Get Ready To Shell Out More Lawyer Money, Loudoun Taxpayers!

By Loudoun Insider

As expected the Loudoun BOS took another step off the fiscal cliff and approved the creche and menorah displays on the courthouse grounds.  Shawn Williams has been the only voice of reason on this, and he voted no, along with a surprising no vote from Janet Clarke.  Surprise, surprise, Geary “The Ghost” Higgins was absent again!  So that makes this a 6-2-1 vote.

I wouldn’t be surprised if a lawsuit is filed tomorrow morning.  I’m sure Jack Roberts is way too busy with all the other lawsuits the county is embroiled in, besides the complaint against him personally by Todd Kaufman, so I’m sure we’ll need to shell out another couple hundred thousand dollars for legal fees for this easily avoided mess.


  • Baron Rosedown says:

    How many meetings does Higgins actually attend?

    I would expect the Atheist Group already has a suit drafted and the County will be served in short order. I doubt that the Board’s Savior “The Cooch” and many of whom hung onto his every word will actually hang around to help the County out with the impending lawsuit.

    What a stupid move, they could have avoided this whole mess by putting up a tree and calling it a day. Instead, Ken “the Jew who saved Christmas” Reid sat on the dias and spoke on behalf of the Town of Leesburg’s Town Council. I guess you really can’t fix stupid but you can sue the pants off of them.

  • edmundburkenator says:

    The White House reference is a bit lame by York. While it has been referenced as the people’s house, people do live there — very political people.

    Courts are different. The courthouse is where justice is supposed to live — for everyone.

    Thanks Shawn Williams for your vote. Until I hear Janet Clarke’s reasons, I’ll hold off thanking her.

    The holiday season of lawsuits awaits.

  • Loudoun Insider says:

    Ken Reid is happy, he got his menorah.

    Where’s David Ramadan or the ADAMS Center folks complaining about Islam being left out?

  • Baron Rosedown says:

    At that rate where are all the African American people balking at the lack of representation of Kwanza’s. Jesus Christ – the list is endless. They should have approved a one and done display – a holiday tree.

    Unreal, now the County is now debating that our County has a more restrictive occupancy policy than the Commonwealth of VA. Again Board of Stupid-visor making sophomoric policy mistakes.

  • Loudoun Insider says:

    I didn’t even think of Kwanzaa!!!

    How dare they leave out Kwanzaa!!!

  • Loudoun Insider says:

    Are there more Muslims and blacks who observe Kwanzaa than Jews in Loudoun County? I honestly have no idea and I doubt we’ll ever know, but why did the menorah get such special consideration?

  • Baron Rosedown says:

    And what about all the Indian or Asian religious holidays?

    Based on my neighborhood (and 2010 US Census data), there are many more Indians, bi-racial (Asian/White couples), Asians than there are white families.

    People in Loudoun are not just Christian or Jewish, there are many religions and the County is not equally representing all citizens of Loudoun.

  • Lady M says:

    They made an emotional decision. Not a rational one. And they are depending on the AG’s opinion – and so far he is batting zero with his opinions in the courts.

  • Loudoun Insider says:

    But constitutional law expert Mike Farris says it’s OK as well!

    Surely he couldn’t have a biased opinion, could he???

  • LowdowneVA says:

    So it was an emotional decision made by 5 men, one woman?
    And Janet Clarke voted no? She is a smart lady.

  • Bill Fox says:

    Peace on Earth, and Goodwill Toward Men. I still say that a sign bearing this phrase would be the best and most appropriate Holiday display. It neither trivializes nor evangelizes. It is simultaneously meaningful and non-threatening. It has an easily articulable non-religious purpose. It would easily pass all Constitutional tests set forth in the Federal courts.

    Alternatively, we could just add a robot and a clown to the suggested holiday display, and we’re good to go.

  • Loudoun Insider says:

    I still can’t get over the Clarke vote, especially with Farris being headquartered in Purcellville. I wonder if she got pre-clearance to vote no to try to help herself politically since they all knew this would pass easily.

  • Loudoun's Soul says:

    Perhaps her credentials are so strong with the Farris/P’ville Baptist crowd, she has the freedom to do what she wants on this one. Ironically, her motion followed the lead and tone of her predecessor in office. As you might recall, Burton originally voted against allowing displays, warning that the majority’s decision would turn the courthouse grounds into “a circus.” No truer words.

  • NateDogg614 says:

    “Peace on Earth, and Goodwill Toward Men. I still say that a sign bearing this phrase would be the best and most appropriate Holiday display.”

    No, because then the feminists would complain that it leaves out women.

  • Eric the 1/2 Troll says:

    Bill, can you not come up with a well wishing phrase that does not come directly from the Judeo-Christian bible? I get it might pass Constitutional muster but it sure rubs non-Christian’s nose in it (i.e. Hindis, Buddhists, Muslems, not just atheists). Can’t you be a LITTLE more considerate to others or is it just SO important to you to declare your religion to the world that you have to exclude and insult others on OUR public square in the process?

  • Zachary Pruckowski says:

    The thing that screws them is that several Supervisors and the committee members are more or less on the record saying that their motivations were religious – that’s what screwed over that School Board in the Northeast in the Ahlquist case earlier this year and that’s what will screw them over here. Between the public statement and the fact that the guy designing the display runs a radical religious school it’s going to be a tough sell.

  • Shawn Pickrell says:

    I rather liked the annual spectacle we had been having.

    I mean, no matter what we decide, there’s going to be a lawsuit and a spectacle.

    So why not be entertaining?

  • BlackOut says:

    Well Zachary, keeping the religious motive out of the debate and decision could have been sound legal advice.

    I guess Robert’s closed door legal advice had nothing to do with how to minimize the litigation risk, and probably was more to the point. I would guess his advice was, “Don’t put up secular displays on public property” (just guessing as the public was not privy to hear what was said behind closed doors)

  • David says:

    Oh yes, they are on record about their objectives and motivations.

    There was open irritation on the part of some Courthouse Grounds and Facilities Committee members that Jack Roberts did not attend their April meeting, when he had apparently been summoned to do so. I would also love to know his closed door legal advice. My guess is that he had nothing new to add to his previous advice – all viewpoints or none. He could do nothing to minimize the litigation risk for people who are disinclined to hear an answer other than the one they want to hear, and disinclined to keep their mouths shut about it.

    So they chose Cuccinelli and Farris over him, and so did the BoS.

  • Bill Fox says:

    I’m sorry Eric, but I just don’t see it that way. Moreover, I really doubt that most Muslims, Jews, Hindus and Buddhists feel this way either. If someone put up a quote from Buddha on public property to commemorate a Buddhist holy day, I wouldn’t bat an eye. I wouldn’t feel intimidated or pressured to become Buddhist. If it was a quote that had some universal, non-sectarian wisdom, I would actually appreciate and welcome it as an olive branch from another faith.

  • Stevens Miller says:

    The names of America’s honored dead of Loudoun should not have to share the courthouse lawn with any of this.

  • Bill Fox says:

    Stevens, do you really think that religious references dishonor fallen Loudoun veterans?

  • Stevens Miller says:

    I don’t know what religions any of them were, Bill. Do you?

  • ACTivist says:

    The NAMES of the honored dead sharing the grounds? I’m sorry, I’ve heard some really dumb things before but this is right up at the top of the list. Miller, you are as bad as Ed–just looking to cause someone angst where none exists. Don’t you have some house chores to attend?

  • NoVA Scout says:

    These stupid pet tricks by pols always degrade religion. It’s about them, not religion. They’re counting on there being enough voters who either have no conception of the profound other-worldly nature of the spiritual realm (be it Christian or Jewish or any of the religions they excluded) or who actually realize how degrading it is to have some tacky polystyrene figurines portraying the most complex and profound story of man’s relationship to God.

    It truly is the Kardashians’ world these days. Rising above it is like a Mastodon trying to get out of the La Brea tar pits. Sigh.

  • Loudoun Insider says:

    Brilliant, Scout.

  • Elder Berry says:

    Bill, Bill, no, no, not on the Courthouse grounds. That is UNDOUBTEDLY how it is going to come down eventually and all they’ve done these idiots on the Board is put the taxpayers on the hook for legal fees. No quotes from the Bible nor the Koran nor the Bhagavad Gita. No creches no menorahs and no gold Buddhas. No no no.

    Idiots. Stupid grandstanding idiots.

  • Eric the 1/2 Troll says:

    “If someone put up a quote from Buddha on public property to commemorate a Buddhist holy day, I wouldn’t bat an eye. I wouldn’t feel intimidated or pressured to become Buddhist. ”

    I wonder if you would feel that way if your Chirstian religion was excluded from being posting its message on those same courthouse grounds? Somehow, I doubt it. The whole “do unto others as you would have other do unto you” is largely lost on today’s version of Christians – at least those who enjoy grabbing the public soapbox to advertise their religious beliefs.

  • Loudoun's Soul says:

    Anyone remember the County’s last foray into a Constitutional question? As I recall, the effort to place filters on library computers by then Board of Library trustee, Dick Black cost the County about $1 million plus court costs and attorneys’ fees. Bad news for the Loudoun taxpayer, but it got Dick Black into the General Assembly.

  • Wolverine says:

    NoVa Scout — A creche at Christmas is considered degrading by Christians? Unless I am mistaken, that creche is put there every year by some local church group — the same kind of people who usually have creches at their places of worship for passersby to see and small creches as Christmas decor in their homes and sometimes in the front yard. It’s not like a creche is something new in a “Kardashian” world. Considered degrading by Christians? You must be kidding.

  • Wolverine says:

    A “Kardashian’s world”? Degrading to Christians? Beats me . The first creche (1223) is attributed to Francis of Assisi, one of the most respected and adored saints in the Catholic world. He reportedly did it to bring the message of the Christmas miracle more vividly to the common people, most of whom would never be able to afford a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

  • edmundburkenator says:

    Wolverine, some Christians feel the blending of the sacred with the rather un-sacred workings of government is, at best, in poor taste and, at worst, blasphemy.

    But clearly you don’t, so decorate away.

    I’m sure Jesus would be ok endorsing the government and all of the Christian stuff it does at all levels.

    Hmmm… I’m trying to think of one thing government does that Christ would endorse right now, maybe you could help me…

    Christ is supposed to be in your heart. Not on the door of our courthouse.

  • Loudoun Insider says:

    Wolverine, have you seen the PVC creche they plan to put up??? It’s really quite hideous.

  • Wolverine says:

    No, LI, I did not know that the plan included a change from the creche that was usually placed there by a church group. Thanks for the update.

    Meh, I am not going to be an art critic here. I’ll leave that to Mrs. W, who has a collection of those things made by artisans all across Africa — some carved from ebony; some carved from thorns; some made from brass using the lost-wax method; some made by African art students by molding and firing clay; one of them a bas-relief of an African Madonna hammered out of metal by local artisans. They are all different. They may not meet the aesthetic tastes of everyone. But they were all inspired by the same basic faith message and a love of art.

    Burkenator — The creche is one of the oldest and most revered symbols of the Christian Christmas for many denominations with differing theologies. Might I suggest politely that you may be exaggerating the dislike by certain types of Christians — probably the limited number who eschew all religious art symbols of any kind, some probably like my own great-great-grandfather who refused to have his own photograph taken because he considered even that to be a “graven image.” He had a large number of descendants of the same faith, none of whom felt the same way.

    Sorry, but this seems to be a constitutional debate concerning a display of holiday symbols for a brief period in the public square. I have declared myself elsewhere as open to a similar display of the symbols of any established faith on their most sacred days or periods, so long as the symbols are not designed to denigrate or mock someone else’s faith. I do not feel threatened by it. I see it is a courtesy extended by all of us to our fellow citizens of variant faiths as a recognition of our almost unique diversity. It’s a “feel good” thing to me, and feeling good seems to be increasingly in short supply around here. But that’s entirely personal and that’s just me on this issue in particular. I will pass on making this a larger platform to discuss whether Jesus would approve of government or any specific actions by such.

  • edmundburkenator says:

    Wolverine, the creche is old and loved — so don’t stick it where it doesn’t belong!

    If the plastic thing posted tonight makes you “feel good”, great. Stick one on your lawn and look at it.

    Hell, maybe PHC can patent it, get China to mass produce these things and sell them.

    Holy, holy, holy.

  • Shiloh says:

    Wolverine — the creche was not put there by a church group. It was put there for approximately 20 years by Dennis and Deborah Welsh, who, it is my understanding, owned the creche. This is the same Deborah Welsh who was recently named as a judge to the General District Court, which hears civil, criminal, and traffic cases in Loudoun County.

  • Wolverine says:

    Thanks for the info, Shiloh.

    Endless arguments over a simple Christmas creche — a symbol of a holiday dedicated for many centuries to peace and good will to all men. But, in the Loudoun County of the 21st century, nothing seems to be exempted from a knock-down, cut-and-shoot verbal and legal fight. Amazing. And disheartening.

  • Ed Myers says:

    Wolverine, religion by it’s very existence mocks the faith of another who is not part of the same club.

    The billboards along the highway asking people if they are going to hell would not pass your test.

  • Wolverine says:

    You are right there, Ed. Such billboards would not pass my test. But a positive, nonantagonistic message of faith does not bother me in the least, no matter what the faith. It is a part of the contemporary landscape. We have enough other problems to keep us busy — and all lathered up.

  • David says:

    Yes, and that is why a genuine solution to this dilemma would be a secular symbol of holiday good will that nearly everyone could enjoy as one united community – not the sacred symbol of one faith (with another symbol cynically thrown in to provide “top cover” – yes, a committee member actually admitted that).

    Shawn Williams got it right. The others, including Clarke who wanted nothing at all, got it wrong. It’s about compromise, and genuine good will toward other people.

  • Wolverine says:

    But, David, the holiday is called Christmas. The birth of Christ is the central universal theme. Without that there would be no such holiday at all. Why are you so opposed to a symbol which displays the original and continuing raison d’etre for a specific holiday?

  • Liz says:

    Because that land belongs to all the people of Loudoun, and religious icons are not appropriate to display there. Homes, businesses, churches, yes. Courthouse, no.

    Is your faith so fragile that you need to put the trappings of it everywhere?

  • Wolverine says:

    One small display at Christmas is “everywhere”? You surely gest, Liz. Is your own psyche so fragile that a simple Christmas display gives you the willies?

  • Ed Myers says:

    It is worth repeating. Religion is about symbols. When government starts regulating what religious symbols are to be used in public space they control the religious message.

    So, Wolv, when we give up the right to choose what nativity display expresses our faith, we have given up religious freedom. You can trivialize the significance of being able to select your own crèche but it is symbolic of any (and all) religious choice. The harm is that if government gets away with this that it starts a domino effect on regulation of other religious symbols in public.

    If a particular style of crèche was good enough for the courthouse lawn than some will argue it is the only display allowed on front lawns. The slippery slope continues.

    I like a plan that allows for hundreds of displays rather than a handful. That gives equal access for minor religions without the dominance of the few that offend scores of people.

    (I am amazed you would be offended by a skeletal Santa on a cross but not offended by a PVC nativity, but to each his own.)

  • Eric the 1/2 troll says:

    ” I have declared myself elsewhere as open to a similar display of the symbols of any established faith on their most sacred days or periods, so long as the symbols are not designed to denigrate or mock someone else’s faith.”

    Unfortunately, Wov, you are at odds with the current 9-0 Republican BOS in Loudoun in this regard. Other religions need not apply as the Courthouse is for Judeo-Christian religions only – in December anyway…

  • Eric the 1/2 troll says:

    “One small display at Christmas is “everywhere”?”

    Have you seen the Christmas displays in Loudoun, Wolv? I think “everywhere” is an apt description.

  • NoVA Scout says:

    Wolverine: you’re usually more astute than your comment re my concern. I said nothing about Christians being averse to creches. We traditionally have one in my home every Christmas that has been around for three generations. My point was that every time government or bureaucracy touches religion, religion comes out diminished. A lot of us find government sponsorship of religion degrading and harmful to our religious beliefs. We want a lot of distance in that space.

    There is something in the mystery of the Eucharist and the underlying traditions of the Church that the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors can’t compete with. They shouldn’t even bother to try. This is low-level politics trying to draft off religious inclinations. It’s detestable and transparently tacky.

  • Loudoun Insider says:

    Great comment, as always, Scout, and thanks to Eric for providing that Sunday School lesson to our attention seeking BOS.

  • liz says:

    “One small display at Christmas is everywhere?”

    One small expanse of lawn without a display has been claimed to be a War on Christmas.

    I don’t much give a crap if the rest of the world is covered in creches and wise men, but there is only one place in Loudoun where every person is supposed to expect equal treatment and fairness no matter what their religion, and that’s the Court House. Keep religion off the lawn in that one space, please.

  • Leej says:

    I have to agree with you Liz

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