Metro comic relief

The all-Republican Loudoun supervisors certainly know how to get attention for themselves, don’t they? It only took them six months of very public agonizing to agree to do what the previous board had already agreed to do without all the fuss, and support extending Metro to Dulles Airport and Loudoun.

The very serious high-drama 5–4 last-minute squeak-through victory for Metro yesterday was not without its moments of comic relief, however.

First was the outrage expressed by Hillsboro’s far-right “street theater” activist John Grigsby, incensed that Supervisor Ken “Ken” Reid (R-Leesburg) would, as Grigsby fumed, betray the wishes of “your largest donor” and vote for the project.

Yes, nothing more outrageous than a politician you’ve bought and paid for who doesn’t stay bought: A perfect expression of the Loudoun Republican machine’s attitude toward making government more “businesslike.”

Grigsby went on to insist that a politician is apparently not supposed to consider the interests of the people, or even the people who voted for him, but only of the people who gave him the most money: “I wish he could be here to look you in the eye,” Grigsby said, referring to Reid’s dear departed millionaire buddy and backer, and urged “Ken” to “consider some political advice: Dance with the ones that brought you.” (I think he meant “bought you.”)

[Of course, you’d never know it from reading the account of the above provided by Leesburg Today (Motto: One of the World’s Newspapers), but the name of this particular mysterious departed donor was  Washington-area commercial real estate developer Christopher W. Walker, who gave Reid a cool $7,000 for his election campaign. Walker, when he was with us, was famous for suing the Washington Airports Authority, claiming they owed him and fellow real estate owners $200 million for the harm that the Dulles Toll Road inflicted upon them by charging tolls. Of course, the fact that the Toll Road would not have existed in the first place without tolls would seem to cause a little logical problem in that argument, as a U.S. District judge concluded in throwing the suit out in 2010. Walker was also a leading opponent of rail to Dulles.]

Then we had the extremely humorous spectacle of “Ken” managing to parlay his utter indecisiveness and flip-flopping over his vote into the media attention he is always so desperately in need of; by holding out to the last minute and then providing the crucial fifth vote in favor of Metro, “Ken” managed to become the star of the show and be interviewed by NPR and quoted in the Washington Post the same day, which must have nearly overcome him with excitement and made it all worth while.

Finally, we had had the extremely rich spectacle of Supervisor Janet Clarke (R-Blue Ridge) offering a thousand-word-plus justification for her “no” vote (shortened in the Washington Post article to the eloquent sound bite that the agreement her fellow supervisors approved “really turns my stomach”). The best bit was where Clarke explained that the “true cost” of bringing rail to Dulles had to include all of the “Additional Schools and school staff for children in the 4,600 new homes” that would be built around the new Metro stations as well as public safety and other services that new development demands. Amazing how our Loudoun Republican officials suddenly are now admitting that development creates costs, at least when the costs are associated with a project they oppose . . . too bad they were denying that development cost taxpayers a dime back during all the years the  Republican-controlled Myers and Tulloch boards were throwing the county open to the fastest growth in the country and approving tens of thousands of new homes left and right, sticking the rest of us saps with $1 billion+ in new school construction costs alone that we’re still paying for.

But I guess that’s the kind of nimble thinking that being a Loudoun GOP official demands.

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