Monthly Archives: March 2013

How dare you speak to the public

In most people’s idea of a functioning democracy, government officials are allowed to tell the public what is going on. This is based on the startling notion that they are conducting the people’s business, and only in narrowly prescribed and exceptional circumstances is it justifiable to keep information secret from the public.

But not in Loudoun County!

Since taking office a year ago, the all-Republican Board of Supervisors has consistently taken the view that the public should butt out, that dissenting views should be stifled, and that anyone who dares to speak out of turn and express a view not sanctioned by the Loudoun Republican Cabal be subject to swift retribution: Continue reading

The final act of the sweetheart stadium deal

Our completely impartial Loudoun Board of Supervisors has set April 3 for a final vote on approving the One Loudoun pseudo-baseball-stadium entertainment complex. Had the Board thought it worth their while to adopt the same ethics policy the previous Board had, Chairman Scott York (R-At Large), the major cheerleader for the project, would have to recuse himself from the vote, having taken a cool 25,000 smackers from the stadium’s backers.

But having conveniently declared that ethics policies are unnecessary and unenforceable, York avoids that little embarrassing fact and  is free to vote to approve the multiple zoning changes and exceptions required for the project to go ahead at its new location.

Actually, the entire all-Republican Board would have to recuse itself on the vote if they had adopted any kind of a standard ethics policy, since every single one of them took a pile of cash from the project’s investors, more than $67,000 in all. (Presumably, a on a 0–0 vote a motion fails?)

At a final public hearing on the plan Monday night, Continue reading

Still more school budget demagoguery

As predicted, your very fiscally prudent all-Republican Loudoun Board of Supervisors — except when it comes to throwing away millions of tax dollars on pet GOP projects like handouts to sports teams, faith-based initiatives against Lyme disease, and road projects and tax breaks for major campaign contributors, that is — whacked $20 million out of the school budget on a 5–2 vote on Monday. This was after the almost all-Republican School Board had already whacked $25 million off of next year’s budget. Continue reading

First we’ll give em a fair trial, then we’ll hang em

The all-Republican Loudoun Board of Supervisors, the beneficiaries of more than $67,000 in campaign contributions from the investors behind the proposed stadium at the One Loudoun development, were clearly caught off guard last fall by the groundswell of citizen opposition to the sweetheart deal for the stadium that they sprung on the public without warning last October.

From the outset it was blatantly obvious that the fix was in, though. The supervisors voted 9–0 with essentially no debate to give carte blanche top priority to the rezoning and special exemption request filed by the stadium developers. Chairman Scott York (R) and Supervisor Shawn Williams (R-Broad Run) attended community meetings alongside stadium execs to promote the stadium proposal, with Williams in particular doing yeomen PR spin duty by reassuring nearby residents that it will be an “intimate” stadium that will really not bother them. This despite the Planning Commission staff report which noted that plans for the stadium filed by the developers called for up to 10,000 seats for special events, regularly scheduled fireworks displays, and loud concerts and other special functions having nothing whatever to do with baseball that is supposedly what the stadium is for.

Supervisor Geary Higgins (R-Catoctin), trying to get into the act, goofily offered his constituents free fan gear for the extremely minor league and to date non-existent Loudoun Hounds baseball team that will supposedly play at the stadium (“If you, like me, think it will be great to have a local ball club to root for, contact my office for a free Loudoun Hounds bumper sticker,” said Geary, in no way prejudging the issue . . .)

Now with a final vote scheduled for March 25, the supervisors are trying very hard to act like they will judiciously consider the matter . . . before unanimously approving it, that is.

Geary in his latest newsletter Continue reading

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More budget buffoonery

You don’t need to be a political genius or even a political cynic to know that whenever the current gang of Loudoun’s Republican supervisors starts waxing eloquent about the rural beauties of our county, it’s a sure sign that they are about to screw Western Loudoun again.

Amid much tsk-tsking about the inadequate “return on investment” provided by the rural economy (even if, as Ralph Buona (R-Ashburn) told us in his last news[sic]letter, the “gorgeous countryside” and “great wines” of Loudoun are part of what makes it such a great place to “live, work and play”) the Board came within a whisker last night of killing funding for a single full time staffer in the economic development office assigned to promoting the rural economy. The position survived on a 5–4 vote, however, with the surprise deciding vote coming from none other than beleaguered supervisor Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling), who apparently is desperate to find friends anywhere these days.

Of course, nowhere in the budget is there a line item for Scott York’s completely unapproved and oversight-free foreign travel (approximately $10,000-plus last year), so the Board doesn’t have to worry abut justifying the “return on investment” of those public expenditures, nor of the $50,000 they tossed to a private sports league, nor the $20,000 spent on a boilerplate consultants report on the benefits to Loudoun of having more sports fields, nor the  $50,000+ they are planning to spend (also without any budget line item) out of the parks and recreation budget on an unscientific, counterproductive, and environmentally damaging crusade to spray pesticides on a few parks to assuage the Lyme loonies (has anyone other than the county’s health officer bothered to read all of the scientific studies which show that spraying is completely ineffective in reducing Lyme disease transmission rates?)

In more budget-posturing news, the Board last night also killed several small grants to non-profit organizations, particularly those located in . . . rural Western Loudoun. In a commendable effort to remove non-profit funding from political posturing and grandstanding, the county staff this year conducted a thorough independent evaluation and ranking of organizations seeking county grants and came up with a recommendation. But that did not stop Ken Reid (R-Leesburg), Buona, and the other supervisors from engaging in political posturing and grandstanding and killing two small proposed grants of $5,000 each, for the Waterford Foundation and the Blue Ridge Environmental Center, on the grounds (to quote Buona) that they “don’t serve all of Loudoun.” Fascinating new argument! Count on this Board to come up with such new “principles” whenever needed, and then promptly forget about them when one of their own pet programs comes up.

And in the ongoing effort by the Board to maintain Virginia’s status as one of the least transparent governments in America, Chairman Scott York (R-At Large) was quoted in Leesburg Today recently hailing the “record low turnout” of citizens requesting to speak at the Board’s budget hearings, which he said “is to the Board’s credit.”

Yes, lack of citizen involvement is something we can all take pride in.

NOTE: this post has been updated to correct an earlier version which incorrectly reported that Supervisor Ralph Buona (R-Ashburn) voted against the rural economic development staff position. The four votes against came from Ken Reid (R-Leesburg), Suzanne Volpe (R-Algonkian), Matt Letourneau (R-Dulles) and Shawn Williams (R-Broad Run).