Monthly Archives: February 2012

Thanks, Republicans

And thanks to you also, Governor McDonnell, for your leadership on this. Thank you for amending the Ultrasound Rape bill to be merely an Ultrasound Battery bill. And then passing it.

This action unequivocally proves that the purpose of this bill has nothing to do with ensuring that a woman sees an ultrasound image of the embryo she has decided to abort, since in almost all cases, an external ultrasound won’t produce anything to see. No, this is just about throwing up any old pesky obstacle in her way and making it more inconvenient and expensive to exercise her legal, constitutional right to obtain an abortion. Thanks again for making that so clear. It’s way more convincing than us saying it.

On large, unexpected expenses

Once in a while there appears a post or a letter to the editor so earnestly, hilariously dumb that we must sit for a moment of awestruck silence. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Ben Belrose:

Dear Editor: There are certain expenses in life that are “normal” ongoing expenses that people pay for out of their budget. We buy insurance to cover large, unexpected expenses.

Years ago, the common plan was described as “major medical” which was designed to help people cover medical hospitalization, i.e., expenses that could not be covered by their normal budget. A routine visit to the doctor for a cold or the flu was paid out of the available normal resources…

The purpose of this letter is to establish the idea that reproductive health, which includes control over conception, is not properly categorized as a health care expense. He would like for us to consider categorizing it instead as one of many “normal living expenses” like buying gasoline or “daily trips to the coffee bar.” Continue reading

Show me your public comment

[promoted by Liz]

It’s nearly March and I haven’t spoken to the new BoS.  Public speaking used to be easy.  Any time I wanted to talk, I’d leave work, show up, and speak.  Now it’s not so easy.  For the first comment, I followed my usual schedule and arrived as the last speaker finished.  Chairman York gaveled the meeting and I was deflated.  The second time, I landed at a public hearing, not a public comment, and the next time, and the next… the comment period was too early to even try.

But I’m determined.  I signed up to speak twice this week.  The new speaking sign-up process is interesting.  I used to call in and say, “I’m going to talk about the budget” and the aide would say ok.

Here’s what I experienced.

“Hi, I’d like to sign up to speak at the budget hearing”

“What would you like to speak about”

“The budget”

“The budget?  Nothing more specific”

“It’s a budget hearing.  I’d like to speak about the budget”

“So I should put you down for ‘budget, general?’”

“Yes, ‘budget, general’.  I’d also like to speak to the Reform Commission tomorrow”

“I’ll transfer you.”

The aide transferred me to Ilene Mallory.

I’d like to sign up for public comment.

What would you like to talk about?

The Reform Commission.  It’s a Reform Commission public hearing.

Do you have anything specific you’d like to address.

Yes, I’d like to address the Reform Commission.

You will have three minutes.

Great! thank you.

Both aides asked me to explain myself, and this is coming from a BoS that is “reforming government” to make sure that their clients don’t have to jump through hoops.  I’d like to know who their clients are, because they sure are not me.  Why do we have to show our public comment to the aides?  They are counting.  That’s why.

 

 

 

The War on Women

Before the war on women continues down the path recently begun by Virginia’s Republican men and a Republican candidate for president, we might do well to review what life was really like for women before the Civil Rights Era and the Women’s Movement.

My first memory is being told by the bank manager where I worked part-time while in college, that my male counterpart (who had barely passed high school with a D average, whereas I was the school valedictorian) deserved twice my wage per hour, because he was a man and I was a woman. No other reason needed to be given.

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An easy Reform Commission cut

Dear Loudoun County Government Reform Commission,

I have a way for you to immediately save Loudoun County taxpayers one quarter of a million dollars per year.

That is the amount of revenue the county is not receiving due to the property tax exemption granted in late 2003 to the massive Loudoun compound of Chuck Colson’s Prison Fellowship Ministries/Colson Center.

Our tax dollars at work.

Rescind it. PFM doesn’t qualify for a tax exemption. Tax exempt entities in Loudoun are not permitted to engage in partisan political advocacy and propaganda, and that is precisely what Chuck Colson uses his organization to do. Case in point – as discussed here, Chuck Colson has fabricated and repeatedly disseminated the following two big, honking falsehoods: that President Obama has redefined “freedom of religion” to be a more narrow concept of “freedom of worship,” and that the Affordable Care Act mandate to employers to provide contraceptive coverage as part of comprehensive health insurance plans is something new, and is “the most important issue — I really think the most important I’ve faced in my ministry, and the greatest threat to America, the greatest threat to us as Christians.” But in fact: Continue reading

LCGRC item 12: Privatization and outsourcing of county functions

Loudoun’s 2013 budget proposal cuts a minuscule fifteen thousand dollar grant to Friends of Loudoun Mental Health, a public private partnership that has been operating since 1955. The money provides temporary housing to people suffering from mental illness as they transition back into the community. Through Friends extensive volunteer network the housing cost is only $400/month per person. If the person were hospitalized, the cost would be $19,000/month.

This is disturbing because a $15K line item in a $1.8B budget is a teeny-weeny target. How did the budget cutters find and eliminate this item? It seems ideological. The cutter must have been thinking

“Mental illness, bah!, it’s all in their head.  Tell them to get over it and give that $15K back to the hard working taxpayers.”

This is the behavior of a hack who cuts things out because he doesn’t know what they do and is too prideful, lazy and self-important to find out. Was there no due-diligence? This decision is an attack on a vulnerable population and a well-respected public/private partnership that provides needed services at little cost to taxpayers.

The taking reforming isn’t limited to small line items. The county tried to take $25.4M in school bus driver benefits but the cut met with resistance from the 3000 bus drivers who depend on those benefits. Nonetheless, the first commenter on the Loudoun Times Mirror revealed the ideology of the cutters.

Sorry bus drivers, but no part time employees I know get ANY benefits!  Go ahead, walk out of your cushy jobs.  They will be filled by those wanting any sort of jobs, benefits or not.  This is like the Verizon crybabies who didn’t realize how good they had it.  Get in your buses, do your job, and. .no, unless you work full time, YOU GET NO BENEFITS, just like the rest of us who work for private businesses.  Taxes are strangling me, enough of this nonsense!

Does a school bus driver have a “cushy job”? I never thought so, and for now, the school board did not think so either. The benefits are funded in 2013, but the battle is not over. The 2012 sweep has a red pen and a mission, and they’ll pressurize labor and human services across the board to see what they can break, or erase, entirely.

At the February 7, Reform Commission meeting, the commissioners scrutinized a list of  thirty-four items that strangely failed to appear on the RC web site. Here is item #12 (emphasis mine).

12. Privatization and outsourcing of county functions

Assess current use of contract services as well as where this could be expanded cost-effectively.

Assess areas where government could remove itself and permit the function to be performed by the private sector, whether under contract or on its own.

Areas might include school buses and drivers, school food services and cafeteria employees, janitorial services, and solid waste management; assess FirstGroup America and others that could provide school bus drivers.

FirstGroup is a UK-based multinational corporation. Their web site elicited a visceral negative reaction. I’m sorry. I can’t verbalize the reaction with much more than “Ick!“. Aren’t we smart enough to manage our own bus drivers. I don’t see what outsourcing bus drivers does except to wash our hands of the labor relations “problem” and delegate it to a faceless multi-national.

Supervisor Geary Higgins (R-Catoctin)

But maybe that’s the intent. This is purely conjecture, but I believe the source of this proposal is Geary Higgins VP of Labor Relations for the National Electrical Contractors Association NECA. In that capacity, Higgins job duties include “establishing, maintaining, and repairing the relationships with all levels of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW).

In English, it means that NECA members negotiate tough agreements with the union, or with electricians employed by “open shops”.  After a tough negotiation, or the award of a non-union contract, Geary manages the broken relationship with the IBEW, perhaps even extending “an offer they can’t refuse.“. NECA speak is Orwellian. For example, here is a portion of an abstract from a study of union versus non-union shops.

This study determined that the convoluted expectations and regulations of the labor union are an added cost without providing any added value to the stakeholders. On the other hand, the open shop contractor enjoys a higher level of freedom and therefore lower cost.

I’ve sometimes wondered what that abstract term “freedom” meant in some contexts. Now I know. It’s the freedom to screw if you’re management or get screwed if you’re labor.

New Progressive Blog in Chantilly

I’m not a regular blogger; but I was honored to be invited to blog on Patch.com in the Chantilly site, which covers much of the Dulles District, plus part of Fairfax County.  I’ve done two blogs so far, one on Romney’s attitudes towards the poor, and one on the need to protect Drug Court and the public inebriate center project. 

I’m also using the blog to sport my art, drawings, oil paintings, ceramics and photographs, as they relate to stories.

 I hope you will take the time to read the blogs and comment. 

Fisherfolk

Best wishes to all.  Larry Roeder

Posted in Uncategorized |

New Progressive Blog in Chantilly

 

Fisherfolk

I’m not a regular blogger; but I was honored to be invited to blog on Patch.com in the Chantilly site, which covers much of the Dulles District, plus part of Fairfax County.  I’ve done two blogs so far, one on Romney’s attitudes towards the poor, and one on the need to protect Drug Court and the Public Inebriate Center project. 

I’m also using the blog to sport my art, drawings, oil paintings, ceramics and photographs, as they relate to stories.

 I hope you will take the time to read the blogs and comment on the substance and the art.

Best wishes to all.  Larry Roeder

Holiday display solution moves forward

According to the Leesburg Today, the Finance, Government Services and Operations Committee is recommending that the Courthouse Grounds Facility Committee “be directed to work up a plan for seasonal display sponsored by the county government” that would replace the increasingly contentious “limited public forum” policy in place for the past three years.

The solution is essentially identical to what was proposed by former Supervisor Miller at the end of last year, but was not adopted because the display spaces for that year had already been assigned, and in some cases, displays already erected.

Supervisor Shawn Williams (R-Broad Run), an attorney, noted that there are two different Supreme Court cases that show there is legal precedent for such a step.

“Essentially what they decided to do in those cases was you could put up a secular display, a Christmas tree, fine…Things that weren’t of an innately religious value,” he said, noting there also was a case of a nativity scene put on a courthouse’s steps, and that the court ruled that was going to far. “The tough work will be in deciding what the government-sponsored seasonal display is. I think we do have some good guidance from two Supreme Court cases. If we put out a secular display, we should be fine.” [My emphasis]

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