February 2009

DuPree Must Be Lobbying His Boss, John Wood

By Loudoun Insider

John Wood, CEO of Telos, and a prominent Loudoun businessman (and good guy from what I hear) is being put out front by the school lobby as a businessman in favor of ”fully funding” the proposed school budget.  He was prominently mentioned in a Leesburg Today editorial in this aspect, and now is the subject of a post at School Board member John Stevens’ blog.  Wood is the Chairman of the Economic Development Commission and has signed his letter posted by Stevens in that capacity.  Is he speaking for the entire committee and/or the entire business community?

What many may not know, and which they should keep in mind, is that John Wood gave a job to School Board Chairman Robert DuPree after he was let go from his conflicted job at the Northern Virginia Building Industry Association (NVBIA).  He apparently employs DuPree as a lobbyist.  This relationship would certainly provide DuPree with extraordinary access to Wood to in turn lobby him on school issues.  Any future news reports concerning statements by Wood on school matters should disclose this pertinent fact.  John Wood also happens to be a prominent member of the Joint Board of Supervisors – School Board Committee.  I would suggest to the members of that committee that perhaps another businessman without such close ties to the School Board Chairman would be a more appropriate choice in that role.  At the very least, Wood should disclose this fact before every meeting.

Update:  DuPree and Hatrick are both actually ON the EDC, so I guess they got to vote on the resolution supporting their own budget!  How convenient!

Huge Surprise! LCPS Picks Another Bad Site Owned By A Connected Developer!

By Loudoun Insider

When will this comedy of errors end?  The Loudoun County School Board voted 8-1 last night to agree to purchase 170 acres, primarily from developer Sal Cangiano for the next western Loudoun High School (Living in LoCo report here).  This property is of course very close to Purcellville, where apparently every western high school must be located.  Take a look at a map of the vastness of western Loudoun County and then tell me if it makes sense to put three high schools all within five miles of each other.  Of course it doesn’t make sense, but that is what they’re proposing.  Bob Ohneiser, who I am hot and cold on (as opposed to generally cold on the rest of them) was the only no vote.

In keeping with established LCPS tradition, this property is proposed to be purchased for well above assessed value, and for much more than the developer paid for it just a few years ago.  While land prices continue to fall, only LCPS seems to want to keep paying inflated prices for land.  Land investors known as vultures are picking up developer land for as little as 25 cents on the dollar right now, yet the taxpayers are going to be expected to shell out above market rates for this site.  This is what their secretive process has given us once again – a bad deal with a connected seller. 

By the way, the School Board’s attorney for land deals until recently represented Cangiano.  Does this contract have the extra special clause that first appeared (I believe) in the Greenvest Lenah contract – that the county is obligated to lobby for this site and not look for alternatives?  And this is what their new supposedly better and more open process is giving us?  No wonder so many do not trust the School Board on land deals.  I’ll be extremely disappointed if the supervisors go along with this one, but luckily they have proven to be very tough with the inept School Board on these matters.

Cuccinelli, The Lone Rhinoceros

By Loudoun Insider

I’ve always wanted to be able to quote Adrian Belew (late era King Crimson guitairst, phenomenal solo artist as well) in a political context!

“I’m a lone rhinoceros, There ain’t one hell of a lots of us, Left in this world”  (full lyrics here and acoustic version audio sample here)

Cuccinelli is not only the last of a dying breed as an electable hard right social conservative idealogue, he is now alienating himself from the rest of his fellow Republicans in the General Assembly.  He was the lone Republican NO vote for the repeal of the triggerman rule determining eligibility for the death penalty in Virginia (WaPo story here).  The likely Dem AG nominee Steve Shannon is for this repeal, and will certainly beat Cuccinelli over the head with it should Cuccinelli somehow win the GOP nomination.  Shannon is already favored to get most law enforcement endorsements against Cuccinelli, and this will further damage Cuccinelli’s chances for substantive law enforcement endorsements.  The Brownlee campaign has picked up on this – some excerpts of press releases are provided in comments below.

Quick Hits in Fairfax County

By VA Blogger

The County Executive released his proposed budget today. Quick facts: over 800 job cuts; flat spending for schools (as if); raising the tax rate by 12 cents to $1.04, which means homeowners pay about $14 more than last year, but “recommending” a $1.07 rate with a $33 increase for car registration.

I’m still going through the list of cuts and added fees, and I’ll have my thoughts and other reactions later.

In related news, Gatehouse II finally bit the dust. It never should have stayed around this long, and Chairman Bulova’s biggest reason against it was the current economic environment, and not the fact that it’s a bad deal and not a priority in any climate.

And following up on my story below, Bulova is browbeating Supervisors Smyth and Hudgins to switch their vote on widening I-66, reaffirming the project as a County priority. I’m appreciative that Bulova stepped in, even if the time to do that was before the vote. Still, a messy public battle between three Supervisors is a way to build consensus too, I suppose.

Lowell is holding out hopethat they don’t switch their vote, but I wouldn’t count on it. Judging by Lowell’s reaction, Smyth and Hudgins (who I’m told isn’t running for re-election) didn’t gain any ground with the anti-developer wing of the Democratic Party (where Smyth is currently weak), and switching back won’t put her back in the good graces of the majority of her constituents because she never should have voted against it in the first place.

Will We Ever Be Rid of Doofus?

By Loudoun Insider

 this stupid photo still remains at rpv.org!

Admit it, you knew who I was talking about right away, didn’t you?  In the last week or so we had the boneheaded Twitter fiasco, with Frederick tipping off the Dems about impending Senate re-alignment, then the plaigarizing butchering of the Darwin attack “speech” on the floor of the House of Delegates, nicely preserved as an ambarrassing YouTube video (link here).  There are over 17,000 views of that video -  what a reputation buiulder for RPV!  Then we had the generally conservative Richmond Times Dispatch editorial page bashing Frederick and other House Republicans for voting against bi-partisan redistricting (link here).  This doofus has been a dark comedy of errors since taking over as RPV Chairman.

National and State Republican leaders need to put this experiment in immature, irresponsible RPV “leadership” to rest once and for all.  We cannot afford any more of this, epsecially with a crucial statewide election fast approaching.  Time is too short and the stakes are too high to continue with this fiasco.

The big question then becomes, who next?  Who is available and willing to take on this challenge to rebuild respect in the office and organization?  I’ve heard George Allen mentioned, and while he would normally be a great choice, I still wonder if “maccaca” is too fresh in the public’s mind.  I think that incident was overblown, but it found traction.  Perhaps another apology up front would calm some of the nerves out there, and Allen absolutely would have the connections to pull this off and re-energize the Republican base.  Who else is out there on the RPV bench that could step in and hit the ground running?  At this point almost any unit leader would be better than Jeff Frederick.  State Central Committee members, please do what’s best for this party.  Before it’s too late.

Miller’s Moving!

By Loudoun Insider

Well, it looks like speculation has turned into fact.  Stevens Miller’s wife Liz (great lady, by the way) has announced that they are moving on the Broadlands HOA Forum, and they’re apparently downsizing quite a bit and giving away lots of freebies.  Here’s the link.  We all know he’s headed for much much bigger things, so I would highly recommend grabbing up some of this stuff.  Who knows what it will be worth after he’s President! (urgent sarcasm alert there, BTW)

It looks like the carpetbagging tradition of Loudoun County Democrats continues full steam ahead.  First we had Mark Herring moving to nab Bill MIms’ Senate seat.  Then Andrea McGimsey moved last minute to Potomac District to get Bruce Tulloch’s BOS seat.  Now we have Miller moving to take on Tom Rust.  However, Tom Rust is no Mick Staton or Bruce Tulloch.  This contest will have a different outcome, I predict.  I hope Miller has the moral clarity to resign his BOS seat if he intends to campaign full time for the House of Delegates after a little over a year in office.  The Dulles District is by far the largest in terms of population and the fastest growing district in the county.  The residents of Dulles District deserve a full time representative, not someone using it as a springboard to higher office.

Update:  Here’s the link to the Miller Household Give-Away webpage.  Act now before this special offer no longer exists!

Clarke Hogan is a “Piece of _____”

By Loudoun Insider

For calling Delegate Bob Marshall a (cover your eyes, children and weak of heart!) “piece of shit”.  I’ve heard nothing but bad things about Hogan, a Delegate from South Boston (southern VA).  People may disagree with Bob Marshall on issues, but he is one of the most honorable public servants I’ve seen, a true man of the people.

Bob Marshall has a bill with 99 co-sponsoring delegates honoring Thomas Vander Woude, a Vietnam veteran who tried to save his disabled son from drowning, and died in the effort.  Hogan is the only Delegate not signed on, and he insulted Bob Marshall after a confrontation in the delegate lounge about this bill.  Ward Armstrong has come out as the main impartial witness, much to his credit.  There’s actually an online petition urging Hogan to sign on to this bill.  Clarke Hogan has been bashed a good bit by NLS, with good reason, here and here for engaging in the worst kinds of Richmond power play deals.  What a jerk Hogan is.

The story is covered in more detail here, and, speaking of poo, it also mentions a hare-brained proposal championed by Hogan to take $149 million from already appropriated water quality improvement funds for sewage plant upgrades to balance the budget, even though most of the money has already been promised to local jurisdictions.  Purcellville is one of those jurisdictions that would have to come up with money from somewhere to meet the shortfall.  Some delegates seem to think this idea is just fine since they are hoping to have the money replenished from Obama’s “stimulus” plan.  This just goes to show you how full of poo some of these politicians are!  Rail against Obama’s stimulus plan on one hand, then play games with committed appropriations while hoping for said stimulus on the other.  We must do better with who we send to Richmond, from both parties.

UPDATE:  Clark Hogan is an even bigger jerk than I thought – see this NLS post.

Hudgins, Smyth Vote “No” on Improving I-66

By VA Blogger

So federal, state, and local politicians all talk about how Northern Virginia needs money for transportation, right? So Frank Wolf and Tom Davis go out and get roughly $30 million in federal funds for I-66 improvements, and Supervisors Cathy Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill) and Linda Smyth (D-Providence) say “Thanks, but no thanks.” (see here and here)

Are you f’n kidding?

The money is just sitting there, ready for us to use it to add another lane on Westbound I-66 inside the Beltway, widely recognized as one of the most congested roads in the nation. No one should know this better than Smyth, since I-66 runs through the heart of Providence District.

Lowell gave this thumbs up to the opposition, standing on principle against road expansion of any kind. That’s fine for an outside interest group, but for two public officials in a County where traffic is far and away the number one issue, this is a failure of leadership.

Smith and Hudgins are both up for re-election in 2011. Let’s see how they explain to their constituents why they want them to sit in traffic.

Hatrick’s “Refreshments” and Things to Come

By Loudoun Insider

    WaPo photo

I’m too pissed to even write about this coherently.  Read the front page WaPo article here on Herr Hatrick’s 12 weeks of paid leave last year, including educationally neccesary locales like Madrid and China.  “We’re like everybody else; we need to be refreshed” said the master of the LCPS universe. 

This has gone too far.  Once I again I issue a demand for the School Board to fire Superintendent Edgar Hatrick.  The man has been there too long and is too entrenched and set in his ways to provide the new direction so obviously needed for this bloated school system in these new lean budgetary times. 

And next election, expect there to be a laser-like focus from me and many many others on the School Board races.  They are almost always overshadowed by the Supervisor races, but next time will be so much different.  I promise you that.  School Board members have two options.  Get with the program citizens will be demanding, or continue to defend the status quo at your own political peril.  Those who want to rock the boat will be rewarded in public opinion.  Those who continue these selfish self serving ways will be summarily kicked to the curb.  THINGS MUST CHANGE!

UPDATE:  See email defenses of Hatrick from Tom Reed and Bob Ohneiser in comments.

Local Press Takes Notice of John Cook’s Campaign

By VA Blogger

Connection Newspapers has a feature on John Cook, highlighting his extensive involvement in community issues as Kings Park Civic Association President, calling him a “man of action” who helped find “workable solutions to his community’s problems”.

Cook’s campaign site and the article detail Cook’s positions on various County issues the next Supervisor will have to face. Ilryong Moon is apparently taking the idea of succeeding Sharon Bulova a little too far, copying Bulova’s approach of not addressing any issue specifically in his campaign materials and on his website. However, with John Cook being significantly more active in the community than Moon, it remains to be seen if Moon can duplicate her success in turning out Braddock voters.

A lot of times, these special elections for local offices find the candidates most willing to run, rather than the candidates who are the best fit for the job. Fairfax Republicans have been fortunate to have candidates like Pat Herrity, a leading voice of the local party, and John Cook, who’s brand of community activism perfectly fits the role of a Supervisor.