Norris-Pimp-cropAmericans rightly revere their government buildings as sacrosanct. Unlike Cuba, Iran, Venezuela, Red China and other despotic dynasties, our government structures purportedly belong to the people, not to the governors themselves.

At all levels of government—federal, state, local—citizens hold a valid expectation that their political representatives, and the edifices that house governmental activities, will not become overtly politicized and will not serve as mere pawns of any national political party or bigoted political agenda.

Unbeknownst to the masses, Charlottesville City Democrat politicians, Mayor Dave Norris and Councilor Kristin Szakos have sold their souls to the National Democratic Devil by converting Charlottesville City Hall into an instrument of partisan propaganda.

On December 17, 2009, Alex Gerlach, Regional Press Secretary for the Democratic National Committee (DNC), distributed the following “Media Advisory” promoting a partisan political rally inside Charlottesville City Hall:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 17, 2009
Contact: Alec Gerlach, 202-903-6829

***MEDIA ADVISORY***

FRIDAY in Charlottesville: Organizing for America to Hold Health Insurance Reform Roundtable with Mayor Norris, Kristin Szakos and Local Small Business Owners

As the health care debate continues in Washington, Virginians are working to ensure their voices are heard in this important debate. Organizing for America (OFA), a grassroots project of the Democratic National Committee dedicated to supporting the president’s agenda for change, will hold a roundtable Friday, December 18th at 1:30 p.m. at Charlottesville’s City Hall where local small business owners will join Mayor Dave Norris and Councilor-Elect Kristin Szakos to discuss how health insurance reform will help small business as well as state and local budgets.

Our health insurance system is broken—tens of millions of Americans don’t have insurance and 14,000 more lose their coverage every single day.  But now, after months of debate, we are closer than ever to passing comprehensive health insurance reform.  Last month, the U.S. House of Representatives passed landmark legislation—the Affordable Health Care for America Act.  And now, the Senate is debating the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which would extend coverage to 31 million Americans while protecting those who have coverage from unfair insurance industry practices, like denying coverage because of a pre-existing condition or canceling someone’s coverage when they get sick.  And according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, reduce the deficit by $130 billion during the first 10 ten years, and by $650 billion in the following decade.

Organizing for America is committed to supporting President Obama’s agenda for change at the grassroots level. Since June 6th, more than 2.3 million people have taken part in OFA’s health reform campaign and have organized over 23,000 events in all 50 states and every congressional district in support of health insurance reform. On October 20, OFA helped to generate more than 315,000 calls to Congress in a single day, over three times the initial goal.

Regional Press Secretary
Democratic National Committee
Desk: 202-488-5035
Cell: 202-903-6829
Email: GerlachA@dnc.org

###

Charlottesville Health Insurance Reform for Small Business Media Event:

Alec Gerlach

Who: Charlottesville Mayor Dave Norris
Councilor-Elect Kristin Szakos
Brandyn Keating, Organizing for America Virginia State Director
Local Small Business Owners
When:
Friday, December 18th, 2009 at 1:30 p.m.
Where:
Charlottesville City Hall
Basement Conference Room
605 E. Market St. in Charlottesville

While outrage over Norris and Szakos’ iniquitous pimping of Charlottesville City Hall was absent from the pages of local press, City staff was caught flat-footed by multiple inquires as to the propriety of the DNC’s brazen political takeover of a taxpayer-owned government building.

On December 18, the following questions were posed via email to Ric Barrick, Charlottesville’s chief spokesperson:

From: Rob Schilling
Date: December 18, 2009 09:33:06 AM EST
To:
Ric Barrick <BARRICK@charlottesville.org>
Cc:
Craig Brown
Subject: Fwd: TODAY in Charlottesville: OFA to Join Mayor Norris, Kristin Szakos for Small Business Health Insurance Roundtable

Hi Ric,

Can you please provide some information on this meeting:

1) Is OFA paying the city any compensation for use of city facilities?
2) Who initiated this meeting and by what means?
3) Are there any ordinances, laws, statutes, or City policies applicable to partisan political groups’ (OFA is a project of the Democratic National Committee) use of City facilities to promote a partisan national agenda?

Barrick did not reply until prompted by a follow up email on December 22. On that same day, he responded curtly:

From: “Barrick, Ric” <BARRICK@charlottesville.org>
Date: December 22, 2009 12:41:36 PM EST
To:
“Rob Schilling”
Cc:
“Brown, Craig”
Subject: RE: TODAY in Charlottesville: OFA to Join Mayor Norris, Kristin Szakos for Small Business Health Insurance Roundtable

We had asked Mr. Norris to get back with you on this since we had no role but I will make sure you get an answer today.

Later in the day, Barrick forwarded an anonymous and evasive response to the specific questions posed on December 18 (City responses appear in green):

  1. Is OFA paying the city any compensation for use of city facilities?  No
  2. Who initiated this meeting and by what means?  Kristen Szakos asked Jeanne Cox to schedule.
  3. Are there any ordinances, laws, statutes, or City policies applicable to partisan political groups’ (OFA is a project of the Democratic National Committee) use of City facilities to promote a partisan national agenda? No

The City’s vague retort prompted a FOIA request to City Attorney Craig Brown for additional information: “Any written, printed, or electronic communication/document, to or from any city employee or official, referencing Organizing For America (OFA) and or the aforementioned OFA Meeting, directly or indirectly.”

It also incited a follow up email to Barrick requesting clarification:

From: Rob Schilling
Date: December 22, 2009 04:27:24 PM EST
To:
“Barrick, Ric” <BARRICK@charlottesville.org>
Cc:
“Brown, Craig”
Subject: Re: TODAY in Charlottesville: OFA to Join Mayor Norris, Kristin Szakos for Small Business Health Insurance Roundtable

Hi Ric,

Who has answered the questions below?

Was number three, a legal question, the official answer from the City Attorney’s office?

Also, on what authority did Kristin Szakos, who is not yet sworn in, request such a meeting? May any citizen use the City Hall facilities for partisan meetings?

Does the City have a policy on public use of City Hall facilities, if so, can you please provide a copy?

Contrary to Barrick’s December 22 denial (“we had no role”) of the Charlottesville government’s involvement in establishing City Hall as a venue for the DNC’s “community organizing” outreach efforts, the City indeed had a role — in fact, the key role—in orchestrating the OFA”press conference.”

And, a whole new back-story began to emerge in a December 28 email reply from Barrick.

First, it was disclosed that the mystery author of the original replies was Clerk of Council Jeanne Cox, not Mayor Dave Norris as initially implied: “We had asked Mr. Norris to get back with you on this.”

Next, and quite bizarrely, Jeanne Cox refuted her own “3rd person”assertion (“Kristen Szakos asked Jeanne Cox to schedule”) that Councilor Szakos was the prime mover behind the press conference. Here, in Cox’s own words is her revised version of the story:

“Nina from Organizing America left me a voice message week before last saying that the Mayor said that her group could use a City conference room for a press conference in which Dave and Kristen were participating.  The original room she wanted was not available so I booked her for the basement conference room for Dec. 16.  She called the next day and said they had to change the date to Dec. 18 as it was so late that they had not been able to get people to the press conference and that 1:30 on the 18th would be convenient for Dave and Kristen as they would be in the School Board/Council meeting immediately preceeding [sic] in the same room.”

Yet, Cox’s “clarification” is further muddied by a December 18 response to Barrick’s initial inquiry, as revealed in the FOIA’d email:

From: “Cox, Jeanne” <coxj@charlottesville.org>
Date: December 18, 2009 10:23:17 AM EST
To:
“Barrick, Ric” <BARRICK@charlottesville.org>
Cc: “Brown, Craig”, “O’Connell, Gary” <oconnell@charlottesville.org>

Subject: RE: TODAY in Charlottesville: OFA to Join Mayor Norris, Kristin Szakos for Small Business Health Insurance Roundtable

The mayor told them they could use a conference room is scheduled for basement conference room today at 1:30.  I know nothing about them other than that.

Jeanne Cox’s story is confusing at best, and duplicitous at worst as she made three contradictory assertions regarding the origin of the meeting:

  1. “The mayor told them they could use a conference room — is scheduled for basement conference room today at 1:30.  I know nothing about them other than that.” —December 18, 2009 email
  2. “Kristen Szakos asked Jeanne Cox to schedule.” —December 22, 2009 email
  3. “Nina from Organizing America left me a voice message week before last saying that the Mayor said that her group could use a City conference room for a press conference in which Dave and Kristen were participating.  The original room she wanted was not available so I booked her for the basement conference room for Dec. 16” —December 28, 2009 email

Finally, Barrick was flummoxed by the question on whether other citizens could use City Hall for partisan meetings, as he parried in Orwellian doublespeak:

“We do get some requests for City space from Citizens and groups and they are handled on a space available basis. If it is a request for meetings after business hours which require special attention to keep doors open those we usually can’t accommodate. Now that City Space is available we send many after hour requests to CCDC to handle”

On December 30, Barrick was sent a request for further clarification:

From: Rob Schilling
Date: December 30, 2009 09:45:01 AM EST
To:
“Barrick, Ric” <BARRICK@charlottesville.org>
Cc:
Craig Brown
Subject: Re: TODAY in Charlottesville: OFA to Join Mayor Norris, Kristin Szakos for Small Business Health Insurance Roundtable

Hi Ric,

I need clarification:

<<May any citizen use the City Hall facilities for partisan meetings? We do get some requests for City space from Citizens and groups and they are handled on a space available basis.  <<If it is a request for meetings after business hours which require special attention to keep doors open those we usually cant accommodate. Now that City Space is available we send <<many after hour requests to CCDC to handle

This answer is non-responsive. I’ll rephrase the question for clarity:

Will any citizen or citizen-related group be granted the use of City Hall facilities during business hours for partisan meetings, if the space is available?

A simple yes or no answer would be appreciated.

To which Barrick replied:

From: “Barrick, Ric” <BARRICK@charlottesville.org>
Date: December 30, 2009 10:33:27 AM EST
To: “Rob Schilling”
Cc:
“Brown, Craig”, “Harris, Richard”
Subject: RE: TODAY in Charlottesville: OFA to Join Mayor Norris, Kristin Szakos for Small Business Health Insurance Roundtable

Rob

I am going to have to research this because without a written policy I am not sure how to answer. +Folks who would need to weigh in on this are taking vacation so it may be early next week before I can get you an answer.  I appreciate your patience.

Nine days later, and hoisted by their own petards, the Barrick and the City Hall Cabal reluctantly relented by admitting that Charlottesville City Hall was not in place solely to serve partisan Democrat interests or a National Democrat political agenda:

From: “Barrick, Ric” <BARRICK@charlottesville.org>
Date: January 8, 2010 01:52:18 PM EST To: “Rob Schilling”
Cc: “Brown, Craig”, “Harris, Richard”
Subject: RE: TODAY in Charlottesville: OFA to Join Mayor Norris, Kristin Szakos for Small Business Health Insurance Roundtable

The short answer to your question is yes—any group may be granted the use of City Hall facilities during business hours for partisan meetings, if the space is available.  Currently, there is no written policy governing such uses.

Many questions remain in this unprecedented pimping-out of Charlottesville City Hall to the Democratic National Committee in order to promote President Obama’s partisan “Health Care Reform” agenda.

Primarily:

  1. Was the arrangement of this meeting”quid pro quo” for Kristin Szakos” appointment as a “Regional Coordinator”for the Obama Campaign?
  2. In providing incomplete and conflicting information, were Jeanne Cox and Ric Barrick attempting to “cover up” for questionable or unethical actions by Mayor Norris and then Councilor-elect Szakos?
  3. Was this an instance of political graft?
  4. Was the commandeering of a publicly owned government building and the involvement of Charlottesville City employees in facilitating a partisan press conference inside City Hall a violation of the Hatch act, which states in part:

Covered state and local employees may not:

  • directly or indirectly coerce, attempt to coerce, command, or advise a state or local officer or employee to pay, lend, or contribute anything of value to a party, committee, organization, agency, or person for political purposes.

A note of caution – an employee’s conduct is also subject to the laws of the state and the regulations of the employing agency. Prohibitions of the Hatch Act are not affected by state or local laws.

In this case, the appearance of impropriety by elected officials and by Charlottesville City government employees: incontrovertible.

That a taxpayer supported City government building is being used as “rally hall” for the National Democrat “health care” agenda: outrageous.

That taxpayer funded City government employees are being deployed as political pawns to enable such impropriety: shameless.

That the DNC has ethically-challenged operatives and political patsies inside Charlottesville City Hall: to some, at least, priceless.

“We support an open and transparent government and will empower all members of the community to be active participants in shaping the decisions that affect us all.”—Charlottesville City Council 2020 Vision Statement

Pimp-montage

12 COMMENTS

  1. Rob, From this feature, do I understand
    that you could broadcast an edition of
    “The Schilling Show” from City Hall, if
    you booked a room there? I think City
    Hall is similar to Rick’s Cafe in
    “Casablanca”. How can anyone be shocked
    by anything or everything that happens
    there?

  2. Seems like a big time hustle to me. Why not just have the meeting at Perriello’s office? Oh, I know why. They don’t know whether the invitees are friend or foe and Szakos end up having to morph into Moat Monster.
    Mayor Norris really needs watching. In November he was taped negotiating for Virginia Supportive Housing for housing vouchers from the Housing Authority, a body he appoints. Wow, mis-use of public property and conflict of interest in a month. No wonder he had to chase Gary O’Connell out of there. And maybe Jeanne Cox, too. Maybe Barrick will be next. By the way, Norris was successful in getting the vouchers by getting Council to agree to fund them up to 15 years on March 1.

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