Welch: “I’ve been appalled by . . . this one individual that everybody’s afraid of. We shouldn’t be afraid of him’
Weeks after Rappahannock Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey W. Parker expressed his “concerns” about the personal behavior of Board of Zoning Appeals member David L. Konick, three county supervisors have directed Rappahannock County Attorney Art Goff to draft a letter of rebuke of Konick that if approved would be forwarded to the judge.
A motion by Supervisor John Lesinski to reprimand Konick was made after seven members of the public stepped forward at last Wednesday’s BOS meeting to reveal their personal experiences and/or displeasure with Konick, a private attorney who was appointed to the BZA only this year.
After listening to the testimony, some of it quite graphic, a clearly agitated BOS Chair Roger Welch stated: “I’ve been appalled by . . . the attitude and personality of this one individual that everybody’s afraid of. We shouldn’t be afraid of him.”
The chairman added that “if we don’t take some kind of a stance then what are we here for? We got a guy running around out here cussing everybody out. . . . We don’t like it and we’re not going to let you represent us as a fixture of Rappahannock County just because you’re David Konick.”
Among citizen complainants was Washington Mayor John Fox Sullivan, who said he had not originally intended to address the board but decided otherwise when previous speakers pointed out that Konick had recently equated him to a “pimp.”
Konick of late also told Rappahannock News contributing columnist Chris Green by email to “Go [expletive] yourself.” And days ago, in a group email to county Zoning and Planning Administrator Michelle L. Somers and fellow BZA members who included chair Alex Sharp, he called this newspaper’s government and court reporter Patty Hardee a “presstitute.”
“Mr. David Konick has verbally attacked various people and organizations for years,” Washington resident Sheila Gresinger told the five-member board, recalling as well an alleged “physical violence” threat Konick made against her that she reported to the Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Office.
Green, who writes about community affairs for this newspaper, took to the courthouse podium to argue that the BZA member’s behavior is not “befitting a public official,” reminding the board that Konick was previously sanctioned by the Virginia Bar for alleged “sexual harassment.”
“If you choose not to censure him you are in essence insulting every women in this courtroom, and every woman in the county, as well as every resident. Moreover you embolden him and you are therefore enablers,” Green said. “Shame on all of you if you choose not to censure him.”
The columnist’s husband, Larry Green, a former law enforcement officer-turned-truck driver, told the supervisors, “You’ve had a problem with this man in your county for God knows how many years.”
He then accused Konick, who was not in attendance, of having “assaulted my wife.”
“I’ve been around this county longer than you all have,” Green told the board. “You oughta be ashamed of yourselves. There was a time in this county that man wouldn’t [be allowed to live here]. So what are you going to do about it? Same thing you have been doing? Let him keep running you around?
“Stand up for yourself. Be a man.”
Rappahannock Realtor Heidi Lesinski, who is the wife of the Hampton district supervisor, said Konick has labeled her a “Nazi,” among other derogatory actions in his ongoing drive to “harass and intimidate.”
“Insanity,” she described the BZA member’s behavior. “I hope that you see fit to finally do something to thwart his obscene behavior.”
Caroline Anstey, a town of Washington resident who was managing director of the World Bank, read out loud two lines from the code of conduct for Rappahannock County Elementary School requiring students to “conduct themselves in a respectful manner at all times” while showing “respect for others.”
“So my question to you,” she told the supervisors, “is if we’re demanding of our 7, and 8, and 9, and 10, and 11-year-olds that they conduct themselves in an orderly, courteous, dignified, and respectful manner at all times, why wouldn’t we be expecting that of our public officials?”
When members of the BOS replied that no code of conduct exists for Rappahannock County government employees and appointees, Anstey suggested one be adopted.
Before he spoke as a resident, not mayor, Sullivan recalled for transparency sake that Konick “sued the town, he said I should be in jail, suggested I’ve done criminal acts, [and] he said to our lawyer that he would destroy me and destroy the town.”
That stated, Sullivan told the BOS: “What you’re dealing with is an issue in a context in which people are fed up with the personal attacks and it seems to me you that you have a responsibility to say something — something!”
“I think you are in a position,” he suggested, “to set some kind of standard and say what is not acceptable. And if you won’t then we ought to get the 7th grade teachers in here and let them do it.”
John Anderson, who introduced himself as a lifelong resident of Rappahannock, addressed “the conduct of a public official here in the county that is so outrageous that it does not fit the standards of behavior for him to continue to serve on the Board of Zoning Appeals.”
“Here we have a county official that has a history of, in fact convicted history of vulgar improper language, suggestive language — I call it sexual harassment — who has for years acted inappropriately towards women. It’s well documented . . . I’ve seen [it] firsthand,” he said, accusing Konick of inappropriately touching a woman guest he’d never met before who had accompanied Anderson to a county event.
“I am requesting that you censure this individual, make a move to remove him, or the citizens of Rappahannock should have him removed,” Anderson said. “This conduct should not be allowed to continue. And if you fail to censure him . . . then you’re condoning his behavior.”
He added: “How do you think the board is going to look by the citizens of Rappahannock that you’re not willing in any way, shape or form . . . to condemn [Konick’s behavior]?”
A motion to consider a censure of Konick, not a reprimand, had originally been on the BOS agenda for Sept. 5. Drafted by Lesinski, who Konick is also suing on behalf of an Amissville resident, it called attention to Konick’s “certain behavior deemed unacceptable as a representative of this county in your capacity as a member of the Board of Zoning Appeals, specifically incidents of written and verbal abuse against citizens of this county.”
Supervisors Ron Frazier and Christine Smith, however, argued against a censure, the former pointing out that the BOS had no authority to issue such a formal statement of disapproval to a BZA member, which was confirmed by Goff.
“Do we have a proecuredal device in place right now for a censure vote? I don’t believe we do,” said the county attorney, although he said other counties in Virginia have enacted such rules and Rappahannock could follow suit if it wished.
At which point Lesinski offered to amend the language of his motion from a written censure to a “reprimand,” and if approved by the BOS at next month’s meeting a copy would be forwarded to Judge Parker, who oversees Rappahannock boards like the BZA.
“The judge has [already] dealt with it,” Smith argued. “I’m reluctant [as a BOS member] to take on something that’s already been dealt with by a sitting judge. I think it could be viewed as retaliatory. Take [the Konick complaints] back to the judge because the BZA is under [Parker’s] purview. We are not the appropriate body to do that.”
Parker sought to assure Green in a letter last month, after she complained to the judge about Konick’s behavior, that he has since expressed his “concerns to Mr. Konick in a separate letter,” but he added “I have no intention of taking any additional action at this time.”
Reached on Tuesday, Konick told this newspaper that he was unfamiliar with what was said about him during the BOS meeting, but nevertheless he stated for the record: “Indulging John and Heidi’s [Lesinski] personal vendetta against me seems to be a colossal waste of everyone’s time and energy, especially when the board of supervisors has so many other urgent matters that demands its more immediate attention.”
Supervisor Chris Parrish said Konick has a right to “free speech, he can use profanity, there’s no law against that,” but he saw no “harm in writing David a letter saying he should be careful, to clean up his act. He’ll probably frame it and hang it in his office.”