Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Debate for Midlothian Supervisor Tommorrow Night

The Midlothian District candidates for the Board of Supervisor position will scare off Thursday, November 1st (Thursday) at 7PM at Midlothian HIgh School.

Donald Sowder (R-incumbant) vs. Dan Gecker (I)
current Midlothian Planning Commissioner

Rematch of the 2006 special election where Sowder defeated then Democrat Gecker by about 1,600 votes

Sponsored by Chesterield PTA and Chesterfield Business Council

Format: Candidates will answer questions submitted before the debate and compiled by the sponsors

Goal: To draw 150+ voters to the debate

School Board candidates will also square off at the event as well.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Debate for the 68th

With election day a mere seven days away, candidates for the House of Delegates for the 68th District squared off last night at St. Bridgets Catholic Church ( a beautiful church by the way) located just in the City near where the first American the trolley car years ago used to come to its final stage before turning near the Country Club of Virginia. If you are ever driving in the Fan this Fall simply take a look at the rooftops and you will know whether you are driving on streets that used to be served by the old trolley line of Richmond. The rooftops had to be made in such a way to not catch fire from sparks from the passing trolley, thus much of what you will see are slanting metal rooftops towards the street below.

That said, the debate between incumbant Katherine Waddell (I), Manoli Loupassi (R) and William Grogan (I) drew what appeared to be about 100 people or so including those from the media and the campaigns. Not exactly a glowing turnout of interest. With so many hotly contested seats in both the House of Delegates and Senate of the Virginia General Assembly, this race for the 68th as largely been ignored by most media concerns. There just have not been too many fireworks or campaign blunders like that of a campaign up in NVA mailing outthe wrong flier stating last Sunday was election day (oopps). Nonetheless, the seat is an important one. If you believe the pundits the Democrats look to secure gains in the Assembly. They point to the fact that incumbant Republican leaders are engaged in closer than expected races. This is why so much of what has transpired has been far from inspirational and down right negative this cycle.
One of the biggest issues of the debate involved fundraising. Both the Loupassi and Waddell campaigns have taken to television to get its message out. My only question is why would not a single one of these place the debate info on the screen and invite people to meet them and join the process. That baffles me.

Loupassi has spent considerable funds on his campaign even before this contest by spending significant amounts to win the Party nomination by firehouse primary last Spring. Loupassi tax cap has gotten some scrutiny given the fact that as a City Councilman, as Waddell latest mailer screams, managed to vote against reviewing the rising tax assesment issues of the City.That begs the question why it everything in the city seems to cost more with less return and little on his watch was accomplished with regard to the budget with the exception of the greater success ( or return on investment) of the City Police and their efforts to address rising crime. Why is it that the tax rates in the City are the highest in the area? Are they educating more children? Are the services they provide more costly or is it that the government is much too large. Should not the return on the investment in education by the City been greater given the fact they have more schools, less children and smaller class sizes?

Only recently has many of the Audits conducted externally begun to draw conclusions about how the City has been run and inefficiency seems to be the biggest problem that Waddell can easily tie to Loupassi. The issues current to the City may not be due to Loupassi but right now the City has the lowest Mayor approval rating in recent years and the Council's is even lower. That does not help Loupassi's cause. He is easily linked to the City's woes and did not prepare last night to offer up much in the way of distancing himself from that.

Both of the front runners in this race took some shots at the ever rising tide of illegal immigration. The trick down effect of politics at the national level to state level is amazing to watch but from different perspectives. Most Virginians are not too cocnerned with the border fence, but what they are concerned with is why it seems the State is subsizing the education of "illegals". Current legislation in the GA is pointed towards ending the ability for illegals to attend Virginia colleges and universities as declared residents for the purposes of in-state tuition. Personally, I have yet seen and arguement to allow this practice that stand up. Unless someone is here in this country legally and has resided in Virginia for the same requirements as citizens who move here from another state or are refugess from a Federally specified nation state for political reasons if they attend a Virginia college they should be forced to pay out of state tuition. Loupassi implied that Waddell supported the rights of illegals over the native children of Virginia in terms of educational opportunities and Loupassi began his moves to link Waddell to Gov. Tim Kaine who has endorsed her.

The Governor has been under fire with the immigration debate that has taken root within these elections adn has taken up the position that the State is doing more than citizens realize in this area already with reagard to State Police actions and notification to ICE. What I would like to see is the Governor pledge to reimburse localities for the training of its police forces in cooperation training with Federal authorities to bridge the gap between Federal pitfalls at the local level. Who do these illegals impact more, the Federal government, State Government, or the local Government? Increasingly, it is the latter.

Katherine Waddell continually points to her ability to work with both sides in a bispartisan manner. Her ability to get bipartisan legislation through the House is a strength she points to for the entire district and she places focus on the child safety, filling the gaps of Amber Alert policy, and the road improvements for Huguenot Bridge being pushed through and funded. Loupassi is challenging Waddell's positions on immigration, education reform, and the tax assessment measure he endorses by placing a cap of a maximum 5% increases per assessment that localities can place on properties of homeowners as a manner of law.

The fight over more Transportation funding is on most of the minds of the voters in Chesterfield and I am not convinced that outside of Waddell's bridge project if either feel as though there is much that they can do in this area given the demands of NVA and Va Beach in terms of the total State budget.

This race is very important however to State Republicans. This seat is one that they feel is in play and they hope that if they can pick up this seat it may lesson the ramifications of potentially losing another seat by an incumbant in NVA , Va Beach or potentially out in Roanoke where the races are getting close. It may have been a mistake in this cycle not for the Democrats to have placed a candidate on the ballot, but Manoli Loupassi contentions remains that Waddell though a former Republican is being endorsed by the Democrats like Governor Kaine and that should demonstrate enough as to where she will continue to place her allegiance.

Waddell contends she places that allegiance to the district and not to any Party.

If the turnout is lower than expected I think that will favor Loupassi as he has an effort on his behalf building in the Chesterfield portions of the district. Much of the success of that may be pegged to that of Supervisor Donald Sowder(R) and his bid for re-election. If the areas of Chesterfield in the 68th go Independent in the Supevisor race that may certainly help Katherine Waddell and add to what percentage of the City vote she earns. Grogan appears to be destined to come in third in this race, not in large part to ideas or his ability to communicate his philosophy but due to financing. People just do not know him enough yet, but his participation in the election is refreshing nonetheless.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Thank God We Live in Chesterfield

It is always amazing to me how around every Election Cycle I am reminded how thankful I am to live here in Chesterfield. These cycles really demonstrate the reality of the citizenry in terms of the discourse of debate on the issues that the community cares deeply over. Chesterfield has never lost its focus on integrity based campaigning that promote the debate of ideas and visions in the open forum., especially at the State level.

Many people would say that it is because of the very stability of demographics and political persuasions that have made Chesterfield practice politics in such an honorable and respectful manner. However, last years election demonstrated a willingness on behalf of the residents of the County to shake some things up. I am referring to the number of votes cast for Senator James Webb in his campaign against then incumbant George Allen. Chesterfield, not unlike the 7th Congressional District in the House of Representatives has long been treated as no mans land for Democrats and yet Webb secured more votes than expected last cycle.

Our Borad of Supervisors is virtually entirely Republican as are most of representatives in our State General Assembly from the area are as well. One exception is Del. Katherine Waddell who is an Independent representing the 68th House of Delegates which is partly in the County and the City. She is in the middle of a campaign against Republican nominee Manoli Loupassi and both are currently sparing on televison and in the mail which should come to a climatic debate this Monday night. The campaigns have both been run almost entirely based on issues. Of course every campaign likes to put the spin on things but they still remain tame.

An example would be Manoli Loupassi's portrayal that Katherine Waddell opposes 65% of education dollars going into the classroom. Loupassi, a former City Councilman, gets it half right. Waddell's point is the City of Richmond gets it funding and how the City determines to use that finding through its education system is entirely up to the City. The fcatof the matter is LOupassi is proposing a state measure that would require 65% of funds be used "in the classroom" with less being used in the bureaucracy. It begs the question should we be allowing our State to dictate what local authorities have the responsibility of implementing and where was Loupasssi on the issue when he was in a position to effect policy while heading the City Council. What he is trying to address at the State level is something he failed to at the local level and I wonder if we should be rewarding himj for that proposal or taking a hard look as to why it was he could not impact the classrooms of the City while he was in office.

Loupassi hopes to take advantage of the large base of conservative voters in Chesterfield residing in the portion of Chesterfield in his district in his hopes to compliment State Republican Senators Watkins and Martin on the House side of the Assembly. The televison wars have begun so it will be interesting to see how it plays out in the last ten days.

Why am I so thankful this cycle?

Well it allows us the opportunity to acknowledge differences in an adult and compassionate way. It allows us to engage each other in responsible dialogue during the process which helps us work togther after the process has drawn its result. Why is that important? It is important when we are trying to get more poeple into the process and educate our children about it as they grow up and see the value of involvement within their communities that will eventually want to raise their families here. That was my experience gorwing up here and that is why I have chosen to raise my family here today.

The flip side? The flip side is Fairfax County. Frankly, I watch in complete amazement as the county of my birth falls of the cliff of humanity in terms of political discourse. It is shameful the way in which fellow bloggers and media sources based in that area of Virginia perpetuate and advocate a level of hate and division forwhat has to be their own political gain. This is not how the campaigns of old have been waged in Virginia, but we are living in a new era of information and for the first time everyone really (including mkyself) can have their own little soapbox.

But what should one do with that soapbox?

While it is up to the individual, I wonder the true value of those that feed division. Those who sole purpose is to attack and divide citizens. Look at Prince William County and the debate over illegal immigration. If you are opposed to "illegals" you are a racist and a hate monger, reagrdless if you are simply advocating that everyone be required to follow the law of the land. Anyone of a different view is simply engaging in "cheap demadoduery".Both Jeanmarie Devoolties Davis and Ken Cuccinelli, both Republicans seeking re-election in NVA, have been protrayed as "scum" by Raising Kaine, a popular progressive NVA based blog. The blogs portrayal of Davis's "campaign mailers from hell" and seem to on a daily basis go after these candidates personally. They are taking the attacks on people to such a level of complete disrespect that they dishonor the process. They will argue they have the right- an of course they do.

I wonder when you enage in such tactics which are borderline if not flat out unethical just what it is they are telling about ourselves. Everyone says they hate negative campaigning, but it seems to me many politicians are leveraging these blogs because they ARE a huge force in the political landscape. Many credit the liiberal blogs with bringing Webb his election last Fall. But I wonder the further we travel down this road if something isn't getting lost.

I wonder if the process is losing a sense of humanity or even rationalism. We teach are children and I am sure the people behing alot of these negative things do as well that winning at all costs and by any means necessary is not the way we want to be carrying ourselves through life. There is honor in victory and there is certainly greater honor in knowing it was accomplished in an ethical manner.

Todays politics in NVA is like watching smash mouth football where the guys in the trenches simply engage in bashing each other until finally something gives. There are people in office that I differ with from an ideological view, but the challenge is to offer constituents a different vision for the future not a campaign of smash mouth football.

In Chesterfield it is a debate of ideas. It is a debate conducted in a rational manner. Be thankful. In other areas like NVA it is being conducted by what I call the politicists. Those that seek merely to engage in the debate with the sole purpose of fueling the fire of division amongst people, those that seek thier own outcome through smear, those that enage in personal attacks without contributing anyhting to the debate,, and those that ignore any solution or resolution of issues in an effort to sustain the divide.

When visiting the blogosphere, do me a favor and read it from the perspective of the "intent" of the blogger. Was it to inspire? Was it to inform? Or was it the ramblings of a POLITICIST!!! or sole mission is to bring down the opposition by any means necessary? Just like in football, you should be able to throw a yellow flag for penalties of this nature.

The big thing is Virginia for such a long time has been "penalty" free, but that appears to be changing in Fairfax and NVA.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

"Smart Growth"; The One Trick Pony of this Election Cycle

If ever there was an issue right now that should and must be debated by all of those seeking the Supervisor position of Chesterfield it is certainly Smart Growth.

The issue of how Chesterfield is planning to enter its next stage of development and growth has to be centered around the premise that we must first address exactly what our plans are for our older areas and communities in the next few years before we completely cannibalize those neighborhoods.

What does this mean?

It means that if we continue down the path we are on and at the current pace of development the ultimate result will be an increased level of "sprawl". We can already see signs of the sprawl. Simply drive west along Route 60 and west along Route 360 from Chippenham Parkway and you will see areas now that must be revitalized as they were left in the wake of western development. Jefferson Davis HIghway is yet another example of an area over the years that has been void of any real planning initiatives until most recently with the re-zoning plans and the removal of many trailer park complexes along that corridor.

These areas should not be neglected while we grow the residential and mixed use developments elsewhere in the County. Though we may have enterprise zone area designations and economic incentive areas, we must determine to creat SID's (Special Improvement Districts) within our Smart growth planning that will connect the business community with our residents in maintaining collectively those areas.

We must revitalize, restore, and preserve our historic areas as part of the Comprehensive Planning for the County. We should focus on historic preservation efforts in Ettrick, as well as secure our Village-style of living in Chester, Midlothian and Bon Air. Recently, many large scale zoning developments have potentially jeapordized these areas from reamining harmonously with the Plan. The Village of Bon Air is an example where even the addition of the smallest detail or revitalization can impact an area positively as the Village upgraded its lighting side walks running along the intersection of Buford Road and Forest Hill Avenue. This effort by the County and VDOT is proving that we can keep the charm and feel with the addition of modern Smart Growth ideals.

While many will consider Traffic Congestion as the biggest issue facing Chesterfield, we will not be able to face that challenge without identifying the impacts and results of our zoning discipline. We need walkable neighborhoods and not merely ones designed for motor traffic but for walking and biking as well. Our Mixed-Use needs to compliment the established greater community by connecting with existing communities. An example of this is the Roseland plan to connect with Charter Colony in order for all residents to benefit from the development. Open Spaces, Parks and Green Space must be an intregal part of any new planning along with a range of Housing Options.

We do not simply need more and more developments in the 500K price range in large part because we have failed in increase the level of jobs in our County economy that would allow our residents to afford such homes. Much of the economy is being skewed towards retail jobs and not the higher paying jobs that areas like Henrico are experiencing. The commercial development is great for the tax revenue side of the budget but we must focus on true economic development options for our community as well.

There is certainly no ONE answer to solving the issues facing Chesterfield today, but I think we must agree that Smarter Growth must be a large part of the equation. So in the next two weeks we should really consider what it really is we see as the most important issue facing us in the years ahead before we head in to cast our votes for Supervisor.

**Remember it is these elected officials who will be selecting Planning Commissioners in the coming years as the current members time comes to an end.

**Also here is a link to a Chesterfield County Board of Supervisor You Tube AD
Marleen Durfee, Matoaca Candidate

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Candidate Forums/Debates on Tap

The Matoaca District: Chesterfield Board of Supervisors
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Cosby High School

Marleen Durfee (I)
Bill Hastings (D)
Mark Tubbs (R)
Eli Jones (I)

House of Delegates, 68th District
General Assembly
Monday, October 29, 2007
St. Bridgets Catholic Church (Three Chopt Rd)

Katherine Waddell (I)
Manoli Loupassi (R)

Monday, October 29, 2007
House District 11
General Assembly
Church of Epiphany (Smoketree Drive)

Tuesday October 31, 2007
11Senate District
General Assembly
John Tyler Community College (Chester Campus)

Monday, October 22, 2007

Coal: The Next Tobacco?

"I do not understand why there must be a long term plan for coal"- Raising Kaine

"I know you may be lamenting the tobacco farmers, but you know they are akin to cocaine and opium producers" tx2va on Raising Kaine

These are just but two thoughts expressed recently in a post at , a Virginia progessive blog in a post aimed at advocating the elimination of coal as a means of creating energy through the use of natural resources.

I want to premise my post today with a few things:

First, it was my dear mother who taught me the value of the environment. She taught me the values of conservation and ecology beginning at a very young age. In 1975 I was capturing rain water, creating compost beds, testing water levels in small little test tubes, learning all about the values and consequences of excessive nitrogen, recycling all wood products, and crop rotating to promote the soil. This was 1975. This was just before the push toward long lines for gasoline during the Carter Administration. Even then, my mother now in her eighties knew the benefits of being an environmentalist. It was not based on political agendas but ecological concerns on what the individual could do in order to limit negative impacts on the environment.

Second, I was raised in Chesterfield County which was home to America's first coal mine and first railroads in Virginia history. I remember playing down by the coal pits as a child along Midlothian Turnpike and learning about the history of coal mining early on in school. It was part of the great history of Chesterfield and was the first real industry that spurned the creation of this community. Of course, coal mining as since moved on to the western portion of Virginia along the Triassic Basin and further to the Appalachin Plateau.

In the current debates over global warming, many are advocating the elimination of coal mining from the great American consciousness. Much like the portrayal of the evil tobacco industry in this country, it appears that the coal mining industry is a target for the fringe or more radical elements of the political movement behind global climate change.

Today we must be careful not to confuse "environmentalists" with those who advocate using the global warming or global climate change mantra as simply a political tool to advance an agenda that at the present time may or may not fly in the face of true scientific concensus. Unlike the radicals, I wish to leave the "science" to the scientists.

You see "consensus" I am afraid is something that the radicals in this area are not interested in. This debate over climate change and global warming appears to be creating two very distinct camps not unlike the abortion debate in America. The problem with the global warming debate is there is a tremondous about of science that needs to be considered onboth sides and certain elements only what to consider what promotes the expansion of a political agenda. To deny science purely through political motivation in my view does the entire scientific community a great disservice. It matters not which side excludes scientific research, it remains a disservice regardless.

The difference I have with these fringe advocates in the environmental debate is they are not "environmentalists" at all. An environmentalist is not someone who advocates the elimination of uses of natural resources such as coal, but one who wants to limit the impacts that man has on his environment and to leverage resources in a eco-friendly manner. Thus it is the true environmenatlists who conserve water even when not sufferring from the extreme drought conditions like this year, that captures rain water for uses in gardens and landscapes, that recycles everything possible for renewable uses, that composts and undertands the symbiotic relationships between man and earth. The advocacy that man is a merely parasitic is quite disturbing to the environmentalist.

The issue of coal was raised at Raising Kaine as one of the natural resources that we should simply dismiss and end as a viable source for energy in large part because of its impacts on the environment. In short "this stuff kills the planet"-RK). Certainly coal has it drawbacks to be sure, but we cannot leave people solely with the images of the strip mining of old. Technology is coming into this industry as well and though we have not as yet been able to adequately address carbon capture yet, we can all agree that we need to be heading down that road.

The radicals simply see these things as a means to an end. Its an easy premise really. Eliminate coal plants and mining and we will clean up the environment by reducing all the negative impacts on Mother Earth. But lets take a look at coal.

The role of coal was crucial for America, not unlike tobacco in the South I might add. 80% of all the coal mined is coverted into electricity in this country. 90% of our nations fossil fuel reserves are related to coal and coal represents a tremondous source for synthetic gas and oil in the future as we advance technology. 46% of all the the generated electricity comes from coal. But energy or electricty is not the only benefit of coal. One of the biggest is the creation of steel.

67% of all global steel is produced through Basic Oxygen Furnaces (BOF) and it takes about 630kg of coal to produce 1,000kg of steel. 33% of steel is produced from Electric Arc Furnaces (EAF) which require the uses of coal to generate the electricity. Frankly, coal is indispensible to the production of both Electricity and Steel.

The radical advocation of destroying the coal industry in the countries is yet another example of how the people running these campaigns truly ignore the economic and natural impacts of such propositions. What we find is that on the one hand they make these assertions and then the same group wants to ignore the fact that we have already seen 50% of our manufacturing base in this country has been lost and we are currently purchasing most of our steel abroad. This is simply another avenue toward globalization, which is fine if you recognize that once we are forced to rely on the world for things we can produce here through our own natural resources we will be obligated politically in the world to protect those interests.

This is why such advocacy does not fly in the face that the same group opposes our dependence on foriegn oil and yet refuses the exploration of oil in California and Florida and refuses to allow the wind farms they advocate from being constrcuted in places like Massachusetts and yet want us to turn our backs on 46% of our generated electrical capacity. As to exploration, Raising Kaine asserts that "its not going to solve our addiction to foriegn oil and its not going to save the ice caps from melting". Interesting.

So the only way we can reduce our dependenceon foriegn oil is by eliminating coal plants and focusing on sustainable non-carbon based and non-fossil fuel based resources of scale? Mind you, the same advocates seem reluctant to speak toward the value and significance of Nuclear power like the North Anna Power Station. It amazes me how a Virginian can on the one hand speak to continue the destruction of the economy of Southwest Virginia and then dismiss the benefits of nuclear power.

We have seen this before folks and Virginia was a big loser. Virginia though it produces FOUR times as much coal as it consumes is losing ground competitively with other states but are still producing 30 to 40 million tons of coal annually. Raising Kaine, I wonder how all that coal is tansported? I wonder what the impact would be on jobs in Virginia if CXS and Norfolk Southern. Two thirds of all Class 1 rail traffic is coal in Virginia and not to mention our ports. Nationally coal traffic represents 40 to 50% of our rail traffic. So the economic factors of advocating the elimination of coal is tremondous. Of course the answer coming from the advocates is that new jobs will be created in the new industries through technology innovations. That may be so, but here in Virginia we know what happened to our small town economies with the passage of the Clean Air Act in the 1980's. The jobs have never been replaced. The legislation made it more difficult for Virginia coal mining because much of our coal is harder to access and the result of the low sulfur standards lowered the supply coming from Virginia in large part because other states had greater "surface" coalbeds. Fact is some of these communities have the highest unemployment rates in Virginia since the early 1990's once the effects of the legislation made its way through the industry in terms of costs.

Look I am a supporter of doing anything that is environmentally symbiotic. In the end we have to but things on balance with our families and communities. I have seen this advocacy before in terms of the political attack machines against the tobacco industry, the increased rhetoric against the oil companies and now the advocacy of taking down the coal industry without any concern for the economical impacts on our communities. If we are not careful we will see coal replace tobacco as the next target. These folks have a roadmap as outlined by the success against the tobacco industry in the last fifteen years. We can ill afford to allow the radical fringes, which in fact are more entrenched and vocal, to push forward an agenda that is bad for America in the name of environmentalism.

Full disclosure: I support the advancement of carbon capturing technology, support to move to hybrid vehicles, support the use of solar and wind technologies, support the use and development of biofuels and support for the exploration of oil within our own borders and do not believe the people of Louisiana should bear the burden alone, support Nuclear Power as well as any renewable technology that will allow us to leverage our natural resources in an environmental way. The problem is they think I am a radical. Go figure.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Reality of Impact Fees and Cash Proffers

This week one of the other debates in addition to the Roseland zoning case was the issue of "impact" fees. The Planning Commission voted down the use of impact fees as a matter of policy.

The use of impact fees would have allowed the County to put in place a measure to revisit a funding source that was unavailable on properties that were zoned by the County before the 1989 passage of the Cash proffer Policy. There were some 9K lots that would have been charged impact fees to go towards roads and infrastructure. These lots were zoned but in most cases may still remain undeveloped.

The current Cash Proffer of $15,600 will certainly have to revisited should the County have any real chance of meeting maintaince obligations on our roadways. Of the current rate some $8915 go directly towards roads and the rest to County services. The current Board has voted down an increase in the last year that would have taken the level of proffer to a little over 22K.

Question. Do you believe Chesterfield is a wonderful place to live and raise children? If so, could you put a price tag on that quality of living. A level in which you would be willing to pay when you finance your home purchase because you "want" to be in Chesterfield. I only ask because the basic arguement over raising proffer fees on developers has always been that it will be passed onto the consumer in the sale price of the home and would price people out of the market. I have never spoken with a single person who would not buy the house they wanted over 3% difference in price. The issue people are not focusing on is the fact we do not have affordable housing being built across board which is what is doing more harm to placing people out of the market. How many sub-250K new homes are being constructed right now in Chesterfield. If we pay our educators say 40K a year in salary, exactly what new homes could they qualify for here in the County? The issue is not the costs being carried to the consumer because if one can afford a 400K they are most likely able to afford a $415K home. Increasing proffers will not keep residents out of the market.

Need a few examples?

Look to our sister counties to the North. Prince William County currently has a $37,719 per lot cash proffer and is voitng on taking it to $51,113 with home starts growth rates ever increasing and Loudon County has a proffer of $47,000 with great growth in home starts over the past five years. Spotsylvania County will be increasing their proffer to $46,514 per lot. The comparison is given as an example to illustrate that we as the fourth largest locality in the Virginia are lagging behind in the securing adequate proffer fees from developers to basically provide the same services as out sister counties. Som eof those areas are larger in population to be sure, but the point is that the very same developers selling a five bedroom 2 bath home with about 3,200 square feet up in NVA are often the same ones developing here in Chesterfield. In my opinion, developers get a larger lot with less fees and access to a growing market on the cheap when compared to home sales in both areas. They are building the same models there as here in some instances. Are the costs of construction independent of county fees that different? Probably not but the costs of the lot themselves may certainly be and yet when taken as a whole people are not being placed out of their markets based on price.

The impact fee proposal would have brought $5,820 in fees for the lots that were zoned prior to the Cash Proffer Policy. The descision based losely on the idea of living in the past in that because these owners had their lots zone thirty year ago or prior the County has to be obliged to keep the current zero fee in place on those lots based on the policies of that era out of good faith.

Well maybe local government should have thought about "good faith" when they allowed development to outpace our ability to sustain our quality of life in terms of services. Folks, its too late. We all eventually will have our taxes taken back up over $1.00 per in an effort to remain in good faith with the owners of 9K lots. I have no issue with that should those lots be developed by residents who own those lots and who have contracted a Chesterfield contractor to build them a new home which contributes to our local economy, but what I do have a problem with is if these lots are owned by developers who can build a home and sell it in the open market free of proffer or impact fee.

Chesterfield will get 45 million over the next 6 years from the State, which works out to be about 6.43 million a year. This will not be nearly enough to impact our problems. Impact fees could have been a part of the solution. Not a solution, but a part of a plan the Board could put together to address these issues.

The Board has also the opportunity to move forward on a real estate and business liscence tax set aside plan that could bring in 300 million over the next 10 years to address our needs but as of yet has not ruled on the plan. Maybe the new Board will.

Impact fees certainly were not given a far shake in my view. Its a tough call to be sure, but in the end Supervisors may just find themselves having to come back and raise property if they continue down the path of the 80/20 citizen to business ratio in terms of funding.

Frankly, my question to candidates for Supervisor is if we say that we are growing too fast why not increase the Cash Proffer Policy to 22K and increase the burden on developers as a means of slowing down the growth as we bring up our capacity and level of service for our roads and infrastructure. No one would be denying zonings per say, but would be seeking greater contributions from developers for services. Should developers not wish to participate and cease the construction of new homes then certainly existing home would see a rise in value as the number of new homes available on the market would be decreasing.

Folks, help me out. Am I wrong on all this? Increasing the proffer is not Anti-Business or Anti-Growth. Its Pro-Quality of Life for Chesterfield.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Supervisor Debate Tonight: Matoaca District

Please do not forget that the candidates running for Supervisor of the Matoaca District of Chesterfield will debate tonight at 6:30Pm at Cosby High School sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce.

The Planning Commission: Roseland and Charter Colony

It was impressive last night to witness the interest in the issues regarding the way in which we are growing here in Chesterfield and in particular the issue of the Roseland community and the implementation of impact fees.

Chesterfield saw the Planning Commission finally end its nights session close to 1AM this morning after hearing from residents concerned over the zoning approval of Roseland. I walked away from the hearing feeling really confident that most residents see the value that Roseland will bring to Chesterfield with its mixed use plan and even those opposed to the case as it stands today are supportive of the project generally and simply want some input in some modifications to the plan that will address their concerns as current homeowners.

The issue of current homeowners I believe is a significant one. Far too many times has the Board approved zoning big developments without really in my opnion considering the "real" impacts on current residents who may live adjacent to the zoning. Roseland is by far the best project to come along so far here in Chesterfield and rivals only Brandermill when it was first designed some thirty years ago. There are lessons to be learned from Brandermill to be sure, but one of the most important is the necessity of communication between developers, community and local government in a consorted effort to get the project right for the benefit of all those concerned. That of course can be a very tall order.

No one debates the value Roseland will bring to the community. The debate is over whether the developers should be allowed to place hotels and office buildings at the fringes of its 1400 acres backing up on the homes of residents of Charter Colony. These homeowners purchased their homes for the same reasons that the developers of Roseland hope will bring new residents to its project. Charter Colony residents deserve the opportunity to keep the aesthetic appeal of its neighboorhood that has existed since its creation as a residential community without the potential pitfalls of having large scale buildings, some proposed 12 stories high, within such close proximity to their personal green space (ie backyards).

Many residents of Charter Colony complained last night of the notification process and how they were only learning of the proposals as late as last Thursday. My obvious observation was that none of speakers have been reading Alter of Freedom. I spoke with countless folks who genuinely were unaware of not only the proposals but my blog as well. It reaffirmed to me why it is I blog in the first place. We must recognize that our government is not in the business of dissimilating information to the masses.

The Planning Commission in the end voted down the approval of the zoning case and based on the information addressed by Chairman Dan Gecker (Midlothian) it was largely due to the fact that changes to the plan made during the very day of the hearing did not allow the Commission the opportunity to make an informed opinion. There were some 24 "bullet" concerns that were twindles to two yesterday morning without really a focused staff report looking into all the changes .

The most interesting point to remember is the Roseland case is a "double" advertised case like so many because of our overworked and understaffed planning infrastructure working on all these cases. What does this mean? It means that though the Planning Commission has voted down the case, the Board of Supervisors will hear the same case next week and may and most likely will draw a different conclusion. We have seen this before. Our Board has not been so inclined to heed the guidance of the Planning Commission in the recent months with regard to zonings.

I think last night also provided a lesson in government. Mr. Gecker many times referenced the fact that this zoning and others before the Commission are not contributing to a transperant government and at times implied he was not even sure what it was they all were looking at before them in terms of the modifications. Furthermore, the turnout was also very impressive.
I must admit however, I was disappointed in hearing so many residents complain of lack of communication and ignorance of what the Roseland project could bring. There have been four public forums and many articles by Julian Walker of the RTD and Greg Pearson of the Observer bullet pointing these projects for almost a year now. This case proves yet again the requiremnt of all of us in our Homeowner Associations and the building of coalitions between neighborhoods in driving the debate. The deciders of these issues have long been able to sit and determine our growth without being held accountable.

The Board will here this case before the Election and it will be interesting how they will come down in light of the reservations expressed by of Charter Colony, which are certainly legitimate concerns that Roseland could potentially address before the next meeting. The developers last night expressed very little interest in pushing the case back for further review by the County so it will be interesting to see the power play before the Board. The opposition to the current plan will also have some time to increase its ranks before next week as well.

I do not live in Charter Colony but can honestly understand their position. There needs to be accomadation to existing neighborhoods in any plan of this magnitude. The developers have said that Roseland will be connectable with Charter Colony in order for residents there to take advantage of the mixed use environment of Roseland without having to get into their automobiles through walking trails and paths winding through the project and into its Old Town section.

Roseland was the dream of those who worked to design the RT 288 corridor and in fact some of those like Will Shemake who had lost to Manoli Loupassi in the Republican firehouse primary for the nomination to run against delegate Katherine Waddell earlier this year spoke at the hearing and addressed what he saw as Roselands fit within the Chesterfield Comprehensive Plan.

On balance I hope the Roseland project will move forward and with a few directed modifications to the existing plan it would certainly be endorsed by the greater community. My concern is far too many residents are playing catch up to the realities of the descisions being made by the BOS and find themselves experiencing the impacts of those realities uncomfortable.

My advice is to get involved in the process folks. If you believe that existing homeowners should be given every opportunity to work with the developers of the Roseland before the Board approves the zoning than call your Supervisor ASAP. As fast as our county is growing we may all at some point be in the position of those residents of Charter Colony.

In fact I am currently investigating what the impacts will be on Midlothian and the Robious Road corridor with the extension of Cranbeck Road toward Chesterfield Towne Center and the zoning for a new Costco store on that extension.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Midlothian Town Center under the Radar

While much attention has been given the Watkins center project, in lareg part due to its size and scope, the new mixed use project planned for the intersection of Winterfield and Midlothian known as Midlothian Town Center has been progressing under the radar.

The Center will be a mixed use of retail, residential and commercial properties highlighted by a southern feel of both design and function. James Doran & Company is overseeing the project and if you visit their site you will see some of their projects going up mostly in the South.

The current project was slated to have 400 new homes with single family, townhome and flats included in the fold. Ryan Homes and Lifestyle Builders are the two builders set for this part of the project. However, an amedment to the original zoning may be in the works in order to increase both the commercial space and residential space.

The intersection at Midlothian is currently being worked on and re-rerouted as well as resurfaced to meet the demand of both the project but also to meet the volume of residents who use Winterfield through the Salisbury Subdivision that conect to Route 711(Robious). This intersection with Robious is also witnessing commercial development as well as is Winterfield with additional new homes going in across from the Founders bridge community and the Independence Golf Club.

The Midolthian Town Center also appears to have a planned four acre lake within the project for walking trails and bike trails inside the developed area. Rumors also are going around that a first Publix grocery store will be coming there, but at this time though James Doran has had Publix participate in other projects there are no Publix stores in Virginia as of yet so this could be big news of another grocery retailer entering the Richmond market to challenge Ukrops. Whole Foods is already building a store in Short Pump which will be its first in the market.

These new homes will certainly stress an already overcrowding situation of schools at the elementary and middle school level. There is a new elementary school coming on line at CenterpointI believe in Fall 2008 which will certainly help but the issue of school boundaries will be highly debated.

Currently, Beattie Weaver serving the area along the Route 711 corridor has a capacity of 752 students and yet currently has over 900. JB Watkins is also stressed. It will be interesting to see just how many new homes come on line in the area before we start to begin to get ahead instead of behind in terms of seats in our schools. The county currently awaits the opening of two new schools next month, where its student body started the school year in trailers outside existing schools in the Matoaca and Bermuda Districts.

While James Doran has a great reputation for its projects, I cannot help but wonder whether we are still politically speeking traveling down the road of "wants" and not "needs" in the district.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Please Walk on the Grass: The Future of our Green Space

One of the lessor issues within the grand debate over "Smart Growth" for Chesterfield County is the idea and need for additional Green Space to compliment much of the new growth that we have experienced over the last twenty years.

Our new vision should be: Please Walk on the Grass

We should have enough open space built into our planning as to provide space for today's families to experience the benefits that most of us had in our youth. It bothers me that the same park that I played in in my youth here in Chesterfield is still relatively the same in both size and scope given the fact now in 2007 in serves four times as many people as in the past. You can hardly find a parking space at the Park on any given weekend or at sundown during the summer months.

I was raised to believe that green space, whether it is in the form of parks, squares or gardens was a conservative value. Today I am not so sure that this value is being fully expressed in modern day conservatism. To be sure, many of the new developments going up around the county are beginning to build these green spaces within their plans but I wonder just how "public" these spaces really will be when they are logically being introduced by developers to one; secure zoning approval and two; provided for those home buyers who can afford to purchase homes in that development.

Regardless, the push for green space is vital. Green space provides various economic gains to the community that many of us fail to recognize. Young families look for parks and playgrounds for their children when entering the home market and these very spaces contribute to accelerating home values which benefit the governments property value tax pool.

These green spaces are our open-air living room.

They contribute to our community culturally, socially, and of course personally. many of my fondest childhood memories come from playing in parks, fishing in lakes, and just merely being outside socializing with our friends from my subdivision. Access was never a question back then.

Furthermore, I think that based on the wave of townhome and condo communities going up across the county, due in large part on rising home values but laso because of the developers ability to get great economic return out of the growing demographics of the county by having additonal homes per acre on the market than say they would in traditional developments will increase the demands on green space. We have slowly taken more and more space away from "backyards" over the last decade to get more homes in on particular sites.

The "backyard" was the traditional family green space.

Space is all around us. Public space are the roadways we travel daily to and from work, the parks scattered throughout the county, the James River that touches points of the county as it flows down through the greater Richmond area, it is the space where our children play but more importantly it is the space where our children are given the ability to interact with nature for the first time.

The other issue concerning the necessity of green space is that of Physical and Mental Health. We are constantly being hit with the fact that as a people we are overweight or obese and a logical reason has to be not only our eating habits but our shrinking green space. It is in this space that our children exercise by walking, running, riding,and playing and experience the benfits of being out in the open air amongst our nature. The space provides a social community with which our children will develop their cognitive abilities as well as their social relationships with others.

We live in a time when towns and localities are competing economically with one another and any true comphrehensive planning has to incorporate public access to parks, squares, and gardens as a economic tool and not a burden to planning. I have been very impressed with many of the designs of the new developers that are being zoned, discussed and considered over the course of the last two years, but I wonder what plans do we have for the space that has been left behind as the blogger March to a Different Drummer calls our county sprawl as we move further to the west in our developing.

Chesterfield needs a true Regeneration Strategy for the areas that are getting older. Areas from Cloverleaf Mall out to Midlothian Village along the Route 60 corridor need to be looked at and additonal green space should be incorporated in any plan to revitalize that part of the county. It should not merely be business but a partnership between the business community, local government and the residents to come together to re-inspire that area. There are many opportunties in the Bermuda District to leverage its location and parks to create wonderful public settings to compliment Henricus. We should be looking to establish a public Marina funded by the County that can not only be used by residents in the traditonal sense but also for educating through County schools similar to the use near James River High School. All students should be able to benefit from the interaction with nature and our waterways through the education process and not merely the few who happen to be living in the more affluent areas. Matoaca and Clover Hill areas seem to be getting the greater concentration of large scale zonings and particular attention need to focused on insuring that enough green space is built in to the planning to compliment the greater numbers of future residents that will soon arrive.

We can do this here in Chesterfield. We can demand green space as well as keep our economic vitality moving forward as long as the community makes the committment to do so.

You can do so by making it an important factor in your descision for your vote for Board of Supervisor. I encourage you to review the visons of the candidates with regard to the future and factor in just who you believe will do the right kind of planning to move us forward. The last thing we want to see happen is have alot of our older communities be forgotten in the overall picture and continue being neglected.

I also would encourage you to talk with your neighbors, speak with members of your church, and really think about just what it could mean for your family if you had more places (free places at that) that are safe and secure for your family to interact with others and enjoy Chesterfield to its fullest.

After taking quite a few calls and emails over the past year in large part due to this blog, I have been formulating a plan for the formation in my area called the Robious Road Community Coalition (RRCC) that will seek to unite all the neighboorhoods along the corridor from Robious/Midlothian out Rt. 711 to the county line. A website is being currently under construction.Our goal for clean green space is not merely our parks. It is keeping our roadways clean. It is keeping our intersections bright and appealing. It is keeping our road medians green. It is keeping our bike routes clearly marked. It is making sure we have pet cleanup stations along our walking trails. It is so much more than just space. We will work with local PTA's to assist with their grounds committees in assisting them with their needs and we will leverage our relationships with the business community in playing a role as well.

Together a committment can be made.

The first committment you can make is to VOTE on Nov. 6th and support the future of Chesterfield.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

SCHIP is about Policy and Now Immigrant Groups Support Its Veto

Talk about not being able to catch a break. After years of being maligned by bloggers for accelerating deficits and huge spending , just when republicans get a dose of fiscal reality it comes on the legs of the SCHIP and childrens healthcare.

These same spinmasters who have been critical of a Congress that authorizes huge funding measures for the War in Iraq and blame the administration for its own shortcomings with regard to leadership need to wake up and start asking the real hard questions that they have been avoiding for about two decades. If you think there's been an overblow of rhetoric about SCHIP, what about solving Social Security or revising Medicare? Heck Medicaid and SCHIP provisions seem like a pretty easy thing to get a hold of but now after the last few weeks how will we get the reform we need in the other areas which would certainly aid in reducing of budget shortfalls.

As bloggers go after Republicans for being "anti-children" in terms of SCHIP, where is the outrage for the lack of funding by this Governor in his budget proposals geared towards child adoptions in Virginia. We get a heavy dose of rhetoric but where is the funding. Are Virginia Democrats turning their backs on the children of Virginia who have been placed in foster homes or put up for adoption by those who subscribe to the pro-life ideology. Are Democrats sacrificing the future of these programs because they simply do not endorse these programs and believe that there should have been alternatives taken to prevent this funding necessity? Are they saying that the private sector should be funding these programs? Or are Democrats simply just "anti-children" as well?

I certainly do not believe anyone is "anti-children" and to spread such rhetoric is not only reckless by shameful. These matters come down to policy unfortunately and just like the adoption programs I am sure there are funding levels that can be undertaken and those that simply cannot in the face of other policy matters. Afterall, no one is saying that the children should not be funded. It is the manner in which the program should be funded that is the issue.

FYI: In Virginia, enrollment in FAMIS for Children under 19 dropped to some 47,770 participants and the Medicaid portion rose to 35,814. Total SCHIP Children dropped to 83,584. FAMIS PLUS Children under 21 has a number of 343,066. We also have FAMIS MOMS, FAMIS Select, and then Medicaid for Pregnant Women as part of the entire Virginia SCHIP package. FAMIS PLUS is Medicaid.

What I find interesting is Republicans in the GA are being criticized for being "anti-children" because of the Presidential veto on the coattails of being blasted as racists and hate mongers over their stance on illegal immigration when the immigrant community is endorsing the veto by the President with regard to SCHIP.

40% of Hispanic children take advantage of SCHIP/Medicaid. 40%.

Fact is Congressional Democrats stripped the language of the SCHIP bill that would have ALLOWED immigrants to become eligible for the program immediately over the current 5 year residence requirement that is in place currently. Seems to me an arguement could be made that it is the Democrats who are not concerned too much about the children of the immigrant community being enrolled in SCHIP.

Peter Zamora of MALDEF, an immigrant activist group was quoted as saying that the SCHIP legislation "doesn't go far enough" in addressing the needs of immigrant children and Jennifer Ngandu, a senior health policy analyst with the National Council of La Raza another Hispanic activist group stated that the current legislation "eliminates healthcare to about 400k Latino children who are in the United States legally" because the eligibility requirement reduction was removed from the legislation by the Democratic leadership before bringing the bill to the floor.

Why is it no one in the MSM is talking about this little bit of information?

The Republican veto is actually being supported by groups that the Liberals claim Republicans are out to get. State Republicans need to hammer this home. The veto was certainly not about children but about the policy behind it and the impacts and requirements it would have on the know like Democrats talking about the vitality of the gas tax and then telling all of us we should buy Priuses and electronic hybrids to lesson our oil dependence which would lower the revenues generated through the taxes and same goes for the SCHIP we will tax the smokers right out of the market by adding $6 a carton tax and use the revenues for SCHIP financing meanwhile you get a shrinking pot year after year as healthcare costs soar.. It is simply just misplaced and misguided. It is equally as misguided as State support for "abuser fees" and yet liberal bloggers have pounded Republicans over the issue. Where is the outrage of taxing the poverty line where more than half the country's smokers sit? Aren't we trying to get people to stop smoking to reduce healthcare costs in the first place?

And why is it that not a single liberal blog bears to mention as it blasts the veto of SCHIP about the cigarette tax angle? Could it be Democrats fear being placed back in the "we raise taxes" box? Instead we get this:

"We're going district by district to tell Republicans to stop obstructing progress and start putting children first" DCCC Chair Chris Van Hollen

Apparently increasing taxes is "progress".

"Virginia's Grim Old Party": Attacks on Virginia Conservatism

In no time in the recent past have I seen such an orchestrated attack and on the very Virginia conservatism that has populated much of our great Commonwealth since World War II. Liberal bloggers have coined the phrase "Grim Old Party" in describing Virginia Republicans as they attack conservatism on all fronts pushing an agenda in their view based on the conscience of bigger government, regulated markets, multiculturalism, trade protectionism and frankly the destruction of the Amercian family structure.

Now of course this attack is not being conducted out in your community per say as most of us regardless of political ideology keep mostly to ourselves and simply want to raise our families in a safe and secure environment and provide the best for our children. This is somehow lost on the establishment and yet the blogosphere has spurned a revolution, not one of based on futhering ideas but one based on hate in politics and the sport of tearing people down. Activist Bloggers are talk radio jockeys on steriods with very little accountablity for their words or actions. No going after advertisers as a means of punishing these folk.

Recently, it appears as if Republicans are being attacked not out of politics, but out of who they truly are as people. The core beliefs of conservatism that have contributed so much to Virginia's economic standing in America are being dragged through the mud by a liberal led hijacking of the New Democrats of old.

The days of Bill Clinton and the voice of the centrist are long but over in national politics if you merely read the countless blogs that have themselves become great forces in instituting the very divisive language that appears to be ripping Virginia from its roots. The far left liberalism with its coffers of seed money (Move have left those Democrats who believe in economic institutionalism behind and have used a rather interesting approach with Media Matters as the frontman. While many media outlets may throw stones, Media Matters is in the business of launching missiles at conservative values and beliefs.

These are groups that somehow correlate one individuals actions into the actions of entire group or Party. If one Republican for example, is found to have been involved in an extramarital affair then the whole groups basic core belief in family values is frivilous. Why?

This new Liberalism is rooted in the individual. It is basing much of its platform and agenda on the individual choice or reason over that of the commonality of its ranks. These liberals attacking Republicans on "family value" grounds is rooted in the fact that they have no desire or need for the family structure as we as Americans have grown to know it. We have seen our family value structures come under attack through various measures in the past, whether it was under the guise of removing religion from schools some thirty years ago or the lastest measures to redefine the family structure and gender roles for that matter. These liberals do not see a difference between a Father and a Mother. They equate no real value in the difference in nature between a man and a women and therefore do not recognize the family structure the same way conservatives do. This is why the marriage definition has been such a hot topic throughout the country with regard to family structure.

Family life as defined by most of us is in direct conflict with what these new liberals seek to advance. Conservatives believe in the Father, Mother, Child structure under the notion of the nature of man under God almost natural selection where we have no control over who we are born to. These Liberals do not subscribe to that belief. They believe in many forms of Family. They believe in Family Choice. They believe in the deconstruction of the conservative view of family, gender roles, social norms and seek at times to permit government to become part of the family view. In short, Liberals see family under the guise of free choice. Hence, Liberals have supported "no fault" divorces in an attempt to allow it to be easier for family structures to be broken. They place no greater significance on the parental role as that of government as a means of social reform; ie using government as the sword for same sex marriages and its equality of scale with traditional marriages.

Alot of this is witnessed in Virginia politics when you review positions with regard to stem cell research, abortion issues and individual freedoms. Liberals will never see life beginning at conception because of their individualistic idealogy in that they will only perceive life at the time of delivery when an actual child is seperated (delivered) as an individual. Conservatives will push for recognition of life at conception as a means of down the road ending abortions all together. The very view of "life" in all its forms it seems to me is where we should be moving the debate., whether it be family life or whole life.

Internationally, the situation in Iraq has of course led to the rise of the what I call the "discontent". The Iraqi situation has been a springboard for extreme Liberalism to attack Conservatism but for in my estimation the wrong reasons. On the one hand, Liberals are very internationalist and mostly supporting a multicultural America over one embedded in nationalism. The Liberal bloggers throw patriotism and rednecks and references like the KKK all over the Virginia Republicans these days without really examining just exactly what it is they are advocating. The premise that we are a multicultural society based on internationalism or "global" societies leads one down the road that "illegal" aliens are somehow justified in there determination to break the laws of the United States. Liberals do not recognize our laws in those terms, but rather from a world view and in fact tend to believe in the World Court over our own system because they perceive our Supreme Court to be too Conservative in nature. To Liberals the "illegals" are justified in their entry because as individuals they made that choice. The laws of the land carry very little weight in this regard when put up against the reasoning and rationalism used but the extreme left.

Conservatives in Virginia have a more nationlistic view with regard to immigration. The portrayal that Virginia Conservatives are racist and "hate mongers" beacause they support the upholding of our immigration laws is but one layer of extremism being levied across the blogoshere. Liberals somehow believe that "illegals" have equal right to be in America as those of us who were born here whereas Conservatives do not see it in terms of rights but rather in terms of national identity. If an immigrant wishes to become an Amercian citizen or and "illegal" wishes to gain legal status there is an obligation of that individual to adhere or accept the national interest and assimilate part of which means abiding by the laws that govern our nation. Again it is the difference between a multicultural stance versus an American culture rooted in our Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights and Constitution.

I think when these Liberal bloggers go after those in Virginia who would merely seek to have our very laws enforced as to their intent they do an injustice to all Virginians. They seek to promote an environment of supporting Government but one where people are supported by the Government. These folks would not have supported JFK thats for sure.At every turn we see a criticism directed at Conservativism and its core beliefs which I find striking since most of those belief structures are based on our founding documents. With every attack I reflect more and more on those documents as a means of bearing witness as to why it is they mean so much. They are idealistic, nationalistic, patriotic, and god orientated all of which seems counter to the New Liberal agenda.

In the coming months ahead we will see that are striking differences between what mainstream Democrats support and those that have hijacked the Party on the national level. I have always held Virginia Democrats in highest regard largely because over the years they have certainly been more moderate and centrist in nature, but there is a new wave of liberalism growing and it is unlike anything in Virginia's history.

If Republicans do not rise above the political traps of engagement and fail to hold true to the values of Family Life, Free Markets and Economic Growth, Freedom of Choice with regard to Healthcare options, Limited and Small Government, and the very Nature of Law then maybe the New Liberals have it right and the Virginia Republicans will become the "Grim Old Party"

But friends the next time you hear someone blaming Virginia Conservatives for Virginia's flawed Transportation systems remind them that six of the last eight Governors have been Democrats in Virginia and not a single one of them had the vision to see down the road that this was bound to happen. Why? Because they to fell into the trap of putting politics before planning.

We must really begin to break down the differences between the agenda of the far left and its New Liberalism and determine if it is what we truly want for Virginia's future. Frankly, it scares me.