By Alex Bridges -- firstname.lastname@example.org
Threats of legal action that stopped a first shot at securing loans for the regional jail project put officials and the financing agency on edge, according to email correspondence on the issue.
But some involved in the effort to finance the multimillion dollar project with the sale of moral obligation bonds did not take the threats so seriously, as indicated in other emails obtained by the Daily through a Freedom of Information Act request.
However, the Rappahannock Shenandoah Warren Regional Jail Authority Board blamed the vocal opponents of the project for derailing the initial bond sale, which they claim added $1.7 million to the total cost. The board asked their attorney to look into any legal recourse against the opponents for the interference.
VRA board Chairman William O'Brien received an email from Woodstock attorney Brad Pollack regarding the possible filing of a lawsuit by a client against the financing of the project. O'Brien, in an email dated June 20, responded: "Heads up noted. I've dealt with frivilous lawsuits in the past. Attempt to responsibly represent your client."
O'Brien also fired back at Karen Kwiatkowski, a "constitutional conservative" farmer from Mt. Jackson, former candidate for the Republican Party nomination to run for U.S. Congress and an opponent of the project. O'Brien took offense to Kwiatkowski calling the VRA's actions "rash." Shenandoah County Supervisor Sharon Baroncelli sent in an email questioning whether state legislators named in Kwiatkowski's statements would approve of being implicated.
Toms Brook resident Mark Prince did file a complaint July 2 in Shenandoah County Circuit Court seeking to void the financing of the project. The complaint has not been served on the VRA, the jail authority and SunTrust Bank.
Ted Cole, senior vice president with Davenport & Company, the firm handling the project financing, stated in an email dated June 4: "I just spoke with Dennis Howard at SunTrust and he informed me that someone who opposes the jail project, Cindy Bailey I believe, contacted a number of senior management SunTrust Bank officials in Atlanta late last week to share her concerns. SunTrust is committed to closing the Note on schedule. They have however, retained Chris Kulp with Hunton & Williams to represent them on the transaction. Chris is also acting in the capacity of Underwriter's Counsel to the VRA bond underwriters, so he is familiar with the issues here. At this time, I know of no reason why the SunTrust Note will not close according to the schedule discussed at the RSW Board meeting last week."
The turmoil attracted members of the Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors who do not serve on the jail authority board. Supervisor David Ferguson, in an email dated June 25 to Douglas Walker, county administrator for Shenandoah County, asked for clarification on state funding for construction costs. In the same email, Ferguson stated: "I know I have ask for this information in the past but I would like to officially request information on all Shenandoah County Sheriff Office purchases for the past 24 months. I would like the list to include the funding source for each purchase. The list should include items that have been ordered but not received. If any item is not listed or identified I would like to know the reason why."
Walker responded to Ferguson: "I will process your request for information regarding Sheriff expenses, including specific purchases and funding sources and including any items ordered but not received to the extent that can be determined."
An email dated May 30 from John W. McCarthy, county administrator for Rappahannock County who also sits on the authority board, alludes to a meeting in early June: "The lady has been contacting some (but so far not all) Board members here and urging them to attend the meeting on Thursday. I have reminded them of the FOIA issues involved if a majority of them show up and 'discuss public business', but I think we have few takers, and the one or two who might come seem more curious than anything..." Emails do not identify the "lady."
The Daily recently received hundreds of pages of correspondence in electronic format composed of emails, strings of forwarded messages and replies. Many of the pages of the documents contained duplicate messages. The Daily made the request for the correspondence through Walker.
Walker had J. Jay Litten, county attorney, review the documents for any information exempt from FOIA. In fact, Litten redacted information on all or part of approximately 121 pages listed as having a subject of "bond closing," "threatened litigation," "litigation," "legal research," "making legal research available," and "privilege."
Litten cites "attorney-client privilege" as his reason for redacting information in the emails. In one instance, Litten redacted 29 pages dated June 15. Most of the emails which contained redacted information originated from Litten, though some started from the jail authority attorney Bill Hefty as well as Walker and Douglas Stanley, county administrator for Warren County and the chairman of the authority board.