Give DAAR a second chance

[Because it needed to be said.. -Epl.]

I doubt that the general membership of the Dulles Area Association of Realtors (DAAR) wants to be associated with the model pictured below.

The RW triangle

How corrupt politicians stay in office

The illustration shows one way that corrupt politicians continue to win elections. They start by repeating outrageous lies about concerned citizens; for example, that anyone who wants to protect the quality of water in our creeks and streams is a “socialist” or “radical environmentalist” attempting a “land grab.” Along the way, the corrupt politician receives campaign contributions from financial interests who profit by building large, high-end homes on top of limestone karst, or in riparian buffer zones. Their profit is realized through their disregard for the environment, their own clients (homebuyers), and the common good.

If a concerned citizen exposes the corrupt politician – most effectively by merely repeating the politician’s own words – an apologist then steps forward to defend the corrupt politician. A most effective defense relies on the outrageousness of the politicians speech in the first place.  For example, an apologist may say:

“Corrupt Politician would never abuse constituents the way Concerned Citizen claims. He’s a decent man who respects everybody. Why does Concerned Citizen think he’s a hater – everybody loves him. They keep re-electing him. There must be something wrong with Concerned Citizen.”

The corrupt politician rarely has to directly address the concerned citizen’s charge, as the apologist polices the citizenry in his or her interest.

So what does this have to do with DAAR?

DAAR is an association of 1100 realtors, and their job is to help local real estate agents sell real estate. The more sales, and the faster the growth, the better – regardless of any other concern. That’s why DAAR opposes restrictions on growth.

“In 2000, DAAR engaged in a long battle with the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors on growth issues. We were on the map, receiving help and being noticed by NAR as an example of what could and needed to be done to fight the slow-growth management trend.”

Although DAAR is primarily an education and advocacy organization, it also has a political action committee. The DAAR RPAC operates as the Business Elite pictured above. The RPAC opposes any restriction on growth, including provisions that do nothing but provide information to homebuyers; for instance, that merely inform the homeowner that they are in a riparian buffer zone or an overlay district. The RPAC, sometimes dramatically represented by apologists, repeats the lies of the corrupt politician. During her public comments regarding the CBPO, apologist Edna Cross seldom restrained her contempt for sol-called “land-grabbers,” “socialists” or ”environmental extremists.” And the belligerent “War on Me” tone seems to get the desired result. RPAC legislative victories include:

• Supported tabling the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Ordinance.

• Defeated an onerous “warning-style” disclosure on homes within the Limestone Overlay District.

Most importantly, the RPAC funds candidates for local office. Their top recipient is none other than Supervisor Delgaudio. See the DAAR VPAP page. Here’s an excerpt of the VPAP ”all years summary”:

$4,500 Delgaudio for Loudoun County Board of Supervisors – Eugene
$3,500 Ryan for Loudoun County Board of Supervisors – John
$1,500 Volpe for Loudoun County Board of Supervisors – Suzanne
$1,000 Snow for Loudoun County Board of Supervisors – Stephen

I doubt that the funding profile reflects the political preferences of DAAR’s general membership. Most likely, a significant portion is gay-friendly and wouldn’t appreciate that their RPAC regularly helps the political career of a professional bigot. Perhaps that’s why somebody asked the Leesburg Today to delete my comment to the “Arko Takes Over As DAAR Chairman” article. Here is a copy of the deleted comment.

Good luck folks. We’re really going to miss Edna Cross and her anti-communist/anti-environmentalist rants in front of the BoS and her dog-whistle cross-over to speak in favor of Supervisor Delgaudio’s culture war issue of the day.

As you “safe guard and advance the mutual interests of the public, property owners, and real estate professionals,” please survey home buyers and ask if they are happy with the product you sold them. That may truly advance your mission.

The new DAAR leadership would rather keep exposure of their alliance with Supervisor Delgaudio and their utter failure in some instances to represent the public interest in the closet. The water situation at Raspberry Falls is a case in point. It will cost anywhere from $4M to $12M capital and $70K/year to $500K/year maintenance to correct a defect – a defect known to the developer long before approval of the project – that affects fewer than 200 homes. Does anyone think it advanced the interests of the public to fail to disclose the limestone karst formation under the homes? Does it protect the public interest to build on sinkhole rock formations that would have been considered out of bounds had it not been for a culture of corruption and collaboration between landowners, developers and politicians?

But this is all in the past. It’s a new year and DAAR has new leadership.  Let’s give them a chance to redefine their understanding of “mutual interest” and to distance themselves from corruption. If you know DAAR members, talk to them. And if you know of a better alternative, post a comment. If the new DAAR leadership is going to follow the lead of the old, the apologists had better get to work.

11 thoughts on “Give DAAR a second chance

  1. Barbara Munsey

    Jonathan, you DO know Edna Cross and her family have been farming hundreds of acres in Loudoun since before the majority of county residents moved in, right?

    Actually FARMING it, as opposed to getting a tax deferral on an acre of organic berries or five pet sheep.

    She is a former Virginia Farm Woman of the Year, back in the days of the county project “The 200,000 Acre Solution”, in which she participated. Which said nothing about downzoning (reducing a property’s loan-to-value ratio in many cases, and removing development rights that support that value–real world value that the bank accepts as collateral if you need a new tractor, as opposed to “intrinsic” value, that produces little more than sighs and UN programs to create more money sinks) back when the actual farmers of Loudoun were solicited to participate in it.

    I did not know that comment had been removed, but I do recall when reading it how it struck me as a fairly egregious attack on an outgoing officer, on a simple article announcing the new ones.

    If this is how your “COP” force will function, I don’t imagine it will be much more effective than any other campaign recently undertaken to tell people what to do re government.

  2. Barbara Munsey

    Jonathan, very much liked your comment on Liz’s latke post on FB–I’m glad you had a miracle of oil with your latkes! I WILL say Happy Holidays to you guys, because you celebrate more than one, yes? And many happy returns to you.

    Here’s a little humor for the realtor thread, meant gently, as humor:

  3. John B. Wealthy

    The dulles association of realtors has long been a bastard child of NAR. They go against almost every decision made at local or regional level to perpetuate the failed policy of plow and build. Even other associations see them as a bastard. The chair of their RPAC committee is an active member of the local Republican party and voluneers at the polls handing out Republican literature. Where’s the objectivity there? Notice they endorsed all Republican candidates except at the state level? That’s because other regional associations handle those endorsements. They are perhaps the worst association in Virginia and their memberhsip continues to decline.

  4. Elder Berry

    Edna Cross went way out of her way to make herself a public figure during the zoning debates and as such she ought to be able to just suck it up if her name is invoked unless someone falsely accuses her of a felony. She never seemed as if she needed someone like Barbara Munsey to speak up for her. However, exactly how Edna Cross thought that the county could hold down property taxes on her land if we had to build six or seven new schools a year for 20 years was never clear to me. Zoning density is not an invariable characteristic of land like soil type; it is a variable quality that the government determines. That idea that density can only go up, not down, is pretty odd. Heck, I need to sleep this is way too late for me. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, everybody. I think I hear Santa in the chimney.

  5. Pariahdog

    Thanks all for the comments.

    Barbara,

    Thanks for the tip. I’ll take a look at Edna’s farming and property rights activity and report back. You may send me any information that you think is pertinent or post another comment.

    John,

    That’s good information. I didn’t look at the DAAR RPAC endorsements, but I will and may incorporate them into a follow up. If you know of an alternative, let us know so that we can alert folks.

    Elder,

    Yes, Edna does appear to have placed herself between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, she’s purportedly an experienced farmer *and* an experienced real-estate professional, and on the other, she’s the victim of a local government gone wild. While other farmers sold their land and profited, Edna has been abused time after time. Her story is not without contradiction and deserves a follow up.

  6. Barbara Munsey

    By all means, look up her farming activities, which predate all of our residency by many years.

    Often one of the biggest complaints for people who have farmed here for years is that many of the people who moved in and bought small pieces (often from the folks they later called “greedy developers”–always seems to be true that the very special unique and different house DEVELOPED by a last-house-on-the-block type is perfectly okay. It’s everybody ELSE’S awful house, long commute etc that is wrong wrong wrong–lol!) decided their own “property rights” included being universally pleased by whatever their eyes lit upon, hence their supposed rights to “viewshed”, i.e. control of the property of others, which they do not own.

    In a by right state, you can’t stop development entirely, so often those who wish to control the world need to use the circuitous means of other regulation to close the door after their own specialness has arrived. (Ask some of the lifelong rural black residents about the use of the perc test way back when–lots of people couldn’t build for their own families because their land supposedly didn’t perc. When the families eventually sold to some people still active in no-growth politics today, lo and behold, some of those environmental champions are now the proud possessors of sets of ten acre lots that perc just fine. Amazing!)

    One problem with the lofty platitudes used to mask the machinations is that sooner or later you can’t regulate land as if it is public, while expecting to tax it as if it remains private.

    Had the suits against the plan revision of 2001 not succeeded so thoroughly on the execrable advertising and procedure, the takings issue of the downzoning might have been addressed in court–then we’d all have some kind of existing opinion to hang our hat on regarding how many sticks remain in the bundle of one’s personal property rights, and how many are distributed via social or environmental justice to people who don’t own it, but have big feelings about looking at it.

  7. Dave Butler

    2003-2007, pro-growth, Republican Board: Taxes up 50%
    2007-2011, slow-growth, Democratic Board: Taxes up 4%

  8. Elder Berry

    Barbara Munsey you are so full of baloney we could use you to make a sandwich. We have had a complete exposure (courtesy of the economic meltdown and the forest of foreclosure signs) of exactly what kind of might as well be criminal activity was going on in the corporate bank/developer/RE world in order to give us the tax disaster that is residential development in Northern Virginia. It started in Fairfax in the 80s and moved to Loudoun in the 90s, and it made a few very large corporations very rich at the expense of Northern Virginia taxpayers. Well I suppose that kind of welfare is fine with you. As I see it, it was theft, that development heavily subsidized by taxpayers, unsustainable rapid development against common sense aided by corrupt politicians in Richmond and in the counties. None of your feeble attempts to tie growth management to racism will change that. No one ever tried to stop growth, all anyone ever tried to do was manage it so that we didn’t end up with the tax and traffic nightmare we have. The nightmare that was predictable and inevitable once the development flood was unleashed. Fairfax taxes shot up. History was there to see. The numbers were demonstrated to show that growth above a certain rate led inevitably to a requirement for tax increases just to pay for necessary mandated services. Your favorite development pimps just ignored that demonstrated reality. So that’s where we indeed have ended up in Loudoun too. My property taxes shot through the roof, I got nothing to show for it but worse traffic everywhere. You like money from your pocket going into Toll Brothers, I don’t. Why don’t you talk about that kind of taking. If Richmond wasn’t owned by developers we’d have impact fees like most sane jurisdictions do. As for the flawed ordinance advertisement, you know quite well it was a technicality of one missing map in the final newspaper advertisement out of a several years long process. Every single home in Loudoun got mailed an individual notice of the new ordinance. Sure not clear to me how that wasn’t enough. I was smart enough to figure it out and I’m no PHD. You want no zoning at all why don’t you just admit it.

  9. Elder Berry

    Edna and Jim Cross tell their own story in a file you can find easily on Google. Here’s what they say. They sort of sound a lot like real estate investors.

    “She [Edna] obtained her Real Estate license in 1968. We started buying land in Loudoun County in 1972 with a 10-acre parcel, then another in 1973 and a
    third in 1974. We sold those in 1984 and bought 300 acres. The kids and us worked for 7 years on that first 30 acres to pick up rocks. When we sold those 10-acre lots we moved those rocks with us to what is now called JEBRAA Farm…
    Jim is now President of Falls Church
    Construction Corporation after buying into the corporation in 1979. Edna still sells Real Estate…”

    Do I have this wrong, if so how. When I google her just about the whole first page is her real estate listings. She’s in real estate and he’s in construction. They buy and sell land, bought their farm in 1984, not exactly a historic date. 300 acres is a fair size piece of land but to a subdivision developer it’s just a hundred 3 acre lots. I know they raise cattle but if you’re holding land for development you do want to get a land use preference with the taxes we have to pay these days. They certainly might be nice people but doesn’t alter the fact that Loudoun’s too rapid suburban development shot up our taxes. When you buy land as an investment sometimes the zoning changes in your favor and sometimes it doesn’t. Most investments are funny that way, their value can go down as well as up and it depends on lots of things. You seem to want some kind of government guarantee of the land value. That sounds like more welfare to me Barbara. Wish the government had guaranteed my 401K.

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