Tag Archives: Loudoun County

WV Board of Educaton Tells Rock Wool “Not So Fast”

Rockwool_protest

The Jefferson County Board of Education (BOE) has announced its intent to seize the Ranson, WV land where the Rockwool Plant broke ground, so that it may build a student center instead; in response, Rockwool has filed a civil rights action in federal court last Friday to stop the seizure so that it may remain where it is and open shop sooner rather than later.

From Ranson, WV to Maryland to Loudoun County, citizens have been concerned about the fallout from the Rockwool plant in Ranson, WV; there are estimates that there may be as much as 392 tons of pollution headed east to Loudoun from Ranson, WV when (and if) the plant is up and running.

392 tons of pollution from WV’s Rockwool “coming our way.”

392 tons of pollution from WV’s Rockwool “coming our way.”

Continue reading

The Board of Supervisors Favors More Development Over Math and Science

A simple Algebra problem

A simple Algebra problem

I was in the Lovettsville Library the other day, looking at a 3 D pair of plastic glasses made on a state of the art printer at the Leesburg library, and a library patron asked if I’d heard that the County had killed a state of the art math and science library for the County.

It’s true, they have.

Our elected leaders almost always favor development that covers and destroys open fields and trees and wild life so developers can build more roads and small artificial parks where once were rolling fields and trees.

In this dystopic world of excess development, one tragic irony is that our Loudoun County Board of Supervisors has decided to steal funds dedicated to a science and tech library and to spend it instead on roads and parks!

Could we possibly make worse choices in this County, that passes itself off as a high tech community, and among the wealthiest in the nation, than to disfavor advancement in science and math?

America has been steadily sliding in global education rankings for decades. Continue reading

A Step Forward to End LGBTQ Discrimination

Ayala Sherbow

Ayala Sherbow

Several years ago, Lovettsville’s Ayala Sherbow said she “made a commitment to [herself] and to [her] children (one of whom is gay and one of whom is transgender) to work toward tolerance and understanding.”

Ayala has been part of a coalition of parents and teachers and community leaders to make that difference in our school system where teachers must conceal who they are if LGBTQ persons and students who may be bullied for the same reason.

Ayala is the first to say that many people from Lovettsville and across the County have been pulling and pushing to favor tolerance and understanding.

At the outset of this push to recognize and protect LGBTQ teachers and students, Holly Patterson came before the School Board, waved her iPad, and said her 16-year-old transgender student tried to commit suicide, because the School Board did nothing to protect him from bullying.

The highly regarded “Journal of Adolescent Health,” after a survey of almost 32,000 students, concluded the failure to include LGBTQ persons in an anti-bullying school policy meant a 225% increase in the likelihood that they would attempt suicide.

Another study found that LGBTQ students hear derogatory slurs, on the average, 26 times a day.  Some of this happens in front of school staff who stand by doing nothing. These children therefore can’t trust the staff to protect them.

Finally, last week the Loudoun County School Board approved a new policy – in a 5 to 4 vote – to protect LGBTQ persons as follows:

“The Loudoun County School Board is committed to providing for an equitable, safe and inclusive learning and working environment.

“The Loudoun County School Board affirms a commitment to this principle for all persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, disability, age, or genetic information.

“It is the intent of the School Board of Loudoun County that every policy, practice, and procedure shall reflect this commitment. Behavior that is not unlawful may nevertheless be unacceptable for the educational environment or the workplace. Demeaning or otherwise harmful actions are prohibited, particularly if directed at personal characteristics, including, but not limited to socioeconomic level, sexual orientation, perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Ayala said, “It’s a pretty complete victory, hard fought, and will have to be played out in policy.  But it’s a big step.”

Ayala said, “When I started to work toward this outcome, I had a transgender daughter who was in school system.  The principle that concerned us, however, remains.  What this policy does is affirm the dignity and humanity of LGBTQ persons and guarantee to them the same rights and protections as everyone else.  Without this policy, you could have been fired as a gay teacher.  There have been plenty of Loudoun students who have testified over the years who had heard homophobic statements from faculty as well as students.  Now, with this policy, you can hold people responsible and accountable for any inappropriate remarks.”

As for the objection to such a policy, Ayala said, “It’s mostly fear and misinformation.”

Dave LaRock spreads fear, misinformation

Dave LaRock spreads fear, misinformation

Among the most prominent elected official to object to this policy reform was the Delegate from the 33rd Delegate District, David LaRock.

In 2016, Mr. LaRock introduced legislation against the designation, transgender, in HB 431 and HB 397, insisting a person’s sexual designation was restricted to what a birth certificate said, and the only discrimination, including what a transgender person might suffer, could only be based on that same certificate.

Last year, Mr. LaRock said, “If you create a right for people on the basis of their sexual behaviors, then you are taking away the right of someone like me  … to say, ‘I choose not to rent the place that I have to homosexuals…”  Mr. LaRock added that he thought transgender people have a mental disorder and should not hold “role-model positions” in schools.  Mr. LaRock fears “social contagion.”

This year, anticipating the School Board’s new policy, Mr. LaRock circulated a petition against any change to what was the current policy.

Dave LaRock's petition

Dave LaRock’s petition

Ayala said, “Mr. LaRock has made no effort to hide the disdain he has for LGBTQ persons.”

Dave LaRock at the School Board meeting

Dave LaRock at the School Board meeting

On his FB page, Mr. LaRock objected that the new school policy recognizes “homosexual and transgender behavior as normal and healthy.”

Ayala said, “But it is normal and healthy for LGBTQ persons.”

Candidate Mavis Taintor, hoping to challenge Mr. LaRock in the General Election, has objected that he has “spoke[n] … gainst equity, dignity, and inclusion for all in Loudoun schools.”

Are Women Equal?

Do you support the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) for Women?

Equality_silouhette“Yes,” a Lovettsville woman said.

A few moments passed.

“Is that a trick question?,” she asked.

If the Virginia General Assembly supports the Amendment, constitutional experts agree, this ERA Amendment, first introduced in Congress in one earlier version in the 1920s, would finally become part of our U.S. Constitution.

Thirty-Seven states have ratified the Equal Rights Amendment, one short of the Thirty-Eight states needed for passage.

The Lovettsville woman added, “Virginia should be the State that makes passage possible.”

In Virginia, in the past, the upper House, the Senate, has supported the Amendment, but not the lower house.  There is a push to change that when the legislature convenes in January.

Opposed to the Amendment, the Vice Chairman for the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, Ralph Buona (R-Ashburn), blocked any consideration of the Amendment, and said, “The General Assembly doesn’t care what we think.”

“If that’s true,” said one ERA supporter, “then why do they send any requests to the legislature.” Continue reading

How Narrow the Band in Western Loudoun

In this picture is a broadband source to connect to the Internet

In this picture is a broadband source to connect to the Internet

Out in Western Loudoun, near Lovettsville, there are various ways to get on the Internet.

There is of course by satellite connected to a dish by your house.

There are broadcasting links atop various structures including a silo out by Stevens Road.  What else would you expect in the country?  It had to be on a silo.

Dishes are put outside home windows pointed toward the “broadcasting” structures including the devices affixed atop a silo.

You have to look long and hard to see the connecting devices including atop that old silo.

Connection to the Internet via silo

Connection to the Internet via silo

The County Board has promised it was going to make a difference to broad band in Western Loudoun.

But little or nothing has happened to do so.

Some were surprised by the recent pronouncements by Loudoun’s Economic Development folks  that “Loudoun County Leads Virginia in Broadband Use.”

“According to the latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau,” according to the County’s Economic Development Crew, “Loudoun has the highest percentage of households with a fixed broadband (not mobile) Internet subscription in Virginia.”

Unfortunately, this is “somewhat” off the mark as they are really only talking about eastern Loudoun.

There was a broadband survey that the County conducted earlier this year.  It was in May and was extended through July 27, 2018 for residents to express their opinion.

There was an online map that showed the reaction.

Only “blue” was “great” and that was dominant in the eastern part of the County; “green” was “hit or miss” online (heavy in the West), and “red” was “terrible” (dominant in the West) and, as a result, the map of Western Loudoun looked like the onslaught of a teenage acne condition.

The survey map that was – and isn’t any longer

The survey map that was – and isn’t any longer

By the way, if you go looking for this map, as it appeared, and found in this article, it’s vanished; one source argued that’s what the County does to “hush” up what they don’t want the community to consider.

The original url was http://loudoungis.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=1a995526e50c424896bfa48fdb793d9e .

When you go to that address (url) now, you will find a map and an array of only blue dots and no legend as to what the blue dots represent.  Continue reading

Got a Room at the Inn?

There’s an increase of homeless elderly (sketch by J. Flannery)

There’s an increase of homeless elderly (sketch by J. Flannery)

If you’re looking to make a difference for the less fortunate this Chanukah and Christmas Season, to help the homeless find shelter and the hungry to find food to eat, think about “Mobile Hope” in Leesburg as some Lovettsville folk are doing.

If you need some advice on what to give in the way of food, there’s a “window” into what works best in the winter, on the side of the Lovettsville Historical Society. Continue reading

Save, Don’t Pave, Our Gravel Roads

Feather Bed Bridge on an historic dirt road over Catoctin Creek

Feather Bed Bridge on an historic dirt road over Catoctin Creek

There is a growing effort to save Loudoun County’s old gravel roads from being paved.

By some accounts, Loudoun has more unpaved roads than any other County in the Commonwealth – about 250 miles – down from what some say was once 500 miles.

The County has, especially in the West, resisted attacks to develop and destroy the County’s pastoral setting; but, if something isn’t done, there will be fewer miles of unpaved roads.

Some walk or ride down Lovettsville’s Georges Mill, nearby Axline Road, Picnic Woods Road, or Ash George Road.

Over by Waterford, there’s the Clover Hill Road, and Downey Mill Road.

There are an array of roads south of Lincoln, Virginia.

In every direction near Middleburg, there are unpaved roads to discover worth a walk a run, a trot, or a ride.

Tim Jon, a columnist for the Blue Ridge Leader, has been cataloguing the beauty of the roads of Loudoun County for years.

The effort to save these roads has prompted a partnership by and between America’s Routes and the Mosby Heritage Area Association, hoping to underscore the hundreds of years of history and beauty and country peace that these roads represent. Continue reading

The Threat to the Rural West

Convening the Rural Summit at Salamander Resort in Middleburg

Convening the Rural Summit at Salamander Resort in Middleburg

A Rural Summit was convened by the Chair of the Board of Supervisors, Phyllis Randall, last Friday at the Salamander Resort in Middleburg, reflecting a concern by many that the push by developers, favoring suburban gentrification of Western Loudoun, threatened to build thousands of residential units that will compromise, if not destroy, the natural treasure that is Western Rural Loudoun.

Lovettsville Vice-Mayor Jim McIntyre who attended the Summit said, “I think the biggest thing we have to communicate is the value of Loudoun’s Rural West.  We can’t emphasize that enough.”

Middleburg Mayor Bridge Littleton said, “It’s all about the Comprehensive Plan.  The Comprehensive Plan is ‘the’ document which will govern land use for all Loudouners for the next 20 or 40 years.  It’s just as important to Loudouners in the East as it is to the West.  If we continue unconstrained development, it means worse schools, higher taxes, more transportation, and we destroy the Western Loudoun … we all enjoy.” Continue reading

Government – Just Leave Us Alone!

There was a time when a diary that you wrote in long hand, in India ink, kept confidential in a false drawer in your worn mahogany desk, was private, and safe from the prying eyes of anyone including our government – as a matter of law.

Not so anymore.

I advise my clients these days to destroy their mental notes.

From the vantage of a criminal defense lawyer (and “recovering” federal and state prosecutor), I’ve seen the most craven governmental intrusions into individual privacy – shocking to any Accused person who never before had to endure the unwanted embrace of a criminal prosecution.

Little has improved since the author’s privacy article published in 1972

Little has improved since the author’s privacy article published in 1972

Here in Loudoun County, if you’re arrested and denied bail, when you are jailed in Loudoun’s Adult Detention Center (ADC), don’t make the mistake of talking about your case on the jail house phone with your wife (or anyone else), because everything you say is taped – and they’ll use it against you.

We have an “expectation” of what is private, predicated upon our 4th Amendment right to be secure in our person and property, and the penumbra of other constitutional rights.  This is what must be protected.

Who would expect it was right and just to intercept a family conversation when the Accused has no other way to talk to his family?

We believe we get to control what information is circulated about ourselves – in or out of jail.

But practice and the law is more complicated than what we might fairly expect and what common sense dictates.

When I was a puppy law student, I was concerned with privacy, so much so that I wrote about it for our journal, the Columbia Human Rights Law Review.

Our technology was relatively primitive in the 70’s.   Indeed, I wrote how intrusions into a person’s privacy might not have been possible “if the information was manually handled and manually disseminated.”  Continue reading

Black lives should be honored – not just tolerated

Congress approves DC statue of Frederick Douglass in Capitol complexIt’s high time that we had a statue placed on the Loudoun County Court house lawn honoring abolitionist Frederick Douglas and the black Union troops from Loudoun County that fought for the union and for their freedom from slavery.

In Washington, DC, there is a statue to Black Union Troops.

There is a statue of Frederick Douglas in the Capitol.

But we have no memorial in Loudoun.

You may not appreciate that there’s good and sufficient history to do so.

Kevin Dulany Grigsby, a Loudoun native, believes his black ancestral heritage from the Civil War has been overlooked, invisible in Loudoun County, particularly how Blacks fought for the Union.

“It was the movie, ‘Glory’,” Kevin said, “while I was a Junior at Loudoun County High School, that revealed to me that there had been black soldiers fighting for the Union in the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry.”

“It was my cousin, Vernon Peterson,” Kevin said, “who first told me, that there were Black Soldiers from our Loudoun County who fought for the Union.  He told me the story of Dennis Weaver, an African-American Civil War veteran, who was buried in the Rock Hill Cemetery in Southwestern Loudoun.”  Weaver, Kevin learned, had been a slave in the Bluemont area and enlisted at – what we now know – as Theodore Roosevelt Island.

These revelations contrasted sharply with what Kevin had been taught about blacks in school.  “In our Loudoun County school text book,” Kevin said, “they pictured blacks as families of slaves, the few pictures they showed, and all I could see was pain and suffering.  I was embarrassed, and it brought upon me a sense of shame.” Continue reading