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Emails show different responses during jail funding efforts

By Alex Bridges -- abridges@nvdaily.com

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.


The following is our Attorney General's opinion!
Now ask yourself did the Supervisors go to the people to ask for a vote to proceed with long term debt which is the 84 million dollar Regional Jail. I ask did you vote for or against the Jail? No you didn't! Did they fund these projects with MO bonds that are twice the interest rate of a GO Bond (GO Bonds are backed by the vote of the people so carry a very low interest rate about 2%) This equates to 34 million dollars extra our supervisors spent on the jail than they had to.
Did the Shenandoah County Taxpayers vote for the County Courthouse/Health and Human resources building? I have never seen it on the ballot because it wasn't there. They are pulling an end around the constitution, doing as they wish without the vote. I say it stops here!

OP. NO. 03-108
Neither Virginia Constitution nor applicable state statutes allow local governing body to adopt adequate public facilities ordinance that binds, directly or indirectly, future governing body to fund capital improvements program at specific level and authorizes approval of proposed development project to be deferred for specified number of years.
The Honorable John C. Watkins Member, Senate of Virginia December 15, 2003
Issue Presented
You ask whether a county may adopt an adequate public facilities ordinance1 that would bind, directly or indirectly, future boards of supervisors to fund a capital improvement plan ("plan") at a specific level in conjunction with the authority to defer the approval of a proposed development for a specified number of years. Such a plan would bind the present and future county board of supervisors to fund capital improvements at a specific monetary amount over the specified number of years.
It is my opinion that the Constitution of Virginia and applicable state statutes currently do not allow a local board of supervisors to adopt an adequate public facilities ordinance that binds, directly or indirectly, the current or future board of supervisors to fund a capital improvements program at a specific level without submitting the matter to the qualified voters for approval pursuant to the requirements of Article VII, ยง 10(b) of the Virginia Constitution.

The Authority's are trying to claim that the Counties are just being billed "annually" which is legal under the Constiutution, yet what they are doing is a lease to own where the County pays the Bond Notes for the 30 years until they are paid off then they will receive the ownership rights. This is the clearest violation of our rights that I have ever seen and the Courts are letting them do it. No one has challanged the Constitutionality of the various sundry agreements between the County's and the Authority's until the suit that I have filed. We will serve the suit when we have all of the Petitions for Removal of our County Supervisors signed and submitted.

If you would like a petition for the removal of your Shenandoah County District Supervisor please request one at mark@sunpeakusa.com. Warren and Rapp can use ours as a guideline.
Please state what District and your Supervisors name. I will ensure you receive one.
What could you do with $34 million Dollars? Give it to the Bankers like our County governments are doing or help the elderly, handicap, schools, roads, parks and even save some for a rainy day.
Mark W. Prince
394 Brook Creek Road
Toms Brook, VA 22660

Is there a Prince Mark move out of the area petition circulating too??

Maybe an "I've got an axe to grind" petition would work.

Really can you elaborate beyond a sentence? Mark Prince is one of the few with the brains and the GUTS to stand up and fight against this run-away government of ours.

And then Diana went back to drink more Kool-Aid, watch Jerry Springer, and look to see if Mark is smarter than a 5th grader.

I have seen more brains and guts on the butcher's floor :)

what truly is being missed here is how Furgesen wants to deflect the BOS's actions on to the Sherriff. To think Furgesen is in charge of the soon to be defunct Shenandoah County Republican Party. Neese its time to step up or leave.

It would appear this is Mr. Prince's latest "personal vendetta" against Shenandoah County officials.Unfortunately, Rappahannock and Warren are also involved. It would be interesting to know when Shenandoah County's Sheriff will be up for re-election, as well as the members of the Board of Supervisors!!

Sheriff Carter has been very strong against this waste of public money. He will earn my vote for his stance against this waste of public funds. I wish there were more Mark Princes, Cindy Baileys and Sheriff Carters in this world.

So you are okay with all the building done in Shen. Co. over the last year without a public vote that the Va. Constitution allows us?!?!? I guess you LOVE paying taxes and still having to pay for a ride to the hospital?!?!?
Since you are okay with this I want Shen. Co. to take 100% of your earnings and apply them to the building fund debt. I think you are a Class One Idiot if you are okay with this, but then I also think the idiots that keep voting in the same old stale carp into office without noticing the decline in the status of the residents are also in the same idiot boat as you.

Amen. I wish we had more people willing to stand up and fight. I thank these people for all they are doing.

So would you be the pot or the kettle?
Oh the taxes, oh the rampant building, oh the moral decay of Shenandoah County. I think a sink-hole just opened up again in Edinburg. There's a diving board on the edge................

While Sword performs a full gainer with half twist backflip off his diving board for our amusement....... Pot or kettle? I do not know with absolute certainty, but, IMHO, a majority of the above posters prefer pot. Not me, though..... I prefer the hard stuff..... Give me Kool-Aid every time.

All you's Shenandoah County guys sure know how to effectively argue amongst yourselves using the tried and true cornerstone of tit-for-tat killer debating techniques -- nasty name calling.

Do we have to be a resident or can anyone join the fray? OK, now that that is settled, you guys are all a bunch of.... a bunch of..... of......of..... wait.... just like you guys, I'm trying to think but nothing happens.


Bwwaaaahhhh hahahahaha

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