The $75,000 Curveball

One of the more curious contributors to local Republican coffers for the 2011 local election was one Howard Gary Heavin of Gatesville, Texas—which last time I checked is not near Loudoun County.

Curves Health franchise guru (and no slouch himself in the fitness department, apparently), local GOP state delegate David Ramadan

Heavin contributed a cool $75,000 to the successful campaign of Delegate David Ramadan. The connection between the two is apparently that Heavin is the CEO of Curves Health, a franchise operation of women’s fitness centers, and the Lebanese-born Ramadan is a Curves franchisee, as well as the apparent mastermind behind expanding Curves franchises to the Middle East and India.

I’m sure it was just an abundance of collegial pride in a protege doing so well in his adopted land that prompted Heavin to part with 75 grand.

On the other hand, it’s interesting to note that the very first Zoning Amendment approved by the new all-Republican board of supervisors here in Loudoun—one apparently so pressing to their agenda of making the county more “business friendly” that it could not even wait for the completion of the major zoning review ordered up by the board and now underway—was a little-noticed vote to add “health and fitness centers” to the list of permitted uses in industrial-zoned areas. An announcement of this proposed amendment, ZOAM 2012-0001, appeared in an advertisement on March 9 in Leesburg Today, as required by state law. (2012-0001 means it is the first proposed zoning amendment of the year 2012. Good thing they have room for 9,998 more in this designation scheme, because odds are this board is going to need it!!)

Of course, only someone with a cynical and business unfriendly attitude would imagine there is anything suspicious about this transaction, and no doubt our board would have taken this urgent action to remove a major, long-recognized obstacle to business development in our county even if an out-of-state donor who happens to own a health and fitness center franchise scheme had not been so generous to one of their own.

On the other hand, once upon a time people went into local politics because they cared about issues, policy, and making their communities a better place. Now apparently it’s a part-time job for globe-trotting business executives like Mr. Ramadan, or real-estate development lawyers like our other new local GOP delegate Randy Minchew, who view the people’s business as merely an extension of their own.

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