Outspoken BVU board member, whistleblower voted out

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The outspoken board member who questioned the lack of oversight at Bristol Virginia Utilities and reported thousands of dollars in questionable spending to authorities is no longer on the BVU board.

The Bristol, Virginia City Council unanimously decided Wednesday to appoint someone else to replace Doug Fleenor on the BVU board after his term expired on June 30th.

“Doesn’t it look bad not to reappoint the guy that blew the whistle on this in the first place?” we asked new Bristol Mayor Archie Hubbard after the meeting.

“I think it does, but that wasn’t the will of the council,” Mayor Hubbard said.

The council came to its decision after an executive session behind closed doors. Councilman Guy Odom made the motion to appoint businessman Frank Goodpasture to the post.

BVU

“I didn’t vote for (Doug) in the first place and I wasn’t going to vote for him again,” Odom said. “It has nothing to do with personality. You put people on the board who you feel are the best qualified to take that board into the future for the city. We’re unanimous on that and I think that going forward it’s going to best for BVU.”

Fleenor is the whistleblower who alerted police back in 2013 and sparked a still pending investigation by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and an ongoing federal investigation into corruption at BVU.

During Fleenor’s five years on the BVU board, his aggressive, abrasive style made him a friend of the ratepayer, but a foe of others. By alerting police about past issues at the public utility, he indirectly helped change the utility’s leadership and helped return hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“Bottom line, these changes wouldn’t have been made, this money wouldn’t have come back (without my involvement),” Fleenor said following Wednesday’s vote. “I don’t think I could do another five years and make the contribution in that fact alone that I’ve made in these past five years.”

Fleenor first hinted a few weeks ago that he thought there’d be a chance he would not be reappointed.

“If you can’t be voted up or down, based on what you’ve accomplished, what you’ve done, what you stand for, then that’s ridiculous,” Fleenor said.

A federal judge recently said there was an epidemic of corruption at BVU. Councilman Bill Hartley argues a new person with new ideas on the BVU board is a good thing.

“I appreciate Doug’s service and what he’s done, but I think to get beyond this, some time you just need to put new faces on the board and not have the same people on there,” Hartley said.

Councilwoman Catherine Brillhart said she went with the consensus of the board.

“It was a decision that our council made,” Brillhart said. “I don’t think it sends the wrong message. We appreciate his time serving on the board.”

Although Fleenor wanted to be reappointed, he says Goodpasture is a good choice.Copyright WJHL 2015. All rights reserved.

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