The “it was merely stupidity” defense

In our last episode, very politically ambitious Loudoun supervisor Ken “Ken” Reid (R-Leesburg) had nominated to the local Historic District Review Committee a woman who has filed numerous petitions and legal actions (all dismissed or rejected by the courts and by local, state, and federal agencies and boards) seeking to abolish the historic district designations for the village of Waterford, Virginia. In other words, undermining the very work the HDRC is charged by law to carry out.

The obvious interpretation was that this was a crude attempt by “Ken” to curry favor with the so-called “property rights” crowd in the Loudoun County Republican Party — a convenient alliance between the Tea Party types who hate government and the developers who hate having to do things like respect history, water quality, the environment, or other peoples’ rights.

Apparently the nomination of Milari Madison was too much even for some of Ken’s fellow Virginia Republicans to swallow, however. The director of the state Department of Historic Resources, who had clashed with Ms. Madison over the Waterford case, has contacted local GOP delegate Randy Minchew to express her alarm, and Ken’s fellow supervisors are edging cautiously away from him on this one, too.

(Ms. Madison asserted that the historic designation violated her “rights” to build a 3,700 square foot home on the property she purchased in 2003  in Waterford, a historic village founded by Quakers in 1733. Waterford has been a National Historic Landmark since 1970, but Madison asserted at the special Board of Historic Resources meeting called to hear her complaint that it had no historic value. That caused the state Historic Resources director, Kathleen Kilpatrick, to respond, “It’s patently absurd to say there’s no history here. It boggles the mind.”)

While privately expressing their “concern” about Ken’s selection, Minchew and several of Ken’s fellow GOP supervisors have also advised that Ken, being Ken, is unlikely to withdraw the nomination.

For Ken’s part, he now has offered the novel defense that it was not the mean-spirited, provocative, china-smashing, sucking-up-to-the-mad-dog-faction-within-the-local-GOP act it looked like; it was mere stupidity.

Ken explained that Ms. Madison had sent in her resume and asked to be nominated for the vacancy on the board and so Ken did; he says he did not know about the “concerns” with her. (He even asked one citizen who contacted him if he could provide a set of “talking points” about the concerns with Ms. Madison. Nothing like doing your research!)

Ken’s blissful ignorance sounds slightly dubious, given all of the attention Ms. Madison’s petitions and legal actions have garnered over the years in the local newspapers, the Washington Post, Too Conservative, and other media outlets.

But if Ken wants to plead stupidity rather than cupidity, that’s fine with us.

The full Board of Supervisors is due to vote next week on the nominations to the HDRC. Stay tuned!

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