Home Tracy Pyles: The knuckleheads running Augusta County

Tracy Pyles: The knuckleheads running Augusta County

Tracy Pyles
Augusta County
(© Rex Wholster – stock.adobe.com)

The Augusta County Board of Supervisors believes our silence as being assent. Because as Republicans they run for office bulletproof, they assume their invincibility confers infallibility of action. And I guess they are right.

How else to explain an electorate, once vehemently opposed to tax increases, innately resistant to rights encroachment, and able to sniff out phonies like a blue tick on a fresh scent, now willing to sit on their hands rather than raise a fuss?

And yet there is a flame that flickers on the Board that needs just a bit of tending to erupt into a full-fledged five-alarm fire. Dr. Scott Seaton sits alone at the Board bench speaking up and speaking out against a six-member collection of knuckleheads.

A local judge has told them they erroneously withheld a legitimate Freedom of Information Act request and ordered release of the wrongly withheld documents.  That has cost “us,” to date, nearly $6,000.

Not believing a judge knows more than they on the law, they are appealing the decision. This next round will not be as cheap with the added possibility, and likelihood, of also paying the legal fees of the prevailing side.

Spending other people’s money is what brings freeloaders the most satisfaction.

The facts are these. Virginia Code Section 2.2-3700 mandates: “All public records and meetings shall be presumed open, unless an exemption is properly invoked.” And in that a judge has ruled it wasn’t.

The ruse of the Board was in offering the Board’s exemption being the “Board of Supervisors” wanted to discuss none-of-your-business matters concerning the “Board of Supervisors.”  Were that to be allowed, everything could be hidden from the public.

On their side is, sadly, our money. We pay the generous salaries of the County Administrator and the County Attorney, who have betrayed their learning and their professionalism by their silence when the Board was violating their oaths of office.

And now the Board is using our taxes to fund an abuse of our right to know.

The Board has been told, and surely knows, they cannot win in a fair fight. But believe if they waste enough money in delaying a ruling, in costly discovery, in ever increasing levels of courts, they can win through the other guy’s exhaustion.

Only those who think “rex non potest peccare”: “the King can do no wrong,” can believe this a valid use of our money. If our “kings” can defy the plain text of our laws, ignore the decisions of the judicial system, and then employ our taxes to out-lawyer our fellow citizens, democracy is laid to waste.

I ask the sullen six to prove they have faith in the integrity of their appeal. As we only have Dr. Seaton to look out for us, I am asking that he make this motion: the six will pay the costs of the appeal and if victorious, the county will re-imburse them. If they lose, added to their own legal costs will be those of the winners.

They will surely, selfishly, vote this down. And when they do, we must ask if there isn’t an element of criminality attached to their actions.

The Board has a fiduciary obligation when spending our money. Fiduciary is defined as: “a person or organization that acts on behalf of another person or persons, putting their clients’ interests ahead of their own, with a duty to preserve good faith and trust.”

In real life when an entrusted fiduciary spends “Aunt Gertie’s” life savings for a vacation cruise, they can be prosecuted, jailed, and made to pay back their ill-gotten gain. In Augusta County when our elected squander our entrusted taxes on personal wants, they get re-elected.

Tracy Pyles is the former chairman of the Augusta County Board of Supervisors.