Monthly Archives: June 2010

Thirty Years of Traffic

It’s been a slow blogging week, but last night, at our LCDC executive committee meeting, we discussed a posting on the LCRC website about our 10th District Congressman, Frank Wolf.  In the posting, it says that Rep. Wolf “has been working to improve transportation for nearly 30 years”.  Now, I will agree with my friends on the LCRC; he has been working on that, as have all of our Northern Virginia members of Congress. But it’s been 30 years – is transportation any better now than it was 30 years ago? He’s going to stake his claim on that?It was a little over two years ago that the Dulles rail project (aka, Metro to Dulles) was almost scuttled due to Rep. Wolf’s ineptitude. Back in late 2008, Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters announced that unless there were changes made to the rail plan, the project would be disqualified from receiving $900 million in federal grants. Without that grant, rail to Dulles would be dead.

How was Rep. Wolf responsible for that, you say? Rep. Wolf was in the majority on the House Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee for Transportation and HUD (that’s a mouthful).  That subcommittee has jurisdiction over the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, the agency that runs Metro. One would like to believe that a congressman who sits in the majority on a subcommittee that approves the budget of the Department of Transportation would be a little more in tune with how the department was doling out its’ funds, and whether or not that agency was questioning the viability of a major transportation project in his congressional district. A project on which he stakes his reputation, nonetheless.

But Virginia officials were blind-sided with that ruling, and Rep. Wolf pleaded with Governor Kaine to help with securing those federal funds.  Which Governor Kaine did, keeping the project on track.  And for which (President Bush’s) Transportation Secretary Peters praised him:

Governor Tim Kaine deserves much credit for his overwhelming commitment to this proposal and for spearheading the changes necessary to move it forward.

In short, with almost 30 years of congressional service, and with 16 of those years being in the Republican majority on the Transportation Appropriations subcommittee (8 of those years under a Republican President), and also serving from 1995-2000 as Chair of that subcommittee, Frank Wolf hasn’t made transportation in the region any better for us. In fact, it took action by a Democratic Governor to save Wolf from the embarrassment of losing $900 million in federal funding for Dulles rail.

We can do better. It’s time to do better.  Jeff Barnett can do better.  

Links We’re Reading – June 22 – 25 2010

Oh the tangled links we weave when we link to inform.

He remembers a blast, the smell of smoke, oil and blood. He remembers ammo “cooking off”. He lost consciousness. – Circling the Moon

Sign This, Send That 6

Follow below the fold for some of the progressive solicitations we’ve actually responded to recently.

Like, for example, making sure that BP provides safety equipment to cleanup workers on the Gulf coast.

Will Our Senators Support A Climate Bill?

Senator Reid is betting big on real, strong legislation to cap our carbon emissions. In light of the political environment, I think it’s great to see Democratic leadership picking to go big, or go home.

Instead of combining climate with clean energy, then listening to conservadems whine that climate has to be ditched in favor of a clean-energy-only bill, Reid is unambiguously coupling climate with a politically popular Spill Bill.  He’s daring conservadems and Republicans to stand with Bad People and Beach Polluters, or stand with the American public.

The ads write themselves.  ”Will the Party of Barton vote with BP against America’s clean energy future?”  ”Will Republicans keep on apologizing to Big Oil for burdensome regulations, or will they stand up for the American people?”  ”Democrats want polluters to pay, Republicans want to give them a license to pollute free.”

The strategy isn’t a guaranteed win.  Already conservadems Landrieu and Bayh are dithering.  Politico, again: “Thus far, Reid can’t count on all Democrats coalescing around this approach. Several say they are fearful that hitching a popular oil reform bill to a big, unwieldy climate plan will just sink legislation that could otherwise serve as a quick, easy and politically popular win.” – DailyKos

This is a big, bold move and deserves our backing. Follow below to write our Senators!  So, I wrote our Senators.

Senator Warner,

I strongly support the strategy of linking climate change (carbon cap) legislation to the Spill Bill. Please come out in favor of Senator Reid’s plan and vote in favor of all motions, procedural and otherwise, necessary to pass it.

Sincerely,

Paradox13

I encourage you do to so too!

Email Senator Webb

Email Senator Warner

(With a tip-o-the-cap to Blue Virginia.)

More on the CTP

So it turns out that in the flurry of motions on the CTP, Supervisor Sally Kurtz (D Catoctin), made an error and voted to set Belmont Ridge Road to six lanes instead of four (currently Belmont Ridge Road is two lanes most of the way).

She’d like to hold a hearing to reconsider that vote on Wednesday (she was in the majority on that vote, along with Supervisors York, Buckley, Delgaudio, and Waters), but it turns out that Supervisors York and Buckley will be out of town. Which has made at least one supervisor unhappy about how it will look if they vote to reconsider while part of the majority of the original vote is out of town.

But here’s the thing: It was a 5 – 4 vote. If Supervisor Kurtz is unhappy with her vote then if the vote is reconsidered, it will go 5 – 4 the other way. Right?

If two of the people in the new minority are not there, then it will go 5-2-2. Right?

If Supervisors York and Buckley know that the vote will take place while they are not there, they can leave written statements to be read into the record during discussion of the issue.

In any case, when State Delegates accidentally push the wrong button during a vote, they can file a paper to correct it. I believe this is essentially what happened with Supervisor Kurtz and I hope that the rest of the supervisors will let her reconsider her vote.

Bay Act Hearing in Dulles

Supervisor Miller will be holding a public hearing for residents of the Dulles district on the Chesapeake Bay Act tonight.

Want to learn more about the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act?

I am interested in hearing Dulles District residents’ opinions regarding the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act. I will be hosting a community meeting to discuss concerns with Dulles District residents. Loudoun County staff will present information and attendees will have an opportunity to ask questions. The meeting will be:

Tuesday, June 22nd at 6:30 pm, Mercer Middle School

For more information about the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act, please visit:

www.loudoun.gov/chesapeakebay

Hope to see you there,

Stevens

If you live in the Dulles district, you should make an effort to come out. A map to the location is below.Here’s a map to the school where the meeting will be held.

Mercer Middle School

42149 Greenstone Dr

Aldie, VA 20105


View Larger Map

Loudoun Media Consolidation

So, the Loudoun Independent and the Loudoun Times-Mirror are merging, in another change to the local Loudoun media market. You may recall that Leesburg Today went through bankruptcy last year, and LoudounExtra was scrapped by the Post. The number of independent media voices in our county – the richest in Americ – will be further reduced.

Two Loudoun newspapers announced Thursday that they are merging their print and online operations.

The Loudoun Times-Mirror and the Loudoun Independent are combining, Peter Arundel, president and chief executive of Times Community News, said in an article on LoudounTimes.com.

The Times-Mirror will continue to be published Wednesdays, and the Independent will move to Fridays. – The Washington Post

The consolidation and reduction in independent media does not mean that the quality of reporting and news in Loudoun will be improving.Recall, for example, the totally made-up “news” story based on a non-scientific poll of an insignificant number of self-selecting website readers that the Loudoun Independent ran last week. As Daverunner opined then:

The Loudoun Independent is owned by William Dean, who also runs engineering firm M.C. Dean, Inc., headquartered in Sterling, VA. Ironically, Bill Dean personally donated $2,000 to Mr. Black’s campaigns when he (Black) served as Delegate for the 32nd District.

Even more ironically, M.C. Dean Building intelligence Inc. is also on record as having donated $19,500 to Mr. Black while he was a delegate, dating back to 2000. – Loudoun Progress

We will watch closely the editorial bent of the Times-Mirror in light of this merger. Money buys access, and sometimes even coverage and spin. Here’s hoping the Times-Mirror’s historical independence will not be sullied by Mr. Dean’s Independent investment.

Women in Science

Today I read two articles on the experiences of women in science:

First, via Shakespeare’s Sister, a post from Cocktail Party Physics, “things are often not what they seem to be…”.

…The program to which we were writing had a goal of teaming graduate science and engineering students with K-12 teachers, so we had recruited a few graduate students — all of whom happened to be female — to come and work with the kids.  We didn’t set out to get women students, those were just the students who were interested in participating.  Our goal was to see what the students learned about the process of science in their quest to make a bulb light with just a battery, a bulb and a single piece of wire.    

About halfway through the process, as I’m standing there watching with a smile as bulbs are lighting and students are saying “cool” and smiling about how they understand science, Gayle approaches me.  

“Guess what?” she asks.  ”The students don’t believe you’re scientists.”

Next up, via Hoyden About Town, “Why ‘Female’ Science Professor?”

In the URL of my blog, I am simply “science-professor,” but the pseudonymous name I use as a blogger is “Female Science Professor.” Why the extra adjective? Does it matter in my work as a scientist and a professor that I am female?

Many times it does. In fact, when I first started using the moniker, my reasons were a bit cynical. I had been so often reminded by colleagues, in their words and actions, that I was different from the “regular” (read: male) science professors, that I decided to use the extra adjective to describe myself.

Read ‘em both.