FRONT ROYAL — Board of Supervisors Chairman Dan Murray said during a regular Tuesday meeting that a citizen shoved him in a Front Royal diner over the weekend because he is an elected official.
Murray explained on Wednesday that as he exited the restaurant’s bathroom a man approached him, said, “you’re one of them,” and pushed him.
If anything similar happens again, Murray said, he will likely call the Sheriff’s Office. He added that “the guy was a nut” and declined to comment any further on the matter.
Murray said during the Tuesday meeting that while citizens are upset over the alleged $17 million embezzlement detailed in a lawsuit filed by the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority, “there’s a lot going on that people are not aware of.”
He said that due to the lawsuit, the supervisors “can’t speak” and “that’s just the way it works legally.” He asked for patience as further investigation unfolds.
In warning citizens not to succumb rumors, Murray referenced James Jones, a cult leader who in 1978 killed some of his followers and enticed hundreds of others to commit suicide by drinking a poisoned liquid.
“Intimidation, falsehoods, misguided statements are tearing this community apart. It’s almost like this community is part in parcel to Jimmy Jones and drank the Kool-Aid,” he said.
He noted that it took three years after arson and embezzlement occurred at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1867 until justice was brought, and that “the Lord” is the only one who knows how long it will take for the EDA scandal to come to an end.
“Nothing would make me happier than seeing somebody in handcuffs going into the RSW Jail. And I think a lot of other people would like to see that but I think we want blood,” Murray said.
Murray, who is up for re-election in November, also responded to calls for his resignation. He said he knows there are people who act like friends who are working behind his back and “trying to subvert me and knock me down and find somebody else to come in as an independent.”
He said that he was elected by the citizens of the North River District, and if someone replaces him in the upcoming election, “then so be it, the will of the people will rule.”
Supervisor Linda Glavis responded to calls for resignation, also noting that she was elected by a majority of citizens in the South River District, and “I can’t let them down.”
“I think a lot of facts have to come out before the press tries everything, and I’m here to serve the people that elected me,” she said.
Supervisor Archie Fox also addressed what he called the “enormous” EDA scandal, noting that it will be a “long time” before “the full magnitude of the wrongdoing” is known. In the meantime, Fox said, the supervisors need to start rebuilding lost trust. He noted that the EDA recently asked the county to serve as its fiscal agent and oversee all of its financial transactions.
While that is a “good step,” he said “we need to go further” and serve as the fiscal agent of all boards and commissions that fall under the county’s jurisdiction.
He added the county needs to review procedures and safeguards within the Treasurer’s Office and the Finance Department to ensure auditing and accounting practices are up-to-date.
Fox added that the supervisors must consult with boards and commissions to determine what deliberations should take place during closed sessions.
“Honest government requires transparency, and that can’t happen if everything is confidential and not available for scrutiny. There are sound reasons for some closed-door deliberations but those should be the exception and not the rule,” he said.
Fox added that the supervisors should encourage citizen activism and voluntarism.
“Citizen input and transparency are things we must strive for. It’s the only way we can get and keep good government. Combined with listening better and taking citizens’ concerns seriously, we can have the government we want,” he said.
Supervisor Tom Sayre’s only reference to the EDA was that Tuesday — the day the FBI and Virginia State Police removed files from the authority’s office — was “a good day for those who seek the truth.”