FBI and US Attorney Continue To Clean Up DC, While Loudoun And Virginia Somehow Continue To Get A Pass

By Loudoun Insider

Kick ass DC US Attorney Ronald Machen and fellow federal investigators continue their quest to clean up the rotten DC government, this time looking into seemingly rigged tax appeals for well connected developers.  Loudoun of course has its own cesspool at the Board of Equalization, but they continue to do business as usual with seemingly no fear from justice at all.  Can someone please explain to me why there is so much action in Maryland and DC while Virginia public corruption remains untouched???


Comments

  • BOEBullies says:

    In Lala Loudoun, everyone pretends not to notice.
    The tax assessor is no longer an impediment to greed and pigs are are circling the trough.
    After a relaxing summer the BOE resumes its not-so-public hearings under the distinguished leadership of Chairman Ed Maurer on September 4.
    Please note that “Hearing dates are subject to change.”

  • Wolverine says:

    I don’t think the FBI initiates investigations based just on the opinions of outside blogmeisters or blog posters suggesting that “something is rotten in Denmark.” In the DC case it looks like they may have some inside whistleblowers and a pretty good statistical handle on an unusual pattern of settlement of commercial property cases in a situation where the governing entity as a whole has a serious revenue problem.

    LI — For the average Loudoun citizen who does not follow this kind of thing closely (and, actually, cannot because investigative journalism is virtually nil around here), is there somewhere to go that can give citizens a comprehensive trend picture indicating whether or not there is a similar pattern of settlements here? That kind of specific ammo would give the debate some real meat. I’m talking here some hard, non-partisan stats showing comparative trends over time. Also some official rationale for action taken on specific cases. Anything like that available?

  • BOEBullies says:

    Wolverine:

    Former Supervisor Jim Burton is said to have performed such a study several years ago, as did former Tax Assessor Todd Kaufman.

    It is unclear why the Loudoun Circuit Court, which appoints Board of Equalization members, did not follow up.

    The General Assembly — including Loudounites such as Sen. Herring and Dels. May, Greason, and Ramadan, appoint the Circuit Court.

    Accountability has not been forthcoming.

  • Baron Rosedown says:

    Wolve,
    I agree there is little to no investigative journalism. Below are a few clear facts.

    1) The amount of “closed session” time the current BoS spends. From Jan to July 2012, the BoS spent 14+ hours in closed session. When you compare to previous boards, the 2012 numbers are absolutely staggering. And it becomes obvious that government transparency is not a top priority for the current BoS.

    2) Another fact I would point out is the BOE & FOIA compliance. A reporter needs to pull the tax assessments records for the Judges, members of the BOE, various BoS appointments and other prominent political leaders. Let’s just say; unless you are part of the GOBGN , the assessed (or lack there of) values are jaw dropping. Average Joe’s/Jane’s like you and me are paying the delta for a very select group in Loudoun. Lest we forget NCC, Adams, Dale Pollen Myer (family farm) etc.

    3) And not to be overlooked, how about the crazy amount of money the BoS & SB has authorized to purchase land for future schools. Many of these purchases are double and in some times triple the assessed value.

    4) Proffers. I don’t even know where to begin with this little gem. Case in point, review the documents introduced for the current lawsuit against the County/School Board (you know the same suit, where Whitbeck is lead council for the plantiff, the same Whitbeck who was appointed to the Govt Reform Comm). In the docs you will find an alarming trend. Pull any previous major land application that contained a proffer for road improvements. Follow that trail and you will find all kinds of abuse, misapplication of funds. You can’t move one proffer to another without the average tax payer asking, what the hell.

    In conclusion, if the FBI wouldn’t blow the lid with the gang of five and former PC Beerman, they sure as heck aren’t going to do a damn thing to clean up the corruption that has and is continuing to plaguing Loudoun. Coupled with VA’s notoriously loose campaign finance laws, Loudoun has quickly become ground zero for pay to play politics.

  • Elder Berry says:

    “Accountability has not been forthcoming.”

    You can say that again a few hundred times. The ordinary property owner gets hosed while deals get made for the special people. One way or the other money talks and debts get paid.

    The only thing we should be surprised about is that the deals don’t go through Luxemburg or the Caymans.

  • Wolverine says:

    You’ve got some pertinent points there, Baron. After reading your post and taking an extended run through the internet trying to find more info on contested assessment cases, it looks to me like Joe Six-Pack in Loudoun would need to undertake the equivalent of a Ph.D dissertation to bring himself up to speed.

    It really looks like we need two things here: (1) a non-partisan county attorney (with independent investigative team) beholding to absolutely no one except the voters; and (2) a Commonwealth “Inspector General” with the same power and freedom of action. In my opinion, we are never going to get the real thing so long as the current office holders are part of and beholding to any political party. Even if nothing is found, there will always be the suspicion of partisanship. We as citizens of the Commonwealth either start taking care of our own house or we can sit and wait like bumpkins for some outside entity like the FBI to come in and help us sift through our own laundry.

  • Loudoun Insider says:

    You are right on point there, Wolverine. Unfortunately the FBI is very limited in what they can do unless there is outright provable money changing hands. We can expect absolutely no change from with the county or within the state governments. Unless we really clean house and hold our elected accountable. But too few people care to make that happen.

  • Loudoun Insider says:

    Here is one of the better articles on the mess that is the BOE, Wolverine. Gotta love the title “A Curious Process For Valuing Land in Loudoun County”. I guess curious is a nice way to say skanky.

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

    Guess what has changed since then??? Nothing at all.

  • Wolverine says:

    Interesting article. Two things tell me I might as well forget any “Ph.D dissertation” on contested assessments before the BOE: (1) “without any clear explanation of its reasoning” and (2) “the board’s lax record-keeping.”

    That was back in 2008. You telling me that nothing at all has changed in that regard?!! Even WITH prior involvement by the FBI? This is nuts.

  • Shiloh says:

    BOEBullies – I found Jim Burton’s 2004 BOE Analysis on his reconstituted website. To read it, go to

    http://www.jimburton.org/documents-by-cat/transparency-in-government/board-of-equalization-study-2004/74-boar-of-equalization-analysis-statistics-2004.html

    I just read through it, and it’s really interesting stuff.

  • BOEBullies says:

    Thank you Shiloh.
    Returning the favor; the case against the Public Schools goes to trial Aug. 14 and 15 next week.
    There is a letter from LCPS asking that about $600,000 in proffer money from River Creek and Spring Lakes be used to purchase “a property known as the Jafari parcel, MCPI 189-45-4286, for $999,950.”
    This transfer of cash proffer money is justified because River Creek and Spring Lakes “will directly benefit with the construction of this new school because ES-15 will provide enrollment relief to both Frances Hazel Reid and John W. Tolbert Jr. Elementary Schools.”
    Neither River Creek nor Spring Lakes was moved from Reid, their preferred assignment, although other communities in Leesburg were moved or impacted. That is what drives the two lawsuits now scheduled for trial in circuit court.

    http://www.loudountimes.com/index.php/news/article/school_boundaries_in_leesburg_make_it_to_court_once_again123/

    http://loudounhoa.wordpress.com/2012/08/08/two-lawsuits-challenge-douglass-school-boundaries/

  • Ashburer says:

    Some one should look up 1757 Golf club (York) and what they pay.

  • BOEBullies says:

    Creighton Farms.

  • BOEBullies says:

    1757 Golf Club
    PARID: 043-35-8969-000
    PARID: 043-26-6108-000
    The second parcel had a precipitous reduction from 2011 to 2012 .

  • David Dickinson says:

    IMHO, this subject strikes at the heart of Loudoun’s key problem, which is developer influence.

    As always, follow the money trail.

    That analysis by Burton was excellent, but a bit stale.

    I bet this thread has someone nervous. Keep up the pressure.

  • Loudoun Insider says:

    What do they have to be nervous about, David??? Do you think Jim Plowman or Ken Cuccinelli will look into this??? The Circuit Court judges who appoint the BOE members??? There’s basically nothing to fear, so I don;t see why they would be nervous. The papers don’t have the time or intestinal fortitude to really look into any of this and too few citizens pay attention or care. They get to do what they want.

  • David Dickinson says:

    Light shining on darkness.

    Any light, no matter how small, makes the creatures of the dark shudder.

    Think about the Metro opt-outers. How small was that when it started? Where did it end? Much bigger. We lost the battle, but the light that was shown on MWAA’s incompetance is bearing fruit.

    Small things, for the right cause, grow organically.

    I think this assessment thing has legs. The picture is still cloudy but, if a cogent narrative can be built, it can take off.

  • BlackOut says:

    Oh come on DD, you guys are going to take credit for something that was already happening both from Wolf, Herring and McDonnell?

    The only thing that got bigger with the taxpig was the anger and reputation.

    If it makes you feel better go ahead.

  • David Dickinson says:

    No, but the opt-out crowd put a spotlight on MWAA that increased the intensity of things that were already in the works.

    Absent the push to opt-out, reports on MWAA would have come out and nobody would have cared. The opt-out crowd gave MWAA some much deserved negative publicity. By the end of the Metro arguement, even supports like yourself were saying, “yes, we know MWAA is screwed up but the project is still worth it.”

    And now even Tim Kaine is saying MWAA needs reform. If there wasn’t such a negative backlash over MWAA over the past several months, do you think he’d be saying that?

    Its now public knowledge that Tim Kaine signed over the DTR to MWAA. That wouldn’t be publicly well known without the opt-outers.

    The Loudoun movement to opt-out is having ripple effects. In a true sense, it is having a catalyst effect. Like oxygen, it doesn’t burn but it makes things that are buring burn hotter.

  • BlackOut says:

    DD I think your head is getting as big as that ridiculous pig on a trailer.

    Looking for a silver-lining in the embarrassing antics that crowd orchestrated ain’t going to change the reputation. But by all means celebrate. I am all for people being happy.

  • David Dickinson says:

    BO, you are like an obnoxious chihuahua that yips at the slightest movement. Do you have to disagree with everything I say? You say tons of stupid crap that I just ignore. Please return the favor, even if it is only occasonally (or even just once).

  • BlackOut says:

    I’ll ignore that last comment.

  • David Dickinson says:

    Thank you :)

  • BOEBullies says:

    The jaded, knows-everything-since-before-you-were-born arrogance of those who post to establish their superiority, siwa does not neutralize the obvious fact that one person — Tax Pig –changed the game and at least four votes on the BOS.

    When the people behind the dais begin to ridicule and discount their constituents in public, that validates the discomfort stirred up by the message. Why else would one person matter, other than the potential to blow the lid off the apathy and complacency of the electorate?

    Even discounting as hyperbole half of what the tax assessor alleged in his defamation suit, it is inescapable to conclude that extreme interest in Loudoun’s revenue stream is driven by the breadth and depth of its tax base.

    Why else would the BOS be so blase about approving something as expensive and chancey as the Silver Line?

    Ticonderoga Farms.

  • Shiloh says:

    DD – You’re right; the Burton analysis is out of date. After all, it was done in 2004, and would have had information only from 2003 and prior years.

    Even though it’s dated, however, it does show what kind of analysis can be done if you can have the time to get the right information from the accessor’s office and the BoE, analyze it, and write a report. In this regard, it could stand as a model for those with inquiring minds.

  • Loudoun Insider says:

    Wow, you would think that maybe this would be something the vaunted Government Reform Commission would want to look into, wouldn’t you???

  • BOEBullies says:

    As a place to start, a spread sheet of the curiously low real estate assessments that are sheltered in the county’s “land use” program should be compared with comparable assessments in their districts. Check the current and immediate past chairs of the Board of Equalization themselves.

    The list of BOE members was revised a week ago. The 2012 chairman, Ed Maurer, was removed, leaving four names.
    J. Scott Littner, the 2011 chairman whose verbal assault on a reporter prompted $100,000 in legal fees to defend him in the ensuing FOIA lawsuit at taxpayer expense, was initially demoted to member but now is aptly listed as vice chairman.

    The new chair is Michele Ferreira. No announcent as to why Maurer’s name disappeared.

  • liz says:

    BOEBullies asks,
    “Why else would the BOS be so blase about approving something as expensive and chancey as the Silver Line?”

    Because a) 80% of Loudouners want it and b) the Chamber of Commerce wants it.

    Even Barbara and I agreed on Metro. Do you know how rare that is?

  • Bob Bruhns says:

    Yeah, 80% think it’s a good idea – as long as you don’t mention the cost, because the cost is easily two times what it should be. (Do a web search on ‘ The excesive pricing of the Dulles Rail – Silver Line Metrorail project ‘ and you can see.

    If you think it’s impossible that you are being double-charged for Rail to Loudoun, you can also see what the US DOT Inspector General said about MWAA funneling contracts to “Contractor A” that charged 1.3 to 3.3 times what other contractors charged for the same work. Thats not a typo – 1.3 to 3.3 times what other contractors charged for the same work. Begin to see what’s going on? Do a web search on ‘ MWAA’s Weak Policies and Procedures Have Led to Questionable Procurement Practices, Mismanagement, and a Lack of Overall Accountability ‘ – it’s on the DOT GOV website, on page 14 of the report (page 15 of the pdf).

    It’s time to call out the cost estimators for the Dulles Rail job and have them explain their sky-high estimates. Our so-called ‘leaders’ don’t want to do that, though. I wonder why.

    And the Chamber of Commerce likes the rail ripoff, sure, because it thought it could trick the residents of Loudoun County into paying for it, instead of establishing a business tax district to pay for the business area’s incredible windfall.

    If you can remember their pen-names, maybe you can tell the anonymous supporters of this rail ripoff what you think, as the Dulles Toll Road tolls skyrocket over the coming years, and people jam the free roads like you’ve never seen. Gee, I thought the rail ripoff was supposed to REDUCE congestion. And the train probably doesn’t go where you need to get, so you’ll just have to put up with the nonsense it brings to the region.

    I suspect that the pen name supporters of this ripoff won’t be around to be reminded of their empty promises of money gushing out of buildings and paychecks all over Loudoun County, when it doesn’t happen. You, however, will be left holding a bag.

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