Both Sheriff Candidates Claim Focus On The Future

Steve Simpson supporting Eric Noble
Former Loudoun County Sheriff Steve Simpson supporting Eric Noble at the April 13 candidates’ debate. Noble says some things were better under the old regime, but also that Simpson may have become insulated from problems in the agency during his last years in office.

He campaigned in 2011 on a platform “to move the Sheriff’s Office into the 21st century,” and Mike Chapman says the many innovations he brought have done exactly that. But Loudoun County’s sheriff says there have been contingents within both the Republican Party and the Sheriff’s Office who continue to see him as an unwelcome change.

Chapman says, from the naysayers’ viewpoint: “Back then I was the outsider; I’m still the outsider.”

In addition to making personnel changes that upset the “old guard” when he first came into office, Chapman thinks his approach to bringing problems to light, and inviting outside agencies to ensure objectivity, has not gone over well with everyone.

“I’m the one that uncovers things, and it ticks them off. When we caught up with the asset forfeiture accounts being changed back in 2008, as soon as we found there was an anomaly I called in the state police to investigate.”

Regarding certain conflicts – including on issues where he has taken an opposing position from that of the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office – Chapman has observed that there is an old guard within the local government for whom maintaining control – “the power thing” – is paramount.

“But for me, it’s not. It’s just about doing the right thing. And when you have a situation like money disappearing, I don’t want there to be any suspicion we are trying to cover anything up. I want to have somebody from the outside come in. They are not used to that in this county. In many ways it’s still backwards.”

Chapman’s challenger for the Republican nomination, Eric Noble, believes Chapman has not been forward-thinking enough, and cites the expanding heroin problem in Loudoun County as evidence.

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The Sheriff Versus The Puppets

Eric Noble - Loudoun Lifer, Ricky Frye - Lone Wolf
Loudoun Lifer (L) and Lone Wolf, aka, Eric Noble and Ricky Frye. (Of other aliases … only the local news editors know for sure).

Some say elections are won and lost by soldiers in the trenches. Boots on the ground. None fits that bill better than the contest for sheriff of Loudoun County, where boots cover socks, and soldiers are puppets.

In other words: Sock puppets.

Of the gifts Loudoun County politics bestows upon local bloggers – and trust me, the cornucopia is bountiful – few surpass the sideshows and subplots of our beloved quadrennial sheriff campaigns.

This year, the incumbent Sheriff Mike Chapman faces former deputy Eric Noble in the battle for the Republican nomination, which will be decided on May 2 at the Loudoun County Republican Committee (LCRC) convention. Both are likeable, decent men. As noted in yesterday’s article, Chapman has enjoyed a successful first term in office, though periodically under surprising criticism from political opponents within the LCRC.

One of Noble’s key errors in the run up to this race was to engage in anonymous commenting on local news sites, along with his campaign “tag team” member and former Loudoun deputy, Ricky Frye. Despite being an impressive public speaker and – in my opinion – political natural, Noble has undercut some of his key campaign messages this time around. For instance, Noble has levelled the charge that Chapman’s management style is too controlling and extends too far down the chain of command, but experienced managers may well read the story that follows as evidence of Chapman’s need to do exactly that, coming in, in order to improve the agency.

This unforced error does not mean Noble should be written off politically: If he does not prevail on May 2, he seems a likely candidate for another office in the future.

But some convention voters may balk because, as Chapman has said, the expectation of honesty and integrity is higher for the Sheriff’s Office than for most jobs: “We don’t just have to abide by the law. We have to abide by General Orders.”

So, about this rookie mistake. Who among us has not been tempted to don a persona and give it voice? Fulminating or complaining from the safety of anonymity: What finer of guilty pleasures can there be? Be cautious when holding forth on matters over which you someday wish to preside, of course. Like if you plan to get into a pitched and negative political campaign, and you plan to be the one pushing the negative angle, then you might want to be really, really non-specific in your anonymous statements.

So they don’t get traced back to you.

But in any case, the Loudoun County sock puppet story needs to be brought out into the open so it can be fully acknowledged, and put to bed. It will be useful for those interested in this particular campaign, and perhaps also for anyone attempting to balance puppetry and politics going forward.

Chapman, Noble and Frye are not the only characters in this tale. But they are the only ones made of flesh and blood.

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Politics and Hyperbole in the Loudoun Sheriff’s Nomination Contest

Delgaudio-Saddam-twitter
One of Eric Noble’s key supporters, Sterling Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio, employed some “hyperbole” on Twitter in comparing Sheriff Mike Chapman to Saddam Hussein

Having earned a record 91.5% public approval rating, and with the crime rate down 18%, the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office under Mike Chapman would seem headed into the 2015 election season on a high note. And by all accounts, among county residents, that is the case.

But within the local political party it’s a different story, and Chapman faces a nomination contest prior to the November elections. Instead of anything resembling smooth sailing, Chapman’s potential path to re-election will be turbulent. He must overcome a Republican faction bearing overheated rhetoric – and taunting Chapman to quit the party – and an opponent leading a mini-rebellion from within the agency (which actually began about the time Chapman took office) who also happens to have the backing of a Republican-turned-Independent, turned-Republican, former sheriff (who always seemed to hold substantial Republican support). And there is a subplot, with sock puppets.

Party politics is about nothing if not chest-thumping, temporary loyalty, brandished in a bellicose spree of righteousness and situational ethics, where a careful observer can almost always pinpoint the irony.

This introduction is the first in a series of articles between now and the May 2 Loudoun County Republican Committee (LCRC) convention, in which we’ll cover some of the complexities of the race for the nomination for sheriff.

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Transcript: Loudoun County Republican Sheriff Candidates Debate

Mike Chapman-Randy Minchew-Eric Noble
Sheriff Mike Chapman (L) faced former Loudoun County deputy Eric Noble (R) in last night’s debate, moderated by Delegate Randy Minchew.

Last night in Leesburg, Virginia, the Loudoun County Republican Women’s Club held the only debate between the two candidates for the Republican nomination for the office of sheriff: Sheriff Mike Chapman and challenger Eric Noble. The nomination will be determined at the May 2 Loudoun County Republican Committee convention, to decide who will represent the party in the November 2015 elections.

The debate was well-organized, impeccably moderated by Delegate Randy Minchew, and had excellent turnout. Attendees filled the room at the Rust Library. The sound system, however, was a bit sketchy, not seeming to cover the entire room evenly, and some had a hard time hearing everything that was said. Chapman, who stood a few inches further from the microphone and has a more laid back speaking style, at some times was quite faint. So, in order to do my write up of the debate I needed to listen to my recording and transcribe most of it …. and decided, what they hey, to post it here for all of you, and for those at the event who want another shot at it. I can tell you, that reading it gives a clearer picture of what the two gentlemen were saying, than I got even from sitting in the front row. I think eventually a video will be posted, but in case you are not in the mood to watch a 1 hr, 20 min. video, the following may prove helpful.

[There may be some errors, although I think they will be minor. I edited for basic clarity – but if you compare to a recording you will see this is very close to verbatim. The format was: they rotated in order of response and the first person got a rebuttal, then there was a “speed round” with shorter time limits. Also at one point they questioned each other. You will figure it out as you read. In places where I could not tell what was said, even from listening carefully to the recording, I used an ellipsis ….. to mark any unintelligible portions. I posted a copy of the audio file at the bottom of this post – the link will stay live until around May 2. It is a WMA file so best to play on a Windows computer.]

SHERIFF DEBATE TRANSCRIPT

Eric Noble Opening Statement
Convention delegates have a stark choice at this convention, when they’ll be choosing between two candidates. One that emphasizes local law enforcement, and puts deputies on the street, and a local policing model that is proactive rather than reactive. The other is built on experience gained in a federal bureaucracy where the commanders at the head office are often out of touch and out of step with what’s going on in the street. But they put a premium on press releases, and their management style is reactive, not proactive.

Let me give you just one example. The Silver Line is coming in 2018, and I’ve talked to agencies that had train stations open up recently. And what you hear from those folks is real concern. I’ll give you an example. At Tyson’s Corner Mall, the day the Silver Line opened, they had a crime issue, and it’s still there. Yet with Metro on the horizon, Mike just issued a five year plan, and nowhere in that plan does it talk about the Silver Line at all. On the other hand, I have a proactive plan: Identify and baseline the metrics today, so that we can understand the problem when that train station does open. I’m talking about developing enforcement and education strategies so that on the day that ribbon is cut, and hits the ground, we’re in a position to address both public safety and quality of life issues.

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“Fact vs Fiction”: Mike Chapman Answers Republican Group’s Attack

Mike Chapman with Brian Reynolds and Ed Levine
Sheriff Mike Chapman (R) with Loudoun Republican supporters Brian Reynolds (L) and Ed Levine. Chapman is opposed by a GOP faction in the upcoming nominating elections on May 2.

Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman penned a detailed response to a Republican hit piece last month, which has left the GOP faction opposing him, thus far, dumbfounded. Composed within a few hours’ time span, the Chapman article is remarkable both for its comprehensiveness and clarity – in a campaign that, so far, has seen some confusing messages.

As noted in yesterday’s post, the Loudoun County Republican Committee faction supporting Chapman’s “tag team” of opponents includes Sterling Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio. “Endorsements” is probably a topic worth its own post, but I will expand a little on what I said yesterday: I think sometimes endorsements reveal more about networking than they do about public policy. The tag team has Delgaudio and Commonwealth’s Attorney Jim Plowman and some prominent activists; Chapman has Ollie North, Barbara Comstock, Mike Farris and his own host of prominent Loudoun activists.

I can think of a couple reasons that Delgaudio weighed in on this race, one of which is, half of the tag team duo is former Loudoun deputy Ricky Frye who was stationed in Sterling district for some time. While I am a Delgaudio supporter for a number of years, I find it odd that he did this, and I wonder if he really thought it through.

Because it looks to me like Mike Chapman made some changes in the Sheriff’s Office that some of the existing deputies did not like (and in fact it looks like some were committed to taking Chapman down from the moment Chapman took office). But we did elect Chapman, after all, to replace Steve Simpson in 2011 and presumably also to make changes. Sterling was one of the areas where residents took an active interest in the Sheriff’s department in recent years, and one would think that rolling back the clock, to reinstall the old regime that Chapman has shaken up, would not be high on the Sterling supervisor’s list of priorities. But whomever is supposed to be benefiting from Eugene Delgaudio sticking his neck out for the tag team – I hope they appreciate it.

Anyway, Delgaudio circulated a message both in email and paper copies criticizing Sheriff Chapman. The Sheriff, immediately, sent out the following message listing all of Delgaudio’s points and answering them in full:


FROM LOUDOUN COUNTY SHERIFF MIKE CHAPMAN:
“Sterling District Supervisor Supports Flawed Candidate”

Last night, Supervisor Delgaudio sent an email message out in support of my opponent, utilizing statements solely from my opponent, without checking a single fact. The information Delgaudio relayed was FALSE. It is time to distinguish fact from fiction.

Fiction: Supervisor Delgaudio accused me of being a liberal.

Fact: False: I am a fiscally conservative Republican and due to the management efficiencies I put in place, the LCSO was able to return over $4.5M in budgeted funds to the county over the past three years.

Fiction: Supervisor Delgaudio accused me of being inexperienced at the local level, having served only federally.

Fact: False. I served law enforcement at the local level for over 10 years; 7 with the Howard County MD Police Department (3 Patrol, 3 SWAT, 1-Detective), 3 with the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office, 23 as a Federal Special Agent (Drug Enforcement Administration), and 3 as a law enforcement Subject Matter Expert with Booz Allen and Hamilton. I served in critical law enforcement capacities all over the world. Additionally, I have a Master’s Degree in Public Administration; a Bachelor’s in Business Management. I am a recent graduate of the National Sheriff’s Institute, the VA Sheriff’s Institute, and the FBI’s National Executive Institute and stay educated and involved with the latest trends and techniques in addressing and preventing crime. My opponent’s has never been an investigator, and has far less education, training and experience.

Fiction: Supervisor Delgaudio said that Loudoun County has a DUI problem.

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Use No Hurtful Deceit

A while back, in another forum, I debunked a number of the rotating quotations to be found at the bottom of the Loudoun County Republican Committee’s Web site. About half of them were easy to show as, at the least, inaccurate. A couple were outright fiction. Here’s one of those, still visible there as of this writing:

FranklinFake

That one rankles me the most, but it took me a while to realize why that is. The reason is actually two-fold: First, it misquotes one of the founding fathers of our nation. Franklin was one member of The Committee of Five who wrote the American Declaration of Independence. He helped write the Constitution in 1787. He is one of only five people who personally signed both documents. Republicans are unsurpassed (if not unequaled) in their protestations of respect for the men who created The United States. Yet, here, they don’t even do the one history calls, “the first american” the simple courtesy of finding out if he said this or not. My second reason is that, of all the things they could have done to insult Franklin and his legacy, the one they’ve chosen is to steal his name to support their boundless love of guns. (For those insisting on proof that Franklin didn’t say the words above, avoid the Tea Party Web sites–as they all seem to have bought into the same lie–and check any reputable independent source; it’ll take you under five minutes, if you know how to “Google and mouse.”)

But… The fact that Franklin never talked any trash about guns, animals voting, or lunch (a word not used until decades after he died) notwithstanding, maybe Franklin did have a view on the right to bear arms. Not surprisingly, a lot of Web sites offer quotations from quite a few of the founders about guns. Some, are pretty direct, like this one from Jefferson:

No freeman shall be debarred the use of arms.

(But check my link to find out what Jefferson is often misquoted as saying he had in mind.)

Then there’s this one, from Mason:

…to disarm the people. That it was the best and most effectual way to enslave them.

Mason was talking about the militia, which he felt was necessary to national defense, not personal rights, but he did still say that one.

As for Franklin, the sites devoted to the founders’ views on guns offer this familiar gem:

They that give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

Fine words indeed, and there’s no dispute that they are Franklin’s. But, it is begging the question to presume he included gun rights as an, “essential liberty.” To find out what he meant, we have to know the context in which he said it. Here’s one claim to be doing just that:

Today, few remember that the context for Benjamin Franklin’s famous words condemning those who ‘can give up essential liberty’ was his discussion of the refusal of Virginia’s colonial assembly to adopt Jefferson’s 1759 proposal on colonials’ inalienable right to bear arms: ‘The thoughtful reader may wonder,’ Franklin wrote, ‘why wasn’t Jefferson’s proposal of “No freeman shall ever be debarred the use of arms” adopted by the Virginia legislature? They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.’

Wow! Now that is pretty much dead on target. It even incorporates the already proven words of Jefferson, about “the use of arms.” Hard to argue that Franklin wasn’t in the same stance as Jefferson, when you have that context. And that context is everywhere, on the Web. Impossible to see it any other way than that Franklin did support the right to arms, like Jefferson, like Mason, if you know he said what is quoted above.

Except that Franklin never said that, either.

It takes a little more Googling, but one can, if one wishes, discover that Franklin’s warning about liberty comes from the record of the proceedings of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, dated November 11, 1755. Here‘s what the record actually says (and here):

We have taken every Step in our Power, consistent with the just Rights of the Freemen of Pennsylvania, for their Relief, and we have Reason to believe, that in the Midst of their Distresses they themselves do not wish us to go farther. Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.

Jefferson’s name isn’t mentioned anywhere in that record. And, no, it’s not because that’s not the record Franklin’s ghost-writers were relying on. Some explicitly refer to that particular record, by name and by date, so you can check for yourself and confirm that those are not Benjamin Franklin’s words. (Or just take note of the fact that even Franklin could not, in 1755, be quoting something Jefferson wouldn’t say until 1759.)

franklin2color80In short, all of that stuff about well-armed lambs and thoughtful readers is a pack of lies. Given that fact, it would perhaps be germane to close with one other thing Franklin really did say:

Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.

Something to think about, next time you’re reading the Web site of the Loudoun County Republican Committee.