FRONT ROYAL – The Board of Supervisors during a special Friday meeting voted to have lawyers from Litten & Sipe LP - the law firm serving as county attorney - to represent them in court proceedings regarding a recently filed petition calling for their removal from office.
The petition, which was filed last week, states that the supervisors should be removed from office mainly due to their lack of oversight of the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority. According to the petition, millions of dollars were allegedly stolen from the authority as the result of the supervisors' alleged negligence.
During the Friday meeting, five separate motions were made for each supervisor to be represented by the lawyers. For example, Supervisor Tony Carter motioned for the lawyers to represent Supervisor Tom Sayre, at which point Sayre abstained.
Each of the five motions passed by a 4-0 vote with one abstention.
Each supervisor abstained by stating: “I hereby disclose, with respect to the employment of attorneys to represent me, that I have a personal interest in, and will benefit from, the transaction because the purpose of such employment is to represent me.”
Sayre, who is running for re-election against Walter Mabe, said after the vote: “I don’t know where my opponent was, but I and a few others were in the trenches before any solid evidence had been produced.”
Sayre added that he does not diminish other people’s efforts to unearth “this now notorious tale of deception of greed” and thanked police officers “who were doing their job.”
Sayre noted that he testified against former EDA Executive Director Jennifer McDonald – who has been charged on 28 felony counts stemming from alleged financial improprieties during her decade-long tenure at the authority – in court and she unsuccessfully filed a civil defamation suit against him.
“As a supervisor, I fought the good fight unlike my opponent who only recently appeared at board meetings and has never cast a vote in an election in his entire life,” Sayre said, at which point audience members audibly voiced their distaste for the comment.
Mabe said over the phone Friday that "records show that [Sayre] was there but not that he was standing up and screaming...He was just following the pack....he wasn't the leader, he should have been the leader."
Regarding Sayre noting his voting record, Mabe said that not having voted is not part of being a supervisor. He noted that he served in the military and fought for the right to chose, and he chose not to vote.
Mabe added that he moved a lot and never got intertwined in politics but he also never complained.
Upon moving back to Warren County, Mabe said he got involved in politics because of the discontent contaminating the area. Once he got involved, he said: "I was all over it" and he attended every meeting possible.
"I am all over everything and I'm sure it bothers my competitor. I'm glad it does...he's realizing that he has some real competition and I'm it. And I'm not afraid and I'm going to step back from the confrontation," he said.
Mabe added that he does not think Sayre should be campaigning during a meeting.
"I understand what's right and that's just wrong," he said "You shouldn't stand up there in your supervisory position and campaign. I've never heard it before and I hope I never hear it again."
As Sayre made his comments, citizen Kristie Atwood said from the crowd: “Point of order, point of order.”
Chairman Dan Murray then slammed his gavel and said: “There will be no yelling out...we will have decorum.”
“Mr. Sayre, we are now into a political part of this and I suggest you wrap up where you’re at, at this moment,” Murray said.
Sayre then ceased his comments.
Atwood then said: “Point of order, will the citizens be able to speak?”
Murray slammed his gavel again and said: “If I have to bang the gavel one more time, I will ask the sheriff to escort you out.”
“The board will not tolerate personal attacks on anyone or any of the participants in the proceedings,” Murray said.
Atwood said “point of order again,” holding up a copy of the book “Robert’s Rules of Order,” which dictates policies for governmental meetings.
Jason Hamm, a Litten and Sipe attorney who has been representing the supervisors during board meetings, did not return a phone message.
The 10th edition of the rules states that “when a member thinks that the rules of the assembly are being violated, he can make a Point of Order.”
Carter then motioned for the meeting to be adjourned and Murray said: “We are adjourned.”
The supervisors are due in court Monday for the first hearing regarding the petition.
“You just gave us a lot to use on Monday; y’all are gonna be gone,” Atwood said.