‘Code of Conduct’ for county officials in the pipeline

BOS adopts resolution critical of BZA member Konick

Supervisor, county officials scrutinized for alleged drone activity

On leaving Monday night’s Board of Supervisors meeting a local resident was overheard to remark, “This is the cheapest circus in town.”

Said another: “They should sell popcorn.”

Both the afternoon and evening sessions of the meeting were punctuated with arguments, raised voices, interruptions, accusations, and anger — certain board members and county citizens alike. Ironic, or maybe timely, as one of the agenda items in the evening session was a discussion about adopting a code of conduct for county officials.

And a certain name seemed to dominate the proceedings — David Konick, a local lawyer recently called out for allegedly making lewd, insulting, and threatening remarks to several county citizens. He also represents Gid Brown Hollow resident Marian Bragg in two suits against the BOS alleging violations of the state’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), one of which will likely result in Rappahannock County taxpayers paying tens of thousands of dollars (see Bragg’s letter to the editor on page 4) in attorney fees.

In the evening session, the BOS agreed by a vote of 3-to-2 to adopt a resolution disassociating the BOS from any of the reported statements made by Konick, who is a member of the county’s Board of Zoning Appeals, a court-appointed position.

Jackson supervisor Ron Frazier and Piedmont supervisor Christine Smith cast the two nay votes.

Konick’s name was further invoked early in the afternoon session, when Hampton resident John Cappiali kicked off the public comment period with a statement that had many of the spectators scratching their heads.

“I’ve been having a problem with some folks, including Mr. Frazier here in regards to my property,” Cappiali began. “Mr. Frazier has been involved in flying — or his constituent, along with Mr. Frazier, and Mr. Konick — has taken to flying drones over my home and taking photographs.”

Frazier immediately injected, “I normally don’t interrupt,” he said, “but that’s not correct. I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

And so it would go.

A heavy public turnout greeted the supervisors for the evening session, the agenda including the code of conduct discussion as well as the resolution regarding Konick.

Citizens Al Regnery of the Hampton district and Stephen Brooks of Piedmont, both attorneys, opened public comments by addressing the code of conduct. Regnery and Brooks, known for their series of RappU sessions exploring history and current events from conservative and liberal points of view, took the opportunity to tell the board about their newly formed nonprofit organization, United Citizens of Rappahannock (UCOR).

A previous letter to the editor of the Rappahannock News from UCOR’s board of directors described the group as dedicated to promoting good government and encouraging “civility among all of our government officials and our citizens”

Regnery and Brooks offered to help County Attorney Art Goff develop a code of conduct.

“We’ll keep after you till this gets done,” Regnery told the board.

After which several supporters of Konick, a local attorney who has repeatedly sued the county and county seat, spoke against the resolution that was ultimately approved.

Tim Pagano of the Hampton district said, “It is imperative to recognize that the county Board of Supervisors has no business entertaining any allegations of personal exchanges. . . . “[E]ven by proposing [the resolution], you are stepping into something which will come back to haunt you and the taxpayers, stop it right now. Do not support this resolution.”

Hampton resident Demaris Miller said, “With all the issues in the county, don’t waste your time on resolutions that have no place in this body.”

Terry Dixon of the Stonewall-Hawthorne district said that while he doesn’t condone foul language, “There is the First Amendment.” He also referred to the lawsuits against the BOS, saying, “[The resolution] reeks of retaliation.”

Tom Woolman of the Hampton district, and also represented by Konick in a lawsuit against Hampton Supervisor John Lesinski alleging conflict of interest violations, called the board meeting a “kangaroo court” and urged the BOS members named in the lawsuits to recuse themselves.

Hampton resident Walt Longyear compared the proposed code of conduct to laws in the Jim Crow South. He accused the board of “stepping in like Boss Hogg,” referencing the greedy, unethical commissioner of Hazzard County in the 1979-1985 TV series The Dukes of Hazzard.

Page Glennie of the Jackson district charged Lesinski and others with holding a grudge that “could result in retaliation.”

In an email Wednesday, Konick stated: “The Board’s Resolution isn’t worth the paper on which it is printed, and is itself an unlawful act of retaliation by three dishonest and corrupt Supervisors who have demonstrated nothing but contempt for civility, ethics and the rule of law.”

In a phone call Tuesday, Stonewall-Hawthorne Supervisor Chris Parrish noted that the speakers opposed to the resolution did not defend Konick, but instead attacked the Board of Supervisors. The speakers, he said, “systematically disparaged us.”

Later in the evening, in considering the creation of the written code of conduct for Rappahannock County officials, the BOS suggested the county look at similar sets of rules and responsibilities from other jurisdictions and come back with proposed text at the November BOS meeting.

As for accusations by Cappiali surrounding drone flights over his property, whether factual or not County Administrator Garrey Curry confirmed by email Wednesday that “there is an active investigation” into the alleged activity. A call to the sheriff’s office seeking comment was not returned.

Holding up a piece of paper during the BOS meeting, Cappiali told Frazier: “Actually, sir, I have emails that you attached to those photographs,” which, Cappiali further revealed in a phone call Tuesday were delivered anonymously to Zoning Administrator Michelle Somers’ office in February. Cappiali told the BOS that he had obtained copies of the emails through a FOIA request to the county.

Although he did not identify during the meeting Frazier’s “constituent” who he accused of being a party to the drone activity, Cappiali said after the meeting and in the phone call that the person was Jack Atkins, a part-time building official for the county and a nearby neighbor of Cappiali’s.

According to Cappiali, Atkins allegedly reported to Somers early this year that Cappiali appeared to be running an illegal junk yard on his property.

Asked if after an inspection in June whether Somers had cleared Cappiali of any violation, Curry replied by email: “The Rappahannock County Code drives staff action and the zoning administrator is charged with interpreting the code where necessary; beyond this, the case is open.” Somers did not return an email requesting comment.

All that said, Frazier and Konick are pleading ignorance. In emails sent one minute apart Wednesday morning, both denied any involvement in any drone activity.

Frazier wrote that Cappioli “completely misconstrued the emails, but you can see for yourself if you read them. I cannot say much more about this because I sent his written public comments to me (6 Sept.) to the Sheriff because he made what appears to be a threat to me, and also while speaking to a mutual acquaintance he actually threatened me. This was all before I had ever seen him (1 Oct. 2018 first time) and before he made the FOIA request. The complaint I made to the Sheriff was on 7 Sept. 2018, he made a FOIA request 21 Sept.”

“Since I represent one of the parties in pending (or soon-to-be pending) litigation,” wrote Konick, “it would be inappropriate to comment except to categorically deny the allegation that I (or to the best of my knowledge, Supervisor Ron Frazier) had anything whatsoever to do with any drone flights. In addition, the County land records indicate this property is not owned by John Cappiali.”

Cappiali confirmed that the 18-acre property is owned by a business partner.

— Luke Christopher contributed to this story

An unedited video of the supervisors 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. sessions on Monday, October 1 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.

About Patty Hardee 258 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.