During the 2011 election campaign, there was much talk by many of the candidates about Loudoun County joining the modern universe of governance and creating an independent permanent inspector general (such as every agency of the federal government has), who could look into mismanagement, funny dealings, and improper actions by our elected officials and others.
Of course with such pressing business as covering up scandals, abusing office staff, appropriating government resources for personal enrichment, arranging sweetheart deals for generous campaign contributors, taking repeated unaccountable overseas trips at taxpayer expense, firing county employees who rocked the boat, and rewriting zoning laws to favor politically and financially connected insiders, it’s understandable that it’s taken our all-Republican Loudoun Board of Supervisors until now to finally get around to the question of creating an IG.
Supervisor Ralph “I was against setting the new tax rate before I voted for it but I’m still against it” Buona (R-Ashburn), our very businesslike chairman of the government operations committee, explained last week however that there is really no need for an IG. Instead, he and the other supervisors are now proposing that the county hire a contractor to provide a “hotline” to which “waste, fraud, and abuse” can be reported.
Presumably in other cost-cutting efficiencies, they could similarly replace the Commonwealth Attorney’s office with a suggestion box.
This of course is of a piece with the entire approach of this Board, which has repeatedly adopted a tactic of punching the citizenry in the nose, then offering with great fanfare a Band Aid, to demonstrate their deep concern and compassion. They did this when they axed the 100-person-strong volunteer sign cleanup program as a gift to the developers, then grandly voted to have a single county employee spend a couple of hours a week picking up illegal signs; when they zeroed out funding for the Loudoun Symphony but then made a huge show of announcing the group’s concerts in their constituent “news[sic]letters”; and when they grandly announced the other day that — while they had totally failed in their non-existent effort to save the historic silo in CountrySide, allowing the developer to knock it down — they had nonetheless voted to “document” it by taking a bunch of pictures.
But back to the IG . . . at the risk of stating the obvious (something increasingly necessary with this gang): the problem is not that there is no way for sleazy actions to be reported to our county government. The problem is that no one in the government under this Board is willing to do anything about it when they are reported, except (this means you Scott York) cover it up for months. No one in county government has the independence or even authority to investigate, ask questions, look into shady and questionable stuff, or even initiate an examination.
The idea that a “hotline” is a substitute for an investigator would be comical if it weren’t insulting.