LaRock’s very welcoming district office

When right-wing tea party wacko, Koch brothers protege, and developer of garish yet crappy McMansions Dave LaRock was running for state delegate last summer, he kept promising how much he was going to Listen to the People.

Man of the People Del. Dave LaRock's district office (if you can find it)

Man of the People Del. Dave LaRock’s district office (if you can find it)

Well, Dave has now opened his district office, where any of us little constituents can feel free to drop in at any time for a chat or for assistance with our little problems.

The only problem is that his “office” is located within the $1.32 million garish yet crappy McMansion where LaRock lives, down a long dirt road somewhere or other.

Virginia provides state legislators a budget of $1,250 a month for their district office. But being Virginia, where as we all know our public officials are so incorruptible there is no need whatsoever even to have any ethics rules, there are no rules on how they must spend or account for that money. So LaRock has apparently decided just to pocket the extra $15,000 a year. It probably comes in handy when he has to pay the serfs who trim the hedges and wash the windows around the place.


Hounds CEO: It’s the government’s fault we don’t have a stadium yet

To the surprise of cynics nowhere, the CEO of the Loudoun Hounds non-existent extremely minor league baseball “team” now says that if only he had help from the government, Loudoun would have its dream-come-true of its very own baseball team.

In a lengthy interview in Leesburg Today, Hounds CEO Bob Farren — in admitting for the first time that  “construction” of the stadium has indeed gone nowhere, despite repeated false assurances from him to the contrary  — reveals that it’s the lack of government-issued bonds that’s been the real problem: “If we had municipal support from the county or the state, we would be playing ball right now,” he says.

Just to review, for a mere $70,000 in campaign contributions to our all-Republican Loudoun Board of Supervisors, the Hounds investors have already received: Continue reading

Republican supervisors cut school budget by $35 million and call it an “increase”

Yes, it’s fun with numbers time again at the all-Republican Loudoun Board of Supervisors, who last week voted at a final budget work session to cut next year’s school budget by $35 million and then sent out a press release congratulating themselves on having increased the budget.

The funding the Board approved in fact does leave the schools with a $35 million shortfall from the $952 million that the School Board needs just to cover the costs of increased enrollment (an additional 2,400 students added to the rolls next year) and other non-optional expense increases (such as additional contributions required by the state to the retirement system). Continue reading

The Redskins rip-off

One of the biggest scams in local government here, exploited to the fullest by our “business friendly” all-Republican Loudoun Board of Supervisors, is the slush fund at the Board’s disposal from revenues collected from the local hotel tax.

By state law, about half of the hotel tax revenues are required to be used for promoting travel and tourism to the county, in particular events or organizations that result in overnight stays.

But under the guise of being “business friendly” and promoting “economic development,” this Board has turned it into just an all-purpose slush fund to reward their cronies and help themselves. The biggest recent scandal was the Board’s decision in 2012 to award $2 million — $500,000 a year — to that very needy organization the Washington Redskins. It was all the more astonishing given that the Redskins had just announced they were pulling their training camp out of Loudoun. But the Board insisted that because the Redskins had very legitimate “football reasons” to move their training camp to Richmond, it was really very unfair to take away the team’s free taxpayer-provided subsidy. And the team even promised sort of to keep their corporate HQ in Loudoun for another year or so.

Yes, just think of the tourist benefits of a business office!

Meanwhile, the Board was wiping out a whole raft of small but important grants to local arts and cultural organizations claiming that they did not represent a “core function of government.”

The Board’s right-wing  amen corner took to the blogosphere to defend the Redkins ripoff by claiming (a) that all of the money just came from hotel taxes, thus was not paid by residents and (b) the Redskins were of great value to “branding” the county. (Priceless, I guess, since no one could put a value on that supposed benefit.)

What the Board spectacularly failed to even ask, though were a few basic questions that anyone who claims to be “businesslike” would have occurred to ask from the outset:

1. Does a very successful for-profit business like an NFL football team actually need a subsidy? Will the $2 million from Loudoun County actually induce the Redskins to do anything to the benefit of the county that they did not intend to do anyway out of their own corporate interest?

2. Would that same $500,000 a year, invested in other Loudoun organizations, nonprofits, or tourism related enterprises, have generated a greater return to the county, especially more tourism and visits?

3. As a matter of principle and long-term policy planning, would it not make sense to require that these limited, restricted funds be invested in activities that promise to remain in the county for more than a year or so, and that had not just abandoned their only significant visitor-drawing activity?

What was especially ignorant was the glib claim by defenders of this corporate welfare that since the money came from the tourism tax, it was somehow free and it didn’t matter. You would think that anyone who claims to be “businesslike” just might have heard of the concept of “opportunity cost” and the fungibility of money: Simply, handing over $500,000 — which is a lot of dough — to an NFL football team is $500,000 that is unavailable for anything else, even if it all came from the restricted the hotel tax.

But now it turns out that a large chunk of the money is going to have to come out of general revenues after all, owing to a shortfall in the hotel tax trust fund. Continue reading

Math skills lag at Patrick Henry (and the Loudoun BOS)

As alert reader Dan Johnson points out, Loudoun GOP Supervisor and Deep Thinker Suzanne Volpe’s mathematically challenged “example” of how terribly scary your property tax bill is going to be if we pay for our public schools was even more mathematically challenged than we noted in yesterday’s post.

As we noted, Volpe flagrantly cherry-picked her data, using one neighborhood that experienced an unusually large increase in assessed value (18.6% — versus the county-wide average of 4.19%) to paint an exaggerated and unrepresentative “example” of impending property tax increases.

But then she also applied a further, mathematically nonsensical multiplier to try to make the increase appear even greater. And,  in the process, demonstrating she doesn’t have the least clue abut how property taxes work — rather a significant failing in a county supervisor, one would think.

Here is what Supervisor Volpe  asserted: Continue reading