novatownhall blog

Where you are held accountable for your convictions and record

Browsing Posts published by Joe Budzinski

The time has come: As most of you know, I am now taking a step back from NOVA TownHall, will no longer be managing or administering it and have no ownership in it whatsoever. I have run this blog for 5 years and 11 months, and it’s time to give some other folks a shot.

I probably will still blog and comment on occasion, here and elsewhere, but I can’t say when or how much. What I do know is I have exited the office for the final time, locked the door and left my keys on the desk.

To that end, effective immediately, ownership of NOVA TownHall is being transferred to a consortium of eco-friendly manufacturing firms, headquartered near Shanghai, who have discovered a remarkably inexpensive technology for producing baby formula and need a communications outlet to appeal to potential investors in the conservative community.

Oh, whoops: Did I just mention something about “a consortium of eco-friendly baby food companies”?

Forget I said that; what I meant was: Some of the current bloggers are taking over NOVA TownHall. Why would I sell this blog to the makers of “Magic Baby” for nearly $5 million in cash and stock options? That would just be silly.

The blog itself is going to keep right on going – I was going to say “down the same path” but if anyone can define for me what is happening here I would love to know. But there is a fine, dedicated, interesting group of people who have put a lot into this Web site over the years and have become a community of sorts around it.

Because of the time they have put in as bloggers and/or commenters, they have a stake in continuing and improving the blog. The neighborhood is not going anywhere.

Blog posts will probably just keep coming from the usual crew, actually, so you may see very little difference at all. The policy on “guest blogger” access and what sorts of comments will be considered problematic are both now up to the new owners. Those were my deals, and they do not transfer necessarily. If you are having problems getting something to post just be patient, please, and you should find out what is going on and what you will be allowed to do here.

I believe NOVA TownHall will remain a forum for different points of view which, if anything, is what has made it unique. It will continue to vary widely in the nature of its content – that I am certain of. It will definitely evolve along with the times as well as with the personalities of the new bosses. There may be mustard gas attacks. Because of the goodwill we have developed with so many people in the community, it seems likely all the various disputes will settle down and the hurt feelings will scab over and heal eventually, and that the whole forward-motion-of-history thing will remain at work, with every thesis and antithesis being resolved into a higher synthesis – which itself becomes the next thesis, and so on until the dawn of the perfect age is wholly upon us. But mustard gas – probably in there somewhere.

If you want to contact or get information about the new executives, don’t ask me. We are going to put up a contact form for them (something I should have done years ago) so you can easily send questions and requests. Give that a day or two and it should appear in the sidebar. They will make themselves and their roles known as they see fit.

If you wonder why I am stepping down, there is no great mystery. It is not so much that a few times a year we all re-enact the courtroom scene from “The Devil and Daniel Webster.” It’s more because when this project started my situation was different. I had a built-in revenue stream from doing things that did not encompass all of my interests, and this was a way to have an outlet for indulging other interests as well as blowing off steam in a public place as is the God-given right of every English-speaking man.

Now, I’ve changed that financial model so the revenue stream has to be completely regenerated, which leaves no time to manage this blog. Related is the fact that “blowing off steam” is no longer a major part of my lifestyle toolkit.

Running a blog has its downsides, especially if it not set up to accept advertising. Free work requires further explanation most of the time. Not that it’s bad, but it needs to be justified. In this case, the policy of openness eventually made for a lot of babysitting. There are people who think that taking a crap in the community pool enough times will eventually make it their pool. That’s sociopathic delusion, of course: Messing up what has been opened to the community will just get it restricted or closed by the owners. There is a burnout factor that comes with managing such a situation (and I imagine the new owners here will find the same thing, and ultimately adopt a more sustainable policy than I was able to put in place).

The other major life-shortening aspect of this has been the fact that we are a mostly political blog. That by itself opens the door to some unpleasantness. And let me quickly point out that we had almost zero of what I would truly call “trouble” as a result of battles over political issues with our ideological opponents. We got little grief from liberals and Democrats: That part was mostly a lot of fun and I made some friends as a result.

The problems arose from the fact that being on the same “side” as someone else in politics does not make them your ally in life. Just like everything else related to human nature (and I imagine this will apply to the Democrats in precisely equal measure), what we say we are concerned with, and what we really are concerned with, are often two different things:

Much of what passes for “politics” is nothing more than personal conflict played out on a bigger stage. High school is over, and wherever we as adults move on to, is where we shall manifest our self-centeredness and proclivity for petty grudges and backbiting. Give us command of the neighborhood pool party, we’ll make sure “you know who” has nothing to do with the desserts. Get us involved in a church, we’ll see that the new committee understands how things work. Put us in a company, we’ll put our stamp on the department.

And if you let us glom onto a political movement or organization, we can convert that into a cauldron of seething rivalries and pointless effort in no time at all, thank you very much. That’s what we do.

The so called “Tea Party” phenomenon here locally is the example par excellence.

If a higher being from another realm were to land in Northern VA for a few days of R & R and ask, “So, I haven’t been to this sector of the universe in nearly a century, what is this new ‘Tea Party’?” – we would have to answer “Which one?” And the higher being would nod sagely and say “Ah, I see. Like the Methodist Women’s Auxiliary of Brunswick. That was a sad case, also.”

Any public project that tries to brand itself as “Tea Party”-related should be subject to immediate scrutiny and skepticism, because what the people behind it say they are concerned with, and what they are really concerned with, are almost certainly two different things.

Whatever the concept of this blog, the intra-party types of battles have become a major premise behind much conversation here, which adds more edginess than many blog managers would be comfortable allowing (just take a survey of comment policies elsewhere and you will see quickly how such matters are usually handled – I think TC is the only local forum that has the same libertarian approach.) It creates a level of emotional intensity here at times which does wear on a person, and for that reason I think the new bosses should consider some term limit provision: No one will be allowed to manage the blog for more than, say, 18 months or 32 months, because our public health system simply cannot handle a continuous stream of nervous system disorder cases.

But don’t pay too much attention to my complaints. I am a grumpy old man, as you well know. Every job eventually has downsides, and I shouldn’t let my jaded nature color the overall picture.

These disputes and others, between you (the collective readership) and me (me), I wish to put to bed. Let us be plagued by them no longer.

By far, running NOVA TownHall has been a positive experience. The Loudoun County Republican Committee contains many, many people I will always consider friends. We are extremely lucky to have outstanding individuals willing to run for office from this area, and such dedicated, competent volunteers running the LCRC. Across the board, Loudoun County is a great place to be a Republican because there are a lot of Republicans holding office and having thrown their hats in the ring whom we can all be proud of.

The Democrats and Independents I’ve gotten to know are also a good group. Some folks who were quite in the “opponent” category at one time, such as BlackOut and Laura Valle, are now people I consider sharing so much a common temperament with me that I have to be reminded about where we differ. The Stay Puft Marshallow Man quickly turned out to be a truly decent individual with whom I did not have nearly as many differences with as I originally thought, once the Devil and Daniel Webster scenario had cooled off; I am grateful to still be in contact and I hope to remain so.

Overall, because of this blog, I am now on a first-name basis with a ton of people I would never have even met because of my innate anti-social aspects. Our many readers and of course commenters represent the highest strata of human evolution as a species, which is nice and, frankly, the level of company I prefer.

As my last formal act as blog manager, I want to put forth a few wishes and thoughts:

  • For my co-bloggers – we happy, sometimes bitchy, possibly inebriated few: You all have been a huge blessing, so I thank you sincerely for the time, creativity and effort you continue to expend here. That’s all, because I don’t plan on saying any final goodbyes to you all anytime soon. We’ll be seeing each other plenty; I just needed to express my gratitude right at the top here.
  • For LI and the Monk, listen: It’s all been downhill since that Garden of Eden fiasco, so trying to trace back where any relationship really was damaged, and by whom, and who said what and all that is futile. This person thought that person meant X so they responded with Y and that stirred everything up for good, but of course if you look at the parents and grandparents they all contributed to the personality issues we see today, and the GREAT GREAT grandparents: Well, now they were real pieces of work, I mean Otto von Bismarck had nothing on them … you see how it is? There’s no point in arguing who started what. What we need here is a “Reset” button – and not the Obama Administration version which because of incompetent translation actually says “Now All People Explode” – but an actual do-over that goes back a couple years. You guys agree on just about everything. Leave the other political actors out of it because they all have their own agendas, of which you are not an integral part. Forget the past, continually. All of Loudoun yearns for this.
  • For Stevens Miller, I hope you keep blogging. You are a natural in the medium, with wit, honesty, self-deprecation in appropriate amounts and a knack for knowing what of your daily slog might be interesting to other people. Whatever you end up doing next, you should be a blogger. However you should open up your Sitemeter stats: Yes, it stings at first, but it shows you’re serious and comfortable in your skin.
  • For Zimzo, I hope everything worked out for you. Thank you for all the time you put in here.
  • For Pam, I think you should get a cat.
  • For the Weintraubs, I hope you find an accommodation with the legal status quo some day, through a combination of affecting the latter and moderating your goals. You both are nice guys and it would be good if at some point you could carve out enough breathing room on that one issue to lighten up about it, and maybe write some posts about gardening or something. (I’m sure I just broke yet another cardinal rule of gender-related propriety there, so please accept my apologies in advance. And if you want to Photoshop a graphic of me as a Southern plantation owner – which is the direction I would take it – I’d be happy to provide head shots from different angles. You have my email address.)
  • For all the political candidates I have said unflattering things about, I apologize if any of it was truly uncalled for. In 99.9% of cases there were people supporting you who were being completely obnoxious and I could not resist joining the fray. It is to my shame, I know. But there are also candidates who can attest that I avoid the low road and work hard to be fair. That is, except with regard to certain officeholders in Washington DC, of whom it may be said that the burning coals I have heaped upon their heads were delivered with the sureness and rightness of Archangel Gabriel himself, such that the smoldering of their shame should be seen by all of creation through all eternity. But for the other instances, sorry if it went too far.
  • For the guy who threatened to sue me over the “Tea Party” comment thread, I’d like you to meet a young lady I know: Her name is Pam. A coalition of doctors, police and failed political candidates has determined that Pam should never be allowed near a keyboard again, so she could use some companionship right now. She lives in Maryland, but I think you two have a lot in common. You ought to go on a long, driving vacation somewhere.
  • For Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio, the Most Honorable, I join all of humanity in the chorus: “There’ll always be a Eugene!” You have done more work for this community than anyone gives you credit for, and you are the best friend Sterling has. We need you on the board of supervisors. Thank you for everything, sir.
  • And to everyone who took me seriously simply because I shot photos and posted them on a blog; well, I appreciate it, because it was good for me in getting to meet people and hear interesting conversations, but it’s really very easy. But it was nice of you all to make it seem like a big deal.

We humans are susceptible to the belief that we have an unlimited amount of time, even that we have much of it simply to burn – and that’s not the case. The single, only certainty we have about the future is that our personal one on this earth will come to an end with total finality, just as likely sooner as later. And even if much, much later, that brick wall is not far down the road at all, in the grand scheme of things.

I think everyone eventually realizes that the hours of life are like droplets tumbling down a waterfall, and at some point you say to yourself, they’re falling away too fast, much too fast.

(headline from Drudge)

World’s Biggest Dog Afraid Of Chihuahuas

As well he should be.

I don’t know if anyone got video of E.W. Jackson’s speech at the LCRC Convention today, but here is a video to give you an idea of the man who is challenging George Allen et. al. for the Republican nomination for the 2012 U.S. Senate race in Virginia.

It’s especially comforting to hear the audience members yelling “We like people” because, after all, we have to remember about the people.

George Allen is very good, but E.W. Jackson seems to have more to say, and he is almost Gary Clemens-like in his ability to inspire. See what you think (video at this link in case you can’t see the video below).

The question arises every once in a while, “Joe, of your untold millions of dollars in annual revenue, how much is coming from this blog and from political candidates you may have helped with your crazy talk?”

(It just came up again, following the uncomfortable revelations about Steve Stockman, bless his heart.)

The answer is: None. Zero. Nada. Never took in a penny of advertising here, and I have never been paid by a political candidate or campaign for anything, ever.

Advertising would have required some business arrangements I was not inclined to address, and so far everything I have done that impacted politics in my life was because of my belief in a person or a cause.

In this case, I simply believe Scott York is the MUCH better person for the job. I found some information that confirmed my suspicions about the “man from nowhere” Steve Stockman while I was poking around the newspaper archives (as is my wont) and I was inspired to write about it.

If it helps Scott York, well good for Scott. Honestly, I am more concerned about the future of the county than I am about Scott’s political future, but in this case the two coincide.

(In fact, I think Steve Stockman’s “supporters” also know Scott York is the better person for the job, and they also know that those Republicans Scott York opposed in 2007 deserved some heat: Who among us shouted “INFAMY” when people started complaining about some of the actions of that crew of Republicans? And who among us could have guessed that Andrea McGimsey would turn out to be what she turned out to be? But the York-haters are still so angry about Scott York beating them fair and square in elections in 1999, 2003, and 2007 that they will gladly cut off their collective noses to spite their collective faces just to take a swing at Scott York.)

Someday I might do a Web site or some sort of agitprop for pay. If I do, I will make it clear. But as a rule I am usually too busy counting my money to tie myself down with such trivialities.

Since we have shown that Steve Stockman’s erstwhile campaign message – “I am a ‘fiscal conservative’ or whatever it is you people call it” – did not work out given Steve’s actual record in office we still need to get him a theme!!

So, please, contribute if you can.

In case you have forgotten, here are some contributions so far:

Steve Stockman campaign ad, honoring his trolls

Steve Stockman supporters

Steve Stockman on illegal immigration: 2007 solution to 2011 issues

Steve Stockman campaign ad

Steve Stockman is back from the dead to take revenge

Because much information from the 1980s is not readily accessible online, facts about Steve Stockman’s record as an elected official in Loudoun County are hard to come by. But not impossible.

To summarize:

In 1984, while homeowners were seeing their real estate tax bills increase substantially, and the new proposed tax rate was at $1.10, Steve Stockman wanted the county to spend even more on government projects that were important to Steve Stockman but definitely went beyond (as he likes to say in his 2011 campaign materials) “what the taxpayer can reasonably be expected to pay.”

In 1988, Steve Stockman joined with the Democrats to raise taxes, raise spending, and increase the size of the Loudoun County government by 12% in a single year.

When he held elected office, Steve Stockman was no champion of fiscal restraint and there is no evidence he was as fiscally conservative as Scott York.

Steve Stockman, a candidate for the Republican nomination for chairman of the Loudoun County board of supervisors, is challenging Scott York, the current chairman.

Mr. York is a conservative who left the Republican Party early in the last decade following an intraparty dispute, and since has been elected to consecutive terms in the chairman’s seat as an Independent. He has rejoined the local GOP for the current election cycle, and has garnered the endorsements of every local elected Republican to make an endorsement for the chairman’s race as well as from many other prominent Virginia Republicans.

Mr. York has served on the board of supervisors since 1996. Mr. Stockman served on the board from 1983-1991.

Mr. Stockman’s main selling point during his campaign of the past two months has been to imply that he is the more fiscally conservative of the two, evidenced primarily by the fact that real estate tax rates have risen during Mr. York’s 15-year term in office and that Mr. York supposedly has shown insufficient commitment to reducing taxes and the size of local government.

Mr. Stockman’s supporters, in particular at this blog, have certainly painted him as the true conservative in this race.

Mr. Stockman has presented himself as a tax cutter and reducer of government spending, albeit with no data to make his case save for that contained in campaign literature circulated by the Stockman campaign in the past few weeks.

For example, a recent Stockman campaign email claimed: “Tax rates were never above one dollar and two cents in all the years Steve Stockman was in office, and it was significantly below a dollar in those years.” Mr. Stockman’s literature gives the impression that he personally stood for absolute fiscal restraint during his terms in office.

Press reports from the 1980s (from the Washington Post archives) tell a different story.

The Washington Post, May 10, 1984

The Post reported the board’s vote approving

…a $71 million fiscal 1985 budget, which includes a 10 percent increase in teacher salaries and a 3-cent cut in the real estate tax rate to $1.10 per $100 of assessed value. The budget represents a 10.6 percent increase in spending over the current fiscal year.

Despite the rate cut, homeowners will still be paying more in real estate taxes next year because home assessments in Loudoun have risen an average of 11 percent. The owner of a home valued at $70,000 will be paying about $55 more in taxes because of higher assessments …

Two supervisors who voted against the budget said they did so for different reasons:

Supervisor Andre R. Bird III, a Republican, said the board should not have singled out teacher salaries for cuts without trimming the county’s general budget as well.

Supervisor Steve W. Stockman said the board did not leave enough in the budget for ongoing capital projects. He cited the county’s commitment to provide the Center for Innovative Technologies with utilities and a landfill project as areas that may be inadequately funded.

Source: The Washington Post, May 10, 1984, p. VA B8

Mr. Stockman voted against the budget – because it reduced county spending by too much – even while the average Loudoun County taxpayer was being squeezed by increasing assessments.

The Washington Post, May 17, 1988

In 1988, the Post reported on the previous day’s vote by the Loudoun County board of supervisors to approve a budget to “raise real estate taxes for the typical homeowner by 23 percent,” resulting in a county budget 32 percent higher than the previous year.

On a 6-to-2 vote, the board boosted the tax rate from 88 cents to 95 cents per $100 of assessed value…

Much of the increased spending has been earmarked for services.

The FY 1989 budget included:

  • funds to buy land for a new county office building
  • purchase of the Claude Moore farm site
  • add more than 100 county staff positions to the 900 then-current employees

One of only two Republicans on the board, Supervisor James F. Brownell (Blue Ridge) voted against the increase, saying, “We’re spending so much money so fast.”

The board’s only other Republican, Steve Stockman (Broad Run) voted with the Democrat majority for the tax and new government spending increases.

Voting for the budget and tax plan were Bos, Chairman Betty W. Tatum (D-Guilford) and Supervisors Alice G. Bird (I-Sterling), Thomas S. Dodson (D-Mercer), Ann B. Kavanagh (D-Dulles) and Steve W. Stockman (R-Broad Run). Opposing it were Brownell and Supervisor Betsey Brown (D-Catoctin).

Source: The Washington Post, May 17, 1988, p. d.05

Those acquainted with Scott York know he is a fiscal and social conservative seeking to restrain the growth of the government, reduce public spending and build the business tax base in Loudoun County – which by most accounts would be considered the “conservative” platform for county policy during the next four years.

Of course, over the course of 15 years, nearly all “conservative” elected officials will commit political or public policy acts that will tick off others, and Mr. York has been no exception.

Those acquainted with Mr. Stockman also know he has conservative tendencies – at least in his talking points – but the record shows that when he was in office he was enmeshed in the same nuances and gray areas as anyone else involved with public policy. To put it more bluntly: The record shows that when he served on the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, Steve Stockman voted for bigger government and higher taxes while taxpayers were being squeezed already.

The record also shows – by its sheer emptiness – that since 1991, Mr. Stockman has taken no role in promoting or implementing conservative policies in Loudoun County, even in recent years when many, many elected and unelected citizens, including Scott York, were working publicly to do exactly that.

And now that Steve Stockman is once again talking about public policy, one has to wonder whether he even understands the issues in Loudoun County.

He said recently that transportation is “not that big” of an issue because “You can make improvements around the margins, but people will decide to live and commute based on their own individual choices … You know, commuting, it’s all voluntary.”

That position reveals an aloofness – a distance from reality – that many Loudoun residents should find troubling in someone aspiring to hold the highest elected position in the county. It shows Steve Stockman to be much more a “country club Republican” than a conservative or even just a problem-solver, regardless of ideology.

This is from the Scott York campaign.

Dear Delegate,

Yesterday, Loudoun taxpayers and commuters won a great victory on the Rail to Dulles project. The Airports Authority finally agreed to my demand and cut more than Half a Billion Dollars from its bloated budget by switching from their boondoggle below-ground rail station.

I have worked hard with Governor Bob McDonnell’s administration and Congressman Frank Wolf to force MWAA to scrap the underground station and build the much cheaper aerial station. With this victory yesterday and other cost-saving measures such as privatizing the parking garages and reducing the size of the rail yard, the cost of Rail to Dulles is nearly back to its original projected price tag instead of grossly over budget.

Steve Stockman simply does not support rail to Loudoun. This project is vital to the growth of the commercial development in the Dulles corridor and expanding Loudoun’s commercial tax base so we can lower residential property taxes!

On Saturday, you have an opportunity to support the one Chairman candidate who has been actually doing something to fix our transportation problems – and cut costs. Mr. Stockman still thinks transportation is “not that big” of an issue. (Ashburn Patch, May 24, 2011 candidate interview)

I would be honored to have your support at the Republican convention! Please vote for Scott York to help keep Governor McDonnell’s promise of keeping Virginia moving forward.


Scott York