Cathy Dyson writes about King George County.
Bickering continues among county officials
Bickering among King George County officials has gotten so bad that the chairman of the Board of Supervisors resigned from one of his county positions because he doesn’t want to deal with the stress.
Chairman Cedell Brooks Jr. said Tuesday he’ll no longer be the liaison between the board and the King George Fire and Rescue Department. He said he was tired of all the “fussing and bickering going on” and would rather let someone else handle it.
Brooks suffered a stroke in November 2010, but even before then, he regularly spoke about unity and how important it is for the board to be of one accord.
“There’s issues that I’ve never seen in 20 years. We cannot get along, and it’s bad,” Brooks told fellow board members. “We need to do something to get back on track.”
Meanwhile, tensions simmered – again. Two supervisors clashed over a suggested change to the board’s amendments and a third apologized publicly for any hurt he may have caused. That was Supervisor John LoBuglio, who recently sent out a survey to former fire and rescue volunteers, asking why they left and what it would take for them to return.
Fire and rescue workers and other supervisors bristled at questions that pertained to Chief David Moody and whether he should be fired or have his authority limited.
LoBuglio said on Tuesday that he was trying to bring more volunteers into the desperately understaffed system. County officials will meet on July 10 to discuss staff needs as part of the department’s strategic plan.
LoBuglio said he’d already told Moody and other volunteer officials privately that he was sorry for any hurt he caused.
“I’m doing this now, here in front of this board, to apologize for any misunderstandings that there were,” LoBuglio said.
The supervisor also said the survey didn’t produce enough results to justify a report. He was hoping for at least 20 responses, but got only 13.
The other issue causing dissension comes from new Supervisor Ruby Brabo. On Tuesday, she asked—at the third meeting in a row—to amend the board’s bylaws to guarantee that all supervisors are treated equally and that they get written reports at the same time.
She also asked that supervisors not be allowed to unilaterally make decisions on other boards or commissions they belong to, if the action impacts the county.
As was the case on June 5, LoBuglio favored Brabo’s request, while Supervisors Joe Grzeika and Dale Sisson Jr. opposed it.
Brooks didn’t attend the June 5 meeting.
Brabo said then that the request stemmed from the fire and rescue department’s strategic plan. She said Grzeika got a copy of the report before any other supervisors did. She was baffled, especially during budget season, why the report wasn’t distributed to other board members as they looked at needs throughout the county.
Grzeika responded that he was asked to provide feedback on the report, which he did, and that he will continue to work with the department as requested.
On Tuesday, his words were stronger, and as he and Brabo spoke, anyone in the audience of 20 people could hear a pin drop.
Brabo said she wasn’t referring to conversations between board members and county officials, but written documents. She wanted to make sure board members got the same reports at the same time.
“I don’t see any avenue for accountability,” she said. “This allows there to be an avenue for accountability.”
“Accountability to who?” Grzeika asked. “Last time I checked, I was accountable to the people who elected me, not accountable to any member of the board.”
He said Brabo “is going down the wrong path if we want to work together.”
Brooks, who initially was siding with LoBuglio and Brabo, said he wasn’t sure if he wanted to proceed after Grzeika’s remarks.
“I want us to be unified like we used to be,” Brooks said. “If this is going to cause further division, I don’t know if I want it or not.”
He agreed to ask the county attorney to prepare the wording for such an amendment.