C’Ville Clerk Caught in a Lie

Dave Norris' Swearing InPrivacy advocate B.J. Ostergren, who keeps a close eye on clerks of court throughout the state, has caught Charlottesville Clerk of Court Paul Garrett in what might most nicely be described as a lie, but I suspect it’s something closer to fraud. As Liesel Nowak reports in today’s Progress, Garrett had certified to the state on three occasions that he’d made land records available online when, in fact, he’d done no such thing. He’d also claimed that his office now had a website when, in fact, the domain charlottesvillevaccoc.org has been registered, but doesn’t even point to a website. On the strength of those claims, the State Compensation Board had provided Garrett with $21,600 and set aside another $30,860 for the project, but they’ve now withdrawn that funding. A spokesman for the city says that, in fact, the city is in the midst of the bidding process, considering three vendors for the project.

Garrett is a well-known and well-liked local Democrat who was most recently reelected in 2003, securing the nomination over challenger Vanessa Hicks, who promised to get the court’s records available online if elected.

As stunning as it is that Garrett would tell such a bald-faced lie to the Compensation Board, it does not speak well of the Compensation Board that they would not so much as click on his website URL to check whether or not it actually exists, or check on his claim that his office was providing remote access to land records.

15 thoughts on “C’Ville Clerk Caught in a Lie”

  1. “Garrett is a well-known and well-liked local Democrat who was most recently reelected in 2003”

    If by well-liked you really mean despised than you are correct. He is the most hated man in the City among those who have to use the Clerks Office for anything. His John Bolton style of management keeps morale low and his clerks live in fear of him. In addition, he seems either incapable or unwilling to do his job. A high ranking city official once tried to probate his/her mother’s will using Paul, unfortunately, Paul made the process so difficult that the person had to go to the judge and get him to issue an order, forcing Paul to do his job.

    I am sure he did not lie because he has some pathological aversion to the truth. He lied because he is lazy and unwilling to change.

  2. Heh..why I am not really surprised…I tried to get some help regarding filing a bit of legal work, and was asked by Mr. Garrett to provide the sections of the statute which required them to do this. This was a bizarre experience…and it occured after multiple phone calls to the clerks office asking for guidance help, where the staff simply kept punting me to his voicemail. Sounds like it’s time for a change…

  3. Well-liked or not, falsely certifying to the state calls for investigation, and, if found guilty, removal from office. I would like to see our local democratic leadership take a stand on this: show us you mean business when it comes to corruption, incompetence, wastefulness, and dishonesty. Give us something to believe in.

  4. So is Compensation Board investigating the fraud? I was shocked at the response from the Comp Board as mentioned in the paper. Only to hold back the funding until the records are placed online? A criminal investigation should be under way in my opinion.

  5. Sorry BrianD, your local democratic leadership has demonstrated its unwillingnes to deal with corruption, incompetence, wastefulness, and dishonesty or flagrant violations of the law by city officials. Arrogance, incompetence and lack of concern for legal prodedure are business as usual in the Department of Neighborhood development Services. It has been that way for years and nothing has been done to change that. Is it any surprise that the same problem exists in other parts of our city government?

    The City Manager himself nearly went ballistic in an email to the Mayor and Vice-Mayor and referred to my insistence on exercising my right to stand on my own property and photograph a City crew at work as “outrageous behavior.” It would have been appropriate for either of them to respond and suggest that he was out of line, but that never happened as far as I can tell. With that sort of “management” and attitude about citizens, it seems the rot starts at the top and works its way down.

  6. Oh, I guess a little clarification is in order just for the sake of accuracy. The “outrageous behavior” that provoke an email from the CIty Manager also included insisting that a City employee comply with a Virginia Freedom of Information Act request.

  7. I say put the onus to deal with this incompetent bureaucrat where it belongs; with the City’s Dir. of Human Resources Galloway Beck. Why isn’t he doing his job?

  8. If Garrett had acted like he has at any other job, he would have been fired long ago.
    Chances are nothing will happen, he will stay on.
    I love totally lost all respect for our city’s government.What some others have said earlier on this post is absolutely correct. We are governed by people who have forgotten what the words “public servant” are about. They are nothing but a bunch of arrogant,power-hungry bureaucrats, picking our pockets and ordering us around with their rules and ordinances.
    Time to get out the brooms,voters.

  9. So, if Garrett is that hated, should I run against him in the upcoming election? Would Charlottesville elect a long-time Republican over a Democratic incumbent? The salary is great…spread over an 8-year term, it’s like winning the lottery! I have the e-Experience for sure, and the political background. I have always been a customer-first businessman. I’m a friendly people-pleaser, and even my political adversaries like me, er, don’t you Waldo? Toscano? Anyone?


    I hearby nominate Rick Sincere (R) for Charlottesville Clerk of Courts.

  10. There are plenty of Republicans in town that I’d support for elected offices, especially for ones that really shouldn’t be elected offices in the first place, like Clerk of Court and Sheriff. (And possibly Commonwealth’s Attorney.) You and Rick are both people whose names come to mind readily…though I’m not sure that either of you are cut out for sheriff. ;)

  11. I would be suprised if Garret gets the nomination for another run, if he makes it that long. I will say Democrats in the city aren’t dumb enough to put him back up. Fraud is a pretty big hurdle.

    But if Garret decides to run as an independent then by all means Randolph run. In a three way race a republican would have a real chance.

  12. Paul Garrett is an anachronism like Shelby Marshall – they run their offices like fiefdoms – try to do work in the county clerk’s office among the tupperware, scented candles, avon products, tv’s that stay on all day – I kid you not! Once Judge Jay Swett tried to get Garrett to act professionally and Garrett told the Judge that he (Garrett) did not work for or answer to the Judge -what an idiot. At least Shelby put the records on line as she certified. Get rid of Garrett!!!! He is stupid and unlikely to do anything but get worse.

  13. Can we please hear from someone in the Democratic Party who supports Mr. Garrett? (Without the support of leading Democrats he wouldn’t still be in this job, right?)

  14. The Democratic party heads helped him get nominated and elected. They have no power over him now, only if or when he seeks re-election as a Democrat. So if you hate him that much, go for a recall vote. Or ask the Commonwealth’s Attorney to bring charges if you think he’s done something illegal. Otherwise, wait until his term is finished and remove him through the electoral process.

    Maybe someone close to Paul can coach and counsel him and help him change into a better person, a more honest and nicer person. And a better public servant to us all. How about an intervention by his friends and supporters? That’s probably better than the rancor of a recall vote.

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