Currently under fire for ignoring hundreds of constituents and insulting thousands more over the wildly unpopular 29/Rio Grade Separated Interchange (GSI), Rio District Supervisor, Brad Sheffield, now has doubled-down and slapped Albemarle County taxpayers square across the face.
In response to a postcard campaign by organized by Smart29.org—requesting Sheffield pause the GSI in deference to neighborhood and business concerns—the wayward Democrat Supervisor spent more than $575 taxpayer dollars mailing 1100 rebuttals on Albemarle County Board of Supervisors letterhead.
The dismissive, know-it-all tone of Supervisor Sheffield’s letter rankled many recipients, even without their knowing that public dollars were squandered in assembling and mailing the response.
Instead of acknowledging the specific concerns of citizens, Sheffield touted his own “professional background” and his “immersion” in the details as reasons to barrel ahead with the GSI. Without citing particulars, Sheffield again accused the “opposition” of spreading “misinformation” about the broadly despised project.
In a February 11, 2015 email, Albemarle County spokesperson, Lee Catlin, validated Sheffield’s unprecedented abuse of Board mailing privileges:
From: Lee Catlin <LCATLIN@albemarle.org>
Subject: RE: Media Inquiry: Supervisor Sheffield Mailing
Date: February 11, 2015 01:59:54 PM EST
To: Schilling Show
Thanks for your inquiry. The letter you mention is in response to post cards mailed to Brad Sheffield at the County Office Building. These post cards relate to an adopted and publically stated position of the Board of Supervisors that supports all of the Route 29 Solutions projects and are not about the political position of any one particular supervisor. Because the post cards were directed to Brad, he has responded but his response is on behalf of the Board. The Board routinely sends letters to acknowledge citizen correspondence and to provide information on or to respond to citizen inquiries about adopted Board positions. [emphasis added]
Catlin continues by delineating costs of the mailing:
Approximately 1,100 letters have been sent out to date, with the labor being provided by interns that are assigned to the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors Office. The recipient list was derived from information provided by citizens who sent back the post cards and provided their contact information. The Board of Supervisors budget has funds for postage, and funds from this line item were used for this mailing as they are for similar mailings sent out by the Board on matters of Board business. We estimate that approximately $575.00 has been spent on the post card response mailing to date.
When further queried about how often taxpayer funded mailings by an individual supervisor, consisting of more than 100 pieces, had gone out over the past three years, Ms. Catlin demurred:
Correspondence goes out on a daily basis from supervisors responding to constituents, this is not something we track on a per mailing basis. When the Board adopts their annual budget, they approve a line item amount for mailing/postage which is used throughout the year to support citizen communication and Supervisors send those mailings at their discretion without approval from staff. In this particular case, there was discussion among Board and staff members because of the somewhat unusual circumstance of a Board member receiving 1100 postcards at the Board Office regarding an adopted position of the Board and the most efficient way to respond to those citizen inquiries. [emphasis added]
Supervisor Brad Sheffield’s ongoing refusal to respond to constituent concerns, with something other than, “I’m right and you’re wrong,” will likely lead to his removal from office in the next election cycle and an abrupt end to his nascent political career. Like Democrats Chris Dumler and David Slutzky, before him, who lost Albemarle County Supervisor seats in the wake of citizen wrath, Democrat Brad Sheffield will soon learn that hell hath no fury like a voter scorn’d.