Tons Of Fun At Ashburn Patch

By Loudoun Insider

Ashburn Patch has been on quite the tear lately getting some good scoops and stirring things up a bit.  Dusty Smith runs that particular patch and as a former Leesburg Today and Center for Public Integrity reporter, he has a unique and deep perspective on Loudoun politics.  Here’s a few interesting bits from the last week:

The Cliff Keirce article I mentioned a few days ago got pretty interesting in comments, check it out again.

The LCDC Vice Chairman tried (and I do mean “tried”) to defend Andrea McGimsey from Cliff and was pummeled in comments.

And Andrea McGimsey proves once again how utterly clueless and unprepared she can be, and why she absolutely does not belong on that dais anymore.

Patch sometimes gets a bit lost in the Loudoun media shuffle, but they deserve to be added to your regular web wanderings.  I do wish these articles were easier to find and/or stayed on the front page a bit longer.  Hopefully these links will make them easier for everyone to see, as they should be more widely read.


Comments

  • Thanks for putting up those links, LI.

    The story about Andrea’s motion, which would have killed the completion of Claiborne from Croson to Ryan (something that, since it is in the new Blue Ridge, she apparently does not know that constituents in the new Broad Run very badly want and need, to stop having to cut through Belle Terra on their way south in the morning), really marks her complete dismissal of community welfare in favor of political gain. When she made her motion, she said this, referring to a narrow stretch of Waxpool in the new Broad Run and the current Dulles:

    “I don’t know why supervisors who represent that area haven’t worked on it.”

    Well, those supervisors would be me and York, right? No love lost there, but a sad exposure of what she’s ready to put at risk in the name of what she thinks is some kind of payback, since that widening has already been scheduled and is paid for.

    People who find this sort of thing interesting should play the Webcast of that debate. It starts about 30 minutes into the recording. Delgaudio seconded Andrea’s request, which would have started the process of moving the Claiborne funding to Waxpool.

    It quickly became apparent that she had forgotten that the widening is already scheduled and paid for with proffered money, from an application Andrea herself voted to approve (along with me). Staff can be seen struggling in the video to help her realize what a double-blunder that would have been, without making her look as foolish as, well, she was being.

    The whole thing ground to a stop, thankfully, when Eugene Delgaudio himself did the right thing and withdrew his second of her motion.

    See http://maps.google.com/maps?q=38.999842,-77.517915 if you’re curious about the actual location.

    A shameful episode in local affairs.

  • Loudoun Insider says:

    That’s almost too good for a comment, Supervisor Miller! I would suggest that you write it up as a blog post. Here’s a suggested title – “Andrea McGimsey Is A Clueless Narcissist Who Doesn’t Pay Attention”.

    Someone needs to clip out the relevant video, this sounds like exactly what her new district voters need to see.

  • Material is staring to come in fast and furious. Read the post I put up just thirty minutes ago. (http://tinyurl.com/wosup)

    This all does make me a bit sad. I tried very hard to be Andrea’s friend and look at the staff-aide thing and her resolute refusal to speak to Susan Buckley about anything as explainable by the pressures of this job. None of us is perfect.

    But I’m seeing that the issues are deeper than that and, when an elected official risks damaging the welfare of our neighbors for the sake of some political gamesmanship, it’s clear she needs to go.

  • DC Beltway Bandit says:

    So here is the link…fast forward/jum to Claiborne item:

    http://loudoun.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=35&clip_id=1939

    …33.10 is where bizarro world of McGimsey begins.

    34.18 staff starts to answers McGimsey’s question and at the 35.00 marker, bizarro world continues with McGimsey’s “point of information” steam rolls into Kurtz’s time. This is an embarassment, how can McGimsey be this unprepared or uneducated with funds already set aside for this project.

  • DC Beltway Bandit says:

    *jump* (freaking tablet – no spell check today).

    Agreed, thank goodness Delgaudio withdrew his second on hersubstitute motion. Another example of how McGimsey treats County Staff and is completely unprepared for meetings, it starts at 42:08 marker.

    Who the hell pulls an item off the consent agenda and doesn’t notify the sitting Supervisor or Chair in advance.

    McGimsey has to go, she is toxic human being, unprepared and is clearly unfit for public office. Broad Run, just say NO to McG.

  • Loudoun Insider says:

    Oh man, I just wasted 15 minutes of my life watching that! So painful. The staff seemed so frustrated and annoyed at her.

    This shows what I have heard personally from so many supervisors, supervisor aides, and county staff people – she never prepares for meetings and is often clueless and confused. I can’t believe she decided to run again – this campaign is going to destroy whatever reputation she had left. And she has no one to blame but herself. This performance is so typical of her first and last term on the Board of Supervisors.

  • Member, McGimsey Aides Support Group says:

    WHY does everyone give her money to run again? The aides do all her work for her and she takes all the credit; she can’t even clean her own catbox or keep track of her own car keys! Never mind move into her own apartment, find her own parking place, operate her own computer, or buy her own coffee. She is only successful because the aides whom she treats like crap want to do a great job for the county. When they are finally all gone and she can’t hire anymore because of her reputation, “her work” will be exposed for what it really is…NADA! She has no clue!

  • I had no notice of what she was going to do, but for briefly walking past her that morning on my way up to the dais, as she was talking to a county staffer about it. She then paid visits to a couple of the others and, when she pulled the item from consent, I looked at it and realized the Claiborne completion was in play. During breaks and other pauses, I ran around and got five others to agree that they would not oppose the item as it was originally drafted for consent. So, going in, I already had six votes to protect it.

    Which I would have told her, if he had seen fit to ask me ahead of time.

    Your government at work.

  • liz says:

    I drive through the section she was blathering about on my way to work and, while it is not the best stretch of road in Loudoun, neither is it the worst. And it is, at least, a connected piece of road. You CAN get from here to there on it!

    Unlike the uncompleted section of Claiborne, which is currently a dead-end, forcing people to cut through a residential neighborhood.

  • Loudoun Insider says:

    Loudoun’s road network is an utter disaster. McGimsey is obviously doing NOTHING to help alleviate that problem.

  • Liberal Anthropologist says:

    MMASG,

    I would really like to understand something. You are telling me that it is within the job description of a County employee to deal with a litter box or help someone move?

    Honest question. What makes her think that would be appropriate? I will accept coffee. But moving?

    This is so outlandish to me as to be unbelievable. Yet I believe you. Are supervisors dealing with personal business with county resources? I don’t mean minor stuff. I am not being extremist here.

    Please educate me on how these aides work, and what they are supposed to do. Beyond job description, what are the norms in expectations for these aides. What do they typically do?

    I appreciate more information.

  • Meanwhile, the supervisors who represent that area actually already have worked on making it safer, and not just by obtaining a proffered widening. In order to promote safety for people who park north up Shellhorn, then walk south towards Waxpool to reach Heritage Baptist Church, we closed off the connection so that part of Shellhorn ends in a cul-de-sac, just north of Waxpool.

    I never sought a lot of public credit for that. I mean, they asked, it made sense, we did it. No big, right? But it does hurt a little bit when someone not only acts in ignorance of what you’ve done, but criticizes you for not having done it, when, in fact, you quietly did it a long time ago.

    Here’s the aerial: http://maps.google.com/maps?q=Shellhorn+Rd,+Ashburn,+VA&hl=en&ll=39.015249,-77.492999&spn=0.004051,0.006899&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=33.847644,56.513672&vpsrc=6&t=k&z=17

  • Member, McGimsey Aides Support Group says:

    LA,
    No, the job description of a “county employee” does not include the above. Just recently,McG’s current aide “told all” about having to clean the litter box, and then got in trouble for it from McG. The poor guy is so whipped right now, he takes the blame for everything….even her refusing to return e-mails, phone calls, etc…”I’m so sorry, it’s my fault”…. Pretty sad. He is admonished not to speak with the other aides, told which supervisors he can and can’t “trust”, and now has the equivelent of “battered wives syndrome”.

  • Observer says:

    Wow. I just watched that video of McGimsey. She seems utterly clueless. Taking money away from a needed road that everyone else knew has been on the book for years to spend the money on a stretch of road that has money already lined up for it?? Does she even spend the time to understand the issues?

  • Leej says:

    A better solution would of been to curve shellhorn into that Shellhorn cul-de-sac then tied it into broadlands blvd then eventually tie broadlands blvd into sycolin. Then going on shellhorn towards rt 28 it would be better to tie shellhorn into the half used 30 million dollar sterling interchange. Then you would of had an alternative to the greenway all the way from Leesburg all the the way to rt 28 and to rt 7. Now you will have a future spaghetti bowl of roads between loudoun parkway and 28 mostly dumping on to 606 creating another waxpool nightmare one day on 606. Instead of helping waxpool by connecting to the sterling interchange.

    That whole area the way the roads are designed now, are going to be a nightmare when the metros are built. Although I believe the new designed tysons and reston will get the lions share of economic development not our metros in our lifetime.

    Reston has two parallel roads to the toll road sunrise and sunset which can be widened which are far superior to what loudoun has going on around their metros.

    ANd the BOS blew it by not getting a interchange from lerners for approving their new town center at countryside and rt 7. Just because it is not needed now it will be years down the road.

    Personally we should build bus lanes at our two new metros which wold be faster to reston and tysons and especially beyond because you can have express buses that can by pass each other which the rail can’t. I can’t see many riders going beyond tysons on the rail because of how long it will take. THe real problem with long distance metros is the fact you can’t have express trains. . Oh by the way i drew and sent the BOS and drawings how shellhorn and the rt 7 / countryside interchange could work but there was no response except from Burton.

    Oh well I will be in the booming Texas in January. WHich have built in the last 10 years a incredible road system and building more and more in all the major cities as well as rail. Considering how bad the major roads were 15 to20 years ago. They also have a interesting toll reading system as you can drive thru the toll booths without a sensor like one pass and they snap a picture of your license and send you the bill. I know one pass does the same thing but the big difference is on the Texas system it was designed that way on purpose and have special lanes for it. it eliminates the need for the sensors and as many toll both operators. ;-)

  • Leej says:

    oops meant ez PASS not one pass

  • Liberal Anthropologist says:

    Hi Leej. We are not related.

  • Barbara Munsey says:

    Told you he was the best white phosphorus sparkler example of pure stream of consciousness alive and writing today.

  • Leej says:

    Hey Barbara you are way too funny. :-) You said the best thing anyone has ever said about me. ;-)

  • Western Wisdom says:

    MMASG is completely correct. I think the battered wives syndrome is actually very appropriate here. McGimsey instills fear in her aides by berating them, making them doubt themselves, and then demands they meet all her needs, including ones she does not even express (and are inappropriate–cat litter, etc).

    The aides are then so tired of being beaten down by her, they stop fighting with her, and just try to appease her. Some try to stick it out, others start looking for other jobs (thus the 12+ aides she has gone through in less than 4 years).

    Regarding care for her cat, McGimsey pressures her aides into taking on that responsibility. She will go on and on about how she can’t find anyone to take care of her cat and how she really needs help and would be so grateful . . . . She implies it is part of the job or that there will be punishment (not answering calls or emails) to the aide if they do not comply. McGimsey literally punishes her aides by not speaking to them (making it impossible for them to do their job) after they have not met her expectations, which are usually unexpressed, changed by the moment, and completely in appropriate.

    Supervisor Miller is correct in that something deeper is going on here.

  • edmundburkenator says:

    It’s the cat. The cat is really in charge. McG is simply the vessel through which the cat communicates.

  • Member, McGimsey Aides Support Group says:

    ed…cats are smarter than that

  • Tom says:

    I understand that some sort of grievance process was recently explored for Board aides. Are these aides not considered county employees? How much are these people paid to put up with so much abuse from the likes of McG?

  • Tom, aides are considered to be direct employees of the supervisors they work for, not county employees. They are paid from each supervisor’s office budget at a rate agreed to by the supervisor and the aide when hired. Aides that put in more than 20 hours per week are eligible for some benefits as well. They do not have access to the county’s grievance procedures for county employees.

    At a recent board meeting, we discussed (and voted, yet again) on participation by aides in the Virginia Retirement System. In an act of what I saw to be political theatre, somone (Waters?) moved to include them in eligibility for access to the grievance procedure. I felt that any such decision needed study before we voted on it, so I voted “no.” Andrea voted “yes” (motion ultimately failed), and I am told she later said to another supervisor’s aide something to the effect of, “See? I do nice things for you.”

  • Tom says:

    Thank you for the information Supervisor Miller. How much are we giving Supervisors for their office budget?

  • I can get that for you, Tom. Let me say beforehand, however, that all of the staff aides I have known, both in my office and along the rest of the hallways, work their tails off for the people of Loudoun county. They tend to be helping each of us as we seek to implement our policies, and I don’t agree with all the policies my board-mates want to implement. But I don’t hold the aides responsible for the instructions they receive and I wish more of Loudoun’s citizens knew just what a hard-working, dedicated bunch of unsung heroes nearly all of them are.

  • Tom says:

    I agree, most citizens probably don’t realize they exist or how much work it takes for a Supervisor to research and be prepared on all of the issues. Thankless job for all involved, I am sure.

    I would be interested to know those numbers…I guess without digging up the county budget line by line and finding it, that information is not easily accessible for the average citizen that doesn’t know their way around the loudoun.gov site.

  • Tom, my office’s budget for FY2012 is about $118,000. I actually only have control over half of that, of course, since FY2012 spans the latter half of calendar 2011 and the first half of calendar 2012. Some of our predecessors actually spent from the latter halves of their FY2008 budgets, so county staff had to make that up for us by adjustments from other departments.

    At the end of each year, if we have money left over, we can return it to the general fund, which is what I believe most of us do. At the end of FY2008, however, Mr. York’s budget was still not whole, and I had about $5,000 left over, so I transferred that to him so he wouldn’t have to let anyone go.

    Interestingly, all of our budgets are the same, regardless of how many people we serve in our districts. My 81,000 constituents get whatever my office can do for them with $118,000 dollars, and so do Kelly Burk’s approximately 30,000 constituents.

    Mr. York has pointed out that, if we were to allocate office budgets pro rata by number of constituents, his office should get half of the total budget, since he represents as many people as the rest of us do, combined. Fact is, I have always said I would support that, since it would work out that my office budget would go up to about $138,000, but the taxpayers wouldn’t pay any more for that than they already do.

    Note that that budget covers our aides, their benefits (if they get any), cell-phone costs, office equipment, and so on. Presently, I have one full-time aide and one part-time aide and am on track to come in at the end of calendar 2011 with money left over. It’s not a lot, but I have two very committed people working for me (and for everyone in the Dulles district) and, with a little prudence, it has been enough.

    Hope that answers your question.

  • Tom says:

    Thank you for the information. I assume with the redistricting it should even it back out amongst the Supervisors with the exception on the Chairman’s position which does seem to have an argument for needing more resources to support his constituency.

    It would be interesting to see how those who interact with the Supervisor’s offices feel they are being supported and the level of response to their issues. I hear that Supervisor Buckley is really good at this but, honestly don’t hear any complaints in the level of response from other offices.

    If you are able to handle the demand, an increase should not be necessary, especially given the fact that the district will be less than half what it had been.

  • Tom, you’re right about the head-count levelling off. Each new district will have 39,000 constituents (give or take a few). Demands on a supervisor’s office vary by other factors, though. For example, the new Broad Run, new Dulles, and new Blue Ridge districts will probably have more land-use applications coming to the next BOS than the new Catoctin, Leesburg, or Sterling districts will generate. Also, all of the new Leesburg and some of the new Blue Ridge precincts are in sizeable towns, which means those supervisors have an entire duplicate government to help attend to some of their constituents’ needs.

    In theory, being a supervisor is a part-time job, so we ought not to need enormous staffs and a lot of resources. And, again, I feel we keep up pretty well in Dulles, so it ought to be possible for each of the other districts, too. The disconnect, if there is one, comes from the fact that, if any of us really treated this as a part-time job, we’d be open to easy criticism for our lack of responsiveness, unavailability, and so on. I’ve never turned down a request for a meeting, but I have turned down a lot of opportunities to take on some additional billable work.

    Now, I’m not whining! I knew what the job paid when I took it. But, if people really do want only part-time supervisors, they ought to consider relying more on paid staff to help them with their needs or, if not, they ought to consider paying supervisors the same as our constitutional officers receive (with, of course, the requirement that we be in our offices or at work in the field, through the working day).

    No one should get rich off the taxpayers in public service. But, we often complain that not enough people from a wide enough set of backgrounds offer themselves as candidates. You tend to end up with candidates who are rich, retired, or married to someone who will carry their freight (I’m in that last category). If you want more people who work like a lot of Loudouners do, you need to structure the job so as to allow a person to feel that it is not destructive to their overall gainfulness if they take it for four, eight, or twelve years. Heck, just returning to, say, the fields of computer programming, HVAC repair, or furniture sales would be tough enough after that interval away, even without losing any income at the time.

    Likewise, I could get more done, certainly, if I had a bigger staff. I believe Fairfax actually provides a number of civil servants to each supervisor’s office, and they all have satellite offices in their districts. However, times are tough and leadership should be by example. Thus, I haven’t suggested we ought to make major changes to our operational budgets for any of the last four years, and I think that’s been the right policy all along.

  • Tom says:

    All good points. I don’t like the idea of a full-time Supervisor. I do believe it is important to have someone in office representing me that feels the same pains I do. They should have to commute like I do, use the same facilities for their kids, etc. It makes it easier to relate and they are more in touch with the priorities of their constituents.

    Maybe by relying on paid staff more in the county government and holding the meetings in the evenings it would mean taking less time away from professional lives for public service. I feel the same way about the House of Delegates and State Senate. I was surprised to learn the pay. How can anyone be expected to be a regular citizen legislator and spend so much time in Richmond? I know I couldn’t be away from work for that.

    Now is definitely not the time to be growing government and expanding the expenses. I commend you for that.

  • Tom, I also find the idea of a citizen-legislator, one who is both a member of the government and of the governed, appealing. The problem is that there are a lot of people who can (for lack of a better word) fake it. If I had put in the billable hours for the last four years that I charged for the four years before that, I would _never_ have been able to meet with as many constituents, applicants, Boy Scouts, and ministers as I have (to name only a few of the sorts of folks who politely ask for some of a supervisor’s time).

    Imagine how that would stack up in a campaign context if someone came along and promised to be available to everyone. To avoid that, you really do have to take being a Loudoun supervisor on as a full-time job. (Joke’s on me, though, ’cause I’m not running for anything this year; fact is, I really do believe I’m here to serve my constituents, so I have never stopped making time for them, even after I knew I wouldn’t run for re-election.)

    So we’re all kind of stuck with the contradiction of wanting rapid attention from our local leaders, while not wanting them to forget what it’s like to be one of us. The effects of that contradiction propagate upwards, too. I haven’t checked lately, but I recall that, when I was in high school (Langley ’76), 87 of 100 federal senators were millionaires.

    Now, a lot of them started their political careers about where I am now. (Joe Biden told me he ran for Senate because being a county supervisor was too much work.) Ordinary folks have a harder time of making a political career than do millionaires, especially when the entry-level offices don’t pay much. Thus, it works out that we have a system that selects in favor of governing a country full of middle-class people with a government largely composed of wealthy people. Only way to correct that would be to pay the entry-level electeds more, but the wealthy candidates would crush the middle-class ones with such sophisticated slogans as, “I didn’t seek public service to get rich,” and so on.

    At any given moment, most of the public seems not to respect the members of its government, regardless of which party is in power. Suggesting we pay those members more is, pretty consistently, a very unpopular idea. But, after four years of just getting by and having to leave the public service I have come to love so I can get back to saving for my son’s college years, I would be ready to see our local electeds paid a living wage. I got skewered for it in the press, in early 2008, but I’ll say it again: Loudoun county deserves a full-time board of supervisors, and should pay its members a full-time wage to get it. It’s either that, or we go on being governed by people who live off their spouses, retirees, and the wealthy. I think we need more diversity than that provides.

  • Tom says:

    Obviously, with things the way they are with our county budget, that isn’t feasible and won’t be for some time.

    Don’t you think by having part-time Supervisors you can keep it so that you are more likely to get someone such as yourself that is drawn by the love of public service. Otherwise you get people out after the money (if you are paying consistent with Constitutional Officers) and power.

    I would think that for a part-time job that pays 40K, to put in the time to campaign, fundraise, etc you have to really be interested in serving. If you were after money, maybe you would invest in some advanced degree to further your professional career.

    Maybe the problem is we are asking too much of our county supervisors and not enough of the paid county staff to address resident concerns unless it is an issue which cannot be resolved without coming to the Board.

  • Leej says:

    The only way a full time politician works is with term limits and no lifetime benefits that our congress and many other elected offices get. Term limits must be a must as well as most of the absurd perks that many politicians get . If one really is doing true public service then one does it not for absurd lifetime benefits. Full time politicians must live on the average salary and benefits of their constituents not live like kings or CEO’s . Remember they are doing public service not a career. If they want to make public service a career then become a public Advocates that don’y take tax money.

    And I would put a limit on the amount of attorneys that can be politicians at any one time. Like limiting the ratio of lawyers who serve as politicians to the ratio they are to the population of the USA. ;-) . Lawyers mostly always eventually strangled themselves in the details and lose site of the big picture. ;-) If you lose site of the big picture the details become meaning less. ;-)

  • Tom, your thoughts match mine in many ways. But they do add up to a set of contradictions that, alas, I don’t know if there is any way to avoid. We want people willing to serve for the sake of service, but that desire doesn’t exclude those who want to run for the sake of power and who can afford to give up any income if they win. Not that all wealthy people are unfit for office, but it does get hard to listen to people simultaneously complain that we pay our electeds too much and that no one good ever runs.

    Leej, I like a diverse legislature, but there is something to be said for our lawmakers including a fair number of people who have studied the making of law.

  • G.Stone says:

    ”I got skewered for it in the press, in early 2008, but I’ll say it again: Loudoun county deserves a full-time board of supervisors, and should pay its members a full-time wage to get it. It’s either that, or we go on being governed by people who live off their spouses, retirees, and the wealthy. I think we need more diversity than that provides.”

    You were right then and your right now. We agree again. I too believe they should be full time Supervisors and paid as such. It is a full time job and will only get more demanding as the county grows. I would however reduce the number of Superviors by 2. This would allow a consolidation of staff and a way to offset some of the increased costs.

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