Tag Archives: Transportation

Political brawling in Loudoun

boxingBrawlFighters like politicians don’t always know when to step down.

Loudoun County Board Chairman Scott York is that kind of fighter who doesn’t know when to quit.

On about January 8, 2015, Scott said he’d put a lot of thought into whether he’d quit and decided his future “just didn’t include being Chairman for another four years.”

If Ali, a three time heavyweight champ, had listened to Doc Ferdie Pacheco, he might have gone out like undefeated heavy weight champ Rocky Marciano, physically intact, laurels strewn in his wake, without the humiliation of a drubbing by Leon Spinks and Larry Holmes.

York badly wanted those laurels from the Chamber of Commerce and he told them, rumors to the contrary notwithstanding, not to worry, he really wasn’t going to go for a fifth round to get elected.

The Chamber conferred on pug Scott York his desired “laurels,” and, no sooner did they rest upon his hallowed crown, did he throw a sharp left jab at his own integrity, and jump into the political ring, seeking re-election.

“Slippery” Scott is like a small club fighter who slips punches, shifts his stance to suit election year allies, tracks backward in the ring, the “Slippery” Scott shuffle, and, between rounds, his corner men treat his cuts, an expanding contributing entourage of developers, according to VPAP, including real estate developers, general contractors, highway contractors, building trades, excavation contractors, so they can have their hoped-for fifth round, more pay days by our County, for even more development. Continue reading

In the way

Fred Lonas, taking stock of his supplies, before a long ride.

Fred Lonas, taking stock of his supplies, before a long ride.

“The Tour de France is very popular in Europe,” David Milburn said, “but here in the United States a biker pedaling alongside the road is considered ‘a nuisance.’”

Too many get mad at bicyclists, ride up on the biker’s rear wheel, flash lights, hit the steering wheel, and honk, furious that the biker is “in the way.”

Frederick Lonas lived in Purcellville, and rode his bike all over the area. Then he moved with his wife to Grants Pass, Oregon. But he still rode his bike every day. It kept him fit. No question it was energy efficient.

“In his early 70s, Fred rode his bike back from Grants Pass to Virginia to visit family and friends,” said David.

“Fred said the part of his cross-country trip that concerned him,” according to David, “was those mid-west logging trucks; it’s because they don’t give a shit. That’s what Fred said.”

What does it take for a car or truck to watch out, and go slow for 40 seconds, to give a three foot berth, before speeding off? Too few appreciate that life has a speed limit.

“Fred was in the insurance industry, at Mutual of Omaha, and studied risk,” said David, “and when he lived here in Purcellville, I’d often see him on the bike trail. He’d always have on his orange yellow vest. He wore flip flops with socks over them, as his bike shoes. He kept a steady pace, about 10 miles an hour, slower than mine, but, when I saw him at Starbuck’s, I’d always say, so everyone could hear, how he passed me. Fred enjoyed my kind obeisance.”

“We’d sit around at Starbuck’s, Fred wearing his riding shorts, one leg over the arm of the chair,” said David, “and he’d hold forth on all manner of issues, discussing everything you could imagine with Mark Levit, myself, and whomever came over. Then, coffee and conversation done, Fred would ride back from Leesburg to Purcellville on his bike.”

“Fred was last here a few weeks ago, he was 75 this trip,” said David, “he was getting ready to ride back to Grants Pass in Oregon from Leesburg. That’s a ride of more than 2,500 miles.”

Before he set out for Oregon, Fred said, “I’m so proud that my granddaughter painted my nails. I’m keeping them just as they are until I get back to Oregon, to show ‘grandma.’”

“Fred would stop along the way, observe the sights, stay at hostels,” said David, “so some days he’d make 50 miles, other days about 100.”

But on July 11, 2015, driving through Stutsman County, North Dakota, having biked about 1,500 miles, and traveling West on N.D. Highway 46, 10 miles short of US Highway 281, at about 6:35 pm, Fred was overlooked.

A 2007 400 horsepower Freightliner, weighing about 18,000 pounds, with a Reinauer flatbed trailer, struck Fred riding his bike on the far right of the westbound lane.

Fred was thrown into a ditch. The impact had to be bone crushing, instantaneous and unimaginable pain. Fred was likely dead before he hit the dirt. He was wearing a helmet, and his brightly colored vest, but that Freightliner driver didn’t give a shit.

Mark found the clipping in the Jamestown Sun, walked up to people in Starbuck’s who knew Fred, and asked, “Did you hear?” No one had.

“He was an amazing guy,” David said.

Drivers around here begrudge bikers that fraction of a minute delay they “endure” to pass a biker “in the way.”

Well, Fred’s no longer “in the way” because another driver didn’t care enough.

LaRock Undermines Transportation

Since being elected to the General Assembly in November, Delegate David “Tax Pig” LaRock has been doing exactly what we would have expected of the man opposed to Rail to Dulles: Proposing bills to kill off badly needed transportation projects in Loudoun and Northern Virginia. LaRockBills-2014 Though couched as legislation to correct funding injustices (“injustices,” it must be noted, that were discussed, debated, legislated, and adjudicated through proper small “d” democratic processes over the course of many years), the practical impact of these bills would be to kill all the life that has been breathed in to transportation fixes in Loudoun over the past few years. Life only made possible by the painstaking, difficult, bi-partisan, efforts of leaders like Mark Herring.

Perhaps most egregious are his bills to arbitrarily reduce the allocation of funding to mass transit in favor of more roads. (Bacon’s Rebellion has a right-leaning, but generally evenhanded analysis of these bills.) That’s right, roads over transit, because conservative.

It had been my plan to try to compose a few more paragraphs of analysis of the bills in question. But really, the impracticality and obstinacy of the philosophy underpinning them can only be summarized thusly:
Facepalm

It is equally exasperating to note the only other bills LaRock has sponsored are to codify a tax credit (not a deduction, a credit) for home and private schooling, which serves to gut public education funding, and bills to simplify the process of transferring ownership of guns from one person to another.

Notably absent from Mr. LaRock’s list of sponsored bills? Any bill helping maintain open space in his District. Or helping farmers. Or addressing the unique needs of small school communities in the west. Or dealing with the water issues his constituents in Raspberry Falls have faced. Or, frankly, any bill not directly birthed by some narrow-minded, right-wing talking point.

Because conservative.

NVTA’s bad and ugly: bicycles and pedestrians

The NVTA's "good"

Have you ever driven around Loudoun County and observed:

  1. Shopping centers designed exclusively for automobile access even though they’re  walking distance from residential developments?
  2. Pedestrians venturing to cross dangerous very wide divided highways to get from a residential area to a shopping center?
  3. Jogging and bicycle paths to nowhere; paths that border a residential development and then abruptly stop?
  4. Major routes where bicycles and pedestrians are simply prohibited?

If you ever wondered who thought this is not only acceptable, but a “good idea,” look no further than the NVTA. Continue reading

“God” is alive! His office is in the NVTA

[Update 2013-09-14 - Edited for spelling, grammar and clarity]

The Leesburg Town Council apparently stepped out of line by considering opposition to the Tri-County Parkway, a North-South corridor connecting I-95, Manassas, and Route 7 via Route 659.

Loudoun BoS Chairman, Scott York asked his aide, Robin Bartok to read a letter to the Town council at their June 25 meeting. The Washington post reports that Bartok read:

“The chairman asked me to ask you: Do you support roads? And that’s a really important question,” she said to the council members. “Because if you oppose this road, it appears that you don’t support roads.”

And if the council opposed the road, she warned, the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority would “keep that in mind” when determining how to allocate funds from the landmark transportation funding bill passed by the General Assembly this year.

York is on the board of the NVTA. Continue reading

No more endearing hugs. Darn.

In light of yesterday’s WaPo story by Caitlin Gibson, I think it’s safe to say that the lovefest between Scott York and Eugene Delgaudio has indeed run its course.

[Delgaudio attorney Charlie King] is probably just drinking the same clown juice that Delgaudio is, because I have no idea what the heck he’s talking about,

said York in response to King’s statement. In that statement, distributed to the media after the board unanimously stripped Delgaudio of his standing committee appointments at its first 2013 business meeting, King tries to suggest that this is all about York, that York has a “pattern” of alleging misconduct, ignoring the fact that Mr. Delgaudio is the subject of a criminal investigation.

A divorce settlement is pending, we hear.

As many have pointed out since the investigation began, and long before it was handed over to the special prosecutor, it is standard procedure to place an individual under investigation on suspension pending resolution of the matter. At the very least, Real Advocate and others argued, Mr. Delgaudio should be barred from shaping revisions to the county’s aide policies. Supervisor Williams attempted to call for stripping Mr. Delgaudio of these duties back in November, but was thwarted by York, allowing him to participate in the Finance, Government Services and Operations Committee making those revisions. Now it appears that York is the sole target of Mr. Delgaudio’s wrath, at least publicly.

Continue reading

You know, out of touch.

Leesburg Patch has a great article up about former Supervisor, and LCRC candidate for Board of Supervisors Chair, Steve Stockman. It illustrates Mr. Stockman’s status as a candidate with little connection with the reality lived by people here in Loudoun County, as well as his limitations as a candidate.

Steve Stockman’s only care seems to be a single issue, “taxes,” with little or no comprehension of the myriad things that drive that issue. For example, the incredible growth in the school population since he last served on the Board has a huge, and largely unavoidable, impact on the revenue necessary to run the LCPS, the largest single driver of the county tax rate. Mr. Stockman’s position seems to be that we can set a low tax rate and let all the necessary services simply wither to accommodate that rate. Of course, recent court cases have demonstrated that to be a fundamentally flawed assumption. In California, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the state to release inmates since Gov. Schwarzenegger and his allies decided to grossly underfund their prison system. In New Jersey, the State Supreme Court ordered Gov. Christie to fund underperforming schools, over the efforts of the Gov. and his allies to let school spending wither. Mr. Stockman’s “cut and wither” policy proposals do not lead to lower taxes, they lead to lawsuits. And didn’t we have enough of those under the last Board?

But perhaps nothing illustrates Mr. Stockman’s inability to comprehend the realities of living in the County he seeks to lead like this quote:

Some issues of great concern to some candidates are of little concern to Stockman, such as transportation, which he considers “not that big” of an issue because people choose where to live.

“You can make improvements around the margins, but people will decide to live and commute based on their own individual choices,” he said. “You know, commuting, it’s all voluntary.” – Leesburg Patch

Or this quote, detailing his opposition to Metro to Dulles.

While the current board of supervisors has signaled concerns about the Metro project – primarily that if the Washington Metropolitan Airports Authority wants a more costly underground station, it should find the money without tolls or local tax dollars – Stockman is cool to the idea for other reasons.

“I’m not too enthusiastic,” he said. “I know we want it to [Dulles] airport and a lot of people think it’s going to be a godsend. I don’t think it is. I think that American people prefer to have private transportation. Mostly, right now, Metro’s running at a deficit. “

Now, I know Mr. Stockman owns his own company, and therefore hasn’t had to find a decent paying job and a place to live recently. And as the article points out, his kids have long since moved out, so he doesn’t have to worry about ferrying them to events, or taking schools into account along with commute, home prices, cost of living, and other factors when looking for somewhere to live. So maybe, in that context, he could be forgiven his appalling ignorance of the impact of long commutes on Loudoun families (not to mention our environment and the attendant traffic externalities that impact the quality of life for everyone in Loudoun).

But in the context of being a candidate to Chair the Board of Supervisors? In that context, the ignorance and lack of concern for one of the most important realities for all of us in Loudoun – commuting – is enough to disqualify him as a serious candidate for office.

Or, rather, it should disqualify him. Whether it does is up to the LCRC.

House votes to de-fund NPR

So far, they’ve tackled: removing funding from Metro; medicaid payments for abortions; taking away funding for basic women’s health care (pap smears and breast exams); and taking away enforcement power from the EPA.

Now they’ve taken funding away from NPR.

But they haven’t even begun on a single jobs bill.

Weren’t jobs their biggest priority back in November?

#DearJohn, #WhereAreTheJobs?

The Latest On Transportation From Richmond

Senator Herring has been providing weekly updates from Richmond on this year’s session. Below, he does a good job explaining the current state of play on transportation, from the large budget issues involved to the specific projects and initiatives he’s working on.

This morning, Sen. Herring announced his support for the transportation compromise that Gov. McDonnell is working on. That support was the result of the inclusion of Sen. Herring’s priorities in the bill.

“As the Governor has repeatedly acknowledged, this plan is a first step in addressing Virginia’s long-term transportation infrastructure needs.  All of the experts, including the Governor himself, are in agreement: Virginia needs over $1 billion dollars per year to adequately meet those needs,” Herring said.  ”While I do have concerns about relying on borrowed money, Virginia does have significant short term needs that these funds can immediately address.”

“Among those are Loudoun County’s top transportation infrastructure projects,” Herring said.  ”Through my efforts and the efforts of County officials, my Route 7 Task Force, and the business community, I am pleased that Transportation Secretary Sean Connaughton has pledged that the state will fully fund the construction of the Route 7/Belmont Ridge Road interchange and the Sycolin Road flyover in Leesburg, [Emphasis mine -P13] if the package passes the General Assembly.  The Governor’s bond package will also include state funding for several other projects of great importance to eastern Loudoun and western Fairfax County.”

In addition, Senator Herring’s legislation, SB 1329, to amend the state’s highway “revenue sharing” program with localities to make more state matching funds available to localities that wish to undertake their own road construction projects, was merged into the Governor’s transportation bill, SB 1446, making Senator Herring a chief co-patron of the legislation. – Sen. Mark Herring

I am personally skeptical of using bonds and borrowing to pay for immediate, short-term needs. We badly need real transportation funding reform. However, I acknowledge that it is easy for me to preach the gospel of reforming funding sources from behind my keyboard on a blog. I’m not a serving state Senator.

It is inarguable that we have real needs for the Sycolin Flyover and Belmont Ridge interchange, today. Sen. Herring worked hard on behalf of his constituents to see those projects made priorities by the state. He is delivering on his community’s needs.

“Throughout this process, I pledged to keep an open mind and work constructively with the Governor and his administration. As the Governor himself is fond of saying, ‘There are no Republican or Democratic roads,’ and I could not agree more,” Herring continued.  ”Our constituents expect us to come down to Richmond and to work together, members of both parties in both houses, to find solutions to our most pressing issues, and transportation is certainly at the top of that list.” – Sen. Herring

I defer to the Senator’s judgment on the long-term wisdom of the borrow-and-build plan, as he knows much more about such things than I do. I trust that Senator Herring will make solving the revenue side of the transportation problem a priority in the months and years ahead.