Did Loudoun BOS Violate FOIA?

The source of the advice to, “never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel,” is disputed, but its wisdom is not up for debate. Three first-term members of the Loudoun county board of supervisors might be excused for not heeding it, but Scott York leading a pack of four is surprising. Their joint letter (about the board’s spending policies) to the Loudoun Times-Mirror makes a few valid points, but, even as ink is being replaced by electrons, it may not have been their best move to tackle the LTM’s February 26, 2014 editorial on the LTM’s own Web site. Editors have a way of getting the last word in front of their readers, which York should know.

But, wise or risky, perhaps a more intriguing question created by their letter is this: How did four out of nine members of the board of supervisors write a joint letter about spending the county’s money when the Virginia Freedom of Information Act forbids more than two of them to meet, even electronically, while discussing public business?

Ignoring good advice is one thing. Ignoring the state’s transparency laws… that’s another.

Mike Turner and Liz Miller Slug It Out

Interesting point/counterpoint pair of Op-Ed pieces in Leesburg Today recently.

Mike Turner takes a shot at the Virginia state senate’s Democrats, claiming they played politics by voting down good legislation sponsored by Republican delegates.

Liz Miller shoots back on their behalf, revealing that Turner didn’t seem to know the senate votes were on substituted versions of the bills he mentions (and those substitutes were, Miller says, completely different from the versions Turner apparently had in mind).

Beyond being a peek at the underbelly of the beast that is local politics, it’s also a bit of a demonstration of just how hard it can be to know what’s really going on during a legislative session. Apparently, a bill can be submitted by a patron and assigned a number, and can then be completely re-written, while still bearing that original patron’s name. The potential for game-playing is unlimited. A good bill could deliberately be rewritten into a bad one, just so the patron can claim political forces stopped them from passing its original form (something like that may even have happened here). Or a good bill could be deliberately rewritten into a bad one, just so the patron has to take the blame for the substituted version (that doesn’t seem to be what happened in this case; maybe a patron can pull a bill before it does?).

Apart from the battle these two writers seem to have waged, both pieces together are a valuable case-study on just how hard it can be to follow the progress of a bill, and on just how far from a bill’s original form its final form can be.

Interested wannabe policy wonks should use these two articles as guidelines as they delve into the online Legislative Information Service, where the full history of a bill can be found. (In this case, HB1, HB994, SB4, and SB373.)

Icy Driving Conditions Expected to Continue

Because of the continued low temperatures, many road surfaces may remain frozen until Thursday
Because of the continued low temperatures, many road surfaces may remain frozen until Thursday

Loudoun County residents continue to feel the repercussions of the snow that blanketed the area yesterday. While the treatment of the roads caused some of the snow to melt, the low temperatures are refreezing the roads. This is expected to happen for the next few days as the temperatures will remain below freezing.

County officials remind residents that it will take time to clear all the icy roads and that, although no more snow is expected, conditions will be hazardous. The roads will be dangerous because the snow’s consistency is more like ice than powder. To be safe driving in these hazardous conditions, motorists should:

  • Use extreme caution when driving. You may not be able to stop as quickly as normal on the snow-covered or icy pavement.
  • Pay attention. Don’t try to out-drive the conditions. Remember the posted speed limits are for dry pavement.
  • Leave room for maintenance vehicles and plows

Loudoun Health Council Seeking Exhibitors

Loudoun Health For Life Day will be Saturday, May 10, 2014, from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm at Gum Spring Library, 24600 Millstream Drive in the Stone Ridge community.
Loudoun Health For Life Day will be Saturday, May 10, 2014, from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm at Gum Spring Library, 24600 Millstream Drive in the Stone Ridge community.
The Loudoun Health Council is seeking potential vendors for its “Health For Life” day, which will be held Saturday, May 10, 2014 at Gum Spring Library in Stone Ridge.

Exhibit space is free, but all displays or presentations must be focused on one of the following subject areas:

  • Lyme disease
  • preventive healthcare
  • a fitness activity
  • healthy cooking
  • nutrition

In order to participate, vendors must register online. Registration will be open through March 31, 2014. Click here for more information.

Retired Judge Paul Sheridan Assigned to Delgaudio Case

The online system that tracks Loudoun’s Circuit Court cases is a bit cryptic, but it has an entry that appears to show “Paul Sheridan” has been assigned by the state Supreme Court to preside over the rest of the Delgaudio removal proceedings:


If that’s the case, it would seem to be the Paul Sheridan now working with The McCammon Group, a “dispute resolution & prevention” services firm. Judge Sheridan appears also to have retired from the 17th Judicial Circuit Court of Arlington, after serving on the bench for 18 years, the last five of those as Chief Judge of the court. It seems reasonable to assume that, as a retired judge, he has both the credentials and the time to devote to this important proceeding.

Nothing in the court calendar as yet regarding when the next court appearances will take place, but the statutory requirement that this type of matter take precedence is clearly in full effect. Stay tuned.

Brambleton v. LCPS – The Story Continues


[FirewallNOVA got this report from a spectator at today’s hearing.]

Substitute Circuit Court Judge Herman A. Whisenant heard argument today on a motion in the Brambleton v. LCPS case. It’s actually titled “Kelsey v. Loudoun County School Board,” but it exists because a number of parents of Briar Woods HS students who live in Brambleton are unhappy that the school board’s latest attendance-zone map moves their children out of Briar Woods. The law does allow anyone who is negatively affected by a school board’s decision to ask a court to review it, but the review is kind of limited and the court can only overturn the school board if the court finds the decision was “arbitrary and capricious.”

The exchange between the attorneys and the judge was interesting… Continue reading “Brambleton v. LCPS – The Story Continues”