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11/30/05         PERHAPS SHE'LL RUN FOR OFFICE...

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This letter was sent to the Mechanicsville Local and was published in that paper November 30,2005.  It can be found on page 7.  Also the newspaper omitted the word "District" under author's name at the end.



Thanks for your front page story about my crusade and efforts to keep citizens' deeds, mortgages, final divorce decrees, wills, judgments/liens, etc. from being available via the internet.  I know of many Hanoverians who have Social Security numbers on documents recorded in the Hanover Circuit Court Clerk's office and since the Clerk has no statutory authority to remove those numbers, then they will be available to "anyone" who signs up for access... and "anyone" can since they are public records.  

Since August of 2002, I have tried to raise awareness about this issue but not one of the three legislators representing Hanover have put in a bill to repeal internet access (COV 17.1-225) to those records. Our own Clerk of Circuit Court, Frank Hargrove, Jr.(son of Delegate Hargrove), has continued to be a member of one of the very groups pushing for internet access which has helped get us into this mess.  That group is the "Clerks' Association" but I know from talking to various Court Clerks across VA that they think this is a bad idea.  Didn't we all notice how in that story last week that a couple of Clerks who commented didn't let the Mechanicsville Local use their names?  If what they're doing is so right, then they should come out of the shadows and be recognized and have their names publicized.
Yes, we will have to sign up for access but that won't protect those records.  One person could act as a the "front" person and then let all their buddies use their computer to find those SSNs and other personal information 24/7 which in Fairfax only cost $25 for one month.  Yes, people can also read those records if they drive to the courthouse, but most people will not take time off from work to drive there to snoop, etc. 
But what gets me is that we elected these people to protect us, but yet they haven't.  We need to repeal the law that was made by our legislators which allow these records to be available on the internet in the first place.   If Del. McDougle won't pledge to put in a bill to stop this - when he's elected our next Senator - and get COV 17.1-225 repealed, then maybe I should run for Sen. Bill Bolling's Senate seat.  It would be my FIRST order of business to protect the citizens instead of the special interest groups that want your records available on a home computer...
Betty "BJ" Ostergren
Ashland District


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