Loudoun County supervisors’ staff aides may soon have a clear protocol to act if they have workplace complaints, but they still won’t be covered by the basic county grievance policy.
The Loudoun Board of Supervisors will discuss Dec. 5 a new proposal coming out of the board’s finance and government operations committee pertaining to the policies dealing with board aides and their employment.
This comes amidst the much-publicized controversy surrounding Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling). Earlier this year, Delgaudio fired an aide after she approached county officials with allegations that Delgaudio directed her to set up political appointments while being paid by the county and using county resources.
The new proposed policy dictates that board aides may not, under any circumstance, use county resources – equipment, paid time, office space – to conduct political activities, including fundraising and campaigning.
Additionally, board aides are not to run any errands or do personal work for their individual supervisors outside their county-related responsibilities.
Supervisor Ralph Buona (R-Ashburn), chairman of the finance and government operations committee, said the recent review is essentially the first time board aide policies have been reviewed and revised, something that was past due.
“This provides for clear recourse if there’s a problem,” Buona said Dec. 3.
Under the proposed policy, aides with work-related complaints are to take their concerns to County Administrator Tim Hemstreet, who will take the issue to either the board’s chair or vice chair. Or, if the chair or vice chair are included within the complaint, the matter will be taken to the finance committee chair.
Buona said he’s pleased with his committee’s proposal, which he essentially wrote himself, he said.
“It’s definitely an improvement from what was in place before,” Buona said. “This was a very hard thing to put together.”
Board aides aren’t eligible for the same protections as other county employees under the county grievance policy, given the aides are by nature political appointees of elected officials, Buona said, referencing the Fair Labor Standards Act and the federal Hatch Act.
According to Loudoun County staff, in accordance with the Civil Rights Act, “the term ‘employee’ means an individual employed by an employer, except that the term ‘employee’ shall not include any person elected to public office in any State or political subdivision of any State by the qualified voters thereof, or any person chosen by such officer to be on such officer’s personal staff …”
Delgaudio, who sits on the committee, called the proposal “unconstitutional.” He questioned why, under the First Amendment, board aides couldn’t work for him in his private day job in order to earn more money.
A key point of the new policy disallows any board aide to work for a supervisor’s private work, another point that seems to correspond with allegations against Delgaudio.
At least one of Delgaudio’s aides can be seen in a video on YouTube staged by the supervisor’s non-profit organization, Public Advocate of the United States, a Southern Poverty Law Center-designated anti-gay hate group.
If the full board approves the proposed measures Dec. 5, the policy will go into effect Jan. 1, 2013.
Commented Board Chairman Scott York (R-At Large), “Now we’ve made it very clear what can and can’t be done.”
“So, everyone beware—because we will be watching,” York said.
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