Well done

I am taking a page from Supervisor Miller’s blog, and finding something nice to say about Mr. Delgaudio: He is good at what he does, which is orchestrating political stunts and getting people to act contrary to their own interests.

Published in the Blue Ridge Leader on March 10, 2011.

Dear Editor,

Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio and the so-called Loudoun “Environmental” Council really turned out the troops on March 1. Let’s see who they were, and what they have in common:

Residents of Raspberry Falls were there. Their homes were built over porous limestone, and their wells are contaminated. Their signs read “Halt building permits until we have a water solution.” Mr. Delgaudio aggressively opposed the limestone overlay district that would have prevented this catastrophic development over limestone.

Someone from Citizens for Property Rights carried a sign that said “CBPO, is it clean water or no growth.” We wonder if she talked with the Raspberry Falls residents? CPR landowners sold their property to residential developers, who in turn are the largest donors to Mr. Delgaudio. CPR and their developers lobbied against the limestone overlay district and previous riparian buffer protections.

There were also people with signs that said “$6700 playsets,” people whose small backyards border stormwater management retention ponds. Nobody likes the retention ponds, and concrete culverts, and ugly rock filled drainage ditches. Low Impact Development practices could have replaced this costly infrastrucuture, used less land, and retained rainfall to recharge the aquifers that feed wells and streams. But LID is small scale, and good for small businesses like architects, landscapers, and nurseries; it’s not so good for big businesses like Shockey concrete. Mr. Delgaudio has been in office since 1999, and worked really hard for people who sold lots and lots of concrete.

Our favorite sign was on a big pink pig: “Corrupt Politician.” There was only one politician in the room, and staging street theater stunts is how he makes his living. Well done!

Jonathan and David Weintraub

16 thoughts on “Well done

  1. Charley Phipps

    I honestly don’t know what to believe anymore. I live just downstream from Raspberry Falls on Limestone Branch (the creek that partially originates near that neighborhood). I can tell you that my Mother (who owns the property next to mine) has recently had her water tested and traces of fecal-coliform have been found, among other contaminents. Of course, she (and my 97 year old Grandfather) have been drinking that water out of a 600’+ well for decades and have suffered no ill effects, but she is going to add a UV system.

    I am considering the same as I have an even more shallow well, at only 260’+, though I have not done any testing yet. I’m not too terribly concerned about it because I drink bottled water, but my wife, children and I do bathe with it and brush our teeth, etc.

    I guess my point is that I can see the need for some protections for the streams but are these fairly intrusive buffers really the answer? I think we have approached the time to put aside our respective political posturing and take a hard look at the science – and somehow make that jive with the American tradition of property rights. I’m sure that’s a pretty tall order, but I’ve seen the Weintraubs reach out in the past (i’ll never forget the kind letter you wrote me after my dog passed away, guys!) so maybe the folks on my side of the aisle can do the same?


    Charley Phipps

  2. Epluribusunum Post author

    I didn’t get any results when I searched the term “Raspberry” on their site, so I can’t assess the claim that Raspberry Falls people were demeaned by loudounstreams; I can only say that I don’t think they should be demeaned. What was said? Who said it? Did they say that they represented some group? Did you ask them who they were representing, and who they were talking about? I must say that I think it’s appropriate to call those who knew about the karst, and who misled the homebuyers, “greedy real estate developers.”

    Here’s what I said about loudounstreams.org: “their staffs and leadership [are] populated by people with backgrounds in ecology, geology, environmental science and other related fields.” The “their” in that sentence refers to the dozen or so different advocacy groups that comprise the loudounstreams coalition, and the topic was their legitimacy as evidence-based environmental advocacy groups.

    I also agree that the CBPO is not a magical cure-all, and I have some big issues with it. I think I’ve been clear about my position. This isn’t a choice between the two extremes of a) adopting it as written right now and b) insisting that there is no problem with our water supply, the health of our streams and the Bay, and that we can choose to just do nothing. Both of those positions are wrong, and the fact that I have not taken one does not mean that I have taken the other.

    The other thing I believe I have made clear is that I think Mr. Delgaudio is a charlatan exploiting this situation and these people for his own personal gain as he has exploited others in the past, behavior that makes it difficult to have an adult conversation about it. There is a clear pattern here for anyone who cares to see it.

  3. Barbara Munsey

    Ummm, yes, you seem to have championed it, by holding up the PEC group loudounstreams as a great group.

    They have done quite a bit of labelling, including of these folks in their blanket condemnation of anyone who opposes the CBPO, which, as I said, is not some magic cure-all with nothing but guaranteed good results.

  4. Barbara Munsey

    David, as we’ve agreed, you are a careful wordsmith.

    What I may seem touchy about is the undocumented labelling and seeming double standards. I care about words too!

    Did you ask the individual?

  5. Epluribusunum Post author

    I don’t – where in anything I have said do I champion demeaning these people? It’s not their fault they were led to believe that they could have a certain kind of lifestyle if they bought into that development, and they certainly weren’t warned about the possibility of toxic contamination.

    It’s unfortunate that we’ve been unable to be honest about the water situation in this county. I can think of many instances in which people believe they have unlimited water even when they are on a well, and they are angered when neighbors who have lived here much longer try to tell them that it’s actually a limited resource, that everyone’s well can go dry during a drought, and that this will happen sooner rather than later if they insist on watering their lawn daily. They sometimes can’t accept that, coming from places where they could just turn on the tap and not think about it.

  6. Barbara Munsey

    If you truly believe they deserve to have their issues taken seriously, then please do not champion the astroturfers who demean the residents there, ridicule them, and demonize them as “greedy real estate developers”, all of which has occurred.

    Just because we make a law about something, and pat ourselves on the back for “fixing it!”, does not mean any real-world positive change has been accomplished.

    News articles out now on a $300M lawsuit filed by 250 of those residents–looks like someone will have to “hear” them now.

  7. Epluribusunum Post author

    I assume from your answer that you do agree that Raspberry Falls was a mistake, so it would then logically follow that you would support restrictions that would prevent future developments with similar problems?

    I don’t see any evidence whatsoever that Mr. Delgaudio has, or would, ever support such restrictions. Hence, the squirming hypocrisy of his actions. I don’t think anyone has even presented an argument that LOD (how could it, after the fact?) or CBPO could solve the problems of the Raspberry Falls residents who bought those houses in good faith. The fraud that was perpetrated on them – remember, the developer knew in 1991 that they were building on karst – has now become a separate issue for the county to somehow clean up, one that has nothing to do with the CBPO. Which is exactly what makes it so disingenuous for Mr. Delgaudio to use these people as extras in his drama about an unrelated policy question. They have a right to have their own situation taken seriously, not used to create a veneer of “diversity” for a campaign video.

  8. Barbara Munsey

    p.s.–in re being better than that–if you don’t know who the individual YOU ID’ed as being “from CPR” was representing (other than herself), then why NOT ask her, before tossing labels? Since you don’t seem to like people labelling you?

  9. Barbara Munsey

    David–thank you for conceding that, as Raspberry Falls was put forward for approval years before there was a Delgaudio or an LOD, that his opposition to that piece of legislation did not cause the development.

    The fact that the legislation does nothing to address the problems in Raspberry Falls could be sufficient reason for some to oppose it, just as the fact that the CBPO has “Bay” in its name doesn’t mean that it will actully help that body (especially when some of the proponents claim it is really about local water–and also does nothing to correct Raspberry Falls, if local water is really the main issue).

    I do disagree with some of the people pushing both, because painting them in purely altruistic terms as for the greater good of water does not necessarily guarantee that it is perfect legislation with zero unintended consequences.

    Please don’t be simplisticly political and conclude “that even now, you would oppose restrictions on residential development over limestone karst that would protect future homebuyers from a similar nightmare”.

    You seem to want people to think you’re better than that, so live up to your own aspirations, or at least give it a try.

    We can’t go back to 1991 and change what happened then. None of us lived here yet, including Delgaudio. We could perhaps address the problems it has caused for the residents who bought in good faith, and neither LOD nor CBPO does that.

  10. Elder Berry

    The residents of Raspberry Falls are saying that chlorination and UV treatment are not enough and they have to have a connection to the Leesburg system. What kind of treatment do they think they would be getting from the Leesburg system if not chlorination? The county staff at the time of approval warned about the dangers of a private water supply not from sources of contamination before the development was approved. If it was approved against such advice from staff it was because of pressure from people just like those who are always applauding Eugene Delgaudio when he sides with developers. The LOD is long overdue, and Mr. Delgaudio is a real hypocrite, among other things. As for CPR it is unclear what kind of organization they ever were, much less what they now are.

  11. Epluribusunum Post author

    I have no idea who the individual IDed as “from” CPR would say she was representing – or even if CPR still officially exists. I understand that the Shockeys have retired to Florida. In any case, the person was quite visible in that organization’s activities a few years ago and the CPR “no growth” meme was on her sign, so I think it’s a fair description. Is there something more we should know about the status of CPR in order to avoid inaccuracy?

    Yes, I concede the point that Mr. Delgaudio could not have been personally responsible for the decision to permit Raspberry Falls. I was told that even though Van Metre and the bank that wanted to be rid of this non-performing property were warned about the potential for water problems in the early 90s, those concerns were “blown off.” I’m sure there is plenty of blame to go around.

    However, Mr. Delgaudio has been since 1999 the primary spokesman of the I-can-do-anything-I-want-with-my-land / CPR crowd, the objectives of which are exemplified by the fact that Raspberry Falls is continuing to sell lots and build homes even as its residents are suffering debilitating health problems from contaminated water. As you say, “the people pushing LOD said ‘it would prevent ANOTHER Raspberry Falls from happening.’ Mr. Delgaudio aggressively opposed the LOD and any other such restrictions, so I think we can safely assume that he was and is disinclined to prevent another Raspberry Falls from happening. It takes a certain amount of chutzpah to pretend that he is an ally to these homeowners and the future homeowners they are trying to warn, don’t you think?

    And your phrasing “the people pushing LOD” suggests to me that you disagree with those people; that even now, you would oppose restrictions on residential development over limestone karst that would protect future homebuyers from a similar nightmare. Am I misunderstanding you?

    In hindsight, do you think that Raspberry Falls should have been built?

  12. Barbara Munsey

    Jonathan, I believe it may be (note the conditional–I am not an attorney, and it has yet to be heard in court) shared among the county government and the builder.

    My main point is that Eugene Delgaudio was not on the Board that originally approved this, and the LOD was part of the 2001 plan revision that was passed after there were already homes there.

    That revision was voided because of improper procedure (much like the procedure being followed for the CBPO), and the LOD was readopted by the current Board.

    IOW, while it may serve political purposes for you and David to imply that Delgaudio is responsible for the existence of Raspberry Falls in a limestone karst area, facts and timeline do not bear that out.

    As to my question, to either of your knowledge, was the individual you reference as being “from” CPR there to represent that group, or themselves?

    To my knowledge, the organization CPR has not participated in the CBPO process.

    Have you official knowledge to the contrary?

  13. Barbara Munsey

    Oh, and Raspberry Falls began development before the LOD was proposed, including the first time.

    Some of the people pushing LOD said “it would prevent ANOTHER Raspberry Falls from happening”.

    That doesn’t do much to deal with the issues the people who love there face, but…

  14. Barbara Munsey

    David, was the individual you identified as “from” CPR there representing the official group, or themselves?

Comments are closed.