Ken Reid and the art of political payoffs

Nimble Thinker and proud new GOP Loudoun Supervisor “Ken” Reid (R-Leesburg) has certainly been coming up with some creative explanations for the new all-Republican board’s snappy 8-1 vote to pay off the developers who backed their election with hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions.

"Ken" Reid

Nimble Thinker and Developer Tool "Ken" Reid and his vision (below) for a more beautiful Loudoun County

With little public notice and minimal discussion, the board in one of its very first actions killed off the county’s very successful program to clean up illegally posted signs on public property along roadways. Nearly 100 volunteers had enrolled in the program, and over the several years it has been running—at virtually no cost to the taxpayers—they have removed more than 50,000 illegally placed signs.

As anyone with eyes had observed, the overwhelming majority of offenders are Toll Brothers, Beazer Homes, Selma, and other developers. They would dearly love to be able to scoff with impunity at the law that makes it a civil offense and public nuisance to post a sign in a public right of way. (Close second are Republican candidates for office.)

“Ken”‘s fellow minions on the board, all apparently repeating what the miniature radio receivers implanted in their head by the Loudoun County Republican Committee and the developers (but I repeat myself) told them, each took a turn gravely expressing concerns over “liability” to the county by having volunteers pick up trash. The fact that there had never been a singe actual liability concern ever to crop up in the course of the program made it pretty obvious that this was simply the agreed-upon cover story (and interestingly, the one lawyer on the board, Shawn Williams, cast the sole vote to preserve the program).

Presumably the board will now swiftly move to eliminate other dangerous liability exposures our county faces from other volunteer activities: the auxiliary deputy sheriff program, park and stream cleanup projects,  parent volunteers in elementary schools, booster clubs in the high schools operating concessions at sports events . . . ?

But “Ken” boldly struck out on his own with a novel explanation for halting the “vigilantes,” as he termed them, who have been sinisterly working to make our county more beautiful:

I also voted to kill the task force because the 52,000 signs removed wound up in our landfill. . . How can folks concerned about “visual” pollution not be concerned about the environmental impact of about 3 tons of metal, paper, plastic and paint chemicals being put in our landfill?

Yes, we certainly can’t clean anything up . . . because it might get thrown away! (Wonder what “Ken”‘s basement looks like: we can only hope he’s doing his part to keep dangerous materials, like paper, out of the landfill.)

I’ve long been an admirer of “Ken”‘s nimble thinking and am thoroughly accustomed to the way he never lets a fact intrude upon his highly creative thought processes, but I have to say even I was left wondering why he thought 3 tons of signs could sound like a menacing figure. By way of comparison, the Loudoun County landfill took in 85,746 tons of solid waste in 2010. You could look it up (annual solid waste report, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality). Needless to say, “Ken” did not.

I’ll post in a few days the details of the campaign contributions from developers that bought up “Ken” lock, stock, and barrel. It’s I guess fortunate for “Ken” that his backers aren’t too picky about the quality of the material they purchased, as long as they get the results they’re after.

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