With Deterrents Gone, PWC Supervisors Return To Their Free-Spending Ways

 

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Remember the good ol’ days of the Cold War when the American nuclear arsenal (and later President Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative) had the deterrent effect of keeping the Soviets in line? The threat of mutually assured destruction (M.A.D.) actually made the world safe in an ironic sort of way.

The same applies politically. When it is an election year and elected officials face potential primary challenges, they tend to get religion pretty quickly and try to race as fast as they can back to their party’s base in order to survive. If they do, you can count on them reverting to their old ways 9 out of 10 times as survivors of these political deathbed conversions rarely keep their newfound faith for it was merely the threat of a challenge that kept them in line.

Witness today’s vote of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors to rescind $12 million previously approved by the board to bury power lines along a one mile stretch of Route 1 in Woodbridge.

For nearly two hours [Gainesville Dist. Supervisor Peter] Candland contended that defunding the power line project was the right move, and said that funding could be better spent on adding additional classrooms to crowded schools, purchasing new buses for the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission, expand the county’s jail, or build six new miles of sidewalks in neighborhoods known for their incomplete pedestrian pathways, or “sidewalks to nowhere.”

“When you come up here and this Board says ‘we just don’t’ have the money,’ weight that on the burial of the power lines,” said Candland.

In the end, only Candland and newly-elected Brentsville Dist. Supervisor Jeanine Lawson voted to rescind the money so it could be put to a higher priority use. Both of the board’s Democrats and the other four Republicans – Chairman Corey Stewart and Supervisors Marty Nohe (Coles), Mike May (Occoquan) and Maureen Caddigan (Potomac) – voted to keep this spending project in place. Never mind that this is something VDOT and not the county should be paying for or the fact that the county has much greater unmet needs that they are always talking about how we do not have enough money to cover and therefore we must endure tax hike after tax hike. (At last count, the county’s 5-year plan envisioned a 25% property tax hike over that period of time.)

Now, by way of my reference of the Cold War I’m NOT calling Caddigan a communist (as that would imply that she actually held some ideological core beliefs and subscribed to a set political philosophy, things no one would ever accuse her of) or any of her colleagues on the Board. But it is interesting that for the past six months or so the Potomac Dist. Supervisor had seemed to have found the conservative religion when Virtucon’s founder and local community leader Jim Riley had been gearing up to challenge her in the 2015 Republican primary. Unfortunately, last week Riley had to take himself out of contention due to work considerations. It only took until the next Board meeting for her to revert to form.

Likewise, last week Candland decided against a run for county chairman and it is all but certain now that former Del. Jeff Frederick will also pass on a 2015 primary challenge to Stewart. Nohe dodged a bullet when D.J. Jordan decided the time was not right for him to enter the political fray (although Nohe may still be in for the fight of his political life against Paul O’Meara whose background makes him a sort of conservative doppelgänger to Nohe.) May has announced he will not seek reelection and instead will run for Commonwealth’s Attorney.

So, with Candland, Frederick, Jordan and Riley all dropping their expected primary challenges to incumbents on the Board, the deterrent factor keeping them in line has just evaporated. Prince William’s Board has returned to its free-spending ways. While no one should be shocked by this, we should all feel embarrassed that these charlatans are the best that we can do here.


3 thoughts on “With Deterrents Gone, PWC Supervisors Return To Their Free-Spending Ways

  1. We’ve always had representative government. The only question is, whom and what does our government represent?

    Yesterday’s discussion in the Board chambers was not about power lines being located above or below ground. It was about power, political power, being located above or below ground. Visible, or invisible.

    Like virtually every decision and act in Prince William County, the ultimate outcome of this charade was pre-ordained. There was never any meaningful or honest fact finding, analysis, communication, deliberation and final debate. There were deals. That, is the problem.

    The question now becomes, what next? How will conservatives running for an entire slate of offices package themselves in just a few short months? Yard signs, mailers, and any number of other solicitations of the great unwashed are about to rain down after the cyclical three years of drought, one year of flood. The answer is, it really doesn’t matter.

    Everything from nominations, to issues, to votes, to zoning, to funding and most importantly, cash payments for services rendered, have all been pre-determined. By a very, very few people, who represent themselves, and their financial backers.

    Cynical? No. Look at last night. I’m not sure where I would have stood on the power lines, because our elected “representatives” and our hired “staff” conceal the facts from us until, really, it is too late to do anything else. And until that changes, nothing else will.

  2. I can’t disagree with you more on your example. The Route One power line project conforms with what is already being done south of us and our community, Belmont Bay, spearheaded this effort. It was unfortunate it was not noticed sooner that VDOT had no intentions of burying utilities at the Gateway to Prince William from the North. We had the support of all local civic associations, business leaders and GOP activists in Woodbridge. Hats off to Marty, Mike, Corey, Maureen and our two Board Democrats for doing the right thing for economic development. This was money already wisely allocated and Pete should have picked on other funding and perhaps keep his powder dry for amendments to lower our tax rates… some of the highest in the region. Smart development for the future is good for business and revitalization and this project meets that bill!

  3. Rob, it seems that you could not agree with me more.

    First, I do not know where I would have come down had I been in a position to vote on the power lines. I have long maintained that Woodbridge, Potomac and to some extent Occoquan are more the doormat than the doorway to PWC. This has been exacerbated by development in the West and its population by would be country squires who would live in Loudon or Fairfax, if they could afford their County subsidized lifestyles in those pricier locales. To the extent possible, I have always maintained that Woodbridge is disproportionately blighted, and that the entire County would benefit from smart redevelopment of the area.

    Second, I believe that each Supervisor should have greater influence on issues within his or her District. I opposed the Occoquan development as did Supervisor May and most of his community. I took great note at the time that Supervisor Principi also supported our right to some self determination. But, other supervisors incorrectly approved the project which ultimately failed, anyway.

    Third, to my point, I believe that ALL capital projects require and that ALL citizens deserve a better PROCESS by which these decisions are made. Early identification of issues, as you stated, may have avoided this controversy and perhaps allowed for a more effective and less costly solution. But, since County business is more often conducted in secrecy by DESIGN, we’ll never know.

    So, I use this example to illustrate the need for a better process, timely (i.e., done early enough so that options can be considered and chosen) open to all, using objective fact gathering and analysis, and ultimately placed in the hands of the people footing the bill – the taxpayers. ALL taxpayers.

    Would you not agree?

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