Investigate Conflict in Dranesville

Investigate Conflict in Dranesville

To the Editor

The September 24-30 edition of your paper ran a letter titled "Conflicts Should be Explained." The letter discussed apparent conflicts of interest in land use decisions. The letter referred to Dranesville Supervisor Stuart Mendelsohn's failed attempt to have a fellow Supervisor investigated by the County Attorney for potential conflict.

It is encouraging to know that Supervisor Mendelsohn is concerned about potential conflicts of interest involving land use decisions. However, it does raise an issue concerning why he has not sought to have his own Planning Commissioner, Joan DuBois, investigated.

As Dranesville Planning Commissioner, Ms. DuBois decides matters relating to land use applications submitted by developers and other special interests. The entire time she has served as Dranesville Planning Commissioner, Ms. DuBois has also been employed by Travesky & Associates, LTD. According to its website, the Travesky firm is the "premier" firm in the region "contracted to obtain County approvals for various commercial and noncommercial land use projects." The firm advertises that its development related services for clients include "assistance in obtaining local government zoning and permit approvals." The firm's website claims that the firm's success is a direct result of its ability to establish a good rapport with government agencies and advertises the fact that one of its employees, Ms. DuBois, is a member of one of those government agencies.

Again, it is encouraging to have a Supervisor who is concerned about apparent conflicts of interest. However, rather than investigating potential conflicts in other magisterial districts, why doesn't Supervisor Mendolsohn start right here in Dranesville? The partial client list on Travesky & Associates web site would be a place to start.

Supervisor Mendelsohn could investigate why it's not a conflict of interest that Ms. DuBoisí employer has a substantial contract to work on the Dulles Corridor Rapid Transit Project yet Ms. DuBois does not recuse herself from voting on significant land use issues, like the recent Lerner application for Tysons II, that dramatically impact the Dulles Transit Project. He could also investigate whether it is likely that Tysons II-Galleria, another client of the Travesky firm, will benefit from the same development at Tysons II and the Metro rail station that will be built near the Galleria as part of the project. He could also investigate why it is not a potential conflict of interest that Ms. DuBois supported an Exxon-Mobil land use application in McLean, despite the unanimous (16-0) opposition of the McLean Planning Committee, when her employer represented Mobil Oil on a similar project in another district?

Supervisor Mendelsohn could start his investigation with these potential conflicts of interests and continue down the long list of Travesky & Associates land use clients and the matters that have come before the Planning Commission while Ms. DuBois served as a paid employee of Travesky & Associates and as Dranesville's trusted Planning Commissioner.

Surely Supervisor Mendelsohn will call for an investigation of Ms. DuBois' actual conflicts of interest as well as her participation in Planning Commission deliberations and votes without disclosing potential conflicts of interest. Of course, while we are doing these investigations, maybe we should also investigate why Supervisor Mendelsohn appointed a Planning Commissioner who works for a land use lobbyist that represents land use applicants before the Planning Commission.

John Terzaken III