Todd Kaufman Fights Back

By Loudoun Insider

Todd Kaufman’s lawyers file suit against Jack Roberts, Tim Hemstreet and others, but this is just the first salvo of what will be yet another costly mess for this compromised Board of Supervisors.  Thank God we finally have a reporter with an inquisitive mind on this in the form of Tom Jackman at the Washington Post.  He wrote this front page Metro story on the case, and expands upon it significantly in this excellent post at his WaPo blog The State of NOVA.

This case has stunk to high heaven from the beginning.  Kaufman was railroaded out of town.   I’ve read Kaufman’s complaint and it paints a nasty picture, especially when you read through Tim Hemstreet’s 2011 employee evaluation of Kaufman.  He was praised up and down, then fired without ever really getting to defend himself.  Interesting factoids that surely play into this – he increased the taxable commercial portfolio by $18 BILLION dollars and also cleaned up a number of questionable land use exemptions.  You don’t think those moves pissed off a few powerful people do you???  He also had issues with Mark Adams, Loudoun”s former chief financial officer, who just left the county to go to … MWAA, keeper of the Metro flame.

See what happens to you in Loudoun County when you don’t play ball with the GOBGN?  Luckily for the citizens and good government, Todd Kaufman isn’t one to shy away from confrontation and go quietly.  The “fiscally conservative” 9-0 LCRC Board of Supervisors just set its self up for even more payouts.  This will get much smellier as more is revealed.  I look forward to the discovery process and what carcasses will fall out of the mix.

Postscript:  Given that Kaufman has been very at odds with the Loudoun County Circuit Court-appointed Board of Equalization, how in the world can he expect to get a fair trial in Loudoun County Circuit Court?


Comments

  • Loudoun Insider says:

    Local newspaper update:

    No huge surprise – Leesburg Today puts up a story:

    http://www.leesburgtoday.com/news/article_3b9e0350-c77d-11e1-88eb-001a4bcf887a.html

    While still nothing from the LTM but they sure have time to put up a glowing Metro construction update:

    http://www.loudountimes.com/index.php/news/article/rail_construction_nears_milestone123/

    I’m surprised there wasn’t photos of MC Dean employees working on the project with logo shirts and hats.

  • BOEbullies says:

    The BOE is appointed by the Circuit Court.
    The Circuit Court is appointed by the General Assembly.
    It is way past time for the GA judicial committee to do a bottoms-up review of their appointees.
    BOE members: what are their qualifications, who pays fair market value on their personal real estate and who doesn’t, which BOE members enjoy land use tax status, which members of Loudoun’s judicial estate enjoy land use rates without benefit of land use status, which attorneys do they hire, why, and do they also enjoy land use tax status or derive income from acquiring land use tax status from the BOE for their clients?
    The “stupidvisors” from both parties have known all of this for lo, many years. It is completely non-partisan greed and power that shifts the tax burden from BOE-friendlies to unsuspecting residents of the “highest median income households” in the country.
    The supes default to multiple pretexts rather than ordering an objective investigation of the county’s tax structure by people from far, far away. They won’t even peek behind the curtain at the courts that perpetuate it, and Loudoun’s fourth estate is belly-up and completely cowed.
    Immediate action needed from Mr. Greason, Mr. Minchew, Mr. Ramadan, Ms. Comstock, Mr. Herring, and Mr. Black to get busy. Fortunately the House of Delegates is up for re-election very, very soon. If some are OK with a judicial board like the BOE, voters can kick them to the curb just as unceremoniously as the county escorted Kaufman out of the building after he increased Loudoun tax revenue by $1.3 Billion in 5-6 years.
    As Mr. Buona said from the dais about the BOE, if this had happened in corporate America, someone would be fired.
    If anyone in corporate America increased revenues by 11 digits in five years, that person would be cashing a huge bonus check, not getting fired without cause.

  • Loudoun Insider says:

    Considering that Kaufman was notably at odds with the Loudoun Circuit Court-appointed Board of Equalization (for God’s sakes that name needs to be changed to The Board of Connected Handouts), how in the world will he get a fair trial from the Loudoun Circuit Court???

  • BOEbullies says:

    Change of venue. There is no conceivable way that the Loudoun Circuit Court can enact justice on the BOE that they appoint.

  • Shiloh says:

    I don’t think this had anything to do with the BOE.

    And I don’t think it had anything to do with his management style. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have received such glowing reports and comments from Hempstreet, Buona, and others in the recent past.

    My take on this is that one or more supervisors wanted to reduce property taxes for friends or donors who owned commercial or industrial property. (Nelson is the supervising appraiser in charge of commercial and industrial appraisals.) The supervisor(s) talked Nelson into doing his/her bidding; Kaufman pushed back and said NO; the supervisor(s) retaliated by talking Nelson into conjuring up a complaint. Kaufman had to go so the supervisor(s) in question could get the taxes reduced on the commercial/industrial property of his/her donors/friends. It’s sooooo obvious.

    Now the question is: Which supervisor(s)? And which properties? The discovery on this case should be absolutely fascinating!!!!!

  • Loudoun Insider says:

    Very plausible theory, Shiloh.

    I bet there are lots of emails being scrubbed from various accounts right now. Although they really can’t be scrubbed from the provider servers so easily. And then the scrubbing from the computers would be very obvious as willful destruction of evidence. I wouldn’t suggest going there, cretins.

  • BlackOut says:

    LI, it’s also illegal to ‘scrub” potential evidence in a lawsuit. Judges do not look kindly on spoliation.

  • Baron Rosedown says:

    I’m impressed that Kaufman filed suit in Circuit Court, but his attorney should have filed in an adjacent venue. Even the Circuit Court judges in Loudoun are tainted and are took close to the BOE.

    As to Shiloh’s question: You can bet that Janet-Conflict-Clarke is in the vortex of this cluster fubar. She is hell bent on settling scores and personal paybacks are her expertise (Steve Mackey).

    As to LI point: Kaufman and his attorney better obtain a forensic data expert, stat. Because if the defendants or County employees are scrubbing emails/email servers, then they are acting complicit. Not the least of which obstruction of justice and tampering with potential evidence.

    No on to the cost, which the taxpayers will shoulder. $150K for Kaufman’s contract buy-out. The “new” or acting Assessor will have a competitive salary $147K. And not to mention the 10s of 1,000s in legal expenses. All said and told the taxpayers could be on the hook for $500K. That’s for 1 “appointed” BoS position and that’s not chump change.

  • R Nolan says:

    Baron- Your costs leave out the $10 million in damages Kaufman is going for.

  • Loudoun Insider says:

    This is by far one of the stupidest mistakes this BOS has made, and they’ve made a lot in a very short time so far.

    I’m no lawyer, but I would think they would need to file the original complaint in the court of jurisdiction, then possibly ask for a change of venue later. They really should consider doing so, especially after seeing how the Circuit Court handled the BOE case (which probably should have changed venues as well).

  • Baron Rosedown says:

    @Nolan,

    You’re right I glossed over the $10M figure because I was afraid I would literally blow a gasket.

    My ire is directly aimed at this incompetent and litigious BoS. Their egos and personal pay-backs are costing the tax payers hundreds of thousands of dollars. At the very least they should have met with Kaufman prior to firing him. I hope Jack “worthless” Roberts ends loses his job of this and several other messes.

  • Facts says:

    I thought this was an at-will employment state? They can fire someone for anything they want….no standing for this disgruntled employee who obviously has an ego the size of Texas…

  • liz says:

    He’s not suing them for firing him. He’s suing for defamation of character. Which employers are not allowed to do…even in an at-will state.

  • Loudoun Insider says:

    Looks like one of the Board of Stupidvisors lackeys is here to continue dumping on Kaufman. As someone else said somewhere, if he indeed said that, he needs to take ownership – he’s absolutely right.

    And yes they could fire him if they wanted to, they only had to pay him a year’s salary in severance with our tax dollars. More “fiscal conservatism” from this Board of Stupidvisors.

  • Kelli Grim says:

    Oh yes, there are going to be some amazing revelations in this case. I read the complaint by Nelson. It sounded like a high school argument. Rest assured the bos will not look pretty when all is revealed.

  • Loudoun Insider says:

    Well, the Bill Dean Times finally weighs in, and of course they focus on the allegations against Kaufman – why am I totally unsurprised there:

    http://www.loudountimes.com/index.php/news/article/former_accessor_or_claims_defamation_by_county_employees898/

    I’d make a comment there, but my last two or three have never made it past the BDT censors.

  • vacliff says:

    Baron-
    Don’t leap to the conclusion that another Assessor will be hired.

  • Loudoun Insider says:

    Exactly, 10th Congressional Republican District Finance Chairman Bob Wertz might take it all over.

  • LowdowneVA says:

    If the Supervisors control the assessment process they won’t have to raise the tax rate will they? They can put the tax office under the commissioner of revenue.

    Maybe that explains their casual approach to funding Metro.

  • Loudoun Insider says:

    Don’t forget this article, and see how Kaufman makes no friends with the local developer/big landowner cabal in his quotes:

    http://www.iwatchnews.org/2008/10/28/3025/curious-process-valuing-land-loudoun-county

    The new 9-0 LCRC BOS gave everybody sufficient cover to get rid of him.

  • Baron Rosedown says:

    @VA Cliff,

    Good point. I wonder if the “interim” Assessor (James White) has the qualifications or the required certifications to valuate residential property. I also find it odd, that there is no disclosure from the BoS (March-June mtgs) of hiring Crossroads Mediation Services & James R. Cross . How much did those services cost County residents and why was this not publicly disclosed?

    Which brings up a different but related issue. I have counted at least 4 outside council(s) that the BoS has hired in their short 7 month reign: BOE-John Flannery (& a Fairfax Firm)=$100K, CableComm- Matt Ames(OpenBand), Kaufman-Crossroads/James Cross and CGFC(holiday display)-TBD.

    Again, exactly how much money has the County spent on outside legal representation and why does Jack Roberts still have a freaking job?

    It seems to me that a whole lot of spending is going on by the ALL Republican Board who has spent an unprecedented amount of time/decisions made in Closed Session. This is not transparency nor is it fiscally responsible.

  • Loudoun Outsider says:

    Immunity of government employees is a complex issue under Virginia case law. Generally, senior government employees are immune for actions involving the exercise of discretion so I would not be shocked if the claims against the County Manager and County Attorney are dismissed on a demurrer or plea in bar. I believe Mr. Nelson will be liable only if it can be shown he acted in bad faith.

    Defamation is a tough cause of action to assert even without the issue of government immunity.

    I am sure Mr. Kaufman’s counsel reseached the immunity issue, but it appears the bar will be fairly high for Mr. Kaufman. I suggest his counsel hold off on buying the new Lexus.

  • Sane Person says:

    If Roberts and Hemstreet truly did advise the BOS on more than one occasion not to meet with Kaufman, and if they had knowledge that any of Nelson’s allegations were false, that’ll go a long ways toward clearing the bad faith bar. Government employees do have immunity for actions performed while in office, but if those actions are contrary to the policies and practices of the office or county, the immunity goes away.
    And someone, somehow, convinced the entire BOS to not even talk to Kaufman to hear his side. They must have spilled some pretty nasty dirt to convince all 9 people to stay completely away from their own appointee. That dirt better have been true, or defamation suddenly looks very achievable.

  • Shiloh says:

    Remember that Roberts and Hemstreet are also “at will” employees, both of them hired by previous Boards, and they may feel they have to go along with this Board’s desires or get fired also.

    Roberts was hired many years ago, possibly as many as 30, and could probably retire. Hemstreet, however, was hired by the last Board and is a young man, with, I assume, a family. He needs his job and can’t take the risk of displeasing this board.

  • Loudoun Insider says:

    A just as likely scenario in my mind is that a majority of the BOS decided it wanted Kaufman gone and they turned to Hemstreet and Roberts to make it happen and keep them out of it as much as possible. Being the other two of the three at-will employees and seeing what happened to Kaufman do you think they would refuse???

    I’ve heard from good sources that not all of the supervisors wanted this to happen but that there was strong pressure to make this a unanimous vote to give further cover. I think those that know this was wrong need to speak up and set the record straight. No need for all of them to get tarred and feathered with this mess.

  • Loudoun Insider says:

    Great minds think alike, Shiloh, our comments crossed in cyberspace!

  • Shiloh says:

    LI — Great minds — indeed — that’s us! :)

  • Loudoun Insider says:

    Here’s a telling example from a memo that Kaufman sent to the BOS on May 21, 2012:

    “On May 16, 2012, Mr. Hemstreet and Mr. Roberts expressed to my attorney that the Board wanted to know “what I wanted and what I was looking for” regarding the status of my employment. In contrast to the announcement during the May 15, 2012 public meeting that “no formal” action was taken by the Board, Mr. Hemstreet and Mr. Roberts conveyed that the Board decided they wanted “a severing of the employment relationship with the County.” I was saddened to hear of the Board’s decision, in consideration of my contributions, dedicated service, and personal sacrifices I have made on behalf of the County over the past six years. As appropriate for a Department director, I held staff accountable for their actions and expected high levels of performance. It is apparent that this expectation led to the complaint.”

    Looks like, as usual, the BOS made up its mind before the public meeting and vote. So much for transparency.

  • Loudoun Insider says:

    So much more in the docs I received, I’ll be posting more when I have time to sort through them all.

  • LowdowneVA says:

    Wonder how long before anyone at the LTM notices the boo boo in the headline about Kaufman. Eight hours so far.

  • Baron Rosedown says:

    LTM’s error, shows how stupid & incompetent this newspaper and their reporters are.

    Web definition for the incorrect word used in the headline; In computer science, a mutator method is a method used to control changes to a variable.

  • LowdowneVA says:

    16 hours.

  • Baron Rosedown says:

    LTM finally fixed the headline: from “Accesor” to Assessor.

    Geez it only took 19+ hours for them to fix that obvious error.

  • edmundburkenator says:

    I don’t know much about this odd drama.

    I wish I could talk to the people that dealt with Kaufman and the other players here to figure out of this is a some kind of power play or if it just a guy that treated his employees badly and needed to move on — or both.

    I’m sure there are some bad managers in high places in the county and I’m sure it’s hard to remove them. The taxpayers pay in lost productivity and poorer service.

  • Loudoun Insider says:

    I’ll send you the docs I have, eb, be sure to read through Kaufman’s evaluation by Hemstreet from just a few months ago.

  • BOEbullies says:

    One reason some people happily anticipate discovery in this lawsuit is that Kaufman will be asked about his own hostile work environment as a county employee. He will be asked to name names, but don’t worry, they won’t show up in the local papers, just the ones that aren’t afraid of Bill Dean.

  • Facts says:

    Why did Kaufman go around the room asking people what their religion was and saying that greeks are crazy and all the other stuff WaPo reported…if Kaufman said any of the things reported he obvioulsy was not fit for his job and should have been canned for cause….it seems the only one defaming Kaufman is the man himself….

  • Loudoun Insider says:

    Kaufman denies all of those charges, and even if some of them are true I bet you could find the same things t be said about just about every other department head in this county and others. As usual, some people have absolutely no sense of humor, like the big complainer who wasn’t doing his job up to par and “Facts” here.

  • BlackOut says:

    Kaufman’s temper doesn’t sound any different than the rumored temper of York.

  • LowdowneVA says:

    Reagan used to cite the “11th commandment” but York just gets loud and bullies to get unanimous votes that don’t reflect solidarity but fear. If four could stand up to him on Metro maybe one more will find the courage.

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