Thursday, May 29, 2008

Clearing the air in Orange

Diana Wheeler, the Commonwealth's Attorney here in Orange County, Virginia, has finally dropped the other shoe. Long-time readers of this blog may recall the scandal surrounding two spurious websites that appeared during our recent board of supervisors elections. This spurred an investigation, the results of which were just announced.

The sites' URLs seemed to be for two candidates, Thomas Graves and Teel Goodwin ( was one example). When you went to the sites, however, you quickly discovered that they were anything but. The single-page sites were simply a list of charges against the candidates, and as I've previously discussed in detail, very poorly done.

As expected, although the sites were anonymous, the state police were able to determine who put up the sites and paid for them (with a credit card, no doubt). In my opinion, the construction of the sites showed the hand of someone only minimally conversant with the concepts of the Internet, and the conclusion of the investigation does nothing to change my opinion. The average person simply can't be anonymous online -- particularly if they're paying for services. And only those who are ignorant about web technology think otherwise.

Now things get sticky. Because the person who admitted to setting up and paying for the sites is Marcia Landau, head of the Orange County Taxpayers Alliance, an anti-growth PAC. She's also the wife of Zach Burkett, who won his seat against Thomas Graves (one of the subjects of the website).

Did Burkett have knowledge of his wife's activities? Does this taint his win? How likely is it now that Burkett and Goodwin can work together on issues for the common good of the county? And that's just for starters.

In an early post on these sites
, I said it was a stupid thing to do, and would probably backfire on the posters. It has, and now we all have to deal with the collateral damage.

Great play, Shakespeare.

- Ralph

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