Culture of Corruption Continues – PWC Fills High-Level Position Without A Competitive Search

The following is a guest post from a long-time VV reader, The (Fringe) Observer:

When Prince William County Gainesville Dist. Supervisor Pete Candland raised the issue of ghost employees to pad the budget, PWC Chairman Corey Stewart and County Exec. Melissa Peacor both claimed among other things that all vacancies are publicly advertised and filled competitively. Stewart said that at least on one occasion during a Board meeting.

At the same time Stewart and Peacor were making this claim, they quietly promoted Ray Utz to Assistant Planning Director. As Long-Range Planning Chief, Utz was already being paid in excess of $100,000 per year and was one of the County’s highest-paid employees. They did not advertise the Assistant Planning Director position. Senior level, high-paying planning jobs like this one are highly sought after. Jurisdictions normally not only advertise locally for candidates, but also in the job vacancy listings with the professional associations, and their journals and websites. Had PWC followed that normal procedure, we would have had a boatload of good candidates from which to choose. Finding someone far superior to Utz would have been a cinch.

Stewart and Peacor did this despite Utz’s well-documented incidences of gender harassment and mismanagement. The new Planning Director, Chris Price, has not been as much of a rubber stamp for the developers as was his predecessor. Utz has always done as he was told, and was protected despite his behavior because he has always carried out instructions from Stewart and Peacor.

My guess is that Chris will be pushed out at some point and Utz installed as Planning Director as a payoff to the developers who fund Stewart, Nohe and other Board members. The “national search” for a County Executive a few years ago was nothing more than a figleaf designed to provide cover for Stewart to hire Peacor, which he had already decided to do prior to the search. In the recent case of Utz being promoted, they must have figured that no one would be watching and that they could get away without even the pretense of a competitive process to fill the job.

Score one more for corruption at McCoart and developer interests, and one more loss for taxpayers and honest citizens.