Author Archives: Dave Nemetz

Integrity Matters

Hey all, I’m back for a moment, from my perch here in resplendent Reston, to weigh on on something.

The Loudoun Times-Mirror made some endorsements today in their on-line edition, one of which was endorsing Republican Ralph Buona over Valdis Ronis for Ashburn District Supervisor. Now, endorsements alone don’t amount to a whole hill of beans, but some people who don’t pay close attention may rely on them for a decision. So I just wanted to point out a bit of a conflict of interest I’m seeing here.

Back in June of 2010, the Times-Mirror and the Loudoun Independent merged. The owner of the Independent was Bill Dean, who also runs M. C. Dean, a multi-faceted business based in Sterling. They happen to operate OpenBand, which provides cable, internet, and telephone service to many residents in the Ashburn District (of which I am a former resident). As part of the merger, Mr. Dean was given a seat on the Times-Mirror Board of Directors.

Fast forward to 2011. Loudoun Chamber of Commerce Chairman Ralph Buona throws his hat into the ring for the supervisor seat being vacated by Lori Waters, opposing Valdis Ronis. Mr. Dean, either directly or through M.C. Dean, Inc. contributed $5,500 to Mr. Buona’s campaign this year (as of September 30, 2011).  Interesting, because there are 2 Homeowners Associations in Ashburn District who are taking legal action against OpenBand regarding their franchise renewal. The next Board of Supervisors will undoubtedly have to make a decison on whether or not to grant OpenBand a franchise renewal, and Mr. Dean’s campaign contributions to Mr. Buona raise serious conflict of interest issues.

Now, today, we see that the Loudoun Times Mirror has endorsed Mr. Buona in the supervisor’s race. As I said before, it’s just an endorsement, and in the grand scheme of things isn’t earth-shattering, but it brings into question why the Times-Mirror would even go there. At the very least, they should have explained the connection and refrained from making an endorsement.

Integrity matters, and it is becoming apparent that Mr. Dean, Mr. Buona, and the Loudoun Times-Mirror are lacking in that regard. Valdis Ronis has shown throughout his campaign an impeccable level of integrity. Please vote of November 8th for my friend and former neighbor, Valdis Ronis, for Ashburn District Supervisor.

Time To Take a Break

(originally posted on my blog, “In Through the Out Door“)

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here, as I have been posting most recently on Loudoun Progress. But this will be my last blog posting, of any sort, for a while.

I moved out of Loudoun County earlier this month, to Reston. While I leave behind a lot of friends I made in the past 6 years that I called Lansdowne my home, I also leave behind weariness of the divisive nature politics brings with it.

When I left Loudoun, I was serving dual roles as both the Treasurer of the Loudooun County Democratic Committee and Ashburn District Chair. I was also the Chairman of the Lansdowne Homeowners Association Communications Committee. All of those roles have been vacated, and my sole focus as I begin my Reston chapter is to spend time with my wife and 5 year-old son. No more politics for me, for the time being. I won’t be joining any political committees or campaigns. I won’t be sporting bumper stickers or buttons. I won’t be reading or contributing to the blogs. I want a clean break.

Make no mistake, I will still support candidates (most likely Democrats, but I can’t rule out independents), both with my vote and my checkbook, who I believe are the best people for the job. But I won’t have to pledge support anymore for candidates who don’t have a clue as to why they’re running.  I was happily independent before my time in the LCDC, but always leaning left. I really want to get back to that again.

So, in closing, I wish the best for Liz, Evan, and David – keep LP going stong. We made it one year when critics said it wouldn’t last. It’s not “goodbye”, but “see ya later”, to Tammi, Erica, Lowell, and Jeff. You were the inspiration for me getting started in blogging. It’s “Good Luck” to Jennifer, Al, Mike, Valdis, and Dave – you all will make great public servants when you win.

And now it’s time for me to run.

Where’s the “Out Door”?

Dave

Valdis Ronis for Loudoun

Memorial Day is fast approaching, and with summer coming, the campaigns will be switching into high gear soon.

Valdis Ronis, candidate for the incumbent-free (and newly created) Ashburn District Supervisor seat, is planning a number of events and fundraisers in the coming weeks, beginning with the Ashburn Farm Summer Kick-Off, and we should all stand behind him and give him as much help as we can this summer and in the coming months.

Valdis’ campaign motto is “Leadership, not Politics”, and it is clear from his occupational and civic credentials that he is and will continue to practice that when he is elected in November. He describes himself as “fiscally conservative, socially progressive and environmentally responsible”, and the three tenets of his campaign are “leadership, accountability and sustainability”, according to his campaign website. Valdis also has a 5-point plan for Loudoun: 1) ensuring the quality of our childrens’ education; 2) managing growth and supporting economic development; 3) improving our transportation network; 4) achieving maximum value for every tax dollar; and 5) preserving our quality of life & protecting the environment. As a businessman and citizen activist, Valdis is uniquely qualified to speak authoritatively on all 5 of those points.

Valdis is also practicing his fiscal responsibility in his campaign by spending only what he needs to on his campaign without incurring a penny of debt, and spending campaign funds only when and where they are necessary. Voters take note – this is how Valdis will operate with the county budget when he is elected.

In total, by being “fiscally conservative, socially progressive and environmentally responsible”, Valdis Ronis is the complete package that residents should be looking for in their district supervisor. But he can’t do it alone; he will need an all-out effort from each and every one of us to ensure victory in November.

A Quick Note

In short, about the news that came out overnight regarding the demise of the world’s #1 Most Wanted terrorist, I suppose the tired meme ”President Obama is soft on terrorism” can be put to rest now, huh?

Kudos to our American military, the CIA, and all who worked diligently to see this day through.

Loudoun’s Champion of Transportation Legislation

From a press release from the office of Sen. Mark Herring (33rd):

Leesburg- Senator Mark Herring (D-Loudoun & Fairfax) announced today new state funding for Loudoun County’s two most critical transportation infrastructure needs has been included in the Draft Fiscal Years 2012 – 2017 Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) Six-Year Improvement Program (SYIP).

As a result of the transportation plan passed by the General Assembly this year, of which Senator Herring served as chief co-patron, $3 billion in additional funds have been provided in this year’s SYIP to accelerate and advance many phases of more than 900 transportation infrastructure projects across the Commonwealth, including the construction of the Route 7/Belmont Ridge Road interchange and the
Sycolin Road Overpass.  Also included in the package is a one-mile extension of Battlefield Parkway.  The current estimated total cost of these three projects is $104.6 million.

“Through my efforts and the efforts of County officials, my Route 7 Task Force, and the business community, the state is now committed to fully fund the construction of these vital projects along the Route 7 corridor,” Herring stated.

“For too long, Virginians have been spending too much of their time stuck in traffic, away from their families, and away from their jobs. This means lost productivity for our businesses and a lower quality of
life for our citizens,” Herring continued.

“Working together with the Governor and members of both parties in both houses of the General Assembly, I fought hard this session to make sure that more state funds are coming back home to build roads and help alleviate the congestion that is paralyzing our region. Although this year’s transportation funding package was but a first step, I believe it was a meaningful one that will improve the lives of
the citizens of our area.”

The Commonwealth Transportation Board is expected to adopt the final 2012-2017 Six-Year Improvement Program in June.

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Once again, just more reasons why we need to work extra-hard to ensure that we return this outstanding public servant to the State Senate again this coming November.

A key phrase I noticed in that press release was in paragraph 5: ““Working together with the Governor and members of both parties in both houses of the General Assembly…” – Senator Herring knows what it takes to get smart, sensible legislation passed in the General Assembly, without the crass partisanship that we have been seeing from those on the right, starting with the Governor and extending to the embarrassing behavior we see in the Attorney General’s office.

Bi-partisanship works, it works for Loudoun, and it works for Virginia. All of the citizens of this county should be thankful that we have someone like Mark Herring representing us.

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.

R & D Tax Credits Bill Passes the Senate

From Senator Mark Herring’s Twitter page today:

SB 1326 creating an ‘R&D’ Tax Credit in Virginia passed the Senate 38-1.

This is good news for getting jobs created in Virginia. Companies that invest in R & D now have incentives to hire more people to help with that R & D, and they can do so starting next year.

Here’s hoping that the near-unanimous Senate vote carries over to the House of Delegates with similar support, since the Governor supports it as well.

The text of SB 1326:

Income tax; research and development expenses tax credit. Allows income tax credits for individuals and businesses for qualified research and development expenses for taxable years beginning on or after January 1, 2012, but before January 1, 2017. The tax credit amounts are (i) 15% of the Virginia qualified research and development expenses, or (ii) 20% of the Virginia qualified research and development expenses, if the research was conducted in conjunction with a Virginia public college and university. The Tax Department shall develop policies and procedures for the application process for the tax credits. There is a $10 million cap on the total amount of credits allowed in any taxable year.

Sen. Herring noted SB 1326 on his webpage:

Among the highlights of Senator Herring’s legislative package is SB 1326, which creates a Research and Development Tax Credit in Virginia.  This legislation is the top priority of the Northern Virginia Technology Council and the Virginia Biotechnology Association, with whom Senator Herring has worked closely in the past, including last year on the passage of the Virginia Innovation Investment Act.  For his efforts to promote science and technology based economic development, Senator Herring was named “Legislator of the Year” in 2010 by the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO).

This legislation was also included among Governor Bob McDonnell’s “Opportunity at Work” legislative proposals.  The Governor thanked Senator Herring for carrying this legislation during his State of the Commonwealth address delivered this past Wednesday.

More reason why Mark Herring is working hard for Virginia (and Loudoun County) individuals and families. We should all workk hard to re-elect him in November.

Sign This, Send That 10

Send Frank Wolf a fax asking him to drop his government healthcare, since he voted on January 19th to deny citizens access to affordable healthcare.

Also, join the call to investigate JP Morgan for overcharging 4,000 US troops for their mortgages.

Advertised Does Not Mean Actual

This morning, I was reading the front page story in this week’s Leesburg Today (oddly, with no link to it on their website), “Budget Rhetoric Heats Up”, that described the debate that ensued in Wednesday’s Finance committee meeting. Supervisor Stevens Miller (D-Dulles) alluded to the contentious nature of this meeting on his blog this week, and staff writer Erika Jacobsen Moore expanded on it in her article.

At issue is the advertisement of a maximum tax rate for 2011 of $1.33, a rate which would be necessary to fully fund the proposed budget submitted by Schools Superintendent Edgar Hatrick, along with the necessary programs for the rest of the County.The confusing part of the whole controversy is Supervisor Lori Waters’ actions in the Finance committee meeting. According to the Leesburg Today article, Mrs. Waters was concerned that citizens would immediately consider the advertised maximum tax rate as a tax increase (we’re currently paying a rate of $1.30 per $100 of assessed value). Nevermind the fact that this is a high end for a rate, and that normally, we don’t end up with that as our final rate. Negotiations, assesment data, funding from the state, etc., all combine later in the year to usually adjust our rate below that of the advertised rate.

Supervisor Jim Burton (I-Blue Ridge) had a rational consideration, to word the advertisement in a way to ensure that residents see it as an “upper limit”, not the actual rate.

“I am concerned about people intentionally taking the advertisement as a decision by the board,” he said.

And that’s exactly what happens when it comes time for citizen input. The Loudoun County Republican Committee will marshal their forces and complain loudly (and incorrectly) that this is yet another tax increase. They do it every time. They’ll do it again. And Supervisor Waters has already started the misinformation campaign, mentioning in the meeting that “(g)oing to $1.33 would increase my own taxes by $468″, even though the tax rate has not increased.

Yes, it’s political grandstanding; I understand that. And with grandstanding comes attempting to use data to your side’s advantage. But to intentionally and deliberately misrepresent information that will be transmitted to residents, in order to rile up the masses is simply irresponsible. Supervisor Waters should know better than that.

Andrea for Potomac (Again!!)

Supervisor Andrea McGimsey (D-Potomac) announced yesterday that she will be seeking a second term as Potomac District supervisor in Loudoun County. We here at Loudoun Progress couldn’t be happier.

Andrea has been in the forefront in moving Loudoun County towards energy efficiency,  along with job creation through the efficient use of energy. She also has been a leader in ensuring safe access for bicyclists and pedestrians, which not only is a public safety issue, but also an issue that deals with cleaner environment, traffic reduction, and overall healthy living.

Through Andrea’s hard work, she helped plan the Loudoun Energy Strategy, funded as part of a $2.2 million federal grant, which provides guidelines to residences and businesses on how to increase their energy efficiency. The plan also puts the focus on development projects that are energy efficient. According to the Washington Post, the projects funded under the strategy created “an estimated 70 new jobs” and saved the county “more than $125,000 in energy costs”.  Retrofitting for energy efficiency is a triple threat: it’s good for the environment, it saves money, and it creates jobs. Andrea is a leader in that area.In addition, the Board, in December, passed three of Ms. McGimsey’s initiatives aimed at making Loudoun safer for bicyclists and pedestrians. The county will prioritize a list of bicycle and pedestrian projects in order to apply for federal funds when they become available. At the top of the list is a project aimed at giving bicyclists and pedestrians safe and easy access to the future Silver Line Metro stations at Routes 606 and 772. Reducing the number of cars on the road, improving our commutes, making our air cleaner, and keeping people safer is another way Andrea is proving her worth as a leader.

Andrea has also worked hard to see that Loudoun County not only passed a balanced budget this past year, but also passed a budget with a $94 million surplus. For a county that had been mired in budgetary difficulties because of the poor decisions made by the previous board, the long hours and years spent on getting Loudoun back in the black again is all due to the work of dedicated public servants and leaders such as Andrea McGimsey.

Loudoun County is better off because of Andrea serving on the Board of Supervisors, and we look forward to 4 more years of her leadership representing Eastern Loudoun.

Go Andrea!!