Why We Shouldn't Trust Bristol Virginia Utilities
by Lewis LoflinTweet
On June 30, 2016 Don W. Ashley says we should trust the new Bristol Virginia Utilities Board. With all new members appointed by the State of Virginia they didn't announce there was a meeting in July 1. In fact one of the Board members wasn't even informed until that morning. Mr. Ashley is a former Bristol Virginia mayor who oversaw years of backroom deals and help drive the City into near bankruptcy over a $100 million development deal for a Cabela's retail outlet.
Nowhere did he address any of the problems that has sent 9 BVU board members and contractors to jail or awaiting sentencing. They failed to even announce the meeting they held July 1 - even the press I spoke to was frustrated. Below is a letter written in response to Mr. Ashley submitted to Bristol Herald Courier.
To the Editor:
Regarding “Citizens should support new BVU Board”. My answer, absolutely not!
I challenge Mr. Ashley to really prove that anything has changed in how BVU operates. The Board has been stacked with mostly insiders and political hacks.
Mr. Ashley didn't address the culture of secrecy and backroom deals at board meetings or lack of access by the public and the press.
It's imperative we end backroom government when it comes to taxpayer grants and economic development. This has been a major source of corruption and waste across Southwest Virginia. How much longer is this apathetic public going to allow this to happen?
Government-sponsored economic development across Southwest Virginia has proven to be a total failure and needs redirection. While enriching a handful of mostly insiders and business professionals, King University study shows 50% of Southwest Virginia residents living off government handouts.
I've met personally with many of these people in the past now serving prison time. I believe all started out with good intentions, but our rotten political and social system would corrupt anybody.
The public is directly to blame for this expecting government to create jobs, give them all kinds of free stuff and services, and have somebody else pay for it. This puts our political leaders under enormous pressure to do the impossible with millions of public dollars at risk.
Bristol Virginia Utilities was too tangled up in collecting grants, mired in questionable economic development efforts, and became arrogant due to secrecy and lack of measurable standards.
I fail to understand why Gov. McDonnell was convicted on corruption charges doing what Virginia politicians do every day being tangled into private business vying for public money. Gov. McDonnell was also tangled up with Virginia Tobacco Commission the gold standard of political slush funds.
Until Mr. Ashley addresses these issues and establishes clear standards of accountability and openness, starting with the OptiNet sale, the public should not trust or support these people.
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