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King George supervisors blasted over decisions, emails
King George County residents continue to chastise Board of Supervisors members over recent decisions as well as their use of personal email accounts.
Two residents, Sylvia Hudson and Jeff Bueche, spoke Thursday about the board’s recent decision to not appoint Ruby Brabo vice chairman of the board, even though she was told last year she was next in line for the post.
Hudson accused the supervisors of making decisions outside of the boardroom. She said that when the meeting began, Joe Grzeika—who was eventually elected chairman—already was sitting in the center seat where the board leader sits.
Bueche, who made an unsuccessful bid to become James Monroe District supervisor, asked if the board could write a policy about rotating leadership positions.
The board has a tradition of following that practice, Supervisor Cedell Brooks Jr. said on Jan. 7, but there’s no written policy.
“That would alleviate a lot of the disharmony in this county, and I think that’s an issue,” Bueche said.
For the third meeting in a row, resident Mary Trout berated board members for using personal email accounts instead of those maintained through the county.
She first directed her anger at Brooks, who owns a funeral home and uses his work email for county business. She said she would like to contact him, but said she didn’t trust him or believe their correspondences would be saved, as they are on a county system.
She echoed concerns that have come to light nationwide as federal officials as well as state workers in New Jersey have taken heat for communicating through personal email accounts.
Emails sent through official government accounts are archived. When someone files a Freedom of Information Act request for correspondence on certain topics, those emails can be searched because they’re part of the public record.
Private accounts used by government officials are susceptible to the same searches, depending on what individuals choose to save.
“With a private email, you simply provide what you wish and delete what you wish,” Trout said.
She later included Dale Sisson Jr. in her complaints because he also uses a personal account that he said he’s had for years.
At the Jan. 7 meeting, County Attorney Eric Gregory said state code does not require supervisors to use county email accounts.
“It may be advisable to use an official county email account, but it’s not directed or required,” he said.
Trout again brought up her concerns Jan. 23 during public comment.
After she finished speaking and Sisson started talking, she yelled at him from her seat in the audience and accused him of lying.
She continued to interrupt to the point where Grzeika said, “Ma’am, ma’am, this is not the time for your debate.”
Grzeika later read prepared remarks which stated the purpose of board meetings is to conduct county business, and that the board “can schedule and hold these as we see fit.”
He added that he appreciated public input, but that he doesn’t use the comments as “a scorecard” to determine his vote because he’s already researched the matter.
Grzeika said supervisors gather public comment, not just during meetings, but also at public events or in the grocery store. If constituents aren’t happy with the board members’ decision, they get the chance to voice their displeasure every four years.
“Elections are truly the only true measure of the public’s evaluation of our performance,” Grzeika said.
Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425