Editor's Note: This is from the 2015 Blue Louisa Archives
Back in 2015, Blue Louisa outlined a project to take control of villages, towns, cities and counties was being managed through an ALEC spin off, known as the American City County Exchange (ACCE) and coordinated through ALEC state chairs.
Here in Virginia the person best know as man behind the ALEC curtain is House Speaker Bill Howell, who coincidentally was the national chair of their effort to bring back wayward corporations who fled when their participation was publicly exposed several years ago, along with Louisa’s own Pat Mullins, the soon to be retiring Chair of the Virginia Republican Party.
Like ALEC, the American City County Exchange (ACCE) offers corporate America a direct conduit into the policy making process of city councils and municipalities. Where lobbyists acting on behalf of major businesses are able to propose resolutions and argue for new profit-enhancing legislation in front of elected city officials, who will then return to their council chambers and seek to implement the proposals.
Just in case your inclined to think that claims like this are little removed from tin foil hat wearing conspiracy theories, consider that ALEC’s own website proudly announced this past July that according to the Culpeper Star Exponent, Jon Russell, director of the American City County Exchange, had just been sworn in as a Culpeper city councilman.
While it’s true that one isolated example of their involvement isn’t sufficient evidence of a trend, you should be aware that Culpepper has become a hotbed of Republican activism, and that their local paper the Culpepper Star Exponent has been giving them an unusual amount of exposure. So much exposure, that one would be tempted to call them fluffers for the cause.
For example, take this thinly disguised op-ed, dated November 13th 2014 by Kara Kerwin the president of The Center for Education Reform calling for increased local support for charter schools.
Given the long standing conservative history of our own local paper, The Central Virginian, most letters to the editor from local conservatives should be taken with a very large grain of salt. But this letter from Christina Shaw of Culpeper a few days later also calling for local support of charter schools was unusual enough that it should set off anyone’s BS radar.
Exactly where Peter Ferrell fits into this picture of promoting charter schools is a matter of conjecture, but the best guess is that he and his parties support for this innocent sounding proposal to allow local school boards to set their own schedules will follow their usual pattern of stealth legislation, with some kind if hidden provision being added to the bill giving local school boards even more autonomy.
When it comes to making such sweeping educational changes the smart thing to do if you going to create legislature based on a hidden agenda is to proceed incrementally, implementing a little “reform” here and some more there, using the “frog in the slowly boiling pot of water” technique to gradually raise the temperature before anyone realizes what’s happening then unveil your true intentions.
In the aftermath of Republicans victories last year, and the General Assemblies past history of this kind of legislative behavior don’t be surprised to see them think they have mandate, and go for broke and give school boards the “freedom” to authorize charter schools. A move that would virtually guarantee that school boards would be headed for a collision course with the county and city boards over the economics of education.
Like most of his fellow Republicans, Ferrell supports the notion of a free market world where government doesn’t interfere with business freedom to dictate what kind of education our children should have. If you haven’t noticed this national trend before, charter schools are increasingly being imposed on communities – either by legislative fiat or well-engineered PR campaigns.
This business at any cost mentality dovetails nicely with the goals of the Christian home-school movement where supporters of evangelical home-schooling are demanding increasingly greater levels of “separation” from the Secular World.
As far as these educational charlatans are concerned the home schooled religious right are the best kind of useful pawns, people who have willing allowed their energy and paranoid hatred of “sinful” America to be exploited, enabling these profiteers along with the GOP to launch a religious, social, and economic crusade against their own country.
Speaking of the devil, or as one of the local Democrats like to call him Smiley, it’s telling that when the subject of ALEC came up in a conversation after last April’s Clown Hall meeting which Ferrell, Senator Garrett and Reeves hosted in Louisa, he immediately chimed “I’m not a member of ALEC, my wife won’t let me spend that much time away from home.”
Too bad no one thought to ask him, “so why are you following Speaker Howell’s and ALEC’s agenda so closely?” For the rest of us a better question might be who is ALEC and what do they really want?
Another example of how corporate interests are trying to take over local legislatures was in 2014 in Chesterfield County, when Ben Knotts, the director of coalitions for another one of ALEC’s allies, Americans for Prosperity a national conservative organization founded by billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch spoke at the County Board meeting urging county residents to oppose a 4.5 cent increase in the counties proposed budget.
Prior to this meeting, AFP had been robo-calling Chesterfield residents, urging them to oppose this increase in the county’s proposed budget.
When the people attending this meeting publicly called him out as a representative of the Koch Brothers, and not a local citizen who has legitimate interests in the affairs of Chesterfield County he immediately retreated to the standard Republican tactic of bullying a local resident, Reportedly this confrontation was so bad that a sheriff’s deputy had to run over ran to break it up.
By not participating in local affairs and elections we are in essence giving corporations and other vested interests free reign in taking over our government at the county and city level. If we continue to allow our local counties and city politicians to represent organizations like the American City and Council Exchange along with Americans for Prosperity interests and not yours, this will happen in county after county and in city after city.
The only way you can stop this from happening is to pay close attention to what is going on at the local level, participate in local government and politics and vote the worst of them out of office as they come up for re-election.