Mount Vernon Letter: Evaluating Appointees

Mount Vernon Letter: Evaluating Appointees

Letter to the Editor

To the Editor:

I understand Supervisor Dan Storck is in the process of drafting a "Statement of Commitment" for all Mount Vernon appointees to boards, authorities and commission to ensure appointees are more available and responsive to residents of Mount Vernon, including Supervisor Storck's guidance and standards for serving in such positions.

This is a promising development, but the proof will be in the pudding. If Supervisor Storck wishes to demonstrate to the community that he is serious about ensuring appointees should be serving, he should first ask each current appointee, most of whom were appointed by his predecessor, to submit letters of resignation. He can then decide upon reviewing the credentials and performance of each appointee which resignations to accept.

For me, it is my view that citizens appointed to boards, authorities and commissions, particularly those impacting private property rights of citizens must demonstrate they have and will strictly abide by the following requirements:

(1) They must demonstrate the ability to recognize and avoid conflicts of interest, including demonstrated ability to recuse themselves where conflicts arise.

(2) They must have a record of refraining from imposing their personal agenda when serving in a civic capacity.

(3) They must have a history of abiding by rules, regulations and bylaws of organizations in which they have served in any capacity.

(4) They must have a record of total transparency, always keeping fully informed the constituents they have represented.

(5) They must not have had a history of violating laws and regulations that are enforced by the very organization on which they have served.

(6) They must have a record of complete honesty in their dealings with citizens and the supervisor.

People who do not fulfill all of these requirements should not be appointed and, if currently serving, their resignation should be accepted.

One such appointee about whom I have written numerous letters to the Gazette fails to comply with any of the six criteria set forth above. This appointee has served over two years beyond the expiration of their term in office solely as a result of operation of an arcane Virginia law that permits an appointee to continue to serve beyond expiration of their term so long as they have not resigned or been replaced. The decision as to whether to reappoint this person was deferred by Supervisor Gerry Hyland for fully the last two years of his final term in office, from Jan. 1, 2014 through Dec. 31, 2015. Apparently Supervisor Hyland found the prospect of reappointing this person "radioactive" and punted it to his successor. Supervisor Storck has now delayed the decision an additional four months. With about 130,000 residents in the Mount Vernon District, we can surely do better.

I will be looking to Supervisor Storck's decision on this particular appointment to inform me as to whether he is serious about making sure appointees are suitable, qualified and appropriate for the appointments they wish to attain or, rather, if he is just paying lip service to his constituents. I remain hopeful Supervisor Storck is making a serious effort to upgrade Mount Vernon's appointees to important positions. This one will tell the tale.

H. Jay Spiegel

Mount Vernon