Leesburg Council Grounds Request for Airport Funding Help

Tuesday night’s Town Council debate over whether to change its capital project funding request took a controversial turn.

The council was considering whether to modify a letter it sent to the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors two weeks ago stating its preferred projects for inclusion in the county’s Fiscal Year 2019 Capital Improvement Program. The county annually asks its incorporated towns to submit requests for pedestrian or transportation projects that would benefit the greater county. The letter sent by the council had asked for support for phase one of the Tuscarora Creek pedestrian trail; the widening of Evergreen Mills Road from Heritage High School to Rt. 15; and, at the suggestion of Councilman Tom Dunn, Leesburg Executive Airport’s list of capital projects.

Dunn’s Oct. 10 suggestion to add the airport projects was supported by the rest of the council, after he noted the airport’s countywide and regional benefit.

It was that suggestion that came under scrutiny this week.

At the close of Monday night’s council work session, Mayor Kelly Burk found support from the rest of the council to reconsider that vote the following evening. Burk noted that members of the Airport Commission had reached out to council in the intervening weeks expressing concerns about asking for county funding for the town’s airport and the operational impacts such a request could have. A motion made by Burk on Tuesday removed the request for airport funding.

“The reason I’m making the motion is because I feel [the vote] was done in a hasty manner, although I do understand whole idea of asking the county for additional funding,” she said. “The concern is we’re bringing this forward without looking at all the ramifications. The Airport Commission has asked us to reconsider this and take that out. The commission would like to create a work group [to study] how we can work with the county. This is a great opportunity to get this discussion and conversation started in a manner that is much more thought out, much more to the benefit of the county and town.”

A motion by Councilman Ken Reid to postpone the vote until after the Airport Commission meets next week failed. Councilman Tom Dunn raised concerns about the commission’s request to be consulted in the first place and, reading from an email sent by Airport Commission Chairman Dennis Boykin, said it appeared the commission’s concerns about county involvement came out of fear over operational impacts or ceding control to Loudoun County.

“I really think that if we are to go forward with a letter withdrawing the original letter to the county, we put in long-term jeopardy any serious funding request by the town by showing this waffling,” Dunn said. “We have finally gotten to the point where are moving a ball forward asking the county for funding. We have not done this for decades in any real measure.”

After the motion to reconsider the vote was successful, the gloves came off.

Dunn accused other council members of being swayed on the issue because members of the Airport Commission had made contributions to their campaigns. Dunn said that he, too, had received such contributions, but that they did not cloud his judgment.

“I’m not going to call this corruption. Corruption’s a big word. But I did find that [the definition of] corruption is a perversion of integrity. To pervert is leading to a false judgment,” Dunn said. “To go back on [the vote] now because commissioners make campaign donations or excuses of ‘we need to evaluate this,’” is improper.

Dunn noted that every member of the commission has a “monetary interest” in what goes on at the airport, and that Boykin had even agreed with him years ago that the fees at the airport should be raised.

According to the campaign contribution database maintained by the Virginia Public Access Project and reports filed with the county election office, since 2014 three of the eight members of the Airport Commission have made political contributions of more than $100. Boykin, Vice Chairman Tom Toth and Thomas Dunlap, combined, made donations totaling just over $3,000 during the past four years. Burk, Dunn, Marty Martinez, Suzanne Fox, and Ken Reid were recipients. Some contributions were for non-Town Council races, including bids for Board of Supervisors seats. For campaign contribution of $100 or less, the donors are not required to be disclosed.

On Thursday, Dunn said he was not backing down from his comments.

“I still stand by everything I said,” he said.

Dunn’s comments Tuesday night immediately drew a sharp response from his council counterparts.

“I think it is totally unfair on your part that you should suggest that any member of the council is doing anything other than looking at the best actions for taxpayers,” Burk said. “It’s a real shame you were going to call people corrupt.”

“I just find it very sad that because somebody doesn’t get what they want they have to result to that kind of insulting,” Councilman Marty Martinez said.

The vote to modify the request to the county passed, with only Dunn dissenting. Now, the original letter will be tweaked to request funding for only the trail and road widening projects.

Reached Thursday, Boykin explained the commission’s initial concerns over seeking county airport funding.

“We remember the difficulties we had coordinating with the county in 2005 and 2007 regarding taxation issues at the airport, as well as zoning and land use disagreements that took years to resolve.  Several members of the Airport Commission felt that the town would be better served if we ironed out details on taxation, revenue streams, and town-county coordination before the town went and asked for county funding,” Boykin said.

Boykin also said he took umbrage with many of Dunn’s statements Tuesday.

“Mr. Dunn’s charges regarding the airport were factually inaccurate and completely inappropriate, in my opinion, especially in the context that he had just finished accusing the Town Council of corruption,” he said. “However, my colleagues on the commission have not yet had a chance to weigh in on this subject, so I’ll withhold any further comment until the next meeting, where hopefully Councilmember Dunn will attend and help us clear up the situation he created.”

krodriguez@loudounnow.com

9 thoughts on “Leesburg Council Grounds Request for Airport Funding Help

  • 2017-10-26 at 12:29 pm
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    The same old Tom Dunn. Tom Dunn has a long history of making these absurd claims, and in the process exposing both his lack of leadership (he made a motion about the airport that the Airport Commission had not be consulted about – and leading to this situation) and he apparently forget all the campaign contributions he had gotten since 2014, along with his good friend, Ken Reid. How do we know that Tom Dunn had not, over the years he has been on the town council, been swayed in his votes based on campaign contributions. Clearly, for years, airport commissioners have given to Tom Dunn on a regular basis, so they clearly were happy with how he had voted. So, why the posturing now? Maybe Tom Dunn found a lack of support from his past contributors, and was lashing out. Sure looks that way.

  • 2017-10-26 at 3:16 pm
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    It sure looks like influence peddling to me! How many other town commissions are comprised of people who have a financial vested stake in something they regulate? Not many, except a few members of the economic development, planning and architecture commissions may have certainly used their positions to advance certain interests — but they would have to disclose that and maybe recuse themselves. But how much do they give in contributions to councilmembers like wealthy owners of airplanes? it seems to me that with Leesburg Airport, a number of these Airport Committee members own planes and have hangars they own at the airport, and yet they shower councilmembers with contributions to keep them off their backs? Might be a lot of influence peddling with county commissions, too. It is probably something this newspaper could look into.

  • 2017-10-26 at 4:52 pm
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    Kristen/Lawgh
    again truth escapes you. Dunn was only member of Council to disclose donations and still have a willingness to oppose the commission’s (or Boykin only it is hard to tell) request to not talk town money. Why in the world would anyone turn down money coming from the County??? Looks like Dunn said this was not corruption; but there must be something going here that isn’t right. One think is for sure Burk gets her marching orders from Boykin. Maybe Dunn was right that it is not corruption but it is improper. Oh and Laughing Kristen, look at Dunn’s finance reports on the Loudoun election board website. He gets very few donations and he votes NO on everything. I noticed Kristen you get some nice donations also.

  • 2017-10-27 at 11:42 am
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    I see GoodOleLoudoun continues his amusing claims. I guess he did not take the time to even read the article. Tom Dunn did not “disclose” anything. He got found out when the reporter went to look at past campaign contribution forms. Only then was Tom Dunn outed. So, since Tom Dunn clearly lives in a world where campaign contributions equals corruption, and he has taken many campaign contributions, even from airport commissioners, he should be bound by his own test. That he is corrupt for having voted, time and again, on the airport, after having taken money from airport commissioners. Nor has Tom Dunn voted no on everything. Clearly, based upon his own test, Tom Dunn has always voted the way airport commissioners wanted him to vote. Until now. Why not now? Because the rest of council understood finally just how bad Tom Dunn’s ill thought out idea was, and it was reversed. And like a big baby who was told he did something stupid, Tom Dunn cted out, struck out and attacked, in a baseless manner – something Tom Dunn does all the time.

  • 2017-10-27 at 2:23 pm
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    Lawgh,

    Real question — Who’s in charge here: The airport commission, or the Leesburg Town Council?

  • 2017-10-27 at 5:55 pm
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    Chris
    It is clear Boykin tells Burk Marteniz Fox and Campbell, oh and dearly departing one how to vote. Also note what Lying Lawgh Marty/Burk/Kristen said: Dunn’s “ill thought out idea was” to respond to counties request for funds. It is bad idea to these liberal influence peddlers who want control more then they want to help Leeburg Tax payers.

    Lying Lawgh Marty
    I am reading the same article: “Dunn accused other council members of being swayed on the issue because members of the Airport Commission had made contributions to their campaigns. Dunn said that he, too, had received such contributions, but that they did not cloud his judgment.”
    Also on the town website webcast http://leesburgva.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=1147 at 2 hours and 12 to 13 minutes Dunn disclosed donations and later when Mayor “Get some Sun” Burk lied about claims of corruption Dunn asked rest of Council to disclose at which time Burk shut down discussion.

    You are as much a bumbling and stumbling writer as you are a speaker at Council meetings.
    You say Dunn is as corrupt as the rest of them but the rest are not corrupt. You have no facts on Dunn’s airport record. And Dunn disclosed donations and voted against the most stupid action of turning down a funding request. All this because the power hungry Boykin told Burk and Marteniz and Fox and Campbell and the departing one to vote down what was the best move this Council could have made. Leesburg think about what you personally get from the airport and ask why are you spending any tax dollars on it. This is a lot of rich plane owners seeking control at tax payer expense.

  • 2017-10-27 at 9:44 pm
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    GoodOleLoudoun – I appreciate you beating me to the punch! I was in the midst of drafting a similar comment earlier, but needed to attend a function for my child. I know some of the players who comment, but appreciate the heads-up as I’ve assumed our own politicians were commenting. At least Ron Campbell and Ken Reid will comment with their own usernames. Gwen Pangle hides behind Redwood. I haven’t always agreed with the politics of certain members, their actions, etc., but when it comes to outright lying, cheating, corruption, etc., which I know 100% firsthand exists at the very top within out Town government, I pray the Federal Government comes back into our Town. The special relationships that exist between some of the Town Council Members, Various Government Appointees, Certain Real Estate Owners/Brokers and/or their Agents, Restaurant Owners, Multiple Building Owners, Certain Government Employees, etc.

  • 2017-10-28 at 11:47 am
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    Love the continuing comments from Leesburgsfinest(Not!) and GoodOle(Bad!) about both Ken Reid and Tom Dunn, two of the worst council members Leesburg has ever had. You can play for hours Tom Dunn’s greats hits of bizarre statements over the years. As for Ken Reid, name one initiative he came up with in the town. Add to the mix of Ken Reid, is the Silver Line Metro vote where he was the swing vote, that left us with a fiscal nightmare. And of course, the conspiratorial back and forth with GoodOle(Bad) and Leesburgsfinest(Not) leads one to believe that they do not know the telephone number of any police or law enforcement agency. After all, since the two seem to know so much about everyone, where is the claim that they have “made the call.” Of course, maybe they are smart enough to know it is a crime to make a false reporting to a law enforcement officer.

  • 2017-10-29 at 11:26 am
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    Lawgh/Marty/Kristen/Burk because you all speak with one liberal voice.
    We all know you and frankly every politician gets donations and then plays favorites with those donors. But to reverse asking the County for funds because one or two commissioners what to being up none funding related issues from 10 to 12 or more years ago; resulting in the Leesburg Tax payer ensuring Mr Boykin stays in control is WRONG. Where does he get off saying Council should wait for the commission to weigh in on a Council position, demand where the Council seeks funding, and even tells Councilman Dunn to show up the Commission meeting to explain himself. Sounds like Control Freak Boykin needs to be removed form this commission along with whoever appointed him.

    This is the result of long term democrat leadership in Leesburg and else where. Anything the government (commission) does is right and citizens can only hope they are on the right side of the goodies being handed out. In this case all of Leesburg loses except for a few rich plane owners at the airport.

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