought in a project for review. The 2010 update to the Land Use chapter did identify two centers of commerce and one center of community; they are Innovation, Potomac Town Center and Triangle, respectively.  All three areas had already had sector plans providing the detailed planning to implement the center concepts.  The centers of commerce/centers of community tool remains in the plan.

The draft Innovation Small Area Plan was recommended for approval by the Planning Commission in July.

Thank you,

Rebecca Horner, AICP, CZA

Deputy County Executive

Prince William County

703-792-6854


On Wed, Jul 22, 2020, 12:42 PM Patti McKay Planning Commission <pattimckay@msn.com> wrote:
Ralph and Kathy,
FYI, I will be asking these questions tonight during the public hearing. I know the answers to a few of them but agree these need to be addressed publicly. If you aren’t attending, David M will try to answer as best as he can and you can listen to the audio.

Thank you,
Patti McKay, Planning Commissioner, Brentsville District, Prince William County


From: Stephenson, Ralph & Kathy <stephenrkg@gmail.com>
Sent: Monday, July 20, 2020 10:52 AM
To: McKay, Patti (PlngCmsn);
Cc: Jeanine Lawson <jlawson@pwcgov.org>
Subject: Patti, Jeanine PLS NOTE — Updated Query to Planning Staff on Small Area Plans (PC Hearing Agenda for July 15, 22 on Innovation)  

Hi, Patti (info Jeanine).  Hope you and your loved ones are all safe and doing okay during the pandemic and economic downturn.

Just wanted to bring to your attention the following two emails to Planning Staff (dating back to 10 July; see below), which, to our great disappointment, have gone completely unanswered.

The topic of the two emails is the county’s Small Area Plans (SAPs).  The Innovation SAP, for example, as currently written, is, to a great extent, a mindless data dump, with a nearly useless profusion of documents — at least for purposes of public scrutiny — a collection of mind-numbing bureaucratic box checking exercises that inundate with formalism, but do nothing to illuminate or educate the public on effects.  None of the SAPS have economic, tax, traffic, schools, or environmental impact statements.  Their primary purpose seems to be to achieve residential developer goals, while obscuring this purpose from ordinary citizens with a welter of confusing and pointless detail.  The SAPs’ executive summaries, so-called, are no such thing.

The only way to head off big problems in residential development policy before they become unstoppable train wrecks is to stop or redirect them early in the process.  These SAPs look way too much like the Centers of Commerce and Centers of Community developer fantasies proposed 10-12 years ago, which while a delightful fantasy for developers would have been a nightmare for the rest of us.

Could you and Supervisor Lawson please pressure planning staff to do their jobs and give us impact statements on the Innovation SAP, including total number of houses and answers to questions 1-4 immediately below?  We can’t believe that, as taxpayers, we’re paying over $10,000 per year in real estate taxes (not including the state taxes we pay) to subsidize such shoddy work, such a lack of professionalism.  (We’re cc’ing Supervisors Vega and Candland, as this problem, undoubtedly, is not limited to Brentsville District’s SAPs.)

Sincerely, Ralph & Kathy Stephenson, Prince William Citizens for Balanced Growth

Only in the bright light of public scrutiny can the common good be secured,
while in darkness and obscurity the interests of the powerful and affluent prevail.


From: Stephenson, Ralph & Kathy <stephenrkg@gmail.com>
Sent: Thursday, July 16, 2020 4:57 PM
To: Horner, Rebecca <RHorner@pwcgov.org>; Planning <planning@pwcgov.org>
Cc: [names, email addresses withheld]
Subject: Updated Query to Planning Staff on Small Area Plans (PC Hearing Agenda for July 15, 22 on Innovation)

Ms. Horner, planning staff (info planning commission):

Thank you for the info below and attached.  As taxpayers, homeowners, and concerned citizens very involved in county land issues for the last 15 years, we have some questions for you regarding small area plans (SAPs), and we’d appreciate answers to our questions as soon as possible.  Please note that these questions were first submitted a week ago — with no acknowledgement yet that you’ve even noticed our message.  We’ve updated and slightly reworded the questions so their meaning should be clear, but if there is any need for further clarification, please advise and we’ll further clarify.

1.  We notice that the attached Innovation SAP has no info on how many residential houses/apartment units the county intends to allow residential developers to build.  So what is the number of houses and of apartment units intended?  We note that the R16 zone on p. 12 of the SAP plan designates a very high density of 16 dwelling units per acre.

2.  What are the price ranges at which the county estimates the houses and/or apartment complexes will be sold?  And thus what will be the tax-negative impact on county residents?  What will be the impact on our already overcrowded roads and schools?

3.  Are small area plans, in general, written for the benefit of residential developers, or for the entire county and its citizens?  If for the entire county, why do the executive summaries and bodies of each SAP not have summary and detailed info, respectively, regarding all the questions in #s 1-2 above — i.e., impact statements?

4.  What is the difference between these small area plans, which continue to multiply around the county, and the extremely unpopular 22-25 centers of commerce/centers of community plan that was proposed 10-12 years ago and rejected by the public?

Please advise.

Sincerely,

Ralph & Kathy Stephenson, Prince William Citizens for Balanced Growth

Only in the bright light of public scrutiny can the common good be secured,
while in darkness and obscurity the interests of the powerful and affluent prevail.


On 7/10/2020 2:09 PM, Stephenson, Ralph & Kathy wrote:

Ms. Horner, planning staff (info planning commission):

Thank you for the info below.  As concerned citizens heavily involved in county land issues for the last 15 years, we have some questions for you regarding small area plans (SAPs), and we’d appreciate answers to our questions as soon as you can provide them.

1.  We notice that the attached Innovation SAP has no info on how many residential houses/apartment units you intend to build.  So what is the number of houses and of apartment units you intend to build?  We note that the R16 zone on p. 12 of the SAP plan designates a very high density of 16 dwelling units per acre.

2.  What are the price ranges at which you [expect] the houses and/or apartment complexes [to be sold]?  And thus what will be the tax-negative impact on county residents?  What will be the impact on our already overcrowded roads and schools?

3.  Are these small area plans written for the benefit of and at the urging of residential developers, or for the entire county and its citizens?  If for the entire county, why do the executive summaries and bodies of each SAP not have summary and detailed info, respectively, regarding all the questions in #s 1-2 above — i.e., impact statements?

4.  What is the difference between these small area plans, which continue to multiply around the county, and the extremely unpopular 22-25 centers of commerce/centers of community plan that was proposed 10-12 years ago and rejected by the public?

Please advise.

Sincerely,

Ralph & Kathy Stephenson, Prince William Citizens for Balanced Growth

Only in the bright light of public scrutiny can the common good be secured,
while in darkness and obscurity the interests of the powerful and affluent prevail.


———- Forwarded message ———
From: PWC Alerts <noreply@everbridge.net>
Date: Wed, Jul 8, 2020, 3:28 PM
Subject: Planning Commission Public Hearing Agenda for July 15, 2020
To: stephenrkg@gmail.com <stephenrkg@gmail.com>

You have subscribed to updates from Planning Commission Agenda:

Attached is the Planning Commission Public Hearing Agenda for July 15, 2020.

For additional information, please see the Prince William County Planning Commission Web page.

To register to speak remotely at Citizens’ Time or on scheduled cases, please click HERE! Note: Signup to speak remotely closes at 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. However, in-person comments are also allowed at Citizens’ time during the hearing.

To submit comments on the scheduled cases, email ClerkPC@pwcgov.org.

To contact the Prince William County Planning Office, please call 703-792-7615 or email us at planning@pwcgov.org.

Thank you!

Summary/Updates — BOCS Chair Wheeler Undermining Our Freedoms & Prosperity: 11 Examples

Happy 4th of July to all.  By request, we’re sending the summary below, with updates, of our 27 Jun email titled “BOCS Chair’s Disregard for Others & Rule of Law Is Undermining Our Freedoms & Prosperity:  11 Examples”.   Here’s a link to the full text of that message, with extensive documentation, as well as updates to items 1, 4, 5, and 6:  https://pwcbg.org/2020/06/bocs-chairs-disregard-for-others-rule-of-law-is-undermining-our-freedoms-prosperity-11-examples/ .  Please also share this summary via social media and/or other means:  …. )



In Prince William County our freedoms and prosperity are both at risk due to a series of extreme abuses of power and maladministration by Board of County Supervisors (BOCS) Chair Ann Wheeler in which, unfortunately, she has usually been joined in lockstep by the other four members of the BOCS’ Democratic majority.  Using police state tactics as much as she can get away with it, Chair Wheeler is routinely trying to suppress:  free speech, freedom of assembly, freedom to petition the government for redress of grievances, the BOCS minority party, and the public’s right to know what its government is up to (government transparency).  She has been doctrinaire and reckless, yet confused, regarding the county’s economy.  And she has demonstrated  incompetence on land use policy and vindictiveness toward west county residents.  Here are 11 examples:

1.  Enabled goon-like intimidation of the minority party — At the last BOCS meeting on 16 June, Chair Wheeler allowed numerous foul-mouthed, abusive, and threatening verbal attacks on two female Republican supervisors, Yesli Vega and Jeanine Lawson. 

Such attitudes and behavior are very reminiscent of early days in the histories of the Nazi Brownshirts and of Chairman Mao’s Red Guards during the Chinese Cultural Revolution.

2.  Tried to use police to remove “conservative protesters” — Wheeler and other Dem supervisors’ sympathetic reaction to the goon-like behavior noted above is unprecedented in our 15 years of experience with the BOCS and stands in dangerous and extremely hypocritical contrast to her response at the 19 May BOCS meeting to “conservative protesters” who opposed her plans to end the county’s longstanding cooperation with ICE (federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement) on illegal immigrants jailed for crimes in the county.  Wheeler “threatened to have police remove [the] crowd of conservative protesters who stood outside the BOCS chamber and heckled the supervisors during the session, but used no profanity.”

3.  Tried to use police to prevent a “Reopen Prince William” rally — According to local media reports and reliable confidential sources, Chair Wheeler tried to use the county Sheriff’s Department to forcibly shut down (by arrest and/or forcibly blocking or removing any participants who showed up) a legal, peaceful Reopen Prince William rally to reopen the county’s economy on 23 May.  Apparently for Wheeler and her allies, bigotry and racist hate speech (see #1 above), as well as police state tactics (see #s 2 and 3 above), are just fine if they’re targeted at shutting down her opponents and denying them their First Amendment rights.

4.  Violated Virginia’s open government laws in order to suppress public opposition, free speech, and the right to petition the government— Chair Wheeler held two BOCS meetings (on 12 and 19 May) without full, in-person public debate regarding ending the 287g County Jail-ICE cooperation program.  This was done in apparent violation of Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) law and the BOCS’ own emergency legal justifications for holding said meetings (as printed in every BOCS meeting agenda since the Covid-19 shutdown.)  She did so to pack the County Jail Board with political cronies, including, nepotistically, Potomac District Supervisor Bailey’s husband, in order to end on 17 June the County Jail-ICE cooperation program, which the five BOCS Dems oppose, and to minimize public comment. 

Note:  Regardless of one’s views on the appropriateness and/or efficacy of the ICE program, this was a major decision that should legally have waited until the county was sufficiently open again (from the Covid-19 shutdown) to allow in-person comment by all county citizens so inclined.  At least one Dem supervisor has suggested — as justification after the fact — that the new Jail Board appointments were too few to make a difference in the outcome of the Jail Board vote against the ICE program.   If so, then the 12 and 19 May BOCS deliberations/vote with no in-person public comment were neither necessary nor an emergency — and thus illegal.  You can’t have it both ways.

5.  Violated Virginia’s open government meeting laws in order to suppress public opposition and illegally exclude duly-elected minority party BOCS supervisors — On 31 May, Chair Wheeler and the other four BOCS Democrats attended a “community meeting” with police “on use of police force during a Manassas-area protest the previous evening.”  The meeting excluded the three Republican supervisors and thus violated FOIA laws on open meetings, which require public notice when three or more members of the board are meeting and discussing policy.  (See:  https://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacodepopularnames/virginia-freedom-of-information-act/.)  The five Dems then — incredibly — denied that they discussed any matters of government business.

6.  Showed poor judgement and confusion regarding the county’s severely weakened economy and reopening — Chair Wheeler unilaterally asked Virginia Governor Northam to keep the county’s economically devastated small businesses/employers closed from 15-29 May, two weeks after most of the state began Phase One of Reopening.  Then, amid a groundswell of opposition to her precipitous and unilateral behavior on something that impacted so much of the county’s population, the BOCS voted 5-3 (in a very rare show of bipartisanship on major issues, without Wheeler’s support) to request Governor Northam allow earlier, partial reopening of some business activities.  Northam denied the request.  Then on 24 May, appearing to panic, Wheeler completely reversed direction and publicly supported early reopening of the county’s economy.  (See:  https://www.insidenova.com/news/special/coronavirus/leaders-making-preparations-for-may-29-reopening-in-northern-virginia/article_c377cd60-9ecf-11ea-8a79-7fdd58140b9b.html )

7.  Showed poor judgement, influenced by cronyism, regarding protecting county schoolchildren — On 12 May the BOCS voted 7 to 1 (with Chair Wheeler the lone opposing vote) to make a FOIA request (with necessary redactions) for allegedly inappropriate online communications between School Superintendent Steven Walts and schoolchildren, as well as to send a letter to the elected county school board asking it to explain how it is investigating Walts.  Chair Wheeler says she trusts her political crony School Board Chair Lateef and the rest of the Board to do the right thing, with no oversight, after they previously provided poor oversight of very highly-paid Walts.

8.  Hypocritically put rigid, absolutist ideology above the interests of under-served communities.  According to the 16 Jun BOCS meeting agenda and recent news releases from Chair Wheeler praising herself and announcing “A New Era” in the county, the county is now implementing a new program called “Diversity Lens” that will be a significant factor in designing, evaluating, and implementing county programs and strategic plans.

We wonder why no “Diversity Lens” was used to evaluate Chair Wheeler’s decision to keep the economy closed longer than most of the rest of the state or in changing the Jail Board in order to end the county jail’s cooperation program with ICE.  Minority communities and under-served areas of the country were benefiting relatively more from the booming economy before Covid-19, with labor participation rates higher and unemployment lower than they’d been in over 50 years, and wages rising much faster (percentage-wise) for lower- and working-class wage earners than any other group.  These communities thus had the most to lose from the county’s longer economic shutdown (see #6 above.)  And minority communities also have the most to lose from immigrant criminal predators potentially being released back into their communities.

9.  Showed poor judgement and cold-hearted, uncaring attitude toward county’s small businesses, employees by raising taxes during economic collapse — With official unemployment at almost 15% (over 23 million workers nationally) and a severe economic recession threatening to bankrupt tens of thousands of county residents and businesses, on 28 April silver-spoon, multi-millionaire Chair Wheeler, oblivious and/or indifferent to this suffering, led the BOCS Dem majority to raise rather than reduce private employer & homeowner taxes and to increase government spending.

10.  In March, attempted to permanently restrict citizens’ First Amendment rights at BOCS meetings, then lied about and denied responsibility for doing so.

11.  Demonstrated land use incompetence and vindictiveness toward west county residents — Chair Wheeler forced the big Devlin Rd. residential development project upon West County citizens on 10 and 31 March, ignoring virtually unanimous local opposition, including over 1,000 petitioners, while also ignoring BOCS rules and procedures and unresolved flooding, eminent domain, phasing, and housing density problems.



It’s our county.  We can either choose to live with the above abuses of power, choose to live with ever-eroding freedoms and prosperity under Chair Wheeler’s anti-democratic, police-state mentality or fight back.


Sincerely,

Ralph & Kathy Stephenson

Only in the bright light of public scrutiny can the common good be secured,
while in darkness and obscurity the interests of the powerful and affluent prevail.

BOCS Chair’s Disregard for Others & Rule of Law Is Undermining Our Freedoms, Prosperity: 11 Examples

Greetings, fellow citizens.  We hope that you are all safe, healthy, and doing well.  Happy 4th of July to everyone.

Two of mankind’s greatest achievements and the perspective they give us on our county and its leadership — We’re long-time fans of blues and early jazz music.  In our opinion, this music, on its musical merits alone, is one of America and the world’s great cultural jewels.  But we’re inclined to see it as even more than that when we remember that something so moving and powerful was born out of centuries of ugliness and suffering of every kind — suffering that was caused by some people thinking they were better than and could subjugate and control others not like them, depriving them of meaningful rights and power.  For the ~ 5,000 years or so of recorded human history, much of the world’s suffering has been caused by such attitudes and behavior.

As we were recently traveling, listening to our favorite blues station, the radio announcer diverted from her normal music news and commentary as she introduced the next blues song: “What the Devil Loves.”  She said that what the Devil loves is “mayhem” — referring to the Minneapolis police brutality, the legitimate protests against it, and the unjustified and opportunistic criminal looting, destruction, and violence that followed in many cities. Whether you believe in a literal personified devil, or see the Devil only as a metaphor of evil, or benightedness, or sin (whatever you may believe that to be), the radio announcer was right:  the Devil loves moral chaos, hypocrisy, lies, darkness, tribal hatred, erosion of the rule of law, and mayhem.  After all, it creates such excellent opportunities for devil’s work.  But more on that later and why we think it’s relevant to Prince William County.

Now let’s move to another one of the world’s greatest and most foundational achievements, the US Constitution’s Bill of Rights, starting with the First Amendment, which, for the first time in over 5,000 years of recorded history, guaranteed freedom of religion, speech, the press, peaceable assembly, and petitioning the government for redress of grievances as the most fundamental rights in a free society.  (See: https://constitution.findlaw.com/amendments.html)  The First Amendment, the rest of the Bill of Rights (the first ten), and the subsequent amendments, a core part of the supreme law of the land, clearly and indisputably show a relentless and ongoing march toward increasingly greater freedom, inclusivity, and opportunity for all Americans within the rule of law — ideas and aspirations far more eloquently expressed in Martin Luther King’s 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech than anything we could ever write.  (See:  https://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/mlkihaveadream.htm#  and  https://www.archives.gov/files/press/exhibits/dream-speech.pdf

Even the virtually universal, over-5000-year-old scourge of slavery — an integral and apparently intractable part of every major empire, nation, or tribe in history that we know of until the 19th century — was finally outlawed in the US (preceded by Haiti, Spain, Britain, and France and followed by many others), though it took the US’ bloodiest war by far, the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, and another 100 years until legislation was passed in the 1960s and early 70s (including the 24th Amendment) that promised real equality of opportunity for African-Americans and other ethnic minorities.

Most of the current 27 amendments to the Constitution are completely unprecedented in their scope and effect, and are a truly miraculous achievement in world history.  They, and the Constitution in general as amended, have enabled the US to be the freest, most stable and prosperous, most powerful nation in the history of the world.  (For any who cannot accept this demonstrable truth, we’d love to know:  When in world history has there been any major country, much less a truly multi-ethnic one, that has been as free, prosperous, and stable as the US, and been so before the US first pioneered/implemented most of the models, methods, and ever-advancing capabilities that made it possible?)

And now we come to the crux of the matter.  Civilization, the rule of law, our freedoms, beginning with the First Amendment, and modern progressive economies are resilient, but they are also fragile, as the last five months of this year have clearly demonstrated.  “Fragile” because targeting of minority groups of any kind (including but not limited to ethnic, religious, and political minorities), disrespect for the rule of law and others’ rights, and carelessness regarding the economy in pursuit of ideological purism or other foolish ends can eventually undermine — or even destroy — our freedoms and prosperity, as has actually happened repeatedly, to varying degrees, throughout the world and world history, including now and recently.

In Prince William County our freedoms and prosperity are both at risk due to a series of extreme abuses of power and maladministration by Board of County Supervisors (BOCS) Chair Ann Wheeler — deliberate decisions in which she has been, unfortunately, usually joined in lockstep by the other four members of the BOCS’ Democratic majority.  Here are eleven examples:

1.  At the last BOCS meeting on 16 June, Chair Wheeler allowed numerous foul-mouthed, abusive, and threatening verbal attacks on two female Republican supervisors, Yesli Vega and Jeanine Lawson.  These attacks, reportedly from CASA in Action, a regional immigrant rights activist group, were clearly intended to physically intimidate and silence the two minority-party supervisors, who disagree with Wheeler on key issues.  Although these obscene personal attacks were flagrant violations of BOCS rules and procedures — at least they would have been before Chair Wheeler’s reign — and the speakers should have been warned once, and then, if that failed, removed from the BOCS chamber, Wheeler did nothing to stop them, and consequently lost control of the meeting.

(For more details, see https://potomaclocal.com/2020/06/16/prince-william-supervisors-lose-order-as-black-lives-matter-supporters-call-for-abolishing-police-u-s/  and  click here or on picture below for video excerpts from the 16 Jun BOCS public hearing, which a frequent target of the attacks, Supervisor Vega, described as “hours of unhinged radical leftists calling for us to defund and abolish our local police force,” etc. )

Such attitudes and behavior are very reminiscent of early days in the histories of the Nazi Brownshirts and of Chairman Mao’s Red Guards during the Chinese Cultural Revolution.


2.  Wheeler and other Dem supervisors’ sympathetic reaction to the goon-like behavior above and her non-response to their intimidation tactics and threatening language directed against other BOCS members by name in an official, public county government meeting is unprecedented in our experience.  It stands in dangerous and extremely hypocritical contrast to her response at the 19 May BOCS meeting to protesters who, unlike Chair Wheeler, support the county’s longstanding cooperation with ICE (federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement) on illegal immigrants jailed for crimes in the county.   Per the Potomac Local report linked above, at the 19 May meeting Wheeler “threatened to have police remove [the] crowd of conservative protesters who stood outside the BOCS chamber and heckled the supervisors during the session, but used no profanity.”  Wheeler showed a similarly extreme double standard in threatening to use police to shut down the 23 May rally to reopen county businesses described in example #3 below.

Apparently for Wheeler and her allies, bigotry and racist hate speech (see #1 above), as well as police state tactics (see #s 2 and 3), are just fine if they’re targeted at shutting down her opponents and denying them their First Amendment rights.

3.  According to local media reports and reliable confidential sources, Chair Wheeler tried to use the county Sheriff’s Department to forcibly shut down (by arrest and/or forcibly blocking or removing any participants who showed up) a legal, peaceful Reopen Prince William rally on 23 May.   She called County Sheriff Glen Hill two days beforehand, asking him to stop the rally, ostensibly because of Covid-19, but in reality even more importantly because the rally would be critical of her. 

Sheriff Hill refused to comply with Wheeler’s demand, saying the protesters have constitutional rights and he would not be arresting anyone.  Wheeler then instructed County Executive Chris Martino to call Sheriff Hill for further details.  Apparently still unable to let it go after her and Martino’s earlier calls, especially after hearing a WMAL Radio interview that she didn’t like, Wheeler called Hill yet again, insisting that he stop the protest, at which point Hill said:  “I work for the people, not for you.”  (See: https://potomaclocal.com/2020/05/26/reopen-manassas-rally-highlights-residents-lockdown-frustrations-tensions-in-county-government/ )

Hypocritically, Wheeler showed no such Covid-19 or other legal concerns regarding the 30-31 May protests in the Manassas area inspired by George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis, even when the protests turned violent and damaged local businesses.  (Nor did she criticize her partisan friend Virginia Governor Northam who showed up at Virginia Beach the same day of the Reopen Prince William rally, completely ignoring social distancing and not wearing a mask, in violation of his own edicts.)


(Here is a serious alternative view from a well-known scholar and commentator on these and related issues that we recommend for your thoughtful consideration and to add perspective:   https://pwcbg.org/2020/06/a-critical-look-at-the-current-state-of-american-politics/ )

4.  Chair Wheeler held two BOCS meetings (on 12 and 19 May) without full, in-person public debate regarding ending the 287g County Jail-ICE cooperation program.  This was done in apparent violation of Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) law and the BOCS’ own emergency legal justifications for holding said meetings (as printed in every BOCS meeting agenda since the Covid-19 shutdown.)  She did so to pack the County Jail Board with political cronies, including, nepotistically, Potomac District Supervisor Bailey’s husband, in order to end on 17 June the County Jail-ICE cooperation program, which the five BOCS Dems oppose, and to minimize public comment. 

Note:  Regardless of one’s views on the appropriateness and/or efficacy of the ICE program, this was a major decision that should legally have waited until the county was sufficiently open again (from the Covid-19 shutdown) to allow in-person comment by all county citizens so inclined.  At least one Dem supervisor has suggested — as justification after the fact — that the new Jail Board appointments were too few to make a difference in the outcome of the Jail Board vote against the ICE program.   If so, then the 12 and 19 May BOCS deliberations/vote with no in-person public comment were neither necessary nor an emergency — and thus illegal.  You can’t have it both ways.

  (See: https://potomaclocal.com/2020/05/20/newly-appointed-prince-william-jail-board-member-vowed-to-abolish-287g-immigration-program/ and https://potomaclocal.com/2020/06/17/prince-william-jail-board-abolishes-287g-program-used-to-id-suspected-illegal-immigrants/ )

5.  On 31 May, Chair Wheeler and the other four BOCS Democrats attended a “community meeting” with police “on use of police force during a Manassas-area protest the previous evening.”  The meeting excluded the three Republican supervisors and thus violated FOIA laws on open meetings, which require public notice when three or more members of the board are meeting and discussing policy.  (See:  https://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacodepopularnames/virginia-freedom-of-information-act/ .) The five Dems then — incredibly — denied that they discussed any matters of government business.  (For fuller details, see: https://www.insidenova.com/news/politics/prince_william/amid-protest-response-supervisors-fight-over-closed-meeting/article_7a89b5de-aa99-11ea-8d28-dfff86ac0107.html and  https://potomaclocal.com/2020/06/11/resident-slaps-prince-william-board-of-county-supervisors-with-foia-lawsuit-after-post-riot-meeting/ )

So let’s diagram this logically:  The county government’s leaders, including BOCS Chair Wheeler, County Executive Chris Martino, County Attorney Michelle Robl, and Democratic supervisors, attended a meeting with the chief of the county Police Department to discuss police handling of a very controversial issue — a protest followed by rioting and violence.  The four other Dem supervisors were all there (though the head of the county government and leader of the Democratic Party in the county, Chair Wheeler, claims she had no idea they’d be there.)  The topic was the protests and riots occurring in the western part of the county, represented by Republican Supervisors Candland and Lawson, who were not invited.  Yet, according to Wheeler, “no county business was discussed.”

So exactly what was the purpose of the meeting?  A barbecue?  Dinner and dancing?  Karaoke?  Probably not, as evidenced by the following 31 May Facebook entry from Woodbridge Supervisor Margaret Franklin, apparently describing the business that she and the other Democratic supervisors conducted at the meeting at which they claim no business was conducted. At the very least, the enthusiastic support for and laser focus by Dem supervisors on the ongoing protests makes it very hard to avoid the conclusion that the “community meeting,” from which the Republican supervisors were excluded, attempted to influence police behavior … and thus conducted business and thus broke the law.

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                      (1050×746)

Chair Wheeler’s repeatedly childish, preposterous lies and denials after being caught breaking the law or doing other scandalous things show her contempt for county citizens’ intelligence and the rule of law.

Note:  Since the riots occurred in the western half of the county, wouldn’t it be logical to assume that the supervisors representing the directly-affected districts, Supervisors Candland and Lawson, should be the first to be invited to the meeting, not “diss”-invited?  Furthermore, isn’t it interesting that the riots occurred in the western end of the county and not elsewhere in districts represented by Dems?  …  Probably just a coincidence.

6.   Chair Wheeler unilaterally asked Virginia Governor Northam to keep the county’s economically devastated small businesses/employers closed from 15-29 May, two weeks after most of the state began Phase One of Reopening.  Then, amid a groundswell of opposition to her precipitous and unilateral behavior on something that impacted so much of the county’s population, the BOCS voted 5-3 (in a very rare show of bipartisanship on major issues) to request Governor Northam allow earlier, partial reopening of some business activities.  Northam denied the request.  Then on 24 May, appearing to panic, Wheeler completely reversed direction and publicly supported early reopening of the county’s economy.  (See:  https://www.insidenova.com/news/special/coronavirus/leaders-making-preparations-for-may-29-reopening-in-northern-virginia/article_c377cd60-9ecf-11ea-8a79-7fdd58140b9b.html and https://www.princewilliamtimes.com/news/northam-denies-request-to-open-local-restaurants-to-outdoor-seating-hints-at-statewide-mask-policy/article_51a422e2-9c68-11ea-af0b-e758dd6e6ae6.html  and  https://pwcbg.org/2020/06/letter-to-bocs-on-19-may-bipartisan-vote-ending-lockdown/ )

We realize that decisions on opening and closing the economy during the pandemic are difficult ones.  We also realize (as the many big pharma researchers and medical doctors in our extended family regularly remind us) that there is no settled science specifically regarding Covid-19 to guide such government decisions, despite Chair Wheeler’s frequent phony and pseudo-intellectual implications and claims to the contrary.  However, Wheeler might have made better decisions, and at least decisions with more buy-in, if she hadn’t, yet again, shown contempt for everyone’s views but her own.  The importance of consultation, building consensus, and listening to and often accommodating different points of view are some of the most basic, important lessons of leadership.  Clearly, Chair Wheeler has no idea about and/or interest whatsoever in how to be a good leader, only in dictatorially trying to impose her will, her ideology on others.

7.  On 12 May the BOCS voted 7 to 1 to send a letter to the elected county school board asking it to explain how it is investigating School Superintendent Steven Walts, after allegations against him of multiple instances of inappropriate behavior with and online messaging to  students.  The supervisors also voted 7 to 1 to submit a FOIA request to the county school division asking them to release all  direct messages Walts exchanged with students over the past 18 months, redacting students’ names for privacy.  (We welcome this as one of the two times we can recall since the new BOCS took office — #6 above is the other — in which a major vote has been decided by a bipartisan majority.)

Chair Wheeler was the only dissenting vote, saying she trusts her political crony School Board Chair Lateef and the rest of the Board to do the right thing, with no oversight, after they previously provided poor oversight of very highly-paid Walts.

(See: https://www.princewilliamtimes.com/news/county-supervisors-vote-to-foia-superintendents-twitter-exchanges-with-students/article_0589f508-94ca-11ea-b41a-5f444d501ab6.html  and  https://www.fox5dc.com/news/prince-william-county-schools-superintendent-under-investigation-over-private-messages-with-students )

8.  According to the 16 Jun BOCS meeting agenda and recent news releases from Chair Wheeler praising herself and announcing “A New Era” in the county, the county is now implementing a new program called “Diversity Lens” that will be a significant factor in designing, evaluating, and implementing county programs and strategic planning.  At best, this program — if properly designed, limited, and audited — might bring business, development, employment, and volunteer expertise together with underserved areas of the county.  However, with absolutist ideologues such as Chair Wheeler in charge, that seems unlikely.

We wonder why no “Diversity Lens” was used to evaluate Chair Wheeler’s decision to keep the economy closed longer than the rest of the state or in changing the Jail Board in order to end the county jail’s cooperation program with ICE.  Minority communities and underserved areas of the country were benefiting relatively more from the booming economy before Covid-19, with labor participation rates higher and unemployment lower than they’d been in over 50 years, and wages rising much faster (percentage-wise) for lower- and working-class wage earners than any other group.  These communities thus had the most to lose from the county’s longer shutdown (see #6 above.)  And minority communities also have the most to lose from immigrant criminal predators potentially being released back into their communities.   As far as we know, no one asked these communities how they felt about either of these decisions — the first a unliteral decision by Wheeler.  There were no impartial statistical surveys pursued with the kind of zeal and enthusiasm that the five Dems have shown for their new and future pet big government projects, no independent “Diversity Lens” to evaluate the impact of these two Wheeler decisions.

9.  With official unemployment at almost 15% (over 23 million workers nationally) and a severe economic recession threatening to bankrupt tens of thousands of county residents and businesses, on 28 April multi-millionaire Chair Wheeler, oblivious and/or indifferent to this suffering, led the way to raise rather than reduce private employer & homeowner taxes and to increase government spending.  (See paragraph immediately above.   Also see Wheeler’s financial disclosure statement here:  https://www.pwcgov.org/government/bocs/Documents/WheelerSOEI20.PDF )

So much for Wheeler’s promises to improve the already-fragile commercial part of the commercial:residential tax base and improve the economy.  Big government and Dem supervisors’ new pet projects and long-planned tax-and-spend party after taking office come first.  The survival of thousands of small businesses and their employees, whose problems started when they were closed wholly or partly by government shutdown decisions, can wait.  Citizens and businesses exist to serve the government and provide tax revenue to fund the pet projects and political whims of imperious county supervisors such as Wheeler, not the other way around.

(For more info, see https://pwcbg.org/2020/04/what-you-can-do-11-thru-14-apr-re-bocs-dem-majoritys-callousness-in-proposing-tax-increases-amid-employer-jobs-meltdown/ and https://pwcbg.org/2020/04/alert-chair-wheelers-phony-reversal-under-pressure-on-real-estate-tax-replacing-it-with-even-higher-taxes-2/ and https://pwcbg.org/2020/04/action-taxes-1st-amendment-devlin-rd-and-bocs-chairs-hamster-wheel-of-government/ .)

10.  In March, Chair Wheeler attempted to permanently restrict citizens’ First Amendment rights at BOCS meetings, then lied about and denied responsibility for doing so.  (For fuller details see:  https://pwcbg.org/2020/03/chair-wheeler-holding-semi-public-31-mar-bocs-meeting-to-implement-greatly-increased-emergency-powers-suspension-of-public-comment/ and https://pwcbg.org/2020/03/civic-associations-holding-public-hearings-during-pandemic-with-greatly-reduced-public-participation-will-undermine-the-public-process/ and https://pwcbg.org/2020/03/bocs-urged-to-ensure-banning-of-public-comment-does-not-become-permanent/ )

11.  Chair Wheeler forced the big Devlin Rd. residential development project upon West County citizens on 10 and 31 March, ignoring virtually unanimous local opposition, including over 1,000 petitioners, while also ignoring BOCS rules and procedures and unresolved flooding, eminent domain, phasing, and housing density problems.  (For fuller details see: https://pwcbg.org/2020/04/bocs-majoritys-incompetence-vindictiveness-false-pride-devlined-west-county-tax-increases-despite-growing-business-jobs-meltdown/  and  https://pwcbg.org/2020/03/second-chance-for-5-new-bocs-members-deceived-by-developers-on-devlin2-pwcbg-suggests-tax-relief-for-local-employers-employees-facing-layoffs/  and  https://pwcbg.org/2020/03/open-letter-holding-pw-county-attorney-accountable-on-land-use-covid-19/  and  https://pwcbg.org/2020/03/supervisor-boddyes-help-requested-in-defeating-devlin-kline-projects-to-protect-west-county-revitalize-east-county/)

So, in sum, Chair Wheeler continues to ride the hamster wheel of big government/government process, constantly indulging in self-praise about it to give the illusion of constructive progress, while in reality frequently regressing to pre-modern, anti-democratic repression of dissent and heretics to try to get her way.   (“Heretics” are anyone who doesn’t agree with Wheeler’s absolutist secular political religion.)   She is strong to undermine, damage, and destroy, strong to incite factional and other hatreds, but very weak to build anything constructive and substantial.  She is also strong on pretension, virtue signalling, moral exhibitionism, and hypocrisy.  Yet, she is weak on truly protecting the county’s under-served and most vulnerable communities whose needs and struggles she — as a wealthy, silver-spoon elite — claims to understand and know how to solve (i.e., through more big government dependency.)  Her actions and focus also show no interest whatsoever in improving the quality of life for the county’s middle class, ensuring the greatest good for the greatest number, or protecting the rule of law and civil order.

Can it be that Chair Wheeler and her closest allies, including some of the BOCS supervisors, see disrespect for the rule of law, disrespect for the First Amendment and the rest of the Bill of Rights, support of social mayhem and moral and legal chaos, and illegitimate centralized economic control as legitimate means to their extremist ideological ends, whenever that suits their purposes?  Can it be that they nurse intense hatred and vindictiveness toward those who think differently from or oppose them?  (Sadly, we continue to hear indications from some of them and others who work with them that this is indeed true.)  Can it be that they still have very little interest whatsoever in learning and properly doing their core jobs, which are tax and land use policy?  Increasingly, it sure seems that way to us.

As critical as we have been of previous BOCS leadership, this BOCS leadership is already far worse, repeating the previous BOCS’ negligent land use policies and adding many new aspects of misrule and disrespect for the rule of law that previous leaderships probably never imagined.

So what are we going to do now?  We request that you start by sharing this letter on social media and/or by forwarding it to your friends.  (Here’s a link:  https://pwcbg.org/2020/06/bocs-chairs-disregard-for-others-rule-of-law-is-undermining-our-freedoms-prosperity-11-examples/ )  As needed, we’ll begin a new feature on our website (https://pwcbg.org) in which we’ll regularly keep citizens updated with Chair Wheeler’s latest crimes against the people of the county

It’s our county.  We can either choose to live with the above abuses of power, choose to live with ever-eroding freedoms and prosperity under Chair Wheeler’s anti-democratic, police-state rule or fight back.

We’ll leave you with two thoughts.  The first is from the screenplay of the movie “A Man for All Seasons,” which tells the story of the great 16th century English statesman, Catholic humanist philosopher, and saint Sir Thomas More and his conflict with King Henry VIII over the future of the English state:  “… This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s.  And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then?  Yes, I’d give [everyone, even] the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!”

Second, from British crime novelist Michael Gilbert:  “If there’s one thing that can keep me awake at night it’s a vision, which I sometimes have, of this country being ruled by the wishes of its rulers and not by the rule of law.  Could it happen here?  Of course it could. It’s too bloody easy for a Government to panic [or to arrogantly see its own intolerant political vision as absolutely superior to and replacing all others] and set the law [aside] because it happens to be inconvenient.  Temporarily, of course.  They always mean to bring it back again — some time.”

Sincerely,

Ralph & Kathy Stephenson

Only in the bright light of public scrutiny can the common good be secured,
while in darkness and obscurity the interests of the powerful and affluent prevail.

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