Thursday, August 04, 2005

Rewriting History to Benefit Chairman Sean

Poor PWC Chairman Sean Connaughton and his minions. So desperate for power that they have to demonize their opponents (i.e., at least in this case, one who tells the truth about Chairman Sean) with lies.

Some of it apparently lies in the fact that, when I was a columnist for the Connaughton Post.... er, Potomac News, I insufficiently demonized former PWC Sheriff Lee Stoffregen. Even had the temerity to say something nice about him once: on 14 November 2003, I complimented him and incoming Sheriff Glenn Hill because neither had played the race card in their contest.

On the other hand, on 4 June 2003, I noted the fact that he ran a surrogate against Chairman Sean (who I said was the superior choice, "whatever his flaws") in his 2003 race for the GOP nomination, and dared to suggest that case could be made for his policy prescriptions, even though Stoffregen hadn't made it. On 21 May 2003, I dismissed Chairman Sean's primary opponent as nothing more than a pawn of Stoffregen. Ahhh, how soon they forget!

'Course, then there was the time (9 April 2003) when I noted Stoffregen's efforts to become the "Boss Hogg of Prince William County." I guess the problem there was the fact that I was also discussing PWC's spendthrift Republican-majority Board of County Supervisors.

In the continuing effort to beatify Chairman Sean, or elevate him to sainthood, some of the folks commenting over at Too Conservative, are attempting to rewrite history, and slander me in the process. So, for your edification and to rebut the ill-informed comments over there, here's an oldie but a goodie: the unedited version of a column appearing on 28 August 2002 in the pages of the Connaughton Post.... er, Potomac News. Holds up pretty well, particularly in light of the efforts of some commenting on the aforementioned website to ignore the historical facts.

Suggested Title: Aspirant Kingmaker Stoffregen Risks Overplaying Hand

Few things set a political junky’s blood to pumpin’ like a good, old-fashioned, knock-down, drag-out political battle.
It is therefore ironic that Sheriff Lee Stoffregen — charged with keeping the peace, at least at the County Courthouse — has declared political war on four Republican County Supervisors. It promises to be an interesting battle.
On one side, there is Sheriff Stoffregen. First elected in 1995, Stoffregen then prevailed over local attorney Wally Covington, who defeated four rivals in a bumptious GOP primary. Stoffregen is the only non-incumbent Democrat to win election in the County election during the 1990s ... and even then, he was elected to succeed a Democrat. Otherwise fairly noncontroversial, Stoffregen has nevertheless amassed a nearly quarter of a million dollar warchest. In his first bid for reelection in 1999, Republicans did not field a candidate against him.
On the other side, of course, is a majority of Republicans on the Board of County Supervisors: Ruth Griggs (R-Occoquan); Chairman Sean Connaughton (R-At Large); Maureen Caddigan (R-Dumfries); and L. Ben Thompson (R-Brentsville), who have opposed some of Stoffregen’s funding requests, and his effort to beef up the law-enforcement activities of the County Sheriff’s Department.
The dispute has within it the seeds of questions worth debating and resolving in a rational manner. With just a little effort, County residents might be presented with starkly different visions of governmental responsibility and allocation of governmental power.
This ain’t it.
Perhaps it’s a function of some of the players. Few politicians are as blunt as Ben Thompson, for example, though there’s a fine mind with well-developed political instincts behind that rather gruff, good-old-boy exterior.
And Maureen Caddigan’s paranoia is well-documented. When your intrepid correspondent and his family moved from Lake Ridge (Occoquan District) to Montclair (Dumfries District) a few years back, it was Caddigan herself who told local reporters (who duly reported it in their papers) that the purpose of the move was to run against her. That Montclair is a wonderful community, and that the Youngs had gotten a great deal on a house, seems not to have occurred to her, though I told everyone who asked at the time that those were the reasons for our choice.
At the same time, Connaughton and Griggs are both political novices, serving in their first elective offices.
But the Sheriff seems to have turned what could be a civil, important argument about which County official — elected Sheriff or unelected police chief — should be primarily responsible for law enforcement duties in the County, into a ham-handed political battle which appears to be the last gasp of the Democrat political machine that ruled Prince William County virtually unchallenged for most of the last century.
After all, most political sophisticates would hardly begrudge a public official the use of his or her own political funds to elect like-minded public officials to work with him or her for the common good. When your intrepid correspondent ran for the Dumfries District seat on the School Board (1995 or 1997), there were a number of public officials (God bless ‘em!) who contributed their own funds to advance my candidacy. And there were those among the GOP who in 1999 urged running even a token candidate against Stoffregen, in order to prevent him from using his then-abundant warchest to help sustain Democrat Chairman of the Board of County Supervisors Kathleen Seefeldt, or to attack other GOP incumbents.
So why the indignity, especially from Dumfries Supervisor Maureen Caddigan? She calls Stoffregen’s actions “intimidation,” and I suppose that’s accurate. And....? So what? Is it unlawful intimidation? The answer appears to be “No.” Stoffregen has simply let known his intention to exercise his right of free political speech against those with differing views.
But the kind of silliness that sometimes passes for political debate in this County, Supervisors who have been targeted by Stoffregen, and their supporters, seem to believe that indignity is enough.
Not that Stoffregen has made his case. And there is one to be made. Stoffregen was elected in 1995 on the promise to beef up the law enforcement activities of the County Sheriff Department. Never mind that it has ceded most of these duties nearly thirty years before, when the County Police Department was established. Never mind that this pledge was like then-Attorney General Jim Gilmore’s 1993 election-year pledge to get tough on crime, even though the Attorney General’s office has no law enforcement responsibility. But it cannot be objectively reasonable to attack a politician who tries to keep his pledge, and Stoffregen appears to be doing that, even though a pledge many thought foolish at the time.
More fundamentally, voters might want to consider whether they want law enforcement responsibilities vested primarily in an official responsible to them — the Sheriff — or in one responsible to the Board of County Supervisors — Police Chief Charlie Deane. But Stoffregen is not making that argument. Instead, he cites “the war on terror” and “cutbacks in state funding,” as though mere recitation of these mantras were argument, and not conclusions.
On the other hand, the four GOP supervisors have a strong case based in fiscal responsibility, and the desire to avoid duplicative and wasteful County services, and to hold the line on what some seem to view as Stoffregen’s political patronage practices.
Whatever the outcome of the debate, it appears unlikely that the important underlying issues will be addressed. Many have expressed their indignity, but little else, over Stoffregen’s ham-handed techniques. Interestingly, they have not all be identified Republicans, who have remained mostly silent on the issues, indicating that Stoffregen’s tactics are distasteful even to non-partisans.
But that it has become a naked political battle with little reference to the important underlying questions is somewhat sad.

An attorney, Young lives with his wife and their two sons in Montclair.


MR JMS said...


I was just beginning to like you when you decided to go off the deep end again. If you read the thread only two post were from contributors to TC. The first was nothing more than Riley commenting that the indictments had happened. The second was a sarcastic comment by me about Stoffregen's realty business.

From there you get in an argument with CJ Benner. Who he is I do not know, but he is an obvious fan of Sean Connaughton. While many of us who contribute at TC are Sean fans I believe most of us are not educated enough in the Connaughton v Stoffregen battle to comment on who was right and who was wrong.

So, when choosing to attack our blog please feel free to question what our readers have written and engage in a civil discourse, but do not put words in the mouthes of those of us that contribute.

And I do not see how you can attack a poster for "rewriting history" when you fail to present legitimate facts on what was stated.

James Young said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
James Young said...

Some legitimate complaints, but hardly "go[ing] off the deep end." I have amended my comments above accordingly (for those who missed the offending ones, you're just too slow!).

And how can I, or do I, "fail to present legitimate facts on what was stated" when what was responded to was psycho-babble claptrap? They may have been "inconvenient" facts, but they certainly were "legitimate."

And enlighten me, pray tell, on how an inaccurate accusation of my comments as an "attempted dismissal of the saga as a clash of egos," factually rebutted above, is "fail[ing] to present legitimate facts"? Neither here, nor in my post on your site, do I dismiss Benner's comments. Neither do I display the Kool-Aid drinking monomania --- to borrow one of Benner's words --- which consistently ascribes lily-white motives to Chairman Sean, motives unjustified by his history as I see it. Yet you have not criticized Benner.

How is an inaccurate accusation that my comment "reflects ignorance of sound government/stewardship obligations of elected officials" a "legitimate facts"? If anything, my comments only demonstrate a more cynical view of an elected public official. It neither criticizes nor questions the end accomplished. It questions the motive for doing so. Yet you have not criticized Benner.

How is a psycho-babble accusation of "a chronic psychopathology that Young presents on anything having to do with Sean Connaughton" a "legitimate fact"? Yet you have not criticized Benner.

How is accusing me of having "a tiresome and unpleasant affliction" or a "crippling monomania" "legitimate facts"? Yet you have not criticized Benner.

I would hope that, if you are going to complain about my comments here, you might also want to criticize the inanities that C.J. is spouting on your website.

I'll take of my mask when they do said...

Why are you wasting your time arguing with the children that blindly follow and defend Sean "The Pied Piper of Prince William". The realities of the politics and personalities (two components that are inextricably intertwined) of the PWC BOCS were lost to them then and still are. Rather than dwell on the past, take them to task for the present, to wit Tuesday's BOCS "surplus" meeting. Question them regarding Ms. Caddigan's defense of Jenkins/Barg and the enacted budget, its relation to her defense of all things Connaughton, Wally "Flip-Flop" Covington's transparent attempt to appear a support a fellow GOP supervisor, I say appear as it was only done for appearance sake. The only surprise was that Mr. Nohe did not seem eager to carry Lord Connaughton's piss bucket that night. Hmm, perhaps Mr. Stewart is onto something when he noted the potential for voter backlash in the next election.

Better yet, lets focus on sound government and the obligations of elected officials not only to their immediate constituents but in the case of the BOCS, the county as a whole. Although I admire Ms. Caddigan's ability to cure most of her districts infrastructure ills with funds under her discression, I would also point out that her district's infrastructure is largely complete and has been long prior to her first election, a circumstance the Gainseville and Brentsville supervisors don't have. I won't waste any space with a discussion of "Developer Contributions" Barg with the exception of noting she needs a smarter staffer to write her notes and comments for her but Mr. Jenkins is a different story.

The problems with the BOCS (and Mr. Stewart was right, the BOCS is the problem) were encapsulated in the "24 year" veteran supervisor's comments regarding services provided outside of his district, namely, in short, if you spend dollars in one district you must give an equal number of dollars to every district (especially his) regardless of whether the appropriation is a benefit to the county as a whole. I sincerely hope that one day Caddigan, Barg and Jenkins are traveling together, caught under a semi full of hogs on Route 1 (uninjured of course) and have to endure the inconvenience of waiting four hours for the county's sole heavy rescue unit to arrive because its already on a call at the extreme western edge of the county. Perhaps the time spent under several tons of fragrant swine will give them a better understanding of how some actions and appropriations have an impact county-wide.

C.J. Benner said...

so many words, so little meaning.

Anonymous said...

I think Jim Young likes Sean TOO much ...

mitch's wife said...

It's like a horrible train wreck. The carnage is too much to bare and yet... we can't look away.

Mitch Cumstein said...

As I posted over at Too Conservative, let's leave the personal attacks out this. As much as I like using a pseudonym, it's hard to argue with Jim on his disdain for anonymity when people stoop to this level.

PS: I still think you're nuts, Jim ;)

MR JMS said...

Cause Jim is nuts... but we like him anyways!

James Young said...

The coward who posted at 9:42 has had his or her slanderous post deleted.


Mitch Cumstein said...

Jim -

For the record, the comment posted on Too Conservative was the same as the one posted here. Again, totally inappropriate and uncalled for.

James Young said...

Thanks, Mitch. So I gathered after seeing these. I appreciate your decency on the issue, disagreements to the contrary notwithstanding.

You know, the funny thing is that some would believe something so factually wrong, while anonymously attacking me in Connaughton's name while perhaps owing patronage positions to him. Another reason why I so despise anonymity.

I owe nothing to Stoffregen -- probably only spoke to him on fewer than half a dozen occasions, though always cordially; I was particularly impressed with the fact that he greeted my wife by name, though she has a far lower public profile -- and merely attemped (as the column demonstrates) to apply some objective criteria to his actions. On one of those few occasions when we spoke, perhaps the first, he told me that he thought this column was fair.

Mitch Cumstein said...

My pleasure, Jim.

You and I obviously don't agree on a number of things, both ideologically and where some of our local leaders are concerned. But I respect your right hold different beliefs and welcome the discourse. Healthy arguments like these are part of what make politics an enjoyable and worthwhile pasttime. When the arguments devolve into meaningless, personal attacks, it benefits no one.

I think that sometimes, when the policy and ideological arguments get particularly heated, some folks take it personally, which unfortunately leads to the personal attacks. As someone who has been a supporter/friend of Sean, Marty, etc. for some time, there have been instances where your comments/articles have displayed what could be perceived as a real personal animus towards these individuals, that it isn't just policy differences. That may be completely unintentional, but it may be a partial explanation as to why some folks respond so viscerally.

James Young said...

Mitch, you assert that "there have been instances where your comments/articles have displayed what could be perceived as a real personal animus towards these individuals." I suppose to the extent that I have a "personal animus" toward anyone who uses the power of government to raid my wallet, you're right.

But your charge is also funny, particularly when you consider the nature of the deleted attack above (have I ever launched so vile an attack upon, oh, say, anyone?), and the nature of some of the letters written to the Pot. News attacking me. Perhaps you weren't a witness to their behavior (or those of their surrogates) in the PWC County GOP Committee and/or Conventions. I was. Sean's attempt to pack a meeting of the County Committee last May comes to mind, as does the failure of Marty's wife when attempting to write a call for a County Convention to seek assistance from the experienced, when two (out of three) people who would have provided guidance (me being one of them; Jane Beyer being the other) were on the same County GOP Executive Committee were readily available. Tony Guiffre was another, though not on the Executive Committee at the time.

Is it a "personal attack" to note, for instance, that Nohe considered running for the Dumfries School Board seat in '97, after Betty Covington resigned and 18 days (!) after moving into the District? Sounds to me more like an insight into his overweening ambition. Or that he managed to misplace/lose checks for the aforementioned convention entrusted to him? Or that, as a Soil and Water Conservation Board member entrusted with the Board's finances, he failed to notice the looting that, in fairness, pre-dated his tenure, but continued during it by a Board employee? Is it a personal attack to note Sean's tax-and-spend policies, particularly when he spent so much time in his statewide campaign attempting to assume a different posture? Hardly. Particularly after I wrote at least three columns in '99 favorably comparing Sean's potential as Chairman with that of the incumbent. Or that his posturing as a "conservative" rings rather hollow in light of his (mis)treatment of established conservatives in his own home County? Sean gets from them/us all the loyalty we owe pursuant to our pledges under the Party Plan to "support all Republican nominees in the ensuing election" -- perhaps more than he deserves -- yet he has done nothing to reach out to any of us, a characteristic to which he compares unfavorably with his mentor, Congressman Tom Davis. And suffice it to say, if I wanted to get "personal," there's plenty about both of them that has come "over the transom" that I could have used, and didn't, or haven't.

You might want to spend a little time sitting down and reading that to which you refer, rather than buying into the mythos promoted by both of the aforementioned and their supporters, which is both lazy and an intellectually dishonest device to avoid addressing the issues raised. As evidenced by the item provoking our little exchange, and on the subject you raise, it is neither of them who is the wronged party.

marty nohe said...


While I disagree with some of the conclusions you have drawn about me both in the past and in this thread, I will not debate those conclusions with you at this time. I will, however, take this opportunity to correct something that you present as objective fact, but which is in fact not correct in the least.

To your comment, "Nohe considered running for the Dumfries School Board seat in '97, after Betty Covington resigned and 18 days (!) after moving into the District?": You have made statements like this before, including in your column. I have never responded, because it was so ridiculous. But since this context is so convenient, please allow me to dissuade you of your illusion.

First of all, I never, repeat never considered running for school board. For a number of reasons, none of which I will bother addressing here, the job does not appeal to me and never has. I did not consider running in 1995. I did not consider applying to fill the vacancy created when Betty Covington stepped down in 1997. I did not consider running in 1997 as you have implied. I did not consider running in 1999 (when I would have a good chance of winning since Joan Ferlazzo ran unopposed.) I did not consider applying to fill the vacancy created when John Allen stepped down in 2002 and I did not consider running in 2003. I have never given more than passing thought to serving on the school board.

The most ridiculous, and yet most easily verifyable, component of this fiction is that I moved into the Dumfries District in 1997, presumably to run for this office. Anyone with internet access can easily check county tax records and discover that my now-ex-wife and I moved to 15075 Holleyside Dr.on August 23, 1993; four years before you want to think that I did. A check of those same tax records tells us that you and your family moved to 15423 Silvan Glen Dr. on April 29, 1994; more than seven months after I moved to Dumfries.

Thank you for your time-
Marty Nohe

James Young said...

Well, Marty, if that's the case, then I've been misinformed. I'll even tell you by whom (see below). However, I have to wonder why, if I made this comment in my column and was somehow mistaken, you never bothered to bring it to my attention. If mistaken, I would happily have run (or attempted to run) a correction, and never repeated it again. Might even have altered my assessment of you, to the extent that you care.

Apparently, though, you take this opportunity to offer a lot of superfluous assertions. I never suggested that you considered running for the post, in Dumfries or any other district, at any time other than in 1997. That was the limit of my comment, as it was the limits of my knowledge of (what I believed to be) the facts.

To that point, the operative facts were related to me at the time by a reporterette. I'm pretty sure it was Pot. News reporter Sondra Jontz-Merrifield, who -- you may recall -- used to have the political beat. I'm not sure about this (have to check my files) but she might even have written an article mentioning your name.

Of course, the fact that you moved to the district in 1993 suggests that her comments to me were wrong (I don't go around checking tax records -- that you do is somewhat disturbing -- I relied wholly upon Sondra's comment). If so, I apologize.

So it wasn't a matter of when I "want to think that" you moved to the District; it was a matter of when I was told you moved to the District. Of course, that raises the question of where you were during the meals tax battles, and my efforts in '95 and '97 as the only Republican running for School Board in Dumfries.

BTW, if you think you could have run against Joan in '99 and won, I think you're delusional. Joan won a clear majority in '97, Jim Cech's delusional rantings about his loss being "my fault" to the contrary notwithstanding. Of course, having not done so, 'guess we'll never know.

Anonymous said...

An underlying reason why we all hate Jim Young is that he epitomizes what is wrong with the Republican Party in Prince William County and across Virginia. The foul language, the personal and bitter assaults, the inane and often deceitful arguments, and the "win at all costs" attitude has made a shambles of the party and turned its principles into bumper sticker slogans. Making matters worse is that the new orthodoxy is changed and re-defined on an almost daily basis depending on which "RINO" is in the gun sights at that moment and/or which one of their own they want to defend. Amazingly, many use Christian platitudes to cover their nauseous actions that often violate one or more of the Ten Commandments let alone the teachings of the Christ. The party that Lincoln-Roosevelt-Reagan built has been reduced by a pack of parasitical hyenas that are always looking for another meal off the decaying flesh of the Republican Party in order to give themselves more sustenance. If we don't stand up and fight these people soon, and get the Republican Party to focus the State and Federal Governments on the challenges we face as a nation, I worry about the America we will leave to our children.

James Young said...

Coward 9:26 -- Thank you for demonstrating raging hypocrisy. I quoth: "we all hate Jim Young...."

And "foul language"? Like what? Calling a slanderer a "scumbag"? Aristotle taught that "the mean" is a good thing, something for which we should strive. "The mean" in responding to someone who slanders is often not pretty.

Or perhaps you have a different definition of "foul language." Clearly, asserting that "we hate..." is acceptable, though you decline to define "we," preferring instead to cower in anonymity. And calling those with whom you disagree "parasitical hyenas" is apparently OK. I'm torn between rejoinder and wondering whether the comment is parody.

Personal attacks? Chapter and verse, please. In my experience, people who whine about "personal attacks" are most frequently those who can't answer policy arguments. Kinda like screaming "racism." I suppose "inane and deceitful" arguments is a matter of opinion, but what is more "deceitful" than making universalist statements while lacking the courage to attach your name to the claim?

As for "ma[king] a shambles of the party," I suppose you failed to notice that fact that I was a part of GOP leadership while the Party was in ascendancy in both PWC and the Commonwealth generally. If, as I suspect, you're a latecomer to "the party," perhaps a quotation from a great John Wayne film (is there any other kind?) is appropriate: "If you can't learn to respect your elders [which may not be the case here], maybe you should just learn to respect your betters."

After all, here you are, attacking me -- and others who you fail to identify, but attack in gross generalizations ("the new orthodoxy is changed and re-defined on an almost daily basis depending on which "RINO" is in the gun sights at that moment and/or which one of their own they want to defend") -- in cowardly anonymity. What have you done to build the GOP? Your credentials remain hidden, probably because they're relatively nonexistent as compared to those whom you presume to attack. Certainly, it's your right. But you deny the reader (both of them) the opportunity to judge your record relative to those whom you attack.

Probably with good reason.