Hot Air, pollution and working backwards

If you have a piece of outdated bloated technology that is full of hot air, pollutes our environment and spends most of its time going in reverse . . .what do you do with it?    Name it after a politician of course.

The Virginia Railway Express (VRE) is naming several of their engines after politicians that have sat on the VRE Operations Board of Directors.

From PotomacLocal.com

All aboard the John Jenkins Express.

Jenkins, the longest currently serving Prince William County Board of Supervisors, is recognized for his participation on the Virginia Railway Express Operations Board. He and eight other VRE Board members who played key roles in the development of the commuter railroad since its founding in 1992 will have their names affixed to the front of VRE locomotives.

 Here’s a full list of names that will soon appear on commuter trains:
  • Edwin King – Prince William County (Original Member)
  • James Hugh Payne Sr. – City of Manassas (First Elected City of Manassas Member)
  • Bernard Cohen – VA House of Delegates (Original Member)
  • Bob Gibbons – Stafford County (First Elected Stafford Member)
  • Sally H. Cooper – VDOT (Original Member)
  • Sharon Bulova – Fairfax County (Original and Continuously Serving Member)
  • John Jenkins – Prince William County (Long Serving Member)
  • Hilda Barg – Prince William County (Long Serving Member)
  • Elaine McConnell – Fairfax County (Long Serving Member – previously recognized)

The operations board approved adding the names to the locomotives at their monthly meeting this morning.

“Naming locomotives to honor those who helped establish or ensure the success of VRE is a small token of the appreciation we have for the foresight and public service these Board Members have provided in creating VRE,” said  VRE Operations Board Chairman Paul Milde in a press release.

The names that will be affixed to the locomotives belong to those who “played a key role in establishing VRE service, were early or long-tenured members, or whose extraordinary efforts contributed to its success, will be honored by having their names placed on the front of VRE locomotives.”

Virginia Railway Express trains carried more than 320,000 riders in November. Over the past year, the commuter railroad carried 2 million riders.

Of course we should probably ignore the fact that many of these board members were on the job when a VRE employee had set up his own little contract kickback scheme.   No need to keep a tight eye on operations when it’s cool to get your picture playing train conductor.

A New Low, Even For Morrissey

Convicted pervert and overnight resident of the big house Joe Morrissey says he will step down from his Delegate seat. But before you let out that sigh of relief know that creepy Joe is, of course, not doing the honorable thing here at all because he plans to run in the special election that will fill the vacancy his resignation will create. Say what? Logic be damned, Morrissey ain’t done just yet.

How selfish and oblivious can Morrissey be here? Resign you creep and just go away. You are tarnishing the respectful name of our country’s most historic legislature. The Virginia House of Delegates has no place for someone of such low character.

The good news to report here is Delegate Mark Keam says he plans to vote to expel Morrissey from the legislature if Morrissey wins the special. Let’s hope all of the Democratic leadership follows Delegate Keam, who deserves our thanks for being on the right side of this horrible story since the news first broke this summer.

We will have to wait to see if Morrissey runs in the special as a Democrat, as an independent, or as a sex offender. We asked Morrissey this question via Twitter and have yet to receive a response. #WhereYouSleepingTonightJoe?

Keam will vote Morrissy out (2)

Cross-posted to Red NoVA

Tim Singstock wants to be PWC School Board Chairman

My friend Willie over at the Bull Elephant is reporting that Conservative Activist Tim Singstock is gearing up to run for PWC School Board chair. No other names have officially been out out there yet, but as I have been saying 2015 in Prince William County is going to be very interesting.

http://thebullelephant.com/breaking-tim-singstock-is-running-for-pwc-school-board-chairman/

 

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Delegates Scott Lingamfelter and Lee Ware call for US Constitutional Convention!

As the rollout of legislation for the 2015 session begins, one item may truly be of national concern. Delegates Scott Lingamfelter and Lee Ware have called for a Constitutional Convention to amend the United States Constitution. Specifically citing massive Federal debt, unfunded Federal government mandates, and the lack of enforcement of the 10th Amendment by the courts, Lingamfelter and Ware are taking action to fix things. The two good delegates are asking the Virginia General Assembly to invoke Virginia’s rights under Article V of the United States Constitution, which states:

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.

The way it works if the legislatures of two thirds of the 50 states, or at least 34 states, petition the U.S. Congress then Congress must call a convention. Once the convention begins, the participating states may propose amendments to the Constitution. The proposed amendments would then be sent back to the States for approval, and if 3/4 of the states, or at least 38 states, approve the amendment, the proposed amendments would become part of the United States Constitution. The states may approve with a simple majority vote of either their respective state legislatures or a state constitutional conventions, with the US Congress choosing whether it would be conventions or legislatures that approve. Notably no action by either state or federal executive branches is required.

Is it possible that a Constitutional Convention could be called? Well, state legislatures across the country are more conservative today than at any point since the 1920’s, when constitutional amendments were all the rage. Currently Republicans have majority control of the entire state legislature in 30 states, plus Nebraska – which is highly Republican but technically has a non-partisan legislature.  So, really, 31 states are Republican. Eight states have split legislatures, meaning one party has control of each chamber. In eleven states Democrats control both chambers of the state legislature. The magic number is 34, so if all the Republican states and just three of the split states passed measures similar to the Delegates Lingamfelter’s and Ware’s bill, then a Constitutional Convention could occur. Are there three split states that might vote that way? The most likely would be Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, and New Mexico which all have some conservative tendencies, especially on fiscal matters. Colorado could as well if recent trends go… so the short answer is it is possible if the political trend carried through the nation.

If such a convention proposed amendments, could they actually be ratified?  Let’s assume the amendment is fairly palatable… a simple balanced budget amendment with a clause that allowed some time to bring things under control. Or possibly reasonable term limits for Congress.  Assuming that the 11 Democratic states would balk, and the 31 Republican states would pass, you would need seven of the eight split states to agree. The only genuinely liberal state with split chambers right now is New York, so it is possible. And really, what state legislature wouldn’t like term limits on federal positions? That just provides them opportunity for promotion. Before we dismiss Lingamfelter and Ware’s effort here as purely symbolic, we can see in the mechanics that a real movement could actually produce a result. A tall order? Yes. Impossible… no.

Corey Responds to the Critics

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Corey has had a tough week with critics, and today he responded on his facebook page:

“The Prince William Board of County Supervisors voted yesterday to give budget guidance to the County Executive consistent with the rate of inflation.

A story recently appeared on InsideNova.com that was inaccurate. Last Tuesday evening I responded to a question from a school board member who asked if the Board of County Supervisors was going stick to the adopted five year plan for school revenue.

In my response, I stated if the desire of the school board is to maintain the current projected revenue levels in the five year plan, then we need to make a policy change in how we manage revenues and taxes in Prince William County. Our recent tax policy called for property tax increases over the next four years regardless of whether or not they were needed. I wanted to end this policy. This policy leads to spikes and valleys in the counties revenue streams. When a government typically sees an increase in revenue beyond what they need to provide services, the excess money is spent. This is what I am trying to avoid.

I suggested that a fiscally responsible solution would be to change the focus from being solely on the residential tax bill, and instead look at all revenue streams to determine how to continue keeping taxes the lowest in Northern Virginia while still providing the services our citizens desire.”

 

Better Know a (State Senate) District: the 17th

17th State Senate District Lean

2014: Gillespie 53%/Warner 44%/Sarvis 3%

2013: Cuccinelli 49% / McAuliffe 44% / Sarvis 7%

2012: Romney 50% / Obama 49%

2012: Kaine 50%/Allen 49%

VV calculation: R+2; Tossup district with R lean in non-presidential years

The 2011 redistricting changed this district dramatically, from a 61% McDonnell district to one Obama had actually won in 2008. The inclusion of large parts of heavily Democrat Albemarle County made the difference; in his victorious 2011 campaign, Sen. Reeves only lost the City of Fredericksburg and Albemarle County. Those two alone were enough to make the race close.

Unit makeup

Spotsylvania County       37.36%

Orange County                 17.14%

Albemarle County           13.62%

Louisa County                    11.91%

Fredericksburg City         10.76%

Culpeper County              9.20%

The population center of this district is Spotsylvania County, with significant portions from five other localities.

Candidates

Incumbent: Republican Whip Bryce Reeves (R) is running for re-election. He has raised over $425,000 per the last VPAP filing.

Rumored or declared Democrat candidates

Traci Dippert: Dippert is the Chair of the Culpeper County Democrat Committee and a local school teacher. She lost in a House of Delegates run against Del. Ed Scott (R), garnering only 35.5%. She has raised $7,300 for the Senate effort. Rumors are that the Dem Senate leadership is not impressed and is looking for a better candidate. Her campaign manager stated:  “This seat may very well be the hinge upon which the balance of power swings,” he said. “This is going to shape up as the race of 2015 and right now we are the only show in town. We expect national attention.” (http://www.dailyprogress.com/starexponent/news/local_news/dippert-hopes-to-shift-power-back-to-democrats-in-state/article_41375a38-2963-11e4-a8cd-0017a43b2370.html?mode=story)

Dr. Chris Lillis: Lillis is a New York native who lives in Fredericksburg. According to his Facebook page, he is apparently a big fan of Nevada U.S. Senator Harry Reid (D).

Hap Connors: Connors is a former Chairman of the Spotsylvania Board of Supervisors who lost his seat in 2011. He is a lobbyist who is a former head of the South Carolina Democratic Party and Clinton appointee; his fundraising prowess and connections in the region run deep and he would be a formidable candidate. While not declared, scuttlebutt is that Gov. McAuliffe is heavily recruiting his longtime friend Connors to move to Fredericksburg and run for this seat. Last year, he appointed Connors to the Fredericksburg area seat on the Commonwealth Transportation Board, over a candidate favored by the elected officials from the area. Connors was a major supporter of McAuliffe in each of his gubernatorial runs.

Rumored or declared Republican candidates

No Republican challengers to Reeves have been rumored.

Reeves had this to say about the race: “We are planning a campaign kickoff for after Christmas.  We are poised to run for election again.  Since our last election, we have been working to secure our place, through a lot of hard work and great constituent services.

Our legislative record is one that I am proud of because we have tackled some hard issues and had some very positive results.  Everything from offshore drilling, to protecting women’s rights in sexual assault cases, to multiple veteran’s issues, to fostering job growth in the district, all while maintaining our conservative values. Values that matter to working families in the Commonwealth. 

I have been recognized by my peers and selected as a Majority Whip.  No small feat for a freshman senator. 

We will continue to press the hard issues to get results that will allow our constituency the opportunity to live, work, and play in the 17th district.

We have knocked 22k doors for ID already and have our campaign manager starting next week.”

Analysis

While the lean of this district looks like a tossup or a bellweather, Reeves has maintained a high profile, raised money proficiently, and looks strong. In 2011, his early hard work laid the groundwork for a narrow defeat of Sen. Edd Houck (D), a rare red-district Dem in the Senate. The Democrat bench in the area has been decimated and is extremely thin (the writer of this analysis is proud to have had something to do with that!). So far, the announced Dem candidates read more like a laughingstock than a fearsome roster, though that would change if Hap Connors entered the race. Gov. McAuliffe has loads of cash ready to dump, so while Reeves looks to be very very strong, he cannot rest on his laurels at this point.

Rating: Safe Republican

Op- Ed from Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) on Net Neutrality

The Internet is one of the most dynamic and competitive marketplaces in existence and has become a cornerstone of the American economy and culture. Consequently, concerns about the future of an open and fair Internet, broadly coined as “net neutrality,” have rightfully risen to the forefront of the national debate.

The rise of the net neutrality debate to national prominence has been accompanied with certain misconceptions about the underlying issues. In part, concerns about net neutrality have risen sharply because of aggressive claims that the Internet as we know it is under fire. These claims continue to be made despite the fact that one of the principal regulators of the Internet, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), has not found problems with competition on the Internet in any peer-reviewed study. In addition, the FCC cannot point to a single case of an Internet provider creating a “fast lane” or a “slow lane,” terms used to describe whether an Internet provider selectively expedites or slows consumers’ access to the Internet or to certain websites.

Nevertheless, commentators have called on the FCC to impose burdensome regulations on the Internet as a remedy to these potential threats. President Obama is among the supporters of this regulatory approach, as announced last month in his White House statement.

The proposed regulatory approach relies on the false premise that regulation will result in increased competition. The Internet has transformed the economy and thrived precisely because of an environment of limited regulation. Increasing regulation on the rapidly growing and dynamic Internet would be a mistake and undermine the intent of net neutrality, which is to maintain a free, open, and competitive Internet.

As chairman of the House Judiciary Committee which has jurisdiction over net neutrality, I recently held a hearing on whether antitrust law or regulation is more effective in protecting consumers and innovation on the Internet. The conclusion of experts at the hearing was that the regulatory approach leaves consumers with fewer choices and higher prices, the antithesis of net neutrality.

I also sent a letter to the head of the FCC who will be the chief architect of any future Internet regulations. My letter to the FCC challenged the idea that regulating the Internet is the most effective way to achieve net neutrality and protect consumers from discriminatory conduct. Instead, I urged the FCC to examine the history of the Internet and why it has succeeded free of these regulations.

The Internet doesn’t need an inflexible “one-size-fits-all” government mandate to ensure net neutrality – and consumers do not need an extra $84 burden added to their annual Internet bill as a result of new net neutrality regulations, a number projected by a recent Progressive Policy Institute study.

The key to an open and free Internet lies in strong enforcement of our nation’s antitrust laws. These time-trusted laws allow for maximum flexibility and consistently demonstrate their ability to prevent discriminatory and anti-competitive conduct in the marketplace.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) is Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

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Governor McAuliffe Continues to Kiss Bloombergs…

Guest Post by Mr Greg Stone

Why would Terry McAuliffe, a liberal Governor of a purple trending back to red state such as Virginia promote the failed gun control policies of years gone by ? Last Novembers elections provided abundant evidence that despite all his money and misinformation, the Nanny State Bloomberg message of more gun control, did not resonate with voters. The results are obvious. Citizens who enjoy freedom, liberty, and cherish the ability to defend themselves and their families, are not interested in Bloombergs Nanny State. We trust ourselves to select how many Glocks we want to own, the size of our sodas, and the amount of salt we choose to ingest. So,why then is Terry McAuliffe playing the role of politically tone deaf Governor ? Is it because he is a politically tone deaf Governor ? Yes he is, but is that is whats in play here ? Or is it the Bloomberg Cash?
When McAuliffe defeated Ken Cuccinelli for Governor, Nanny Bloomberg poured over a million dollars here into McAuliffe’s campaign, Terry needs that cash to continue his political charade. Bloomberg’s generosity is now manifesting itself into policy positions despite the mountains of proof and historical data that these same policies have failed miserably right here in the Commonwealth. One would think that if proponents of gun control were going to take on the uphill fight for more gun regulations, that they would propose something other than previous failures.
The center piece of McAuliffe’s new campaign against guns in Virginia is the infamous One Gun a Month law.That’s right One Gun a Month ! The very law previously enacted that hung around for some twenty years before it was rejected in 2012! HERE because of it’s ineffectiveness, is the new public safety agenda of the McAuliffe administration. This is the new gun control idea being pulled from the legislative dust bin and put back onto the table for us to debate, ridicule, and toss back onto the pile of stupid ideas. Is this McAuliffe’s political tone deafness, or his insatiable desire for additional cash to serve his political ends ?
What do you think ?
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Greg’s BIO:

Greg Stone is a Personal Protection Specialist (PPS) registered with the Commonwealth of Virginia’s- Department of Criminal Justice Services(DCJS), Security Consultant, and NRA Certified Firearms Instructor based in Northern Virginia. Greg has provided executive protection, corporate and private security, as well as work place violence mitigation for diplomatic, political, and corporate clients. Greg specializes in political security having worked for campaigns at the local, state, and national levels. His current work has him working for a Virginia based contractor specializing in the construction of High Security Infrastructure and force protection. As a Certified Firearms Instructor and NRA Chief Range Safety Officer, Greg trains private citizens on the use of firearms as a component of their personal protection plan. Greg can be reached at G3Stone@Gmail.com

 

Another Day, Another Thrashing for Corey Stewart

Since Prince William County Board Chairman Corey Stewart floated the idea of eliminating the cap on real estate tax increases, not a day has gone by without a well-deserved thrashing from his one-time supporters. Here is today’s…

Chairman Stewart: 

In 2006 you strongly opposed Brentswood (the predecessor of the pending Stone Haven and Prince William Station residential developments.)  You pointed out then and for a year or so afterward that “when we approve large developments, we are essentially approving a tax increase” and that the county’s housing boom has “hurt the average person”.  (See: attachment and  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0f8XDSKrNzs).  BUT NOT LONG THEREAFTER YOU REVERSED COURSE 180 DEGREES AND BEGAN RELENTLESSLY CHAMPIONING RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPER CAUSES, including Avendale and Stone Haven, as well as a major change in direction beginning 2009-10 by the Board of County Supervisors (BOCS) on land use that seemed to allow development virtually “anywhere, anytime” and allowed fast-tracked approval of developer land use requests.  (See: http://pwcbg.org/SupervisorPositions.html#FastTracking)

You also talked in 2007 about how you’d been “socking it to the development community.”  BUT NOT LONG THEREAFTER YOU BEGAN AGGRESSIVELY SEEKING DEVELOPER MONEY.  (See:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0f8XDSKrNzs).  At last count you’d received $759,841 from them.  (See: http://vpap.org).

AND NOW, per the 11 December 2014 InsideNova report below, YOU NOT ONLY HAVE APPARENTLY LOST INTEREST IN RESTRAINING TAX RATES, BUT ARE BLAMING COUNTY BUDGET SHORTFALLS, PARTICULARLY SCHOOL SHORTFALLS, ON PW COUNTY TAXPAYERS’ RELUCTANCE (AND INABILITY IN MANY CASES) TO PAY HIGHER TAXES.  In so doing, you have truly retreated to one of the last refuges of political scoundrels:  If only the taxpayers were more generous and the government had more and more money, everything would be so much better — and we wouldn’t have overcrowded schools, etc.  Apparently, taxpayers paying 30-40% of their income in federal, state, and local taxes and fees is not enough for you.  I’m sure it’s very frustrating to you that taxpayers are hesitant to give you more money so you can:  cover up your own policy mistakes of the last 5-6 years, keep giving indirect subsidies to residential developers, and in turn receive more and more campaign funding from developers to further your faltering statewide political ambitions.

It’s interesting that in recent years you have not publicly made mention, in fact have assiduously avoided any mention of the main reason for overcrowded public schools (and roads, for that matter):  consistently tax-negative residential development, caused by you and your predecessors’ pro-residential developer policies that simultaneously overcrowd and underfund both schools and roads and neglect tax-positive commercial development.  (For more info, see:  http://pwcbg.org/SupervisorPositions.html#Proffers and http://pwcbg.org/MediaReportsOnBalancedGrowth.html#Reports .)  

Note that early next year Prince William Citizens for Balanced Growth (PWCBG) plans to release updated 2015 budget figures on tax-negative residential development.  While a few numbers will change, we expect that the basic story will remain more or less unchanged:  The breakeven value of new houses (where taxes received from the house equal the cost of government services incurred by the house) has been about $450,000, while the average new house sells for about $330,000.  That leaves a tax gap of $120,000 multiplied by the current tax rate of 1.25%, meaning that on average each new house built has been $1,400-$1,500 tax negative per year.  While tax rates change and it looks like the average house is selling for a bit more now (though that trend could reverse if the percentage of townhouses in new housing rises), the breakeven value has also risen.  So we expect that the tax gap will remain similar, likely resulting in at least a $1,200 tax deficit per house per year. 

Highly overvalued developer proffers of empty and often worthless land do not help much in reversing the tax-negative trend.  (See Word attachment above.)

In other words, OVERALL, RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT IN PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY IS OVERWHELMINGLY TAX-NEGATIVE, AND THAT REALITY DOES GREAT HARM TO TAXPAYERS, SCHOOLS, ROADS, QUALITY OF LIFE, AND THE VALUE OF EXISTING HOMES.  Let me remind you that this is the very point that PWCBG has been making to you and the rest of the Board of County Supervisors for almost nine years now.   Surely you could not have failed to hear us all those countless times during that period when we’ve spoken to you directly in person at BOCS meetings or, along with hundreds of citizens, sent e-mails to you reminding you over and over again of all this.  Or perhaps, more to the point, YOUR DESPERATE PLEA BELOW FOR HIGHER TAXES CONCEDES PWCBG’S POINT, IN A BACKHANDED, PERVERSE WAY.

Compounding folly on top of folly, county officials such as you continue to advocate more and more of this tax-negative, taxpayer-subsidized housing — even though there are still ~30,000 approved-but-not-yet-built houses and no housing shortages in the county.

Nor have you or the School Board mentioned the $37-38 million dollars diverted to the school board’s Edward L. Kelly Leadership Center and other frills that were funded even before the basic needs of schools were met.

Your political “principles” change so quickly and so radically that you’re giving me political whiplash.  Let’s hope that your next change is either in the right political direction once and for all or to the political exits.

Ralph Stephenson
Prince William Citizens for Balanced Growth

Not so Hot for HOT

Back in 2001 I recall sitting at a table of Prince William YRs listening to our guest speaker for the evening then-Delegate Jack Rollison (R-Woodbridge) talking about the future of transportation in Northern Virginia.  In the talk Del. Rollison referenced a bridge that had been built at the end of the existing HOV lanes on 95 that was left there after a massive project in which the bridge was constructed to realign the main lanes of 95 that added a lane and expanded the main 95 lanes.   After the realignment project was completed the main lanes were shifted back to their original alignment the bridge was left.  Del. Rollison asked us if we knew why the temporary bridge was left where it was even though the HOV lanes ended before it and it then had no use.  He was proud to exclaim, that it was smart planning.  He was excited to tell us about plans to extend the HOV lanes down to Stafford County and having the bridge in place would be a major benefit to the extension of HOV lanes.

In 2001 the general consensus was HOV lanes would be extended at least to Stafford County and would be just as they were from DC to Dumfries, traditional HOV lanes.  The state was lined up starting to fund the project for the future extension.  However, in 2004 the conversation changed from HOV to HOT.  HOT – High Occupancy Toll.

On December 29th the HOV lanes on I-95 from Stafford County to Edsall Road will become HOT lanes.  To travel on these lanes vehicles will have to have an E-Z Pass transponder regardless if they have 3 or more riders.   For those that are car poolers, slug I-95 HOT Lanesdrivers and van pool drivers will need to fork over $35 for the privilege of driving HOV.   That’s right even HOV cars will need an E-Z Pass and the only way to get an E-Z Pass in Virginia is to purchase one for $35.  Granted that $35 is the first allotment for tolls to be paid.  And for those that are fans of Hybrid and other clean fuel vehicles – no longer is there a benefit to use HOV lanes as a single driver for most Hybrid owners.  Sure you can drive by yourself in your Prius, but you will be paying a toll if you do.  Ride a motorcycle – well you are in luck.  Motorcycles can still access the lanes and not pay a toll – as long as you have purchased the $35 E-Z Pass.

The story of HOT lanes only gets better.  The company that the state contracted with to manage the HOT lanes is a foreign owned corporation.  Transurban is an Australian based corporation.   While they figured out they needed to have a US based company in order to lobby and give gifts to state law makers and formed a US based company that is a subsidiary of Australian based Transurban, all profits flow down under.   For all drivers on the 95 corridor that choose to pay a toll for a slightly faster trip north or south the money you are paying is not only flowing out of state, but it’s flowing right out of the country.

In 2005 I was a commuter from my new home in Stafford County to Washington DC.  I typically commuted as a slug driver, picking up two of my fellow commuters at commuter lots and taking 95 to the HOV lanes and on into the city.   I started to discuss the prospects of HOT lanes with my fellow commuters and quickly learned others, like me, were very concerned about what HOT could mean to the future of commuting in Northern Virginia.  We formed an organization and called it SaveHOV.org.  We attended meetings and spoke out against the HOT plans.   We most certainly garnered attention of politicians, as many seeking office in Prince William County quickly joined the anti-HOT side of the campaign (http://www.slug-lines.com/forum2/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=6315).  News outlets picked up on it and authored editorials against the proposals (https://web.archive.org/web/20050504151221/http://www.potomacnews.com/scripts/isapi_srun.dll/servlet/Satellite?pagename=WPN%2FMGArticle%2FWPN_BasicArticle&c=MGArticle&cid=1031781704348&path=!news!opinion).  Transurban responded with glitzier proposals and promises of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and they were going to station tow trucks at key locations to rapidly clear traffic incidents in the HOT lanes.  While the politicians in power were swayed by the shiny PowerPoints, the lanes come with no BRT and I doubt any tow trucks are going to be lying in wait in the HOT lanes just waiting for an accident to occur.

The politicians will crow about HOT lanes and how wonderful they are and they are market driven (http://www.williamjhowell.org/express-lanes-information/).  The truth of the matter is 80% of the lanes were already existing; paid for by taxpayers of the past.  They maybe market driven from the government’s point of view.   If profits hit thresholds the state does stand to benefit with shared profits, but if profits don’t hit a certain threshold Transurban can dial back the level of HOV they allow in the lanes.  That’s right, if there are not enough drivers paying tolls HOV could disappear.

HOT Lanes may prove to be an answer to congested commutes on I-95, but for now I remain skeptical.  HOT will give the privilege of using the lanes for those who can afford it, but for those who are not willing to pay $20+ each direction to get to work will continue to be stuck in traffic.  The state should have lived up to its initial plans to extend HOV to Stafford County (and beyond) with HOV intact as HOV-3 during rush hours and open lanes during other times.  The politicians and state lawmakers that think HOT lanes are a good idea – need to reconnect with those who they represent and spend a few weeks commuting in Northern Virginia.  Our commuters are filled with great ideas – maybe you could listen to a few and stop patting yourselves on the back for yet another sell out of state assets and implementing yet another bad idea.

John Gray Calls Out Corey Stewart’s “Survey His Office Conducted For Political Purposes”

John Gray, a past candidate for Prince Willaim County Occoquan Dist. Supervisor and County Chairman, has taken note of some interesting language used by PWC Chairman Corey Stewart in a recent article and is now filing a FOIA request for additional details…

Ms. Horan: In an article published in yesterday’s (Thursday December 11, 2014) edition of Inside Nova titled “Prince William leader floats idea of eliminating real-estate tax cap”, in the third paragraph of the article, Chairman Corey Stewart is reported to have told the reporter Jill Palermo “….as well as a separate survey his office conducted for political purposes….”

Under the authority of the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (§ 2.2-3700) I am requesting the following:

1. A complete, unabridged and un-redacted copy of that “separate survey his office conducted for political purposes” to which the Chairman refers in the article.

2. Copies, if available, of any time records indicating time spent by Office of the Chairman County employee staff in conducting that “separate survey his office conducted for political purposes”.

3. Copies, if available, of any reimbursement requested by the Chairman in his capacity as Chairman, on behalf of The Chairman’s campaign or by the Chairman himself individually and personally from the County for this “separate survey his office conducted for political purposes”.

4. Copies of any invoices submitted by and paid, accrued or encumbered to any commercial, non-profit or political organization to the County for the services rendered by any organization (commercial, non-profit or political) in conducting this survey.

5. Quotation as to competent legal authority that allows the Chairman’s office to conduct and expend county taxpayer funds for the “separate survey his office conducted for political purposes” AND competent legal authority for the Chairman’s office for directing his staff to conduct this separate survey for political purposes without the consent or knowledge of the entire PWC Board of County Supervisors.

Respectfully Submitted,

John S. Gray CPA PC

George Allen ….for Governor?!?!?

With speculation already running rampant regarding who the Republicans will pick as their gubernatorial nominee in 2017, one name made me pause. George Allen. Is the Former Governor looking to retake his old job in Richmond? There have been whispers, there have been conversations, and of course rumors that he could be gearing up to do it all again. There have already been other names floating out there, Republican heavyweights such as Sen. Mark Obenshain, Congressmen Wittman, Hurt, and Forbes, as well as several lesser known Virginia legislators such as Senator Bryce Reeves and Senator Frank “Slaters Gonna Slate” Wagner.

As Governor, Allen was a champion for welfare reform, truth in sentencing as well as education reform. Though this is all rumor and speculation, I personally would like to see George Allen reclaim his job as Governor. Though there are those who make it their duty to cannibalize Republicans after they leave office, or lose an election, I am not one of them. Everyone will have their opinions and that is the wonderful thing about living in America, but this is something we should contemplate and think about in the next few years. The bottom line being we as conservatives, need to take back the Governor’s mansion and put Virginia back on track as one of the best states in the union.

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Milt Johns will not run for another term as PWC School Board Chairman

Prince William County School Board Chairman released the following statement this morning :

 

For Immediate Release

After months of prayer, reflection, and discussions with my family, I have decided that I will not seek re-election as Chairman at Large of the Prince William County School Board in 2015. When my term ends at midnight on December 31, 2015, I will have spent nearly a quarter of my life serving on the Prince William County School Board. It is time for me to focus on other matters, including my family and my law practice. I do expect to continue to have a role supporting Prince William County Schools and in local political activities.

When the 12th year of my tenure on the School Board concludes, I will have been part of a Board that opened 20 schools and renovated and expanded dozens more, that brought robotics to every school in the county, and that established the Safe Schools Advisory Council and the Governor’s School @ Innovation Park. We expanded full day Kindergarten county-wide, expanded AP, IB and Cambridge programs, and offered a myriad of specialty programs at nearly all of our schools. By my rough count, over 65,000 students have received high school diplomas during that time, and I personally watched almost half of them cross the stage at graduation.

Prince William County Public Schools are not perfect; they never were and they never will be. But I am extremely proud of the progress we have made – administrators, teachers, support staff, parents and students – in the past 11 years as we have emerged to be one of the premiere large suburban school divisions in the country, and the role I played on the Prince William County School Board. It was a labor of love, but all things must come to an end.

Among the many people who have supported me over the years, I must especially thank my wife Shellie and my children Caitlin and Milton Wyatt for their love and understanding, and I look forward to work hard in 2015 for the citizens of Prince William County.

- Milt Johns

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The question now is ..who will run for this seat..there are many speculations I have heard, but not  enough information to report yet…V.V will be on top of the story

Joe Morrissey Is An Embarrassment To The Old Dominion

So Joe Morrissey got 12 months (with 6 suspended) after having sex with (and possibly impregnating) a minor. He’s going to be on a work-release program which will allow him to continue as a member of the House of Delegates, and continue to work as an attorney. Just pause for a moment and allow all that to sink in, gentle reader.

It would be easy to compare this to the fate of our esteemed former governor. However, I will not do so, because I think McDonnell deserves to be held responsible for his behavior just as Morrissey does. “Fightin’ Joe” Morrissey has had a colorful personal history, shall we say. He’s brandished a rifle of the floor of the House with his thumb inside the trigger guard. He actually lost his law license for a number of years due to a series of fistfights and disorderly conduct incidents.

Simply stated, Joe Morrissey is a disgrace and an embarrassment to Virginia. It’s obvious he has no plans to resign for the good of his district. He should be expelled by the House of Delegates as soon as possible. If not, the honorable thing for the Democratic Party of Virginia to do is to make sure Mr. Morrissey is defeated for renomination to his seat. Regardless of whether one agrees with him ideologically, should he really represent any Virginia voter in the hallowed halls of Richmond? To ask the question is to answer it.

“Fightin’ Joe” must go. Now.

Corey Stewart Commits Political Hara-kiri; Where’s the Tylenol?

InsideNOVA is reporting the following:

Prince William leader floats idea of eliminating real-estate tax cap

Saying Prince William County residents are more concerned about overcrowded classrooms than their annual real-estate taxes, Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart proposed a change in local tax policy Tuesday that would focus more on raising needed revenue for schools and county services and less on capping tax hikes.

Why are our schools and roads overcrowded in Prince William County? First and foremost, the fault for this can be laid at the feet of those who have voted to rezone property from commercial to residential and increase the zoning density for residential properties while simultaneously keeping developer proffers artificially low. This has increased the demand for county services — schools, roads, fire/rescue, police, etc. — without bringing in an equal amount of tax revenues or adequate developer proffers needed to accomodate the demand. That is what we call tax negative housing — homes that consume more in county services than what they pay in real estate taxes. The construction boom of townhomes and apartments (which are actually considered “commercial” property by Prince William County even though people live there) has resulted in an ever increasing disparity in the tax base.

Stewart goes on to defend his proposal by saying,

“Regardless of your political stripes, people are more concerned about their quality of life at home than they are about keeping tax bills so low, I mean 30 percent lower than in Fairfax and Loudoun counties,” Stewart said. “There’s a price we are paying for that.”

The tax bills themselves are lower because home values in Prince William County are lower. People moved to PWC because they could stretch their dollars further than they could in Fairfax and Loudoun counties.  The percentage of tax that homeowners in the county pay on the actual values of their homes, though, is the HIGHEST in Northern Virginia and now Corey Stewart wants that percentage to go even higher. How does all that impact their quality of life at home? That translates to less money for groceries and clothes in the family budget let alone any other luxuries above that baseline.

There is little evidence that the county has cut back its spending on things that are not necessities, whether it be its little-used membership at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club or workplace toga parties where school employees use instruments to measure genitalia. Until the county gets it priorities straight, they should not come back hat in hand begging the taxpayers for even more money.

The Derecho blog had two excellent posts last week on this very issue as it relates to taxpayers. In one, it is shown that “if you apply the tax rate in place at the time, on average, PWC property owners are paying 2.2% more in 2014 actual taxes for properties that have lost 32.7% of assessed value.” That same post also states that “Real Property Tax Revenues as Share of Total FY 2015 General Fund Revenues, Prince William County, 65%, the highest among local jurisdictions, 5% higher than even Loudoun to which the BOCS often compares us.”

The second post by The Derecho demonstrates that “[Per Capita Personal Income] for PWC fell 2.31% for the period 2012-2013.”

So, home values in the county have yet to fully recover, personal income in the county is down, what we are paying in taxes in terms of real dollars is up, the tax rate is the highest in the region (again that means we are paying the highest percentage in taxes on the value of our homes) and the county has the highest reliance upon real property taxes of any jurisdiction in Northern Virginia. That is a recipe for economic disaster.

Prince William County’s fiscal house is a complete mess (its current bond rating aside which has only been maintained by smoke and mirrors) and the ticking time bombs planted by two decades of neglectful public policy are about to go off.

Mind you, Corey Stewart is a Republican and self-proclaimed conservative yet he is advocating eliminating this much needed taxpayer protection mechanism in the county intended to make county government behave more effectively and efficiently. That doesn’t sound very conservative or Republican to me.

It is time that citizens say no more. It is time that we say you are done here. It is time for Prince William County Republicans to say, “ABC — AnyGOPer but Corey.”

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Hey! If any of you are looking for any last-minute gift ideas for me, I have one. I’d like Corey Stewart, our County Chairman, right here tonight. I want him brought from his happy holiday slumber over there on his 18th century estate and I want him brought right here, with a big ribbon on his head, and I want to look him straight in the eye and I want to tell him what a cheap, lying, no-good, rotten, four-flushing, low-life, snake-licking, dirt-eating, inbred, overstuffed, ignorant, blood-sucking, dog-kissing, brainless, hopeless, heartless, bug-eyed, stiff-legged, spotty-lipped, worm-headed sack of monkey excrement he is! Hallelujah! Holy moly! Where’s the Tylenol?

 

Delegate Peace wants our President to abide by the Constitution

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On Tuesday Delegate Chris Peace sent a letter to Virginia Attorney General Herring requesting that the Commonwealth of Virginia join a host of other states, to stand against President Obama’s power grab on immigration. In the letter Delegate Peace writes:
“Many of our Virginia Representatives share the point of view the President does not have the authority to advance his executive orders to change the laws in the absence of congressional action.”
I applaud Delegate Peace for taking this step, and I hope it is not in vain, as Attorney General Herring does not have a great track record of listening to Republican concerns in his short time while in office. Lets hope that he decides to protect and defend the United States Constitution, which is you know, his job.

Here is the link to the full letter sent by Delegate Peace

http://chrispeace.com/2014/12/08/peace-sends-letter-to-ag-herring-to-join-lawsuit-against-presidential-immigration-policy/

 

Better Know a (State Senate) District: 29th

29th State Senate District

2013: Cuccinelli 39% / McAuliffe 57% / Sarvis 4%

2012: Romney 35% / Obama 63%

(source: VPAP)

VV calculation: D+9; Safe Dem

The 2011 redistricting really did a number on this district; where McDonnell carried the old district with 55% (it was basically a tossup district, a bellweather for the state), Mitt Romney managed only 35% here- in a year where he got 48% statewide. This district is now a safe D seat.

Unit makeup

Prince William: 74.7%

Manassas: 19.2%

Manassas Park: 6.1%

The population center of this district is now the Woodbridge area along Rt. 1, as well as the heavily-Hispanic Manassas area. The Woodbridge area is strong Democrat, the Manassas area swings.

Incumbent candidate

Chuck Colgan (D) is not running for re-election. He had $40,500 in his campaign account per the last VPAP filing.

Rumored or declared Democrat candidates

Jeremy McPike (http://potomaclocal.com/2014/12/02/mcpike-makes-run-virginia-senate/) will contest for the Democrat nod, after nearly knocking off Republican Delegate Scott Lingamfelter.

Del. Michael Futrell (D-2nd): Giving up his Delegate seat to run for State Senate. He has $10.939 in his Delegate campaign account (http://virginiavirtucon.wordpress.com/tag/michael-futrell/).

Atif Qarni: Reported to open a candidate account by VPAP with no money in it.

Rumored or declared Republican candidates

Ian Lovejoy: Reported to open a candidate account by VPAP with no money in it. Rumored to no longer be interested in running.

Hal Parrish: Longtime moderate fixture in PWC politics is rumored to give it a run.

Tom Gordy: 2011 Republican nominee in this district came closer to Colgan than anyone suspected, losing 55-45. Rumored to be interested in another run.

Analysis

While historically a GOP-leaning district, the 2011 redistricting and Prince William’s ongoing realignment mean that this district should be in safe Democrat hands. It would take a combination of favorable environment, bad Democrat candidate, good Republican candidate, and lots of money to flip this seat. Rating: Safe Dem

Next up: the 17th.

Time to Remove Berkley

Republican Party of Virginia’s State Central Committee met last week at the Advance in Chantilly. Among the items they discussed was the removal of Jon Berkley from the 5th District chairmanship. The move is called a remedy for a dysfunctional committee. The case against Berkley is lengthy and baffling. He thinks he is a king but he is really just someone who falls under the party plan and therefore needs to play nice with the others in the sandbox. Berkley has acted in revenge against Republicans, has ignored State Central and RPV General Counsel rulings, and he has handled himself like a real jerk. Our party should have no place for anyone who chooses to conduct themselves as he has in this last year. It is time to remove Berkley.

Berkley’s baffling incompetence first popped up on my radar last spring during the pre-filing period for the state convention. As Charlotte County chair Berkley did everything he could to stop 19 Republicans from being delegates because they would have voted against Berkley for chairman at the 5th District convention. The story is obnoxiously ridiculous. The Bull Elephant ran it when it happened. Berkley claims that the envelope of forms he received could have contained a playboy magazine or a bomb, he didn’t know. So he put an envelope that may have had a bomb in it in his car? How often do you put bombs in your car?

When word of Berkley’s actions in refusing those forms came out, the campaign I was working on blasted out an email alerting Republicans of Berkley’s shenanigans so that the grassroots could rise up and stop this injustice. That is when Berkley and I first spoke as he called me cursing me out with f this and f that. What a nice guy. I had not yet met him nor ever spoken with him, but here he is acting all tough and threatening to me over the phone. How about engage me in conversation first, then act as you need to but opening up with cursing and demands and threats is, at the least, unprofessional.

Next came Berkley’s baffling refusal to turn in the Charlotte County delegate list to the U.S. Senate campaigns and to RPV. I kept calling and emailing Berkley asking for the names of those who signed up. Technically the party plan does not compel him to hand over the names, but EVERY other chair did so in a judicious fashion. State Central Committee members have told me the reason the pre-file deadlines for signing up for the convention were so early was it would allow the campaigns more time to engage the delegates. By withholding the delegate list from the campaigns Berkley was doing his county committee a disservice because he was preventing those delegates from being engaged by the candidates and therefore they were going to a convention without all the information they should have to cast their vote.

I saw Berkley at the 5th District convention and I approached him about sending me the Charlotte County delegate list. He actually told me that he hadn’t sent it to me because his feelings were hurt after the email about throwing out the 19 delegate forms. Unbelievable. I can’t believe he admitted to me how small and petty he is. I told him that grown men do not let hurt feelings prevent us from meeting our responsibilities. Berkley responded without class, but eventually promised me that he would email me the list “Monday/Tuesday.” That Wednesday I called Berkley leaving an obnoxious message of my own pointing out the fact that Monday/Tuesday had come and gone and no list was sent. At the state convention I saw Berkley and reminded him that he broke the only promise he ever made to me. I also pointed out that the effort required on his part was minimal, just attach an excel file to an email and hit send, that’s it!

This next part is the worst part of all. I witnessed it and I still can’t believe it. After Berkley won the chairman’s race at the 5th District convention one of Berkley’s cronies stood up and made a motion to strip the 5th District State Central Committee members of voting rights at the 5th District Committee level. Why? How does that serve the 5th District? Berkley did so out of revenge. The five members of the 5th District State Central Committee did not support Berkley in the chairman’s race so petty little Berkley wanted to strike back. With few people left the question of a quorum was brought up, but the convention chair was a Berkley supporter who ruled that a quorum wasn’t needed. The floor then voted in favor of this motion only because Berkley’s minions were holding up Robert Hurt for Congress signs that had a big “yes” attached to them. I stood by the doorway and asked people as they left if they knew what they had just voted for and the dozen I spoke to said no. State Central Committee members are voted to serve their district by district members at a convention or mass meeting. But here we saw just a few Berkley and Hurt supporters overturn the results of the 5th District convention from 2 years ago. By stripping these popularly elected members of voting rights Berkley disrespected the will of his own committee. And he did this out of revenge.

Funny thing about all of this is State Central’s move to remove Berkley is based entirely on how Berkley has handled himself since all of these events I described happened. He came into the chair acting like he doesn’t have to follow the rules and then proceeded to do just that. He has ignored State Central and General Counsel throughout. At the meeting on Friday Berkley was absent and he didn’t even send a proxy. I was at the Advance over the weekend and when I heard about State Central’s move I started lobbying State Central members with the firsthand information I have from dealing with Berkley. Just like me, they couldn’t understand why a Republican would act like that to other Republicans.

Berkley’s fate will be decided at the next State Central Committee meeting in January. He will be given the chance to defend himself at this meeting, if he decides to show up.

Individually these events make Berkley look like a real jerk, collectively they illustrate that Berkley does not have the integrity to serve in any elected capacity. Looking at things as a whole we see a pattern which establishes a behavior, a behavior unbecoming a member of our party, a behavior we can just simply do without. It is time to remove Jon Berkley from the 5th District chair.

Cross-posted to Red NoVA

Bruce W. Tyler gearing up for the 10th Senate District?

Bruce W. Tyler seems to be making the rounds to gather support for a run at the soon to be open seat in Virginia’s 10th Senatorial District. Tyler spent six years as the rare Republican elected to office in the City of Richmond as a member of the City Council. Tyler lost his seat in 2012 by a razor thin margin, and was known for demanding competent government and a direct and challenging demeanor in the City.  This attitude was famously brought to bear in a contentious Council meeting where Tyler called out the apparent dishonesty of a city official, much to the chagrin of the Mayor.

Tyler appears to be gauging support outside of Richmond, having attended the Chesterfield County Republican Committee’s Christmas party last night. Chairman Don Williams specifically recognized Tyler during the Committee meeting following the party, indicating that he was more than a casual guest. As the Virtucon previously noted, Richmond and Chesterfield make up the majority vote in the 10th District, but any Republican candidate who hoped to offset the strongly blue precincts in Richmond will need the strong red of Powhatan as well.

Hearing any other rumors out of the 10th?  Let us know here!

Scott Jacobs Campaign Still Claiming GOP Label; PWC GOP Notifies Him of His Ouster

In a comment to a post on The Sheriff of Nottingham in Prince William County, a voter in PWC’s Brentsville District states that he/she received

a call from [Brentsville Dist. supervisor candidate Scott] Jacob’s campaign a couple of days ago and they said he was the Republican candidate [in the Dec. 23 special election]. I told the caller I thought Jeanine Lawson was the Republican nominee. The caller said Lawson was “another” Republican.

To which another commenter replied:

Lawson might be THE Republican nominee but Jacobs is still a Republican and therefore a Republican candidate.

That is incorrect. In Virginia, since voters do not register by party, one can only be a member of a party by joining your local party committee. Jacobs, by running as an independent against a Republican nominee, automatically ousted himself from membership in the local county party when he “violated the letter and spirit of the agreement” he made when he joined the party. Therefore, he is not “still” a Republican.

To that end, the Prince William County Republican Committee took action on Nov. 24 and the meeting attendees unanimously voted that he be dropped from the committee. An official letter from county Republican chairman Bill Card detailing the circumstances and proceedings was emailed to Mr. Jacobs on Dec. 8 and a hard copy is being mailed to him today. You may view the letter here.

Mr. Jacobs is obliged to inform his campaign staff that they need to cease and desist any claims that he is a Republican candidate in their communications with voters. To continue to do so would perpetuate an image of dishonesty.

Frank Wagner is running for Governor in 2017

Yes, that’s right. According to the Shad Plank, he confirmed it to John Fredericks at the Republican Party of Virginia’s Advance this past weekend. Anyone who follows RPV politics knows that, on top of being a mediocre Senator in the first place, Wagner teamed up with Eric Cantor and a gaggle of other Republican electeds and consultants to try and slate off delegates to Congressional district conventions this past year, with some limited success. It’s widely thought that this brilliant idea galvanized grassroots support behind Dave Brat, and cost Cantor his job. Nevertheless, Frank Wagner believes he can somehow win a nomination for statewide office.

The solution to this is to teach establishment hacks like Wagner a hard lesson by defeating him for renomination to his Senate seat (the 7th) this year. There are a number of other Republican elected officials who must be held accountable, most notably Delegate Scott Taylor, but Frank Wagner stands out. For his arrogance, for his condescension, for his ruthlessness, for his dishonesty, and, not least, for his sense of entitlement. In short, he needs to be the example made by the grassroots this year.