Lawyer responds, labeling certain supervisors ignorant, arrogant
In a monthly meeting Monday afternoon (Feb. 6) during which emotions ran high — mostly on the board’s side of the head table — Rappahannock County’s supervisors passed three resolutions related to litigation and other legal matters.
The resolutions revolved in part around Washington attorney David L. Konick, who was attacked during the meeting by Piedmont supervisor Mike Biniek for “preying upon the county and its taxpayers” and “taking liberties with his license to be a lawyer.”
One authorized Rappahannock County Attorney Art Goff to act, at least temporarily, on behalf of the Board of Zoning Appeals, which was named as a co-respondent along with the county supervisors in a circuit court petition filed two weeks ago by Konick, seeking to reverse an action the zoning board took against Konick regarding an earlier suit filed against the BZA by Konick — who is a BZA member.
Another resolution appropriated $5,000 of the county’s relatively new $100,000 litigation fund to allow the BZA to hire an independent counsel, after Goff has filed the initial pleadings that are due soon.
Reached Wednesday (Feb. 8), Konick pointed out that his latest court filing was “an appeal, not a lawsuit” — as it has been widely referred to in county circles and this newspaper.
“This is a petition for review, not a lawsuit, it seeks no damages,” Konick stressed. “There is no such thing as ‘Konick vs. BZA’. No one is suing the county or the BZA.”
Regardless, supervisor Biniek expressed disappointment and anger over the consequences of recent litigation against county officials, including Konick’s aforementioned petition and a separate Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the supervisors by Sperryville llama farmer Marian Bragg, who is represented by Konick.
“I think this particular lawyer has been preying upon the county and its taxpayers,” Biniek said of Konick. “I think he’s taking liberties with his license to be a lawyer and almost blackmailing us.
“His actions are making me angry, sick. I find it disgusting,” added Biniek. “It’s hurting the county in other ways. I was talking to a real estate agent [who told me about] a potential buyer looking at a property here in the county, and who decided after looking at Rappnet that this county was not a place fit to raise a family.”
(Biniek was referring to Rappnet, a freewheeling local email list within which critics of county government, including Konick, often post opinions and allegations of local officials’ ineptitude, ignorance and/or malfeasance).
Reacting to Biniek’s comments, Konick said: “It is unfortunate that this particular supervisor — and a number of the others — is apparently so misinformed about his duties and about the law that he feels this way.
“The ignorance of some of our public officials in regard to laws that they are charged with knowing and that winds up wasting the county taxpayers’ money is not only sickening, but appalling. But what is worse is their arrogant refusal to accept responsibility for their own poor judgement and their bad decisions and attempts to blame it on others,” Konick said.
In the unedited meeting video posted to the newspaper website at rappnews.com/video, the discussion of the supervisors’ resolutions begins at about 1 hour 17 minutes into the meeting, and includes a statement Jackson district supervisor Ron Frazier read aloud (and then elaborated on in what became a heated discussion) of why one resolution clarifying Goff’s chain of command would be a mistake, and would set a regrettable precedent.
The vote tallies for the actions were the same in all three cases: 4-1, with Frazier opposing measures supported by his four colleagues, including Biniek, board chair Roger Welch (Wakefield), John Lesinski (Hampton), and Chris Parrish (Stonewall-Hawthorne).
In other actions, the board voted unanimously to reappoint Alvin Henry to another four-year term on the planning commission, representing the Hampton district. Though three other applications were received, the board followed Lesinski’s recommendation — and those voiced by other citizens during public comment, including Sperryville attorney Bill Fletcher and Washington Mayor John Sullivan.
“Mr. Henry does not shy away from letting people in the community know what his opinions are,” Lesinski said, “and they are well thought out and well researched. . . . With Mr. Frazier’s departure from the planning commission, we lost some institutional knowledge there. [Henry] has the county’s best interests at heart.”
An unedited video of the supervisors 2 p.m. session on Monday, Feb. 6 can be found online at rappnews.com/video, or on the newspaper’s YouTube channel at youtube.com/RappNewsPlus. The meeting agenda and related documents are online at boarddocs.com/va/corva/Board.nsf/Public.
By Luke Christopher and Roger Piantadosi
Special to the Rappahannock News