Virginia National Defense Industrial Authority
– It takes EIGHTEEN people to fulfill this mission? Figure the taxpayer only pays mileage and per diem, including lodging for overnight trips to the capitol. If they only meet once a year, figuring conservatively $200 for lodging and per diem, plus $100 for mileage, that’s $5400. Multiply that by the number of boards and advisors in the state, and you start talking some money.

We also have:
Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth
Virginia Small Grains Board
Virginia Bright Flue-Cured Tobacco Board
– Alzheimer’s Disease & Related Disorders Commission

And those are just the ones announced in the governor’s press release of July 1st!

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   (I’ve linked to both sites, but Puller’s is, as of today, 29 January, woefully out of date).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.

Transportation should not be a key issue in the VA gubernatorial race

Transportation should not be a key issue in the VA gubernatorial race.

Many news outlets, bloggers, and political campaigns treat “transportation” or “roads” as the number one issue in Northern Virginia.

I don’t believe that’s true, for the majority of citizens.

While transportation, gridlock, traffic, and roads are very high on the list of detractors to quality of life in Northern Virginia, I don’t think most of us believe government will solve it.

Deeds said he’ll “sign a bipartisan bill“.  Of course, he hasn’t seen one and can’t know what one would look like.  He doesn’t even know IF he could get it,  so how can he promise to sign it?

McDonnell will turn interstates into toll roads.  IF he gets federal approval.  What do you suppose that would take?  Frankly, I like his idea of privatizing the liquor stores (get the nanny state out of it).  He can use the sales prices to replace the funding they currently provide, and the tax stream to do whatever it is government does with our money.

In short, I don’t know of anyone who believes in any “transportation plan” so far proposed.  No one wants the construction, or the eminent domain, of new roads.  No one wants to prioritize new roads, as they’ll be subject to special interests.  No one wants public transportation forced down their throats, nor the inconvenience of Metro to the vast majority of residents.  And no one outside of Northern Virginia media outlets seems to care.

Published in: on October 10, 2009 at 1:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

Your tax dollars at work – again

Applied for Social Security for the manchild.  He’ll age out of school this year, he has no job prospects, and he’ll need to provide for day care.  We’ve never applied for him before, figuring he should not take money he didn’t  need, and after all, his parents are fortunate to make enough to pay for his care.

But he’s ineligible for disability payments, though he’s disabled since birth, since he’s never worked and didn’t apply before his 21st birthday.  That’s right — penalized for not taking government money sooner!

Can you define “dialogue”?

Apparently, our president can’t either.

[T]he question I think that the American people are asking is: Do you just want government to do nothing, or do you want it to do something? If you want it to do something, then we can have a conversation. But doing nothing — that’s not an option, from my perspective.” –Barack Obama

One, I don’t think most Americans are asking that question.

And two, if they are, but he isn’t willing to discuss one of the two options, he’s playing a Chavez on us.

Since he isn’t willing to discuss, I hope his actions come back to bite him in the butt — and sooner rather than later.

I can’t accept the premise that my goal should be to “have a conversation”.  Since he’s decided how things are going to go, I’ll continue to work against these inane efforts and hope we can salvage something.

Already, according to Real Clear Politics, his approval ratings have dropped from 73 to 65 (how they got that high I simply don’t understand) in less than his first month.  Maybe the American people are now speaking, and someone will recognize what happens when you focus on first-time voters to win the election, but you have to deal with the entire population to govern effectively.

Published in: on February 16, 2009 at 11:48 am  Comments (2)  

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  

Some stuff …

Things synthesized.

Today’s Parade magazine insert in the paper had a question for Marilyn vos Savant about income taxes. Her response was not to thank blame the IRS, but Congress, who makes the laws the IRS must follow.

Today’s AARP games page (I play games there, though their page continues to go downhill) has an ad … “Your Congress, Your Health …” I guess you’re supposed to tell Congress what you want in health care. I don’t really know, as I have about as much use for AARP as any other “gimme” organization…

Still, the two pieces stuck in my head, and got me wondering…

Do you really want your health care system to emulate the tax code? I know I don’t want Congress TOUCHING my health care options.

Published in: on March 30, 2008 at 8:00 pm  Comments (2)  

Your House of Representatives …

(Emphasis mine) Your tax dollars at work:

(Mrs. MALONEY of New York asked and was given permission to address the House for 1 minute.)

Mrs. MALONEY of New York. Madam Speaker, next week retired New York Giants cocaptain and Super Bowl champion George Martin will walk the 1,000th mile of his 3,000-mile trek across America to raise funding and awareness for sick Ground Zero rescue and recovery workers, the heroes of Ð9/11. His walk from New York to California, called A Journey for 9/11, began just after the sixth anniversary of that tragic day. This week his walk continues through Tennessee as he approaches his 100th mile.

   George is an inspiration and a true all-star. And as he walks, this Congress is responding to the need, providing $109 million for treatment in this budget. But we need to pass the 9/11 Health Act to help all those suffering from 9/11 injuries. It is the least a grateful nation can do.

Congress is giving them $109 million.  They sure as hell don’t need $10 from me or you.

———————————–

Because every office needs this:

   By Mr. HASTINGS of Florida (for himself, Ms. SOLIS, Mr. CONYERS, Mr. ELLISON, Ms. KILPATRICK, Ms. DEGETTE, Mr. UDALL of Colorado, Mr. PALLONE, Mrs. CHRISTENSEN, Mr. MEEK of Florida, Ms. CORRINE BROWN of Florida, Mr. WEXLER, Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ, Mr. HONDA, Mr. PAYNE, Mr. SERRANO, Mr. CLAY, Mr. BERMAN, Ms. LEE, Mr. NADLER, Mr. HINCHEY, Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas, Mr. HINOJOSA, Mr. KUCINICH, and Ms. BERKLEY):

H.R. 4652. A bill to direct each Federal agency to establish an Environmental Justice Office, and for other purposes; to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, and in addition to the Committee on Natural Resources, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

———————————

What surplus?  The one hillary et. al. keep telling us doesn’t exist?

   By Mr. KUHL of New York:

H.R. 4664. A bill to provide for investment and protection of the Social Security surplus; to the Committee on Ways and Means, and in addition to the Committees on the Budget, and Rules, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

———————————-

This is more important than passing a federal budget, by gosh:

 By Ms. LORETTA SANCHEZ of California (for herself and Mrs. TAUSCHER):

H.R. 4689. A bill to amend the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act to increase the maximum amount of assistance to individuals and households, and for other purposes; to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

Published in: on December 16, 2007 at 2:20 pm  Leave a Comment