Loudoun Board Drops Suit against Voters

Article excerpt

LEESBURG, Va. - After a 30-minute debate yesterday, the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors voted 5 to 4 to scrap a lawsuit it filed against its own constituents over a county administrative building that voters had rejected at the polls.

Some supervisors offered apologies to taxpayers for suing them, while others argued the board should stick to its guns, even if it means ruining their chances for re-election.

"People have said to me `If you do not drop this lawsuit, then you won't be re-elected,' said board chairman Dale Polen Myers, Republican, who voted to keep the suit alive. "Well you know what? To damn with it."

Her voice shook as she spoke.

Supervisor Steven D. Whitener, Sugarland Run Republican, who spearheaded the move to drop the suit, said "The question is what is the valid role of government? And the answer is not to sue its own citizens."

As The Washington Times first reported, the trouble began more than a month ago, when supervisors got wind that a taxpayer group was about to sue to block the county's plan to buy the spacious five-story building it's been leasing as its new headquarters.

On July 29, supervisors filed a pre-emptive suit against all Loudoun taxpayers. Briefed by the county legal staff, they were confident that Circuit Judge Carleton Penn would rubber-stamp their purchase plan - even though voters in 1993 overwhelmingly rejected a $35 million bond referendum to build a new county building.

To the board's surprise, Judge Penn did not render a quick, favorable verdict. In an Aug. 20 hearing, he ruled that the state attorney general should represent the county's taxpayers. He scheduled a trial for Oct. 14.

Republican supervisors who voted with Mr. Whitener to scrap the suit were Lawrence S. Beerman II, Dulles District; Helen A. Marcum, Catoctin District; Scott K. York, Sterling District; and David G. McWatters, Broad Run District.

Both Mrs. Marcum and Mr. York offered apologies to taxpayers who were offended by the lawsuit.

The supervisors who voted to keep the suit alive were: Mrs. …