Leesburg Town Hall

Leesburg Town Hall

Something stinks in the Leesburg Town Council chambers. What else is new?

A slim majority of council is reportedly ready to oust veteran Town Attorney Barbara Notar for a host of reasons, most of them self-serving and seemingly none related to her legitimate job performance.

Instead, it appears, the four council members want to hire a town attorney that will play foot soldier in whatever their next scheme may be. That should scare Leesburg residents who don't have the luxury of listening in on an ever-expanding number of discussions their elected officials opt to hold behind closed doors.

As of Friday, there was no official word on Notar's current and near-term employment status. Mayor Kelly Burk and Vice Mayor Marty Martinez couldn't be bothered to respond to an email seeking clarity on the issue.

Last week council directed Town Manager Kaj Dentler to proceed “discussion with the town attorney as discussed in closed session.” In previous years, council had announced that Notar would receive a contract extension.

We agree there are a few admissible situations that call for executive sessions. But we don't think allowing four council members to show a loyal and respected public servant the door is among them.

Town Councilman Neil Steinberg, a supporter of Notar's, says colleagues Suzanne Fox, Ron Campbell, Thomas Dunn and Josh Thiel have launched “a concerted strategy to assist a Loudoun County developer in his attempt to subvert the planning processes of both the Town of Leesburg and Loudoun County.”

In a letter to the editor, Steinberg claims the four “accuse Ms. Notar of 'being in over her head.' But three of the four, by denying a motion for a closed council session, refused to hear legal advice that would have been provided by expert outside counsel hired by … Ms. Notar.”

“The four now appear determined to remove Ms. Notar whose only offense has been to represent the town in the face of an onslaught of legal attacks by the developer,” Steinberg says.

These emerging Leesburg Town Council cliques would be cute if they weren't so intent on disrupting lives for their own self-interest. (As Steinberg writes, “It may be useful to recall that Mr. Campbell and Mr. Thiel were responsible for a failed 2018 effort (based on no evidence at all) to remove Leesburg Mayor Kelly Burk.”)

Councilwoman Fox, it must be noted, has received $23,000 in campaign donations from the developer in question, David Gregory, who is seeking town sewer service for a proposed brewery, winery and co-housing development west of the town limits. Fox has decried any suggestion that the campaign cash is influencing her views on the project and, by extension, the town attorney's employment.

What the future holds for Notar remains murky, though the picture should come into clearer focus within a week or two.

But what the future holds in the way of good governance and transparency from Leesburg Town Council is still a forlorn fog.

(5) comments

Charles Houston

Suzanne Fox should recuse herself from this and any other issue involving David Gregory. Period. Paragraph.

Nova703

I totally agree. She should recuse herself to the tune of $23,000.00

Nova703

First and foremost, there is something definitely fishy going on with this entire fiasco that encompasses the status of the town attorney. How embarrassing, for the Town of Leesburg officials to conduct business this way. I realize that under the operating agreement the town attorney works for the pleasure of the council, however the attorney works very closely with the town manager's office. It amazes me that the town manager has not engaged in the fight or attempted to take up for the town attorney or is it just simply a case of he will do whatever the council wants instead of providing any type of leadership or guidance to them. One of the unfortunate situations is there are numerous council members who have agendas unfortunately I'm not even sure if they know what their agenda is during this fiasco. One of the continuous and ongoing problems is with young Council-member Josh Thiel needs to find someone who he can hitch his wagon to because so far it doesn't appear that he's found that person yet and he keeps getting traveling down a bad path. And as for Council-member Suzanne Fox all I can say on this one is $23,000.00 from a developer you don't need to be a genius to figure out what was going on there regardless of what public campaign she wants to try to put out. And as for council member Campbell all he does is talk in circles and never accomplishes anything but creating chaos. This is in regard to my earlier reference about Council-member Thiel needs to find out who he needs to hitch his wagon to. So I'll end with this, what does a donation of $23,000 get you from a developer. Is it bad optics, access to a vote or does it bog down your judgment. Who knows?

Tony Fasolo

I applaud the LTM for bringing some light and not heat to this discussion. As I understand it the Town Attorney has been doing a good job and has received good ratings from the town manager. She was up for extension of her contract and a discussion on how much of a raise should she get. Three members of the council including the mayor agreed on an extention with a raise but four others did not. Why? No reason has been given in public but Neil Steinberg noted that it may have to do with the fact that the town attorney did not give a developer what he wanted and said developer has donated $23,000 to Suzanne Fox, on of the four who did not want the attorney's contract extended. I agree with the LTM. This is indeed "Fishy". The fact that there have been two closed door sessions and this matter is still not resolved is troublesome. Some say this is a personnel matter but there is also the matter of Ethics here. RECOMMENATION, Suzanne Fox should withdraw her denial and recuse herself from any further discussions. Then each other member of council state to the Town Human Resource Director just why they think the town attorney should be retained and let the Town Manager and HR make the call.

Chris McHale

Wow, first LTM posted the letter, then wrote an article as if the letter was 100% accurate and now an editorial as if the 100% accurate. Why can't LTM simply remain neutral and deliver the local news.

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