Our all-Republican Loudoun Board of Supervisors have pulled off yet another political power grab, getting a bill passed in Richmond to make Loudoun the only county in the entire state in which the Board of Supervisors, and not the judges of the Circuit Court, will henceforth get to appoint the local Board of Equalization — an anachronistic but incredibly powerful body that has complete authority to revise real estate assessments.
Loudoun’s Board of Equalization has been bad enough in the political favoritism it has shown in the past — memorably, when former Supervisor Chairman Dale Polen Myers (R) was on the equalization board and tidily arranged to have assessments on commercial properties owned by companies she personally had business dealings with as a real estate agent reduced to virtually zero. (She resigned shortly after that came out.)
Now, with its members handpicked by the same elected officials who have doled out so many other goodies to the development industry that bankrolled their elections — and who have made it a constant practice since taking office to appoint only Republicans, big campaign donors, and development industry reps to virtually every supposedly independent advisory and regulatory commission and board — we probably ain’t seen nothing yet.
With the usual smoke and mirrors spin, Supervisor Shawn Williams (R-Broad Run) claims that placing the previously independent equalization board under the thumb of elected politicians like him will correct the “lack of oversight” under which the board has operated. But the whole idea of such a board is that it can only hope to operate impartially if it is as far removed from political control as possible: that’s exactly why the law has provided for judges to appoint its members.
What the all-Republican Board of Supervisors has increasingly made plain — with their summary firings of staff, their stifling of dissent, their coverups and secrecy, their behind the scenes deals and unanimous votes — is that they view themselves as the bosses of the county, determined to eliminate any power or even voice that they cannot directly command themselves.