Last year in this space we inaugurated the Dano Awards for Glaring Stupidity.
They’re named after yours truly, who is regularly reminded by many about all the dumb things he says and does.
Fortunately, I’m not the only one. There’s plenty of praise (or its opposite) to pass around, and the categories and subcategories are numerous.
The 2010 Dano for Elected Official Who Claimed Credit for Something He Opposed goes to none other than Roanoke Mayor David Bowers.
He earned it with a bravura performance celebrating the opening of the new William Fleming High School Stadium in August.
Bowers mugged for the cameras and tossed a small rubber football around the field. It was almost as if he’d forgotten that he vehemently fought against building that stadium (and the one at Patrick Henry), starting all the way back in 2006.
But Bowers isn’t the only member of Roanoke City Council who deserves an award.
Roanoke Vice Mayor David Trinkle gets the Dano for Taxpayer of the Year (subcategory: late).
Around the same time the good doctor and restaurateur was voting to increase meals taxes at restaurants in the city, he was months tardy in paying levies he’d collected at his two fine establishments. He ended up paying the city a penalty on the roughly $50,000 in late taxes.
A trio of Roanoke County supervisors – Charlotte Moore, Butch Church and Ed Elswick – take the Dano in a new category, Giving Away the Store (subcategory: Slate Hill/South Peak).
That commercial/residential megaproject’s owner, Jim Smith, persuaded the three supervisors to essentially rebate 70 percent of real estate taxes on Slate Hill for an unheard of 20 years. Every other developer in the Roanoke County will now want a sip at that trough.
Lance Terpenny, the former veteran town manager of Christiansburg, wins the Dano Award for Best Feathered Nest for a Resigning Public Official (subcategory: furloughs).
After Terpenny in July lost a bid by a lame-duck town council for a three-year employment contract, he agreed to resign. In return, town council agreed to pay $141,277 (a year’s salary, plus accrued leave) to ease his transition into future employment.
By that point, Terpenny already had accepted a new $50,000 gig as town manager of Floyd, which is a half-square-mile with a population of 438. (He later cut his pay to $40,000).
Later, a surprised town council in September suddenly found its budget short by the completely coincidental amount of $141,000. To make that up, each employee will be required to take three unpaid days off.
The Dano Award for Bureaucratic Ingenuity (subcategory: Not) belongs to the nameless federal official who paid $7,246 to a consultant for advice on what to do with a statue outside the Poff Federal Building during its upcoming (and screwy) $51 million renovation job.
The advice? “Move it.” Any monkey could have told them that in exchange for a banana.
The Dano for Former Roanoke Valley Businessman of Year goes to Ronnie Bennett, owner of the raided-by-the-cops and now-closed Bennett’s Internet gambling parlor on Brambleton Avenue.
To anyone who would listen, he proclaimed his business was modeled after McDonalds and its Monopoly sweepstakes.
Except he sold no burgers, fries, drinks or any other food in his scummy parlor. The only thing he sold was “Internet time” to dupes trying to win money playing slot-machine-type games on his computers.
Franklin County Sheriff Ewell Hunt missed receiving a Dano in 2009 – they’d already been handed out by the time the news broke about how he allowed his pistol-slinging teenage daughter (a part-time sheriff’s employee) to boss around full-time, sworn personnel in the department.
So this year, we sympathetically award Hunt the Dano for Elected Official with Parenting Issues (subcategory: enfant terrible).
Congressman-elect Morgan Griffith gets the 2010 Dano in the category of Canniest Political Map Reader (subcategory: immune to hypocrisy).
In the fall of 2009, while seeking re-election to his state House of Delegates seat, Griffith criticized Democratic challenger Carter Turner as a newcomer who had lived in the 8th legislative district for a mere two years.
Less than six months later, the Salem Republican announced a run in the 9th Congressional District, in which he did not live and could not vote. Soon, he’ll be representing it in Congress.
Democrat Crystal Ball, the most interestingly named Virginia congressional candidate in November’s elections, gets the Dano in the new category, There is Such a Thing as Bad Publicity (subcategory: risqué photos).
Photos of her published on the Internet during her campaign for the 1st Congressional District aren’t fit to print, or even describe, in a family newspaper.
But suffice it to say they involve a sex toy, and a long-ago party, a camera and the kind of exposure no candidate for public office wishes for in the middle of a campaign. She lost.
We had a few nominees in 2010 for Virginia Concealed Handgun Permit Holder of the Year.
But the hapless winner is Wayne Latham of Forest, for an event that occurred weeks after it became legal for permit holders to carry a concealed handgun into a bar, provided they don’t drink.
In September, Latham was in a Lynchburg restaurant (which was posted “No Firearms”) when he accidentally shot himself in the leg while fumbling in his pocket for money — to pay for his beer.
A judge convicted him of reckless handling of a firearm and fined him $500. Latham also lost his carry permit for a year, and his pistol permanently. No tragedy there.
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is our only double award winner this year.
He gets the Dano for Most Litigious Elected Official for his multiple lawsuits against the federal government, plus his fraud investigation of a former UVa climate scientist who concluded that global temperatures have risen steeply in the past century.
Cuccinelli also wins a Dano in the category of Most Ardent Defender of a Fraudster.
No, he wasn’t sticking up for the climate scientist. Instead, it was one of Cuccinelli’s own campaign contributors, who gave $55,500 to the attorney general-to-be’s campaign.
The mysterious man founded the fake U.S. Navy Veterans Association, and called himself Bobby Thompson, but he’s been charged in Ohio with stealing that identity.
Long after most Virginia pols ran away from smaller checks from “Thompson,” Cuccinelli was hanging onto his and sticking up for the scam artist who wrote them.
Around the time the IRS raids began, it dawned on Cuccinelli that he should give the phony Thompson’s real money away.
Which brings us to the Dano of Year, for the most glaringly stupid act of 2010.
There’s really no competition. It belongs to Gov. Bob McDonnell and the entire Virginia General Assembly for doing the bidding of “Thompson” without batting an eyelash.
In 2009, Virginia regulators shut down fundraising in the commonwealth by the U.S. Navy Vets because it was an unregistered charity.
So “Thompson” passed around $67,500 in donations to key state lawmakers (including Cuccinelli).
Then this year he hired a lobbyist who persuaded Sen. Patsy Ticer, D-Alexandria, to introduce a bill exempting veterans organizations — such as the U.S. Navy Veterans — from registering to raise money here.
Not a single member of the Virginia Senate or House of Delegates voted against that bill.
The governor signed it. It became law July 1, and it’s still on the books. Meanwhile, “Thompson” is still on the lam.
To recap: A campaign donor/con artist/alleged identity thief persuaded an entire government to enact a law that would allow his phony charity to resume defrauding Virginia’s citizens.
And the government happily obliged.
Now that’s stupid.
Only in Virginia!