A major issue that has disturbed me in the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority case is the fact that the entire responsibility is being placed on the defendants in the lawsuit. From a legal standpoint, this is appropriate. However, there are major failures on the part of other town, county and EDA officials that need to be discussed.

A recent quote by a Town Council member summarizes the issue: “We have nothing to do with the EDA, we don’t finance them; we have no say in the EDA whatsoever. The only thing is they were used as our fiduciary, which means that they borrowed money for us.”

The EDA used city and county tax money to fund EDA projects through guaranteeing loans, providing services and funds to the EDA, approving projects pursuant to town and county laws and regulations governing land use, and so forth.

Government officials have a special obligation toward the community (“the public”) that is unlike any other obligation. This special obligation is a “fiduciary duty.” There are certain factors that identify this special obligation to the public. One of those is the “duty of care.”

The “duty of care” involves inquiry and investigation. According to the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, government officials are required to “make reasonable inquiry as to the facts that are relevant to a determination to proceed with a course of action or form the basis of advice,” and they are also required to “conduct reasonable investigation to determine that it is not basing any recommendation on materially inaccurate or incomplete information.”

I could recount numerous EDA land deals and projects that were approved in 2015 through mid-2018 where the town, county and EDA officials failed their “duty of care.” One example is former councilwoman {span class=”st”}Bébhinn{/span} Egger’s questions on the ITFederal Project where no member of the Town Council supported her in raising important issues.

I have an old-fashioned belief that government officials should meet their obligations and duties to the public. I also believe that the public should be made aware of the failures of their government officials.

Robert Funk, Front Royal