Bird flips on Courthouse Row

‘That lady back there gave me the finger purposely’

About 3-hours and 30-minutes into the most recent Rappahannock County Planning Commission meeting, an extraordinary thing happened: Hampton planner Al Henry interrupted the discussion to accuse an attendee of giving him the middle finger salute.

“Mr. Chairman,” complained Henry, “for the record, that lady back there gave me the finger purposely.”

Speaking over him, the lady he was referring to — Tracy Abdullah — was heard to say, “I was scratching my nose.”

And then to chairman Gary Light, she added: “You need to control Mr. Henry’s actions.”

The episode was apparently a continuation of an earlier spat between the two during the public comment portion of the meeting when Abdullah was speaking in protest to the proposed renewal of tree service provider Greg Williams’ special exception permit on Ben Venue Road.

It was unclear at the meeting what started the animosity between Henry and Abdullah, but hard feelings between the two go back a couple of years when Williams and Alan Abdullah, Tracy’s husband, allegedly got into an argument over a land purchase.

In addition, Williams owns a 5-acre lot on Route 211 adjoining the Abdullah family, which the couple claim Williams has been using as an extension of his commercial tree service operation.

Things got dicier six minutes into Abdullah’s remarks before the commission, when Henry interrupted: “Mr. Chairman, point of order. This thing has gone on for ten or 15 minutes. We’re going to be here all night.”

“I totally expected you to say that, Mr. Henry,” replied Abdullah. “In closing, I will complete in saying, there has to be enough is enough with the good ol’ boy system within our county. A long residence isn’t ok.”

At which point Henry tried interrupting Abdullah again, but she wouldn’t hear it.

“One last thing,” she said. “I would like to say that some citizens in our county like to think they are the cream of the crop when in fact they are thorny weeds in our fields.”

“Mr. Chairman,” announced Henry, “this is not a character assassination here tonight.”

Before leaving the podium, Abdullah concluded, “Thank you, Mr. Henry. You may be part of the good ol’ boys as well.”

An unedited video of the Planning Commission 7:30 p.m. session on Wednesday July 18 can be found online at, or on the newspaper’s YouTube channel at The meeting agenda and related documents are online at

About Patty Hardee 271 Articles
Writer, consultant, actor, director, recovering stand-up comic, Patty covers the county’s courts and other topics of interest for Rappahannock News. She lives with her grape-growing husband Bill Freitag in Flint Hill.