Monday, July 1, 2013

Rejecting Corrupt Regional "Government"

This press release came from Patricia Evans. It's been slightly abridged--the original e-mail included nearly all of a Bristol Herald-Courier article that, at the time of posting, is still available online. If interest continues after the article ceases to be available at, please remind me to go back and insert the long quote here.

"We the people of Virginia reaffirm our commitment to the republican form of government that is guaranteed to the state through the U.S. Constitution. Regional governance violates a foundational principle of our republican form of government in that these regional councils are in essence appointed by law and in fact; and that regionalism is an appointed form of government that is unelected and unaccountable to the people. This new layer of government diminishes the local control and authority of county and city governments for self-government.

We request that formal action be taken by the Governor, Lt. Governor, Speaker of the House, and Virginia General Assembly, to dissolve Regional Commissions:

The Russell County Special Grand Jury concluded an investigation in April, issued a Report and Indictments that all Virginians need to know about. The members of the Special Grand Jury believe the findings of this investigation should be made public and transparent since the matters investigated involved public employees and funds, include 33 cases of money laundering, fraud and forgery and involves members of public boards with such criminal charges as perjury, obtaining money by false pretenses, conspiracy to commit money laundering and election fraud.

The Special Grand Jury has spent one year investigating and hearing testimony from witnesses about alleged wrong doings and dereliction of duties by various agencies and levels of government providing housing services in Russell County VA. The results... have shown that civil servants at the county, regional, and state level have not done a good job of monitoring and overseeing the expenditure of the taxpayers money. The Special Grand Jury concludes that most, if not all, the individuals referenced throughout the Findings and Recommendations have acted very unprofessional and inappropriately and failed to perform their jobs... The Special Grand Jury believes that this conduct is indicative of a systemic defect in the operations of the DHCD Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, CPRHA Cumberland Plateau Regional Housing Authority, and CPPDC Cumberland Plateau Planning District Commission. Both Cumberland Regional organizations are funded by the federal and state government, and cover Russell, Tazewell, Dickenson and Buchanan counties. The Special Grand Jury's extensive list of Recommendations include replacement of  Executive Directors and ALL Board members and demands "Ethics Training" be provided to key staff. We don't know what other action might be taken at the state level in light of the indictments but the Indoor Plumbing and Rehabilitation program has been suspended by the state.

Russell County Special Grand Jury Report

Press release  Russell County Special Grand Jury Concludes Investigation, Issues Report and Indictments
Lebanon, VA (April 11, 2013)
On April 8, 2013, a Russell County Special Grand Jury concluded its investigation into alleged criminal activity by employees of the Cumberland Plateau Planning District Commission (CPPDC) and Cumberland Plateau Regional Housing Authority (CPRHA).
In March, 2012, at the request of Commonwealth's Attorney Brian Patton, the Russell County Circuit Court empanelled a Special Grand Jury. The Special Grand Jury met on 19 occasions,heard testimony from over 30 witnesses, and reviewed over 100 exhibits.
At the conclusion of its work, the Special Grand Jury submitted a Report of its findings and recommendations. The Special Grand Jury requested the Circuit Court to unseal its Report and allow it to be made public since the matters investigated involved public employees and funds. The Court entered an Order on March 11, 2013, unsealing the Report.
Further, the Special Grand Jury returned True Bills of Indictment against four persons, three of whom were employees or former employees of the CPPDC or CPRHA. 
The following persons were indicted:
  • Louis Porter Ballenberger II – former deputy executive director of the Cumberland Plateau Planning District Commission.
  • Patricia Dickenson Gray – former director and current board member of the Cumberland Plateau Regional Housing Authority.
  • Roger Lewis Puckett – owner and operator of Puckett Construction.
  • Douglas Lee Rasnake – rehabilitation specialist of the Cumberland Plateau Regional Housing Authority and former contractor.
The investigation was conducted by Special Agent D.G. Ramey with the Virginia State Police and the Special Grand Jury
Grand jury probe of Cumberland agencies results in charges                   
Repeal Regionalism  Regional control isn’t local

The nice thing about local government is that citizen voters can control it. People know who their local city councilmen and county commissioners are because they live nearby, and they were elected. If citizens do not like local government decisions, they simply elect someone who will serve them better. Now, try asking your neighbor, “Who serves on the board of our Regional Commission?” and watch the puzzled look on their face. Most citizen voters are unaware who is serving in these positions of authority because the members are either appointed or don’t run for the position.

Regionalism is an unelected and unaccountable form of government through “regional” boards that act like soviet councils. This dilutes the power people have over government decision-making. The U.S. Constitution guarantees each state a republican form of government, which means sovereignty rests with the people, and representatives are “chosen by the people.”
Regional governance lacks these checks and balances because regional commissions are in essence appointed by an operation of law. For example,  most members of a Regional Commission are appointed citizen members who have absolutely no accountability to voters.

Also, most of the elected officials on regional entities have no accountability to your county or city. You can’t control the actions of regional governments, because you can’t control most of the regional board members.

Many of the appointed members have their own agendas.

The rise of regionalism, comprises another layer of government between the local city-county and state government. This new layer of bureaucracy diminishes the local control and authority of city and county governments for self-government provided for in state Constitutions. Local control is further buttressed by the founders’ belief, “That government closest to the people governs best!”

Creating a regional tax base or regional equity is a form of central planning. The problems created in one county are paid for by taxpayers from another.
Regional cooperation is necessary, and flexible solutions need to be developed to allow counties to work together to solve problems of mutual interest. However, regional governance and taxation means more bureaucracy, more taxes and less accountability. Virginians across the state don’t like mandated regionalism or the regional power grabs. Regional governance needs to be repealed.

"Educate and inform the whole mass of the people. They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty."  - Thomas Jefferson   Virginia Tea Party Patriots   Danville Patriots "