Last night there was an opportunity to attend a meeting where Ken Stolle couldn’t pull his 4th Amendment shenanigan to have “objectionable attendees” removed. But the Sheriff of Virginia Beach was a no show. Either he is a frail executive or his Undersheriff lacks integrity. Or worse.
The Sheriff committed himself to address the monthly Third Police Precinct Citizen’s Advisory Committee, so it was disappointing when he sent Undersheriff Dennis Free in his stead. Free, a glib former Virginia Beach police officer rolled off the office’s accomplishments during the past year accentuating the fiscal responsibility theme: that the office has been significantly tightened up since the departure of Sheriff Paul Lanteigne. Message: Paul Lanteigne was a poor administrator. But if Stolle was really unable to attend the meeting for the reason Free provided, Stolle is weak at best. And if that wasn’t the situation, there is no reason to trust the man Stolle has installed as his Undersheriff and possibly Stolle himself. Stolle, Free explained, was meeting with a person providing the phone contract and by law the contract is with the Sheriff himself…at 7PM on a night he previously committed. A contactor is dictating Stolle’s schedule.
It is always educational listening to someone with no practical business experience explain the business of government. Certainly this was Sheriff Stolle’s slide show, but here was a fellow whose advocates count among themselves those who grin and nod when they hear the rants about “Government Motors” getting an audience to grin and nod when he discussed Stolle’s “Government Farms.” But apparently this great innovator doesn’t understand the business-client customer relationship. Of course, Stolle, a former policeman and legislator has no executive experience.
There’s more though. Turns out that Stolle penned legislation in his days as a state senator that the state says his office is now violating. Free explained that Stolle insists that since he wrote the law he knows what it means, therefore he will do as he pleases. The Attorney General’s office is want to enforce the law, apparently too focused on enforcing US Constitutional law to spend effort on Virginia Constitutional responsibilities. Think there’s enough arrogance to go around?
So, why is it that a constitutional officer is bowing to a vendor? That is troubling. Why is it that a constitutional officer is meeting with a contractor outside of business hours? Is it that this business “deal” cannot survive scrutiny in the light of day? Should Stolle have recused himself from this contract decision? After all, he is awarding a contract for a service which must include as a bidder one of his brother’s political opponents’ employers. Free openly bragged the office was ignoring enforcement of a law; is it also ignoring ethical standards?