Prince George sends letter to president after controversy

Controversy over President Barack Obama's visit to Prince George last week — he was standing in the county for his speech, but most of the spotlight fell about three miles away.

It's those three miles that have county leaders filing a complaint to the White House.

The president came to town to talk jobs and the economy, but during his roughly 25 minutes he repeatedly said something that ruffled a few feathers.

During his speech he mentioned the city of Petersburg at least five times.

Problem is, the president was *not* in Petersburg... but neighboring Prince George County, home of the Rolls Royce plant where the president chose to deliver his speech.

The Rolls Royce plant sits on a thousand acres in Prince George — the northwest part of the county — about three miles away from Petersburg.

The vice chair on the Board of Supervisors said he's received dozens of phone calls from residents, asking why Prince George was not mentioned *once* by the president.

"Somebody messed up," said Vice Chair Jerry Skalsky. "We didn't get any recognition."

Several county leaders attended the presidential event — none were recognized. But the mayor of Petersburg got a shout-out.

So did a Petersburg high school student.

County leaders say they'd like to know the reason behind the blunder.

"I'm not blaming the president, because I don't think he knew, but whoever set this up overlooked this is Prince George, not Petersburg," said Skalsky.

A county board member has sent an email to a spokesperson for the president, voicing the county's concerns.

The county hopes to hear back from someone on behalf of the president who can explain what went wrong.

Below is the email that was sent to a spokesperson for President Obama: 

Ms. Irene Hsu,

Good Monday afternoon.

I want to first Thank you on my behalf for having me on the invitation list.

This was a time in Prince George County, Va. that most will probably never get another opportunity to share.

As far as we know, the last time a sitting President made an official visit to Prince George County, Virginia was 1909 – President William Howard Taft.

With that being said, I am One of Five elected representatives to serve on the Board of Supervisors for Prince George County starting my second 4 year term as of January 1, 2012.

On behalf of the citizens of this great County in which I serve, many were very appreciative of being present during this visit.

However, I would be letting down those who helped for over 7 days prepare for President Obama's visit if I did not reach out to you just to let you know how  grateful we are for the efforts to all who played a huge part in making his visit successful.

I am trying my best to answer some questions from the Citizens of Prince George County along with staff, such as our County Administration, Law Enforcement, Volunteers and small businesses who played a big part in preparing for  President Obama's visit.

The number 1 question that does not seem to go away is, who is primarily responsible for letting the President know which City/ County/ State/ he is visiting and the list of those that will be recognized during his visit?

Prince George County citizens, tax payers, Boards & Commissions and the Commonwealth of Va.,  helped make it possible for  Rolls-Royce to call Prince George County it's Home.  By giving Rolls Royce over 1,000 acres of land, along with several incentives that will take too long to list, we are very proud to have them in our County. The citizens did not understand why the President chose to state that he was glad to be in Petersburg Va., he also welcomed the Mayor of Petersburg Va., as well as quoted a statement from the Valedictorian of Petersburg High School from 2011. Not once did he mention Prince George County which played a huge part in producing the site of this Manufacturing Facility at Cross Pointe.

I and others realize that the President has so much on his plate every minute of every day. To make a comment and give recognition at least 6 different times to those who live in a neighboring City and failed to mention the County of Prince George and its staff in which  his speech took place, was a little bit embarrassing for the President, as well as, our citizens.

I cannot imagine how you and the others in your office gets through a day of work and I am sure the stress level is extremely difficult. I only have to say Thank You for what you do every day.  I know that your department tries to do their best with the information that is given to you in a short time frame. What may be considered to be a little error goes along way with people especially during an election year.

There were several people that left the President's visit very thrilled to be recognized. Unfortunately, those people were from the City of Petersburg and not Prince George County where the venue took place and the Home for the Rolls Royce Manufacturing facility.

I will try to explain the best way I know how. I know it was not the error of the President because he only read what was given to him.

I guess I am hoping that if you had a second, could you help me explain to my citizens what may have went wrong and why Prince George County was not recognized for everything they have done.

I am sure this is not the first time this has happened but it would be great if it was the last time. The President deserves to have the correct information as he travels across the United States whether he chooses to speak about the economy, creating jobs or simply campaigning for re-election.

Again, I told my citizens that I would email you and Thank You first and foremost and maybe get a response to how Prince George County was not recognized. I will let them know in our next Board Meeting scheduled for March 13, 2012 at 7 p.m. that I did pass on their concerns.

I respect what you do, I appreciate that you do it and I hope there are more like you willing to step up to serve in such a stressful and important job.

Have a great week.

Alan Carmichael
Prince George County
Board of Supervisor's
District 1

12461 Foxwood Drive
Disputanta, Va. 23842