Important Legislation for a Short Session

Virginia has “short” and “long” sessions of its legislative session.  This is a “short” year, when legislators tell you they haven’t much time, and must deal with the most important issues.  Here is just a sampling of some they apparently put in that category.

 

HB 1420
Newborn screening; Krabbe disease. Requires the screening tests conducted on every infant born in the Commonwealth to include a screening test for Krabbe disease and other lysosomal storage disorders.

This is not the first time the Virginia legislature has dictated what tests must be run on newborns.  whether or not a person with an actual medical degree believes it necessary.

HB 1515

Information for maternity patients; safe sleep environments for infants.  Information for maternity patients; safe sleep environments for infants. Adds information about safe sleep environments for infants that is consistent with current information available from the American Academy of Pediatrics to the list of information that licensed nurse midwives, licensed midwives, and hospitals must provide to maternity care patients

Not only does the legislature want to practice medicine; it also wants to dictate what information your pediatrician or other health professional must provide you, removing all discretion based on medical knowledge and individual cases

HB1548

Revocation of concealed handgun permit; delinquency in child support payments. Provides for the revocation of an individual’s concealed handgun permit if such individual (i) has failed to comply with a subpoena, summons, or warrant relating to paternity or child support proceedings or (ii) is delinquent in the payment of child support by 90 days or more or in an amount of $5,000 or more. If the obligor remedies the delinquency, reaches an agreement with the obligee or Department of Social Services to remedy the delinquency, or complies with the subpoena, summons, or warrant, he may reapply for a concealed weapons permit.

Because the two are so closely related.  Doesn’t matter that you can’t afford your child-support payments, your life is not worth maintaining. Fortunately, does not note that one may carry a firearm in Virginia without a Concealed Handgun Permit.  This is a nose under the tent to removing firearms eligibility.
What happened to “punishment should fit the crime”?

HB1566

Grading system for individual school performance; star number scale. Requires the Board of Education to develop an individual school performance grading system and assign a grade or a series of grades to each public elementary and secondary school using a five-star to one-star scale, five-star being the highest grade. Current law requires individual school performance to be reported by October 1, 2016, using five letter grades from A to F.

Uh, excuse me?  The current six-letter scale uses A-F, but apparently we think our students and parents can’t understand the same grading method we use to grade them.  Let’s make it a five-star scale.  What?  Are we rating hotels?  Is this really an issue?

HJ593

Losing Loved Ones in a Tragic Accident Month

Who doesn’t want a “Losing Loved Ones in a Tragic Accident” Month?

HB2331

Definition of fur-bearing animal.  Defines the fisher as a fur-bearing animal in hunting and trapping provisions of the Code of Virginia. The fisher (Martes pennanti) is a small carnivorous mammal native to North America. It is a member of the weasel family.

Apparently, Virginia law has to mirror wikipedia, which lists 70 references for the animal..  Never mind that there is an entire branch of science devoted to Mammalogy, and that scientific documentation of species identifiers already exists.  I doubt (though I can’t be certain) that any members of the General Assembly are members of the American Society of Mammalogists, but perhaps they should be?

Americans and bullying

I see more and more articles about bullying.  Of particular concern to me are bullying of schoolchildren and gays (or those perceived to be gay).

School bullying is particularly heinous.  What keeps going through my head, though, is why these children are not being taught to stand up for themselves.  I was subject to a little bullying in school, but when the bullies found out it wouldn’t really affect me, they stopped.

We (as a society) have put all this effort into raising “self-esteem” for our students — no one fails, everyone wins — and yet we have obviously not instilled any self-confidence.   Sure, some children are less assertive than others, but isn’t it our role as parents to listen to our children, from their youngest days so they feel comfortable talking to us about bullying, and helping them to become as confident as possible in their own self-worth?

So I’m cogitating….

Americans used to pride themselves on self-reliance and interdependence at the community level.  Now, we seem to be teaching our children to conform, not to rock the boat, and to roll over rather than fight when the time is right.  Non-conformance may be the excuse for bullying, so our children may believe non-conformance is somehow bad.

When a child commits suicide due to schoolroom bullying, parents are devastated, of course.  I wonder if some of them don’t share the  guilt, though.  Why couldn’t their child confide in them?  How does the bullying get so bad as to generate suicide thoughts and the parents not know?  Have they not shared thoughts and feelings as a matter of course?  Have they tried to shield their children from issues of concern, so not discussing them seems the norm?  Are we doing today’s children a disservice?

And have we been doing it for too long?  While I generally figure adults can fend for themselves, some young adults are a product of this lax child-rearing.  We teach them they’re victims (the active-shooter scenario in most schools, for crying out loud, involves hiding behind melamine or plywood desks); that fighting, even in defense of their lives, is bad.  Schools help — those who fight are all disciplined (maybe), without regard to any issues of self-defense.  Too many are not teaching self-reliance, but victimhood.

We need to help our children.  That help starts at the individual level.  Parents and guardians, and teachers as well, need to encourage our students to talk, we need to celebrate individuality from the earliest years, and we need to ensure our students have the tools to take care of themselves, whether it’s fighting back or enlisting help.

But none of the articles focus on the “victim”.  “Experts” seem to think we can stop bullying by passing laws and “strengthening” school “no-tolerance” policies, and don’t look at the full scope of the problem.  Will this work?  Apparently not; bullying, according to popular press, is on the increase.

Published in: on August 11, 2011 at 12:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

The 2011 Scott and Toddy Show: or Let’s Not Define Civil Discourse in VA-36 or VA-44

(I’m having difficulty uploading the recording I made.  It may have to follow.  Maybe that’s what I get for using Windows Media Player instead of a real audio program.  I can hear it fine on my machine. Where I reference time hacks on my recording, the time is very rough.  For some reason, I can’t see the time hacks on my playback. )

Today was the 2011 Annual Town Hall Meeting sponsored by Senator Linda (Toddy) Puller (VA-36) & Delegate Scott Surovell (VA-44).   (I’ve linked to both sites, but Puller’s is, as of today, 29 January, woefully out of date). It should have been titled differently.   I came away feeling as if I’d just attended a report on a Democratic Committee strategy session, and not a report of legislation.  This is the third such town hall I’ve attended – two under Surovell’s predecessor Kris Amundsen, and one with Surovell.  I presume there was one last year, but I never heard about it.  Probably because I’m not on the Democrat’s mailing list.  I don’t know why—I’m on the Republican’s list, and I give them exactly zero percent more credibility than I give the Democrats.

I simply cannot understand how an elected official can stand in front of constituents and vilify “the other side” while barely defending positions on budget, transportation, education, child care, health care, redistricting, and other issues.

Toddy spoke first.  After  lamenting that she was in Richmond during the storm and came home last night to find her driveway not shoveled (in all fairness – she can’t do it, but it doesn’t seem to me it’s her constituents’ worry that whoever was supposed to have done it did not), she whined that the legislators only had a week to submit bills.  Not that they follow that rule; she did note that every day someone asks unanimous consent to submit another bill.  Why have a rule you’re not going to follow?  And how on the planet of the gods can a legislator not know what legislation s/he intends to submit in a given year.  What are they waiting for?

Since 1994, Toddy has been fighting for studies of one form or another for US-1 – that glorious highway that defines Virginia east of I-95 from Prince William County to DC.  It’s poorly constructed, with little to no capability to handle the number of cars that traverse it each day, and sadly in need of work.  However, the other side of that issue is that there is apparently no will on the part of the County or the State to enforce laws on the highway, either.   I’m almost convinced there are massive magnets built into intersections for the 6-or-so-mile stretch, given the number of people who think intersections are THE place to change lanes.  And for that stretch of highway, people seem to have forgotten that if you miss a turn, you go down, turn around, and come back.  No, on US-1 you cut across three lanes of traffic, right-of-way be damned.  I’m personally convinced that vigorous enforcement of existing laws on just the 4-mile stretch from the beltway to Ft Belvoir would easily solve both traffic problems and the lack of funding for transportation.  At about 19:00 on the link (audio of the townhall) she starts talking about it.

Then she complains about lawyers arguing over the meaning of law.

Toddy then spoke about how she, as Chair of the Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services Committee, is holding the governor’s privatization plan hostage (starting about 23:00 on attached).  Governor McDonnell proposes to privatize alcoholic beverage sales in the state, but the Democrats in the state see alcohol as a revenue producer and don’t want to give it up.  I’m not sure where “retail sales” is a governmental function in anyone’s constitution, but there you go.  Toddy should assign the proposal to the Alcoholic Beverage Control subcommittee (there is no other appropriate subcommittee), but has to date not assigned it, nor has she scheduled any action on it.  She bragged that she won’t do anything with it before the House does, since the House is controlled by the governor’s party.   Her words – that way he can’t blame the Senate Democrats for voting it down.  At least she admits to being a coward, and brags about stymying the bill.

She dismisses the governor’s transportation plan, but claims that transportation is her #1 issue.   Apparently his plan involves general fund monies, which she opposes.

I’m not sure what Scott spoke about.   He starts about 26:45 on the attached, and rails against Republicans for a while.  This is a guy who was formerly Chairman of the Fairfax County Democratic Committee, so one expects partisanship, but this is ridiculous.   I felt he was giving his presentation in that Chairman role, and not as a state Delegate.  Maybe it is just his mannerism, but every second or third sentence, he looks at Toddy as if for approval.  He sure seems like a Toddy clone.  At least his predecessor – you know, the one who didn’t decide to retire until after the Republicans ran someone against her, and after primaries, so the County committee could name the nominee – was her own person.

First, he complained that he’s not in the Senate, then that he’s not in the majority.  Then he bitches about the press (about 29:58).  And the governor’s definition of “surplus”, referring to the governor’s “budget gimmicks”.   On transportation, he admits that looking at only one’s district is parochial and small-minded, but then complains that he didn’t get enough in the 44th.  Listen about 36:13 – one of the problems in the House is the Tea Party.  Apparently he doesn’t like states’ rights, from the way he dismisses them “or whatever”.  Actually, that’s probably right – he doesn’t think the state should tell the county how to live its life.  Not sure what kind of a reading of the Bill of Rights leads one to think that if the states have primacy over the federal government, then counties should have prmacy over states.  I don’t read it that way.

Redistricting was a big deal.  But my delegate has absolutely no say in anything, if you listen to him.  It’s someone else’s say.  Listen to Toddy starting about 53:25.  Listen carefully. “I have to lose 10K people and probably in PWC.  The growth is in PWC and Lorton.  We will be trying to redraw the PW lines to help Sen Colgan’s district ‘cause his is very very Republican and he’s the only one who could win that district.”  Then Scott says “Toddy left out the part where the AG sues somebody.”  Neither the senator nor the delegate admitted to having a clue how redistricting works.  When asked if it follows a formula or is it a partisan heyday, Toddy blamed politics.  She swears the House of Delegates doesn’t want to be nonpartisan.  She says the Senate will be fairer, implying that the House will not.  They both claimed that “both sides” have hired lawyers.

Then there was the Cuccinelli bashing.  Mind you, if any politician ever needed bashing, it is Cuccinelli, but this was not the place for it.  This was the place, I thought, for talking about issues.  Apparently I was in the minority today.  He blasted the AG opinion that says the state may not appropriate monies to charity.   Much as I dislike Cuccinelli, I do agree that the state has no business providing my tax dollars to charity.  At 44:51, he states the AG is not very popular.   In fact, the statements on the questionnaire didn’t ask about the AG.  At about 45:10, he states the Senate is considering legislation to restrict the AG power for the next three years.  (Addendum;  this post in the Washington Post addresses it.)

Surovell spoke about his survey.  He noted the 283 (46.2% of respondents) who want to raise taxes rather than cut government.   However, 283 respondents of the 8000 surveys sent out is 3.5%, so the real answer is probably somewhere between 3.5 and 46.2%.

Neither individual spoke about any issues s/he had not specifically introduced bills for.  Surovell lamented the fact that he’s limited to 15 bills, but his 15 include solar tax credits, funding  a local charity (a GREAT organization, by the way, but still a charity) and providing credit for students who study piano.  Notwithstanding that he apparently doesn’t give a rat’s ass about cello players, or tuba players, or harpists, can one honestly and with a straight face lament one can’t do enough, while simultaneously sponsoring legislation for piano credit at the high-school level?   At least his constituent survey showed him that of the 2.25% of his constituents who even gave the question any credibility, 48% oppose it.

Toddy was masterful at finishing up the remarks with redistricting, so the initial questions all dealt with redistricting, and they got to electioneer while ostensibly answering questions.
Now, I’ve not been to town halls in other districts.  I only became involved in state issues after moving here to Virginia.  If most town halls go this way, it’s no wonder people blew up at them.

What is a right?

Someone hand me a copy of the new Constitution, please?  The one I haven’t seen yet.  I didn’t get the memo it had been changed, but I’m seeing pieces of evidence.

Apparently, there’s a right to own a house.

Apparently, there’s a right to television reception.

And a right to broadband internet service.

And now, some say a right is being abridged if a student group isn’t recognized on a campus.  If the school doesn’t give them perks, like access to mass e-mail lists, or meeting rooms, or money.

What?????

So, a group isn’t recognized.  Free choice.  There are sound, valid reasons for not admitting everyone to every group.  (I know; I joined a sorority in college.  I don’t now, as a matter of principle, join all-female groups, but I took an oath back then, and I believe in the organization.  For some known-only-to-the-gods reason, fraternities and sororities are exempted, by law.  Another issue altogether, for another time.)  Of course, Young Republican groups don’t want a fervent group of Democrats to join, take over, and re-focus the organization (replace titles as you choose, the point is the same).  And religious groups want their leaders to be followers of that religion (silly as that may be, but again, another topic for another time).

But schools insist to get recognition as a student group — with the perks — you must accept everyone who chooses to join as a member.

Where’s the beef?

This is not a case of the group’s rights being trampled.  There are no rights being trampled.  The group is free to form, organize, meet, whatever.  It is not entitled to perks.  Perhaps the students should focus on learning logic; they might then be able to see the difference.

Never thought I’d thank the Washington Post

The Post printed a fabulous editorial piece on Sunday, though.  By Christopher M. Fairman, the piece was headlined “Saying it hurtful.  Banning it is worse.”  The piece presents a thoughtful response to the do-gooder movement to remove the word “retarded” from the English language.

I have such an emotional response to this issue that I have quit supporting the ARC of Northern Virginia (oh, by the way, ARC comes from Association of (for?) Retarded Citizens) and their rabid stance on it.

Yes, I understand.  Being called “retard” hurts,  as does being called “fatso” or “four-eyes”.   But people need to understand sometimes the meaning of a word is separated from a faddish use.  Legislating away the use of the word “retard” may make some feel good, but it will not change the fact that some people have a retarded intellectual, social, emotional, or multi-faceted development.

I sympathize with the effort in the pledge “I pledge and support the elimination of the derogatory use of the r-word from everyday speech and promote the acceptance and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities.”  (The pledge is from http://www.r-word.org (as if that isn’t patronizing … like I can’t understand what the word might be?)  The kicker is in “… the derogatory use …”.  If you can’t tell the difference, legislation is not going to help you.

As the parent of a retarded son, I feel it important to retain the distinction.  My son is retarded … his intellectual capacity is significantly less than that of most of his peers, and his social development lags.   He is not stupid in any way, though.  No, he can’t read or write.  He doesn’t understand a cold shoulder, or the concept of what most people consider personal space.  He has difficulty with any number of abstract concepts.  But he understands his world, and in a way, is probably much more fortunate than many of us.  He doesn’t question his abilities, or doubt himself, or long for impossibilities.

But as much as I would challenge anyone who derogatorily call him names, I also challenge those who think they’re “doing something” to get over their paternalism and offer a supportive hand instead.

Now *this* is dangerous!

Six-year-old Zachary Christie has a reason to grow up hating school, and bureaucrats.

Imagine.   A six-year-old child, proud of his gadget.  He’s now learned that adults don’t have the common sense the gods gave slugs.  He knows now that bureaucrats can’t tell the difference between tools and weapons.  He’s learned that knives are banned.   (I wonder if they’re TRULY banned, or what happens when a teacher brings a table knife to school to spread mayonnaise on a sandwich).  He’s learned adults are asinine.

FORTY FIVE DAYS in reform school?

Surely you jest.

The new American way.

Published in: on October 12, 2009 at 4:27 pm  Leave a Comment  

More gooder better grammar ….

There was a shooting on Capitol Hill today.  (Wait – aren’t guns illegal in Washington D.C.?  Except in one’s OWN home, for protection only, and ONLY after a threat is present?????)

From a news report:

Schneider said the driver, who has yet to be identified, produced a gun once his car came to rest. And after failing to respond to commands, officers shot him.

Officers failed to respond to commands?  What is this world coming to?  And who did the officers shoot after they failed to respond to commands?

Or is it print reporters who haven’t a clue how to stick to proper grammar?

And I thought it amusing the “right to die” is not guaranteed.

The hell of being an editor, even if only part-time.

Published in: on July 15, 2009 at 8:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Brady Bunch is at it …

The Brady Bunch was ticked they lost a bill today.

But they got someone to reintroduce it for tomorrow, and they think they can convince two senators who voted their way in 05  and ours in 09.

So they have this prewritten e-mail:

I urge you to vote for SB 1257 to close the gun show loophole. Unlicensed gun sellers should conduct background checks on gun purchasers just like the dealers at the table next to them do.  This loophole feeds the illegal gun market across Virginia and should be immediately and permanently closed. Your vote is critical to the bill’s passage.

(Their last paragraph was protected; it couldn’t be changed): Please vote for SB 1257 to close the gun show loophole. Your support in 2005 was greatly appreciated, and I hope you will again vote to keep Virginia’s communities safe from gun violence.

And I modified it:

Please vote NO on SB 1257!

Your vote today was appreciated.  You stood for our constitution, and not for making laws dependent on what building you happen to be standing in.

The Brady Campaign has sent the message that you can be “persuaded” to change your vote. Apparently, some of your constituents think you didn’t know what you were doing today.  They think they’ll get enough clicks to make the last paragraph of this meaningful.

How can you “close” something that doesn’t exist?

PLEASE VOTE NO ON SB 1257.

(Their last paragraph was protected; it couldn’t be changed): Please vote for SB 1257 to close the gun show loophole. Your support in 2005 was greatly appreciated, and I hope you will again vote to keep Virginia’s communities safe from gun violence.

My name and address was required to send the e-mail.   I’ll have to be on the lookout for their retribution.  But they cunningly spoke of “two senators” without naming them.  By modifying their e-mail, I got the message to those two without having to do the research.  I will do so later and post the names of those senators.

I urge others to go to the Brady web site and do the same.  It’ll push up their clicks, but they won’t be happy.

Stupidity, thy name is “do-gooder”

David Englin, Virginia State Delegate from Alexandria, has pre-filed state legislation that makes bullying illegal.  His web site boasts:

Englin’s legislation, House Bill 1624, would strengthen Virginia’s anti-bullying law by requiring school codes of conduct to prohibit “harassment and intimidation” as well as “bullying” and by adding specific language to the State Board of Education’s model code-of-conduct to prohibit bullying, harassment, and intimidation based on, among other things, actual or perceived physical or mental ability or disability.

I really want to know what THIS one’s going to cost.

Betcha my delegate, Amundson, supports this one too.  Makes me wonder if we couldn’t please, just once, outlaw stupidity.  But not by another freaking state law.

Combine this with last year’s legislation to take the medical term “mentally retarded” and replace it with “intellectually disabled” and this gives you an idea of the kinds of things our state delegation thinks are the most important issues facing Virginia.

When will people understand that legislation outlawing stupid behavior simply adds more words to the state code.  It does nothing to curb the behavior of the dipshit who’s going to bully someone – anyone – whether it be a mentally disabled, a physically challenged, or simply a smaller or weaker individual.  Bullies don’t get their kicks from obeying rules.

Imagine the anecdotes we’ll hear in a couple of years about zero-tolerance policies under this one.

The ARC sponsors this.  The ARC (used to be the Association of Retarded Citizens until it got PC) is a wonderful organization, that fights important battles.  And this one — a piece of feel-good, do nothing law whose only real effect is to cause state code to be re-written, and maybe keep a clerk in a job for another day.


Misplaced priorities

Fairfax County and the Commonwealth of Virginia have cut funding to the disabled community.

In Fairfax County, about 60 mentally disabled students who age out of school this year will not be funded for supported employment after June.  It would cost about $1M to provide this service.  But the Community Services Board, which runs the program, has been told to cut $3M.  Some who are currently in the program will be dropped.

Supported day-care services are being cut.  Mental health and substance abuse services are being cut.

But it’s okay.  The governor thinks this way (from a 23 June news release):

But, we haven’t let our short-term challenges block our progress toward a better Virginia.  Working together—Democrat and Republican, House and Senate—we have transformed the delivery of mental health services, advanced an ambitious effort to improve service to troubled youngsters through foster care reform and agreed upon the most significant capital investment in higher education in the Commonwealth’s history.

Our focus on measurable progress—even in a challenging time—recently led Governing magazine to recognize Virginia, once again, as the top performing state government in America.

We know there remains an important issue before us in 2008—an issue that calls on our best thinking to find common ground in moving Virginia forward.   We must find reliable investments for a 21st century transportation system in our Commonwealth.  We have worked to find that solution for many years, but definitive action has eluded us.  The special session I have called today gives us the opportunity to get this right.

On June 25, he provided this (emphasis mine):

Governor Timothy M. Kaine today announced grants worth $39,954,021 have been awarded to support criminal justice programs and services throughout the Commonwealth.

“These grants will enable localities and state agencies to support new and continuing programs addressing a wide range of criminal justice needs and issues across the Commonwealth,” stated Governor Kaine. “They demonstrate the strong commitment of Virginia’s localities and state agencies to assuring that our criminal justice system is effective and responsive.”

The money for the grants comes from federal funds allocated to Virginia and state funds appropriated by the General Assembly. The Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) administers the grant programs. DCJS’ Criminal Justice Services Board (CJSB), the policy board appointed by the Governor to act on matters affecting the criminal justice system in Virginia, reviewed and approved them.

“These grants will specifically fund sexual assault programs; criminal justice system improvements; victim witness and sexual assault programs; school resource officers; campus safety programs, crime prevention programs, offender reentry transitional services; residential substance abuse programs; comprehensive community corrections programs; and juvenile delinquency prevention programs,” stated DCJS Director Leonard G. Cooke.

In total 295 grants were approved and awarded to 16 state agencies and 279 non-profit agencies, localities and colleges. A list of the grants is available here:

http://www.dcjs.virginia.gov/about/documents/CJSBGrants2008.pdf .

You can learn about what services you can’t receive, on the web:

RICHMOND – Governor Timothy M. Kaine today announced an on-line resource especially designed for seniors and adults with disabilities.

Virginia Easy Access, presented by the Virginia Department for the Aging, is part of the Commonwealth’s No Wrong Door initiative. No Wrong Door offers individuals a simple, single point of entry for information on long-term support options, applications for benefits and other supportive programs. It also provides a secure web-based system that connects state and local public agencies, private organizations and providers, allowing consumer information to be shared in a confidential manner and improving coordination of long-term care services.

“The new Virginia Easy Access website is a technology solution for seniors and adults with disabilities throughout the Commonwealth who need assistance with finding services,” Governor Kaine said. “The website is easy to use and will assist caregivers as well as people who need care.”

Virginia Easy Access provides individuals and caregivers information about public benefits and programs and includes a variety of informative topics of interest to seniors and adults with disabilities. This website allows people to search for specific services in each community. Content includes imbedded links that lead the user to more information on every topic.

Virginia Easy Access is also a gateway to VirginiaNavigator, a listing of more than 21,000 programs and services across the Commonwealth powered by SeniorNavigator. The provider database is constantly updated to make available the most comprehensive listing of services and supports in the Commonwealth.

Supported by 2-1-1 Virginia Call Center Operators, citizens may utilize Virginia Easy Access to e-mail questions and receive assistance 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Beginning in the Fall of 2008, Virginia Easy Access will enable citizens to complete a Medicaid application on-line and electronically submit it directly to the appropriate local social services agency for processing.

Other things get funded (Sept 2, 2008, again, emphasis mine):

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine today announced that Virginia has allocated $23.4 million in State Homeland Security Grant Program (HSGOP) funds to localities across the Commonwealth.

Funded projects include:

Law Enforcement Operations ($9,279,000) – Expands and completes a statewide system that provides law enforcement agencies with secure access to regional crime data and counter-terrorism tools. In addition, funding will provide equipment and training to police and fire departments for regionally managed bomb squad responses.

Enhanced Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive Devices Capabilities ($1,700,000) – Funds new equipment and vehicles to detect and monitor weapons of mass destruction and to respond to structure building collapses. This funding will also replenish, replace and upgrade existing equipment as needed for the state’s nine Hazardous Materials Officers, 24 hazardous materials/WMD teams and seven Heavy Technical Rescue Teams, which are locally based and work together at the regional level.

Statewide Shelter Planning and Enhancement ($2,270,000) – Continues work in preparing state shelters for a mass evacuation by installing proper wiring connections for generators; modifying shelters to comply with the Americans with Disability Act for Special Medical Needs populations; purchasing Web-based software to register, track and reunify families; and other software, training and supplies for shelters throughout the state.

Critical Infrastructure ($1,520,000) – Funds the development of a standardized smart card identity system called the First Responder Authentication Credential, or FRAC card, for emergency responders to gain access to a disaster area. (Because I’m sure there will be someone there checking ID.)

Emergency Medical Services ($1,391,100) – Supports the transition to the new Emergency Patient and Resource Registry, a secured online patient database that will track the location of each patient from disaster site to hospital.

Citizen Preparedness ($1,581,501) – Funds training and educating the general population and vulnerable populations as well as typing and credentialing volunteer resources.

Other funded projects will support interoperability improvement; expanding the Metropolitan Medical Response System; exercises and training; and planning and assessment.

County supervisors are no less culpable.  They supported this initiative, and on election day, 2008, in “Fairfax County, voters approved $77 million in parks bonds, which, among other things, will fund artificial-turf ballfields, the restoration of wetlands and a small observatory for gazing at the stars. (My highest priorities – aren’t they yours?)

Meanwhile, the Commonwealth and County are ignoring young adults they’ve spent 18-20 years training to be productive members of society.  These students can’t, for the most part, hold competitive jobs.  They need assistance.  They perform office, kitchen, landscaping, janitorial, automotive, and other tasks, and they love going to work every day.  For $1M/year.  Out of a budget of over $3 BILLION.  (Budget info available here.)  But then, their strategic priorities don’t include people:

  • Strong investment in education
  • Public safety and gang prevention
  • Affordable housing
  • Environmental protection
  • Transportation improvements
  • Revenue diversification to reduce the burden on the homeowner

I’ll be going on the 13th (7-9:30PM, Mason Government Center, Annandale) to plead my case.  How artificial turf can be prioritized over citizens, I’ll never know.  But I need to be heard.

Published in: on November 5, 2008 at 9:00 pm  Leave a Comment