Very little public business was discussed during a day-long work session on Thursday, July 30, attended by members of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors.
Elected leaders had hinted during a July 21 meeting the would once again take up the matter of an asphalt plant that could be built near the Blackburn residential neighborhood on Balls Ford Road near Manassas during the work session held at Chinn Park Regional Library in Lake Ridge. A decision by the board on whether or not to issue a special use permit to allow an asphalt plant is more than 10-months overdue.
Instead, supervisors spent the day discussing how to better get along with each other after six months of contentious meetings, after the board in January flipped from Republican to Democrat control in January.
At 9:30 a.m., a hired facilitator-led members of the Board of County Supervisors through exercises that asked required to sit in groups and perform “get to know you” activities where they learned personal anecdotes about themselves, such as how one supervisor played baseball as a child which helped him overcome chronic bronchitis, and about how another supervisor used to gather with friends over the Christmas holiday and shoot guns.
Supervisors Peter Candland was ill and did not attend the meeting, and Supervisor Jeanine Lawson left about noon to attend a family function.
Later in the afternoon, leaders discussed multiple issues that have been plaguing the board’s ability to work as a cohesive team, including accusations that Democrats held a secret meeting following riots that occurred in the county on May 28. About 60 community members attended a meeting on May 29 to listen to police providing a briefing on how it handled the riot where pepper spray was used.
Republican leaders on the board say they weren’t notified of the meeting that was attended by all five Democrats on the board.
“If it was a secret, I would have had to have been in on it,” said Neabsco District Supervisor Victor Angry.
The accusations resulted in a lawsuit filed against the board by county resident Brett Glass, who asserted supervisors violated Freedom of Information Act law by not providing adequate public notice of the meeting before it began. Prince William County District Court Judge Wally Covington dismissed the case but allowed Glass to re-file his suit at a later date.
Supervisors also discussed the treatment of Coles District Supervisor Yesli Vega, who has been the target of both Black Lives Matter demonstrators, as well as those who have voiced support for the movement, painting the first Hispanic woman ever elected to the Board of County Supervisors and enforcement officer as a racist.
“I know there was a recent meeting where you were nearly slain,” the facilitator said to Vega.
She urged the board to collectively defend each other should members of the public disrespect elected leaders during recent comment time.
“I hope what you agree today that whatever happened in the past is not going to be the way to go forward in the future,” she added.