A Shameful Travesty of a Deal and a Meeting
School Board Pokes Public In The Eye
Wow. I am almost rendered speechless (in a digital sense) after attending my first public meeting in some time. I seriously thought I was back before the last tone deaf Board of Supervisors trying to will some sense into their heads.
The deal is the incredibly bad deal to purchase the Wheatland Farm site for a three school mega-plex in the proverbial middle of nowhere at a ridiculously inflated price with amazingly one-sided terms. The meeting was some kind of hybrid presentation/public input session at Lovettsville Elementary School. None of those “leading” the meeting could agree on just what the hell the meeting was all about and what the ground rules were. The crowd was 95% against the deal and they only got more irate as more information trickled out, more obfuscation was spewed, and more half-assed attempts at censorship were made. More below the fold.
The moderator for this horse and pony show tried to set ground rules that would not allow any questions on price, location, or other sites. And no mentioning of anyone by name. All of which which elicted a chorus of boos and protestations. So Sam Adamo, your affable host for the evening’s festivities, answered one of the first questions from the irate audience by rambling on about some other deal that didn’t work out. These rules were only for the public, you see. Mr. Moderator even tried to censor applause, but he backed off after he found he had little control.
Near pandemonium and fisticuffs almost broke out when someone had the temerity to mention the fact that the school board’s attorney once worked for Sal Cangiano, the seller. Mr. Moderator tried to confiscate the mike from the speaker, who moved away, then Mr. Moderator laid his hand on someone protesting, after which a festive screaming match occurred. Unbeliavable! This was obviously a sore subject for the powers that be.
This deal stinks to high heaven. It really does. Numerous people presented first hand knowledge of just how inflated the purchase price for this land is when compared to recent comparable sales and assessments. LCPS was offering even less money per acre for portions of this site in 2006 at the height of the real estate bubble! Plenty of people asked for referrals for LCPS’s appraiser so they they could get similar deals. But of course in this market any sale at all at any price is too much to ask for. But LCPS had to move fast on this deal! Who cares about the joint School Board – Board of Supervisors Committee and their forthcoming standards! We need this site NOW! No other site will ever do!
One gentleman remarked that he had negotiated a lot of deals and the outcome is almost always one of two options. Your terms and my price, or my terms and your price. It is oh so painfully obvious after sitting through this abomination of a meeting that the seller in this case got his price AND his terms. Those responsible should be ashamed of themselves.
This deal is set to close in June. Most of the studies talked about will not be close to complete by that date. Most importantly the land use approvals from the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors will not even be applied for by the time this deal closes! I guess the School Board, after being thoroughly embarrassed and discredited in their stinky Lenah Run deal, decided to really stick it to the BOS and dare them to not give approval for this absolutely incompatible with the comp plan site. When asked what they would do with it should they not get land use approval, the response was, well we can try to trade it for other land or have the BOS declare it as surplus property. And do they think they could get even half of what they paid for it??? Of course not, but who gives a flying you know what – it’s only the taxpayers dollars and our buddy Sal got his deal on his terms!
The elected officials there looked mighty shell shocked to me, as they should have. Only Jim Burton looked confident, and that’s probably because he has been against this deal from the start, and publicly said so. I’ve seen stirred up, pissed off groups of citizens like this before in Loudoun County, and we all know what happened to the reputations of those “leaders” who didn’t pay heed to their real bosses – the voting public. Some people think this is a done deal, but this battle has only just begun. I absolutely promise that. I am just getting started, along with many others.