Thursday, June 26, 2008

Upper Swift Creek Plan: Waters not Troubled but Murky

Last night the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors continued the saga of addressing the Upper Swift Creek watershed and the often revised Upper Swift Creek Plan. The newly, and I mean that rather matter of factly given changes and wording considerations construed on the fly at the session, formed amendment passed the Board 4-1*. The lone descent was Supervisor Dorothy Jaeckle (R) of Bermuda.

*Jaeckle may take some heat on this but her vote really was merely a vote against the process by which this vote came about...she is absolutely right in that a public hearing and meeting should not be used as a modified work session to tweaked something to be voted on that night. I applaud her for her stand on this ground.

This night was not a night to introduce young people to the venue and dilemma of local politics. I sat uncomfortably at times during this session with the manner in which our public officials conducted business. This matter regarding the Upper Swift Creek Watershed is a vital piece of governance and though I am quite sure alot of time and effort was set forth on behalf of the measure, I do not believe the actions undertaken by this Board last night due justice to the importance such a measure brings to Chesterfield. I am not criticizing the vote in terms of the term "action", but the manner in which this vote came to reality on this given night.

The watershed issue is nothing new. On Feburary 13, 1991 Chesterfield adopted the first Upper Swift Creek Plan. It was later amended once before in October, 2007. The goal has been to pay close attention to the impacts of land-use distribution in this 57 square mile area and its impqacts on the Swift Creek Reservoir supplying roughly then 25% of Chesterfield drinking water. Now, in 2008 The USCP has become a growth management boundary set as a measure in all purposes to limit or delay growth in the watershed, less as a direct result of water quality, but more as how such land distribution will impact services. The biggest service being public education.

While you had many speak to the importance of environmental standards, most speakers last night took on the plan from either a school capacity LOS (level of service) or a property right perspective. Of course, these things are very important to citizens of Chesterfield, bit what I think was lost and is being lost is the direct correlation between increased land distribution through residential and commercial zoning cases and the phosphorus levels with the Swift Creek Reservoir.

Back in 1992, the Board sought to indentify and address the pollutant issue and the effciency of the removal of phosphorus levels from the drinking water resource through what became known as Best Management Practices (BMP). By 1997, the Board had inacted "phosphorus laws" to manage the pollution issue and address some of the concerns regarding pollution. This pollution is a key barometer in evaluating water quality and was addressed back in 1993 when the Board sought to evaluate the guidelines that should be used when taking consideration of new, large scale zoning cases that may impact the watershed. It was around this time that the Watershed Management Committee(WMC) was established to review these concerns and make recomendations for moving forward. One of the speakers last night, Mr. Tom Pakurar, was on that very committee years ago.

Mr. Pakurar is now affiliated with Hands Across the Lake, a non-profit community-based organization here in Chesterfield concerned with the watershed and the impacts of growth on both the quality of life and the water quality of the watershed. Mr. Pakurar is a water quality expert and holds affiliations with such groups as the Sierra Club and the Virginia Conservation Network. His efforts since retiring from Dupont as a scientist has helped shape this debate regarding the future of the watershed.

The future is what we should be concerned about. Not the past inadquecies of previous Boards and not the in-fighting between this Board and its Planning Commission and not the rather tepid demeanor expressed towards fellow Board members. Afterall, could not the watershed potentially become another Falling Creek?

Again, I do not intend on implying any real empirical knowledge with regard to water quality. I leave that to Mr. Pakurar and our environmental engineers, but what I do know as someone who enjoys spending time out on Swift Creek and Lake Chesdin that if anyone of our politcians really wanted to wake up from the "just build it" pills they have been consuming for decades all they would really need to do is spend a day out on these two bodies of water after heavy stormfronts our droughts.

I do not need some debated computer modeling of pollution to tell me anything I cannot see with my very own eyes witnessing the runoff into our resources. There is greater run-off at swift Creek than Chesdin in large part because of the growth experienced. But are we not hell bent on repeating this at Chesdin. Are we not beginning to build out more and more on that system. Are we not contining to zone developments like Chesdin Landing there? Take a look at the the BMP's and ponds asscoaited with the tributaries of Swioft Creek after the next major storms. If they continue to look like this:

We will certainly be in trouble. And what about that drought period we experienced where Chesdin saw its water level drop substantially last year. Were any test conducted on the clay bottom area to determine exactly how much pollutant the reservoir itself could absorb versus the ponds or BMP's?

In 2005, Supervisor Dan Gecker when addressing concerns of Mr. Tom Pakurar and the pollution issue stated that he "respectfully disagreed with the suggestion we (the County) start by measuring BMP efficiency". Now in 2008, exactly what model are we using? In 2005 CH2MHill consulted on the pollutant issue regarding the watershed and its findings have been highly criticized by many reviewing the impacts of phosphorus on the watershed.

Mr Gecker in responding to Mr. Pakurar in 2005 also went on to say that "once the in-lake phosphorus exceeds a certain level, the lake is dead and cannot be revived. The question of whether we could hit that level before we reach full build out is obviously of grave concern."

So exactly what is the level of "full-buildout". Since this statement It is my contention that we have experienced even greater development approvals on a large scale basis. In this watershed or at the very least on its fringes we got the expansion of Charter Colony, Magnolia Green, Roseland (potentially), Watkins Center, growth all along Otterdale, Winterpock, and Woolridge roads.

Are we there yet Mr. Gecker?

Look I am no expert, but when the tributaries and the ponds are more a less a mix of coffee and cream it does not take a PHD to come to the conclusion that the pollutants are not be absorded effciently enough to standard. I am not talking political standard either. Are these ponds settling? if the soil particles are not settling then there should be grave concern. Both the EPA and the State DCR have requirements for this. Are the ponds more efficient today?

It seesm to me we should be focusing on:

1. Protecting our Water resource above developmental concerns or build-out goals
2. Focus on Long-term Care of our resources and passing ordinances as such
3.Address potential excessive pollutants and impacts on our resources as a result of land distribution and zoning cases.
4. Address the number of BMP required to adequeting and efficiently service our resources and re-evaluate them routinely after major economic or environmental developments.
*for example the County should budget today for a study ten years out to address what impacts the growth in the watershed has had since the last real study
5. We need to move past the "modeling" component of how we are gauging levels and move into the reality component stage.

Everyone seems to want some real predictive anaylsis but in all honesty get out there on the water and experience the resource yourself throughout the year and years ahead and you will see the changes to the environment. They say nothing is certain except for change, but we can help to shape that change. We only need the will to do so.

I remember Brandermill in 1982 and remember later the debates over the Harbor Pointe's build out decades ago and with every new zoning case and commercial development the Swift Creek Reservoir has been impacted and will continue to do so. So while we navigate the hornets nest of Levels of Service standards and the over capacity of our schools we must realize that these things are controllable if we place the people in the position of leadership who intend to control them. Many of our leadership, not all, have short memories with regard to the County. Maybe they themselves relocated here in the midst of this great trend in our growth or maybe the dynamic is such that this build out is neccessary, but if we truly want to be a "First Community" of choice we need to look deeper at ourselves and take all of our resources into consideration when moving forward.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Upper Swift Creek Plans: First There Were Two, Now Just One

While many of us who partake in the twenty-four news, okay entertainment, cycle these days and have experienced an ear full of the global climate change and energy crisis debate the last few weeks, there is a measure that potentially have great impact on the quality of life and services within Chesterfield County.

The issue is over the Upper Swift Creek Plan that attempts to address the concerns of balance between residential and commercial growth impacts on the Swift Creek Reservoir and the water quality of such body.

If you are a long-time reader here, you will no doubt know I am not the biggest fan of government dictating to private property owners what they can and are able to do with their respective properties. Unfortunately, such lofty libertarian nuances have to be balanced with the complete dereliction of County governance regarding growth and lack of holistic approach to comprehensive planning for the past twenty years that such a measure and its LOS (level of service) requirements may simply be unavoidable.

Why so critical?

The Board of Supervisors has allowed the practice of "land-banking" to completely skew the overall growth picture in the County for years. I remember when it was relatively inexpensive to buy land out towards Lake Chesdin in large part because there were no services out there. large tracts of land were purchased, most likely pre-proffer days, and now are being developed. This has happened throughout Mataoca and Midlothian and we are only now experiencing the impacts of such zonings as they are currently being developed to come on line. The impacts of such developments is what is at issue in terms of the Swift Creek reservoir.

The Swift Creek Reservoir is a primary source of drinking water for most of Chesterfield. The increase of zonings approvals in and around the area over the years is changing the environment and quality of the body of water. I am not an environmetal engineer nor will I preach about those issues, but in the end the more developments that come on line the greater the potential risk to the quality of water due in large part to phosphorous levels.

While much of this debate is centered around residential, we must also determine not to neglect commercial activity. These large scale mixed -use projects require such landscaping that we must not lose sight of what chemical elements by-products our area is being subjected to and the impacts of such. We see this everytime we get a real strong rain. Just the other day, a massive thunderstorm produced large quanties of run-off throughout the sewers and you could see the mud trails of water running down into the water. Just what is this run-off or potential erosion bringing to the water supply?

The basic tenent of the USCP is whats known as Levels of Service (LOS).

From a transportation perspective, LOS have been graded on a scale of "A" thru "F" in the Highway Capacity Model. Just like school, "A" being greater or in this case greater "free flow" and "F" being "forced or breakdown flow". Most localities seek to the very least come in with a grade of "C" which is "stable flow".

Ask yourself where the roads you drive on daily come in? Ask yourself to think today versus say five years ago and then think five years out?

The Level of Service aspect also directly in the case of the USCP relates to the capacity of schools. The target capacity rate is set to no more than 10% "over" capacity though many feel that that number will be elevated to 20%. This 10% level is stipulated ( I stress for now) to be throughout the 288/360 boundary goinmg north and west.

This LOS standard will permit the denial of any zoning case that would push the level of capacity over the standard regardless of property status or proposed development. So the question remain if an individual owns 5 acres of land and wishes to build a home on that tract in aschool boundary where capacity is already 10% where that individual landowner's zoning case will end up. Apparently, it end up being denied.

If this is the reality, I find it striking that members of the Board who have come down against "impact fees" citing concerns over putting this fee on such a small group of landowners under the guise of property rights can look these same landowners in the face given what particular tenents that LOS have regarding its application. What if the landowner is retired with no children which would impact the school system and still wants to re-zone the land say from agriculture to residential and connect to public services?

Exactly how many of Chesterfield County schools are currently in "over" capacity? Some are saying that LOS is merely a political way of establishing a moritorium on growth without actually having to be nailed down on endorsing such a measure.

The fact that we have reached this point is a direct reflection on the County's inability to lead from the front with regard to growth. Many voters while seeking a proactive approach in 2007 are coming to the reality that the approach of the current Board is to take a purely "reactionary" approach to solve many of the issues that were neglected in the past.

The biggest issue I have is that by stating that you support the school system and our schools to be at "over" capacity you are endorsing trailers. Anyway you want to get around it, if a school has more students that it was built for, those addtional students are being educated in trailers. And by the way, save me the rhetoric that children educated in trailers get the same education as those inside, because unlike our current Board members I experienced such trailers in Chesterfield almost thirty years ago.

Thats right. Trailers are nothing new. We have been dealing with (or not frankly) with the use of trailers as a politically expedient way of covering up our inability to control growth. When we talk about trailers, we should be focusing on not the quality of education, but the quality of the environment where the education is conducted. How about security in these trailers? No one wants to go there, until its too late unfortunately.

The two plans being considered for so long have now become one. Russ Gulley, Chairman of the Planning Commission has removed his plan for consideration after rather heated discussions at times on the PC. The current plan will be reviewed and open for public comment on June 25, 2008.

Please see the Chesterfield County website for information regarding the USCP and the public hearing.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Raising Kaine: Rage Against the Machine

One of the most influential political blogs in Virginia if not the country is beginning to take some heat from within the very Party and movement its creation was predicated upon.

It seems that though the creation of Raising Kaine back around 2005 was dedicated in large part to the elevation of Tim Kaine (D) to the office of Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia it has morphed almost four years later into quite something else.

Raising Kaines predecessors in the blogosphere here in Virginia are slim to none in terms of the impact. It quickly became the bastion of political strategy for the Jim Webb campaign by 2006 has it circled the wagons of the Virginia Democrat Party to unseat George Allen (R) in the Senate. It was in this period that RK began to change. The race for Governor was behind them and Tim Kaine was safely seated at the head of the Democrat Party following Mark Warner's adminstration. The Executive Mansion was secure and RK focused on the U.S. Senate seat in 2006 and was a driving force providing opinion and spin on the race.

It became a means to an end for the campaign for Senate by Jim Webb as it so happens that the race happened to fall right in the middle of the explosion of the blogosphere. RK capitalizing on its name and "brand" from the Kaine campaign began to recognize it was accumulating significant power both as a disimilator of information as well as a medium where it could mobilze those seeking to contribute to campaigns. Hence "Draft James Webb" and others like "Draft Wes Clark" were flanking elements within the movement and strategy devised to place Kaine in the Executive Mansion.

The movement has thus become a "machine".

While some see RK as a great medium of news relevant to the present, much of this "news" is filtered through the prism of the "Progressive Voice of Virginia". One has to realize that this machine is about its own vision and ideology when it comes to Virginia and national politics and its mission is to align those interests and exploit the shortcomings, no matter real or fabricated, of the opposition in Richmond and Washington. This blog becomes the mechanism or storefront of the ideological campaign that sets Northern Virginia in dark contrast to much of Virginia from a politcial perspective.

In fact Raising Kaine some months back actually likened Virginia as the next Maryland in an attempt to subvert and leverage how Northern Virginia has more in common with Maryland then say the rest of the Commonwealth. This small glib on the political radar has not sat well with most Virginians. Again, the folks at RK know their audience and they know it all too well.

In recent weeks, there has been some real discussions (fear mostly) that the britches over at RK have simply gotten too big. While this may be very true, do not expect an implosion anytime soon. Lowell Feld and many of the contributors behind Raising Kaine have dug in and are battle hardened.

The problem though is this battle is being taken up by Democrats not Republicans. The GOP currenlty has nothing of the power of RK in the blogosphere in terms of Virginia yet, but there are signs that the foundations are being laid for the future. Many Republicans in Virgibnia realize that the battle has turned in the favor of the Virginia Democrats after a long period of Republicanism. The Virginia GOP will have to quickly learn to fight as the Democrats did for so long as the underachiever and underdog. I would not underestimate the Virginia GOP in this regard in that the best thing for it to re-mobilize in Virginia is for the Party to "center" itself and wait for the results to follow. The results are what will put blogs like Raising Kaine on the defensive after long being the sword of the Democrats against Republicans.

Results? Once Mark Warner is elected, Virginia Democrats will have control of both US Senate seats and the Executive Mansion in Richmond. The single one thing that can rebuild the Virginia GOP ranks is a turn for the worst under Democratic leadership. It will soon become Raising Kaine job not to be the "sword" but the "shield" of Virginia Democrats.

We are seeing this shift already occur. Raising Kaine, while self-professed as "progressive" does not seem to take true progressivism to heart in terms of opinion. If there is one single issue in the current debate that demonstrates this is the environmental movement.

Many of the contributors at Raising Kaine hold this issue as the High Water Mark of policy. They are inflexible on the issue of climate change or global warming. While it may seem to the average Joe that the "progressive" thing to do currently would be to drill on the continental reef area within the Continental United States. RK is opposed to such action.

Raising Kaine instead employs the notion that such drilling and tax relief are "gimmicks" being proposed by the opposition in such a manner to play on citizens emotions in a time of economic downturn. Problem is many of those citizens are Teamsters or union workers which typically sit right in the middle of the Democrat camp. Truckers are being hurt the most and in fact diesal gasoline has outpaced unleaded gasoline in terms of pricing even though it is considerable less to produce. RK contributors will have none of the arguements behind supply and demand functions of a free market economy that they themselves have been integral proponents by supporting U.S. entaglements in things such as NAFTA. RK constantly wants to place the blame for rising fuel costs on our actions in the Middle East when many economists, seen as alarmists, were addressing this potential even before the geo-politcial blunders of the Iraqi policy.

RK fails to want to impose the same standards on foriegn governments as it would on our own economy. It will support windfall profit taxes on our companies but not foriegn energy companies. Its supports not only increased regulation but the complete termination of all coal based energy solutions. It denies the successes of liquid coal in places like Africa and China where it is being imployed in areas as an alternative. In fact, the Chinese military is undergoing this change in response to the fact that it is accumulating the coal on the world market where coal prices as well have soared. Needless top say RK is not a supporter of anything coal-related as demonstrated in its recent falling out with no other than Gov. Tim Kaine over the proposed Wise County plant by Dominion Resources.

Raising Kaine has it stuck in their heads that Dominion Power is simply an example of yet another "evil" corporate entity set on destruction of the environment and the rhetoric is taken to such levels as to imply that all the employees of Dominion Power are the problem. You see, this is often a tact of the "sword" as RK goes after employees of companies whose measures they oppose and this was further demonstrated in the 11th Congressional District Democrat Primary where RK took it upon itself to go after SAIC employees in like manner over the fact that their opposition in that race was associated with that entity.

I say "opposition" because it just so happens again RK found itself sprouting away from its roots. Gov. Tim Kaine had endorsed Gerry Connolly over Leslie BYrne in that race while RK but its "machine" behind Leslie Byrne. RK aggressively attacked and attacked Connolly not so much on issues as over old personal run-ins and rivalries. This is where they at RK lose whatever objectivity they may have. I had not seen the level of divisivness against Connolly since George Allen. In the end, Gerry Connolly would win the Primary by some 20% over Leslie Byrne. Laughing no doubt behind closed doors. Evidently the Governors "sword" is a bit sharper than that of Raising Kaine.

So while the Governor continues to unimpress RK over Wise County and now the Pollution Control Board, RK seems quite comfortable with drawing a truce for now to go after Presidential hopeful John McCain (R). The "machine" is beginning to kick it into overdrive in an attempt to swing independents in Virginia over to the side of Barack Obama. Of course, there is a problem and most people know or at least think they know John McCain and much of the rumblings of RK fall along the lines of little substance and alot of "George Bush 3" prayers.

The thing not getting much report is the fact that Lowell Feld, who RK claims is "one of the nations pre-eminent local bloggers" actually was a supporter of John McCain in 2000. Lowell remains suspiciously quiet about his previous allegiances to McCain and while RK moves to mobilize Virginia into Obama's camp can only muster that McCain is simply Bush in another suit. If that were true I wonder why then Mr. Feld sought to support McCain in 2000 over Bush.

Instead Raising Kaine seeks to use its proven tact of aggressive non-issue Doberman strategies. Which is interesting given the failure against Gerry Connolly.

RK dismissess the fact that John Mccain is a "maverick" or "independent" though of course this is certainly why Lowell Feld embraced McCain in 2000 but in typical fashion simply label him with "McSame" "Bush 3" or my favorite code word "OLD".

An example of what you will get a dose of is how McCain "dumped his disabled first wife". Issue driven dialogue of course.

So while the debate gest formatted, we have to realize that the prism or filter behind Raising Kaine is simply put proponents of the newly formed, modernized "Nanny State" of progressivism.

They are set on destroying the Tobacco industry and the lessor covets of smoking bans, destroying the Coal Industry but offering no endorsement of alternative energy save Solar and Wind, and of course tackling and bringing down the Automobile and Oil companies. They support the "Nanny State" ideals of demanding Government obstruct markets and require regulation as they see fit to bring about their agenda. They believe we all should be mandated to drive less, consume less, only be afforded to opportunity to buy electric, hybrid cars which of course are not Hummers or SUV's, they think that seatbelt laws and smoking bans are required to protect the individual who has to have government look out for them. They want the country to wean itself off of foriegn oil and yet will not support the project proposed by McCain for the creation of new nuke power. RK and the environmental wing claim its due to safety reasons but fail to answer any qustion when posed about our aircraft carriers which for decades have had reactors and have disposed of waste without issue and yet RK completely backs away from the observation that France has 80% of its energy supplied by these plants.

Fact is, if you read many of the diaries at RK you will find that they seem to be fine with the rising prices of oil and its impacts on the country. The result feeds right into their agenda. They seek to require alternative energy requirements and what better way then to fail to address the current economics of oil and the neccesity of drilling with simply sitting back and observing the pain for political gain. If only technology could catch up with RK rhetoric. So while it see drilling as a "gimmick" and tax relief as a"gimmick" it appears quite ready to endorse the raising of Virginia gasoline taxes for transportation upon the Commonwealth.

Remember, Raising Kaine was the driving force behind the repeal of the "abuser fees" which was endorsed by Governor Kaine last year to address transportation funding. Instead of having abusers fuel the funding, RK would rather have the entire Commonwealth pay for it through increased taxes right in the middle of potentially the worst turn in Virginia's economy since the quarters following 9/11.

Which brings me to something that really unnerves me. Raising Kaine always seems to reference 9/11 as an attack on Washington when in fact it was an attack on the Commonwealth of Virginia. They spin it as a way of removing Virginia's economy from the dialogue over the transition from Jim Gilmore to Mark Warner and the issues facing the Commonwealth. They blame Gilmore for Warner having to raise taxes and again called Gilmores car tax relief a "gimmock" when it was the faltering economy of 2002/03 that had greater impact on the revenues than the car tax relife to the State budget. No one could have predicted the shortfalls that would result but of course someone has to be blamed, eventhough the taxes were raised on the Warner's watch.

So while it would sem that Raising Kaine has given the GOP enough to make it a target of its own, but lately it is Democrats from within that are taking the blog to task for its actions. It was be pointed out that RK is also a PAC and raises money for Democrat causes, but in light of Barack Obama apparent indifference to PACS there is some question as to how that will all shake out.

Raising Kaine is not simply a blog. Contributors have access. Contributors have power. Recently, they were provided access to conference calls by Senator Jim Webb (Va) regarding current issues. Lowell Feld worked for the Senators campaign in 2006 after creating the "Draft Webb" campaign. Now, the bloggers have been selected to attend the Democratic Convention in Denver and work the floor of the Delegates and blog from the Convention.

Apparently, many Democrats are beginning to take issue with this embedding. Of course, Raising Kaine has been a huge supporter of Barack Obama and managed to provide a platform for attacks against Hillary Clinton in the Primary that just may have peeved quite a few Virginia delegates. Again, no apologies from RK.

Just the simple promise of coming togther behind the nominee. Funny, I wonder what the posts would be like had Clinton pulled it off. Its always funny how the coming together always seems to be from the perspective of their position and no one elses.

I liken these to years of praise for John McCain being the one Republican , and later Sen. John Warner (R), would would back climate change and support campaign finance reform and be praised for rejecting two rounds of George Bush tax cuts. McCain was praised for his appraisal of political and military failures in Iraq and the requirement for a shift in policy, only to get hit because he was in favor of a remedy that RK and the left opposed; the surge. Evidently, McCain got it half right I guess. But of course he is no "maverick", but simply a cronny of Bush.

But alas, John McCain is the now the opposition and regardless of the fact RK creators such as Lowell Feld supported him in 2000, he must now be treated as the enemy and at the end of the day by doing so the RK contributors appear determined to re-create the Webb/Allen dynamic not through constrcutive political debate and dialogue but through divisive and rather baseless rhetoric aimed personally at a man who many once supported.

I guess people like Lowell Feld and contributors at RK have forgotten that 2000 Primary John McCain had to endore against George Bush. In fact they will not even address how it was John McCain who went into 700 Club territory during the Virginia Primary in 2000 and called Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell "divisive conservatives". So while many contributors embrace the point, they will never see their way to giving McCain the credit that in 2000 they undoubtedly felt he deserved.

Whether or not some Democrats will be successful in its attempt to see that Raising Kaine does not represent Virginia on the floor of the Democratic Convention in Denver, there is hope for the kind of change in politics that Barack Obama has been speaking to in the last few months.

The only problem is that hope cannot be found at Raising Kaine. Apparently, they refuse to change and are simply falling back on the tried and true of yester-campaign.

The "machine" keeps rolling, for now.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

"Voter Friendly" Precincts

Many of you may be receiving notification in the mail in the next few weeks informing you that your polling place has changed. This notification is in direct response to the County Board of Supervisors approving a measure to approve changes to the voting roadmap and precincts in Mataoca, Dale and Bermuda. Midlothian and Clover Hill appear to be unaffected by the measure.

The measure will adjust polling places for those in the Dutch Gap, Chippenham and Wells areas and relocate some polling stations in Enon, Beach, Matoaca, and Meadowbrook.

It is curious that such a measure would be approved so close to a Presidential election cycle and it would be interesting to learn if enough time is actually being provided residents accroding to the State law and provisions of the Board of Elections.

Fact is, we knew this was coming but admittedly not this soon. The next census data I think will become available in 2010 and most likely there will be alot of changes.

One big change should be the expansion of the Board itself. There is no way a Board member can adequetely represent some 80K residents which will most likely be the lower range of the number coming in the census. The Board should be expanded by two members to balance the County needs of true transparency of leadership.

If a compromise must be reached on the expansion, I opt for the creation of one new District, maybe Bon Air to divide up portions of Midlothian and Mataoca and redraw lines for example in large part to the fact that a greater portion of the residential growth has occurred in these areas and then the appointment of an at-large member or at-large electable seat from anywhere in the County.

Barack Obama= "Sotor"?

There was a little piece of the May 25, 2008 Wesleyen University commencement address delivered by barack Obama that had struck me as quite strange and it was not until sitting in church this morning that the context of my uneasyness towrds the statement ran through me.

Barack Obama stated:

"Our individual Salvation depends upon our collective Salvation"

For me, it struct me in the political context at first and then the religious. I wondered just exactly what Obama's true intent was in this statement. It goes against what many of us remember from our bible school days.

Salvation can mean:
Social liberation and healing (liberation theology context)
Being Saved from something (redemption)
Being Saved or Liberated from something (deliverance)

The word "collective" has a very political meaning that may reinforce those critical of American liberalism being on the verge of socialism. Socialism has its roots in the collective and is counter to individualism and the freedoms that ensue. Choice being one. Individual responsibility being another.

Though the intent or meaning of Obama's statement remains unclear, I found it interesting that he spoke such a tone to graduates getting ready to enter the world. I find it very interesting that the next President of the United States feels that salvation can only be delivered within a collective sense.

I contrast Obama often portrayed by many liberals as the Sotor or "saviour" of the Party movement of liberalism/progressivism and yet he view of collective salvation may just be in direct contrast to Peter in ACT2:38) when we learn of the death and resurrection of Jesus and when the people asked:

What must we do?

Peter informed them to "Repent and be baptized onto you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost"-----salvation my friends.

Now I am not an overly religious person but remember the teachings of my youth and know that the views of "collective salvation" and liberation theolgy or social liberation are in direct contrast with things I hold dear, both from a political and religious context.

This requires in my view a deeper re-evaluation of Barack Obama before November.

The 80/80 Solution: Northern Virginia

The time has come when we must begin to shift ourselves from the very present reality of our lives here in Chesterfield County and understand that the very basis of what many of us find as negative impacts regarding our quality of life are not only being influenced by a local Board of Supervisors caught in the nets of the past, a General Assembly that continues to be unable to solve many of our basic road and infrastructure needs, but also the influence of the powers of political regionalism within this Great Commonwealth.

This politicial regionalism has not only influenced the make-up of our General Assembly, and rightfully so I might add, but also influences our Congressional delegation and of course the Office of the President.

I address the 80/80 Solution proposed by Arlington County Democrats as an example of a community set on increasing participation in the process and duty of citizenship. It should be all of our duty to endeavor to participate in every election. Yes every. When voter turnout tops out at 30% in local races it creates a reality that the County leadership is really on interested in serving that percentage while the other seventy pays little attention to County affairs. In the end we get the same return on our investment; not much. The 80/80 solution is an attempt to raise the level of voter turnout in the upcoming 2008 elections for Senate and President and influence the Statewide popular votes for each race.

What is the goal? The goal for Arlington County Democrats is to increase the voter turnout level to 80% of the registered/eligible voters and have 80% of the total votes cast endorsing Barack Obama and Mark Warner. To be sure, Arlington is already a very Democrat orientated community and some would argue the most liberal in the entire Commonwealth.

In 2006, Arlington cast 56% of its eligible voter population which is about 130 thousand. In the 2008 Democrat Primary some 27 thousand votes were cast for Obama and 16 thousand for Clinton while only about 8 or so thousand votes were cast in total in the Republican Primary. Obama would win 62% of the vote, about as much as he won the entire State, in the Arlington Democrat Primary.

So how does this 80/80 Solution relate to Chesterfield?

Here in Chesterfield we have about 186 thousand eligible voters and usually have a turnout of about 56-58%. This rate is at the higher levels of most Virginia localities. Henrico County has 175 thousand and comes in with a turnout of about 58% as in 2006. Much of these areas are part of the 7th Congressional or 4th Congressional Districts. The realtionship between Arlington and Chesterfield is that historically they have represented two different political realities.

Why does this matter?

In the Chesterfield Democrat Primary as many Democrats voted for Obama as in Arlington. In fact he received 71% of the vote in the Chesterfield Democrat Primay with just under 40 thousand votes cast total in the entire Primary. Clinton ran second. The Republican Primary had around 23 thousand votes cast total in the Primary to Arlington's roughly 8 thousand votes cast in their Republican Primary. This is a testament to the campaign environment given this season because historically turnout for Democrats in Chesterfield has been much lower than this level. However, it is also a fact many Chesterfield Republicans stayed home on Primary day if you simply look at the 2006 data for those voting for George Allen in his effort against Sen. Jim Webb. In 2006, some 104 thousand voters entered the polls.

The 80/80 Solution presents a greater problem or at least a very negative dynamic on Chesterfield. It is no secret that Virginia is changing. We have experienced a bit of that here on the local level as well in last Fall's Supervisor races. However, when we are talking about State policy, a policy which will influence such things as transportation, environment, gasoline tax and impact fee policy, the influence of Northern Virginia on policy continues to grow.

There are some 600 thousand eligible voters in Fairfax County alone. Arlington has about 130 thousand and Loudoun (my birthplace) now has 152 thousand. Fairfax County eclipses Chesterfield, Henrico, Hanover, Powhatan and the City altogther based on 2006 election data.
If you were to get 80% of those voters to vote and 80% happened to vote Democrat we will see Virginia become a Democrat State in the Electoral College for many years to come, two Democrat Senators elected repeatedly and a continued Democrat as Governor.

Of course this is the goal. This is the foundation of the movement in Northern Virginia. It has become its own region, literally. Politically it does not seem to mirror any other region in the State. It will endeavor to control the purse strings of the General Assembly in terms of infleunce. It will play the role of gatekeeper of the Electoral College and Senate races as well based strictly on population data and if they can mobilze such a voter turnout.

The political will of other regions and localities could and very may just become politically subservient to the infleunce of a strongly liberal Northern Virginia. In fact, with the retiring of Tom Davis (R) that Congressional seat will most likely be in the hands of either Gerry Connolly or Leslie Byrne by November. Mark Warner can concentrate on Northern Virginia and Barack Obama was just there last week for visists. Locking up this area can deliver the entire State to these men and they know it.


Because you cannot win the Virginia electoral college without winning Northern Virginia. You cannot win the Senate race without winning Northern Virginia either and you will not win the Executive Mansion here in the Commonwealth without Northern Virginia in hand.

Why? The constituents in Northern Virginia are more politically active and angry. In Arlington they sleep a stones throw away from a President and government they hate passionately. I know that sounds rather critical but the reality is it comes down to that, otherwise everything in the blogoshere would not be premising John McCain on being a third Bush term. Nicely done strategy wise, but factually ignorant or at the very least naive. I will follow that line another time. 2/3 of all politcial blogs in Virginia are located in Northern Virginia.

So, Chesterfield if you want to have your future in the hands of another region and you prefer to have those leaders from those localities have overwhelming influence on the entire political structure of the Commonwealth then citizens must endeavor like those in Arlington to get the vote out; to participate, to not sit idly by as we watch our transportation funding dwindle fro Richmond. If the power lies with those localities in Richmond, you can bet it is those localities which will get the lions share of funding from the State budget.

We must determine to make sure that our voices are heard and that we protect our quality of life in Chesterfield regardless of Party, but by making our votes count each an every election and work to get those who would secure our future quality and that of our children, especially our children's schools, to get elected to office at all levels.

Just as in Arlington, now is not the time for apathy but a time for action. Our County continues to grow and if we want to maintain the charm that has always been Chesterfield we must elevate our community involvement. fact is, most of us shy away many times from public politics---its a trait of most conservatives anyway--but while we sit idlely by things are changing.

I grew up in Loudoun County in my early youth and was born in Fairfax County. I have been here in Chesterfield for almost thirty years and I can tell you that Loudoun and Fairfax are not the places they were when I was a child and I can tell you the last thing we want for Chesterfield is have those areas be the models of our future.