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Jeff Branscome writes about Spotsylvania County.

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Supervisor Emmitt Marshall wants attorney in code compliance

Supervisors tonight approved of Interim County Administrator Doug Barnes’ effort to reinvent how the local government operates. You can read about that in tomorrow’s paper, but supervisors didn’t say a whole lot, other than praise for their workforce. 

But at the end of the meeting, Supervisor Emmitt Marshall wanted to add something to the government reorganizing, and it caught County Attorney Jacob Stroman by surprise. Marshall said he wants one of Stroman’s attorneys to be in the Code Compliance Office at least three times a week. Originally, Marshall wanted to have the discussion behind closed doors, but that’s not legal. You can only discuss the performance of the County Attorney and the County Administrator behind closed doors—people the board can fire and hire.

So, after failing to have the discussion behind closed doors, Marshall just came right out and said he wanted Stroman to put an attorney in that office. He said it takes too long to get some jobs done because there is no attorney present in the office to give legal advice and sign off on plats.

Stroman said he had some concerns with having one of his attorneys out of the office that much, with the other duties they have to do. Stroman said he already has one attorney work with the Planning Department once a week.

“We are in an economic recession, close to a depression, and certainly the workload in the County Attorney’s Office is not as much as it was two or three years ago,” Marshall replied.

Supervisors decided to add this to the list of items to be reviewed in this government reorganization effort. 


  • lgross

    I was a little amazed as I watched, that Mr.
    Marshall wanted to directly involve himself in the
    direct tasking of employees.

    Well.. not really… cuz this is not the first time as
    I recall….

    From the Spotsy BOS Code of Ethics:

    ….” Members therefore shall not interfere with
    the administrative functions of the County or the
    professional duties of County staff;”

  • glasshouse

    Mr. Marshall was correct in asking that the County Attorney furnish one of his staff attorneys to work in the Code Compliance office. Stroman is an employee of the BOS and is not the the County Administrator’s staff.

    Beside, Stroman is known for not reviewing documents from planning projects when they are submitted. Stroman then comes in and requires changes to the plans after all of the staff’s comments are resolved. This often costs the applicant thousands of dollars and delays the project not to mention the amounts of money it cost the County. Maybe the BOS should think more about Stroman being the right person for the right job. Sorry, but I have heard the horror stories from the development community and something needs to change.

  • lgross

    The County Attorney’s performance is the purview
    of the BOS but not the employees that he

    If there is a problem with the performance of
    that office -then it is not the role of an individual
    BOS to determine how to resolve the issue.

    You hire a County Administrator and a County
    Attorney to carry out the policy of the BOS – not
    do the bidding of individual BOS members who
    take it upon themselves to determine what they
    think needs to be done.

    If there is a problem with how the County
    Attorney reviews plats – then the proper path is
    to bring the problem up – with the County
    Attorney – not have individual BOS determine the
    problem and the solution in their own mind and
    task employees.

    Imagine how the county would operate if all 7
    BOS acted in this way.

  • therestofthestory

    Marshall wants the process streamlined for all the rezonings that are going to happen right after he and his cronies up-zone the rural areas. His neighbors will walk right in and get FREE legal opinions intead of hiring their own lawyer. Not surprised though..spineless colleages let him get away with this for year. He’ll either micro-manage from the dias or back room and to hell with the alleged code of ethics.

  • Fredtastic

    I’m not typically a big Marshall supporter but in this case he’s got it right. If you ask anyone who regularly deals with any of the community development offices you will find a common thread in their concerns – the county attorney’s office. Led by the arrogant Strohman, they find anyway possible to obstruct business. Been any layoffs in the County Attorney’s Office yet? Nope. This Board needs to get a backbone when it comes to handling Strohman – good for Mr. Marshall for seeing that they actually do something to improve the Attorney’s Offices pitiful customer service.

  • gramps

    on this issue. The BOS should get rid of Stroman, pronto. He has advised the BOS poorly on occasion and no one is indispensible. I looked up his record and he has “bounced” around VA from pillar to post. OUT I say…OUT!

  • caroldarby

    This is a test.

  • caroldarby

    I agree wholeheartedly. Isn’t it amazing: Marshall gets into a scrape at Animal Control; suddenly Animal Control is now under the Sheriff’s office. Marshall wants to water down the code of ethics allowing him to vote on a controversial zoning proposal and, wallah, it’s voted in. It was “his” Marshall-Carter Plan that downzoned to 10-acre parcels. Now he wants to “upzone” to take advantage of 3-acre zoning and all of a sudden he needs a county attorney at his beck-and-call in Code Compliance. When will this chronyism end. Doesn’t he have enough relatives in government already? He also tries to intimidate the planning staff into doing what he wants. It is time for his rollercoaster ride to end at the end of this 2-year term.

  • lgross

    If there is a problem with the County Attorney’s
    performance, then there is an established
    procedure for dealing with it.

    If there is a problem with plats being reviewed,
    then, again there is an established procedure for
    dealing with it.

    Ya’ll are dumping two or more problems into one
    box and claiming that – that is a justification for
    one supervisor to violate the code of ethics to do
    with something that is – in his mind – a problem.

    A problem – has to be a problem in the eyes of a
    majority of the BOS in order for them to take
    action on it.

    There are established procedures to do this.

    No BOS, whether it be Marshal or anyone else,
    should personally be involved in evaluating or
    tasking a county employee.

    If something is wrong – get it fixed – correctly.

  • gramps

    lgross…you need to lighten up a little. I am quite confident that if the majority of the BOS was unhappy with Stromans performance he would be dealt with. I believe that is what happened to Wheeler.

  • lgross

    Point taken Gramps.

    I’m reactive to ANY BOS guy thinking he has the
    authority to essentially reach down and directly
    influence any employee.

    Think of what kind of morale we’d have if any of
    the current supervisors could ..and did …conduct
    themselves this way.

    So.. any county employee.. who managed to piss
    off any friend of one of the BOS guys.. could be
    essentially intimidated or threatened…as a result
    of just doing their job.

    There is a reason why the Ethics address this and
    it is not a frivolous reason IMHO.

    We’ve had too many years of “good ole boy”
    type government… where we had supervisors
    dictating how employees should do their jobs…

    much like a Boss Hogg environment

    we need to be rid of this… IMHO

  • lgross

    The proper way to handle this would have been
    for Mr. Marshall to say that he had received
    complaints about the length of time it was taking
    to get plats approved.

    Then the BOS would task the County
    Administrator and Attorney to investigate and
    report back and that would involved perhaps
    looking at their processes and comparing them
    to other jurisdictions, etc.

    As opposed to having one BOS member doing
    their own investigation.. then deciding what the
    problem is – and how it needs to be fixed.

    If the BOS, as a board, after having heard back
    from the CA – that they are not satisfied – then
    yes – at some point – the BOS might decide that
    the current CA is not performing as desired.

    But that’s a far cry from an individual BOS
    tasking county employees themselves.

  • gramps

    In the vernacular of one of my grandchildren…COOL!

  • dantelvock

    Really? This is not the first time Mr. Marshall has gone after Mr. Stroman and his office.

    I met with Stroman awhile back about complaints from the developers that it takes way too long to get anything done. There were some letters exchanged and I will see if I can find them and post them here. But, I know from experience, there was some pretty AWFUL attorney guidance on things like the Hunting Run project and obviously we’ve had at least one supervisor say the agreement with Cafaro to build the Harrison Connector Road was full of holes.

  • gramps

    I understand all that Dan, but some people seem to believe that the “politically correct” solution is the ONLY way. Those same folks fail to recognize that sometimes a 2X4 upside the head is the only solution. I come from the “old school.” However, I expect to see a follow up post that will pontificate at great length and expound on the negatives of my post.

    BTW, sorry to hear you have been under the weather. Those aches, pains, etc that you are having at 35…guess what happens at 70? Heheh.

  • lgross

    the primary point that I’m trying to make here is
    that it’s fine and dandy and appropriate for the
    BOS – as a body – to evaluate and judge the
    performance of the County Attorney including
    specifics …i.e. “snafus”… poor service, waste
    and his employees…

    but… it’s NOT OK for individuals of the BOS to
    make an individual determination as to what the
    problem is and what should be done,
    ESPECIALLY when it involves SPECIFIC county

    It’s bad policy to have individual BOS members
    directly involving themselves with specific county
    employees especially tasking them and
    evaluating their performance.

    It smacks of Boss Hogg politics to have county
    employees worried about having 7 different BOS
    directly involved in their work – and it undermines
    the existing chain of command as well as the CA.

  • gramps

    Heheh…took one minute for my expectation to become reality.

  • glasshouse

    This thread started about Marshall asking one of his three employees (Stroman) to put one of his staff members in the planning office to resolve the beauracratic issues associated with Stroman’s office. Absolutely nothing wrong with that. Nothing wrong with a BOS member pitching his solutions to the board to try and change something that most everyone knows is wrong. To my knowledge, Marshall did not ask Stroman’s employees to do anything.

    I was surprised that others pitched in about Stroman. Is it that well known that he and his office is that inefficient and obstructive?

    Would you fire him if he was your employee?