It seems that Jerry Reynolds is upset because someone denigrated President Donald Trump with disrespectful language.
Trump is a cruel, egotistical, racist, narcissistic maniac who tells lies more often than he tells the truth. The Washington Post has documented over 10,000 instances of lies and misinformation that Trump has told since taking office. Trump is known for denigrating almost everyone he knows or even those he doesn’t know, with the exception of the leaders of Russia, Israel, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and China.
Trump acts like a five year-old child in a playground by giving people infantile nicknames. En route to London, he sent out a nasty tweet about the mayor. He insulted Gold Star parents who had lost their son and said he had sacrificed as much as they had by creating jobs and making donations.
He insulted the late John McCain while he was alive and even after his death, because he was a prisoner of war. Meanwhile, Trump was at home dodging the draft with fake bone spurs.
He talks down to and openly criticizes other world leaders who do not agree with him. If you watch televised international meetings that Trump attends, you will see that he is also disrespectful in his actions. He’s been shown pushing others out of his way so he can be up front. He talks down to and criticizes other world leaders with no consideration of how this will affect our relations.
Trump is a wanna-be dictator. According to Psychology Today, some of the traits of a dictator are: charming, charismatic, self-confident, independent, sexually energized, self-absorbed, masterful liar and compassionless, with a boundless appetite for power.
He doesn’t follow the rules of governing. He uses his executive privilege to cover up things he doesn’t want Congress or the public to know. Controlling people by not allowing them to testify, and covering up information not only from the people but also Congress. That is definitely an act of a dictator.
He thinks he should be allowed to do whatever he wants to do, even though he does not have Constitutional authority to do so. He wants to use military funds to build his wall. He wants to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia.
He thinks the treasury department is his own personal bank account to spend however he wants. He has spent over $112 million to play golf at his resort in Florida, and that doesn’t include money wasted on his other golf trips to his other golf clubs. While we taxpayers have been footing this bill, Trump is making a profit by charging his staff, press members and secret service detail for food and lodging while staying there. We pay the tab every time he plays golf at one of his clubs and he makes a profit. This is the man who criticized former President Barack Obama for playing golf!
His latest big waste of taxpayer money was taking his four adult children and their spouses to London. Taxpayers paid $1.3 million for hotel accommodations alone!
He is so jealous of Barack Obama that he has tried to destroy any good that Obama did. One of his first actions was to appoint an individual as secretary of the Environmental Protection Agency who had sued the agency at least three times. That individual rescinded almost all of Obama’s regulations on fossil fuel, coal mining, wastewater and other issues that have a detrimental effect on our environment.
Obama joined a group of 100 nations who agreed to work toward clean air. Trump is the only world leader to withdraw. He backed out of the multi-national pact with Iran on nuclear weapons, and now we are on the verge of war with them.
Trump brags that he has done more to reduce unemployment than any other president. When Obama took office, the unemployment rate was at 7.8 percent. When he left office, it was at 4.7 percent, a 3.1 percent decrease. It is currently 3.8 percent, which is less than a percentage point decrease since Trump took office.
Trump has immigrant families in virtual concentration camps with unsanitary conditions, and doesn’t think we should be providing them with personal hygiene products. He claims to be a Christian, but he certainly doesn’t act like it as far as these people are concerned. Read Leviticus chapter 19, verses 33 and 34 to find out what God says about how to treat strangers living among you.
As for the Mueller report, it was initiated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to determine if there was collusion or corruption by Trump and his administration. While collusion could not be confirmed, Trump was not totally exonerated from obstruction of justice. No fewer than five of his associates are now in jail as a result of their criminal activities.
Trump declared that his tax cuts would help lower- and middle-income people the most. However, the plan eliminated many deductions that average working-class people previously used, such as $1,050 per person personal exemption and creating mortgage interest caps, causing millions to pay more taxes than they had previously. Meanwhile, the plan made private airplanes and golf courses tax exempt. Does anyone know how many airplanes and golf courses Trump owns? We’ll probably never know since he refuses to release his tax returns and has directed the Internal Revenue Service to not provide them to Congress, even though there is a law on the books that says they must. More obstruction of justice?
I know Mr. Reynolds and other Trump fans will rant and rave, and say I am lying. All they have to do is check the facts. I did.
Editor’s Note: this op-ed originally appeared in the Central Virginian, and has been re-posted here with the author’s permission.
Virginia holds elections every year. This week, Virginia held primaries throughout the state to sort Democratic and Republican primary challengers for the honor to carry their party’s banner on the November ballot. In Culpeper, Democrat Amy Laufer in the 17th Senate and Democrat Laura Galante in the 18th House of Delegate’s races were successful. Republicans Bryce Reeves in the 17th Senate and Emmett Hanger in the 24th Senate race will represent their party in November.
In school, we were always taught voting was the pinnacle of American representative democracy. Government of the people, by the people and for the people. Nothing could be more emblematic of American citizenship than voting. However, voter suppression is putting our citizenship and democracy in jeopardy. Voter suppression comes in all different forms: subtle and not so subtle. Subtle is what we saw in Virginia with the gerrymandering of the population around the 4th Congressional district to collect African-American voters together. The courts ordered a redrawing of multiple electoral districts.
Then there is North Carolina. A combination of Jim Crow discrimination, economics, and tradition meant that many African-American births were not officially registered. Therefore, the Republican-led North Carolina legislature developed voter identification requirements that required a birth certificate. The North Carolina Supreme Court struck down this voter ID requirements and admonished the legislature for creating a block to voting that was “surgically precise.” In Wisconsin, where President Trump won by 22,748 votes, 200,000 people were prevented from voting due to strict voter ID laws.
In the subtle category, along with gerrymandering, state legislatures have the power to increase or decrease the number of polling stations, change the times they are open, and generally make it harder for particular groups to vote. Republican-controlled North Carolina reduced the number of early voting stations in 2016, which the legislature itself stated resulted in an 8.5 percent reduction in early voting by Black voters, leading to a 6 percent drop in their share of the early vote.
Not so subtle are aggressive voter purge practices fostered by Republican led-legislatures, which a non-partisan Brennan Center report portend a considerable threat to all marginalized communities.
In Georgia, where the Secretary of State oversaw the very election in which he was competing, 70% of the 53,000 held-up voter registration applications were from African-Americans. In Texas, the Republican governor threw 95,000 Texans with Hispanic names off the voter rolls. The Secretary of State had to resign when the effort was exposed. In North Dakota, a Republican pushed voter identification law predominantly targeted Native American voters on reservations.
In Ohio, the Supreme Court narrowly upheld a controversial law that purges voters from the registration rolls if they don’t vote in two federal election cycles. There are similar stories of aggressive voter suppression laws in Nevada, Wisconsin, and other states.
Finally, also in the category of not-so-subtle attacks on the American voting system are the Russian efforts catalogued in Volume I of the Mueller Report. It happened; it was serious. The whole Russian effort amounts to voter suppression because we could lose our faith in the sanctity of our elections if nothing is done to thwart Russian activity.
President John Kennedy, in his inaugural address said, “This nation was founded by men of many nations and backgrounds. It was founded on the principle that all men are created equal, and that the rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.” He would have understood that voting was an inseparable part of citizenship. We should all re-commit ourselves to this basic American principle of citizenship that we have inherited from the Founding Fathers.
Editor’s note: this op-ed originally appeared in the Culpeper Star Exponent, and has been re-posted here with the author's permission.
I found the Sun. June 9 article by Jon Russell, “Government regulation and politics can only go so far,” about gun violence, to be troubling. I believe that moderate government regulation is reasonable. I find it valuable to know that my food is safe to eat, the air and water are not toxic, roadways and airways are safe, my money is protected in the bank, and so on. Good government serves and protects the public interest, and if that belief makes me a Democrat, well, count me in.
By some estimates, more than 100 Americans die daily from gun violence. The government must address this crisis. According to a 2016 study published in the American Journal of Medicine, “In 2010, the U.S. homicide rate was 7.0 times higher than other high-income countries, driven by a gun homicide rate that was 25.2 times higher.”
Sensible gun safety reform is being enacted at the state level all over the country, thanks to groups such as Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. The reforms are working, while Second Amendment rights are being protected. Even the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, a conservative, advocated for limits on gun rights. In District of Columbia vs. Heller, Scalia wrote, “like most rights, the rights secured by the Second Amendment are not unlimited.”
Many Americans (including law enforcement officers) are frustrated with legislators who appear to value NRA donations over people’s lives. Common-sense solutions include closing loopholes on background checks; bans on high-capacity magazines, silencers, and bump stocks; safe-storage laws; red-flag laws; and keeping guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and stalkers.
For good measure, legislators in Virginia might also consider requiring licensed home day-care facilities to keep guns locked up while children are being cared for. Delegate Nick Freitas has had an opportunity to vote for this protection but hasn’t found it worthy of his support.
Cindy Taylor Madison
Editor’s note: this op-ed originally appeared in the Culpeper Star Exponent, and has been re-posted here with the author's permission. Be sure to check out the Louisa Dems FB page for two complementary pieces to this letter from the Virginia Mercury.
Two of Lowell Arnold’s recent letters in the Central Virginian described how the Republican controlled Senate and the Rump administration have and continue to forsake their sworn duties. In contrast, were several screeds from local ignorami, highlighting some of the vast differences between local Republicans.
Despite those differences, one thing they agree on is; “Whataboutism,” their final word for any argument. A diversionary leap of logic, like Mr. Pulling’s claim that because Louisa has been a conservative county it “deserves … leadership that reflects those values”
Perhaps; but given the Boards recent decisions, particularly with the Industrial Park it’s fair to say that they don’t value “adopting to the changing demands of it’s citizens.” Meanwhile, Louisa’s voters are presumably rationalizing how those actions reflect conservative values.
Nor are local conservatives likely to explain how maintaining this dysfunctional status quo represents any improvement. All you are going to hear is that they are running as ®’s. Even so, one would expect to see some kind of Facebook or webpage for campaign contributions.
So far, only Bernie Hill running unaffiliated in the conservative Jackson District, and Jessie Shupe nominated by the local Republican Committee for the open Louisa District have on-line campaign pages. Mr. Hill’s Facebook page has many specific policy positions, while Mr. Shupe’s is little more than a placeholder.
This is not an oversight, it’s how ®’s campaign; relying on voter ignorance and clan loyalty, and it’s how Duane Adams ran his 2017 campaign, emulating Senator Bryce Reeves, limiting his exposure to gatherings of the chosen. Relying on uncritical stenography from a compliant media, where even the CV’s sponsored debate was an exercise in packing the house with the faithful.
Two other Supervisor candidates; Willie Gentry running unopposed in the Cuckoo District, and Eric Purcell (Louisa) are using their personal Facebook pages as campaign pages. While it’s unclear if separating ones digital personage from their political persona is necessary for a successful campaign, it’s discouraging to see so few candidates try.
While there are many explanations for not engaging voters, the most charitable one is that it never occurred to them. Speaking of strange occurrences, who knew Supervisor Gentry participated in the last three Republican candidate selections, and has multiple photos of this year’s mass call on his FB page?
2019 Louisa Republican Committee Mass Call
When it’s more likely he has always been a closet Republican, any claims of “independence” are hard to swallow Since this is how stealth candidates have been winning local elections for almost a decade in other County’s, it’s hardly news. What’s news is that Louisa’s ®’s are not running isolated candidates, they are going all out to seize power.
If they win the Commissioner of Revenue and two Supervisors seats they will control the county’s purse strings. Given the damage, their brand of partisan politics has caused in “conservative” Goochland, Hanover, Orange, Madison, and Fluvanna Counties, are these values the people of Louisa support?
Why is John McGuire spending his mornings waving to commuters on a corner in Henrico County (Gaskins and Three Chopt on May 29th) that is outside our district, and not on normal commuting routes for his constituents?
Will he commit to finishing his term for our district if he is re-elected this November, or is McGuire already campaigning for a congressional race in 2020?
Editor’s post script: Whether McGuire and his Replica’nt “competitors,” Nick Frietas and Bryce Reeves for the 7th CD seat in 2020 are trying to get out of town before voters finally realize how little they have accomplished in the General Assembly is a moot point.
What is relevant is that they’ve always been seeking higher levels of incompetency … I mean office. This letter originally appeared in the May 13th edition of the Central Virginian and has been re-posted here with the author’s permission.
June is Pride month! It is time to celebrate our families, friends and community members who identify as LGBTQ. We do this because they were persecuted and unable to live freely for many years.
Discrimination can still negatively impact our youth, which is one reason why celebrating them is so important. Much of America has made significant progress in understanding that all humans deserve to be treated with dignity and pursue their own happiness.
Unfortunately, our state senator is not someone who has exhibited care and compassion for his constituents. Sen. Bryce Reeves has presented himself as a defender of children when the exact opposite is true.
Conversion therapy is junk science that falsely claims to be able to change a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. Do you believe a straight person can be shamed into being gay? Of course not. The converse is also true. A gay person cannot be shamed or beaten into being straight.
Conversion “therapy” is not therapy at all, but is child abuse when perpetrated on minors. It is fraudulent and in direct violation of the Federal Trade Commission Act. This is not an unsubstantiated opinion. This torture has been condemned by more than 15 major medical organizations.
Mr. Reeves has no professional training or experience in the provision of mental health services and has chosen to recklessly disregard professional opinions. Eighteen other states have followed the guidance of experts and banned this torment.
Yet when given the chance to protect the children of Virginia from this abuse, Reeves chose to vote for continuing this horror. He supported pseudoscience and voted to allow the practice to continue to be legal in Virginia. Reeves chose to fail our children.
The only outcome of this abuse, as with many other forms of abuse, that has been found to be consistently true is that youth who are subjected to this suffering are more likely to attempt or complete suicide. Why would he vote against protecting vulnerable children?
It is time for true representation in Richmond. It is past time to value, love, and support all of our children. The general election is in November. If you care about children, please vote for a Democratic candidate who will protect our children from further harm.
Amy Laufer is a strong advocate of the LGBTQ community. It is time that our legislators reflect our values, work to make us proud and vote to keep our children safe.
Aleta Strickland, Ed., NCSP - Licensed School Psychologist, Louisa Psychological Consulting, PC
Editor’s Note: this op-ed originally appeared in the June 13th edition of the Central Virginian, and has been re-posted here with the author’s permission.
With the primary elections coming up next week, Louisa County voters have two distinct sets of choices. On one side, there’s the 17th Senate Democratic primary between Ben Hixon, and Amy Laufer. And on the Republican side, there’s Rich Breeden running against Bryce Reeves.
The other two state districts representing Louisa County, the 22nd Senate and the 56th House of Delegates aren’t having primaries this year, likewise with all local County elections. While there’s much to recommend about both Democratic candidates running for the 17th Senate District seat, the same can’t be said for either of the Replican’ts.
The two term incumbent; Bryce Reeves history of voting against his constituents interests on just about any issue you care to name is well documented, while his challenger has no history to speak of, and whose FB page and web pages is so generic that it's meaningless.
Blue Virginia recently posted up a poll of Democratic Senate primaries taking place around the state, and as you can see there are several primaries in and around the 7th Congressional District, that should be interest to Louisa’s voters, particularly the 10th, the 11th, the 12th, and the13th Districts.
While the Senate district which concerns most people in Louisa the 17th, is a bit of an uphill battle, given sufficient turnout it could flip Democratic, especially considering that Ed Houck held this seat for 28 years before Reeves last minute RPV sponsored smear campaign in 2011 won it for him.
And it would be nice to see Yasmine Taeb, knock off the infamous DINO “Dominion” Dick Saslaw in the 35th Senate District, given his financial advantages, the odds of that happening are slim.
As you can see from the chart below, many State Senate races should be competitive.
Since Abigail Spanberger’s victory over Dave Brat in the 7th Congressional District was won largely on the strength of heavy Democratic turnout in parts of Richmond, and Henrico and Chesterfield County’s, what happens in the 10th, 11th and the 12th Senate primaries and general elections will determine the Democrats chances of retaking the Senate this fall.
While there is no Democratic primary in the 13th Senate District, the fact that the vile Dick Black has resigned, gives Delegate John Bell (87th) an excellent chance of beating either of the two Republicans running for this open seat.
According to Chaz Nuttycombe’s analysis of the 10th Senate race, this is the most likely of the three Richmond area districts to flip Democratic, and the choices in this race are between Eileen Bedell, who ran against Dave Brat in 2016, Zachary Brown, and Ghazala Hashmi.
Virginia’s 10th Senate district includes parts of the city of Richmond as well as Chesterfield and Powhatan Counties. The district has become increasingly Democratic in in recent years, with both Hashmi and Bedell spending much of their cash on television ad production and airtime.
Bedell’s campaign is using an agency that does both digital and direct mail, listing all expenses as “Consulting Fee” so it’s difficult to determine what’s mail and what’s’ digital spending. And Hashmi’s campaign is running her television spot as an ad on Facebook, while, Zachary Brown is creating his own digital ads.
Another Democratic prospects for picking up a Senate seats is the 11th Senate District, currently held by pistol packing Amanda “Church Lady” Chase, formerly Dave Brat’s 2014 campaign manager before taking office in 2015. With the Democratic choices between; Amanda Pohl, and Wayne Powell, best known for running against Eric Cantor in 2012.
The 12th Senate District seat currently held by Republican Sibbohan Dunavant, should also be another highly competitive race. On the Democratic side of the aisle, there's the primary between Debra Rodman, the current 73rd House of Delegates representative and Veena Lothe and Marques Jones, former chair of the Henrico Democratic Committee.
Virginia’s 12th state Senate district consists of a huge number of voters from Henrico County with a smaller portion living in Hanover County, and is another district, which has gotten bluer over the past few elections. With Debra Rodman putting far more money into digital advertising than most other Democratic campaigns
While Veena Lothe hasn’t spent any money on consultants over the last two months, with her campaign manager creating the campaign’s Facebook ads in-house, a more cost-effective strategy than hiring a digital agency
Reportedly, the DPVA was playing favorites in this race. Starting with Governor Ralph Northam’s PAC asking the DPVA to commission a poll through the 3rd party “The Way Ahead” group for this seat, with the PAC sharing the results of this poll with Rodman, but not the two other Democrats running for this seat.
According to Brandon Jarvis, the editor of Richmond2Day, Northam’s PAC also offered Melissa McKenny a prominent activist in Henrico County $1M in campaign funds if she joined the Democratic primary race. Since all of this took place shortly before the Governor’s “blackface” yearbook photo came out, it may be a moot point, as the Governor’s and Lt. Governors ability to raise funds has greatly diminished since then.
How this loss of “rainmakers” at the top of the ticket affects the DPVA’s ability to channel money into downstream Senate and House races; and particularly House seats which have been vacated by Democrats seeking Senate seats, like the 73th, (Rodman), and the 87th (Bell) is anyone’s guess.
What should be of concern to all Democrats in Virginia is that the State Party seems to be emulating the DCCC’s attitude about pre-selecting “winning” candidates with little regard to the preferences and needs of the local voters.
Only, instead of protecting incumbents, the State Party appears to be going all out to retake the Senate, while doing relatively little to retake the House of Delegates. Seemingly oblivious that it was a Democratic Blue Wave, which enabled them to pick up 15 seats in the House of Delegates.
A wave which reduced the Replican’ts margin in the House of Delegates from a near super-majority to a one-seat majority. And while it was the most “deplorable” of the Replican’ts who were voted out of office in 2017, Democrats now have to defend most of those seats while picking up at least 1, preferably 2 seats to regain control of the House.
It came as little surprise to learn that several candidates for local office; Toni Williams (Jackson District), Jessie Shupe (Louisa District), Tony Brasswell (Commissioner of Revenue) are running as Republican’s. According to the CV, all three of these candidates were “endorsed” by the Louisa County Republican Committee at their May 22 mass meeting, in addition to Donnie Lowe (Sheriff) who had previously announced that he would be running as a Republican.
Unlike the other candidates for local office who have to collect signatures from registered voters to qualify for the ballot, candidates nominated through this process are guaranteed a spot on the ballot for the November election once the Party submits their nomination forms to the county registrar.
Like their 2015 mass meeting where they nominated Rusty McGuire for Commonwealth Attorney, roughly 50 people attended this year’s meeting. And like the 2015 meeting, the CV overlooked several crucial details about what took place at this meeting and the nomination process.
Starting with the fact that a small group of people, many of who do not likely reside in either the Jackson or Louisa district nominated Supervisor candidates from outside their own districts. They also failed to report that this meeting was not publicized, in the CV or on the Louisa Republican’s own FB and web pages.
Details, which help to obscure the reality that notifications about this meeting were limited to the Party faithful, with announcements about this meeting buried deep in the Republican Party of Virginia (RPV’s) webpage. While it’s long been said that the unofficial motto of the Virginia Republic party is “Keep it small, keep it all,” the real purpose of these mass calls is to allow local Party officials to control voters and their votes.
Speaking of controlling, when Donnie Lowe who is running unopposed for Sheriff was asked several months ago why he is running as a Republican, he reportedly replied “If I don’t they will run someone as a Republican against me.”
Nor is it likely that many locals will remember that is was Major Donnie Lowe who brought a large contingent from the Sheriff's office to the 2015 Louisa Republican’s mass call in an effort to keep Mike Silberman, who was running against Sheriff Ashland Fortune off the Republican ballot.
So it's debatable if he was being honest, or simply trying to conceal that he's always been an authoritarian ... I mean a Replican't. Nonetheless, these are comments, which indicate the lengths that local candidates and the Republican Party will go in order to solidify their grip on power.
Contrary to the Republican Party chair, Graven Craig’s disingenuous remarks in the CV, what took place the mass meeting was not the “natural progression of things,” it was a brazen attempt to press their thumbs on the electoral scales and turn Louisa County staunchly conservative, like Goochland County, which has “had Republican supervisors for at least eight years.”
Meanwhile, the Chair of the Louisa Democratic Committee, Gary Schatz’s observations about “all local races should be non-partisan,” and the recognition that “Not everybody can make it to a convention,” and [holding a mass meeting] “It’s not the fairest way to do it,” will likely be ignored by most of Louisa’s citizens.
While the CV may prefer to dismiss the fact that Duane Adams (Mineral District) 2017 Supervisors campaign received over $20 thousand worth of fliers paid for by the RPV, and that such actions were unprecedented in Louisa County as “conspiracy theories.” It should be interesting to see what they have to say when these local nominees start receiving support from the state Party and other groups.
Editor's Note: Weeks after the Louisa Republican Committee's mass call and nomination of candidate, three of the ®‘s prominent nominees, Donnie Lowe, Dan Brasswell or R.T. Williams don't have a Facebook or web page. From all indications they will be copying the tactics of their ® mentors; Senator Bryce Reeeves, and Supervisor Duane Adams, limiting their public exposure to select gatherings of the faithful, hoping to ride their Party's coattails to victory. While the other ® candidate, Jessie Shupe’s campaign FB page is so bare bones that it’s meaningless.
The Chair of the Culpeper Republicans, Jon Russell, has recently offered his personal opinion on the Republican Creed. An article of faith that professes adherence to a statement of values, the creed touts support for the free enterprise system, equal rights and individual responsibility, fiscal responsibility and budgetary restraint, and a strong national defense. All sound noble on the surface. But narrow-minded dogma, without reasoned perspective and balance, doesn’t always effectively serve individual citizens or this nation.
Instead of allegiance to a rigid creed, why not approach major issues as thoughtful, reasoning, informed adults, working collaboratively in the best interest of the American people?
Waving the “free enterprise” banner sounds principled, but does it always provide equality for all? Free enterprise suggests business drives all the decisions. Jobs may not be sent overseas according to government policy. These are business decisions often based only on profitability to shareholders. Many businesses are not necessarily concerned about social impact. If we want to “promote the general welfare,” capitalism requires guidance and modest regulation to ensure that the American Dream is an opportunity for all, rather than for only the already privileged. That’s what Democrats bring to the table: We take into consideration what will work in the best interest of “We the People.”
When it comes to environmental protections, companies have long proven that they will not prioritize safeguards against potential environmental catastrophes unless reasonable regulations are in place. Particularly Dominion Power, who has gone out of their way to greeenwash their depredations, and who's deception are being reinforced in local papers by shills like Mr. Russell and McCarthy seeding doubts about alternative energy sources.
Regarding healthcare, the pharmaceutical market has consistently demonstrated its widespread disregard for the well-being of consumers, charging exorbitant prices for prescriptions while causing consumers to ration their use of life-saving medications.
Most important is the disastrous problem of income inequality in this country, thanks again to that unchecked free enterprise ideal. Some major companies pay their workers so little that they qualify for welfare while at the same time paying their executives and shareholders outrageous sums. Some of the richest corporations in the nation pay little or no taxes. Why is this allowed? Looking at the Republican tax bill—which increased national public debt and benefited the top one percent—what does this say about Republican commitment to fiscal responsibility?
Of course, the government must provide for the national defense, but does that mean untold billions must be spent for unwanted hardware when the 21st-century battleground is in cyberspace? Yes, we need reasonable immigration reform, including secure borders, but does that mean American values include cruelly separating families, jailing infants and toddlers, where many have died in captivity, and denying access to those seeking lawful asylum?
Does our commitment to the constitution really mean we can’t acknowledge gun violence? We must take reasonable steps that are likely to save thousands of lives every year—such as universal background checks, extreme risk protection orders, and keeping guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, stalkers, and children.
Perhaps there is no issue where ideology is more dangerous than reproductive rights. This week we have seen Republican legislatures ban abortion with little exception. Along with Tyler Adams screed about the “sanctity of life” in this weeks Central Virginian.
But most Americans believe that abortion should be legal in most cases, knowing that a ban will not end abortions—it will only end safe abortions. It is actually Democratic policies through the years that have worked to lower the number of abortions in this country—through increased access to healthcare, birth control, and sex education.
The Republican Creed which Mr. Russell touts is an ideology that rarely uplifts. He does not mention hope, nor compassion. His perspective is not future-focused. The Culpeper Republicans have censured their own state senators for the sins of bipartisanship. The requirement to toe an ideological straight-and-narrow and see the world in stereotypes doesn’t solve problems. Democrats, on the other hand, seek to study what really works, mull the possibilities, and advance policies that provide opportunities for all. Those who care about affordable education and healthcare, protecting our environment, and equal rights and justice for all will have the opportunity to vote for many exceptional Democratic candidates this fall.
Editor’s Note: This op-ed originally appeared in the May 25th edition of the Culpeper Star Exponent and has been posted here with the author’s permission. And the editor of this site has added additional links to relevant pieces in local papers
Editor’s note: This letter first appeared in the May 23rd print edition of the Central Virginian, and is only available online to paying subscribers. It has been re-posted here in Blue Louisa as a complement Dave Ruether’s May 25th op-ed, also in Blue Louisa.
The notion that the value of human life is subjective – that it fluctuates based on the worth assigned to it by another – is the most destructive philosophy in human history.
It is the philosophy that drives racism, genocide, and all other factional conflict. There are biological and evolutionary theories that propose tribalism, the belief in the superiority and the prioritization of people who are similar to you, is hardwired into our psyche. However, there are many biologically driven urges towards violence which we suppress because of their immorality. In order to respect the dignity and rights of our fellow man, we are called to overcome our nature.
We have failed miserably many times. In all cases of violence driven by perceived inherent differences, whether it be race, religion, or ideology, almost always the belligerents are so confident in the superiority of their position that they are convinced the offending characteristics of their opposition is incompatible with true humanity.
The pseudo-science justifying racial oppression of African slaves is one example. It was claimed that the psychology of Africans made them more servile and that their biology made them better adapted to physical labor. In this way they were portrayed as less than-human. Why? Because if the status of African humanity was compatible with that of their slaveholders, then enslavement of the slaveholders would be equally as justified.
Today, the most fatal application of sub-human status is on the unborn. They’ve been labeled as less-than-human because of the stage of their physical development and, like all groups who’ve been given that label, suffered greatly. Since 1973 over 63 million unborn children have been aborted, greater than the population of California and New York combined. The morality of ending life on this massive scale has been tacitly accepted by society primarily based on the arguments that a person can choose that those lives possess less inherent value – the life of an unwanted child is worth less, or nothing.
This philosophy is wrong. The value of human life is not subjective, life has an objective, inalterable, and universal value. Abortion is immoral because the right to life is the most fundamental quality of humanity. All people, wanted or unwanted, have the same, immeasurable value. Left undisturbed, nearly every baby in the womb would develop into a person whose right to life would be undeniable to even the most ardent supporters of abortion. The moral crisis of abortion is much more severe when we recognize that the humanity and the inherent value of the unborn is equal to our own.
We cannot live in a harmonious society that respects the rights and dignity of each person if we believe a person’s worth is so malleable. Understanding the truth that the circumstances of a person’s birth, their physical qualities, or status in society do not determine the value of their life, that by virtue of being human they possess natural rights, is the only way to live peacefully.
Editor's Note: Mr. Adam's has worked for some of Virginia's most extreme politicians, such as State Senator Bryce Reeves, former state delegate and now 6th district Congressman, Ben Cline, and his father, Mineral District Supervisor, Duane Adams.
Nor is it any coincidence that misleading screeds like this one have become a regular fixture on the Central Virginian's op-ed page ever since his father ran for Mineral District Supervisor in 2017.
While trying to predict the outcome of the upcoming state and local elections is frequently a fool's game, based on what’s happened in several recent Republican primaries, they are leaving no stone unturned in rigging the outcome, starting with the recent Prince Williams County BOS “firehouse primary.”
According to VPAP, the Republican incumbent Marty Nohe raised a whopping $131 K in the first quarter of 2019, while the challenger, and “winner” John Gray raised self funded himself to the tune of $12,500, deeds which leave the voters of the Coles District with a hard-core Trumpster who is not likely to represent them.
If the comments on Nohe’s FB page are any indication, his Republican supporters are passively accepting this rigged process, while his Democratic supporters are calling this primary “voter suppression.”
With one commentator noting; “I many others were turned away because we voted in a Democratic primary in the past and they had the records of it right there. We were told the only way we could vote was to sign a 'denunciation' letter which in effect was denouncing being a Democrat. “
”There is no ‘party registration’ in Virginia and I was livid over this as were others who raised very strong objections. The lady told us that since this primary was ‘run’ by the Republicans and not a State or Federal primary that we could not vote.”
During the recent Culpeper BOS primary, local Replican’ts tried to block several people from voting, claiming this was a “Republican primary, for Republicans.” After forcing one sitting one voter to sit through an interrogation then asking them to sign a waiver stating I "promise to vote for the GOP in November," before they would allow her to vote, an offer which she and others refused.
From all appearances, the only reason they “allowed” Democrats to vote in this primary was because they knew their rights, stood up for them and wouldn’t be intimidated. If people don’t know and exercise their rights, Replican’t around the state will continue to try and suppress the vote by any means necessary.
Apparently, the Replican’ts motto is “If you can’t beat them, cheat them.”
At the state level, the 97th House District Republican Convention was another exercise in fixed outcomes. One that from all reports featured a bitter fight between the 97th HOD Committee and the State Party, where the Committee Chair walked out of a meeting after being questioned by a fellow Committee member about the validity of this convention.
It's a game we have seen before, with the 2017 State Republican convention selecting the extreme Cory Steward and E.W. Jackson at their standard bearers.
Meanwhile over in the 11th Senate race, featuring “Church Lady” Amanda Chase, where despite a self induced meltdown with the Capital Police, she refuses to back down or apologize even though there is an audiotape and video of what happened. Going so far as to publicly demand an “apology” while playing the “victim” on her FB page with multiple posts of how unfairly she’s being treated.
Even after publicly lashing out at the Senate GOP Caucus and majority leader Tommy Norment, the biggest financial “rainmaker” in the Party, it doesn’t appear to have appreciably shifted her chances of being re-elected.
Nor was it any surprise to see her emulating her mentor Dave Brat deeds whose 2014 campaign she managed, actively block users and deleting unfavorable comments on her FB page.
Perhaps the biggest reason the Church Lady “doth protest too much,” is this observation posted on another Republican's FB page … “As a former Chesterfield Republican (I served on the Executive Committee of the Chesterfield GOP for 4 years), I have seen Amanda from a slightly different angle than you.
Let me say this unequivocally: Amanda has more to fear from the political enemies she's made over the years than she does from any Average Joe, and she knows this.”
Along with this now deleted comment, from her public Facebook page.
“First off you're a liar. I’m a Republican. I've seen you personally throw your weight around with the police officers and dispatchers. There are logs and phone calls where you made Capitol police your very own personal taxi service. Driving you to hospitals, bars, restaurants, back and forth for your own personal usage and having nothing to do with your official duties. Your parking deck is literally across the road where there are 2 security guards patrolling it everyday, Monday thru Friday.”
Nor is it surprising to hear rumors that State Senator Bryce Reeves, and State Delegate Nick Frietas helped orchestrate this entire affair in a effort to discredit and discourage her from running in the 7th Congressional District race against Abigail Spanberger in 2020.
It’s no secret that both of them are anxious to move up to higher levels of incompetence, I mean influence having both run in the 2017 Republican State Convention, before losing out to even more extreme candidates, or that they have previously indicated an interest in running against Abigail in 2020.
While an overblown sense of privileged entitlement is hardly exclusive to Replican’ts judging by what took place at the end of the Arlington Democratic 31st District Senate debate. It’s worth noting that to Senator Favola’s credit, she had the decency to apologize at their next public debate, something which Replican’ts at every level seem constitutional incapable of.
Finally moving down to the only state elections where the residents of Louisa County have any direct say; the 17th Senate and the 56th House races. Leaving out the 22nd Senate race since Louisa’s two flaming red precincts contain such a small % of that Districts voters that their votes will hardly affect the outcome.
According our local paper, the Central Virginian, Democratic candidate Amy Laufer has a substantial fundraising advantage over Ben Hixon, raising over $ 110 K during the first quarter of 2019, yet lags behind the incumbent, Bryce Reeves first quarter totals. Reeves has accumulated ~ $ 218 K in his war chest over the course of two terms as a Senator, and is expected to handily beat his Republican opponent in the June 11th primary.
Given his close connections with Senator Norment, and the now departed 7th District Congressman Dave Brat, Reeves likely sees him self as a “rainmaker,” along the lines of Eric Cantor, a pretty boy mouth piece for the party, raising money which can be readily funneled throughout the Party food chain.
Despite starting her campaign late, Juanita Jo Matkins the Democrat running for the 56th House of Delegates seat has doubled incumbent, John McGuire's 2019 first quarter efforts. Unlike Reeves, "Lil John" has little money left over from his previous campaign, making this seat competitive for the first time in decades.
The biggest question is whether Democrats are fielding enough competitive candidates in the House and Senate to make it difficult for candidates like Bryce Reeves, and Republican PAC’s to keep sending their “excess” funds downstream to endangered state Replican’ts.
And it's something we all should expect to see more of, given what's already happened in other local county races this year, and what happened during the 2017 Mineral District race when Replican't candidate Duane Adams ran against Stephanie Koren.
Where the local media failed to report the fact that his son worked for Senator Reeves and Congressman Cline, or notice Reeves close relationship with the Party’s fundraising arm. While they did mention how a local supervisor , Duane Adams received ~ $25K worth of misleading fliers from the State Party.
They failed to note that such actions were "unprecedented" in Louisa county, or that it was a major factor in his victory. Nor is it any surprise to read in a recent edition of the CV that Adams is returning the favor this year, making two large contributions to SenatorReeves campaign.
Meanwhile there continue to be persistent rumors that now that the deadline for filing under a party banner has passed, that the county Replican'ts plan to run stealth RINO candidates for Supervisors races, and possibly other county positions, like they are doing in other counties all over the state.
Elections in our community have traditionally been conducted without partisan political sideshows trying to divide the citizens along ideological purity lines. Party affiliations, while allowed in local primaries, are not shown on November ballots, and most candidates in the past have run as independents. Only in recent years, with the rise of far-right ideologues—such as our recently-defeated Congressional representative, Dave Brat—has politics at the local level gotten ugly. This is not surprising, considering the more than 10,000 lies (so far) and the hatred emanating from the “soul-eating” occupant of the highest office in the land.
The last election showed that Culpeper is changing. Four of fifteen precincts in and around the town, comprising one-third of the county’s population, voted for our new congressional representative, U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger D-7th District. Every single other precinct in the county, though remaining “red,” was trending “blue.” Don’t just take it from me, analysis by the Virginia Public Access Project bears this out. You can look it up. Ballots this year are fulsome—voters will be choosing three state senators and two house delegates, four supervisors, four town council members, four school board members, plus four Constitutional Officers. Confused? where you vote
Educate yourselves by starting with finding out where you vote. Then do your research on the candidates in your precinct—only General Assembly candidates will be listed by party—and choose.
Jon Russell noted in his Culpeper Star Exponent byline last Sunday that he that he has “served on the Culpeper Town Council for two terms and chairs the Culpeper Republican Committee. His opinions represent his ”personal views only .”
Seriously? As reader M. Campbell pointed out in a letter to the editor on May 1st, he’s affiliated with two far-right-wing lobbying organizations (ALEC and ACCE) and is hardly merely expressing his personal views. The Governor just vetoed one of their bills, which if implemented, would have severely curtailed localities’ abilities to make their own zoning decisions.
Sounding the partisan siren, the Republican Committee boasts in the Star Exponent that it will call for a Republican-endorsed slate/sample ballot for all candidates from top to bottom, including those who run as independents. This is evidence that in their view, your analysis is not required. These people think they own Culpeper, and talk about the county being “a Republican county.”
News flash: There are plenty of us who value truth, science, fair play, tolerance, patriotism, providing for those less fortunate, including affordable and accessible health care, educational and job opportunities, access to the internet without paying through the nose, curbs on gun violence, and protecting our land, air and waters for our children and grandchildren.
This is what the local GOP party posted on Facebook on April 5th: “As the Democrats embrace socialism, these articles are always a good reminder of why we fight them." Yes, Hitler and the Nazis were socialists, for the simple reasons that they were staunchly anti-capitalist and believed that the means of production in their society should be controlled by a centralized state power. That is very clear from their writings, their words and their actions. Done and done (https://www.theblaze.com/op-ed/yes-virginia-hitler-really-socialist).” This is a gross distortion of history, and name-calling at its worst.
Hitler was a fascist, not a socialist. Trump is a fascist, not a Republican. Democrats are not communists. Stalin was a communist. The Culpeper County Republican Committee wants you to see things only in terms of white and black. Their choices, not yours.
This really is a fight for the soul of America. Choose wisely.
Editor’s Note: This op-ed first appeared in the Culpeper Star Exponent and has been re-posted here with the author’s permission.
The recently released photos of the light halo around a black hole in a distant galaxy reminded me of the amazing advances humans make when a question is answered with an ordered, problem-solving method.
Louisa already has one black hole and is creating a second, with our tax dollars going in never to be seen again. Dreamed up by county staff, backed by the board of supervisors, created by that problem-solving method in reverse, start with a conclusion and work backwards until there is a problem.
The Scientific Method was discussed early each semester in my Earth Science classes and I reminded my students that it wasn’t just scientists who used it; it works for everyday problems, too. When a “problem” arises, think it through, come up with a possible solution, test your solution with observations, tests and experiments, review the test results then conclude if your solution solves the problem. If not, repeat the process, testing a new solution to solve the problem.
The backwards, un-scientific method, used by many government officials, is to start with a conclusion and work backwards until you have created a problem. In Louisa, the conclusion was, building a water line from the James River solves all our problems. With that conclusion, consultants were hired, data created, claims made based on that wildly inflated data, a solution was dreamed up: the water line will bring industry to pay big taxes. Problem is, there’s no industry to use all that water.
So, another conclusion was drawn, buy, rezone and flatten forest land at Shannon Hill with tax money, spend more money to extend the water line (and gas and sewer lines) to that land, hire more consultants to find and lure, with tax breaks, an amazing industry that deep into the future, will fill county coffers with tens of millions of dollars.
Just a couple of problems, both dripping with irony. First, no industry is coming to Shannon Hill because the industries officials are dreaming of are fading into the past. Water wasting, gas burning industries are fading away and should. The future needs to be thrifty with resources, sustainable.
Then to hear board members praise the recent presentation by members of Louisa County Public Schools (and praise and fully fund they should), where the school system’s long-term goals are to prepare students to work the unknown jobs of the future, not the disappearing industrial jobs of the past. The schools get it, the board doesn’t.
Stellar black holes have such powerful gravity even light can’t get out. Our local black holes have such weak logic they will continue to pull in tax money for years, with no taxes ever coming back out. No bank would loan you money for this, we are your bank and will keep working to deny this bad loan.
Call your supervisor, don’t rezone and add another black hole at Shannon Hill. Perhaps, first, solve a real problem, poor broadband countywide!
Editor’s Note: This op-ed originally appeared in the May 2nd edition of the Central Virginian, and has been re-posted here with the author’s permission.
I am writing in response to Mr. George Goodwin’s letter last week, which was a response to my letter the week before. I am directing my comments directly to Mr. Goodwin. I wish more people would write in to discuss the issues that affect us all, but you elected to make your letter more about your internal experience than the issue of ending the practice of suspending driver’s licenses due to unpaid court fines.
It is interesting that you had such an emotional reaction to one sentence in one letter to the editor. You identified yourself as a staffer for Senator Mark Peake. Perhaps you are new to politics. It seems what we have here is a miscommunication leading to a misunderstanding.
I was correct when I stated that Mr. Peake was not present at the General Assembly to vote on April 3. I am sorry that he had a family situation that pulled him away from Richmond. We all have had times when family obligations interfere with our ability to do our jobs. Most of us are required to let our bosses know when we are unable to be at work, especially when there is an important meeting that day.
Mr. Peake works for his constituents. Every single resident of the 22nd district is his boss. In the January 10, 2017 special election, 25,842 people voted. Communicating directly with that many people can be onerous, so most politicians rely on the press via press releases and other mechanisms.
Yet when The CV ran a front page story on this very issue the same week as my original letter, they noted that he did not vote, but had no explanation as to why. They had no idea. There was nothing on his Facebook page. The last news event on his peakeforsenate.com is dated Oct. 17, 2017.
I am not sure who in his office is responsible for communicating with the press, but you collectively (yourself, the senator himself, or some other staffer) did not do their job in communicating that he was not able to be present on an important day to vote. You let people in Richmond know but no one else. I think that having this oversight pointed out is what inflamed you the most.
Unlike yourself, I will not speculate on the content of your character but will heed the advice of Michelle Obama and my mother and “Take the high road.” People so often these days have difficulty separating words and actions from human beings. This leads to increasing division.
We can disagree with someone without questioning their character or asking around about them. Each person’s opinion (and vote) have value regardless of the judgments of others. I hope through our exchange that Mr. Peake’s constituents have learned that unlike other Republicans representing Louisa, he did indeed support the majority of the General Assembly in ending prosecuting people for being poor when he had the opportunity.
The exchange of ideas is after all one of the things that make local newspapers so valuable. I hope voters will take the time to research his votes on other issues important to them well before the November election. Voters in the 22nd will have an alternative in the voting booth this November when Dakota Claytor hopes to become Virginia’s youngest legislator. Fare thee well Mr. Goodwin.
Editor’s Note: this originally appeared in the April 25th edition of the Central Virginian, and has been re-posted here with the author’s permission
I read with disappointment George Goodwin’s Letter to the Editor in last week’s The Central Virginian. Mr. Goodwin, legislative aide to Senator Mark Peake, attacks a private citizen and demands a correction and apology after she merely noted that his boss did not show up to vote in the General Assembly’s reconvened session on April 3.
In my reading, the author of the letter in question only referred to Senator Peake in passing and specifically focused on Senator Bryce Reeves and Delegate John McGuire’s votes against a budget amendment that ends the suspension of driver’s licenses for failure to pay court fines and fees.
Clearly, the author was not aware why Senator Peake missed the budget amendment vote. Nor was that fact included in The Central Virginian’s front page story about the vote, published a week after it took place.
Mr. Goodwin says that he worked diligently to inform colleagues in Richmond why Mr. Peake missed the reconvened session. Apparently, he failed to successfully convey that message to media and many other folks here in Louisa County.
Further, the letter’s author did not claim to offer an exhaustive history of Sen. Peake’s position on the matter at hand. Again, her letter wasn’t even about Mark Peake.
Instead of attacking a private citizen, Mr. Goodwin would have better served his boss by simply stating that Sen. Peake wasn’t in Richmond for the reconvened session because of a death in his family and noting that he supports the budget amendment—that his colleagues Sen. Reeves and Del. McGuire refused to support—because he understands that the practice of suspending driver’s licenses for unpaid court debt unfairly penalizes financially-struggling Virginians.
Instead, Mr. Goodwin took the low road. He accused someone of spreading falsehoods, questioned her character, and wrote dismissively and condescendingly about a private citizen who cares enough about what’s going on in Richmond to speak up. Sen. Peake should expect more from his employee.
Editor’s Note: this originally appeared in the April 25th edition of the Central Virginian, and has been re-posted here with the author’s permission.
Q: What are your top 3 issues? Why?
Community food enterprise centers and tools for small farmers. We can help make small farming a little less risky by encouraging communities to invest in tools such as mobile slaughterhouses, pasteurization salons, and community commercial kitchens that can lower the barrier of entry into the market for aspiring food entrepreneurs. The Carver Agricultural Research Center here in our district is a model project of this kind and was jumpstarted by a simple $63K grant from the Department of Housing and Community Development. I want to make sure it succeeds and that it inspires other similar projects around Virginia.
Vocational training. Not everyone needs a 4-year degree. We need plumbers, carpenters, electricians. That’s why I support more opportunities and more dedicated funding for high school and post-secondary vocational training and apprenticeship programs, where no new high school graduate is turned away for inability to pay, and a P-14 public education track that culminates in apprenticeships, vocational certification, job training and placement, and/or an associate’s degree.
Criminal justice reform. We over-criminalize, over-punish, and enforce our laws unfairly. I believe we need sweeping reforms to our criminal justice system, ranging from legalizing marijuana, to ending incarceration for minors for all nonviolent offenses, to raising the public defender and larceny limits, to reforming pretrial release and bringing back parole.
To learn more about Ben, be sure to visit his website https://benhixon.com/ and Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/benhixonVA for more details.
What are your top 3 issues? Why?
Education, social justice, and the environment.
I have been on the school board for the past 7 years. As a school board member, I know the importance of early childhood education, and I fully support universal Pre-K and expansion of broadband. That is because I know that when kids come to school behind, it is that much harder for them to be successful.
I am passionate about social justice because I want to build the world we want for our children and ourselves. The hate and bigotry we saw in Charlottesville cannot be the story of our Commonwealth or our nation. We need to pass the Equal Rights Amendment and end the policies of mass incarceration that are preventing many of our community members from succeeding and preventing many people from voting.
We need to build a better world for the next generation by protecting the environment. The current intentional ignorance around climate change is unacceptable, and our children will pay the costs of our current disposable culture. Clean energy can grow our economy through high-paying jobs and lessen our dependence on utility companies.
To learn more about Amy, be sure to visit her website https://www.lauferforvirginia.com and Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/LauferForVA/ for more details.
The flogging will continue until morale improves.
What used to be a great office joke repeated when deadlines were tight, and bosses were demanding, has now become Republican policy all across America, including right here in Culpeper.
During the campaign, Donald Trump challenged African-Americans and other minorities to vote Republican—”What have you got to lose?” he said, ignoring that some Republican-dominated state legislatures are restricting the vote for those very minorities. This is the essence of the gerrymandering case in Virginia. Even the North Carolina Supreme Court rejected that state’s voter ID requirements as discriminating against African-Americans with “surgical precision.”
And the flogging has not stopped on voter restrictions, like the repeal of portions of the 1965 Civil Rights act dealing with voter protections. Candace Owens, African-American conservative apologist recently claimed in Congressional testimony on hate crimes that the GOP never had a “Southern strategy” for employing racism as a tool to appeal to white voters. This is patently false, as any cursory examination of history will reveal.
In foreign policy, President Trump has threatened to cut off all American assistance to Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, until the flow of asylum seekers stops. People faced with murder, crime and domestic terrorism are running away from those countries because their governments are unable to provide the personal security and economic stability that American assistance might support.
Separating and caging children at the border was designed to make America more frightening than their home countries for asylum seekers. Just this past week, Trump intimated that more force will be needed: “I’m going to have to call up more military. Our military, don’t forget, can’t act like they would normally act because if they got a little rough, everybody would go crazy.”
Economic sanctions under this administration are designed to intimidate, not facilitate. So, to get a deal on intellectual property with China, this administration imposes steel and aluminum tariffs, raising the prices of anything America needs for manufacturing. China retaliates by not buying American farm products, the biggest commodity in US-China trade. Culpeper County came in third statewide in 2018 for soybean production while Orange and Madison counties came in fourth and fifth, respectively, according to the Virginia Farm Bureau.
“China purchased about one-third of the soybeans we produced in 2017 and we know that soybean exports are down significantly. This marketing year, “Soybean exports to China are down 96 percent through the end of January,” Dr. John Newton, chief economist with the American Farm Bureau Federation, told Virginia growers Feb. 20 at the Virginia Grain & Soybean Annual Conference. He said additional tariffs would further erode competitiveness in key agricultural markets and would weigh on farm income as in 2018. Months later there is still no grand deal on intellectual property.
The “flogging” t-shirts and posters are supposed to be funny, but our floggers willfully ignore cause and effect. It is the flogging that causes not only low morale but also desensitizes the powers-that-be about using violence, to say nothing of the condescending attitude the flogger has toward those who are flogged. You don’t deny the vote, or humanitarian protection, or economic prosperity, or education to people you respect. The flogging will continue until Republicans are voted out of office.
Editor’s Note: This op-ed first appeared in the April 14th edition of the Culpeper Star Exponent, and has been re-posted here with the author’s permission.
Last week the Virginia General Assembly returned to Richmond for a special session to finish up matters left unfinished in the regular session.
One very special piece of legislation was brought up this year. The goal was to eliminate suspension of driver’s licenses for people who could not afford to pay their court costs.
Just to be clear, this is not about people with moving violations. No, this legislation was intended to stop the harsh practice of suspending a license for money owed and affects over 600,000 Virginians.
Why was this practice instituted in the first place? It is illogical. Logical consequences are what make people change their behavior. Any parent knows this. If a young child is playing with something they shouldn’t, you take it away and give them something they can have. If a child is spending too much time playing video games, you unplug it or take the controller away for a short time.
If parents do not pay child support, their wages are garnished and, or, their tax returns taken. Why can’t we do the same with court costs? If you cannot pay your fees in one lump sum, how does it make sense to take your driver’s license away? If that happens, most people will make the desperate choice to continue to drive to work to earn a living to feed their children. If they get caught, there are more fines and possible jail time. Why are we penalizing people for being poor?
The men representing Louisa in the general assembly were in the minority when they voted against this legislation. Are Sen. Bryce Reeves and Del. John McGuire so personally wealthy that they cannot conceive of not being able to come up with a $145 reinstatement fee? A third legislator, Sen. Mark Peake, didn’t even bother to show up.
I remember those days when one unexpected car repair meant we had to decide which bill not to pay. Are these men so out of touch with living in a rural area that they do not understand that personal transportation is essential to employment? This is not a hard concept to understand.
People being able to drive increases employment, boosts local economies, increases school attendance and improves civic involvement. There is no logical reason to continue this dated practice, only hatefulness.
The legislation enjoyed popular support in both the Senate and the House of Delegates, but not with our backward-thinking public servants. It is time to stop punishing the poor.
This fall, every single seat in the Virginia General Assembly is up for grabs. Thankfully, we have options. Delegate McGuire is being opposed by Juanita Jo Matkins, who is a strong supporter of reforming our justice system so that it both protects and rehabilitates. Senator Bryce Reeves is being opposed by both Amy Laufer and Ben Hixon, who are energized to make positive and helpful changes. Louisa, please look into these candidates, volunteer and vote the mean men out of office on Nov. 5.
Editor's Note: this op-ed originally appeared in the April 11th edition of the Central Virginian, and has been reposted here with the author's permission.
The first question I asked myself was why is Louisa County hiring Timmons Group to perform services at taxpayer expense? Then, what substantial benefit could Timmons provide to the county? Lastly, I asked what potential harm could Timmons do because County officials inadequately selected and inappropriately offered them a contract?
A good place to start would be at the beginning. Specifically, how the County procures services, which is supposed to be based on Virginia Code –and supplemented by Good Business Practices (GBP) from the commercial sector of the economy. Admittedly, this requires a certain level of sophistication, but it doesn’t require tremendous effort to get to that level.
Louisa County’s “Request For Proposal” (RFP# ED-18-01) and Timmons’ response offer a good point of reference. After reviewing these documents, a short, incomplete list of nine pages was created to document some of the inconsistencies in the procurement life cycle.
Just to make it easy, some of the highlights from the review of that RFP and the proposal are listed below.
· The County required the “consultant” to have performed at all levels of work. There may have been a quasi-review of this but there were no indications about how that review would be conducted.
· The Offeror (Timmons) was required to provide evidence of capabilities, professional expertise, and experience. The review of this RFP requirement seemed to indicate little evidence of this.
o One example is an employee identified as having Quality Assurance responsibilities. This position is typically supposed to be independent from all other organizational activities. In fact, in government procurements, this independence from all other organizational activities, which are performed as part of product or services is explicitly documented to avoid conflict of interest.
Yet, in the proposal, the individual with the Quality Assurance responsibilities also held another position, which usually brings about questions for resolution during the screening process. Literature from the American Society for Quality (ASQ) consistently discusses this issue. In addition, there are no indications that anyone from Timmons is a member of ASQ with certifications.
o The RFP required Project Management expertise but there was no one listed at Timmons with a certification form the Project Management Institute (PMI) – a notable discrepancy.
o The RFP specified that a description for the Project Management Approach and Philosophy be documented. In keeping with the missing PMI credentials, “Approach and Methodology” for Project Management was also missing. Given the seriousness of “Approach and Methodology,” for taxpayer funded activities, there should have been more attention by Timmons to including that information; and the County should have been more attentive to the requirements being imposed on a contractor providing services to County taxpayers. Consultants aren’t cheap.
o The RFP contained a specific statement, that any attempts by the Offeror to make changes to the Master Contract General Conditions Agreement is reason to declare the proposal non-responsive and it would be rejected. The cover letter to Timmons from the County indicates otherwise.
· The RFP contained no instructions relating to reviews of proposals, although there was mention of it. After reading Timmons proposal, I wondered, not so much why that comment was included, but what are the qualifications of the reviewers.
The Timmons proposal struck me as lacking substance and competitiveness in the way the proposal was written and presented. Timmons just seemed … disinterested. That was a strange sensation for proposals intended to show that one company is better than another, and deserving a contract. And yet, Timmons was awarded the contract.
Louisa Country citizens – should seriously consider the real possibility that their tax dollars could be misspent. Here’s the statement in the RFP that we all should pay attention to:
“All reports, drawings, specifications, computer files, field data, notes and other documents and instruments prepared by the Architect or Engineer as instruments of service shall remain the property of the Architect or Engineer.” Meaning, Louisa taxpayers pay for all the work products created but don’t get to keep them. I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t like to pay for something I can’t have.
Moving forward, it would be good for everyone to question how many other contracts are being written and processed in this same inadequate manner. There should be questions about how tax dollars are funding uncertain ventures because of poor organizational and administrative practices. And, to question the wisdom of the county promoting these ventures in the name of progress and development.
In conclusion, my thoughts keep going back to how the County received the initial Due Diligence Report for the Industrial Park at Shannon Hill, hurriedly presented it for the Louisa County Board of Supervisors (BOS) to vote on continuing it. A continuance, which was eventually stopped by the Board of Supervisors.
I wonder if the BOS voted that way because a Louisa County citizen pointed out a statement that should have been caught, but was apparently missed. That statement essentially indicated that no decisions should be made based on the content of that report.
Such a simple statement, and so easily overlooked. It makes you wonder if the County and the BOS have the best interest of the citizens in mind when RFPs are issued. It makes you wonder about the qualifications of the individuals involved in the creation, administration, and decision process. It makes you wonder what your tax dollars are being misspent on even now.
What is the County doing now? With Timmons?
We need citizens to actively participate by asking relevant questions of the County, of Timmons, and of any other taxpayer funded provider, especially when the impact is in the millions of dollars.
We need access to, and answers from, Timmons, the County, and any other taxpayer funded provider.
We need Louisa County citizens to show them the way.
Editor’s Note: This op-ed has been posted with the author’s permission, and is in response to an April 4th article in the Central Virginian, along with a relevant quote from the CV’s article; "The board made the funding (of Timmons) contingent on a grant from GO Virginia, the state economic development initiative. The county is expected to compete for a state grant of at least $200,000 when the Go Virginia board meets in June."
Readers of the Louisa Democratic Committee’s and Indivisible Louisa’s Facebook pages may recall a recent article by Thom Hartman. To put some historical context to his observations, around the time the Reagan Revolution was building up steam, Frank Herbert a science fiction author wrote in his 1976 book, Children of Dune that:
“Governments, if they endure, always tend increasingly toward aristocratic forms. No government in history has been known to evade this pattern. And as the aristocracy develops, government tends more and more to act exclusively in the interests of the ruling class - whether that class be hereditary royalty, oligarchs of financial empires, or entrenched bureaucracy. - Politics as Repeat Phenomenon: Bene Gesserit Training Manual”
In many respects, what we are seeing unfold today is the product of 40+ years of this dynamic Herbert described in his book, politicians acting solely for the ruling classes benefit.
Nor is it any coincidence that the Fairness Doctrine was eliminated during the Reagan Administration, or that the Telecommunications Industry was deregulated in the 90’s under Clinton’s, deeds that have contributed to a dramatic increase in voter’s political polarization.
Or that the pronounced shift in ideological polarization we’ve seen in the House of Representatives, dates back to the RayGun administration.
These demographic swings have enabled the Republican Party in particular to continue fooling some of the people all of the time, and has radicalized their base of supporters to cult like levels today. And it’s a shift, which allows the Democrats to continue peddling a bi-partisan charade for more than two decades regardless of whether they are actually are winning elections and can control legislative agendas.
This entrenched political duopoly is one the primary reasons why for the past twenty five years we seen increasingly radical legislation passed in Republican controlled states, and when they control Congress, and why when the two parties split power so little gets done.
Even with the Democratic Blue Wave of 2017-18, Congress remains split, the Replican’ts still control both chambers of Virginia’s General Assembly, a trend that will continue unabated until voters wake up. The 2019 Virginia State election and the 2020 presidential election remain our best opportunities make this a reality.
That being said, until the Democratic Party figures out how to resolve it’s own contradictions and internal divisions, it’s quite likely that polarized stupidity will become a permanent feature of American life.
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