Thursday, October 27, 2011


Jim Burton is running for re-election to the Board of Supervisors to represent the Blue Ridge District.
We should re-elect him because we need a proven and experienced hand to deal with the budget, the first piece of business before the Board next January 2012; and we can’t afford to have someone learning “on the job” – not in these difficult economic times.
Jim has been the Blue Ridge Supervisor, repeatedly elected since 1995 as an Independent, first in the Mercer District before it became the Blue Ridge District.
Jim is well regarded for how he combines thoughtful reflection with constructive action in the County’s best interest.  With his background, that’s no surprise.
Jim is from Normal, Illinois, from a Railroad family, having by-passed a pro baseball career, to join the first class at the Air Force Academy.
Jim’s character was cast during his service with the legendary John Boyd, a defense department reformer and one of the greatest fighter pilots that ever lived.
Jim met Boyd after Jim had graduated from the Air Force Academy, after Jim had flown tankers for the Strategic Air Command (SAC),  and after Jim had attended the Squadron Officers School, the Air Command and Staff College, and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces.
Boyd’s most poignant advice to Jim was to do “what was right for the situation.”
Jim lived that advice when, as a specialist in weapons acquisition and testing, he charged the Defense Department’s “business of buying weapons” was “dirty and corrupt” at the expense of the soldier’s safety, focusing on the untested $14 Billion Bradley Fighting Vehicle’s poor design.  Jim successfully fought to make the vehicle safe and combat ready, wrote an award-winning book exposing the scandal, and was portrayed in a movie about the whole incident (played by the leading man from the ‘Princess Bride’ (yes, really!)).
After Jim retired from the military to Aldie, there was a large flap over the sprawl development involving 50 homes west of Aldie.  Jim was concerned, “change [was] coming that [was] dramatic … at a pace that we [were] not able to adjust to,” and there’d be “dislocations.”  Jim believes in “smart development,” that is, “at a rate that the community can adjust to and … for which the community can provide the necessary amenities and facilities.”
Jim appeared at many public meetings to argue this point until a Sheriff’s Deputy served him with a subpoena issued by a developer seeking Jim’s personal records, all because Jim spoke against his development.
While the subpoena was quashed, Jim was angry that this had happened at all, prompting him to run for the first time to the Board of Supervisors.
As a kind of wake-up call, Jim underscored the fact, that presently “we have 41,000 un-built residential units in the pipeline.”   
Jim says that, despite the economic challenges, and the limitations imposed by Richmond on what the Board can do legally, we have still managed to have lower taxes than in 2009, continue to preserve the County’s triple A rating and we can hold to a sound course, if we budget carefully, forego certain expenses in the short term, prevent changes to the comprehensive plan, and resist those who would open the transition area for development.
In conclusion, we need to have Jim re-elected to the Board of Supervisors for all that he’s done and what else he can do to make a difference for the better.
# # #

Friday, October 21, 2011


Malcolm Baldwin prunes grape vines and tends to his sheep north of Lovettsville when he is not fighting the PATH power line or engaged in community work to help his neighbors make this a better place to live.
Malcolm Baldwin is running for election as our Supervisor for the Catoctin District on the County Board of Supervisors.
I really think we should elect him.
Malcolm got interested in community affairs when Scott York won election as the Chairman of the Board of Supervisors in 2004 and was relegated to the Vice-Chair slot instead.  Malcolm objected that this was not what the voters expected when they cast their ballot, and he got involved so that voters wouldn’t be disenfranchised again.
Malcolm joined the Board of the Piedmont Environmental Council (“PEC”) because the Board of Supervisors “rejected a host of smart growth management strategies.”  Malcolm sought to protect the transition zone, and to guard against development that our community could not afford.
Perhaps Malcolm is best known for his role as a leader in the recent fight to resist that toxic coal power transmission line that PATH proposed to run from West Virginia, through Loudoun County and Maryland.
Malcolm charged that the line would be “destructive over the properties it passed, have a degrading effect on appearance and value, and we didn’t need the power; we had more than enough.”
“What I learned from our coalition’s triumph over the PATH line,” Malcolm said, “was that you get the facts right, put emotions to one side, work together with differing views in good faith, fight for the best possible outcome, and you can achieve great things as a community.”
After Haverford College, Chicago Law School, and a tour of duty at the Pentagon, Malcolm spent 38 years in environmental law, serving under President Richard Nixon on the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), a division of the Executive Office of the President, and continuing at CEQ until he was its Acting Chairman in President Ronald Reagan’s Administration.
During the recent flap over the questionable health of our streams in Loudoun County, Malcolm considered how best to redress the unhealthy condition of our local streams with a fair and just public policy.  Malcolm wasn’t in favor of the original stream proposal but thought that the final version of the ordinance that the Board of Supervisors considered met his reservations regarding cost and inconvenience to the landowners, and fairly addressed the water quality issues.
Malcolm teaches us common sense.
He questions why we should build a corridor through Loudoun West of Dulles airport if Maryland opposes having the corridor pass through its state – kind of a road to nowhere without Maryland’s consent.  One of my “faves” is Malcolm’s proposal for a roundabout at that infamous traffic choke-point, the intersection of Route 9 and the Berlin Turnpike.
Malcolm says we can’t afford to build $100 million schools, three of them a year, and certainly not if we can expect even more students in the next generation. 
Malcolm supports the needs of food and wine farmers - as he is a farmer himself - and he wants to keep the land open and productive so it can generate revenue to the farmer and for the county.
Malcolm wants to join “a cooperative board of supervisors that reaches decisions based on good and careful analysis and mutual understanding.”
We could use Malcolm on the Board – we need his kind of leadership in making decisions for the County.
# # #

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


My father never understood why I had any interest in politics and, while he taught me many things, he just couldn’t see it.  But that’s not the case for all men who find their way into politics.
Democrat Tom Bellanca, a Realtor, running county wide to replace the current Republican Chairman, Scott York, was heavily influenced by his father’s example.
“I was born at the Naval Hospital,” said Tom, “because my father was a Navy man, formerly a physician on a nuclear submarine, serving under Admiral Hyman Rickover, and he went back to school when he was stateside, because he was book smart, a real workaholic, and he got a degree in public health, and worked at NIH, while still attached to the Navy.”
“My father was a product of Rickover’s leadership,” said Tom.
Rickover believed that “Man has a large capacity for effort.  In fact it is so much greater than we think it is that few ever reach this capacity.”
Tom’s Dad struggled to reach his capacity.
“My Dad’s job was congressional liaison for NIH,” Tom said, and “although attached to the Navy, my Dad wore a suit and, whenever there was any testimony on the Hill, he would represent NIH before Congress.”  “One of my early recollections,” Tom said, “was my father telling me how to answer questions in Congress.”
 “He taught me independence, and not just by his example,” Tom said.  “When we were assigned to the NATO Navy Base in Naples, Italy,” Tom said, “I had to attend the Department of Defense School, from kindergarten through High School.”
“I got to know some Italian, Napolitano, a dialect that was not understandable elsewhere in Italy,” said Tom, “and we traveled around Europe a lot and on our own, on trains, and we all had motorcycles as well.  One of our favorite spots was Carney Park, named after a 4-star Admiral, and located in an extinct volcano Campiglione in the Phlegraean Fields near Naples.  This time at the base taught me how to grow up a lot faster.  When I was 9, I was pulled over with an Uzi pointed at me.”
As for learning how to reason, “my dad played the devil’s advocate with me, the Socratic method, and was always telling me that there was another way to look at things,” Tom said, “He trained me to be the same way – and I am able to see the other side of almost any argument.”
At Randolph Macon in Richmond, “I studied governmental structures that work,” Tom said, “and at George Mason, I earned a Masters in International Business and Finance.”
Tom went abroad to study these governmental structures because, Tom said, “I had to see it to understand it, you can’t read it in a book and understand it the same way.”
“What I’ve learned,” Tom said, “by studying other systems is that government in general has gotten away from doing what’s best for the citizens.”
“We’re seeing that now,” Tom said, “with this global movement, something is happening historically, challenging the rule of thumb world.”
“We have an opportunity here,” said Tom, “or a chance to suffer even more.”
President Kennedy said, “Children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best hope for the future.”
In Loudoun, the education of our children takes up 70% of the County Budget.
Tom says, “Our primary objective is to solve the Loudoun County school overcrowding.” 
“The coming wave of students within and entering our school system,” Tom says, “must be addressed now.”
“We have to hold that line,” said Tom, “respect the comprehensive plan, not increase the density in the transition zone, or in Western Loudoun.”
There has been a lot of talk about increasing commercial development in Eastern Loudoun but, Tom insists, “he’s also going to focus on Western Loudoun and on the need to preserve, protect and grow its rural economy.” 
Tom relies on a study from the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia that states “the equine industry in Loudoun County is growing larger, but is also under increased pressure in recent years from home development that is threatening the availability of land and pushing the industry Westward.”
Tom says the problem with “home development” is that it “adds traffic to our roads and increases the already overburdened school system.”
“Maintaining the rural area at lower housing densities,” says Tom, “is not only a part of the current citizen generated Comprehensive Plan, but it is essential to reducing and managing growth throughout the County and reducing the overall population growth in the schools.”
“That will keep our property taxes down,” said Tom, “because fewer children added to an already overburdened school system reduce the overall requirement for new schools.”
As for transportation, Tom says, “I will focus on completing Metrorail to Loudoun with at least one commuter stop beyond route 28, reducing commute times on the arterial connections to Route 28, and extending Loudoun County Parkway from the Dulles South Area all the way to Route 7.”
Rickover said, “it is the duty of each of us to act as if the fate of the world depended on him.”
Tom is running for Supervisor like the fate of Loudoun depended on him.


He quit freshman football to create a home improvement company at 16, and he has been working at carpentry and with building materials for most of his life and, when he got interested in Republican politics, he worked on Republican Roger Zurn’s Supervisor’s race, and was later appointed by Supervisor Zurn to the Planning Commission.
Scott York, who is running to succeed himself in what would be his fourth term as the Chairman of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors told us how he turned to carpentry. 
“I’ve always enjoyed working with my hands,” he said, and, “while I was a good student, I was always better out of school,” this remark followed by a great fulsome self- laugh about how he was really better “out of school.” 
After I told him that my Dad was a carpenter, electrician and a plumber, Scott warned that he was “dangerous with plumbing and wiring.” 
I told him that that great American philosopher, Clint Eastwood (as Detective Harry Callahan), said “a man got to know his limitations.”  Scott laughed again.
Scott’s Dad was an Air Force officer, Theodore Robert York. 
Scott said, “I did not choose to serve that way.  By the time I was done with High School, the Vietnam War was over, and I was tired of moving every two years, as is the case with many military families, and certainly it was the case with our family.” 
“I found another way to serve,” said Scott.  “One of the greatest things my Dad taught me,” said Scott, “but not verbally, it was by his example, by his actions when we lived overseas and when we moved all over this country.  No matter who lived next to us, regardless of whether they were Asian, African American, no matter where they were from, he always treated our neighbors with the greatest respect.  He was there to help when help was needed, always serving as a good friend.  His conduct and this example taught me how to conduct myself.”
Asked about his earliest interest in politics, Scott said, “through my teens, I just loved to watch the national political conventions and soaked it in.” 
When I asked had he been to a national convention, Scott admitted he had not but that maybe he would now – after long last.
Scott got personally involved in politics, like many novitiates, over an issue that bothered him – his issue was about how we educate our children. 
The League of Women Voters advertises that they introduced Family Life Education (FLE) into the public schools in the 80s but Scott and his wife JoAnn had a 2 year old at the time, and Scott opposed having the public schools teach FLE. 
“I thought that was our province, to teach our own children, and that this instruction should be a matter of opting in, rather than having to opt out.”   
In the end, the General Assembly did pass legislation that became effective in 1987, requiring standards of learning and curriculum for FLE, in order to educate our students about marriage, sexual abstinence, unwanted pregnancies, human sexuality, reproduction, dating violence and more. 
Teen pregnancy has since declined in the Commonwealth, and indeed is lower than many other states; parents must opt out of FLE -- if they object.
When Scott recently endorsed Republican Senate Candidate Dick Black as “a man of strong conviction and principle,” he said, “We share a deep commitment to pro-life values, to protecting our Second Amendment rights, [and] to educational choice …”
Scott joined the local Republican Committee about the time he got concerned about the FLE requirements, and helped Roger Zurn get elected. 
When Zurn decided to run for Treasurer, Zurn encouraged Scott to run for his Sterling seat on the Board of Supervisors. 
“Being involved in construction and home improvement around the County,” said Scott, helped him to understand and decide issues on the Planning Commission from 1992 to 1994, “and so I ran for the Board.” 
Scott was elected in 1995 as a member of the Board and took on the incumbent Republican Chair, Dale Polen Myers in a primary in 1999 that has been compared to a mud wrestling match; in the end Scott not only won the primary but he also became Chairman and her successor. 
In the 2003 election, when he won the vote for Chairman, running as an Independent to avoid the Republican primary, the newly elected Republican Supervisors banded together at the first meeting in 2004 to reduce Scott’s elected authority as Chairman, demoting him to Vice Chair instead.
Asked if that wasn’t his greatest personal challenge, he said, “overall, I will say from a public standpoint, it was just, it was just horrible, it was the dumbest thing and essentially those five characters came in and basically lifted up their middle finger to the public. In essence, that’s the politest way I can say it.” 
“Now, from a political standpoint,” he continued, “they came in and gave a couple of us the best gift they could have,” Scott said, “because what they ended up doing … at the very first board meeting is they shot themselves in the foot.”
“What they did,” Scott explained, “was they alarmed the public.  When they started doing much of what they wanted to accomplish in particular, it was very difficult for them to do it.”
“There was a lot of pressure,” Scott said, “from people on the outside looking in and eventually I think we were able to stave off a lot of changes to the comprehensive plan that I really think would have not been very good.” 
Scott concluded that “eventually many of them were not returned to office with the exception of one.”   
That one who returned was Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling) – by all accounts, a most colorful public servant (and we are not talking about the orange hat he seems always to wear).
But what was Scott’s personal reaction to this humiliating undemocratic maneuver?
Scott said, “You know, it doesn’t do any good to get mad and it doesn’t even do any good to seek out revenge.  You just have to take what you get.”
“In the seat of politics,” he said, “you work to out maneuver them and in many instances we were able to do that.”
Scott left the Republican Committee when he became an Independent and, for a time, he supported both Democrats and Republican for public office in the County.   
in the 2007 election, he ran a kind of “fusion” ticket with Democratic candidates for the Board of Supervisors.
There were signs, however, he was returning to Loudoun’s version of the Grand Old Party after the 2007 election.
In 2008, he supported Sen. John McCain and Sarah Palin at a huge political extravaganza at JR Festival Lakes. 
In 2009, he endorsed the outgoing Republican AG, Bob McDonnell, for Governor of the Commonwealth.
This year, Scott has played the prodigal son returning to the Republican Committee, unabashedly enthusiastic about all candidates and issues and policy statements Republican including the somewhat infamous Dick Black. 
In July, he issued a release stating, “I am proud to be leading the Republican ticket…” 
As for Supervisor Delgaudio, the remaining Supervisor who “returned,” Eugene gave a “shout-out” at the Republican Committee meeting to Scott -- “We’re friends again.”
Asked why he’s taking on this challenge of making a County budget in this terrible economy, Scott said, “I enjoy serving the public.:
Scott said, “Sure there are big issues we deal with as a County.  But I like the little challenges as well, when one person has a particular need and we can serve that individual need.
Asked whence this calling for service comes, Scott said “Why from my father and my faith.”
# # #

Thursday, October 13, 2011


“There he goes again” – former Delegate Dick Black, though he should know better, he just can’t curb his characteristic impulse to go too far.
Black is running for the newly formed 13th State Senate District, covering Loudoun and Prince William Counties, after winning the Republican primary.
The State Senate District was newly created following the census, constructed to be “Republican leaning” but the Democratic Senate Candidate, businessman Shawn Mitchell, a combat veteran, garnering wide support, is giving “Tricky Dick” a run for his money and the inside skinny is a real contest with the electoral outcome in doubt. 
Some may remember how Tricky Dick lost his seat in the General Assembly to then challenger - and now former Delegate David Poisson (Pwa-zon).
Among other campaign miscalculations, Dick repeatedly, and intentionally, mispronounced Poisson’s name as “poison.” 
Dick’s arrogance confirmed his inadequacy as a public official, like when Dick handed out plastic fetuses to members of the General Assembly, proving he just goes too far.
After his humiliating defeat, Dick lusted after a political comeback; he thought to move his residence so he could run for Congress, then he thought to move his residence to run for a different State Senate seat, and, finally, he chose “us” – we lucky few – so he could “represent” us in the General Assembly. 
Dick’s latest political over-reaching gaffe concerns his knowing distortion of a business law dispute that Mr. Mitchell’s counsel defended and settled.
Dick has an extensive background in the law.  He was trial counsel in Fort Hood, Texas, a Staff Judge Advocate supervising 40 attorneys, and the Director of the Criminal Law Division at the Pentagon. 
This suggests that when he mischaracterizes the details of Mitchell’s law suit, he is exploiting the public’s unfamiliarity with litigation to his political campaign advantage.
Here are the facts: Mitchell settled a business dispute with his former Manassas employer, Parrish Services, Inc., who claimed that Shawn had violated an agreement not to compete.  Shawn’s counsel responded in pleadings that the agreement had not been violated.  Each side made counterclaims against the other and these pleadings are public and in the court file in the Prince William Circuit Court. 
While the pleadings are public, the settlement is not. 
By law, we are not entitled to know the terms of settlement and the parties may not discuss them either.  
But we can infer that, despite the Parrish Services’ claim of unlawful competition, that Mitchell’s continuing business suggests either the parties agreed that he did not compete or that his ongoing competition is permissible.
In a blast campaign e-mail on September 30, 2011, Black nevertheless wrote “details of Shawn Mitchell having been sued by his former employer … are burning up the internet.”  Black published elements of the Parrish Services’ original claims but not a word about Mitchell’s defense, or the settlement in March 2011.
In a 2nd blast campaign e-mail on October 3, 2011, Black did it again; he wrote “[i]t is no wonder that when Mitchell was sued by his last employer they said …” and then he repeated what Parrish Services claimed, remaining mute about Mitchell’s defense or counterclaim, and nothing about the fact that it had been settled six months earlier.
Surely Mr. Black’s vast legal acumen encompasses an understanding of what it means to settle a case and dismiss the suit.
It is also curious that Parrish Services of Manassas contributed $1,718 to Mr. Black’s campaign on August 31, 2011.  Could this be a different Parrish Services in Manassas than the one that sued Mr. Mitchell?
In any case, we can see Black hasn’t learned to curb his desperate excesses.
No matter.
I just know we’ll do a whole lot better with Shawn Mitchell as our State Senator.
# # #

Friday, October 7, 2011

GAZETTE COLUMN: T-Party – a Toxic Brew for the Americas by John P. Flannery

The T-party in action, not the idea or the more carefully (politically) stated phrases, is an angry, intolerant, atomistic impulse that has proven itself to be selfish, heartless, incoherent, and insulting to the revolutionary patriots that it makes the pretense to imitate.
Don’t we all agree, with that great Roman Senator, Seneca, that “anger, drunkenness, fear, and the like, are base and fleeting excitements and do not give arms to virtue, which never needs the help of vice?”
Yet pundits and politicians celebrate the “anger” of the T-party movement, say it’s understandable, and thus tolerate in adults what would prompt a parent to discipline a child.
We have seen these self-proclaimed saviors disrupt public meetings, insult public officials, slander opponents, and shout down those who disagree, all in defiance of that bed rock democratic principle, that we all enjoy freedom of speech, and not just the self-appointed righteous.
The supposed justification for their anger and misconduct is that the government has done us wrong. 
Well the original T-party actors, when dumping Tea in the harbor, had no redress. 
Merry Old England treated the colonials to subservient misery without a right of representation in their parliamentary councils. 
But we in the modern Americas have representation and we’ve lately come to the awakening that it has fallen way short of curbing the excesses of Wall Street and the money lenders who broke this nation’s economy and, according to some experts, marginalized every other economy in the world. 
It is because our elected representatives are mostly bought and paid for by malefactors of wealth who care only about their bottom line and not a bit about our welfare.
The T-party answer is no better.
They argue that the wealthy need do less, and need not pay their fair share in taxes.
It’s an open secret that the T-party’s most visible and televised confabs have been financed by the wealthy who want “limited” government, fewer regulations, so they can increase their profits while freely spewing poison into the air and water, and concocting the next great financial hoodwink that will top Enron and the mortgage loan scandals.
The T-Party shamelessly invokes Christ in its cause but surely Christ would curse them as hypocrites for disregarding his sermon on the mount, given that the T-party decries any role for government in the “welfare” of citizens struggling to recover from natural disaster, needing to be tided over when unemployed, joining working hands to bargain for fair wages and working conditions, staving off illness and hunger, or making more secure the fragile aged in their years of retirement.
At the core of the T party’s political “thought” is the wrong-headed notion that this nation was founded on “limited” government. 
In fact, our founders rejected limited government as ineffective – when they discarded the “Articles of Confederation.”
It was a deliberate and conscious action that many believe was prompted by revolutionary solder Daniel Shays’ rebellion in Massachusetts attacking banks and the courts of law for confiscating their homes when their mortgages went unpaid. 
George Washington wrote, “Let us have a government by which our lives, liberties and properties will be secured, or let us know the worst at once.”
The resulting constitution in 1787 created that strong central government to unite the country as one, to promote the “common” defense but also the “general” welfare of “we,” that is, all “the people of the United States.”
The T-party objects to what is “common,” to what is meant by “welfare,” even that there is a “we,” who need to spend, tax or borrow to advance the constitution’s stated purposes.
The T-party seemingly favors anarchy over any government - and that’s a toxic brew.