Catoctin getting slappy

A couple of weeks ago, Without Supervision alerted us to two remarkably bad letters to the editor attacking Malcolm Baldwin, evidently cobbled together from the results of a FOIA request for constituent emails.

As it turns out, the readers to whom Mr. LaRock and Ms. Mann addressed their concerns are unimpressed by their efforts. Here is a short response:

Dear Editor: I couldn’t believe the letter from David LaRock attacking Malcolm Baldwin, a respected community leader, just because he voiced support for an ordinary non-discrimination rule.

Here’s what I want to know: Why is LaRock so hostile toward people who may be different from himself? Moreover, why is he thinking about other people’s sexual orientation and bodies in public restrooms? I (for one) wish he would stop.

If this is the kind of thing Higgins supporters are interested in, I’ll be voting for Malcolm Baldwin.

Indeed. I don’t think this is the sort of thing Catoctin residents want their supervisor doing, or thinking about, or encouraging others to think about. Yuck.

Another:

Dear Editor: I hadn’t really thought about the county’s human resources handbook in the two years since it was revised to ban discrimination against gay employees. I had been a little surprised to learn that this wasn’t already the case.

Imagine my surprise to see one of the candidates for supervisor in my district attacked for expressing his opinion in favor of this policy, two years ago, as a constituent, to his local government. In his letter, David LaRock wants me to believe that Malcolm Baldwin, who consistently impresses me with his thoughtfulness and moderation, is too “left” because he asked the county government to adopt the same non-discrimination language used by all of our large private sector employers. Read more..

Here’s one wondering why Mr. Higgins would advocate that Loudoun’s local government take a head-in-the-sand approach to impending federal regulations on water quality:

Dear Editor: Sally Mann’s letter criticizes Catoctin supervisor candidate Malcolm Baldwin for taking part in public conversations about the need for the county to improve energy efficiency and protect our water resources. Among other things, she complains about his support of the county’s international award-winning Energy Strategy, and his attempts to address the genuine problems with the rejected Chesapeake Bay Preservation Ordinance. Mann appears to object to Baldwin’s active citizen engagement with the policy questions that affect all of us, and to believe that these problems should be ignored by locations in favor of just leaving them up to the federal government.

That doesn’t make any sense at all. Are we supposed to prefer local representatives who don’t bother collecting any local data, and who aren’t interested in knowing how any federal and state regulations actually impact their own constituents? Read more..

There seems to be no one trying to advocate for the Higgins campaign online other than Dulles area activist Barbara Munsey, who has been diligently trying to change the subject in comments to the second letter. That’s not going very well, because 1) the LaRock letter speaks for itself as representing what is most important to Higgins supporters, and 2) differing legal opinions (acknowledged by the county’s own attorney) with regard to board authority are utterly irrelevant to the content and publication of the letter.

No amount of rhetorical effort can make the evidence disappear: Higgins supporters, and by association Mr. Higgins himself, believe that sexual orientation is a reasonable basis for employment discrimination, and think this an important enough matter to write campaign letters about it.

29 thoughts on “Catoctin getting slappy

  1. Barbara Munsey

    David, I’ve been waiting for you to bring it here where you can control it better.

    Have at it–I would posit to you that what doesn’t seem to be going too well is pretending that there are any county issues in Catoctin needing attention.

    If your “proof” about the Higgins campaign is to be applied universally, then I’m correct in assuming that Mr. Baldwin’s campaign is all about gay rights the BoS can’t vote on?

  2. Epluribusunum Post author

    You don’t think there are any county issues in Catoctin that need attention? I bet most residents would disagree. The cost of schools, commercial development, and infrastructure planning come to mind.

    Barbara, you really do seem desperate to change the subject of these letters to something you would rather talk about – anything but the actual topic. And I think I know why: Mr. LaRock’s letter was ill-advised and embarrassing to the Higgins campaign. I don’t know whether or not you agree with that assessment (you probably wouldn’t want to say publicly either way), but the response to it suggests that I am right.

    “Proof” is your language, not mine, so I guess you are quoting yourself. There isn’t anything that needs proving here: A guy who is a prominent member of Higgins’ team wrote an offensive letter about something he apparently cares a lot about, that being his view that gay employees should be discriminated against. Most people don’t agree with that view, and some have responded to his letter by saying they wouldn’t vote for someone whose supporters choose to write such letters for their candidate. That’s about all there is to it.

  3. Barbara Munsey

    David, I DO wish to talk about the fact that this is all grandstanding on both sides in the absence of any action by the GA to create the new protected classes you’d like to see inserted in local government policy.

    Nothing wrong with the word “prove”, as you have made some pretty broad conclusions in your inimitable “it must be so” fashion.

    It may or may not be so, and I realise it is far more useful to you to operate on your own assumptions.

    Which allows the discussion in Catoctin to be about gay rights, based on your assertion that a letter to the editor is the sworn position of a campaign on an issue the BoS can’t vote on.

    From a view of the opinion section, it’s the only discussion happening in Catoctin, and most of it supporting you, you’re correct.

    Is that what you want the public face of Baldwin’s campaign to be? As I said at L2Day, have at it.

    The BoS won’t vote on it in any meaningful fashion until they’re enabled in code, and if the BoS continues to try in the absence of enabling, thanks in advance! lol

    (for all that focus on schools, commercial development, and infrastructure for everybody)

  4. Epluribusunum Post author

    I know you do, Barbara. I figured that’s the reason you keep saying so.

    And you also want to pretend that there is some sort of equivalence between, on the one hand, a campaigner for Mr. Higgins writing a hateful and ill-advised letter, and on the other hand, readers responding to the stupidity of that letter.

    Those things, I must point out to you, are not equivalent. As much as you may wish to believe otherwise, it does not make “both sides” look as if they are obsessed with this issue. It only makes the Higgins campaign look foolish.

    Is it your contention, then, that Mr. LaRock was “grandstanding” when he wrote his letter? It seems to me that he was just expressing his idea of what’s important in the upcoming election.

  5. Epluribusunum Post author

    Oh, and I wouldn’t say that the discussion is at all about “gay rights.” What it’s really about is the craven behavior of some Higgins campaign staffers, or volunteers, or whatever they are. LaRock’s letter could easily have been attacking some other segment of the community with the same result.

  6. Barbara Munsey

    David, don’t you think you ought to ascertain “whatever they are” BEFORE making sweeping statements that they speak for the candidate, and then extrapolating from there?

    I realize that isn’t how the game is played though, and that’s fine.

  7. Epluribusunum Post author

    What an interesting coincidence! Last night I attended the Baldwin/Higgins debate in Lovettsville, and to my surprise someone submitted a question inspired by the embarrassing LaRock letter. It was worded something like this: “There was a resolution before the board to prohibit discrimination against minorities, gays and women. Are you for or against discrimination?” Geary Higgins looked uncomfortable, then recited almost word for word Barbara Munsey’s repeated statement about the board not having the authority to change it’s own county employment policy because of the Dillon rule.

    We’ve already established that the (non)issue of legal authority is completely irrelevant to LaRock’s letter and its reception. Since you’ve wanted so badly to talk about your pet issue of board authority, Barbara, let’s talk about it now.

    Your assertion as “fact” that the board had no authority to add language to its own human resources policy because of the Dillon rule is false. It’s obvious that you have never bothered to watch the board meeting at which this was discussed, because if you had you would know that the county attorney directly answered this very question, posed as I recall by Supervisor Buckley. His answer was that he could not give a definitive answer, because there are conflicting rulings. This is not by any means settled law. First, it defies logic to claim that a board cannot alter the language of a policy that it was empowered by VA law to create in the first place. Second, you are wrong about “protected classes” with regard to employment law in the VA code. There is no non-discrimination “law” in Virginia, only an executive order which can be changed or rescinded at any time. Therefore, there is no stable list of “protected classes” to which a locality could be restricted by the Dillon rule. Third, Delegate Marshall formally requested an opinion on the board’s action from the AG (who would certainly be inclined to give you the answer you want to hear, if he could); there has been no response. This may be related to the fact that the AG was publicly contradicted by Governor McDonnell when he attempted to argue that the public policy of Virginia requires public colleges and universities to allow discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

    To recap, your statement that the board action was merely “political” because it had no authority is false in every respect. You can expect to be corrected when you continue to make this false statement.

    Now I have a question. Why is Barbara Munsey so interested and involved in the Catoctin supervisor race?

  8. Epluribusunum Post author

    You have misunderstood. I don’t know whether Mr. LaRock is paid or not. That’s unimportant in terms of the casual reader, who naturally sees his letter as a reflection of the Higgins campaign and what it’s about.

    Whether Mr. Higgins knew about the letter in advance or not, I imagine he’s not very happy about it now.

  9. Barbara Munsey

    David, did I say he was paid? As you advised me on L2Day, “read more carefully”.

    Yes, I understand that is is all about “the casual reader”. Which is why you and Eric make sure to repeat, repeat, repeat.

  10. Barbara Munsey

    Just read the L2Day article on the forum, which didn’t include coverage of your question.

    What a morass in your remarks here!

    The county attorney “directly answered the question”! by saying he couldn’t answer it. Oka-a-a-ay.

    I actually DID watch the Board meeting, David, so you needn’t reimage it for me. (but I do appreciate your concern for “the casual reader”)

    It isn’t settled law because the GA has yet to act on the additions you seek.

    Adding them in the absence of GA action is meaningless except from a feel-good stance, because getting to “settled law” will either be the road of GA action, or the road of courts, neither of which is quick, easy or cheap.

    The AG did issue an opinion, but not to Bob M: he issued it to the VA college that added the language too in that campaign to include it, and the screaming uproar over his supposed homophobia in telling them what the law says is what caused the governor to say “we don’t discriminate against ANYBODY”, which did take the wind out of the sails of the campaign, and brought the governor in for criticism for not reissuing the executive order.

    In addition, not including every discrete group is not “allowing discrimination against ______” (there’s that “casual reader” again). It is simply not singling them out by name, so important in activism.

    You and I had the discussion at the time that if sex and gender are both included, why must gender identity be added? Doesn’t sex and gender voer enough in that area?

    Apparently not, and when that hill is climbed, there will be another.

    Yes, it was grandstanding, yes, it was basically meaningless EXCEPT for the grandstanding, yes it happened several places in the state, and yes, there are NO issues in Catoctin other than wedges and Wheatland.

    Have fun David.

  11. Epluribusunum Post author

    You never answered my question – do you believe that Mr. LaRock was grandstanding when he wrote his letter?

    Considering your own repetition of the statement addressed below – one that has zero relevance to the topic, as well as being factually incorrect – your comment is genuinely hilarious. I wonder if you even realize that.

    No, you did not say that he was paid. You did respond to my phrase “staff or volunteer,” however. Presumably the difference between a staff member and a volunteer is whether the position is paid. I didn’t mean to confuse you by using a variety of words that mean the same thing.

  12. Epluribusunum Post author

    Oh dear. No, it isn’t settled law because of conflicting court rulings. You remember the judicial branch, from civics. Legislatures don’t make settled law.

    You really should watch that meeting again.

    At any rate, your repeated assertion, the one you keep calling “fact,” is wrong in every respect. You clearly don’t understand the legal issues at all. I thought you were smarter than this.

  13. Barbara Munsey

    actually David, what I was responding to was the “whatever”, from someone who wants the difference between sex, gender, and gender identity spelled out in law. Consistency!

  14. Epluribusunum Post author

    Oh, I’m so sorry to bother you again. What did you think my question was? How would you know whether an article covered my question, or if I even asked one? Just curious.

  15. Barbara Munsey

    David, let’s put a timeline up, shall we?

    Gov. Warner issued an executive order including sexual orientation as a specific class to be protected from discrimination–in the absence of action by the General Assembly.

    Gov. Kaine reissued it–in the absence of action by the General Assembly.

    McDonnel, as AG, issued an opinion that the executive order was unconstitutional because of the lack of action by the GA (how is all that executive order stuff and czarship working out for Obama, btw?), and as governor issued an executive order only including those classes created by the GA–in keeping with his opinion as AG, that the ball is in the GA’s court, where it remains.

    Shortly thereafter, in response to the inevitable activist uproar that it was now “legal” to discriminate, actions began popping up–at our BoS, at state universities, etc–to include the langauge the activists WANT included, and have yet been unable to get through the assembly and into law.

    In keeping with the former AG and now governor’s interpretation, the current AG said what everybody else (including me) has been saying–the ball is in the GA’s court.

    It makes for great political angst, and it will NOT be settled until someone either sues successfullyt and gets a ruling that allows a definitive answer, or someone gets action from the GA, and oh dear yes, that’s a fact that it will not be settled by our BoS.

  16. Barbara Munsey

    I knew when I was typing it that you’d conclude I was saying something other than “the question you reference here that was not included in the article in the newspaper known as Leesburg Today and I find that to be a startling omission given its primacy in the district race”.

    I realize that the language rules on this blog (and in any issue over which you prefer to hold control) are extremely intricate, and sometimes I fall far far short of them.

    Sorry!

    (and I’m smiling–hope you are too)

  17. mosborn

    “Adding them in the absence of GA action is meaningless except from a feel-good stance,”

    Or, perhaps, adding them in the absence of GA action is extremely meaningful as an indication that the people of Loudoun know right from wrong, even if the GA hasn’t caught up with that popular sentiment yet and is desperately clinging to a Virginia where you CAN discriminate against people for being “different”.

  18. Epluribusunum Post author

    Exactly. It’s called leadership. When a legislature acts in violation of constitutional principles, there is more than one way to exercise that leadership. This was one of them, and it is very, very far from meaningless.

  19. Barbara Munsey

    David, the legislature is not “acting in violation of constitutional principles”; it hasn’t acted yet.

    The absence of direct action, either negative or positive, does not prove opposite direct action.

    It isn’t “leadership” by the BoS or others, it’s activism.

    And Higgins’ remarks to whoever posed the question are not “mine”, but the opinion of the current AG, and a previous AG now serving as Governor.

  20. Pingback: Does Geary Higgins wish that his volunteers would just go away? – Loudoun Progress

  21. Barbara Munsey

    Yes, David, it is the legislature’s job to create public policy, and not activist grandstanders in the absence of that legislative action.

  22. Epluribusunum Post author

    Then why did you claim that the (state) legislature hasn’t acted yet? Of course they have acted. And our local board acted, arguably within its capacity as empowered by state law.

    The reason that your repeated statement about the matter is false is that there are different legal opinions on it; you keep saying there is only one. An opinion by the AG, even if we had one in this case, is only one opinion.

    Given all of the above, the board action was most certainly NOT grandstanding. It moved our public policy in a positive, pro-business direction, in a very concrete way. It is the public policy of Loudoun County, period.

  23. Barbara Munsey

    David, please cite the bill which passed BEFORE the BoS etc, creating the specific protected classes of sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, and so on.

    McDonnell did NOT reissue Warner and Kaine’s exec order, which had both been issued in the absence of GA action.

    The end result was called an Executive Directive, which has somewhat less force that an Order.

    You may call it a difference of opinion as you like, but I wouldn’t test it in court.

  24. Epluribusunum Post author

    Now you’re beginning to get it. VA law empowers localities like Loudoun to create and maintain their own employment policies. There is no stable list of “protected classes” under VA law. There is only the arbitrary and capricious nature of the “executive directives” you have just cited.

    The very fact that there are opposing legal opinions about the authority of localities to administer their own policies renders your repeated statement false.

  25. Barbara Munsey

    Um, no David, nice try from the bowels of whatever the Southern Poverty Law Center is cooking up next, but the reason those executive orders and now directive exist at all is because the GA has SET NO POLICY regarding the protected classes you would like too see more of enumerated.

    And whoever the next gov is (in the continued absence of GA action) might show no interest in either orders or directives, and be little moved when the activist shenanigans spring up (again) as a result.

    We may be in worse economic trouble by then if we don’t get rid of the crony socialists at the fed level, and no one may CARE what they’re not to discriminate against in the bread line.

    It is not “interpretation”, the classes do not exist in code.

  26. Barbara Munsey

    Exactly. So until they CREATE the ones you want enshrined in local law through activist protest in the absence of either assembly action or gubernatorial decree, activism is all it is, and thank you again for making it clear that there are no local issues in Catoctin bearing Democratic attention! lol

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