Monthly Archives: March 2011

From my inbox

Dear Liz,There's still time to contact Gov. McDonnell!

It could come down to just 20 minutes.

The McDonnell administration is pulling out all the stops to steamroll through new, overreaching regulations that could force 17 of Virginia’s 21 abortion providers to close their doors.

Tell Gov. McDonnell to veto this bill today.

Last month, cunning anti-choice lawmakers voted to categorize Virginia’s abortion providers as hospitals! This, of course, is not only utterly ridiculous, but downright reckless. Their aim is to shut down clinics. And, if that happens, the majority of women in the Commonwealth will lose access to vital reproductive health care.

We have learned that the process to recategorize abortion providers are hospitals is being fast tracked and that the public will have little to no input. In fact, the Board of Health will only allow 20 minutes for public comment at their September meeting! That’s not how democracy should work!

You can help stop this power grab by putting pressure on Gov. McDonnell. It’s not too late. He has not yet signed this draconian bill into law, but every minute counts. He has until Tuesday, March 29.

After trying to pass this sort of bill into law for 20 years, it could come down to just 20 minutes of public comment – 20 minutes that could shape women’s access to safe, legal abortion in Virginia for the next 20 years and beyond.

The McDonnell administration is attempting to work in secret to eliminate safe, legal abortion care in Virginia. This cannot happen. It’s up to you to stop this attack!

Ask the governor TODAY to veto the bill designed to shut down abortion providers.

If Gov. McDonnell signs this bill into law, we will spend the next six months working tirelessly to make sure new regulations do not severely limit access to abortion in the Commonwealth. We have our work cut out for us, but I know pro-choice Virginia is ready to stand up and tell the McDonnell administration we will not tolerate its harmful anti-choice agenda.

Please stay tuned over the coming weeks to learn more about how we will be fighting this dangerous attempt to limit reproductive care.

For choice,
Tarina Keene
Executive Director

P.S. We will need a lot of support in the coming months to fight these attacks, so please consider making a donation to help us protect Virginia’s valuable abortion providers.

Sour Grapes?

The redistricting process has been a contentious mess, I will grant anyone that. I don’t think there was anyone in the county who was 100% satisfied (or would have been satisfied) by any of the plans. I was ambivalent - I saw positives and negatives in both “Miller 5″ and “HOA 4″. My only hope was to see the Lansdowne on the Potomac community united into one district. In the long run, though, it didn’t matter to me which plan passed; I would have been able to live with either. But apparently not Supervisor Lori Waters.

I just received Supervisor Waters’ March 2011 newsletter in my e-mail inbox, and was a little taken aback by what I read. Instead of the usual district newsletter, where she touts board items she championed, notifies us of board actions that affect the district, and gives us tidbits of other district-related news, Supervisor Waters took it upon herself to inject politics and editorial comment into this issue.

I voted against this plan as it was gerrymandering to favor certain incumbents and candidates and even claimed as “our plan” by the Loudoun County Democrat Committee (sic). Unfortunately, these district lines will remain in place for 10 years, and this process ended with candidates trumping communities.

I took a cursory glance at newsletters released by some of the other Supervisors (at least those that were posted on the Loudoun County website), and saw none of them playing politics with their newsletters (I can only assume that the Sterling District Supervisor does this, given his track record).

Supervisor Waters, I’m sorry you didn’t get your way. We both had the same goal, to unite Lansdowne, and I was just as turned off by the political machinations last week as anyone. I understand your frustrations. But an innocuous district newsletter is no place for playing political games.  Just tell us the news, free from spin and opinion, and leave the politics out of it.

This is why we should all work hard to elect Valdis Ronis as the next Supervisor from Broad Run (or whatever the district will be called). He’s above playing politics – he’s fiscally conservative, socially progressive, and environmentally responsible. And he will provide a sense of leadership of which this board will be in dire need.

Jennifer Wexton for Commonwealth’s Attorney

Jim Plowman will have an opponent this year.

Loudoun veteran legal mind, Jennifer Wexton, has announced her candidacy for Commonwealth’s Attorney. Leesburg Today has the story.

Having practiced criminal defense law at Ritenour Paice & Mougin-Boal since 2005, Wexton spent the four years before that as an Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney, including two serving under Plowman. In addition to practicing law, Wexton serves as the current president of the Loudoun Bar Association, where she has previously served on the Board of Directors. In 2010 she also served as a Special Justice and as a Substitute Judge in the Loudoun County District Courts. Wexton also is certified by the Virginia Supreme Court to serve as “guardian ad litem” to represent the interests of children in pending legal matters, and in 2009 was appointed to the county’s Community Services Board.

While a prosecutor, Wexton received the 2005 Izaak Walton League Award for Outstanding Service to the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. In 2007 she was awarded the Harry L. Carrico Award for her pro bono legal work in private practice. – Leesburg Today

Judge Wexton presents a compelling alternative to our current Commonwealth’s Attorney, whose history of ethical line crossing was an issue in the 2007 race.

In the interests of transparency, I’ve been working with Jennifer for the past few weeks. I’ve found her to be engaging, knowledgeable and possessing a fundamental caring for the people of Loudoun County. She brings a breadth of experience and qualifications to the office that any County would be lucky to have. Here’s hoping the voters agree on November 8th.

Look around you

Look at your family, your friends, your co-workers, the people in your volunteer groups, the members of your church.

How many of them have a different skin color/language/sexual orientation from you?

This morning, at church, we had a discussion of racism and how to better integrate our church. And another member reminded us of something a former minister at the church said several years ago: that Sunday morning is the most segregated time of the week in America.

Well, that’s not true for me. Our church is actually better integrated than my workplace or the places at which I volunteer (in terms of ethnic background).

So here’s a question for you: what is the most segregated time of the week for you? What is the most integrated?

They’ve Earned A Raise

Leesburg Today reports that the County budget includes a 3% raise for County employees. “For now,” as they put it.

By taking no action to change the proposed FY12 budget, the Board of Supervisors last night left the proposed the cost of living and salary increases in place–but it is not clear whether every employee will see the full 3 percent increase in their pay checks. Some supervisors want to examine a graduated scale of increase based on an employee’s salary.

“I would argue that someone making $100,000 does not need as much of a raise as someone making money on the lower end of the scale,” Supervisor Andrea McGimsey (D-Potomac) said.

While supervisors were told salary increases could be based on employee classifications, the board decided to hold off on that discussion until after supervisors decided school system funding. – Leesburg Today

I would like to be counted among those who believe that County staff have earned their first cost of living adjustment in three years. In this, I fully agree with Supervisor Burton, who said, “Health care contributions have gone up. VRS costs went up. They’ve been doing an outstanding job as an overall staff with diminishing, diminishing rewards. And the cost of living is becoming quite a problem.”

Sometimes, when the subject of cost of living adjustments for public employees comes up, there are people who oppose them. The argument seems to be, “if I’m not getting a raise, they shouldn’t get a raise.” That argument is uncharitable on its face, but it begs the question: Why aren’t people in the private sector getting raises?
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House votes to de-fund NPR

So far, they’ve tackled: removing funding from Metro; medicaid payments for abortions; taking away funding for basic women’s health care (pap smears and breast exams); and taking away enforcement power from the EPA.

Now they’ve taken funding away from NPR.

But they haven’t even begun on a single jobs bill.

Weren’t jobs their biggest priority back in November?

#DearJohn, #WhereAreTheJobs?

Redistricting Approved

I just heard from my Supervisor, Kelly Burk, that the Board of Supervisors has approved a Redistricting plan for the County that includes most of Leesburg in one District. It was essentially the Miller 5 plan. Supervisors Burton (Blue Ridge), Kurtz (Catoctin), Burk (Leesburg), McGimsey (Potomac), and Buckley (Sugarland Run) were the majority that passed the plan.

Here is the Miller 5 plan they were starting from. Note this is not the plan that was passed, as edits to it were made during the process today. Once we have an accurate map (see the Leesburg Today article for details on that), we’ll make it available.

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[Update] Chairman Scott York has shared his version of the plan that was passed. Here it is:
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Leesburg Today has the story.

The adopted plan, which will be mapped later this week and may require additional changes to make each district comply with population thresholds, includes five suburban districts in eastern Loudoun and two hybrid districts that include rural areas in western and northern Loudoun as well as subdivisions in central Loudoun. The Leesburg District is expanded, but some town residents will be in the expanded Catoctin District that surrounds the town.

Among the changes made to the published Miller 5 plan was to move the area north of Hamilton into the Catoctin District; move Hillsboro into the Blue Ridge District; and move the Oak Grove area from the Sterling District to a Sterling/Ashburn District. -Leesburg Today

An Election Day For Veterans

Today, the last U.S. veteran of World War I will be laid to rest in Arlington cemetery. With him dies the last living link to the significance of the date of Veteran’s Day, or as it was called during Frank Buckles’ generation, Armistice Day.

World War I – known at the time as “The Great War” – officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.”

In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…”

The original concept for the celebration was for a day observed with parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11:00 a.m. – U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

With the passing of Frank Buckles, I believe now is the time to consider honoring all Veterans with a day that all Americans can, and should, use to both consider their sacrifice and make use of the freedoms and responsibilities that our veterans’ sacrifice afforded them. I believe that Veterans’ Day should be moved to Election Day (or, conversely, Election Day could be moved to Veteran’s Day). Continue reading

And now for something completely different

In contrast to the insulting misrepresentations of Rep. Peter King and Rep. Frank Wolf during Thursday’s hearing, Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough recognized the tremendous contributions of the American Muslim community to combatting domestic terrorism. From his remarks at the ADAMS Center on March 6:

Imam Magid is among the many Muslim leaders who have been recognized by the Director of the FBI for their efforts to strengthen cooperation between Muslim communities and law enforcement.

To counter the propaganda videos from the likes of al-Awlaki, Imam Magid even joined with other clerics and scholars to make their own videos, which have gone viral, explaining that Islam preaches peace, not violence. Most Americans never hear about these efforts, and, regrettably, they’re rarely covered by the media. But they’re going on every day—and they’re helping to keep our country safe.

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