Agenda 2015: A Plan to Reform Prince William County Government

Two weeks from tomorrow, Dec. 23, voters in Prince William County’s Brentsville District head to the polls in a special election to fill the seat vacated by former Supervisor Wally Covington (R) who has been confirmed by the Virginia General Assembly for a judgeship in the county. Virginia Virtucon’s endorsed candidate, Jeanine Lawson, is looking very strong in the run-up to election day and we have high hopes that she will join Gainesville Supervisor Pete Candland and Occoquan Supervisor Mike May as another voice for the county’s taxpayers on the Board.

Candland and May were the only two supervisors to vote against the 5-year, 22.5%+ tax increase that passed the Board earlier this year. In a good news / bad news item, May has decided to run for Commonwealth’s Attorney in 2015. While we will finally be gaining someone in that office far superior to the current occupant whose abilities we have long questioned, we will be losing May from the Board of Supervisors where he has served with distinction. The addition of Lawson will at the very least help maintain the status quo for advocates of good government.

In deference to Mrs. Lawson’s campaign, I am holding off on making any announcements about my political future until after the first of the year so as to not detract any attention from where it should be these next two weeks. We need to do all that we can over the next 15 days to ensure that Jeanine Lawson is the next supervisor from the Brentsville District.

Why is it so important that we elect Lawson and others who share this basic good government philosophy? Because good governance ultimately benefits all citizens regardless of party, race, gender or current economic situation and that is the primary function of local government. We need people willing to commit to reforming our county government because we cannot keep going in the same direction that we have been for the past two decades in Prince William County — taxes are up, schools are more crowded, traffic is worse and businesses are bypassing us for Loudoun and Stafford counties. That is not good for anyone (unless you live in Loudoun or Stafford.)

This is why I have drafted “Agenda 2015: A Plan to Reform Prince William County Government.” Agenda 2015 is a series of common sense proposals aimed at solving our county’s current tax, spending, budget, education, economic, transportation, governance and ethics problems. By no means is this a panacea for these issues, but the start of what I hope is a long conversation that must be held in order to move forward on developing and implementing workable solutions. We cannot wait until after next year’s elections to start this discussion with new people, but must begin it now.

 

AGENDA 2015:

A PLAN TO REFORM PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY GOVERNMENT

 

INSTITUTE “ACCOUNTABILITY BUDGETING”

This twist on zero-based budgeting sets clear measurable goals, verifies progress, and makes adjustments as necessary.  Not only would agencies and departments have to justify every dollar they request each year rather than start from the previous year’s baseline and grow from there, but requests for funds must be accompanied by specific measurable goals against which progress can be ascertained.  This will allow for future budgets to make adjustments based upon what works and what doesn’t work. Perhaps if the county budgeted according to such straightforward principles, residents would not be facing a 4.5% tax hike for FY ’15 and a massive 22.5%+ tax increase over the coming 5 years.

 

MAKE REDUCING CLASS SIZES AND INCREASING TEACHER PAY A PRIORITY

The Board of Supervisors currently hands over nearly 60% of all tax revenues to the school system via a revenue sharing agreement, yet our classrooms remain the most crowded in the Commonwealth and our teachers are among the lowest paid in the region. The revenue sharing agreement must be scrapped and the supervisors should ask the school board members to put together a budget that sets as its priorities: 1.) reducing class sizes, and 2.) increasing teacher pay. The school board can then do this as they see fit, present their plan to the county supervisors who then have the option to approve the budget or ask the School Board to make additional changes before approval. That would ensure the school board’s legal autonomy while also maintaining the board’s oversight for nearly 60% of our tax dollars. That certainly makes much more sense than what we have now – a backwards process where the supervisors hand the money over first and then relinquish all oversight responsibility.

 

REFORM THE COUNTY’S TAX STRUCTURE

Fundamental reform of our tax structure in Prince William County is needed in order to protect taxpayers as well as to ensure the county’s future economic development and prosperity. We should be upfront about what taxes the county collects. County taxes on electricity, telephone service (both landline and cell), and cable as well as the personal property tax decal fee should be abolished and be made transparent by utilizing real estate taxes to raise the same revenue instead. Likewise, special assessments for fire, gypsy moth eradication and other services should be included in the real estate tax, not separated out. By doing these two things, taxpayers would know precisely how much they truly are paying in taxes and would also be able to deduct the full amount from their federal taxes.

 

REFORM THE COUNTY’S CAR TAX

We need to reform the county’s personal property tax, which is one of the most onerous taxes that we have to pay. Every October residents get hit with a bill that they must pay in a lump sum unlike the real estate tax that most people pay each month via payments to an escrow account as part of their mortgage. This is unconscionable and the portion that taxpayers must pay should be eliminated. Since the state reimburses the county for a portion of the car tax and we should not forgo that, the county should credit taxpayers with the amount they would owe on the tax with money paid by them in real estate taxes. Even renters indirectly pay real estate tax by way of the rent they pay to the property owner, so everyone would be paying their share in one way or another. Simply put, just as the phone or cable company has been able to bundle your phone, TV and internet into one package for a single price, the county should bundle all the revenue that it needs to raise into one tax and eliminate the rest. It will be simple, fair and easy to understand as well as beneficial to taxpayers.

 

IMPROVE THE COMMERCIAL-TO-RESIDENTIAL TAX RATIO

Our county’s tax base remains disproportionately residential resulting in a heavier than necessary tax burden on homeowners.  The county has not even been able to meet the all-too-modest goal of a 75% / 25% residential to commercial split – and that includes counting apartment complexes as commercial property rather than residential. The continuous rezoning of commercial property to residential, which is the heart of the tax ratio problem, can no longer go on unabated. The Board of Supervisors should adopt a rezoning “swap” policy where commercial property may only be rezoned for residential if an equal amount of unused residentially-zoned property is converted to commercial use. At the same time, policies must be put in place to attract businesses to the county that will offer high quality jobs rather than simply more hospitality and retail sector positions.

 

ELIMINATE BPOL

The Business, Professional, and Occupational License or BPOL tax (which is a relic of the War of 1812) is on gross receipts, not actual income. Stafford County’s elimination of their BPOL tax is something that their economic development department has used to great effect in luring high-end businesses that might otherwise have located in Prince William County. As a result, Prince William County attracts low-wage retail and hospitality industries as its primary employers while Stafford and Loudoun counties struggle to keep up with the demand for office space from high-end, good paying private sector employers.

 

STREAMLINE THE COUNTY’S PERMITTING AND INSPECTION BUREAUCRACY

The county bureaucracy responsible for issuing building permits and conducting inspections is riddled with problems ranging from lost site plans for parcels of land to ridiculously high fees for permits to do something as minor as moving a fire sprinkler head a few feet to accommodate the reconfiguration of commercial office space. When it is easier to obtain a building permit for a house in the county than it is for a simple outdoor covered structure that has no walls, doors, windows, power or plumbing, there is something drastically wrong. When new businesses have their openings delayed by several months because of this bureaucracy, resulting in lost wages for employees and lost tax revenue for the county, it should be a priority for the Board of Supervisors to fix the process.

 

SHINE MOONLIGHT ON BOARD PROCEEDINGS

Our Board of County Supervisors is supposed to be a part-time position and represent the typical county citizen. Due to the county’s lack of quality employment, many residents must travel to other parts of Northern Virginia or into Washington, DC for their jobs. Most people have 9-to-5 types of jobs, yet too often our county supervisors hide in broad daylight by way of afternoon meetings that citizens cannot attend without taking time off from work. As a result, a majority of current supervisors are either self-employed or retired because they are the only ones who can participate. In order to encourage better civic involvement, both in terms of residents attending meetings to have their voices heard as well as encouraging them to serve on the board themselves, all meetings should be held during the evening.

 

INCREASE EFFICIENCY OF BOARD MEETINGS

Establish four board committees: Finance, Government Services and Operations; Transportation and Land Use; Economic Development; and Joint Schools/BOCS. Items would be introduced before the full Board and then the Board would have the option of sending them to committee for a more in depth discussion and study. The committees would have 3-5 members, meet monthly, and make recommendations to the full Board. During the budget process, Finance would hold additional meetings and work out a Capital Improvement Plan for adoption by the full Board using different metrics on things such as debt capacity, load, ratios, etc. This will serve to make BOCS Business Meetings more efficient and more focused on making decisions as opposed to exploration and/or oversight.

 

ADOPT STRONGER CONFLICT OF INTEREST AND ETHICS RULES

Our current Board has been plagued by numerous scandals with one of the most egregious being the use of taxpayers’ money in the form of office discretionary funds that were used instead for personal and political purposes. While this has been reined in somewhat, other avenues for abuse of our tax dollars still exist including the budget carryover process. The ethics and conflict of interest statutes that currently only apply to Loudoun and Fairfax counties must be extended by the General Assembly to cover Prince William County as well. Our county should be at the forefront of lobbying for this change and until it is instituted should put in place rules that mirror it.

 

IMPLEMENT COST-EFFECTIVE MASS TRANSIT

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) can be implemented at a fraction of the cost of extending Metro, providing more immediate service and getting customers where they need to go much faster than Metro ever could.

The county needs to better publicize the OmniRide Metro Direct service (prominent Metro Direct signs at pick-up locations and recognizable signs on the buses like the DC Circulator would help).  BRT can serve the needs of people to connect with Metro now at a fraction of the cost.  The service should be tweaked – the buses could go directly to Metro stations in Fairfax from their origination point in Prince William and the departure/arrival stations could be prominently located close to entrances for the EZPass Express lanes on I-95 or the I-66 HOV lanes. This would also enable the county to avoid becoming a member of the Metro system and paying millions of dollars each year for system-wide maintenance of Metro that would gut the county’s transportation budget.

 

 

Breaking : Ron Meyer set to run for State Senate

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Ron Meyer announced today that he intends on challenging Democratic Senator Jennifer Wexton in Virginia’s 33rd Senate District.

This will be Ron’s second go at the seat, after losing to John Witbeck in a Republican Convention last year.  Meyer who is 25 is the former spokesman of  Young America’s Foundation and the Reagan Ranch, now is the owner and President of Springboard Media Strategies, a media and digital communications firm.  Ron would be a candidate who will bring youth and new perspective to Richmond, and knows this campaign will be a challenge. Meyer has already started campaigning, and getting his name out to the electorate.

Ron is the only Republican to announce so far for the nomination. Virginia Virtucon will be following this contest closely.

Dudenhefer back in the political arena

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Former Delegate From the 2nd Delegate district Mark Dudenhefer wants his job back. Mark Dudenhefer who was defeated in 2013 by Democrat Michael Futrell made it official to Potomac Local (://potomaclocal.com/2014/12/08/dudenhefer-running-reclaim-2nd-district-seat-stafford-woodbridge/9) that he is ready to recapture his seat.

Mark Dudenhefer was extremely effective in making moves in transportation, but most of that work was put aside with the election of Terry McAuliffe. I personally am ready to help Mark reclaim the seat and so are many in Stafford County, who have felt ignored by current Delegate Michael Futrell. Futrell, who is not seeking re-election, is instead seeking the State Senate seat that is up for grabs after the retirement of very long time serving Colgan. Futrell has heard some yells from Stafford that he has spent most of his time in Prince William County, while ignoring the southern part of his district. Dudenhefer must not repeat the mistakes of last election, and must spend more time in Prince William County. Though he carried the electorate in Stafford, he was absolutely destroyed by the numbers coming from the very blue Prince William County.

Though many folks have been whispered to want to run for this seat on the Republican side, it looks like the party will rally behind Dudenhefer this time around, he just needs to take this campaign to all corners of the district and leave no stone unturned. With such a tough district for Republicans like the 2nd District every voter needs to be asked and every vote will count. I wish Dudenhefer luck on his endeavor and will also offer him my help.

 

 

 

Why Boehner Really Won’t Cancel Obama’s State of the Union Invite

From FoxNews:

Boehner not nixing State of the Union, calls it chance for Obama to be more ‘unpopular’

December 04, 2014

Looks like the State of the Union is on after all.

House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday rebuffed conservatives who had been urging him not to invite President Obama to deliver the State of the Union address, in protest over his executive actions on immigration.

Boehner reasoned that giving Obama the floor would hurt, not help, the president’s cause.

“The more the president talks about his ideas, the more unpopular he becomes,” Boehner said. “Why would I want to deprive him of that opportunity?”

The president last month announced a set of executive actions, including moves to give temporary legal status to up to 5 million illegal immigrants.

Hood Cries

An OP-ED by Coby Dillard :

 

When there’s blood in the streets (streets)
And you remain quiet, don’t you come with a speech
(When it pop) Man down (down), Gunned by police
Hood Cries, you ignore it? Don’t say nuthin’ to me
(When it pop) (When it pop)
The hood been cryin’ out (cryin’ out), but no one ever hears (yeah)
Until they turn it upside down (side down) Now everyone appears (yeah)

It’s easy for me to look at killings like Trayvon Martin’s and Michael Brown’s and say that the outcomes of the inquiries into them resembled justice. I can do that because, in both situations, there were-and remain-a lot of unknowns; a lot of unanswered questions that could lead an individual to say those killings weren’t outright murders. In those instances, I understand how and why the conclusions were made.

That said, I can’t look at the decision to not prosecute the police officer that killed Eric Garner and come to the same conclusion about justice being served. It wasn’t, and there’s no denying that. Even if I grant the police the latitude necessary for them to effectively and safely do their jobs, there is no way that I get to the point of choking someone to their death as a viable method of restraint. No, it may not be murder, but it’s definitely negligence…and New York has a statute for criminally negligent homicide.

I’ll leave that for the federal lawyers to sort out.

These multiple killings-Martin’s, Brown’s, Garner’s-have led to protests and degrees of civil unrest. Rightly so, despite my disagreement with some of the tactics. What we see in Ferguson, what we saw in Florida and around the country last year, is the boiling over of decades of tension and frustration between the black community and the police departments that are supposed to keep the peace.

I notice, however, that people have a hard time acknowledging that frustration. They ask why blacks don’t get upset at the high rates of black-on-black killings, or at the disproportionate rates of black abortions, questioning why some “black lives matter” and those supposedly taken at the hands of other blacks don’t.

To those who I know who make those arguments, do me a favor: stop.

Because those arguments don’t show any concern for what’s going on. They don’t show any compassion for what happened. You can’t dictate to a people-of any color-what they should and should not be upset about. Let’s keep this real: if black police officers were killing young white men in the way Brown and Garner were killed, and if George Zimmerman was a black man, we know what the reaction would be. You do too.

And the funny thing is that the black community would support your frustration. Why? Because we know firsthand what it feels like. Been happening to us for a while.

Do you really think that blacks don’t care about blacks killing blacks, through any form of violent actions? Do you really think we’re not smart enough to recognize the problems that our community has? Do you really think we’re not capable of addressing them?

If you do, I understand. You’re safely insulated. You don’t know what’s going on; don’t see the pastors and community leaders in their streets, going door to door if necessary and pleading for the violence to stop. You don’t see the few-and true, that’s unfortunate-black men who stay in their neighborhoods, working to bring peace and betterment. And the ones you do see and hear about, you cast them as “militants”, because they make you feel uncomfortable.

And yet, when I talk about black murders, black abortions, black kids who can’t read and aren’t learning in schools…..you applaud.

My community has some real issues; I know. We’re doing the best we can to deal with them with the resources we have. Our responses aren’t perfect; sometimes they’re loud. Sometimes they’re profane. Sometimes, yes, they’re self destructive. But they’re ours, with all their positive and negative implications.

Let us have them. Allow us the time and space to get our emotions out…and then help us continue the work of improving.

 

Coby Dillard is the Chairman and Founder of The Virginia Black Conservatives

It’s time to re-examine our laws to increase police accountability

I do not wish to re-litigate Ferguson here; there is a tremendous amount of political and racial tribalism that colors who people view that situation, and it really is open to interpretation.

The situation in New York, where a New York cop brutally choked Eric Garner for selling loose cigarettes, is another matter altogether.

For one, that incident was caught on camera. The officer who killed Garner? Not indicted. The guy and his wife who filmed the incident? Indicted. Garner? Dead. Choked.

If my friends on the right wonder why there is so much anger and suspicion on the part of the black community at the police, incidents like this are a big part.

One of the issues that came out about the Ferguson case is that the laws in Missouri are extremely favorable to police- meaning, it is extremely difficult to hold a cop accountable for misdeeds in a court of law. Apparently, the law in New York is similar.

Judge Andrew Napolitano also wonders if we are becoming a virtual police state, where any cop can get away with use of deadly force with impunity.

What is to be done? I would recommend liberty as the answer.

This issue runs deep for Americans; remember, the Boston Massacre was an issue of law enforcement overreach that was artfully used by patriots agitating against the British.

I am not against the police. I salute their service. It’s a tough job. But any reasonable person knows there are good and bad cops, just as there are good and bad people. We have all met overzealous or unfair cops, and wondered what can be done to hold those individuals to account.

Part of the issue is, we have too many damn laws. In New Jersey, it is still against the law to slurp soup! When a cop can stop a citizen for doing almost anything, it creates a bad situation for all involved. So laws have to be looked at to maximize individual liberty.

The other part of it is to make sure that cops can be held to account for their actions. They are humans, like everyone else; they need to be held to account like everyone else. No agent of the government should be able to act with impunity to punish the citizenry without recourse. It’s unconstitutional.

Cop cameras are a good step. But the laws need to allow for normal accountability.

In case of a death, a special prosecutor should be named (to prevent collusion by normal DAs who must work with cops), and no abnormal deference should be shown to police in the course of their duties. Bernard Kerik added that community policing prevents these kind of situations; police should return to being the constables of the peace they started out as, not an internal army.

Shooting or killing a citizen should not be the default; it should be extraordinary.

Now, tell me if those things were followed, people would not feel a lot more faith in the system than they currently do. And that is ultimately the goal here- better safety for everyone.

No, Jeb Bush is NOT a conservative.

Much talk lately about “whither Jeb Bush” for President in 2016- but more specifically, if he is a conservative.

Liberals in the Republican Party here in Virginia are big fans. They cite Bill Bolling as another local Republican who is “misunderstood”.

There are several problems here.

The biggest one is, it really is a different time period than the last time Jeb faced the voters. In 1998, when Bush was first elected governor of Florida, Bill Clinton was being impeached by Congress. In 2002, the last election he competed in, we were in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 and the effects of NCLB were not yet known. His brother had just been elected President, and passed a big tax cut to boot.

Not so in 2014.

In 2014, we’ve had six years of a far leftist President Obama, who has given us a HUGE tax hike, Obamacare, an unprecedented expansion of Federal government power and size, and more new job-killing (and freedom-restricting) regulations than anyone really thought possible.

The priority at this point, as the Republic passes the $18 trillion mark in Federal debt, is on not just slowing the growth of government- but actively and quickly rolling it back.

That means rolling back Obamacare. Rolling back spending of all kinds. Rolling back innumerable regulations. Appointing judges who will respect a less active role for the leviathan central government in the Capitol.

So ask yourself: why would you nominate a person whose only policy calling card in the last 10 years is the expansion of Federal control in education, something which even liberals agree is best governed on a local level?

Common Core is a HUGE issue in 2014. Not only are states opting out and suing the Feds over it, but 2/3 of adults (likely the ones with school-age children) disapprove of Common Core and want it done away.

This is a big issue that favors a small government approach and is very popular among parents of all political persuasions.

But wait, there’s more.

Another big issue being raised on both sides of the aisle is cronyism- crony capitalism on the right, crony government on the left.

The main proponents of Common Core? The Chamber of Commerce and Public School Administrators. FAIL.

Why would we nominate someone on the wrong side of the biggest single issue of our time facing families? An issue that so clearly demonstrates why small government approaches are better than centralized ones?

Then there is immigration…. where Bush is at odds with 80% of his party’s faithful, and at odds with 60% of the country as a whole.

Times change. It was great that Bush cut taxes while Florida Governor. But in the decade since, he made his bones on the wrong side of a very important size-of-government issue.

There are too many other talented, good options this time around. This isn’t England; time to let the Bush dynasty go.

Obama Opening Illegal Immigrant Processing Center in NOVA, Hiring 1,000 New Full-Time Permanent Employees

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) has uncovered this U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) bulletin announcing a new facility right here in Northern Virginia to process President Obama’s executive amnesty order:

USCIS is taking steps to open a new operational center in Crystal City, a neighborhood in Arlington, Virginia, to accommodate about 1,000 full-time, permanent federal and contract employees in a variety of positions and grade levels. The initial workload will include cases filed as a result of the executive actions on immigration announced on Nov. 20, 2014.

More can be read here and here.

BREAKING : Eric Herr Drops his bid for RPV Chair

Word has been circulating that 1st District Chair is dropping his bid for RPV Chair, all but clearing the field for 10th District Chair John Whitbeck to take on the job.  John who was recently endorsed by State Senator Mark Obenshain and received the unanimous endorsement of the Conservative fellowship, is said to have all the momentum in this contest… stay tuned to VV for updates…

 

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Barry Moore announces for 11th Senate District then deletes announcement?

Rumors have been circulating that Amanda Chase may have competition in her challenge to Steve Martin for the 11th Senate District. Chesterfield businessman Barry Moore has been said to be considering a run for the seat and a pseudo-confirmation briefly arose when Moore posted the following message on his Facebook page:

Miller Facebook

The post was quickly removed from Moore’s Facebook account, which was probably a wise choice considering the message was not especially conservative, or coherent for that matter. While “change” is often a rallying cry to challengers to incumbents, any good conservative should could cringe at bringing about such change through “planned progressive actions.” While it is doubtful that Moore actually intended to label himself as a progressive, it is nearly impossible to discern any actual substance in the announcement posting, other than an avowed passion for something called “conscious change.”

Regardless of the quality of the non-announcement, any third candidate in a nomination fight against a sitting incumbent would likely be fatal to both challengers. Virginia law states that the incumbent may choose the method of nomination for elections to the General Assembly, and Steve Martin will surely choose a primary, where the highest vote-getter wins without run-offs. As we’ve discussed before, Martin may be vulnerable to a strong primary challenge. However, if rival challengers the dissenting vote against a long-term incumbent, Martin would be nearly certain to win such a three-way challenge.  If Moore is serious about wanting “conscious change” for the 11th District, he might want to consider things carefully before starting a three-way nomination contest.

Announcing the VV 2015 State Senate Race Preview Series

Next year, the close State Senate races will be the ones to watch, as the GOP tries to defend their slim one-vote majority against the marauding money of Gov. McAuliffe and the Democrats. Which races will be close? Which will be noncompetitive? Where will we see hot nominating contests? Will any incumbents fall?

If you are planning to run for a State Senate seat in 2015 and would like your candidacy or comments to be included in the writeup of your race, please contact VV here. We will begin the series next week, with the 29th State Senate District race.

Stimpson Launches Primary Challenge To Howell

This just came in over the window transom into Virtucon’s virtual offices. We’ve known about this for a while, but have held off on releasing this so that Susan could do so on her own terms…

Over the last two years, I’ve heard the same thing from people across Stafford County and Fredericksburg: the politicians in Richmond are out of touch.  They raise our taxes, waste our money and always ask for more—all while we’re forced to cut our household budgets and sit in traffic.

That’s why earlier today I announced my candidacy for the House of Delegates in House District 28, which has been held for nearly 28 years by Delegate Bill Howell, the Speaker of the House.

Bill Howell has been the consistent force behind every major tax increase in Virginia in the last decade. He has voted for them, he has engineered them and they are his legacy.

Simply put, Bill Howell has lost his way and is the chief architect of a tax-and-spend agenda that rewards the politicians and punishes the middle class. It is time for a change.

<spanstyle=”text-decoration: underline;”>Bill Howell has been a friend, but we have profound policy disagreements. We’ve helped each other in the past and we have worked together at many levels to elect Republicans to office.  I was thrilled in 2009 when Republicans won all three statewide offices in Virginia and gained a super majority in the House of Delegates. But instead of leading as a conservative to transform government, Bill Howell squandered that opportunity by crafting the largest tax increase in Virginia’s history in 2013.

Howell repeatedly sides with the liberal Democrats and The Washington Post editorial pages and thinks government needs more money. The truth is Richmond has a spending problem, not a revenue problem.

To make matters worse, Speaker Howell promised those new tax dollars would be spent to improve our roads. But after the 2013 tax hike, in their very next budget, the General Assembly unlocked the transportation “lockbox” and rolled the money into the general fund breaking that promise. Republicans must put a halt to the duplicitous nature of the tax-and-spend crowd in Richmond.

Speaker Howell has equally been a champion of skyrocketing spending. Virginia’s budget has doubled under Howell’s leadership. This year alone he grew the budget over 13%.

Conservative Republicans do not continually raise taxes and grow the size of government.

Governing is about making tough decisions, actually living within our means like families do every day, and doing right by the people who elect us.

I look forward to highlighting my record of cutting taxes, cutting spending and making government more efficient while prioritizing funds for roads, schools and public safety with Speaker Howell’s tax hiking, big spending record.  

For the first time in decades, voters will finally have a real choice and Bill Howell will have to explain why his engineering of massive tax increases in 2004, 2007 and 2013, and the doubling of Virginia’s budget while we still sit in traffic, are good things for Virginians.

Sincerely,

Susan Stimpson

P.S.: Deep-pocketed special interests in Richmond will spend whatever is required to protect Speaker Howell.  Please consider making a generous contribution now to help us build a strong campaign and make the choice clear to voters: conservative governance or tax hikes and out-of-control spending. Contribute Now!

www.SusanStimpson.com
Paid for and Authorized by Virginians for Susan Stimpson

Warner’s Near Loss Already Spooking Tim Kaine

It would appear that Mark Warner’s political near-death last month has seriously spooked his senate seatmate Tim Kaine. After Warner and Kaine both voted against Harry Reid remaining as their Senate Democratic leader (joining only Joe Manchin and Claire McCaskill on that vote), Kaine has given off another signal that he knows Virginia isn’t a safe bet for Democrats running statewide. He is already raising money for his 2018 re-election campaign. Yes, you read that correctly — 2018…

Kaine 2018

Please join Senator Tim Kaine for a cocktail reception in support of Kaine for Virginia on Monday, December 8th, from 6:30-8:00 PM at Diageo House in Eastern Market.

Location:
Diageo House
310 Sixth Street, SE
Washington, DC 20003

Suggested Contribution:
Host: $5,200
Sponsor: $2,600
Friend: $1,000
Guest: $500

To RSVP or if you have any questions, please contact Mary Tabaie at (202) xxx-xxxx or xxxx@kaineforva.com. Thank you for your support of Senator Kaine.

Mary

 

The Perfect New Assistant Planning Director for PWC

Sometime between Nov. 19 and Nov. 21, Prince William County lost its Assistant Planning Director. No, he didn’t die or mysteriously disappear on a Malaysia Airlines flight. Ray Utz was arrested on the 19th and sometime between then and when InsideNOVA published an article on the 21st about his arrest on two counts of indecent exposure and two counts of obscene sexual display, Utz was either fired or resigned.

So, the county needs a new Assistant Planning Director and I know the perfect person for the job.

My son who will turn 5-years old later this month.

Why?

1. He is a Lego fanatic, particularly the Lego City line of items. He understands that you need a broad diversification of commercial and residential properties as well as many different transportation options. That alone puts him light years ahead of where the county is today.

2. He asks questions when something doesn’t make sense to him or he doesn’t understand it. Maybe our county’s planning wouldn’t be such a mess if the leaders of the planning department thought a bit about the big picture and asked some more questions.

3. Apparently unlike the previous occupant of the office (given the allegations against him), my son knows that you shouldn’t show your private parts to other people, especially in public.

Those are three solid reasons right there why my son would be a better Assistant Planning Director for Prince William County than Ray Utz was.

Is The Balance Of Political Power In Arlington Actually Shifting?

Anyone who follows politics in Arlington County knows about the relative political earthquake that was triggered by John Vihstadt’s reelection to a full term as a member of the Arlington County Board. He’s the first non-Democrat elected to the board since dinosaurs roamed the Earth. Worse yet, from the perspective of the Democratic junta that’s run the county forever, he’s encouraged “rogue” Democrat board member Libby Garvey to stand up to them more often on issues of fiscal sanity.

From their perspective, and that of the Washington Post, this is disastrous, and of course, motivated by classism and racism. (‘Shocker.’, says the average VV reader.) If one white elephant can be killed, the whole herd that the current board majority, led by Chairman Jay Fisette,  shepherds could be in danger. It would seem that years of arrogance and condescension may come to bite Democrats even in deep-blue Arlington. But the real question is: Is this only the beginning of a larger shift in Arlington politics?

The other two members of the Democratic junta board majority, Mary Hynes and Walter Tejada, are both up for reelection in 2015, and going into Election Day a few weeks ago, they were worried. There was scuttlebutt that Hynes might not run for reelection if Vihstadt defeated Alan Howze, the same man he bested in the special election a few months ago to fill the board vacancy. Now that has come to pass, and Fisette and Hynes (over Tejada’s temper tantrum) have decided to give up on the vaunted streetcar project.

What happens this coming year? The rumor among the Arlington GOP is that Mike McMenamin may challenge Hynes or Tejada, and he garnered the best result of any Republican candidate for county board in Arlington in decades in 2007, so he would represent a great threat to either. Democratic activists have admitted to this author and others that they “don’t have a deep bench” if Hynes retires from the board. And not to put too fine a point on it, but Walter Tejada is not exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer, as evidenced by his intransigence in the face of rejection by Arlington voters on the streetcar. Will a second strong candidate be recruited to run alongside McMenamin? All the anti-junta alliance has to do is win one of the two races, and that person can form a governing majority with Garvey and Vihstadt, which would be a nightmare for the Dem establishment in Arlington. And if both Hynes and Tejada go down… batten down the hatches. It look to be an interesting year in Arlington politics, for the first time in a long time. And that’s a great thing.

Sonnie Johnson’s take on the Ferguson Riots

10 Questions Citizens of #Ferguson Should Ask Outside Agitators – Sonnie Johnson

Sonnie-Johnson
photo credit: Brietbart.com

 

It’s all fun and games until you burn down a damn city. The citizens of Ferguson should ask the outside agitators some questions before they let them continue to burn down their community…

  1. Where do you live? It would be nice to know that the people burning down your city will also be there when the destruction smolders. If they live in a gated community a thousand miles away, why are you letting them burn down your economy?
  2. How can they afford to be full time protestors? You don’t get paid to protest…or do you? Have you asked the protesters where they get their salary and what is the purpose of that salary? Has anyone offered you payment for time spent?
  3. What is your economic plan after the Ferguson protest? Now that the city is on fire, how do you plan to rebuild? Will it be private ownership that empowers the people or will Ferguson move to a more government-controlled structure like Detroit?
  4. Now that violence is a standard in Ferguson, from the police and protesters, who is going to protect the citizens caught in the crossfire? Gun sales in the Ferguson area have tripled in the last few months. Will it be incumbent upon the people to protect themselves?
  5. It’s going to take a lot of local tax money to repair all the damages caused to small business and public locations, are you going to contribute to local economy over and beyond what you have destroyed? You have proven your point, will you stay and be apart of cleaning up your anger and bitterness or will we have to live with it for a generation?
  6. You are telling me America is ruled by an oppressive government…but aren’t you the same people telling me to trust that government for my housing, food, healthcare, education, cell phone, etc? Don’t you think it’s dangerous to bite the hand that feeds you…while continuing to beg for scraps from their table?
  7. This is a black and white issue. White protesters; who said you, were an acceptable white? Do you have a white privilege null and void card to show proof you are really down for the cause? I mean, if you have a couple thousand in the bank and daddy’s credit card, you look like a 1%er to me.
  8. I’m asking this question for a friend…Why is it that every time Al Shartpon and his ILK show up, the media comes, but no actual change follows? You pop your head in, burns some shit down, the media displays them in full grandeur, and you leave the communities with nothing but heartbreak and anger?
  9. Do you think the events of Ferguson have cemented Progressive propaganda for an entire generation? We’re friends here, you can be honest. You have kept racism alive and well for an entire generation, are you proud? Which riot, or burning down of a city, will you relate Ferguson to when you tell the story of your battle in the Civil Rights movement?
  10. Was this a victory? Did you show America the value of black lives by burning down a damn city? Did you show black kids the value of hard work by looting? Did you explain 2nd amendment rights and RESPONSIBLITIES while you were shooting at police officers?  Is this what you really think black America looks like?

And this point, I’ll drop the mic and walk away.  There is no scenario where burning down your own shit is acceptable.  PERIOD.

 

 

 

 

 

With the retirement of Watkins can we keep the Senate Red?

As the rumors first reported by the Virtucon that Senator Watkins won’t run again have been confirmed, the question becomes: Will Republicans find a candidate to retain his seat beyond 2015? Unlike Steve Martin’s 11th Senatorial District that would certainly stay red if Martin were not the candidate, Senator Watkins’s District 10 is far from a sure bet for Republicans to retain as an open seat.  It will take an optimal candidate to keep the seat.

The district was redistricted in 2011, so we will examine the district as it stands today. In 2009, the district (as outlined today) as was strongly conservative as the Republicans swept the state with McDonnell and Cuccinelli winning 59% of the vote, and Bill Bolling taking in 57%.  Since then, the district has changed remarkably.  In 2013, Ken Cuccinelli lost the district to Terry McAuliffe 42% to 47% with Sarvis taking 10%.  Mark Obeshain lost 51% to 49% while E.W. Jackson was crushed in the district 60% to 40%. Obama won the district 51% to 47% in 2008 and 50% to 48% in 2012. Warner crushed Gilmore 64% to 44% in 2008, while Kaine won  53% to 46% in 2012. While the numbers haven’t been published on VPAP yet, an analysis of the relevant precincts shows Warner defeated Gillespie 49.7% to 46.6% with Sarvis stealing 3.5% of the vote.

The only Republican to win in the district since 2009 is Senator Watkins. Watkins, a prodigious fundraiser, outspent his Democratic opponent in 2011 $1,200,723 to $505,032 and won the election handily 56% to 43%.  With the 10th District likely getting state wide and even national attention as it may swing the senate in 2015, it is unlikely that a the spending split will be as large as it was in 2011. This district will be in play, and it will take the right kind of candidate for the Republicans to win.

Looking to the recent races what sort of candidate will be the most competitive for Republicans in the 11th? I would say that we need a Chesterfield County based candidate that is issue focused, small government, anti-tax, business friendly,  and conservative while not being a firebrand on social issues.

The optimal candidate would be from Chesterfield County because, despite being called the Powhatan Seat, the district’s voting population divides up 49% Chesterfield, 37% Richmond, and 14% Powhatan County.

The optimal candidate would be issue focused because that’s how Ed Gillespie derailed Warner’s campaign enough to almost score a win.

The optimal candidate would be small government and anti-tax because Watkins is leaving the seat for the sins of supporting Medicaid Expansions and McDonnell’s unpopular transportation tax-hike package.

The optimal candidate would be business friendly, because fundraising will be a key part of this race and Watkins made the district happy for a long time with his business friendly policies.

And the optimal candidate will not be a firebrand on social issues due to the illustrated disparity between Obenshain and Jackson in the 2013 election and Gillespie’s successful parries of Warner’s attempts to paint him as extreme on social issues.

So… any ideas on who this optimal candidate may be?

Updated …. No longer a rumor : Senator John Watkins announces retirement!

Updated from the Richmond Times Dispatch  : http://www.timesdispatch.com/news/state-regional/powhatan-senator-watkins-won-t-run-again-in/article_51ce16b3-9b66-5527-8578-2e19de12dad3.html

 

With rampant speculation that challengers are being sought for Senator John Watkins’s seat in the 10th Senatorial District, Virginia Virtucon has heard unconfirmed reports that Watkins is set to announce his retirement. Watkins famously broke with the GOP in support of Medicaid Expansion during the last session, and it may be that he now realizes that he has finally disaffected the Republican base.

Watkins was the Delegate for the 34th district from 1982 to 1983, when he was succeed by Vincent Callahan and became the Delegate for the 65th House District where he served until 1998, when he was succeeded by Lee Ware.  Since then, he has been a pro-business voice and consensus seeking moderate in the Senate.

Jamie Radtke, once considered a favorite to challenge Watkins from his right, has recently moved to Hanover, so there is an open field to succeed Watkins in the 10th Senatorial District…

 

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Corey Stewart Versus………????

Chairman Stewart has all but announced his intentions to run for reelection, holding his annual Fall fundraiser last month. Chairman Stewart who is a powerhouse at fundraising has the advantage of name recognition, and the power of incumbency.

However Corey has caught some slack lately, and has been painted as a tax raiser. In fact, in one Board meeting fellow Supervisor Democrat Frank Principi proclaimed:

Corey you’re looking more and more like a democrat everyday

No doubt if there is a challenge mounted against Corey, he will be painted as going too far left, and abandoning his Conservative base.

Enter Supervisor Pete Candland, who according to sources met on Saturday morning with several well-known political players who approached him about running against PWC board Chairman Corey Stewart. They represented several conservative groups who were upset over Corey Stewarts running of the board, and more specifically his financial policies.

Furthermore they have committed to financially backing Supervisor Candland if he decides to challenge Chairman Stewart.

Supervisor Candland is said to be discussing this possible venture with several other local activists and most importantly analyzing the impact of a county wide campaign on his family.

Whoever the nominee on the GOP side will be, they will likely face liberal activist Rick Smith. Grab your Popcorn folks this is getting interesting.

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Scott Jacobs’ Statement of Economic Interests Makes for Interesting Reading

Scott Jacobs, the Republican-turned-Independent candidate for Brentsville Dist. supervisor in Prince William County, has filed his Statement of Economic Interests as a candidate (see here and here). It appears that once again, just as his sloppy handling of a simple filing fee cost him the chance to compete for the GOP nomination, Mr. Jacobs put his incompetence on display once again with this filing (and perhaps revealed an intriguing issue with the county’s assessment system.)

While The Derecho has already delved into these statements and discovered some interesting things of his own (with one correction – it is the 12923 Fitzwater parcel that is not listed on the statements submitted by Jacobs), there are other things to pick apart here as well.

Let’s take a closer look –

13460 Nokesville Rd. LISTED ON Scott Jacob’s Statement of Economic Interest H-2
.89 acres of Vacant land
Zoned agricultural
Assessed for $3500 in 2014
Purchased by Scott Jacobs 3/5/2014 for $50,000

12814/16 Fitzwater Dr. Zoned General Business LISTED ON Scott Jacob’s Statement of Economic Interest H-2
1 home and 1 commercial building (formerly Nokesville Flowers) on .8679 acres
Purchased 10/14/2010 for $330,000 (I think it was a short sale)
Property was purchased and still is held under Scott and Kim Jacobs
Assessed in 2014 for $390,100

This property fronts the large undeveloped tract known as Hale Farm (owned by real estate investors since late 90’s, including Bob Sowder). The Hale property is a huge property along the railroad tracks that the owners want to develop with high density housing and a VRE station

Then things really become interesting in January 2012 when Scott was appointed by Wally Covington to the Prince William County Strategic Plan Committee. As a member of the committee, Jacobs received briefings on various future county plans functions including transportation – specifically VRE and transit.

After the Prince William Strategic Plan Committee transportation briefing in November 2012, Scott Jacobs purchased the following properties along the railroad tracks in Nokesville at the location of the proposed future Nokesville VRE:

12917 Fitzwater Dr. SFH on .5583 acres, Zoned General Business LISTED ON Scott Jacob’s Statement of Economic Interest H-2
Purchased 9/27/12 for $240,000
Property was bought by Scott and Kim Jacobs but sold for $330,000 to 7/30/14 to Fitzwater Dr. Acquisition LLC, which made Scott and his wife $90,000 for the two years they held the property.
Assessed in 2014 for $234,500
Fitzwater Dr. Acquisition LLC. Was formed 7/2/14
The registered agent is Nicholas Jacobs (Scott’s brother) but there could be multiple others in the LLC
Because the property is listed on Scott Jacob’s Schedule H-2 of his Statement of Economic Interests as one of his properties, that means Scott and/or his wife Kimberly are also partners in Fitzwater Dr. Acquisition LLC.

12523 Marsteller Dr. Vacant lot 1.0 acres, zoned General Business LISTED ON Scott Jacob’s Statement of Economic Interest H-2
Purchased by Scott Jacobs 11/1/2012 for $30,000
Assessed in 2014 for $22,200

12615 Marsteller Dr. Vacant lot 1.0 acres, zoned General Business LISTED ON Scott Jacob’s Statement of Economic Interest H-2
Purchased by Scott Jacobs 11/1/2012 for $30,000
Assessed in 2014 for $22,200

12923 Fitzwater SFH on .4851 acres, Zoned General Business NOT LISTED ON Scott Jacob’s Statement of Economic Interest H-2
Purchased 8/1/2014 by Scott and Kim Jacobs for $270,000
Assessed in 2014 for $207,700
Scott has told people he is going to relocate his growing real estate business to this house.

All the Fitzwater lots would be in the section of Nokesville that Scott wants to develop and make walkable with shops and restaurants.
The Marsteller lots are alongside the railroad tracks where the Nokesville VRE would be built if it was put into the transportation plan.

Properties outside PWC:
120/230 Executive Center Parkway Fredericksburg, VA LISTED ON Scott Jacob’s Statement of Economic Interest H-2

With the exception of 12814/16 Fitzwater Dr. parcel, each of the properties Jacobs owns in Prince William county are assessed for lower than what he paid for them even though some of these parcels were purchased at times when the real estate market in the county was further depressed than it is today. Since the county assesses real estate every year and it bases values on the sale prices of nearby properties, why does Jacobs appear to be getting such a discount on his property taxes via the curiously lower assessment values?

So, in addition to “forgetting” to disclose his most recent property purchase made on Aug. 1 of this year on these filings made on Oct. 20, one has to wonder if Jacobs is getting some sort of preferential treatment (a “Friends and Family Discount”?) from the county on his property taxes thanks to their current assessment values vis-a-vis their actual purchase prices.

Police Pop PWC Planning Post Perv

InsideNOVA is reporting that Prince William County’s (apparently now former) assistant planning director Ray Utz was arrested Wed., Nov. 19 on charges of indecent exposure after police received not one, but TWO calls from women reporting that a man driving a vehicle registered to Utz was exposing himself to them at stoplights in Woodbridge and Lake Ridge. He was officially charged with “two counts of indecent exposure and two counts of obscene sexual display.”

Readers of Virginia Virtucon may recall that Virtucon has been writing about Utz’s alleged sexual harassment issues for 5 1/2 years, so the fact that he has been arrested on such charges is not the least bit surprising.

See:

     EXCLUSIVE! – PWC Planning Office Sexual Harassment Scandal EXPOSED!    – 6/4/09

     GUEST POST: Latest Ray Utz Scandal    – 3/13/11

     Culture of Corruption Continues – PWC Fills High-Level Position Without A Competitive Search    – 7/8/14

(My, how prescient that first headline “PWC Planning Office Sexual Harassment Scandal EXPOSED!” was in light of these charges…)

We have detailed sexual harassment claims against Utz dating back to as early as 2006 via a memo written to then-Planning Commissioner Kim Hosen by women who attended an April 23, 2008 Planning Commission meeting who were appalled by Utz’s treatment of her during the meeting and alluded to conditions allegedly faced by female employees in his office over the course of the previous two years. In addition, we published a January 26, 2009 letter to the Prince William County’s Human Resources Dept. detailing “the indignity, humiliation, abuse and non-professional experience [women] have suffered working at the Planning Office under Ray Utz” and that goes on to allege various abuses and unethical behavior in detail as well as corroborating statements and information for the allegations contained in the memo to Hosen.

If these past allegations and the new charges prove to be true, then this would seem to indicate an escalation in this man’s behavior to the point this week where he had become so reckless that he was daring to be caught. He was arrested after he was alleged to have done this during the middle of the day at the intersection of Gideon Drive and Smoketown Road in Woodbridge and the Old Bridge Road at Mohican Drive intersection in Lake Ridge. That would seem to be the sign of a sick, sick individual if this is accurate.

Perhaps just as disturbing as his alleged behavior over the years is the fact that Prince William County was made aware of these problems in 2008 and again in 2009. Not only did they do nothing about it (other than sweep it under the rug and cover it up), but they chose to keep him on staff and then promote him to a plum position without engaging in a competitive search for the post despite both county board Chairman Corey Stewart and County Exec. Melissa Peacor claiming that all vacancies are publicly advertised and filled competitively. Utz was already one of the county’s highest paid employees earning in excess of $100,000 in his previous position before his promotion.

In light of the lengthy public record of allegations against Utz and now his arrest, Stewart and Peacor must be made to answer for their decisions regarding Utz and be held accountable for their actions as well.

Voters should not renominate nor return Stewart to the chairmanship in 2015 (nor should they elect Democrat Rick Smith – formerly known as the blogger “Mitch Cumstein” in the early days of Virginia Virtucon and on the old Too Conservative blog – as he is chairman of the taxpayer boondoggle known as the Hylton Perfoming Arts Center that is at the center of a whole other set of county scandals, but that is another story for another day.)

An interesting aside – according to the InsideNOVA article, Prince William County’s assistant planning director chose to live not in Prince William County, but in Fredericksburg despite being one of the county’s highest paid employees and being able to afford to live in PWC. Obviously he either knows something that the rest of us don’t or else he knows what a lot of us already do and that our county property taxes are too high and our county government wastes our tax dollars with reckless abandon. My guess is that it is a little of both.