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BreakDown: Halifax County’s BrokenDown Board of Supervisors

We’re in rare territory here. I’m doing a BreakDown on something that’s already broken down. Let’s put Monday night’s Halifax County Board of Supervisors meeting into the BreakDown machine. It ain’t gonna be pretty.

We’ll start you off with the Gazette-Virginian’s article about it (paywall may apply unless you break through it)…

As accusations fly, speaker removed from dramatic meeting

Now let’s look at the much more juicier News & Record article about the meeting…

Supervisors call temporary truce after bitter debate, accusations

Hoo Boy. Let’s start the BreakDown.

  • Let’s remember what this battle is really about, and it’s not who’s banging who. It’s about a movement to wrestle control of the county away from Team Bowman after years of domination. Team Bowman consists of Doug Bowman, Larry Giordano, Tom West and J.T. Davis. This group of four used to be five when Ray Owen was on the board, but he got voted out in November’s special election. The opposition comes from Team Claiborne and they’re comprised of Bryant Claiborne, Barry Bank, Lottie Nunn and Hubert Pannell.
  • Whoever controls the chairmanship controls the committees and that’s where the real power is. Team Bowman has controlled that for a while with Tom West being the chairman. Their control of the board & committees has allowed County Administrator Jim Halazs and Finance Director Stephanie Jackson to get way too much power and oversight than should be allowed. Now that some of the abuses of that power have came to light, Team Claiborne is using the power of this year’s 4-4 deadlock to try to push the power balance back in the other direction (where it rightfully belongs).
  • If Team Claiborne picks up a solid 5th vote and gets the outright majority, Bowman’s last 10 months on the Board of Supervisors will be him sitting a table with J.T. Davis looking quite lonely. Oh yeah. Doug Bowman may have said that he made a decision not to run for a fourth term as soon as he won his third term, but I’m not believing him one damned bit. If that had been the case, wouldn’t it have been logical for him to have said that a long time ago?
  • The allegations of this affair between Finance Director Stephanie Jackson & former Emergency Services Director Kirby Saunders are now out in the open. Although these allegations have never been officially confirmed, lots of “no comments” and “wink wink it isn’t slander if it’s true wink wink” lead me to the obvious conclusions. Robbie Love had a minor meltdown after the News & record’s article with his statements came out. Let me make this perfectly clear. Kirby Saunders and Robbie Love are still very credible witnesses against the Team Bowman/Halasz/Jackson power empire, but they now have a light coating of green slime.
  • I was asked “Where is all of this animosity coming from?”, so here’s my answer and opinion on that. When the decision was made to hire Jim Halasz, I believe that Doug Bowman & Friends saw the golden opportunity to forge an alliance to start building power and control over the county government. George Nester (the previous county administrator) would have never gone along with such a blatant power grab plan. Bowman had the numbers in his favor while Ray Owen was on the board. Bowman is now fighting for what’s left of his political life. Jim Halasz’s job is now at risk. Stephanie Jackson’s ascent to Assistant County Administrator is now dead as disco and it wouldn’t surprise me if she disappears in the coming months.
  • Some people are saying “Vote them all out”. That’s the wrong attitude to have. Although I’ve questioned Bryant Claiborne’s political and social stands at times, he’s well qualified to be the chairman for this year and is deserving of reelection. Lottie Nunn serves her district well and has been a good member of the board. She’s also deserving of reelection. Barry Bank has been um… “bizarre” at times. I won’t say he’s totally deserving of reelection but he’s on the right side of this issue.
  • On the other side of “Vote them all out”, you’ve got Doug Bowman who’s saying he’s not running for reelection. I don’t totally believe that as of now. Then you’ve got J.T. Davis, and I’m only 50.50 on whether he’s going to run. He’s firmly in the camp of Team Bowman and deserves to be voted out on his ass.


So what’s the endgame to this stalemate? I don’t see anybody on Team Claiborne switching sides. Larry Giordano withdrew his name from the chairman’s election, and I’d like to have thought that he finally realized that he was being used as Doug Bowman’s sockpuppet. That thought quickly disappeared once he turned right around at voted for Bowman as chairman. Ugh. My suggestion is that the two sides come to a compromise that slightly disadvantages Team Bowman. If Lottie Nunn or Hubert Pannell are elected as chairman, Tom West could be elected vice-chairman. The two enemy camps would have to agree to an even split of all the committees among themselves. If this newly formatted board tried to fire Jim Halasz, it would fail on a 4-4 vote so he would be safe until his next contract time. Stephanie Jackson would be left hanging out to dry, but that could be acceptable collateral damage to Team Bowman. Doug Bowman loses the power that he’s built up, but he’s on borrowed time anyway. That’s my suggestion to get this logjam cleared up. It’s a logical plan, which means it sadly has a very small chance of actually being enacted. Sigh.


10 comments to BreakDown: Halifax County’s BrokenDown Board of Supervisors

  • Amie

    What an absolute mess.

  • Joe

    Well analyzed. With the current power as it was, massive amounts of money have been spent on the IDA with little to show for it, the schools have been cut back to a point that they are in a mess, teachers have been without a pay raise of any significance for years yet county employees have had steady raises, and the large farm owners have been treated to tax breaks at the expense of the rest of the residents, Significant conflicts of interests. Time for massive changes.

  • One of the best lines I have seen in recent history… ” Let’s remember what this battle is really about, and it’s not who’s banging who.”

  • Jason Thomas

    It all comes down to the many millions of dollars that have been spent on empty IDA buildings, over-priced school projects, endless raiding of the treasury for unneeded projects to benefit the pockets of a few contractors. The board needs to adopt a rule that a member cannot be involved or vote on any project that would benefit his family interests. It is a matter of ethics which is a word that is seldom used in Halifax County. Money…the public money…is everything.

  • Joe

    The overall IDA budget and the cost of employees for the IDA has skyrocketed over the last ten years with very little to show for it other than creating high paying jobs for the IDA. More than just grant money going in to the Daystrom location.

  • […] In the last BreakDown, I reminded you that the Halifax County government system was already broken d…. We’re past that point and in full meltdown mode now. […]

  • David Hartman

    Not related to the above controversy but someone from Halifax 911 was on News 7 last night, 11-4-15, saying that the Halifax County two-way radio system for the sheriffs office and fire/rescue is required to go digital in a few years and they are going to need millions to do it. You might want to research that I don’t think that’s true. The state has a new system, called STARS, and Pittsylvania County has a new digital system also, but they were already upgrading their systems, and the digital or P25 was NOT required. Halifax County has a current analog and narrowbanded system in place, and to my knowledge that’s all that is required by the FCC. I live near Henry County and I can hear Halifax County better that Chatham. I use the Pittsylvania County system as a volunteer and our system is not what we were promised by the vendor Harris, which was formerly Ma-Com /Ericsson and General Electric before that, and I doubt you will find any deputy or volunteer firefighter/EMT to say its working great, its the worst sounding radio system I know of anywhere, and we are apparently stuck with it. When I heard whoever the gentleman was talking on the news about how Halifax County “had to go digital” I thought I would email someone and let them check it out. I don’t know anyone at/with 911, any county supervisor, or the county administrator in Halifax, but I would hate to see them spend millions on something not needed. Trust me, I think it would be a total WASTE of money…..a BIG WASTE!

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