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Jeff Branscome writes about Spotsylvania County.

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Caroline County postponed its board meeting, but Spotsylvania is forging ahead. Actually, there is no snow here at the Administrative Building.

The Board of Supervisors has changed leadership: Benny Pitts is now chair and Jerry Logan vice chair.  Both votes were unanimous.

The supervisors also recognized the employees of the quarter: Andrew Deci from the planning department and Mark Buccola with the sheriff’s office.

Supervisors are learning more about how other localities use citizen advisory committees during redistricting. You may remember from an earlier meeting that many special interest groups in the county requested such a committee.

Supervisor Hap Connors suggested creating a draft plan for the committee at the next meeting. He recommends nine people on the committee, including one person from the minority affairs committee to address the concerns that minorities are often underrepresented during redistricting processes. Connors also said the committee should work under the premise that there will be seven districts in the county.

Supervisor Gary Skinner is hesitant to create a committee of appointed citizens. “If I elect someone for this committee, I’m going to elect someone with the same mindset as me. And I’m not sure that’s good for the county.”

He suggests instead making sure the county keeps the process open and informs the public about redistricting. He wants county groups to offer plans but for the county team led by administrator Doug Barnes to head the process.

The motion to bring a draft of a citizens’ advisory committee failed 5-2.

Supervisor Emmitt Marshall made a motion toward keeping the districts at seven. Supervisor Gary Jackson said getting the data should be the first step and talked about making sure the public is involved and informed along the way.

He said: “There’s a lot of interest in this process, understandably so.”

Pitts reminded the board to use “any and all media” to get the word out about the process. “The last thing I want to hear from a citizen is that they wanted to get involved in the process and didn’t know how to do it or that they got involved and didn’t feel welcome.”


  • Fredtastic

    Good work Andrew!

  • LarryG

    “we want an open and transparent process… but FIRST, we’re gonna have 7 BOS and then we can do all that other good stuff” !


    sorry… could not resist just a slight “tweak” though I suspect we’ll here from the local Republican flag bearer on this “travesty”.

    Mr. Haas recently went through the trouble of getting a list of counties in Va and their number of BOS and maybe he’ll share it again but the long and short of it is that there are less than a handful in Va that have more than 7 BOS and probably a greater number with less than 7.

  • Steve T.

    Actually Larry, I recognize staying at 7 as a valid option; I just think 9- more representation- would be better. The thing by Hap about being open except if different ideas are proposed is hilarious though.

  • LarryG

    who made the motion Steve? wasn’t it Marshall?

    at least Hap TRIED to get a place for you to make your case…

    what an ingrate you are!!!!

    I bet if it was a Republican that tried to get you a committee, that you’d be falling all over with praise!

    Boy are you PARTISAN!

  • Steve T.

    Boy Larry, what’d you eat for lunch today?

    I offered that 7 was a legit option; I preferred 9 but what’s partisan about that?

    I do think- and I was agreeing with you- that Hap’s motion was ironic.

    It’s funny you should be attacking me on Hap’s behalf when he joined the other leftwing nutjobs in blaming Republicans for the Arizona shooting. THAT, my friend, is classless partisanship.

  • LarryG

    Steve – what the HEY does that have to do with Hap making a motion for a citizen committee for re-districting that you also supported?

    Can you give credit on that or are you so partisan that you can’t?

    We can disagree guy – without being disagreeable…. remember that?

  • bhaas

    I can supply that info if someone is truly interested. However, it now seems a moot point; the BOS will stay at seven.

    I am much more concerned about what happened later, but will address it when appropriate.

  • Steve T.

    I don’t get your point Larry. You come out swinging at me for reasons I’m still not very clear on; I don’t think I was overly partisan at all. I was in favor of the citizens commission but to say they can’t consider other ideas is pretty ironic.

    But when a sitting supervisor is calling people names- “shiites”, “trained monkeys”, “fascists”, “crazy”… You say nothing?

    Your hypocrisy is disappointing.

  • LarryG

    my last post on this issue. Perhaps we have a misunderstanding and if so.. I apologize for my part in it.

    I didn’t think I came out swinging at all – I just commented that Hap DID SUPPORT what you have advocated for and instead of acknowledging that you whacked him over another issue that got your partisan goat.

    I think Hap is entitled to his partisan views just as you are but when he does support something you wanted – can you not acknowledge that?

  • Steve T.

    What I want first and foremost is an open process. To have citizen input is good but to say they can then only consider one idea is not open at all!

    I think 9 districts has benefits some have not fully considered, but acknowledge 7 is legit also. What is partisan about that? I don’t think I’m getting very much of what I wanted here but then I’m used to that from this Board.

    An unopen process with foregone conclusions and no real input. That’s the real legacy of the Dem majority on the BoS, and will be the first thing to change under a new conservative majority.

  • D.J. McGuire

    Um, Larry, you’re missing the point.

    “Connors also said the committee should work under the premise that there will be seven districts in the county.”

    You can’t talk about openness and county input while at the same time preordaining the outcome. That’s the problem Steve and I have with Hap’s idea.

    If he had not included the 7-district condition, I’m sure Steve would have approved of Hap’s motion. I know I would have.

    As it is, preordaining 7 districts weakened the proposal. I’m glad it was defeated.

  • LarryG

    Okay D.J. but Steve did say that 7 was a legitimate option and did not sound that upset with it but even given that – it would have been a half-loaf scenario – a compromise but as it turned out neither was approved.

    I only pointed out that Hap DID put SOMETHING on the table as opposed to just sitting there and keeping quiet which he could have done.

    This is much ado about nothing EXCEPT in the business of Governance – toad-swallowing compromise is necessary – even imperative at times and anyone who is in the business of running for office or advocating for others – in my humble opinion should have that mindset.

    Compromise is the name of the game in governance in my book and that means acknowledging the other side when it seeks things you also support.

    I sure won’t kill either one of you guys to compliment Hap when he does something you want nor Houck for that matter, eh?

    I’m no fan of Mr. McDonnell but he’s not the scum of the earth because he is a Republican or because he screwed up Confederate History month or has sought to finance VDOT on debt…. at he same time he’s proven to be a a thoughtful and intelligent advocate of reform and changes.

    So THERE – I just complimented a Republican.. GAWD o Mighty.. no you go get Steve to thank Mr. Connors for at least attempting to get a citizens committee on redistricting!

    Ya’ll have a good day…

  • bhaas

    In retrospect, the seeming fact that the majority of the BOS seemed to have made a preset decision–no citizens redistricting committee–does appear to be at odds with their stated “transparency” position.

    I am also troubled by Steve’s charge that a “sitting supervisor is calling people names.” I must have missed something; would someone care to enlighten me here?

  • LarryG

    I was not surprised that the BOS stuck with 7 but I was a little surprised that Hap advocated a citizens group and had so little support… and Skinner wanted JUST one minority rep.

    On the “siting supervisor” charge – apparently Hap made some comments about the current kerfuffle swirling around the Tuscon tragedy and things are so partisan right now that in the eyes of some his remarks are unforgivable but perhaps I should let them speak for themselves on this.

  • Steve Thomas

    On the citizens advisory committee that was shot down, I’m sorry, but that’s one where half a loaf is just not good enough. Openness demands the full loaf. I’m tired of this veneer of openness where the outcome is already baked in the cake. We need a bunch of new supervisors, stat.

    Allow me to elaborate on the Hap Connors stuff:

    “I’d hate to be an apologist right now for Palin, Beck, Limbaugh and anyone who makes a living generating hate and fear. They may not have pulled the trigger, but they helped load the weapon.” -Hap Connors, January 10, 2011

    Partisan and classless and completely without factual backup you say? Absolutely. Especially when coming from someone who has used the following adjectives to describe Republicans: “fascists”, “trained monkeys”, “Shiites”, and “crazy”. Note that Hap was actually fired from his position as Executive Director of the South Carolina Democratic Party for calling the Governor there a “fascist” as well.

    Hap himself has done more to encourage a political environment of fear and hate than any other figure in Spotsylvania over the last 20 years, and he should be admonished for it. Or better yet, he should get beat at the ballot box for it.

  • bhaas

    Sorry to hear about this.

    The senseless act of a psychopath in Tuscon has been tragically turned into a political circus by extremists on all sides of our political spectrum. Such acts have grown into a national tragedy heaped upon the tragedy of the loss of life in that incident.

  • Larry the G

    ” Hap himself has done more to encourage a political environment of fear and hate than any other figure in Spotsylvania over the last 20 years, ”


    Can we hear the things he did to earn this assertion?

    is this assertion being made by the Republican Party in Spotsylvania and there is a bill of particulars to support it?

  • Steve Thomas

    I believe I already provided a bill of particulars. When you have a public official go on the radio or in public cession calling people names, it’s a pretty big disincentive to get involved in the political process. When he accuses those he does not agree with politically of being accomplices to murder, it engenders an environment of fear.

    Saying things like, “Can you guess what I’m thinking now???” to a fellow supervisor with whom he is having a public debate lowers the discourse and engenders an environment of fear and intimidation.

    I won’t even go into the things he’s said to me personally, though I can show you offline.

    This is simply conduct unbecoming an elected official of any kind, and reflects someone who either has thin skin or is trying to intimidate those he does not agree with.

    Larry, open your eyes man.

  • Hap Connors

    Steve, Larry is right – you are blinded by your extreme partisanship. Your Republican “friends” tell me to ignore your postings, because you have become obsessed with me and are always looking for an engagement. But, I do grow weary of your repeated distortions about me, which I have let you know repeatedly. While I appreciate your infatuation – I guess your rants and attention are somewhat flattering – your new obsession with stalking me online is getting creepy. Best of luck to you as you sort through these emotions.

  • D.J. McGuire

    Wait a minute, Hap. Steve repeats the words you have used, and you respond by accusing him of “stalking me online”?

    Are you trying to *confirm* his assessment? ‘Cause that’s pretty much what you did.

    I know you’re worried about November, but geez.

  • Martin (Marty) Work

    Is this the only contribution Hap Connors can bring to the table in light of Steve’s comments? Or is this just another walk in park where rhetoric and reality meet head-on but go nowhere. Even Hap Connors can’t deny he has a paper trail a mile wide that even he can’t deny or even cover up.

    So, who should we exonerate, for want of the truth?

  • Steve Thomas

    You know Hap, I never would have seen your comment had you and Alan not been bantering about it. It might surprise you to know, Hap, that in fact apart from policy differences there’s not much I opine about you one way or the other.

    That said, if you feel I have distorted your comments, please show me where. I have used direct quotes from you at every stage in the game and can document all of it, so I’d like to know where I have distorted, well, anything.

    The truth is, when you say something so foolishly partisan and unwise as blaming Republicans for the Arizona shootings- while you yourself have been tossing around insults and epithets for years now- you should expect to be called out on it. If you don’t want to be called out, don’t toss insults around.

    In a 75% conservative district, your constituents deserve to know that sort of thing.

    I can disagree very agreeably… I don’t agree with Mr. Marshall a lot of the time but he and I have never been anything but cordial and gentlemanly to each other. You’d be wise to take a page.