Friday, June 6, 2014

Gloucester, VA Bos's Christ Hutson: Second Conflict of Interest Vote?




Inappropriate Actions
 
During the May 20, 2014 Board of Supervisors meeting, Supervisor Chris Hutson voted to approve the Terrapin Cove Sewer Extension project.  Part of the project entails installing public sewer along Laurel Drive at Gloucester Point at a cost of $773,638.  The vote was 4 in favor of the project and 3 against it.  The following information was obtained from the Gloucester County online property database and is for property on Laurel drive that is owned by Mr. Hutson’s father and mother in-law
Property Owner: THE BREEDEN TRUST
Owner Address:
PO BOX 122
GLOUCESTER POINTVA 23062
RPC #: 32740
Physical Location:
1672 LAUREL DR
Magisterial District: Gloucester Point
Tax Map #: 051C 5 C 5
 
Chris Hutson should have abstained from voting on the Terrapin Cove sewer project in accordance with Commonwealth of Virginia Conflict of Interest laws.  Without publicly disclosing his family relations to a project area property owner, Chris Hutson not only voted for the project, he also acted as the primary public body advocate during the design, review and procurement processes.  Shortly after the BOS meeting this information was brought to the attention of all of the Supervisors via an email message.  After the email notification was sent it was further realized that Chris Hutson’s father in-law has served on the Gloucester Public Utilities Advisory Committee since 2004 and was reappointed for another four year term by Mr. Hutson in 2012.  The appearance alone screams inappropriate.
 
During the June 3, 2014 BOS meeting the Terrapin Cove project was brought back to the floor for further discussion by Supervisor Ashley Chrisco, on the premise that funding is now uncertain due to the Commonwealth not yet approving its budget.  The Terrapin Cove project is not a Commonwealth funded project and the County’s ability to fund it has been uncertain from the beginning.  The BOS voted to delay the project start up and to pull funding from it until the Commonwealth approves its budget.  The Supervisors then directed that a certified letter be sent to each property owner within the project area asking the owners for a binding commitment to hook up to the sewer system if the project moves forward.  This and other steps should have been accomplished before money was spent to design the sewer expansion. 
 
Does this area of the County need public sewer?  I don’t think so but admit that it could be arguable.  At issue here is the conflict of interest vote made by Mr. Hutson and the efforts taken in the June 3rd BOS meeting to cover it up.  Does Gloucester County really want politicians who are self serving, not forthcoming and who have no conscious when it comes to spending hard earned tax dollars?  The answer is an emphatic NO.  The three newest Supervisors are the ones who initially voted against the project and did so with stated justifications.  These three seem to be working very hard to do what is in the best interest of the County as a whole; the other four should join them.   
 
During the June 5, 2014 BOS and Planning Commission meeting Chris Hutson encouraged citizens and business owners to bring instances of improprieties related to construction inspections to the BOS attention so they can be looked into.  How can he make such a hypocritical statement after voting on a project that he or his spouse “may realize a reasonably foreseeable direct or indirect benefit or detriment from?”
 
We the people of Gloucester County deserve much more from our elected officials.  I encourage my fellow citizens to express their opinions on this matter and to remember these types of behaviors when election season returns.  Just remember; Political Parties do not make a good government, good people do.
 
Kenneth E. Hogge, Sr.
Gloucester Point

Our Notes:  Mr Hutson voted yet again despite what looks like a clear conflict of interest.  Even if it were the correct vote to reverse the earlier decision, he still should have abstained from the vote.  Nothing much other than non funding the sewer extension was corrected, but instead, was compounded.  Once was too much, twice is just a complete violation of the public trust and a slap in the face to every citizen within the county.  Exactly why is Mr Hutson serving on the board other than to possibly personally financially gain by doing such?   That is just "NOT" sound government.
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