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Fighting the Good Fight in Virginia Beach Against Three Jolly Stolles

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BREAKING NEWS:  The Democratic mayor of Norfolk, Kenneth Alexander, has endorsed the Republican candidate for Virginia Beach Sheriff, Ken Stolle.  Yay Team. Virginia Democrats...

Senate Seat Swap Soft Shoe

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The Stolle clan boasts a crew of adequately accomplished attorneys who don't lawyer, a physician who doesn't much doctor, and private sector cheerleaders all nursing at the public teat. They may be planning to pull a hat trick in Virginia Beach that will distinguish that city for its low public service expectations.

It probably won't be at tomorrow morning's Virginia Beach Republican Breakfast that Chris will discuss Julian Walker's Virginian Pilot stories that he was considering a run for state Senate and that his brother the Sheriff, who will soon have his high three for a handsome publicly funded retirement, may want to join him there. Possibly Ken has decided to relocate ala Frank Wagner's now nixed idea to move to a Senate district currently represented by Senator John Miller (D). That could leave littler brother (also a Commonwealth employee, last I saw) a delegate seat somewhere. Maybe he can use Chris's house and run from the district he currently represents and where Chris probably lives most of the time.  

The DPVA Club

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Former Senator Ken Stolle tells a tale that hints at Virginia Democrats' lack of savvy. It makes one seriously consider Thelma Drake's assessment that 2008 was simply the Democrats' turn. Insiders undeservedly expect deference from and take credit for grassroots efforts. Too many in DPVA circles are all about themselves.

Paul Lanteigne, who had his eyes on the position, approached Republican Stolle some years ago about making the Virginia Beach Sheriff a High Constable. A Sheriff who is also High Constable keeps the money collected during service of process. Other Sheriffs send that money on to State of Virginia. For Virginia Beach that amounts to almost $700,000 a year. Stolle never thought he would be able to get this initiative through the Senate because it was a presented bill and on scrutiny, he figured it would not pass due to the funding aspect. Stolle expected that he would be asked why he was carrying the bill and if his motive was challenged he was unwilling to be less than honest that it was about the money. Once the cat was out of the bag, he knew everyone would want a piece of the action and that would kill this and any future such initiative.

Frank Drew was the Virginia Beach Sheriff at the time. Stolle was the chairman of the Public Safety Subcommittee in the Courts and Justice Committee and as politics works, as a committee chairman carrying a bill, the Senate asks very few questions when a bill is presented. So he took the bill over to the House of Delegates and presented it to the Courts and Justice Committee. Kenny Melvin, a Democratic Delegate from Portsmouth, asked the question Stolle feared" "Ken, why do you want to make Frank Drew the High Constable of Virginia Beach?" Stolle thought, "Well, this is it," but just as he was about to explain, Delegate Ward Armstrong interrupted the proceedings sarcastically, "He wants to do it because Frank Drew has an ego as big as this damn building!" And Kenny Melvin pivoted off the witty jab with, "No need to say another thing, I forgot about Frank's ego." The bill passed out without further scrutiny. Later, upon the realization of the impact, Virginia Beach's Sheriff was made the last to be so designated.

Sheriff Stolle Stiffs His Constituency

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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?