Great Moments in Virginia Governance: Norfolk Edition

burfoot under indictment for corruptionFrom the Virginian-Pilot: An employee of Norfolk Treasurer Anthony Burfoot testified in U.S. District Court Monday that she waived penalties and fees for local developers at the direction of her boss.

Prosecutors allege that Dwight Etheridge, Tommy Arney, Ronnie Boone Sr. and others paid Burfoot more than $400,000 in kickbacks and bribes between 2005 and early 2011. In exchange, prosecutors say, Burfoot helped, or at least promised to help, their various projects through the city bureaucracy.

The office of Treasurer is not one I think of as influencing development decisions. Treasurers don’t even influence real estate assessments — that’s the job in Virginia of commissioners of revenue. It will be interesting to see, as this trial unfolds, what kind of favors are within the purview of a city or county treasurer to grant. If Burfoot turns out to be guilty, other jurisdictions might think of turning over the same rock to see what kind of nastiness resides beneath.

mccabeUpdate: Oh, brother, now accusations of corruption extend to Norfolk Sheriff Bob McCabe. Quoth the Virginian-Pilot: “Businessman Ronnie Boone Sr. told federal investigators he bribed longtime Sheriff Bob McCabe in addition to Treasurer Anthony Burfoot, according to two sources familiar with the interview.”

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3 responses to “Great Moments in Virginia Governance: Norfolk Edition

  1. No need to turn over rocks – it’s in full view:

    Headline: ” Loudoun County zoning advisory group has strong links to major land-use firms”

    For nearly four years, Loudoun’s Board of Supervisors has appointed representatives from the community to serve on a group tasked with guiding supervisors and staff through the county’s rigorous zoning policies and amendments.

    The Zoning Ordinance Action Group (ZOAG) considers consequential zoning and planning decisions that impact the county’s growth, including the development of mini-cities, the expansion of data centers and zoning decisions about new uses for rural, agricultural and residential land.
    ….
    Who are they?

    Current ZOAG members include Louis Canonico, ZOAG’s vice chairman and vice president of the land planning firm Christopher Consultants’ special services division – a company that has worked on the Waterside mixed-use development proposed near the Silver Line Metro since 2012, as well as Dulles 28 Centre, the 308-acre retail and office park in Sterling.

    ZOAG member Colleen Gillis is a go-to land-use attorney and partner with Cooley LLP’s real estate group. She has helped secure approvals for major developments, including One Loudoun, Dulles World Center and Willowsford. Gillis has also sat on a number of the group’s subcommittees dealing with data centers, mixed-use districts, planned development, limited farm brewery and agricultural processing and more.”

    http://www.loudountimes.com/index.php/news/article/zoning_ordinance_group_members_have_ties_to_major_land_use_companies583

  2. Prince William trumps (pardon the pun) in spades as their zoning ordinance and design & construction manual review body is made up almost exclusively of builders associations, local developers, construction firms, road builders and most importantly, their land use attorneys. Quite frankly it is a bad joke as it allows the fox to both guard the henhouse and preclude any public input on proposed changes.

  3. In general – I support having the development community involved in … participating in the creation of development policies and at the specific project level – to assure that the govt process is effective without being onerous and counter-productive, costly, etc.

    However the devil is in the details in having a process that inhibits or prevents inappropriate, unethical.. illegal conduct per Jim’s point on his post.

    I also believe the non-development community should participate but over time have come to the conclusion that citizens without business experience support policies and regulations without regard to their impact on business and govt costs and can and do create havoc that disrupts rather than makes efficient, timely, cost-effective, etc.

    I’ve observed how core functions such as highways, water/sewer, schools, public safety – etc would “work” when citizens
    unfamiliar with basics became involved on a more “hands on” level which is what you do see right now when elected citizen BOS take office and assert themselves on hands-on levels against the advice and counsel of their own employed professionals – only to have to “undo” later… and the process – repeats – each new election.. it’s maddening…

    Planning Commissions can be even worse.

    I’ve become convinced after years of watching citizen-elected BOS that something like the VACO Virginia Certified County Supervisors’ Program should be mandatory for any elected BOS and Planning Commissioner as well as any leadership positions occupied by citizens on other county committees.

    I note that VDOT has actually created a document called Board of Supervisors manual to help them understand what VDOT does and what the role of BOS is – and is not.

    There are legitimate fox-in-the-henhouse developer issues as well as fiscal competency issues aka Richmond/Petersburg – but too many citizens who get involved in govt, fundamentally do not understand basic governance – e.g. the elected lady who wants schools done as individual ..essentially balkanized, special tax districts or BOS who do not know the difference between one-time money and recurring money when budgeting…

    so ALL of these folks – if they want to have a more direct role in govt – should be required to become educated on the basics – before they start making decisions with little knowledge of consequences and impacts.

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