novatownhall blog

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Browsing Posts tagged LCRC

Why is Loudoun County considering spending a fortune on rail? Proponents claim it will bring business to our county. But at what cost? What will happen to property taxes? How much debt will Loudoun incur? What is Loudoun’s part in subsidizing WMATA? These questions cannot be answered yet as the needed information, for an informed decision, does not yet exist.

The eye-popping figure of $2.5B to $3.5B is the price for a commuter line to Loudoun with stations at Dulles Airport, Old Ox Rd. and Ryan Rd which is only Part II of the program.

Who currently owns properties that will benefit most from these public infrastructure upgrades? Moorefield Station will be zoned for 1500 units without rail. With rail, it will be zoned for 6000 units. The people of Loudoun are being used to finance these capital improvements. Normally a tax district for such public works is established so that those who benefit the most will bear some of the burden directly. York and some on the BOS prefer instead to cut from one program so that he can the throw this venture’s costs onto the back of the Loudoun taxpayer. The figure may grow if union set asides are not rejected. Yet, with all these unanswered questions and no tax district, Chairman York claims this is good for Loudoun?

The debt service for WMATA is currently unknown. Wolf has called for an audit, the report is due in May. York is resolved to give WMATA Loudoun’s buy-in by July despite not knowing what will be our share of this debt burden or its size? The MD-DC-VA Metro system is 35 years old, it is falling apart, the reports of escalators failing and trains breaking down are but the tip of the iceberg. The BOS does not know the overhaul cost of the system. The BOS should not sign on until after the price tag has been explained and the public been given time to determine if the service is worth the price. On April 17th WMATA makes a presentation at 7PM to the BOS to address some, but not all of the issues. Public input follows in May and a vote has to happen by July? The rush is reminiscent of the CBPO boondoggle, where York jumped ship.

If Loudoun has to raise $300M in bonds to pay for its share of the Silver Line costs, it will cost $17M per year to service the bond, assuming a 30-year bond at 5%. Such a bond would lead to a two cent hike in the property tax. The total price tag could be far higher. Currently bond service is divorced from ridership for all of Metro. With a population of 310,000, Loudoun does not have enough potential rail commuter demand to justify all these potential expenses. Currently, Fairfax subsidizes the cost of the rail lines to the tune of $0.58 for every dollar spent. Given Fairfax has 1.1M people, it is likely the Loudoun subsidy will need to be far higher. York, who claims this is a good idea, has not yet exercised proper due diligence in this matter. MD-DC-VA-Metro rail has been a money pit since its inception. How is Loudoun’s joining that failed venture a good idea? How is an increased tax burden going to bring business to Loudoun?

Driving the Dulles Toll road, you can see office buildings on both sides of the road from Tysons to Reston to Herndon. Loudoun has become the bedroom community for Fairfax. The Dulles corridor was built up without the help of a rail line. In Reston town center you will find bus stops, but no train station. Rail is coming to Reston and Herndon. First came the roads, then the office buildings, the town center business parks and the restaurants and shops to service these enterprises. Then comes the rail. This robust development is the result of professional community planning that is logical, has vision, and adds the most expensive elements once there is a business base in place to shoulder the cost.

We are 20 years behind Fairfax because, under Chairman York, the BOS’s engaged in unprofessional and unpredictable community planning. First came the homes without roads. Then came the Democrat-dominated board in 2007, that was actively hostile to business. These Democrats were publicly endorsed by Chairman York. This last board raised business taxes, resulting in a loss of businesses in Loudoun. With the business community collapsing, the York protegees decided that the most pressing business was to enact the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Ordinance? Today you can see where the Fairfax County border is on VA28 and US50 very clearly. It is where the office buildings and business parks suddenly end. Such is the legacy of York’s leadership the past 12+ years as Chairman of the BOS.

Will York stop the current rush to Rail? First Loudoun needs some solid community planning, a business friendly climate, and a professional, predictable process for business development. When the Greenway from Dulles to Leesburg begins to resemble the Toll Road corridor between Reston and Herndon, and when VA28 north of Dulles has the office density that one sees in Chantilly, then it will be time to consider Metro rail. Right now, Mr. York, that consideration is still years away.

UPDATE: Dave Weigel unearths more about the image that launched a thousand hits (per half hour).

After the recent Halloween unpleasantness the best quick response was that of Shaun Kenney, who asked, basically: “Huh?”

[Note to LCRC: Next crisis, consider hiring Shaun as your first step.]

It’s a fascinating episode for one week out from what had threatened to be a pretty dry election run-up. On one level, you have the mistake itself, magnified by – in its devastating splendor – technology! – for without the means to quickly grab and circulate an image, the newsletter in question would have been before multiple pairs of eyes.

There’s the laughable immediate response from the LCRC, about which there will be PR and communications textbook chapters, mark my words.

And of course there is the usual mock horror from the usual sensitivity police, awaiting with hair trigger reflexes anything that can be construed as offensive. So when something like this episode occurs – a blunder which, coming from an official party committee, would have elicited an explanation even in less superficial times – most public figures are so well trained they race to the denunciation podium. “Most” – thank goodness – not all.

To put it all in perspective, and say thanks to all the public officials who held their voices for a day, here are some images pulled from around the Web out of a quick image search, including great compilations at Zombietime blog and Sodahead.

There was a pitiful bunch standing outside the government building last night. I did not recognize a single one of them. Nor did anyone I know recognize these strangers. I am grateful that no one in the LCRC supported these clowns. They were shouting things about David Ramadan — a Republican in good standing from South riding. David is running for the GA in the 87th. At this point David has my vote. The strangers claimed that David wants to bring Sharia Law to Loudoun County.

Anti-shariah law protest targets David Ramadan's purported statement on Ground Zero mosque

OK. Now that you have stopped laughing, let us continue. David and I do disagree about the Mosque near the 9/11 site. I find him to be insensitive in this regard, but that is not a deal breaker. David is also not a proponent of Sharia Law — which is what the protesters where shouting about. David is busy living the American dream, and taking as much of that dream as the market will bear. I am always amazed at how immigrants get the entrepreneurial aspect of being an American far better than the native born. Must be something in the educational system nowadays, or the water.

David is many ways is a serious man who deserves our consideration. The 17 strangers who were in our midst yesterday are a sad and silly distraction as is anyone who supported their actions.

Eugene Delgaudio Gives Out Peppermint Patties In Honor Of Scott York

Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling) passes out York Peppermint Patties in honor of Scott York's (I-At Large) return to the Republican Party

Scott York, Chairman of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, formerly a Republican and currently a political Independent, announced at the April 14, 2011 meeting of the Loudoun County Republican Committee that he will seek the Republican nomination to run for another term as Chairman in the November, 2011 elections. Loudoun County businessman Steve Stockman also announced his intention to run for the Chairman seat, setting up a primary or convention contest with York to determine who will represent the GOP on the ballot in November.

Video of Mr. York’s announcement is below. (Or click here).

As usual, Wolverine asks a question which neatly distills what many have been going on about with regard to our blog-friend, the notorious Loudoun Insider.

(We also acknowledge the righteousness of the lighthearted boy-genius Lloyd the Idiot over at TC, and while we would not relegate Lloyd to the role of jester, we frankly are not sure what to do with him, so we will just say this blog post is about LI and leave it at that.)

Without taking a firm stand on whether LI is good or evil – I suspect that, like most of the human species, he contains a bit of both – I don’t find his actions strange at all, in that they seem simply to be those of someone with an opinion who likes to speak out. His posts much of the time happen to focus on Republicans, and are often critical, although his posts about Democrats over the past couple years have almost always been critical.

If a person leaves the Loudoun County Republican Committee, does that person forfeit the right to express an opinion about Republicans publicly? Obviously, no.

To me what is interesting and further evidenced in Jacob’s post here is LI’s persistent gravitational pull after he has reminded us numerous times he is no longer a member of the LCRC and has not been for a long time. For someone not on the committee, not running for office, and not a campaign worker, he pops up as the topic of an awful lot of the local political conversation both online and out in the world. And not benign conversation either, as a rule. An outside observer might well ask: What the hell is that all about?

The answer which I think is obvious is he is a popular commentator at one of the few information outlets in any medium focused on Loudoun County politics and government. Viewing him in that light rather than as some sort of looming death star, I believe the animosity he generates is disproportionate – although because of the scarcity of entertaining news coverage here in Loudoun it makes perfect sense that he remains such a key influencer.

This is one of the rare cases I would endeavor to correct the Wolve-meister, but I think the question reveals an affliction by the same skewed perspective affecting so many local Republicans.

Regardless of what one thinks of his opinions, it is objective fact that LI is one of the only writers who deals with local political and governmental issues with a consistently interesting voice, and he is by far the most prolific.

The world of blogs – much more than any other journalistic or quasi-journalistic medium – is the purest of meritocracies. No one pays for one blog over the other. None has an advantage in accessibility such as the days when certain newspapers landed in the driveway. They are all, the 70 million of them, equally available to every single user at every single moment, limited only by the purely voluntary effort that user decides to expend with her fingers on a control while staring at a screen. If your concept and writing style do not draw her in, she skips right past, certainly does not stop to comment, and may rarely come back. The very few blogs with any first-to-market advantage also get to become communities, but in most cases the life span is only as long as the front page material merits reading. The blogger whose writings people give a fig about is the one who gets the traffic.

If you scan the landscape for people who can write an occasional interesting blog post – and by that I mean of interest to the aforementioned free Web surfer seeking entertainment, edification or diversion – there are plenty of us. If you survey for bloggers who can regurgitate other people’s work, content from the mass media, or the conventional wisdom, they are like the sands of the sea.

But of those who are consistently interesting – which does mean original – and productive enough that the Web surfer feels it necessary to visit that blog regularly, perhaps more than once daily, there are very few. Here in Loudoun, I would estimate there is approximately: one.

Regarding the overall blog experience, don’t get me wrong: I think the community here at NVTH is second to none, and throughout Northern Virginia there is a great network of blog writers and commenters who make a number of blogs required visits for many of us, and deservedly so. If it weren’t for the creative outlet blogs provide we’d all have to focus our energy in other directions and who knows what might come of it – robotic Sasquatch with laser eyes, or perhaps world peace.

For repeat visits and sheer traffic, however, nothing is more important than front page content, and in this county Loudoun Insider is pretty much the only one providing what he provides: frequent, informative, entertaining writing.

He turns people off and makes them vow to stay away. He has them regularly clucking about the indignities he’s brought upon them. Within almost any circle of LCRC people, to say something positive about LI is to garner countless invisible ice picks in one’s ears. But all of this simply proves my point, which is much more a market observation than a value judgement and certainly not a political statement: Until more people step up and begin providing interesting stuff to read about Loudoun County in a consistent manner, LI will remain a great big blip on everyone’s radar.

You may look to other bloggers for salvation, but so far every single one of them lacks the wit and will to supplant the throne. You may surf over to those in the local press who actually get paid to write, but they will leave you tragically unfulfilled. You may cringe at the sound of his name and wonder in the deepest recesses of consciousness why he haunts you so, but you will find no relief because reality, in the end, is a firm, fixed object.

Resistance is futile.

Scott York and daughter Elizabeth Neuffer

Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Chair Scott York and daughter Elizabeth at a recent Republican campaign event

It is now officially the worst-kept secret in Loudoun County politics that discussions are ongoing regarding bringing Chairman of the Board of Supervisors Scott York (I-At Large) back into the Republican Party. Mr. York was a Republican when he served on the Board as Sterling Supervisor from 1996-1999, and switched to Independent for his following three terms as Chairman.

Without knowing whether or when Mr. York will seek to rejoin the Loudoun County Republican Committee, I wholeheartedly support allowing him to run as a Republican this year. The reasons for my support are that Mr. York has been a consistent voice in favor of implementing quality of life improvements in Sterling, his vote against the overreaching “County Energy Strategy,” his vote to kill the Chesapeake Bay Protection Ordinance, his support for a cost-effective Phase II of the Metrorail Silver Line to Dulles, and his support for fiscal prudence in the public schools budget.

He may not agree with every Republican on every issue, but who among us does? If Scott York does not qualify to join the local GOP, then I and many others probably don’t either.

Let the public discussion begin. For starters, here are some local news links from the past couple years:

November 2009: Supported effort to ask state lawmakers for authority to combine some county and school operations, and effectively give the Board of Supervisors some control over capital construction, saying “if we are going to spend educational dollars, better [it be spent] in the classroom
than building the classroom.”

December 2009: Voted with Buckley, Waters and Delgaudio against Andrea McGimsey’s “County Energy Strategy.”

January 2010: Voted with majority to close tax loophole for hybrid vehicles, saying “They should pay the same rate of tax on a vehicle that I and every other person in this county is paying. It’s as simple as that.”

March 2010: Voted with Waters and Delgaudio for $30 million reduction in proposed school budget, saying “We can’t keep spending money everywhere and be everything to everybody. We have to look at the big picture.”

June 2010: Voted with Waters and Delgaudio to scrap the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Ordinance

March 2011: Voted with Delgaudio against moving forward proposal to require special exception for large retail businesses attempting to do business in county.

March 2011: Raised concern about Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority plan for underground Metro Silver Line station at Dulles Airport, which would cost Loudoun taxpayers hundreds of millions more than an above ground station.

UPDATE: Here’s another one from Mr. York’s Facebook page a short time ago:

This evening, the Board supported my motion to reconsider the names of two electoral districts. On a 9-0 vote, the Ashdowne District was renamed the Ashburn District and on a 5-4 vote, the Dean District is now the Dulles District.

UPDATE II: The Bulletproof Monk has some good background information, and notes “Scott is still the most liked and reasoned member of the current Board of Supervisors.”

UPDATE III: More discussion over at LI, who says regarding those on the LCRC who might have concerns with York “their numbers and influence have been waning.” That was my impression also.

LI has some observations worth reading.

I have not weighed in on the redistricting issue partially because of time limitations but also because when I last checked we had a Democrat-controlled Board of Supervisors who are solely in control of the decision and no one has explained to me why any of them would give a rat’s patootie what any Republican anywhere thinks about this matter. I suppose if a conservative were to craft an argument to win the hearts and minds of the Loudoun populace that would be one thing, but I for one am not up to that task.

I agree strongly with BlackOut’s comment in the thread linked above that it seems silly our BOS is allowed to set as one of their priorities for designing the new districts that BOS incumbents will be protected. That just strikes me as bad government all the way around; but I guess the fact it is stated baldly in the redistricting “guidelines” is supposed to make it ok with everyone. Like if someone were to craft a “10-point Plan For Starting A Business In Loudoun County” for the Economic Development portion of, and Number 4 was “Steal a truck,” everyone would be all right with it since it was posted on the county Web site.

It is amusing to consider LI’s suggestion that Supervisor Andrea McGimsey may need a district as far away as possible from her current constituents in order to have a chance of being re-elected. If I were running against her, in whatever far-flung part of Loudoun County she finagles as her new district of residence, I could imagine putting up “Missing” posters all over the neighborhood streets, just for the fun of it.

UPDATE: Supervisor Stevens Miller gives a reasonable explanation of why the Board agreed to make protecting incumbents one of the guidelines. In essence, this policy protects against hyper-partisan gerrymandering by the majority. Point taken. However, my personal bias against “protecting incumbents” is not because of fear of a nefarious majority but because of desire that magisterial districts reflect actual communities contained therein – a belief that the ideal boundaries should leave communities as whole as possible rather than broken apart to keep a supervisor in office. Admittedly, that is an ideal. As a longtime supporter of reality, I will take Supervisor Miller at his word that the guidelines are intended to guarantee fairness.

UPDATE II: It has just been brought to my attention that there is a very good reason for the LCRC to put forth a redistricting plan. All plans submitted to the Board of Supervisors will be submitted to the U.S. Justice Department as well, so that when DOJ considers the proposal from Loudoun County they will also have the alternatives for reference. It would be irresponsible for the LCRC to not put forward its own suggestion.