You Gotta Wonder …

Delegate Scott Surovell (VA-44) has led several clean-up days over the past few years for Little Hunting Creek.  Volunteers have cleaned (and re-cleaned, and re-cleaned, apparently) an area of the creek that is used as a dumping grounds.

These efforts are commendable, though I wonder if perhaps a fundraising effort for fences to keep trash from getting IN to the creek might be more long-lasting.

Here comes the “but …”   Surovell writes in an e-mail:

To help deal with the never ending [sic] stream of trash into our community’s creeks, I am currently considering the following action items:

    -Legislation authorize Fairfax County to enact legislation to allow fines for abandoned shopping carts
-A comprehensive litter education program in the Route 1 Corridor
-Supporting measures to make trash and litter a measurable metrics [sic] in determining stream health
-Re-introducing a $0.05 plastic bag fee

Being me, I have to ask the obvious questions …

Who the hell are we going to fine?  Stores, which already lose hundreds of dollars when a cart is stolen?  The dumper?  As if we’d find them.  Gods know the police have so much free time they can investigate cases of dumped shopping carts.  And why only Fairfax County?  What’s so special about carts dumped here instead of, say, Prince William County?

Why would we need legislation to enact a comprehensive education program in the area?   Sure, we’re a Dillon Rule state, but there is no state law that says communities cannot educate their citizens.  (Sounds like a plea for funding the program, which I would oppose vehemently as not high-enough priority.)

Along the Route 1 corridor, there are hundreds of families who don’t have cars (which they would have to fuel, insure, and maintain).  They take buses to work, and stop at WalMart, Safeway, Target or, yes, 7-11, for food and toiletries on their way home from work.  The $.05 tax harms these people more than any.  (I can almost hear the “oh, wait, we’ll provide them reusable bags”)

FYI – the didn’t the volunteers collect, this time, 51 plastic bags of trash?

I can’t argue the remaining point, simply because I don’t know enough.  IS litter a metric of a stream’s health?  One cannot make it relevant just by enacting legislation.  Nor is anyone helped if the state or administrative bureaucracy is forced to collect measures on topics that do not drive action.  If the metric can be shown to be useful, why is it not already part of data-collection efforts?

Explaining my faith (?!) in elected officials

Earlier I posted about the issues with entering Fairfax County courthouse – a taxpayer-funded, publicly owned building – with a cell phone, recorder, camera, etc.  I sincerely do NOT understand how this makes anyone any safer, where the authority to ban these items comes from (though I quoted the code sections that are posted), and I wrote my supervisor.

The supervisor’s aide answered, with poor grammar and spelling.  I posted that as well, and invited him to read that post.

Now it appears I should accept the staffer’s word because he is or was a Captain in the Marine Corps.  Whether he thinks I should be shamed into accepting his position out of patriotism, intimidated by a (big-shot, I suppose) Captain, or simply impressed by a lot of words after his name, I don’t know.

Looks like spell check didn’t run before I sent the e-mail.  I believe all cell phones and PDAs will be restricted in the future since most have cameras on them in order to protect the identity of people testifying in court.  Feel free to post this online as well.
Semper Fi,
Captain Brett W. Kenney, USMC
Operation Iraqi Freedom

Still hasn’t answered the question about how the ban makes us safer.  Still hasn’t responded to what gives the authority; I asked how these code sections give authority for a ban.

Now, somewhere in this answer is a response I could almost understand – protecting the identity of those testifying.  That is not the cited reason, however, in either their first response or the posted code sections.   It would justify, in my mind, a ban on video – perhaps even audio – recording in courtrooms, but not in the courthouse as a whole.

‘Nother question.  Should a Marine be using his official title in conjunction with a paid position as a staffer?  I think it unethical, if not contrary to regulation.  Might have to check that one out.

By the way, I tried to copy my response to Supervisor Hyland.  His e-mail is not listed; clicking on his e-mail link takes one to a form.  Please, if you’re so inclined, you might also request of Supervisor Hyland a response.

Response from Supervisor Hyland

I wrote Supervisor Hyland regarding the issue of phones/cameras in the courthouse.

A staffer responded; Hyland apparently doesn’t care.

The response:

“Ms. xxxxx – I have shared your email with the Court.  The Chief Judge in cooperation with the Clerk to the Court and the Sheriff propogate rules to keep our resident’s safe at the Fairfax County Courthouse Complex.”

Aside from not answering the question, expecting me to buy the security theater answer, and blowing me off, he blew me off with a staffer who can’t spell and doesn’t understand the rules of grammar.

The word is “propagate” and the plural of “resident” is “residents” — no apostrophe.

If this isn’t a “shut up and color” response, I don’t know what is.