A Cleanup in Name Only

Our all-Republican board of supervisors, you will recall, as one of their first legislative acts upon taking office in January, voted with virtually no notice and minimal discussion to eliminate the highly effective volunteer program to clean up illegal signs blighting Loudoun’s roadways.

The explanations offered for killing the program ranged from the comical (it was so unfair that illegally posted signs were being removed in some cases right after they were posted) to the idiotic (courtesy—who else—deep-thinking Supervisor Ken Reid, who expressed great concern about the environmental hazard created by all of that paper, plastic, and printing “chemicals” winding up in the county landfill).

Now the board has followed up, in another one of those snappy 9–0 votes with little or no discussion, to continue the “official” sign removal effort which consists of two employees of the county going out every Monday between the hours of 10:00 am and 1:00 p.m. to areas where citizens have registered complaints about illegal signs.

The employees unsurprisingly have picked up relatively few signs.

This is mainly because the real estate and development industry that is far and away the No. 1 offender in blighting the county with their garish and ugly signs stuck every 100 yards along the roadways employs its own paid workers who travel around in nice pickup trucks with flashing yellow lights on top and “Caution: Makes Frequent Stops” placards who go out every Friday night to hammer in their hundreds of signs and return every Monday morning to pull  them up for reuse next weekend.

The only way this will stop is if there is a price to be paid for their flagrant, repeated, and completely knowing violations of the law. Yanking out their signs on Saturday mornings and throwing them away did hit them where it hurt. So would actually enforcing the law that permits the county as VDOT’s agent to assess the statutory $100 civil penalty per occurrence.

But that would be so unkind to a major supporter of and source of campaign cash for the current all-Republican board, wouldn’t it? Which was why the actually effective volunteer program had to go.

In its place we have another one of these Potemkin programs the Board has already shown to be its specialty: come up with something designed for no other purpose that to appear to be something it isn’t — in this case a cleanup program that cleans up nothing but which allows the board to claim it’s doing something.

We’ve heard that the professional staff of the county, including County Administrator Tim Hemstreet, are extremely alarmed at the political string pulling, favoritism, and corruption that is swiftly becoming the entire raison d’etre of this board. Probably not exactly what Mr. Hemstreet learned about the way government is supposed to work when he was getting his master’s degree in public administration at James Madison University.

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