Saturday, June 10, 2017

Gloucester County Administrator Makes Positive Changes To Audio Recording Policy

Gloucester County Administrator, Brent Fedor’s made what he called, a 180 degree change to his Quality Assurance Audio Recording Policy. We find Mr. Fedors’ changes to be positive and appreciate his willingness to listen to and consider the voice of the people. 

Many of the Supervisors spoke against the revised policy, but they ultimately left the decision up to Mr. Fedors. Maybe they are worried about being recorded when they call, which could certainly happen if the selection process is completely random. A question that was not asked: "Are government issued cell phones subject to quality assurance recording?" If there is going to be a policy, shouldn't it apply across the board? 

We will continue to follow this and will likely submit a Freedom of Information Act request in the future, for documentation that verifies the recordings are being conducted randomly. We will also continue to strongly urge Mr. Fedors to implement body cam use by animal control personnel.

Below you will find the video of Mr. Fedors explaining his new recording policy and the written version of his policy. We would have provided the complete explanation and discussion video, but as has become the norm lately, there were "technical difficulties" that interrupted the Board of Supervisors meeting broadcast and recording. When it seems like the video is frozen and the colored bars appear, hang tight because the discussion will soon follow. We have also provided a link to where you can read more about the history of Mr. Fedors’ policy and other interesting stories. 

Email your comments to Mr. Fedors at:  bfedors@gloucesterva.info

Become and stay engaged in your local government and public school system. America’s future depends on it.

To read more about this and other topics click here:  http://www.gloucestercounty-va.com/

Mr. Fedors' explanation of his new recording policy:


Mr. Fedors' written policy:





Saturday, May 27, 2017

Rumors Of Theft In Gloucester County Public School System

Several days ago we heard a “rumor” about a welder being stolen from the Gloucester County Public School (GCPS) Bus Garage. According to the “rumor”; someone working for our public school system stole a plasma welder from the bus garage and once the theft became known, the thief was told by administration to bring the welder back, submit their resignation and no charges would be filed. The “rumor” further alleges that the employee has enough time in local government service to retire and the “resignation” has actually turned into retirement for the thief.

That is a very ugly rumor and appears, “if” true, to be another prime example of our laws being applied selectively. If you or I walked into the bus garage and walked out with a screwdriver, law enforcement would be called; we would be arrested and prosecuted. End of Story. The same should happen to this thief if the “rumor” is true and they should forfeit their retirement benefits. Search warrants should also be executed on all of the thief’s properties to make sure they haven’t stolen other property owned by us. 

We sent an email to GCPS Superintendent, Dr. Walter Clemons, asking if he could confirm whether or not the “rumor” is true. Dr. Clemons replied, “I am unable to comment or provide information regarding employee personnel matters.  However, please know that any matter that we discover or are made aware of involving employee misconduct is investigated by our Department of Human Resources and reviewed by our school board with actions taken as deemed appropriate.  We also notify law enforcement on certain matters when necessary.” 

I guess his answer speaks for itself; they are not going to tell us anything under the cloak of employee privacy. I wonder what determines when they, “notify law enforcement on certain matters when necessary.” Do you think you or I would be investigated by human resources and our case reviewed by the school board before they notified law enforcement? I don’t think so. If this “rumor” is true and the thief remains uncharged and is not prosecuted, it will also be another clear example of how disengaged from reality and lawfulness the administrators of our public school system and our school board really are.
                                                                                                         
As bad as it sounds, this is not the ugliest “rumor” about our public school system that we have been following. In April 2014 and after considerable research that was ultimately stonewalled by the school system, we sent an email to the School Board in which we addressed a rumor spreading through the community about the theft of gate admission money at school sporting events. We also provided the findings of our research to the school board and offered suggestions to correct each identified shortcoming. It was not received well at all; imagine that.

Our public school system activity funds usually involve almost $1.5 million per year and are not monies from the school system's annual budget. Activity fund money comes from student parking fees, sporting and other event admission fees, club fees, money from fund raising, some scholarships, etc.

We will soon provide everything we know about the activity fund investigation. In the meantime, take a few minutes to share the rumor about the welding machine thief with others in our community and while you’re at it send a quick email to the school board and board of supervisors letting them know we know about the “rumor”. Here are their email addresses.

Board of Supervisors' email address: bos@gloucesterva.info 
School Board email address: SchoolBoard@gc.k12.va.us 

Click here to read more stories about our wonderful Gloucester County government, public school system and other topics: http://www.gloucestercounty-va.com

Friday, May 26, 2017

Gloucester County Administrator Changes Tone In Latest Reply To Citizen

The conversation between Gloucester County Administrator Brent Fedors and Gloucester citizen Chuck Thompson continues and it appears Mr. Fedors has lightened his tone. Below are each party’s latest replies. You be the judge.

If you have an opinion on the administrator’s proposed audio policy, let him or the Board of Supervisors hear it. For your convenience we have provided the email addresses for all of them after the replies. To read other parts of this story and more just click on this link: http://www.gloucestercounty-va.com/

County Administrator's reply:
Mr. Thompson –

While I am sensitive to your concerns, I prefer not to debate your points that seem to twist the spirit of what I was trying to say into something different.  In reading back through the email that I sent to you earlier, perhaps I should have used the word “and” instead of “nor” in the first sentence – I think it would have better communicated what I was trying to say – apologies if my poor choice of words caused any grief. 

My point was that I am not inclined to open an investigation into issues handled by law enforcement or the judicial system for the express purpose of bunking (or debunking) the draft policy (if for no other reason because of my lack of authority to do so).  Further, I did not interpret your initial emails as request to open an investigation, rather as an inquiry on draft future policy (which seemed to me to be the genesis of your concern).  My interpretation seems (to me) to be substantiated by the subject matter of your follow-up meeting request – “a meeting regarding the policy of audio recordings of the public by county employees”. 

With respect to actions of County employees…  If you feel that your personal safety or the safety of your property is in danger, I would encourage you to immediately dial 911.  If you feel that a County employee has committed a crime, I would encourage you to contact the State Police.  If you feel that a County employee has violated a policy, I would ask that you bring that to my attention so that I may deal with it as a personnel matter.

Note that there is currently no policy regulating or disallowing audio recordings by staff.  Addressing this potential gap in accountability is a primary purpose of the proposed policy. 

I understand and have noted your objection to audio recordings by staff, however if you are of a mind to provide constructive feedback on the draft policy as written I would welcome it.  The window for public input to the CA is open through this Thursday to allow time for June 6th meeting packet preparation.

With regards to your meeting request, unfortunately I cannot make the time you suggest on the 30th, however I am open all day (at this point) on the 31st.  If this date will work for you, please let me know after you confirm with Mr. Meyer and Del. Hodges and I will reserve a room.  If not, I will do my best to accommodate schedules to the best of my ability. 

As an alternate, I would suggest that a meeting may not be needed to communicate your perspective and influence the draft policy in development…  If schedules don’t seem to mesh, perhaps direct discussion or communication with your Supervisor and/or Delegate and/or voicing your opinions on the draft policy in the Citizen Comment portion of the June 6th meeting would suffice? 

…just trying to offer some options…

Brent

J. Brent Fedors
County Administrator
Gloucester County, Virginia
6467 Main Street
Gloucester, VA  23061

Mr. Thompson's reply:
Greetings Brent;

  What really concerns me looking over the policy is that there is no time frame from when an audio recording stops to when it must be submitted for archiving.  That is detrimental.  To long of a time lapse is opportunity to alter the original recording.  If an audio recording is done between a county employee and a member of the public, there needs to be a time limit for getting that recording to the county, signed in under penalty of perjury by the county employee by a top level supervisor who will be handling the recording, meta data must be noted for accuracy of the audio recording.  (All computer files have meta data).  

  All audio recorders also produce their own meta data.  If the audio recording is to be used against any member of the public, I would suggest that the county employee has only 30 minutes to get the audio onto a county storage system or the audio is considered null and void as though it was altered.  No exceptions.  That is where local history is very important and why you should have looked at the links.  You would have found that meta data was missing from county audio recordings or the meta data was altered.  No time or date stamps on anything.  This is a very serious issue.  

  Now to elaborate on the 30 minute rule.  Once a county employee has finished recording audio, then the employee is done with the present task at hand.  From the farthest remote areas of the county, it would only take a maximum of 30 minutes to get back to the county job site where the audio needs to be entered into storage.  That means the employee does not have time to tinker with the actual recording in any way shape or form.  

  I am very strong on the public being made aware of any audio and or video recordings by the county in any interactions.  Where any form of investigation or actions are taking place, I would also recommend that the public be given the chance to equally record the interaction or wave their rights to do so.  That way there are 2 records of the interaction and they can be compared should any member of the public wish to exercise those rights.  

  In the past, Animal Control always hid the audio recordings and would only present the recordings when they took people to court.  Many found out the hard way that those audio recordings were horribly altered and were not at all accurate.  But they were never told about being recorded or that recordings would be submitted as evidence in court.  Why the judges allowed them without proper investigation is yet another serious issue not at your level to answer.  

  Regarding meta data from audio recorders.  The meta data from all audio recorders are a series of numbers that are codes for time and date stamps.  You have to contact the equipment manufacturer to get the interpretation for their codes as each manufacturer uses different codes.  (I have talked to most of them which is how I know).  Altering a recording also puts a meta stamp on the recording.  So that should be quality checked to make sure you can trust your employees.  

  Preferring video recordings, those are much harder to alter and easy to spot if and when they are altered.  Meta data is straight forward and there is little room for misinterpretations on videos.  Body language speaks volumes that you can not get from an audio recording.  You can also tap in to see where your employees are and what they are doing.  If they are where they say they are supposed to be.

  I can not support audio recordings by county employees without these extra and very stringent policies being put into place as the abuse in the past makes this mandatory in my own view.  The objective is to create a trustworthy atmosphere.  Without these extra stringent policies, I have no trust in the system.  

Now regarding an investigation into past employee misconduct, yes, I and others would like to request investigations into such areas.  You have two, in my opinion, nasty criminals in your employment, that are a danger to the public, with a very long record of illegal activity that I believe can be proven.  I would like to request that John Meyer and Keith Hodges be involved and that this be voluntary and that a fair hearing be done because I will suggest you think of what the potential alternative might be if a voluntary investigation isn't done and one has already been underway but needs further review from you.  I know you are limited in scope as to what you can do, but I am requesting you do what you can do within your scope.  

  At this point, a meeting next week isn't needed unless you have more questions about any area of the above that you do not think can be answered in email.  I appreciate your considerations.

Very Truly:

Chuck Thompson

Board of Supervisors' email address: bos@gloucesterva.info 
Mr. Fedors' email address: bfedors@gloucesterva.info

Monday, May 22, 2017

Gloucester County Administrator Replies To Citizen’s Audio Recording Challenge

Gloucester County Administrator, Brent Fedors replied via email to Mr. Chuck Thompson’s challenge to his proposed audio recording policy. Mr. Thompson, several other people and I have spoken out about the unreliability and potential for misuse of audio recordings, but Mr. Fedors appears to be on a mission.

You see, over the past several months, complaints have been made by people about some county employees they had conversations with. Each basically turned into a he said, she said situation and in every instance it appears Mr. Fedors sided with the county employees. He appears to have sided with them to the point of implementing a formal audio recording policy that contains no detailed protocols and highly favors the government.

We understand about protecting the people who work for you, but at this point we believe Mr. Fedors is being unreasonable, unbalanced and will implement his proposed policy no matter what the Board of Supervisors or the People have to say about it. That is a serious problem.

It also appears Mr. Fedors did not do a cost benefit analysis on his proposal as he did not seem to know how much it will cost to store the recordings. He acknowledged there would be costs associated with storage but did not know how much storage he could pay for with your tax dollars. Many times we have seen Supervisors Meyer and Bazzani kick back funding requests because they lacked a cost benefit analysis, but not this time. Maybe they will during the next public discussion about the administrators proposed policy. One would assume storage costs for audio recordings would be pretty much the same as for video recordings; so why not go with the most balanced way of recording?  

Our insistence that tamper proof body cams are far more reliable to capture interactions between county employees and the People has been completely ignored by Mr. Fedors. He must have read the stories on the internet about government employee corruption being uncovered with body cams; why else would he resist body cams? Our Sheriff's Department is using them so why shouldn't animal control, field inspectors and other local government employees who regularly interact with the People use them?

To read our other posts about the administrator’s proposed audio recording policy click on this link: http://www.gloucestercounty-va.com/

The following is Mr. Fedors’ reply to Mr. Thompson’s challenge:
Mr. Thompson –

I read through your emails (excluding links), and would be glad to meet with you and a Supervisor, however I am not inclined to dig up the past, reopen an investigation of alleged events that occurred before my tenure, nor inject myself into court proceedings that I have no business questioning the validity of – I am focused on the future, and how to assure consistent compliance with a policy that has been vetted in the public forum.

At this time I am not inclined to disallow audio recording altogether, nor am I comfortable allowing it to continue without a clear and straightforward policy that can be applied uniformly across all situations.

I welcome any input you may have with regard to edits of the policy as presented – please send them to:  county.administrator@ gloucesterva.info.

Brent

J. Brent Fedors
County Administrator
Gloucester County, Virginia
6467 Main Street
Gloucester, VA  23061

The following is Mr. Thompson’s reply to Mr. Fedors:
Thank you Brent;

  I would like to request a meeting on Tuesday, May 30th at 1:00 PM ans request that John Meyers and further request that Keith Hodges also be present for a meeting regarding the policy of audio recordings of the public by county employees.

  I find it very disturbing that you consider hard evidence of severe misconduct by county employees to be not worth your time because something happened before your tenor.  Does this mean that the county is now hiring the most hardened ex convicts because their past does not matter?  It means the same thing.  Who cares if you hire a rapist for a woman's shelter?  We are looking toward the future and not the past?  Can you explain to me these differences?  I'm a little slow here.

  Also, if I understand you correctly, nothing that ever happened in the county before you came on board counts?  Does that mean all county debts have been wiped out?  Are taxes going down now that we do not have to pay past bills?  

  If I may, audio recordings by any county employee is not acceptable under any circumstances based on the history of extreme abuse by county employees.  Only video cams would be considered acceptable and every citizen must be made aware of such and offered an opportunity to equally record the encounter for fairness.

  I look forward to this meeting.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Gloucester Citizen Challenges Credibility Of Audio Recordings

Gloucester citizen Chuck Thompson has submitted a written challenge to County Administrator Brent Fedors’ use of audio recordings made by Animal Control as an example of the successful use of audio recordings when conducting County business. We believe once you have reviewed the evidence you will agree that audio recordings are unreliable and should be replaced with tamper proof body cam recordings.

For your convenience we have provided Mr. Thompson's written challenge and supporting audio recordings that were made by Gloucester's Animal Control. 

Hello Brent;

I would like to set up a meeting with you and anyone from the BoS who would like to join in, regarding county personnel and their use of voice recorders to record public interactions.  I do not agree with you that Animal Control has set a positive example of how this should be done.  Instead, I am going to prove to you that the statement is incorrect and that how Gloucester Animal Control uses audio recording of the public, in the opinion of myself and many others, illegal and fraudulent.

I would like to start by sending you some recordings that animal control has done with the public and show you the audit I put them through.  I will back up the information in a meeting with you giving full details about the recordings and showing how they are fraudulent and forged with full court records to back up what I show you.  I won't just use one case.  I have several and full permission to discuss them at length from those I have interviewed.

To start, I am going to give you a smoking gun video.  This video is an audio clip made by Steve Baraneck and it is Steve and at the time, sgt Emanuele with the Gloucester Sheriff's office.  Listen closely and several times.  In there is evidence that they both entered the Crews property without a search warrant and that became the basis for all further events of making up the story of having a search warrant came from and a fake one was later produced based on this conversation you are about to play.


I had to clean up the audio to make it understandable.  The first time you hear it, you hear it as recorded by Steve Baraneck.  After that you hear the cleaned up version.  Sgt Emanuale states, "If we had a search warrant, we could kick the door down."  That is a clear statement that no search warrant existed at the time both Steve Baraneck and Sgt Emanuale illegally trespassed onto the Crews property that was the trigger to much larger issues.  That also includes the production of a fake search warrant later produced by Judge Gloria Ownes.  No, she was never a judge and no judge nor magistrate ever signed off on the fake search warrant.  I will be providing you with a copy of the fake search warrant we have on file.



This audio is where everything starts.  How many issues are just found here in the start are multiples upon multiples of so many areas wrong.  To begin, if Steve was actually driving, you would hear road noise.  No road noise in the background.  If Steve had just pulled up to the gate, Sgt Emanuele already there, no greetings.  If a search warrant was in hand, no mention, of one.  Steve was told, during the fake phone call that never happened, that he was not permitted on the property and he proceeds to go onto the property along with Sgt Emanuele anyway.  Again, this is pretty clear that no search warrant even existed.

Just to jump the gun and have further fun, the court documents show that Steve was the one who was serving the fake search warrant.  Back in 2010, Steve could not, by law, serve a search warrant.  It would have had to been done by Sgt Emanuele.  In the police report from Sgt Emanuele, he states, "I was only there to assist."  What happens when you start to tell a lie?  No one can keep the story straight and the court documents are ripe with inaccuracies proving a Kangaroo court was held convicting Laura Crews of crimes committed against her.  A true travesty of justice.

I can go on and on, but I am going to give you a link to a very long website where most everything is spelled out already and published to the public except the Crews name was redacted for their privacy concerns.  Before I do that, I want you to play this little Easter Egg that was created for Steve on the audio recording that was only meant for his ears.


This audio was produced for Steve's benefit by whomever did all the cuts and mock ups of this audio evidence.  It's how we know Steve did not create the final cut.  Steve has a phone conversation with a dog and claims to have been shot at.  Court records show no one was ever shot at and no guns were ever used or present.  This is Gloucester County's evidence mind you.  Not ours.  We are just showing you what was produced by your marvelous county employees.

https://sites.google.com/site/gloucestervanews/

We commonly call this the segment site.  It is what was published on the Gloucester County - VA site, but put into chronological order for a more cohesive understanding.  This includes partial court documents as it relates to the story.  It contains the laws of the time period, videos, audios, arguments and county ordinances among other evidence.  There are also copies of the fake search warrant as well.  

When you are done with this, please let me know because then we are going to move on to Bob Warden's case, then after that we have Sunny McCallister's case, and after that we have another case involving a mother and daughter.  And when you think we are done, I am going to hit you with still more.  By the way, once again I would like to welcome you back to Gloucester County.  Pun intended.


Very Truly:

Chuck Thompson

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Gloucester Supervisors Pause Proposed Audio Recording Policy

On Tuesday night the Gloucester County Board of Supervisors refrained from giving County Administrator, Brent Fedors clearance to implement his proposed “Audio Recording Policy” on June 1, 2017. The supervisors and Mr. Fedors somewhat discussed the proposed policy in public, but the supervisors eventually reached a consensus that they wanted time to come up with written remarks they could circulate to Mr. Fedors and each other.  They ultimately tabled the proposal until the first meeting in June. 

Mr. Howard Mowry of Gloucester Point spoke against the proposed policy during the citizen comment portion of the meeting and we emailed our concerns and suggestions to Mr. Fedors and the supervisors prior to the meeting. 

It is noteworthy that during his presentation, Mr. Fedors used Animal Control's use of audio recording devices as an example of a successful use of such devices. Gloucester's Animal Control Department should be required to wear tamper proof body cams whenever they are out in the community. That department has a long history of distorting the facts which, in some instances, has cost people their animals, money, property and their sanity.

For your convenience we have provided videos of the proposed policy portion of the meeting, the video of Mr. Mowry’s public comments and our email to Mr. Fedors, his response and his proposed “Quality Assurance Audio Recording Policy”.

Proposed Audio Recording Discussion:


Mr. Howard Mowry's Public Comments:



Our Email to Mr. Fedors and the Supervisors:
Greetings,

The following comments are in regard to the County Administrator’s proposed, “Quality Assurance Audio Recording Policy”:

Audio recording devices, used in the manner proposed, will not capture the full picture of interactions between the government and the People. Furthermore, such recordings, which will be started, stopped and maintained solely at the government’s desecration, can easily be manipulated in favor of the government. The scales of power are always to be tipped in favor of the People; as government, and its employees serve at the pleasure and for the benefit of the People.

There is nothing contained in the proposed policy that establishes criteria/rules for determining the circumstances in which interactions are to, or may be, recorded. There is nothing contained in the proposal that establishes criteria/rules for determining which recordings are to be kept longer than the proposed initial retention period. How are the People supposed to know what to expect and more importantly, what say will the People being recorded have on how long a recording is retained? Will there be a documented chain of custody to protect the integrity of the recordings? Will the recordings be edit/tamper proof? How will the identities of the persons recorded be authenticated and how will the recordings be authenticated to be complete, accurate and free of alterations?

I recently suggested that equipping Animal Control with body cams would be a good way to promote integrity on both sides of public service transactions and is the most reliable way to document contentious situations. Body cams are a good way for leadership to insure county employees are not hanging out at the Yacht Haven pool or a back road store or driving from the courthouse to Farm Fresh at Wicomico and back just to visit their bank at ten thirty in the morning, or picking up Valentines Day treats at multiple shops in one of the local shopping centers. Leadership will also be able to physically see whether or not employees are properly and effectively doing their jobs and acting accordingly when they encounter citizens out in the community.

I now suggest equipping Animal Control and the other government employees outlined in the proposal with body cams instead of pursuing the outdated and controversial audio recording path.

Body cam equipped employees should be required to turn the camera on once they leave the office for the community and not turn it off until they return to the office. Customer service desks should be equipped with fixed, continuous record cameras and all interactions with the public should occur in the open environment of the customer service desk. The monitoring of phone calls should be done either at random or continuously. Recording such conversations any other way in the absence of clear protocol on when to record and not record does not support the proposed quality assurance enhancement assertion or objectives and appears to be more of a way to get the goods on someone than a way of enhancing quality assurance.

Respectfully;
Kenneth E. Hogge, Sr.
Gloucester Point 

The County Administrator's response:
Mr. Hogge -

Thank you for your thoughtful comments.

I am faced with a decision on audio recording, and I have three potential paths...

1.  Disallow audio recording altogether,
2.  Allow audio recording absent a policy governing it, or
3.  Allow audio recording only in compliance with an established policy

I don't see option one as a viable path, as audio recording is already in use in many situations (e.g. Site Plan Meetings, etc.) and it proves to be a very valuable tool, both as a quality assurance measure and a productivity enhancing measure, not to mention promoting civil exchange among and between staff and patrons, as well as supporting accountability on all fronts.

I initiated the proposed policy because I did not feel that the "rules of engagement" for audio recording should be left to the individual employee to determine.  My goal is to establish a uniform policy for such recordings so that staff and patrons alike know what to expect with full transparency.

The policy as proposed has been through an extremely thorough vetting process, with multiple changes written in as we sought to anticipate practical implications of policy implementation.

I welcome your (as well as the Board's and the public's) feedback on the proposed policy.  As you are likely aware, I am not required to put Administrative Policies like this in front of the Board prior to making them effective - as the County Administrator, I am empowered to enact such policies at my discretion.  I have, of my own accord, placed this item on the Board's agenda in a spirit of full disclosure and transparency, hoping to get comments that will help me refine the policy further prior to its effective date.

As a side note, any patron can record any interaction among or between staff and patrons at any time in compliance with the law, without any obligation to indicate that such recording is being captured.  The proposed policy does not and cannot regulate the behavior of non-employees.

Thank you again for your comments, 

Brent

J. Brent Fedors
County Administrator
Gloucester County, Virginia
6467 Main Street
Gloucester, VA  23061
(804) 693-4042
bfedors@gloucesterva.info

The County Administrator's Audio Recording proposal:

Monday, May 15, 2017

Gloucester County Administrator Proposes "Quality Assurance Audio Recording Policy"

The following is the content of an email that was sent to the Gloucester County, Virginia Board of Supervisors and the County Administrator. The County Administrator’s response and proposed policy follow the email content. The proposal will be heard during the May 16, 2017 Board of Supervisors meeting. Think about it; citizens, business owners and whoever else that does business with Gloucester County's government are subject to being recorded. As one Gloucester citizen put it; "It’s a damned shame that our society has come to this." It's even more of a shame that Gloucester County's local government has come to this. 


Email Content:
Greetings,

The following comments are in regard to the County Administrator’s proposed, “Quality Assurance Audio Recording Policy”:

Audio recording devices, used in the manner proposed, will not capture the full picture of interactions between the government and the People. Furthermore, such recordings, which will be started, stopped and maintained solely at the government’s desecration, can easily be manipulated in favor of the government. The scales of power are always to be tipped in favor of the People; as government, and its employees serve at the pleasure and for the benefit of the People.

There is nothing contained in the proposed policy that establishes criteria/rules for determining the circumstances in which interactions are to, or may be, recorded. There is nothing contained in the proposal that establishes criteria/rules for determining which recordings are to be kept longer than the proposed initial retention period. How are the People supposed to know what to expect and more importantly, what say will the People being recorded have on how long a recording is retained? Will there be a documented chain of custody to protect the integrity of the recordings? Will the recordings be edit/tamper proof? How will the identities of the persons recorded be authenticated and how will the recordings be authenticated to be complete, accurate and free of alterations?

I recently suggested that equipping Animal Control with body cams would be a good way to promote integrity on both sides of public service transactions and is the most reliable way to document contentious situations. Body cams are a good way for leadership to insure county employees are not hanging out at the Yacht Haven pool or a back road store or driving from the courthouse to Farm Fresh at Wicomico and back just to visit their bank at ten thirty in the morning, or picking up Valentines Day treats at multiple shops in one of the local shopping centers. Leadership will also be able to physically see whether or not employees are properly and effectively doing their jobs and acting accordingly when they encounter citizens out in the community.

I now suggest equipping Animal Control and the other government employees outlined in the proposal with body cams instead of pursuing the outdated and controversial audio recording path.

Body cam equipped employees should be required to turn the camera on once they leave the office for the community and not turn it off until they return to the office. Customer service desks should be equipped with fixed, continuous record cameras and all interactions with the public should occur in the open environment of the customer service desk. The monitoring of phone calls should be done either at random or continuously. Recording such conversations any other way in the absence of clear protocol on when to record and not record does not support the proposed quality assurance enhancement assertion or objectives and appears to be more of a way to get the goods on someone than a way of enhancing quality assurance.

Respectfully;
Kenneth E. Hogge, Sr.
Gloucester Point 

The County Administrator's response:
Mr. Hogge -

Thank you for your thoughtful comments.

I am faced with a decision on audio recording, and I have three potential paths...

1.  Disallow audio recording altogether,
2.  Allow audio recording absent a policy governing it, or
3.  Allow audio recording only in compliance with an established policy

I don't see option one as a viable path, as audio recording is already in use in many situations (e.g. Site Plan Meetings, etc.) and it proves to be a very valuable tool, both as a quality assurance measure and a productivity enhancing measure, not to mention promoting civil exchange among and between staff and patrons, as well as supporting accountability on all fronts.

I initiated the proposed policy because I did not feel that the "rules of engagement" for audio recording should be left to the individual employee to determine.  My goal is to establish a uniform policy for such recordings so that staff and patrons alike know what to expect with full transparency.

The policy as proposed has been through an extremely thorough vetting process, with multiple changes written in as we sought to anticipate practical implications of policy implementation.

I welcome your (as well as the Board's and the public's) feedback on the proposed policy.  As you are likely aware, I am not required to put Administrative Policies like this in front of the Board prior to making them effective - as the County Administrator, I am empowered to enact such policies at my discretion.  I have, of my own accord, placed this item on the Board's agenda in a spirit of full disclosure and transparency, hoping to get comments that will help me refine the policy further prior to its effective date.

As a side note, any patron can record any interaction among or between staff and patrons at any time in compliance with the law, without any obligation to indicate that such recording is being captured.  The proposed policy does not and cannot regulate the behavior of non-employees.

Thank you again for your comments, 

Brent

J. Brent Fedors
County Administrator
Gloucester County, Virginia
6467 Main Street
Gloucester, VA  23061
(804) 693-4042
bfedors@gloucesterva.info

The County Administrator's Audio Recording proposal:

Friday, April 7, 2017

Williamsburg Distillery Takes Home 2 More Gold Medals

Williamsburg Distillery, located at 7218 Merrimac Trail, Williamsburg, Virginia has just brought home 2 more gold medals from the American Distilling Institute.

  The majority of the employees were up in Baltimore this past week to receive those awards.  Normally GVLN reports on Gloucester news so one may be asking why we are covering news in Williamsburg?  Simple, everyone who works at the Williamsburg Distillery are residents of Gloucester.

The two gold awards are for the Jamestown Gin which is a Genever style Gin or put another way, a whiskey based Gin.  The Gin itself won the Gold.  Now Williamsburg Distillery isn't the only distillery making a Genever Gin.  The second gold medal was won by the Williamsburg Distillery for best in class as well.

  The whiskey base used for creating the multi gold award winning Gin is an American wheat based whiskey.  Ninety Five percent of whiskey's on the market are rye based whiskies.  Only five percent of American whiskey is wheat based which is a milder whiskey flavor profile.  For those of you who love Gin, most Gin you are familiar with is a vodka or pure ethanol based spirit.  The spirit itself has no flavor.  Only the botanical's put the flavor into most of the Gins on the market.  One of the secrets of the Williamsburg Distillery is this, Dr Bill Dodson wanted to stick with grains of the period, well, yellow corn was not one of the grains of the period, Indian corn was. Indian corn has no commercial use anymore except during Thanksgiving with the Indian Corn being used for decoration.  Dr Dodson and his staff worked out contracts with local farmers to supply Indian Corn exclusively for the Distillery.

  The results are numerous gold medals now won by the distillery with the top award being a triple gold won last year for the Jamestown Gin that was won at the Denver International Spirits Competition.  The distillery has also won  numerous gold medals for their rum with 91 points given at the Los Angles International Spirits Competition.  This is a distillery to watch and without question, worth your time to visit and buy some spirits while you are there.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Gloucester Fire and Rescue Chiefs Push Back On Budget Cuts

Main Street--Old courthouse
Image is property of Chuck Thompson
The following video is of the FY18 budget conversation between the Chiefs of our Abingdon and Gloucester Volunteer Fire and Rescue Departments and our Board of Supervisors that took place during the April 4th Board of Supervisors meeting. We have to say, it was very refreshing to hear others push back on the sustained pattern of our local government and Boards of Supervisors neglecting our vital infrastructure. The current Board collectively is no different than previous Boards. A few names and faces have changed, but like all previous Boards, this one does not mind wasting tax money on ludicrous things like renting our libraries and health department spaces instead of owning them or handing out free money to high risk businesses located primarily on Main Street. And we can't forget the great consolidation deception that has played out over the last three years. We have published numerous articles on key areas of tax dollar waste and on various parts of our neglected infrastructure. Now we sadly add our Volunteer Fire and Rescue services to the list. 

Maybe our Supervisors and County Administrator should visit our Volunteer Fire and Rescue facilities and learn first hand how complex and critical these services are. They should sit down with the Chiefs and other volunteers and actually become familiar with their operating and capital budgets. They should become familiar with their long range plans. They should do all of this before they ever again ask our Volunteer Fire and Rescue Departments to get by with less money with the empty promise of maybe being able to give them more the next year. Their credit approach is no longer any good because the cans they and other Boards and Administrators have kicked down the road are getting weaker and weaker and the roads are getting shorter and shorter.

We have provided our Supervisor’s email addresses below the video. Let them know we support our Volunteer Fire and Rescue people and operations and expect them to do the same. Lord knows the County throws plenty money away every year, they can surely fund these critical services fully with some of it.

Enjoy the video!!




Phillip Bazzani           pbazzani@gloucesterva.info  
Chris Hutson              chutson@gloucesterva.info 
Mike Winebarger       mwinebarger@gloucesterva.info  
Andy James               ajames@gloucesterva.info 
Robert Orth                rorth@gloucesterva.info  
Ashley Chriscoe       achriscoe@gloucesterva.info  
John Meyer                jmeyer@gloucesterva.info