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Social Media vs. Integrity and Leadership

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March 13th, 2020 is notorious for two major events – one national and one local.  On this date, President Trump declared a national emergency due to the Coronavirus Pandemic and infused state governments with $50 billion dollars in federal aid.  Locally, the Town of Front Royal was quietly servicing their amended lawsuit against the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority upping their ante to $20,226,153 plus attorney fees and other costs.

While March 13th is an important milestone in this country and community, there are two far more important time spans to remember as you read through and more fully understand the “incompetence” that past EDA Board members exhibited, inclusive of former EDA Board Member and present Vice Mayor of Front Royal, Bill Sealock.

March 1, 2002, through December 9th, 2016 (EDA Board of Directors) and November 5th through present-day (Front Royal Town Council) shall serve as a reminder for a multitude of unremarkable and remarkable events that spans the illustrious career of Bill Sealock.  This period of time equates to nearly 19 years of public service.  These dates are critically important to the community, as Mr. Sealock’s unremarkable leadership tenure spanned the period in which much of the EDA fraud occurred; and where he continued to demonstrate a lack of true leadership on the Front Royal Town Council.  Sealock was in a prime position to have leveraged his past EDA knowledge and relations to broker a better working relationship between the Town of Front Royal and the EDA; possibly staving off the $20-million-plus civil suit against his previous board.

This was certainly not too much to ask, given Sealock’s 2016 candidate platform of “refusing to pick fights with the Board of Supervisors over silliness.” I will give Sealock credit for not picking any fights, as stony silence publicly overcame him for most, if not all the troubles between the EDA and the Town.

What was far from silly was Mayor Tewalt justifiably fighting and advocating for a mutual resolution on Town and EDA projects; while Sealock demonstrated no public support, and did not publicly build a coalition to challenge the current Council status quo that had their aim set on an entity that he helped lead and manage for 14 years.

What is remarkable in this time period is the Council’s willingness to chew up and spit out one of their own. Albeit, not through their personal words, but through their proxy attorneys.  The good ‘ole boy network may not be as strong as I once thought, as the sting of the outside-contracted Town attorneys’ words characterizing the Sealock manned EDA board’s leadership and management prowess includes such shameful vernacular as “incompetence”, “failed”, “unlawfully”, “grossly negligent” and “could have been prevented”.  These words and phrases are not my own, but direct quotes and characterizations that are peppered throughout the 83-page amended complaint by town attorney & famed automobile accident attorneys Damiani & Damiani.

Another unremarkable event is Mr. Sealock’s decision to not seeking another term on Council and chalking up the reasoning due to social media influence.  There was no mention or demonstration in acceptance of personal or professional accountability, the exercise of integrity, or simple sorrow, knowing that his inaction on both Town Council and the EDA will most likely cost the community untold millions of lost money through fraud, mismanagement (I will get to the EDA’s Sealock promoted Workforce Housing Project at a later time), attorney fees, and maintaining the status quo.  Leadership involves tough decisions, accountability, integrity, taking a stand for what is right, and reconciling the wrongs.   Demonstrating and practicing leadership is clearly not a strong suit for Sealock—that ship set sail years ago.  Fortunately, the community will not be forced to decide via future elections if Vice Mayor Sealock continues to deserve a seat at the dais knowing that his actions or inaction fully contributed to the chaos, dysfunction, and near-total loss of faith in community leadership posts.

The civil suit which The Town of Front Royal believes to be factually accurate paints a blistering account of Vice Mayor Sealock’s contribution to this community.  Vice Mayor Sealock was given 14 years, 9 months, and 8 days to help lead the EDA.  Instead, he let the organization lead him down a path that will forever scar this community.  Vice Mayor Sealock was given 4 years to jointly lead on the council, from the unique perspective of his nearly 15-year front-row seat at the EDA board table.  When the time came to reconcile his past decisions as an EDA board member, instead of being at the forefront and championing alternative resolutions, or simply resigning; he sat in stony silence while the Town of Front Royal began its campaign of fleecing the entire community with eyes wide shut to its own complicity and poor judgment as the EDA situation developed.

Sealock’s legacy will be forever cemented in the Town of Front Royal vs. FRWCEDA, not through social media fodder and a nearly 20-year career of unremarkable leadership.

Gregory A. Harold
Front Royal, VA  22630

(Writer’s Note: This is not a formal statement or position of the FRWCEDA.  This is one citizen’s position based upon the facts that the Town of Front Royal believes to be accurate as detailed in their civil suit against the FRWCEDA.)

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Opinion

Thoughts regarding the decision to change the name of LFCC

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The Letter to the Editor from Tenia Smith last week regarding the decision to change the name of Lord Fairfax Community College was an accurate assessment of the way things seems to be in this country these days.

I would add another reason that this decision is a frivolous attempt to amend history to make a segment of our community feel better. What we actually have here shows a complete out-of-historical context ignorance: that’s looking at historical figures and events through the context of the 21st Century, not through the context of the life and times in which these personalities lived and the events took place. Such individuals who view history through our present day vision will never understand the people and events of our past.

Hence, the burning need to revise our history to make it much more palatable.

Some people, even those in the business of education, will never understand the personalities and events of the past, and, in their ignorance, the discussions and decisions illustrate quite well that they aren’t really interested.

In fairness to Lord Fairfax, whose holdings in the 18th Century comprised what is now most of 22 states, much of what he accomplished in his life shaped early America and Virginia that we know and enjoy today. Regarding the decision to rename the school, their focus is on the way the world lived in the 1600s, the 1700s, and a good part of the 1800s. In no way am I condoning nor supporting the institution of slavery; right or wrong, it was an accepted practice in many countries, and still remains a practice in a number of countries in the 21st Century.

If these “educators” and politicians behind the name change refuse to permit the name of Thomas Lord Fairfax to remain intact on the college, then I would strongly recommend that they also not allow the Stars & Stripes to fly over LFCC. After all, and this also cannot be refuted, it was the symbol of a slave nation from 1787 to December 1865.

Arthur Candenquist
Amissville, Virginia

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Opinion

Response to Tom Howarth’s Letters to the Editor

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I will say just one thing to Tom Howarth, who has submitted many Letters to the Editor of the Royal Examiner: “Stop crying wolf!”

When you write so many letters, and so frequently, people (myself, included) just tune you out!

Your letters are too predictably partisan.

Lalit Piplani
Front Royal, Virginia

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Opinion

Our trust in the voting process will be forever challenged unless we the people take control of our voting rights

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In response to Tom Howarth’s letter to the editor on February 17th:

Mr. Howarth, I watched the trial, which by the way was unconstitutional and so full of hate against a man that no longer was in office.

When it came down to calling witnesses or not, the Democrats called a halt to it by acquitting former President Donald J. Trump! Why, Mr. Howarth? Was it because of who the Republicans could call as witnesses?

Mr. Trump’s lawyers did a great job of bringing out the truth. But Democrats didn’t want the real reason to be brought out on this second impeachment trial, which was the reason for everything coming to a halt! For who really was the people causing insurrection and destruction last summer and for the last 4 years?

No doubt in my mind the election wasn’t held right. Whether you are a Democrat or Republican, our voting rights were tampered with and changed without going through the electoral process.

I could accept Biden’s win if it was done fair and square, but it wasn’t! And now our trust in the voting process will be forever challenged unless we the people take control of our voting rights.

Tenia Smith
Front Royal, Virginia

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Opinion

Open Letter to Town and County officials on county’s high death rate per reported COVID cases

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Greetings Community Leader,

As the Front Royal Town Council members spend valuable work time in meetings discussing whether business owners should be allowed to require customers to wear masks to help prevent the spread of the Coronavirus in our community, I am interested in finding out why people in Warren County die from the virus at a rate so much higher than people in most nearby counties. I’m sure this data has concerned you as a community leader as much, if not more, as it has me as a citizen. I am one concerned member of our community while you are a community leader tasked with finding solutions to the problems that plague our whole community. Surely, understanding the high death rate from Coronavirus in Warren County/Front Royal has been a pressing matter on your list of priorities.

Has your research shown that our high death rate is due to a poor health care system in our community? Is it because of the overall poor health of our residents? Is it something else? Please let the citizens of Front Royal and Warren County know what you have learned about why we are dying from COVID-19 more often than our neighbors in eleven nearby counties. The following data for Deaths per 100K people are from the Virginia Department of Health’s website on February 19, 2021:

County Deaths per 100K
Shenandoah 234
Page 171
Warren 100
Rockingham 94
Clarke 89
Culpepper 75
Fairfax 72
Prince William 70
Frederick 55
Fauquier 52
Madison 52
Loudoun 50
Stafford 36
Rappahannock 27

https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/coronavirus/covid-19-in-virginia-cases/

Cases – Coronavirus

Need vaccine? Learn how to get your shot at Vaccinate.Virginia.gov or call 1-877-VAX-IN-VA. Language translation and TTY services available. 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ¿Necesita vacunarse?

www.vdh.virginia.gov

I look forward to hearing why you think we are doing so poorly and what ideas you have to prevent so many of our fellow citizens from dying of Covid.

Wishing you all good health,

Kelli Hart
Front Royal, Va.

(reprinted by permission of writer)

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Opinion

What’s really in a name?

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Lord Fairfax Community College has decided to change its name because it does not reflect who they are? Really? I thought it was a place of higher learning and opportunities!

I don’t like the name of Fauquier County. I don’t like the name Henry. I don’t like the color green! I don’t like to make mashed potatoes. But I don’t take this to the city council, or the board, or even D.C.!

This all has become so political! What are the bases of all of this? Why not just erase everything!

No one has names: No names on buildings, no names on highways, no names on envelopes, no names on anything? Why not walk around nameless and act like zombies!

We humans can’t seem to focus on the important things, like being kind and caring and making our futures better! Like helping others and looking out for one another. All we seem to be about nowadays is hate, anger, and destruction.

What a sad place the world has become; what a sad place our country has become! The more we seek peace, the more uproar of evil becomes!

Tenia Smith
Front Royal, Virginia

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Sure Representative Ben Cline wants to move past January 6th accountability

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Rep. Ben Cline opines that Congressional Democrats and presumably Republicans who voted to impeach and convict Donald Trump were wasting time.

Donald Trump was impeached for his role in instigating the insurrection and attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6.  He was acquitted in the U.S. Senate by a vote of 57 to 43.  He got the 43. Try that in baseball.

Mr. Cline is anxious to get on with business and well he should be.

Why did the president urge his followers to go to the Capitol that day?  He made it quite clear that he wanted them to go in support of those Members of Congress who were supporting his claim that the 2020 election had been stolen from him and them.

The story of a stolen election was the Big Lie.  The election was not stolen.  There is no evidence that it was.  Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Republican Leader, made that clear after the acquittal of the former President on February 13.

Senator McConnell blamed the former president and “other powerful people” for perpetuating the Big Lie.  Now, who were those “other powerful people?”  Why they were Members of Congress of course who continued to spread the Big Lie.  Who is on the list of Members of Congress who told the people that if they could just find the votes to overturn the certification of the Electoral College votes all would be well?

Rep. Ben Cline is on the list.

Mr. Cline knew full well that the votes were not there to require a reshuffling of the electoral deck.  He knew his encouragement of the insurrectionists would only end in their frustration and anger, the anger that was on display on January 6.

Why did Ben Cline do this?  Because he wanted to provide Trump supporters in the 6th District with an empty gesture proving his fealty to the former president.

Even after he saw the anger that resulted in the death of a police officer and others in the Capitol, Ben Cline marched down to the floor of the House and perpetuated the Big Lie one more time.

It is small wonder that Ben Cline wants to change the subject.

Mr. Cline thinks the effort to hold responsible those who instigated the attack on the Capitol is a waste of time.  He wants people to look away from him.

Tom Howarth
Warren County, Virginia

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