Saturday, December 5, 2009

State Sen. Steve Martin(R- 11th)Facebook & New Media

We all know that New Media has become all the rage and in recent years has been leveraged by the political community to organize, fundraise and simply to spread the word regarding issues. That said, what many local leaders are learning is that new media platforms like Twitter and Facebook provide a level of access to voters that in the past was virtually unheard of.

So whats the problem?

Well, access means accountability and such accountability is something all to often our leaders shy away from. We are seeing this in Washington, Richmond and now apparently Chesterfield where leaders must come up to speed on the true nature of New Media taking into consideration the good and the bad.

To voters transparency and access is never abad thing. To Party insiders and various politicians such access can create opportunities for gaffes and embarrassing events that can come back and haunt them come election time. A fine line always must be walked.

For example, in recent days the Army Col. Van T. Barfoot (Ret)story has hit national news wires regarding the Colonel's battle with his Homeowners Association over the placement of a 21 foot flagpole in his yard, which violates certain restrictions within the HOA .

Local State Senator Steve Martin(R-Chesterfield, Colonial Heights), in an effort to bring support to Colonel Barfoot's plight decided to bring the matter up by posting on his Facebook page alerting his some 3,600 friends and followers of his support for the Colonel. But in doing so, the State Senator enters that gray area of having to engage those who follow him on Facebook whom may have a different take on the issue. Afterall, while many people would support the Colonel in his efforts given his service, I doubt those same people would want their next door neighbor to erect a 21 foot flagpole in their front yard.

Afterall, as pointed out in the Martin thread regarding the Colonel's challenge Martin represents a large portion of growing Chesterfield County. This growth has been spurned by many large developments like Charter Colony, Magnolia Green, Roseland, Hallseley, Harpers Mill, Hampton Park, Woodlake, Brandermill and the list goes on that for the most part all of some Homeowner's Association rules or restrictions upon property owners within the developments. Usually, these restrictions or covenants are approved before closing on a property otherwise if a potential buyer does not agree with such rules they can forget ever closing. In addition each month these HOA fees paid by property owners each month further reinforce the contract they have to to abide by such restrictions.

Sen. Martin apparently believes that in the case of Col. Barefoot that the contract he entered into with his HOA is meaningless given the background of the party concerned and the fcat that Col. Barefoot is a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient. Martin even blasts followers on his page for mistakingly using the term "winner" instead of recipient in a harsh manner, but only apparently to single out those that appear to challenge his view on the matter. The use of "winner" is fairly common with those not familar with the honor or the military. Instead of merely taking a second to educate, Martin took the opportunity to throw a jab.

I say "appear" because Martin apparently singles out those that ask for a simple clarification on his position. Instead of clarifying Senator Martin engages in claims of rudeness and disrespect towards his position and merely appears to stand off posting his positon other than to say look at his record.

Martin has been the Senator for the 1tth since 1994 and before that was in the House of Delegates.

So last I checked Sen. Martin was indeed an elected official. Not only is he answerable to the people but it is our duty as citizens to seek from our leaders exactly what their postions are and why they see them the manner in which they do. Apparently, Senator Martin does not subscribe to this view. Martin was simply asked to clarify position of matters regarding the flagpole controversy.

If you read Sen. Martin Facebook post he fails to adequately describe the full matter regarding the issue. He states that the Colonle is a personal friend so one has to weigh that with any judgement, but the matter at hand has nothing to do with banning the flag. Martin seesm to subscribe to the herd mentality of such a controversy in that as patriotic Americans we all think that recipients of the CMOH probaly should be able to do whatever they want to do in terms of the flag.

But in reality, as a comment alluded to on the Martin Facebook page we are all or at least are all supposed to be equal under the law. A contractual obligation or commitment is legally binding regardless of who the party involved is or whether they are a CMOH recipient or not.

Many of you who comment here are veterans and we all share a big place in our hearts for all our vets and all those in the armed services, but even Sen. Martin knows this issue has nothing to do with the CMOH nor does it have anything to do with the flying of our Stars and Stripes, but has to do with the construction of a 21 foot flagpole by which to fly that flag.

I dam sure know that Col. Barefoot has earned my respect, but that does not change the fact that if he were leaving in many other developments throughout Chesterfield he would be violating the HOA rules as well with the construction of the pole in the front yard.

The issue is not who Col. Barefoot is but rather does his pole violate the HOA restrictions. It should not matter as posted on Martin's Facebook page who the person is with regard to the manner in which this issue is resolved and as much respect and compassion we have for Col. Barefoot's fight we all know if it were one of us we would not be able to keep the pole without avoiding a lawsauit costing us thousands of dollars.

What I find rather interesting is a local leader engaging the debate through Facebook with followers, but than when the discussion ventures into analysis of the issue seeks to ridicule and even ask for commentors to cease commenting on his page. In essence, if you do not agree with me and my views stay off the page.

Gee, does Senator Martin represent all the citizens in the 11th or just those that agree with him?

After evaluating the comments, I fail to see anyone acting out of line at all let alone being "disrespectful" or rude. In fact, people appear to be going out of theri way not to offend people by qualifying statements and even a few stating that they are sorry but they see it differently.

Frankly, these leaders must grasp both the pros and cons of New Media. Its a good thing Senator Martin is not a blogger because he very well may be too sensitive for that media genre. The blogosphere is brutal, but if you are going to put yourself out there on Facebook for constituents you had better be a bit more thick skinned than this issue has demonstrated.

Afterall, if you have the opportunity to check it out and if you live in the 11th it may be of interest for you to see just how your State Senator engages voters. I assume the majority of his friends are indeed voters or at the very least Republicans from the area.

I took a gander at some other local leaders and it appears to Sen. Martin's credit he Facebooks much more than most in the area.

In the end, I hope that Col. Barefoot is successful in having that flagpole restriction removed not just himself but for all residents in his community if of course that is the concensus of those living in that community.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

2020: Three Parties- Republican, Democrat & Conservative Party

If the history of political parties is any indication than it may just be time for the American political landscape to once again expand. There were always offshoots or breakaways within history, but its been quite some time since we have seen it in reality. And no Ross Perot does not count.

Seeing as how the Democrats are under the control of the liberal arm of the Party they are certainly becoming the modern day "Do Nothing Party" since gaining control of both houses of Congress. What they are proposing to do will force the right of the Party known as blue dog conservatives further away from them. The GOP which the media left for dead last year is regrouping, but it is apparent its intent is to consolidate much of the social conservative elements of the Party over that of the fiscal conservatives or even the moderates.

Independents will remain stuck right at the center of the political landscape BUT if things keep rolling the way they are on the ground level and Congress keeps acting as if they live in the Beltway Bubble conservatives and moderates on both sides may be forced to leave both parties by 2020.

A Conservative Party could be born in America. The question remains just who would make up that Party. Would it be the Palin conservatives, the Gingrich conservatives or some other force yet to have taken the reigns. Will the GOP be purely the social conservative party or will it be the social conservatives who leave the GOP fold to form the Conservative Party.

Alot could hinge on the 2012 election IMHO. If Sarah Palin is not given the level of respect a former Vice President selection should be given that may lead to a big rift between the grassroots of the GOP and the insiders that frankly control the Party. Lets face it, the insiders and media elite control much of the primary process, whether you are talking about coverage, fundraising or even the debate schedules.

Stay tuned. There is growing discontent with both Parties at an all time high. Throw in universal healthcare, cap and tax, rising income taxes and you have a recipe for political disaster for the two established Parties. Right now they have little fear of a third party movement, but that could change over the next ten years.

Of course, a large part of a true Conservative Party movement would require a ton of money!!!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Loupassi, Ware & O'Bannon Retain House Seats & McDonnell Rolls

Without the turnout numbers from the City coming to pass like last Fall, incumbants M. Loupassi and John O'Bannon win re-election to the House of Delegates. Loupassi's challenger Bill Grogan will likely come in with about 30% and O'Bannon's challenger Tom Shields is estimated to come in with about 40% of the voter once all have reported.

Turnout of course is always a big issue in these off cycle elections and it appears as though turnout was greatest with the older demographic and the younger demographic was well off the 22% turnout number from last Fall. Turnout for the African-American vote that traditionally supports Democrat candidates was well off the highs of last year and will likely show up in the data in the Governors race where Bob McDonnell has won handily over Creigh Deeds along with Bolling and Cuccinelli.

More to follow.

Friday, October 30, 2009

What are We thinking?The beginning of the end of the Free Market?

First of all, I want to freely admit I am no economist. I am however an avid student of history. Will so many credentialed economists in complete disagreement regarding the state of the current economy and the very nature of the so-called "stimulus" package it is no wonder that the average voter feels completely in the dark.

When do we as Americans stand up and finally once and for all tell the elite class that enough is enough?

During the last few weeks we have all heard about the contention that the health care system must be reformed, but does reform have to mean "single-payer" or "public option"? Why is it that so many in Washington on the left of the asile demand that this be the means of providing reform? Why is anyhting less than "single-payer" deemed a flawed and failed approached by liberals and progressives?

In a word; control.

Many Americans today probably still believe they still live within a "free market" capitalistic system. Truth be told that by the end of President Obama's term we very well may not represent anyhting close to free market. Why?

For almost the entire last century our government controlled what amounts to about 15% of the U.S. economy on average. 15% never really felt like very much. What would you say if you were to learn that it is projected that if the U.S. government takes control of the health care system that the government will end up controlling almost 50% of the U.S. economy.

Control? Yes. Power? Yes. This debate on health care is not about health care. Its about a vision that the left has at "transforming the society". Listen to the rhetoric of the left regarding corporations and CEO's. The wealth (private wealth not public wealth) has been equated with greed by the left in an attempt to tarnish those that have been successful in the private sector. This move on healthcare is not about insuring 47 million more people, but about taking over control of a significant aspect of the economy whereby the government has no regulator. In fact, the government will have a monopoly on the system as in the end it will force private insurers out. What are we left with then? Zero options thats what.

How has the government managed to take control over the econonmy virtually under stealth-like conditions? Simple. The Obama administration has used bailouts as a means of gaining entry into various sectors of the economy in order to bring them under control of Washington and out of the free markets. Bailouts in areas such as finance, mortgage, insurance and auto manufacturing have changed the landscape of the free market system. Those that think that the government will return control are naive. The whole notion od "systemic risk" was the equivalent economic scare tactic no different than the accusations that the Bush adminstration used 9/11 routinely as a national security scare tactic.

There are many that will defend this outright intrusion into the private sector. If you take the mortgage industry for example, one has to ask why Fannie and Freedie were neccessary in the first place. Canada does not have a Fannie/Freddie equivalent and yet as a percentage of population only has 1% less in home ownership. In truth, the U.S. Government is the culprit behind the housing crisis. It is an example of how the government intentionally confuses buisness models with social programs. They turned to Fannie/Freddie to dish out millions of subprime mortgages as social policy and through business guided principle.

Americans will be subsidizing the auto industry/manufacturing for the next twenty plus years. There is no quick fix for an industry that has been unable to compete globally for over a decade. Its costs are too high and by having the government in control of the industry it will not be long before the world will begin to perceive the involvement as purely protectionist in nature. Liberals point to the cash for clunkers as some great achievment in the area of sales growth, but the fact is the government in the end is on the hook for paying for those sales in the form of the rebate. Most car buyers under the program are unaware that the rebate is deemed taxable income.

Our annual deficit for 2010 assumes a robust economic recovery. What happens if its not so "robust"? What happens when unemployment continues to rise? Well, for starters in classic liberal social policy unemployment benefits will be increased or extended thus creating an even greater burden on the federal deficit.

At some point we have to get through the smoke and mirrors of Washington. They are simply cashing checks they cannot realistically cash without increasing taxes on every American. What happens should the Chinese decide to cash in its chips regarding America? What if they decide to start selling the dollar? Do we really think that we control our own destiny anymore as the generations before us have?

It is shameful the manner in which this generation in power has betrayed everything the greatest generation and the ones before it have fought to create and defend in this country. Its ironic that a generation that rejected any government authority some forty plus years ago now yields that authority to destroy the very institution of the free market system.

The fact is every major issue being debated right now in the Congress is about control. Its not so much about control of you, but control of the wealth. Remember, we have a President who believes in "redistributing" the private wealth in this country. Never lose sight of that fact.

Its time we start looking through the prism of "redistribution" ideology when we examine anything this government undertakes in the future. if they are successful in taking over health care you can bet the next industry they take on will be energy.

If we are not careful, this government will find some manner in which to take over the energy industry whereby being able to monopolize that sector of the economy as well. Remember in 2007, the Oil Industry CEO's were the bad guys. Expect that rhetoric to return when we see gas prices rise in 2010.

Do you want to live in a Free Market system? If so, its time to get involved and get engaged. If you do not, it will not be long before you or your employer will be under the boot of Uncle Sam.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Real Issue Facing Republicans?

The real issue before the Virginia GOP is not in reality whether or not Bob McDonnell will win the election in ten days. Its a safe bet that he will. Its the divide within the Party that exists today in large part due to various insiders whom have sought to alienate portions of the traditional conservative base that are more fiscal conservative or libertarian in nature. It began early in 2008 with the nomination of Sen. John McCain, but reached its pinnacle moment with the removal of Jeff Frederick. Sure, Jeff said some pretty crazy stuff, but in the end it was insiders who sought to take the Party in an extreme rightward direction away from the majority of those Virginians whom have supported it over the years. The manner in which Fredericks removal was handled illustrates the insidership of the State GOP.

Why is this a problem?

In 2006/07 social issues were elevated to the top of the platform as a means of getting the base out to the polls. It was a strategic move, but it also put the social platform in the cross hairs of the generational divide. I learned very quickly that those absolutely against recognizing homosexual marriage came from two very different groups; one being the baby boomers + and the other the African American community. I can only speak from experience so I will simply say that the former has created a major obstacle for the State GOP going forward. The younger generation of voters have an entirely different perspective on such issues as homosexuality, race relations, equal rights and equal opportunity. Younger people are more open, tolerant and embrace inclusion over exclusion. Younger people value the right of privacy and reject anyone, let alone the government, to dictate choices or limit opportunity. These younger voters IMHO were manipulated by the false promise of change brought about by the marketers behind Obama's campaign.

I have spoken to literally hundreds of younger voters and they all have the same thing to say. Where they are becoming disillusioned with Obama and his administration, both Democrats and Republicans alike, they do not see a platform in the GOP right now that offers them a voice or an agenda to get behind. The biggest issue one would think with young folks would be healthcare if you believe the mainstream media, but in reality its future issues like spending, the environment and job opportunity/security. They know there will be no social security for them. They question the longetivity of such things as 401ks and retirement plans given the moves by Washington to dip into such areas and make changes to such laws impacting saving that are on the horizon. They have the vision to see a bleak economy over the next half decade and yet at the very point in time where they could be brought into the greater Republican community they are being turned away.

Why? Because certain Republican extremists have determined that the country and Virginia must concentrate on a social conservative platform and not a fiscal conservative one. They will use the spending issue as a sword of course, but the real agenda driving these social conservatives is control. Control of your life and control of mine. They believe they know what is best and if you disagree, even if you are a Republican, you are taken to the wood shed. Case in point, Jeff Frederick.

Local bloggers like Tom White over at Virginia Right is an example of the divide that is being created. Mr. White has sought to drive every moderate and fiscal conservative from the State GOP and refers to any Republican who does not put the social conservative platform above all else as a "liberal" conservative. Virginia Right recently made the claim that Henrico County is more conservative, or in his words a stronger shad of red, than even Chesterfield County. His posts illustrate a rejection of the notion that Virginia is an independent/moderate State. Some refer to this as being a "purple" voting State. To some, being "purple" is exactly what is needed in that it allows voters to take a look at candidates independently and make determinations accordingly based on the individual not the Party. Tom White rejects this. According to Virginia Right if you supported John McCain last Fall you are a "liberal-Republican". He fails to account in all his "analysis" why it is his own Henrico has such a poor showing as of late regarding conservative candidates. He downplays his vote of course as simply a vote for Palin and not for McCain or a vote against Obama not one for McCain.

White calls Henrico County home. Henrico supported Kaine over Kilgore, Obama over McCain, Warner over Gilmore and by less than a percent supported Allen over Webb. Compared to Chesterfield County, thats a pretty strong anti-conservative record that Virginia Right chooses to ignore when he blasts fellow Republicans in Chesterfield for not being conservative enough. Afterall, Chesterfield delivered support to Kilgore, McCain and Allen. Virginia Right's frustration is solely directed at "moderates". White refers to these voters as "liberal Republicans" not moderates. These voters are the biggest problem in White's eyes. He sees these voters as traitors to the cause. The problem is Virginia Right does not seem to grasp just what the real "cause" is.

The future of the GOP and the roadmap for succes is not through divisive attacks or trying to figure out which group is "more conservative" or anything like that, but by creating a vision for the Party that is rooted in core principles based on fiscal conservatism. The future or death of the formal GOP will be dertermined not by the aging population of the baby boomer generation now with the greater demographic, but by the younger generations to come as well as the growing Hispanic population throughout the country. True conservatism applied to such issues as immigration very well may bring that future into the fold, but people like Tom White will have none of that. White sees the GOP has more of a club. His posts at Virginia Right demonstrate his intent on discriminating against certain Republicans. Your welcome as long as you do what your told and follow the line of the social conservatives.

You would think that a candidate like Jim Gilmore would have provided an opportunity for Virginia to demonstrate just how "conservative" the Commonwealth really is and yet Mark Warner brought in more Republican support than any other statewide candidate since Chuck Robb. Virginia Right provides no analysis for this other than accusing all those Republicans who supported Warner as dead weight in the State GOP. Again, traitors to the cause.

After a series of hard fought battles for statewide office, the State GOP must continue to examine its platform. These battles will always be close in Virginia because of the extreme influence of independents and moderates. Tom White would alienate these voters. Banish them from the State GOP and leave the Party with about 26% of the electorate. The GOP needs to push past such advocates.

Bob McDonnell right now is winning the middle ground over Creigh Deeds. Bob is running the kind of campaign that needs to be run to win in Virginia. Bob has avoided the divisive side of politics that often follows many social conservatives. Bob understands the the Virginia voter and those attending the State GOP convention are very very different. The latter are very conservative and lean more towards the far right of the Party whereas the average Virginian comes down somewhere in the middle. This is why Virginia has a long track record of split ticket voting. It is not uncommon for us in Virginia to elect a Democrat as Governor and than support a Republican in the White House and this year vice versa.

Fact is not all Republicans are social conservatives and not all Democrats in Virginia are "liberals". There is a swell of voters in the middle, but instead of attempting to deliver a majority of them to the polls in support of the GOP, people like Tom White seek to alienate them. He seeks to ridicule and offer platitudes of prejudice against even self-professed Republicans claiming they are not "conservative enough".

He states that support for Sen. McCain is whats wrong with the Republican Party and that McCain is merely a liberal like the Snowe, Spector and others. I guess he also would throw in Lindsey Graham as well, but in reality maybe Tom White does not have to look any further than his own backyard. Eric Cantor (R-7) seems to fall off his radar and yet Cantor voted for much of what is wrong with Washington right now. How about all those bailouts? Gee, Cantor in the House, heavy weights like McCain, Graham and Snowe in the Senate all in a position of leadership and power and they are all "liberal Republicans" according to Tom White?Wow. Where all all those social conservatives. Oh thats right, most of them were defeated in the House and Senate races since 2006.

The difference between the fiscal conservative and social conservative is attitude. Fiscal conservatives are more than willing to work with all conservatives to bring about a reduction of taxes, spending, regulation and the size and scope of goverment without question in order to provide solutions for America's future. It is apparent through Tom White that we see that social conservatives have no esire to work with anyone who does not seek to elevate its issues to the front of the platform and cares very little for expanding ideas and growing the ranks through open dialogue and a genuine love for the country and ALL its people.

If people like Tom White are not careful their wish will eventually come true. The problem is there is not much you can do in politics with less than 30% of the vote. Not much at all folks. An unwillingness to compromise and expand the Party very well may be the GOP' undoing here in Virginia. Fortunately, Bob McDonnell does not subscibe to such radical viewpoints as Virginia Right or at the very least Bob has not in the execution of his duties acted in like fashion and could possibly go a long way to rebuilding the State GOP that was crushed last Fall throughout the Commonwealth.

The State GOP has real issues facing its future, but this divisive battle being waged by such people as Tom White against the rank and file should not be one of them. Evidently the heat is getting a bit hot for him over at Virginia Right these days. I hear that he has actually invoked moderation over at Virginia Right. Moderation? Yeap. Just another way to silence critics folks and control the dialogue. Who can blame him? He and the Henrico GOP have their hands full these days over there fighting back (or even denying) the voting trends.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Delegate John O'Bannon Outed on Health-Related Record

Again, I have not seen such a hotly contested Delegate race and at times full of those campaign grenades often thrown out by staffers or supporters than what is going on currently in the final weeks of the race in the 73rd. Given my district's race is about as boring as it gets, I can't help but jump over to the 73rd where the action is. Afterall, Loupassi is a lock.

Just to prove that some of us do not blidly support candidates with an (R) or a (D) after theri name and actually have some intellectual integrity when it comes to issues and refuse to allow polticians to serve up platitudes by the mouthful I am tackling the 73rd.

Republican incumbant John O'Bannon and his supporters have been consistent at making sure that the "only physician in the House of Delegates" point has been routinely articulated either through tv commercials, canvassing or campaign literature. This of course is a very timely and strategic move given the national focus on heathcare reform out of Washington and all the town hall meetings these days.

There is just one big problem. Dr. O'Bannon after some nine years in the House of Delegates seems to have rarely sponsored health related bills that are to the direct benefit of the consumer. Instead all to often, Dr. O'Bannon has sponsored legislation, which for the most part has failed to pass in the House even with Republican majority, that entrenches the heathcare industry.

The Shields campaign has failed to deliver in these last few weeks a real arguement against O'Bannon or highlight his real record as an incumbant. Instead, it seems they are content to rely on the usual pro-choice groups whom have criticized O'Bannon for his pro-life positions on abortion. This is a mistake. The holes in the notion of the O'Bannon camp's contention regarding O'Bannon have little to do with the pro-life/choice debate but more about whose side O'Bannon is really on in the House concerning heath-related issues.

The pro-choice line of attack falls on deaf ears to those who do not consider abortion a prominent political issue. By this I mean most independents and moderates. Of course, the arguement can be made by the left that O'Bannon hardly cares about patient rights if he endorses legislation that would restrict a woman from doing with her own body what she choses. I think Shields needs to use an entirely different tact.

I think if the Shields camp really wants to begin to draw some distinctions between O'Bannon's claim of being the kind of Delegate looking out for patients(citizens) just as he has done for his own real life patients and his actual sponsorship record in the House. Now is the time Mr. Shields.

If you review the record, one finds a significant number of bills sponsored by O'Bannon that directly benefit corporate entities in the healthcare or medical industry and not patients.
For example, in HB250 O'Bannon sought to allow HMO or managed care health insurance plans that were newly established to obtain licensing before actually being certified of quality assurance by the State Health Commission. In essence, O'Bannon sought to streamline the process for insurers. In HB382, O'Bannon sought to make information exchanged by medical committees or medical review boards or even advisory committees "privileged" and inadmissible in a court of law. So much for patient rights folks in the case of malpractice or civil suits.In HB252, O'Bannon sought to establish bureau of Health Insurance within the SCC . In HB2455, O'Bannon sought to extend tax credits and incentives to biosciences and other technologies which would exempt equity and subordinated debt. HB563 O'Bannon sought to expand the "conscience clause" from doctors to such areas as pharmacology. In essence, here O'Bannon was seeking to permit a pharmicist for example to exercise the clause and not dispense say contraception to a patient. Evidently, as articulated by pro- choice groups O'Bannon sees "contraceptions" as abortants. This can also be reviewed in SB1104 more in depth.

Others; HB 1884 patient communication
HB247- require all hospitals involved in diversion to use electronic health records

The theme running through virtually all of these bills Mr. Shields are they come down on the side of business and industry and NOT patient care. O'Bannon has spent little time in the House being a patient advocate as so many of his canvassers have professed. Its time to step up in your campaign and hold O'Bannon accountable for just whose interests he has been looking out for.

Mr. Shields here's a hint. Start with Republican John O'Bannons Bio and work backward.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Call for Del. O'Bannon (R-73) to Put an End to the Lies

The race in the 73rd is a very good chance of boiling over. The reason for this is the fact that the Republicans believed that the seat in the House of Delegates would be relatively safe in this years election cycle. But that was nine months ago.

Incumbant, Dr. John O'bannon while certainly maintaining an edge in fundraising and community support is in a fight. How we respond to such adversity is a measure of who we are both as people and as leaders.

Dr. O'Bannon has an opportunity to call out his supporters, especially bloggers, who have been outright and blatant misrepresentation of ACORN's involvement in the 73rd race in an attempt to use the backlash (and rightfully so) to recent released videos to do nothing more than smear the Shields camp unjustly.

It is one thing for supporters of O'Bannon to call for Shields to denounce his former boss in Rep. Bobby Scott (D) support for the organization, but it is entirely different to link or disparage Mr. Shields or his campaign by saying they are in realtionship with ACORN.

In fact, ACORN has not been involved in any activities regarding the 73rd nor is it according to their office involved in any active canvass or voter registration drives in the area over the course of this race.

Certain over zealous and frankly factually challenged bloggers continue to attempt to link Shields and ACORN and thus it should be Dr. O'bannon's responsibility to call on those supporters to let the race stand on the issues and not on just inflammatory and falsehoods. His supporters will cry "this is politics", but is not this kind of stuff exactly what most of us have been voicing we detest anout the whole process?

Is not this kind of thing exactly why many ggod qualified people do not enter political life? It has nothing to do with the "heat" but who wants to deal with the kinda crap these folks have to deal with now given the new media.

Whose to blame? We are. We tolerate this kind of campaigning where bloggers shill for campaigns with falsehood and inuendo void of fact.

O'Bannon should put an end to this and allow the campaigns to get back to issues. O'Bannon will likely be victorious anyway, but how he wins may tell us more about the man himself and the kind of leader he truly is.

Pride cometh before the fall Sir. In winning in this manner, you very well may lose more than you will ever know.

Do the right thing.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Alter "The Dabbler" Chimes In

Okay folks after quite a few emails from folks, which of course I would never post on this blog, pointing me in the direction of the blog Virginia"Right" today regarding a post in which he references me directly I do not really feel compelled to answer the laughable babble posted over there, but to humor those of us who always need a really good chuckle and want to tip toe into the goes.

First, many have emailed me to remove the link to Virginia"Right" in large part due to his personal attacks against not only myself but evidently the folks that rant here from time to time.

I will not. I believe in free speech and think that we as Virginians should probably hold it closer to our hearts than others if you know our history. Now, that does not mean that I endorse Mr. White's views simply because I offer a link, but rather it offers folks here another avenue to explore regarding local politics. I linked the blog in large part due to the fact there are very few focusing on local matters and Mr. White's interest in the 73rd race was compelling.

For all I know the two of us could have been sitting near each other a recent debates or meetings. Its an interesting race on the issues alone, however, some have sought to inflame that race with national themes that are a bit misplaced. I mean if folks want to keep focusing on what divides us instead of getting solutions to the table thats their right.

Mr. White attempts to set forth wild accusations and plays association politics in his analysis of myself and the race in the 73rd for that matter. Somehow, ironically Mr. White believes that a $500 contribution by the SEIU is somehow equates to greater influence than 100,000 contributed by an industry such as the medical industry. He for some reason continues to link comments made regarding the insurance aspect of healthcare to my detailed examination of he contributions by somehow equating that because Dr. O'Bannon has not be getting "insurance money" that he is in the clear on the issue. Please.

Correct me if I am wrong-and of course you can bet Mr. White will- but without insurance companies where exactly would the following be:

Hospital Corp of America
Virginia Assisted Living
Southern Physicians
Medical Society of Virginia
Virginia Independent Insurance Agents
Virginia Nurses Assn
Virginia Dental Assn

The above have contributed along with others to the tune of 101,182 (Healthcare related), 18,531 -political pacs and the like and another 18,200-real estate/developer to the O'Bannon campaign in large part since the annoucement of the challenger. Compared to that $500 contribution I can see why its such a concern-snark.

Virtually most of all of Tom Shields contributions have come either from the Democrat Caucus or Party Pacs and individuals throughout the region. Then there is that SEIU donation, which of course they make to most Democrats, that Mr. White is so offended by and yet probaly has little clue as to exactly how much within the Commonwealth gets touched by members of SEIU locals. Afterall, if you happen to be a part of that organization you must be a lover of Acorn right? Thats about as stupid as saying all tea baggers and town hall protestors are racist folks.

There are plenty of members of SEIU that are not aligned with Andy Stern who sits on Acorns Advisory Council and to make the assertion that because Shields accepts $500 from a labor union he somehow embraces an element (Acorn) that may be linked in some parts of the country to SEIU is absurd.

If you want to challenge Shields effectively and with intellectual integrity instead of gutter mining maybe Mr. White would be better served by informing his readers just why SEIU is such a threat. That would illustrate more effectively than some ludicrous and meaningless link to Acorn. Why?

Simple. SEIU is a big supporter of Card Check and ending Virginia's Right to Work State status.

Does Mr. Shields support card check? Would he support ending the right to work status? These are fair and valuable questions far better serving the public than Acorn inflamatories and diatribes. Mr. White leave that to Glenn Beck- he is more effective.

It is obvious that Mr. Shields has run a viable campaign, otherwise there would not be the need for such attacks brought about by the lickes of Virginia"Right". If he wasn't you would hear about as much about Shields in the blogosphere as you do Grogan and Rheinhart both challenging incumbant Republicans in Chesterfield.

Fact is, when there is no real differences on the issues in reality the only resort is to try and create controversy. Evidently Mr. White learned very little from the UR debate. They seem to agree quite a bit on most issues. In fact, it was more like an introduction than a debate.

I have made it clear that I fully expect Dr. O'Bannon to win re-election, but I absolutely love that fact that he is having to work for it. As he and all leaders should. This cycle is more of a testing of the waters IMHO. The shape and demo of the 73 has been changing for a few years now so it will be interesting to see how it comes down. I said in July, I expect Shields to take the City and the old annexed section in Southside where O'Bannon will be strongest in Henrico.

In no post have I ever endorsed either candidate. I have simply stated the obvious; its a race. I make no assertions about Henrico other than to say that the GOP over there will get the vote out, but here in the Southside I have been involved in enough races over the years to see alot of "mo" for the challenger. Thats par for the course though given the City portion traditionally votes Democrat. The real news is that Shields appears poised to get them to the polls, something many Dems will struggle to do this cycle given its an off year election and there no "OBAMA" on the ticket. I expect turnout to be below average which benefits the incumbant.

I see very little more than partisan diatribe on the part of Virginia"Right" with no real analysis and for the record Mr. White its not how many times you swing the bat but how many times you make contact!!!

This "dabbling" is rather fun-----but the steaks are done....

Support Another Term for Loupassi!

This years election is quickly approaching and many canvassing teams will be out in force this weekend around the area. We are beginning to see those signs go up around the corridor along Robious and Huguenot which is a good thing. The larger banner signs for Bob McDonnell are up with zero Deeds signs showing up along the major arteries throughout the area. These areas are in and around Bon Air are Robious, Huguenot and Buford Roads that get alot of the traffic during the week.

The most popular sign intersection is always Buford& Jahnke Road in the Crestwood area of the Midlothian District, Chesterfield. It is always interesting to see the sign wars every cycle.

A few bloggers recently cast some pretty broad assertions regarding some sign vandalism, but in the end I think its pretty obvious to all who live here in the area it was merely kids out late engaging in some horseplay. The notion it was some conspiracy by those supporting Deeds for example is not only baseless in fact but ridiculous. Afterall, who knows anyone around here supporting Deeds anyway-hahaha.

We must not forget that we have some House races that will be on the ballot. These should not be taken for granted at the polls. The House of Delegates must be there to help Bob McDonnell set forth his agenda OR check Creigh Deeds should he somehow manage to erase the current five point deficit ij the next month or so.

Manoli Loupassi should win handily, but we should all still make sure that we get everyone out to the polls and not take anything for granted. I have not posted much about Loupassi over the last year or so because lets be honest; there has really just not been much to talk about. Loupassi will have to step up this term and deliver on the promises that helped him win election in the first place. Loupassi has not impressed, but he has not disappointed either.

Loupassi deserves the opportunity to deliver on his pledges, especially government reform and ethics. Many of us would love to see that come about in the Assembly.

Friday, September 25, 2009

73rd House District: O'Bannon v. Shields

The race in the 73rd House District is heating up. There has been some considerable interest in this particular race which pits incumbant Dr. John O'Bannon (R) versus challenger Tom Shields. Its a really interesting matchup because if you get the opportunity to speak with these two men you will find that they are very close on many of the issues. In fact, I would say that Shields in my view is the equivalent of a blue dog ( thats politico speak for Conservative Democrat).

As such, Shields is coming under fire from bloggers who understand the threat of his bid for Delegate. Some have resorted to the worst kind of association politics in an attempt to bring irrational debate and take focus away from the real issues at hand facing the Commonwealth.

The two men recently squared off in a rather civil debate at the University of Richmond as compared to many of the recent depictions of the various town halls going into September. If the viewer expected any fireworks they were most likely disappointed.

What did not come up and was quite surprising was the status of the Commonwealth's budget with regard to employee benefits, healthcare and retirement. Healthcare being such a large aspect of the current national debate could have easily been brought into the debate by the Shields camp regarding contributions and donations to Dr. O'Bannon by way of the healthcare and medical industry. This industry according to VPAP represent the biggest donor percentages of any segment to the O'Bannon campaign.

This race could boil over in the next few weeks. The O'Bannon camp must figure out why it is losing support in the City areas of the district while Bob McDonnell in the same canvass is rolling right along. If O'bannon is counting on the top of the ticket helping him out, his campaign may want to rethink that strategy. The groundgame being orchestrated by Tony Coppola and the Shields camp is becoming very effective.

It doesn't hurt that its Tom Shields himself out there knocking on those doors either.

In fact, recently a few bloggers have misrepresented the Shields support as coming from the likes of disgraced groups such as ACORN/SEIU when in fact the Shields camp has never been a recipient of any funds directed either by ACORN of any of its known arms. ACORN currently faces countless investigations and the attempt to link Shields to the organization is simply an attempt to mislead and malign the Shields campaign.

In fact, O'Bannon has secured more donations from organizations and business interests both in and out of the 73rd. Such donors include Medical Society of Virginia, Virginia Dental Assn, Virginia Ind. Insurance Agents, Hospital Corp of America, Virginia Asst Living, Southern Physicians as well as such Richmond mainstays as Ukrops, Goodwin, and Reynolds.

Healthcare related donors account for some 101,000 to the O'Bannon campaign. This makes since given the O'Bannon is of course a Doctor and a Director of Henrico Doctors Hospital. That said, its interesting given the current climate in the healthcare debate whether Shields can leverage the issue regarding exactly whom O'Bannon may be beholden to given these donors and the current state of healthcare. The bills in Congress will likely require State legislators to sign off on certain aspects of the plan with regard to participation.

Tony Copploa, campiagn manager for Tom Shields , has worked an excellant ground game in the 73rd and though Shields has been out-raised by the incumbant, virtually all of the donations Shields has received is FROM the 73rd and from individuals. The largest exception being the donation from the Democrat Caucus, which is seeing the potential in the candidacy of Shields while others in the area have little chance of defeating the incumbant Republican.

Shields recently was endorsed by the Virginia Education Assoc. which has elevated his campaign and local PTA's are enthusiastic about his candidacy.

If you want to understand exactly what kind of guy the 73rd could get in Shields, this says it best:

"We need to reach across the aisle and see what we can do to make the Commonwealth better, not two years from now, but 20"

You got that right. If citizens understood just what dire times lie down the road if the State does not fix its budget woes and have to fund the benefit situation of an ever increasing State employee pool they would get the very point Shields is making.

This race very well may boil down to whom exactly citizens feel the elected Delegate will look after most, them or the those that have contributed for influence. Voters and the Shields campiagn for that matter should examine exactly what the O'Bannon record is on heath related issues during his time in the House and balance that record with his campaigns contributions.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ask the Chairman (Governor) Kaine- Healthcare

WRVA 1140 (AM Radio) in Richmond hosted Tim Kaine today for his monthly "Ask the Governor" call in show and by all indication the current healthcare debate is certainly resonating with many in Central Virginia.

The majority of the questions served Gov. Kaine this morning were in the area of Healthcare Reform and the Economy. Virginia, like many States, has seen Unemployment rates climb steadily in recent years. Virginia still ranks in the Top 5 for Employment based on current rates where Virginia is approaching almost 7% unemployment. Virginia, in large part due to the growth of both the State and Federal government and appropriations and contracts flowing from Washington into the region has faired much better than most States.

One major admission made by Gov. Kaine this morning was his support for the implementation of health insurance access across State lines. This has been something that Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats in Congress have long supported and just may turn up in the final Healthcare reform bill.

However, Gov. Kaine's full endorsement of the "public option" seems very intriguing given at no time in his term as Governor has he proposed such a plan very similar to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for here in Virginia. Kaine spoke to "portability" for the public, but failed to provide the impact of such programs would have on the bottom line regarding the funding of the public option.

While I think everyone would support "portability", it is a matter of record that there are already in place programs to do just that not only here in Virginia but also nationally. For example, the Federal Consolidated Omnibus Budget reconciliation Act (COBRA) requires group plans sponsored by employers with 20 or more employees to offer "continuation of coverage" for employees and dependents for up to 18 months following departure from the company. Of course, the individual would be responsible for the premium (whole) during the term but they would remained insured. Kaine also failed to mention that State employees under Code 2.2-2818 that Virginia shall provide a credit toward the cost of health insurance coverage for former State employees who have retired under the Virginia retirement System, State Police Officer's Retirement System, Judicial Retirement System, Virginia Law Officer's Retirement System and others. Thats quite a few systems to manage by the State.

Recently, the VRS has come under fire. Virginia is sitting with close to a four billion dollar shortfall in large part to increasing costs associated with retirees, benefits, workers comp and other insurance related areas that are outpacing inflation. We as citizens must understand that the impacts of growing State government is rarely felt in the early years of the creation of departments or jobs increasing the payroll but in the later years when those employees have reached there fifteenth anniversary and later retire.

It is also important to note that one retires with the benefits of the last highest position held with State government and its benefits are determined based on that grade during the enitre retirement. An example of this can be illustrated by a member of the General Assembly leaving political life and then taking a position in State Government as an unelected official. Regardless of how long the individual was say a Delegate or State Senator, after a few years in grade the retirement would be graded at the full benefit of that position and not the former elected office.

Kaine also failed to mention that in Virginia, we spent 9,224 per government employee enrolled in health benefits program in 2008 and in 2007 the State spent 614 million in medical, behavorial health and pharmacy for the States almost 100,000 employees. In 2008, that cost rose to 714 million.

Kaine had an opportunity to inform the public regarding the program COVA Connect, provided State employees through Optima Health (Sentara Healthcare) in the Beach region that is an experimental program covering 17,000 State employees. This two year contract is costing the State 5 million a year in "administrative" costs according to the Department of Human Resource Management. That contracted amount would amount to 10 million to cover 17,000 for two years. It begs the question what the real costs would be before savings to roll this program out to the roughly entire 100,000 active State employees. Do not misundertsand me, COVA Connect offers some real promise towards addressing the issues of preventative care. 20% of State employees are smokers and 35% do not exercise on a regular basis according to Optima.

An important aspect of the program however that can be set against the debate in Washington is the fact that the State employees , predominately in the Hampton Rhodes area ,are asked within the COVA Connect program to leave their doctors behind. Thats the rub. If we are experimenting with a program at the government level which would ask (force) employees to leave their doctors than what is the real notion behind what Kaine is endorsing in his idea of the public option where he states he thinks people will be able to keep their doctors and plans should they desire to do so. Why could not the COVA Connect be implemented in the same manner without having employees have to leave their doctors behind.

The State and Optima are said to be tracking the program and will evaluate the program to determine viability for the entire government pool and the Virginia Governmental Employees Association is also very interested in the results.

By the way, this program replaces Anthem's COVA Care in the Hampton, Virginia Beach region which may attribute to the situation regarding which doctors are in the current program and which ones were available through Anthem. Not exactly a true "option" regarding physician selection.

In listening to the conversations Gov. Kaine was engagin in this morning the more and more I am convinced that if the State truly wants to solve many of its problems regarding costs related to healthcare it must go the route of full "self-insurance".

What does it mean to be "self-insured"?

The rising costs associated with healthcare as pointed out by Kaine are a direct result of the lack of competition or bids for the State plan and in many areas some insurers have a monopoly. The only way for sel-insurance to work is through large participation to begin with and pool funding at the onset by the General Assembly to implement to measure. The benefit is that most people pay more IN premiums than they spend out in claims. Basically, State employees would pay in a set amount per period just as if they were paying an insurance premium through payroll deduction or buying an alternative health policy. Instead of those proceeds going to the insurance company they are directed to the "pool". Funds are then drawn out of the pool to cover the medical expenses for those enrolled. How can the State handle this?

The State can simply contract the administrative service or claim aspect out which would also create jobs in the greater economy. These are known as third party adminstrators. In some aspects there is also the ability to go the route of re-insure as well in other areas of insurance as well.

The key to self-insurance for the State which undoubtedly would save millions of dollars is wellness. The State would have to determine to make wellness and fitness a priority which would mitigate claims and costs associated with poor health.

Self-Insured plans are subject to the Federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), handled by the Department of Labor.

Kaine's objective today it seems was to support Obama's Healthcare agenda or at the verty least the Congressional plan as it appears as though Obama really has not released a plan yet of his own for the nation to review and yet across the board within State government never seemed to take responsibility for the rising costs of State government and the shortfalls with the budget othern than to say that costs are spiraling out of control.

Frankly, as long as we allow the government to expand at both the State and Federal level "costs" will never be reigned in. In healthcare alone, we are spending today over 9,224 per State employee and the more we expand government and grow its ranks the larger that number will become. How will we fund those expenses?

According to Kaine, taxes will certainly be raised in Virginia. Yeah, just not on his watch. I guess is better politics to leave that burden to the next adminstration by leaving those shortfalls to the budget, but then why should we be surprised Kaine's predecessor in Mark Warner did the exact same thing to him.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Shields Proving To Be A Challenger

73rd House District-

Eventhough the climate up in Washington these days could hardly be worse for Democrats, that does not neccessarily translate into State Democrat candidates being beaten up at the polls in November.

Democrat challenger Tom Shields is going toe to toe with the Republican incumbant in a rather interesting battle. The lines in this contest are hardly clear. Republican John O'Bannon is faced with having (for the first time since entering office) to canvass large areas of the district. The biggest criticism levied at O'Bannon has been his lack of engagement with consituents. One voter in the 73rd basically told me that O'Bannon likes to play up the fact he is the only doctor in the House of Delegates, but what good is a doctor to you if you can never get an appointment to see him? Its an interesting analogy given the fact that countless constituents have complained that O'Bannon has in the past taken their votes for granted.

So what is in store for the O'Bannon campaign? Along night on election day possibly. The 73rd has parts of Henrico County and Richmond that had significant rise in supported for Democrats last year. Warner and Obama both faired better than many previous Democrats in the area. There is a rebellion of sorts out there focused on the establishment. Its not just directed at Democrats but ALL incumbants. People are asking what exactly their leaders have delivered on their behalf and whether they offer transparency and access to constituents. It does not seem to matter which Party a politician belongs in this regard.

An example is the transportation debate which very well may in the coming weeks trickle down from the McDonnell/Deeds race. People will focus on the solutions offered up by the GOP in the House over the last two years and then evaluate many Delegates accordingly. O'Bannon has very strong credentials from such interests concerned with Family Values, Gun Legislation, and Chamber of Commerce. The arguement being waged is O'Bannon has failed to deliver a balanced agenda and has failed in areas of Labor, Environment, Conservation, Education, and most importantly Government Reform and its beginning to register with many older voters in the 73rd.

Recent get togethers in the 73rd with likely voters has seen a rise in the interest of Tom Shields as a candidate. One such event recently had a straw poll where Shields earned almost 60% of the vote.

A recent attempt to somehow tarnish Tom Shields with the recent voting record of Democrat Congressman Bobby Scott seems a bit oof a reach. Shields was for a time Bobby Scott's legislative assistant where he undoubtedly learned to cut his teeth on the process, but to somehow link Shields to his former boss in this regard is highly inflammable AND dangerous for those supporting O'Bannon. Hell, I have worked for plenty of people I did not agree with. Its the equivalent of saying if your a State employee than you are linked to everything Gov. Kaine says and believes.

Regardless, O'Bannon get the vote out better be kicked in high gear. Shields is winning the dialogue with voters through his schedule of meetings, canvassing and phone banking himself. O'bannon seems to be losing a foothold in the south side of the City area as well based on recent canvass results.

Six or so weeks. The clock is ticking. Your move Delegate O'Bannon.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Chesterfield County NAACP (24th Annual Freedom Fund Banquet)

Anyone who was out and about this Holiday Weekend day and past by the Holiday Inn in the Koger Center in Chesterfield County probably noticed hundreds of campaign banners and signs alongside the roads in and around the hotel that almost resembled a polling station.

The Chesterfield County Branch of the NAACP is holding its 24th Annual Freedom Fund Banquet at the hotel which also will celebrate the 100 years since the NAACP was founded.

It is all of of our hopes that in celebrating 100 years we since the inception of the NAACP that we all can reflect on all the progress we as a nation have made with regard to the advancement of colored people and other minorities. We are an imperfect people and nation for that matter, but it should be the hope and desrie of all Americans the recognize the long journey that was undertaken some 100 years ago and lives with us today.

It is interesting to note for all you politicos out there who routinely like to box people or group people in terms of political ideology that the signs surrounding the hotel were predominately Bob McDonnell, Bill Bolling and Ken Cuccinelli signs with but a handful of Creigh Deeds scattered amongst the sea of red, white and blue signs. Many in the national media would not associate too many Republicans with any kind of NAACP event, but than thats just where they demonstrate media bias. Either that or they simply just have never been to Chesterfield County!! There is strong support for Republican candidates traditionally in Chesterfield by the African-American and minority community. If the media had bothered to cover a recent local Tea Party organized early summer this would have easily been demonstrated, but then our folks in the media are not terribly concerned with portraying anyhting that does not fit into its formulated agenda now are they?

There is a reason why Chesterfield County is a First Choice Community and its simply that we do not by into the divisive notions of division within our community and we all as citizens can step back and appreciate just how far and how hard the NAACP has worked over the last 100 years. All the best to the Chesterfield County Branch as you celebrate tonight a great achievement.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

73rd House Seat: Shields Making Headway

With all of the attention being played on national policies like Healthcare these days, little covergae is being given to various local races throughout the Commonwealth this Fall. One of the more interesting races is right here in the Richmond area for the seat representing the 73rd district in the House of Delegates.

Incumbant, Dr. John O'Bannon-R is being challenged by University of Richmond, Director of the Center for Leadership in Education Tom Shields. Shields announced his candidacy early this year with very little fanfare frankly, but as the months have passed Shields has been gaining momentum.

Shields can attribute this "mo" to the fact that he is waging a community by community campaign and has embraced hitting the street and meeting with residents of the 73rd. Shields has not simply gone the way that so many incumbants do with so-called "meet and greets", but rather has systematically hit major neighboorhoods and knock on doors and spoken with residents on their own porches delivering a focused message.

Shields is hitting those streets that in the past may very well have voted Republican and not merely focusing on trying to get the historic Democrat vote out at the polls. This strategy is paying off. His name recognition is climbing as a result of a campaign maintaining a consistent strategy. (Maybe the Deeds camp should be calling these folks for advice)

The payoff? To be honest I can attest to many former McCain supporters from last fall taking a second look at Shields in this race. Why? Neglect. The biggest issue facing incumbant O'Bannon is in reality the perception to many that he is disengaged with constituents. That criticism is always a hard one to overcome, but the O'Bannon camp is trying. For many residents it is the first time that Republican volunteers are working to get the vote out in this district for a "local" race. Many folks have expressed the feeling that they fel as though their votes appear to have been taken for granted in years past and given the rising tide of apathy toward Washington and the political game lately that hurts any incumbant.

Many bloggers left this race in the 73rd alone early this year in large part because it looked as if it was pretty much a safe seat for the Republicans. It appears as though many bloggers took for granted those votes as well.

Shield's folks have stopped by my parents home in the 73rd at least three times. Once to introduce Tom Shields, then to touch base and then to followup on some answers to some questions.

Shields has held 2 town halls, one on the economy and one on education, this month with plans on a few more before Election Day. I was particularly interested in the Education meeting. It intereested me because Virginia Democrats have always historicially taken education on as a campaign piece and I wanted to see if Shields was planning on offering something substantively different than many other Democrats.

There is no doubt in my mind that Shields has the Education debate down solid and his background can attest to his understanding of the issues facing our local school systems throughout the Commonwealth. The problem though is if your a voter and you did not get the opportunity to hear Shields speak on Education and you get word that the Virginia Education Association Fund has endorsed him there could be a real disconnect. Many voters, especially Independent ones, in the 73rd will see such an endorsement as a negative given rising criticisms on entrenched educational bureaucracy that has created much of the unneccessary expenses associated with the education budget.

I have no doubt that Tom Shield' head and heart is in the right place on Education, but only a few months remain to see if he can reach more voters on other issues facing the Commonwealth. For example, where does Shields stand on Transportation? On Federal Stimulus Money allocation?

If you happen to be one of the fortunate voters with the opportunity to have Tom Shields knock on your door; a few questions

Where do you stand on leasing out the Virginia Lottery to a management company?

Would you support the privatization of the Virginia Alcohol Board of Control (VABC)?

What released plans offered by the Deeds or McDonnell campaign could you endorse?

As an educator, where do you stand on illegal immigrants receiving State Finanacial Aid for college?

How would you as a Delegate work with the Congressional Delegation to get Federal permission for rights to the Virginia Rest Areas along Virginia's interstates to lease to private companies to be maintained? (Why is it MD can have the Chesepeake House in the middle of I95?)

Would you support localities being forced to implement "impact fees" over cash proffers through State legislation?

Will you committ to not supporting any increase in gas or sales taxes from the current levels?

How will you work to alleviate the burdens placed upon our commercial fishing enterprise?

Will you support or work to support opening up Virginia to offshore drilling?

Some of these may not have direct GA implications but it may offer voters greater insight to where the candidate is truly coming from over rhetoric or campaign releases.

In the end, Republicans took for granted they had the 73rd in hand this Fall but it appears as though Tom Shields is in this to make this a real race come November.

Monday, August 24, 2009

UPDATE: Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) WRVA

If Sen. Mark Warner set out today to absolutely confuse and baffle even his own supporters throughout Central Virginia, its fair to say he succeeded. After being virtually silent for weeks regarding such issues as Cap & Trade and the Healthcare debate, the traditionally pro-business, free market supporter Warner seemed caught between two mothers. One, his decade long stance on the value of free markets and growing business, especially in the Commonwealth of Virginia, through private enterprise clashes with his current stance on the problems facing healthcare. As Governor, Warner did not propose or support any meaure that would bring healthcare into the domain of State government like say the Massachusetts and yet now as a Senator in Congress it is apparent he approves the Federal Government taking over control of healthcare. The operative word in this debate is "control". Warner as long been a supporter of using the government as a regulator, but no where in his record has he ever expressed that the free markets and private markets should be controlled by the government. Regulated certainly, but not controlled. In fact, even Warner had addressed the shortcomings of unfunded liabilities to the federal budget in the area of Medicare/Medicaid recognizing both the shortfalls of this program as well as Social Security. Warner traveled the Commonwealth telling voters that it was his position that it was "spending" that was the biggest issue facing the country as late as Spring 2008 and that spending had to be reigned in up in Washington.

Since his election, Warner has done very little in proposing any reductions in spending. In fact, he left voters today thinking that he would endorse such measures as Cap & Trade and Healthcare, though he admitted that the government in effect only has the power to "regulate" via interstate commerce clauses and really does not have a right under the Constitution to tell people what healthcare they could or should have. Again, free market, individual-right Warner is in conflict with pro-control, government Nanny-State Warner.

Warner was elected by wide margins last Fall over former Gov. Jim Gilmore (R) to be sure. However, in looking at his performance versus some of the other races it is evident that Warner pulled in high percentages of both Republicans (moderates) and Independents.

Here's the rub. Obama and now the actions of Warner will contribute to driving those who supported Warner on the notion that he would go to Washington and be a "moderate" voice further and further away from the DPVA. Warner's biggest problem now is the perception that he has spent years building across the Commowealth is being eroded by the actions of the current administration and frankly Obama himself.

Virginians appear poised to reject Cap & Trade and the Warner that we all once knew certainly would have as well. The new Warner has alot to answer for and given his performance and articulated positions today will leave many voters wondering just who this guy really is.

Warner's current stance on Cap & Trade and Healthcare seem contrary to the brand Warner has built here in Virginia. Is it merely politics or are Warner's true colors begining to shine through given many believe he will likely be in contention in 2016 for the Presidency should Obama win a second term. Is he simply playing to the ultra-liberal base here for some future play or does he truly buy into these policies?

I for one think it would be in Warner's best interest, as well as many Southern Senators, that Cap & Trade NEVER see the light of day on the Senate floor. Healthcare of some fashion will certainly make it to the floor, but should the House version of C&T come up for a vote in the Senate I doubt many Democrats in the South and Midwest (think Evan Byah) will really want to embrace it, especially if Obama's job approval is south of 45% if an Healthcare bill is rammed through reconciliation.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Warner,Webb, Scott duck invite by WRVA; offer no Town Halls

In an effort to get the issues on the healthcare debate out there and to bring about greater accessibility that those little town hall meetings do not seem to be offering, WRVA 1140 and the Doc Thompson show invited Warner, Webb, and Scott whom have no scheduled town hall meeting for citizens to come on the show and broaden the dialogue with voters.

Apparently, WRVA has gotten no response to their invitation. It begs the question exactly why it would be that such prominent leaders representing the DPVA as Senators Webb and Warner would duck an invitation by one of the largest audiences in Central Virginia . Rep. Bobby Scott (D) was also extended an invitation to come on the radio. WRVA 1140 carries Glenn Beck and Rush followed by the Doc Thompson show which is based right here in Richmond each day during the week.

None of these leaders have a single scheduled event to take the case of the Obama Administration directly to the voters. Is this not the fight of the Democrat Party? Is not the healthcare debate more important than a two week trip to Asia by Sen. Jim Webb? Why is the man who has built his brand around being "business savvy" in Sen. Mark Warner not talking the case directly to the people regarding the cost effectiveness of the proposals being worked out in both the House and Senate?

How is it that Virginia Democrats are sitting on the sidelines during this debate over Healthcare? It seems apparent that the GOP is rallying forces to defeat such proposals, though locally neither Rep. Eric Cantor (R-7th CD) nor Rep. Randy Forbes(R-Chesterfield) have formal town hall meetings scheduled either. Forbes has held so-called "teleconferences" with voters, but those things are not exactly open-access. Cantor never seesm to hold meetings during the recess period and has historically since entering Congress used that time for fundraising purposes for both himself, PACS and other GOP candidates.

One would think basaed on the voting patterns in Virginia and the nature of the State being largely populated with independent-minded voters whom often split-tickets at the polls that there would be more effort put in, especially by the Democrats to make the case for Obama's agenda.

Evidently as Obama's numbers continue to decline, now under 50% for the first time according to Rassmussen, these leaders appear content to hide out and play wait and see until September.

The problem with that strategy is they run the risk of it being too late in September.

Eric Cantor, whom some have said is potentially a likely candidate for the Senate if not a potential run at the White House is losing a great opportunity to build some real recognition in this debate and Sen. Warner and Webb are missing an opportunity to address those supoporters in the "middle" throughout Virginia that elected them in the first place.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Baseball in Chesterfield? Why not?

If you live in Chesterfield, the idea behind "regionalism" in the last few years has met with resistance by the masses throughout the greater Richmond area. Its no wonder given the complete inability for the City of Richmond to release itself from the stranglehold of city politics. Whether we are are talking about City schools, budgets, the politics of personal destruction and its latest inability to get a deal for Baseball in the Bottom. Residents of Chesterfield and Henrico County in the last decade have seen the City of Richmond as more of a problematic liability than a partner in the future.

The latest development that casts the City of Richmond in a dark shadow is the development out of Loudoun County regarding the potential for the Kincora development at the intersection of Rt. 7 and Rt. 28. The proposed site is home to some 424 acres of mixed-use development with a proposed 5,500 seat Baseball stadium for an Atlantic Minor League baseball team supported by the likes of Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson.

The model of success for such proposals in terms of Baseball is the Long Island stadium where the Ducks in the Atlantic league play and have contributed to greater economic development for the community.

Given the demographics of Loudoun County, it is no wonder why many residnts of Chesterfield are asking themselves why Chesterfield couold not be a wonderful home for a minor league baseball franchise. After all, the Braves franchise moved from Richmond to Gwinnett County in the suburbs of Atlanta. Chesterfield has about twice as many people as Loudoun County with a very similar demographic, though the adjusted gross income may be slightly higher in Loudoun. Chesterfield, however does have more children involved in community athletics such as youth baseball, soccer, football, swimming, volleyball, tennis etc than Loudoun.

It really makes you wonder why there has been all this concentration with baseball in the City when their appear to be viable alternatives in suburbia in the greater Richmond area.

Would you be willing to support a Chesterfield-based franchise over a City-based one in terms of regular attendance at the ballpark?

One key aspect to the Kincora plans is the stadium has NO public funding. Translation; no tax payer funding.

Given the upcoming sessions of the Steering Committee looking into providing guidance for the new Chesterfield Comprehensive Planning, we must make sure that we leave in our planning the opportunity for the County to be a home to such a project like Kincora should it ever come our way.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Ukrops Supermarkets Selling Company?

The rumors have circulated for weeks within the grocery industry concerning the potential sale of Ukrops Supermarkets to Ruddick Corporations wholly owned subsiderary Harris-Teeter. The there has not been an "official" confirmation of the sale, rumors circulated when Harris-Teeter evidently applied for the required ABC permits for 29 stores in the greater Richmond area.

Those growing up in Richmond have long been familiar with Ukrops and its non-alcohol policy as well as its policy of being closed on Sundays.

Harris Teeter operates over 170 stores in eight States and the District of Columbia. These States include North Carolina, Virginia, Deleware, Maryland, Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, and South Carolina. In Virginia, Harris Teeter operates 27 stores.

Harris -Teeter is based in Mathews , NC with Ruddick Corp., a NYSE company operating as a holding company for HT and A&E, Inc is located in Charlotte, NC.

Richmond has witnesed the successful entry of another North Carolina market in The Fresh Market located out of Greensboro, NC where Harris Teeter also has operations. While Fresh Market is not a true grocery concept, Harris-Teeter in recent years has reformated its stores to be "market-like" than grocery.

Fresh Market has stores in Richmond (West End/Midlothian), Roanoke, Williamsburg, Virginia Beach and a recently opened unit in Newport News. To date there are almost 90 Fresh Markets predominantly located through the Southeast.

"Official" word should break very soon on a deal that rumors have specualted could be in excess of 850 million.

Ruddick closed today at $22.60 (NYSE)

Monday, July 6, 2009

What Does the Recent Proffer Debate Tell Us?

Well, the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors took another stab at the Cash Proffer debate last week. I have been awaiting many of the members, including I-Daniel Gecker of Midlothian to deliver on some of his campaign rhetoric from 2007 when he launch attack after attack against incumbant R-Don Sowder for being unwilling to make developers carry a bit more of the burden regarding growth, but again Gecker failed to live up to promises he made to voters.

In a 3-2 vote, the Cash Proffer rate was increased but by any standard it was again a victory for the developers who seem to be entrenched with sentiment within our current Board which promised sweeping change during the campaigns of 2007. Unfortunately, only I-Marleen Durfee and D-Holland seem dedicated on delivery what they promised.

Again this time around as in last year it seem to come down to the forces of Durfee and Gecker. Durfee managed to get a compromised rate increase last year in the face of Gecker's continual objections to any increase initially. Durfee sought much higher rates than the approved 18,080 that was passed then and this time around the Board fell short of the estimated 25,511 break even analysis by increasing the rate a mere $886 to $18,966.

Some would say its a small victory, but given the rising costs of infrastructure and the fact that the County already lags considerably behind other juristictions of its size in proffer rates the Board again has failed to begin the process of bringing the tax burden of growth to more of a shared contribution. Gecker in his campaign of 2007 stated publically that he flet that the 80/20 citizen to commercial/developer ratio was unfavorable and used this ratio as a sword against his opponent and yet in two years this citizen fails to see in any instance where Gecker has delivered on policy where that ratio will realistically change.

We have to remember that after years on the Planning Commission, Daniel Gecker has had a sustained relationship with the developer community throughout the planning process for some of the largest scale developments in the County's recent past. It was the hope of voters in the last election cycle that because Gecker understood the developer dynamic that he would better serve citizens at narrowing the gap between offsetting the costs of growth.

Loudoun County whose growth is mirroring Chesterfield in many areas has proffers of 48,000 per lot, Stafford County 43,000 and Prince William County 37,000. Are we really to believe that it costs these areas fifty percent more to deliver on services to its citizens or is it simply a fact that Chesterfield has determined not to have business pay its fair share in large part because of the stranglehold developers have had on the Board in recent years?

We continue to get the same arguements from the developer interests regarding the passage of such fees on to home buyers and how the Proffer System itself is broken and the debate over other methods is still unresolved. Meanwhile, many of these developers, especially the public firms continue to pay those proffers in the other areas of the State without too much debate.


Developers understand to to penetrate and gain access to markets as favorable as Loudoun and NOVA there comes a price. There is tremondous income demographics for them to provide the housing to offset any of the proffer rates being imposed there. Are they saying that Chesterfield cannot support such home prices or housing specs to offset the increase? And is the rhetoric its about affordable housing sincere or merely just another smoke screen?

In my view, access to markets such as Chesterfield or Henrico is in high demand because of the People who live here and the adjusted gross income that remains stable in the area to support new housing. Developers have yet to make the case, other than in rhetoric (fear rhetoric) that rising proffers would make economic development suffer. Besides it is my understanding that commercial development is not paying proffers and the system is set up for residential development. If the Board is really concerned with balancing the cost of true growth in the County, should not commercial interest pay their share as well as the residential developers?

Another profound Gecker quote,

The proffer increase is "really meaningless in the grand scheme of things".

Really? I think the case very well may be made in 2011 that that assessment can applied to Geckers leadership as well.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Rolling The Dice Twice Not In The Cards

I have to tell you, I am looking forward to this matchup between (D) Creigh Deeds and (R) Bob McDonnell in large part because it will give us a real sense of the future of the Commonwealth. Sure there will be debate after debate and pundit after pundit telling us why we should support one over the other, but the reality of it is the Commonwealth is at a real crossroads. I use the "Commonwealth" on purpose because not every State in the Union has its origins in the same manner nor is every State a Commonwealth. In the last few years it is become apparent that the very fabric of our history and tradition has come under attack not only by outside interest groups but the Federal Government as well. We are entering a period where the likes of Virginia's future seem poised to be challenged in the same manner as throughout various stages of our past; free trade, taxation, slavery(self-determination), civil rights and many others. Each of those brought outside powers to bear upon the State in the same manner in which today outside funding is reshaping the Virginia we have come to love.

What do I mean by reshaping? Well, when you have a large vocal and heavily funded group of activists who have declared that they would prefer Virginia be the next Maryland you get the picture. I often wonder what it is about Maryland that is so alluring to them, other than the fact they are heavily dominated by a tradition of supporting Democrats. I mean, is Maryland better off economically? Is it educationally? What about employment? Do they place a greater burden on the Federal Government in terms of welfare, healthcare expenses and other support than Virginia?

In no measure, even environmentally in terms of the Bay, could Maryland be construed as outperforming Virginia so it really begs the question why the idealogues want Virginia to become the next Maryland no doesn't it?

Well in the upcoming campaign for Governor we will find out just how much influence those activist (inside and outside the Commonwealth) have upon the campaign of Creigh Deeds. Deeds is a Virginian and for the most part the best kind of Democrat. Deeds was not the choice of the hard left and ultra-liberal wing of the Party mind you. To them is a bit of a lush. Deeds is pro-gun for one, which puts him directly in the crosshairs of the far left. Deeds is certainly not cut from the same cloth as an Obama either and it would be unwise for the Republicans to use that tact as well. What is at question is roots. Will the roots of Creigh Deeds remain firm in this campiagn or will his rhetoric shift to aligning himself with the far left.

The real question voters should be concerned with in this election is the road one wishes the Commonwealth to travel. Its a question of historical integrity. Do we want to rewrite our Constitution? Do we want to turn our backs on our history? Do we want to for once and for all bury the ideals of the likes of Washington, Jeferson, Madison, Mason, Henry, Wythe, Monroe and even Wilson? Thats the question of this election frankly. Its a question of Sovereignty.

Will Virginia hold fast to her roots or will we travel down the road that some would prefer with an even greater reliance upon the Federal Government and thus less control in determining Virginia' own interest.

Not sure if this is as extreme as it has gotten? Think offshore-drilling off our own coast. Think mountain mining our own resources within our Commonwealth. Think late term abortion bans and restricting those bans by the Feds if they mean to. Think education and the undo influence upon our own educational system which list 85 in Newsweeks TOP 1500 HIGH Schools nationwide. Think destroying our railroad industry/port industry by banning coal representing 2/3 of all rail shipping. Think reducing our defense related industry not just our active duty armed forces and of course think base closings in the Virginia Beach region.

Once Virginia allows itself to bow to the "bookie" that is the US Government in the manner in which Gov. Kaine has started with the 4 billion dollar stimulus funding used to offset the budget shortfalls in Virginia which are the repsonsibility of the Kaine administration.

By the way, how is it that Gov. Kaine can have employment with the DNC now while still acting as Governor when it is my understanding that State employees are not allowed to work for private concerns while employed by the State. Isn't that interesting.

So with the backdrop of the current crisis of integrity in Washington spearheaded by misdirection and out and out falsehoods by those now in power, Virginians will be confronted with a campaign this summer hopefully waged on the issue of Virginia's future. There is no greater issue that of Virginia being able to deside for itself what it will do and what direction it will move regarding policy. Those that would put Virginia under the boot of the Federal Government need to be defeated if Virginia to to remain Virginia.

The question really is a matter of which Creigh Deeds will campaign for Governor. If he determines to turn his back on Virginia and move in the direction of supporting federally mandated liberal policies than the choice for Virginians is rather simple in November; Bob McDonnell.

Independents and Moderates in Virginia last Fall supported Obama and provided him the electoral votes from the Commonwealth of Virginia, however a large portion of those voters now have to contend with some of the responsibility concerning the direction our nation is moving and how it is going about doing so. In speaking with many folks that had voted for Bush in 2000/2004 but opted for Obama in 2008 there was a sense of "rolling the dice" for change in Washington. Now after almost six months with the results glaring at them in the paper, on the blogs and on cable there is little hope that those independents will be willing to roll the dice again for someone who is endorsing the very policies now that appear so unpopular.

One thing my liberal friends never seem to grasp is that as Virginians we can really like some one as a person a heckuva alot, but not agree with the policies that they may chose to propose or implement. Being "popular" in Virginia does not tanslate to your policies being popular. Liberals always tend to associate to two as one in that to like some one is to agree with them on policy. Its a completely "political" dynamic to them. They believe politics is the window to the soul it seems.

If Creigh Deeds is not careful, rolling the dice will niot be in the cards this Fall for Independents or Republicrats and potentially blue dogs either.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The End for Chesterfield Dodge

As painful as it is, the end of Chesterfield Dodge has come. I have been a loyal Dodge customer for years and though I do not have any ill will towards Chrysler per say, I think the new management is inept. The idea that clsoing 25% of the dealerships who sell your product is somehow going to make you profitbale without more money for tax payers is simply ridiculous.

The Lawrence family have been around for like 75 years as a franchise and even helped out Chrysler some thirty years ago with financing to keep from going under then and this is how the "new" folks repay the family. Closing a profitable dealership.

There have been accusation by some that these closings are purely political in nature brought about by the people running the task force for President Obama. Is it a coincidence that a Chesterfield County dealership under the same umbrella as those in Henrico County dealerships are being forced out of business. Um. Chesterfield is an historically very Republican-leaning locality and well Henrico County- they supported President Obama and other Democrats in the last few years. makes you wonder why a profitbale arm would be severed from a small business owner but his weaker dealership selling the same brands would be allowed to remain open.

Chesterfield Dodge has always provided a level of service to residents here that was second to none in service and repairs. They will be missed.

It begs the question what business segments next will be forced to close their doors through no fault of their own and how many more people will have to lose their jobs under the guise of economic stimulus!!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors--Is the Future Still Bright?

Look, I have made clear my issues with the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors over the course of the last few years. Many insiders have not been all too happy with some of the issues addressed here at Alter of Freedom. I will have to admit though, at least the former Board members took the time to return emails, messages and in some cases even participated on local blogs as a means of reaching out and being more accessible to the public interest.

I must admit however, that Cheterfield on balance does not have the blog exposure that many of its other county siblings do across the State. This must change in order for the Board to be serious about transparency. Localities like Loudoun, Fairfax, Arlington and the like have some of the highest rated/viewed blogs in the country and if you visit blogs like Too Conservative out of Loudoun you will find a great balance of Local, State and National issues.

The current Board here in Chesterfield has just endorsed a 32 citizen Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee made up of citizens from throughout the local districts of the County as well as members from the planning group contracted to shape the future of Chesterfield. Many of these members will be familiar to many readers here; Bill Hastings, Andrea Epps, Ree Hart and the like with either political or developer ties to the process are but a few familiar ones that stick out on the list.

While many of us have to wonder just how this committee has come to be and how the mebers were selected in terms of process, it is further alarming that Chesterfield County has just contracted a Florida firm in Renaissance Planning Group to the tune of almost $900,000 to work with the Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee in creating our future.

$900,000 in contract fees paid by tax payers of course. Any explaination why it is this money could not have been used to contract a local or Virginia firm employing residents of Chesterfield or other regional localities. We have seen this before and the Board continues to go outside Virginia with its contractors.

Chesterfield has been operating under its Comprehensive Plan which has guided much of the planning concerns over the course of the last two Boards. Of course, many have taken issue with the Plan in its present form and at times have appeared poised to disregard its guidelines in terms of getting zoning ordinances worked through. We saw this in the debate over the Upper Swift Creek Plan and most recently the debate over Centralia.

I said months ago that I felt it was premature to begin to pass judgement on this Board collectively, however in recent weeks I am of the opinion that the time has come for residents to hold this Board and its members fully accountable for this point forward. Many new members were elected some eighteen months ago and ubnfortunately the learning curve of the first year is now over. No longer can we simply excuse the actions of this Board based on the previous ones misteps or agenda.

I am beginning to have less faith in the direction this Board is planning than I did in the election cycle of 2008. There has been far too much finger pointing with the School Board on budget issues, lack of true conviction by the Board to balance the ratio of revenues between citizens and business, a nominal cash proffer increase below the original proposal and no action of significance on the impact fee debate stemming from State Senator Watkins original proposal in the State Senate.

Is the future still bright? I think so, but many residents still find themselves faced with the same issues they have been confronted with for almost ten years crowding/trailers, roads and infrastructure standards and a government that is content with spending more and more money on its own operation and facilities than it appears willing to impact residents everyday lives.