Moonhowlings: PWC Board of Supervisors for Sale to Highest Bidder

From Moonhowlings

The “News and Messenger” reported Tuesday that Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart and another unnamed supervisor are “concerned” about a ruling of the Zoning Administrator.

According to the N&M article, the Army has awarded a contract to the firm Spectrum, which is constructing a facility in an office park near Dumfries to provide healthcare services for members of the military and their families. Healthcare services for our men and women in uniform and their families, and additional facilities to serve the needs of the new military families relocating to Eastern Prince William County because of BRAC sounds like a good idea, doesn’t it? Not to everyone.

A competing firm with facilities already located in the area, CRAssociates (CRA), is objecting on the basis that Spectrum will have a dispensary in its facility, which CRA characterizes as a retail pharmacy. Retail pharmacies are prohibited in the proffers for the office park where Spectrum is constructing its facility. The County Zoning Administrator has already ruled that Spectrum’s dispensary will be an allowed ancillary use at its facility and will not be a retail pharmacy, along the lines of a Rite-Aid or CVS. Thus, the facility Spectrum is constructing and plans to open next summer complies with County zoning and proffers for the area.

So why are Chairman Stewart and another unnamed supervisor “concerned” about the Zoning Administrator’s ruling and going to bat for CRA?

Consider this. According to the Virginia Public Access Project, CRA and its CEO Charles H. Robbins have given Chairman Stewart $7,500 in campaign donations. Supervisor Nohe has received $3,000 and Supervisor Jenkins has received $2,060.

In my view, this incident represents influence-peddling of the worst kind. The Zoning Administrator has ruled and that ruling is contrary to the interests of a campaign donor. Thus, Chairman Stewart and another supervisor are intervening on behalf of that campaign donor. In the first place, the County’s job is to ensure all businesses comply with applicable zonings, regulations and rules only. The Zoning Administrator has done that.

The job of the County Government is not to intervene in the free market on behalf of campaign donors. I thought Mr. Stewart considered himself a conservative and a supporter of the free market. He’s certainly not practicing those beliefs here. He’s using the power of his office to intervene in the free market and practicing blatant corporate cronyism to advance the interests of a business that helped finance his campaigns.

In the second place, this misguided meddling in the free market could deprive military service people and families of needed healthcare services. The N&M article quotes CRA’s CEO Robbins himself as saying that his facility serves only 27,000 of upwards of 280,000 patients who would be eligible. Given the size of that market it’s difficult to see why CRA is so afraid of another provider locating in Eastern Prince William County.

Here’s where we are in Prince William County. If you want something from the County Government, you just have to name the right price. Service goes to the highest bidder. The U.S. Army and Spectrum have not paid the requisite protection money and CRA has. Hopefully, some sun shining on this scheme will help bring about the right outcome.