Showing posts from 2016

Corey Stewart Goes Yuge

And I always thought it was the great Darrell Hammond of "Saturday Night Live" that did the best impression of Donald Trump. I must acquiesce that I was wrong. Instead it is Corey Stewart, Virginia Chairman for the Trump Campaign. From egregious falsehoods blaming Lt. Governor Ralph Northam and Hillary Clinton for inciting police violence to supporting remarks that Trump made about a judge in a heinous fashion to threatening retribution for Republicans that support Gary Johnson for President, Stewart has doubled down on the outrageousness of Trump, himself, even drawing ire from the Trump campaign for his statements.

Of course, you didn't need me to tell you about all of these items, but I believe that Stewart is out-Trumping Trump.

Back in December, I wrote about my concerns with Stewart joining the Trump campaign, stating that, just by joining the campaign, he was going to burn bridges necessary to lead Prince William County properly as well as the state, as he intende…

Some Thoughts on the Appointment of a Temporary Brentsville District School Board Member

While there is nothing wrong with having an opinion, there is a problem with having an entitlement to rules that act only in one's own favor.

In politics, this happens much too often. One example includes the minority party's use of the filibuster in the Senate. The filibuster appears to only be terrible when the minority party benefits from it and efforts to get rid of it have been led by both parties at separate times, depending on which party controlled the Senate at the time. One can legitimately argue whether the minority party's use of the filibuster is good tactic or an abusive one, but it should not be viewed in a partisan lens.

What numerous Republicans and certain right-wing blogs have done has been reprehensible in the wake of Brentsville District School Board Member Gil Trenum's announcement that he will be going into active military duty. Frankly, their tactics and grandstanding have been disrespectful of their fellow Republican, Mr. Trenum.
School Board …

The Loss of Reason

I am not without my biases and opinions. Nobody is. I’ve chosen to fight for those issues and causes that I care about. However, I also know that “Radical Common Sense” means that there is more than one side to an issue.  Too often today, people are not willing to have discourse about issues without insulting or refusing to consider the other side. They craft their opinions and make their decisions simply out of fear of the other side.
It really bothers me when I see so much hate towards local elected officials such as School Board Chairman Ryan Sawyers without a regard for the facts.  Yes, one can argue whether or not the Godwin name change to George Hampton was a good decision or not and there are valid arguments on both sides. However, if one disagrees with him, Sawyers’ advocacy for the renaming of the school should not automatically make him a bad guy or a wasteful spender of tax dollars. As we have pointed out on The Counts, the cost of the namechange is miniscule compared to t…

Of Partisanship and Projection

I was recently reading an article about toxic people, relationships, and how to avoid them. One word that stuck out to me was "projection." In the article, it was defined as a defense mechanism used to displace responsibility of one’s negative behavior and traits by attributing them to someone else. 

Recently School Board Chairman Ryan Sawyers raised concerns about the proper process in appointing an interim member to represent the Brentsville district while Gil Trenum is deployed. This is a unique circumstance where Sawyers' concerns are valid and his idea to consult the Attorney General is a good way to make sure that the process and decisions in appointing an interim member are done in prudent ways.

While Trenum has offered some decent candidates to fill the void while he is deployed, it does not mean that there are not others in the Brentsville district that should have the opportunity to be considered as well. One who has wished to be considered is Don Shaw, who happe…

FOIA Absurdness Hits a New Level

Last week, the Board of County Supervisors passed a resolution whereby elected officals could no longer use taxpayer funds to pay for Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, which passed 7-1, Supervisor Pete Candland being the lone dissenting vote. This stemmed from Supervisor Candland's use of taxpayer-funded FOIA requests as a weapon of retribution towards his colleagues on the BOCS because of a FOIA request he had received. It makes sense that elected officials should not get this special privilege, since the everyone in the general public has to pay for the cost of their own FOIA requests.
Much about this issue has been covered excellently by The Prince William Muckraker and Moonhowlings, so I encourage anyone who wants more background to visit these blogs.
A few days after the vote, Supervisor Candland sent an e-mail blast where he spins the vote about FOIA requests to be some sort of apocalypse for county residents and attempts to play the victim: The Board also passed a…

NYTimes: When You Dial 911 and Wall Street Answers

With all of the comments in response to our last post about Supervisor Candland's failed library privatization scheme, I thought I would share the New York Times article , "When You Dial 911 and Wall Street Answers," that I read this morning.

While this article may not be about privatization of libraries or about Prince William County, it is about the outsourcing of critical governmental functions to the private sector. In this article, the outsourcing of emergency services to private equity firms is discussed and the consequences -- slow response times, stealing of supplies from hospitals, patients going bankrupt from ambulance services. Yes, Prince William County has had its own debate about emergency services, particularly about merging operations of volunteer forces with the Prince William Department of Fire and Rescue, but, luckily, there has not, YET, been the suggestion of privatization.

Any sort of outsourcing of a major government operation to a private corpora…

The Book is Thrown at Supervisor Candland on Library Privatization Scheme

In our absence from posting here at The Counts, we have have been impressed by the coverage of issues by The Prince William Muckraker, particularly going on the offensive against hypocrisy by Supervisor Pete Candland and his associates.

There has been a lot remarked about this week in the Prince William blogosphere regarding his FOIA requests of fellow supervisors paid for with taxpayer dollars and by his associate Mac Haddow. I entreat you to read about it on The Prince William Muckraker and Moonhowlings. Particularly entertaining is Supervisor Candland's stream-of-consciousness and close-to-tears rant about being the subject of FOIA requests himself and his defense of Mac Haddow here (go to 3:31:58).

But, back, to the subject at hand -- Supervisor Candland's rouse to outsource library operations to a private corporation to save $3 million dollars a year, which amounts to 0.5% of the county budget. There should always be a concern when it is considered to outsource a core go…

Yes, We've Been AWOL

The Good News: Yes, we're still planning to blog about Radical Common Sense in Prince William County and to dig deep into the issues facing our community.

The Bad News: Everyone gets busy from time to time and, unfortunately, opportunities to write about the latest excitement in Prince William County have been few and far between for us over the last couple of weeks.

There certainly has been a lot going on over the last couple of weeks including, but not limited to,

- Potential lowering the percentage of funds county schools receive under the revenue sharing agreement with the BOCS
- Likely passage of a tax rate lower than the advertised tax rate
- Supervisors on the BOCS wishing to take control over how the School Board spends its funds
- Purchase of a Steinway Piano for Colgan High School for $125,000.
- The Price tag for renaming Godwin Middle School to George Hampton Middle School, which has been confirmed to be lower than the $500,000 many cited it would cost.

We definitely lo…

What is the True Cost of the Godwin Name Change?

Last year, the aquatics center to be built in Colgan High School was a hot-button issue during the budget. While the cost (approximately $12 million) seemed to be a lot, in reality, the issue was being used a diversionary tactic to distract from the chronic under-funding of our schools.
I wrote about this issue a year ago, explaining how the pool compared to the cost to reduce class sizes over one year and ten years.
This year, the issue is the renaming of Godwin Middle School to George Hampton Middle School. Since a Potomac Local article was published a week ago, there has been criticism of the potential costs of the renaming.
That is a lot of money, but, in reality, a small expenditure in the over $1 billion budget of the region's most underfunded school system. Additionally, it is much less than the cost to build the aquatics center at Colgan High School.
It also represents a misreading of the Potomac Local article linked above. Waiting until the end of life expectancy…

Just Another Manic Monday!

Mondays .... yes, they bring good and bad. And, in Prince William County budget politics, this Monday does not disappoint.

First, the bad....

Today, InsideNOVA reported that BOCS Chairman Corey Stewart is proposing to adopt a tax rate of $1.122 (the current tax rate) instead of the advertised tax rate of $1.145. This is significant as the article stated that cuts of "$6.2 million from the school division revenue and $4.7 million in county revenue" would need to be made, as the School Board budget was built on the advertised tax rate.

To put $6.2 million into perspective, the cost to teach additional incoming students next year will be $6.9 million. The cost to provide a step salary increase for teachers will be $18 million. Class size reduction plans cost $4.7 million. 

In the same article, it is noted that "Stewart wants to save property owners about $70 – or about $6 a month -- on their real-estate tax bills next year." This is the difference between the advertis…

Using a Flamethrower to Torch the Community

In a little over a week, the BOCS will adopt the budget and property tax rate. The Advertised Tax rate of $1.145 has been used to guide the budget of the School Board and provides needed funding for programs and services in the County budget. However, the group of Supervisors I've dubbed the Austere Four, led by Supervisor Pete Candland, and featuring Supervisors Lawson, Anderson, and Chairman Corey Stewart, appears poised to advocate for a lower tax rate.

Supervisor Candland, for better or for worse, has advocated for lower tax rates than the advertised rate in every budget.

He likes using a flamethrower to get his way.....

Hylton Performing Arts Center funding? Shoot it down with the flamethrower because lowering taxes is much more important than encouraging arts and culture in the community, much less keeping the obligation to fund the center, which if cut, may find the BOCS in legal trouble.

PRTC funding? Shoot it down with the flamethrower because punishing the PRTC for its re…

This Week's BOCS and School Board Meetings: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

There has been plenty of significant excitement going in Prince William County politics this meeting. Rather than describing what happened in a verbose way, I’ve decided to briefly outline my thoughts on this week’s excitement –
The Good
School Board Budget Presentation to the BOCS Chairman Ryan Sawyers and Dave Kline, Associate Superintendent for Finance and Support Services, eloquently outlined the budget that was unanimously passed by the School Board, which is based on the advertised tax rate of $1.145. This budget reinstates previous cuts in such ways as lowering class sizes, providing economically disadvantaged funding, and providing more funding for Special Education while funding for additional students and a compensation increase for employees.
Not only did Sawyers make the case to pass this budget, but also called for funding to provide needed space for students to learn. 4,000 students are in trailers and it costs $130 million to provide the space to move these students into…

Tyranny and the Renaming of Godwin Middle School

On Wednesday, the School Board will reconsider the renaming of Godwin Middle School to George Hampton Middle School. In the motion, last month, to name the new Ferlazzo School for fallen firefighter Kyle Wilson, there was an amendment to rename Godwin for community activist George Hampton. Even though this motion passed unanimously last month, some School Board members are having second thoughts. While this decision has been praised as a common sense compromise to honor two men considered in the naming of the Ferlazzo school, others have decried the renaming of Godwin as tyranny.
Is there educational tyranny in naming or renaming a school without prior input from the community? On March 3, 2011, The School Board named the new elementary school in Bristow to be opened that fall as Piney Branch Elementary School. In the same vote, without convening committees or obtaining the input of the community, the middle school to be opened a year later (in the fall 2012) was named for Ronald Rea…

Power Line Power Trips

Supervisor Pete Candland is a tough nut to crack.

He claims to desire to attract more businesses to Prince William County, but then puts up roadblocks to that happening. Just last week, in a deceptive move led by Candland (and undoubtedly called for by a certain puppet-master blogger), the BOCS voted to remove the Bi-County Parkway from the Comprehensive plan in Chairman Corey Stewart's absence. The Prince William Chamber of Commerce was rightfully upset at this decision since the consequences will have a negative effect on economic development and traffic.

Today, Candland sent an e-mail blast regarding a decision the BOCS made regarding the power lines to be built to supply power for an Amazon data center:
"I share with many of you a frustration and disappointment that the Board of County Supervisors voted to remove itself as a respondent in the State Corporation Commission Case regarding the Haymarket Transmission Lines." He explained further,
"Supervisor Lawso…

A Proper Burial for the Bi-County Parkway

To misquote Shakespeare, I've come to bury the Bi-County Parkway, not to praise it. After all, the conventional wisdom is that Bi-County Parkway is a bad thing, well, because Pete Candland says so. The naysayers point to many negatives -- the parkway would be a boom to developers, it would only serve only to funnel truck traffic back and forth from I-95 to Dulles, and it would cut through rural land owned by residents for generations.

Washington, DC area traffic is horrendous -- you didn't need me to tell you that. Much of the reason for that has been the refusal to build enough highway capacity. For example, there is no limited access highway that, completely, goes from east to west through Washington or north to south. The reason is because of NIMBY-ism, which is also the reason why I-66 is only four lanes wide for most of its length inside the Beltway. I'm not trying to say that NIMBY-ism is a bad thing -- I wouldn't want a superhighway in my backyard -- but there …

Segregation: Case Not Yet Closed

If there's anything that the vote to rename Godwin Middle School for George Hampton did, it has shined a light on a sad time in Virginia's history. Mills Godwin supported the Byrd Machine policy of Massive Resistance to integration of schools. This led to the disenfranchisement of education for many youth with the shuttering of schools in numerous localities in the state. Even though Godwin may have done some good, such as the development of Virginia's Community Colleges, his advocacy for Massive Resistance had a significant negative effect on the Commonwealth.

It is true that Godwin was endorsed by the NAACP when he ran for governor in 1965 as a Democrat, and he did support Lyndon Johnson for President. But it is to white-wash history to say that Godwin completely changed his position. Later, he left the Democratic party for the Republican party at a time when many other politicians did the same, as the Democratic party's stances became contrary to their beliefs -- t…

An Excellent Three Months for the School Board

While certain individuals on the internets would like to make county residents believe otherwise, it has been a tremendous three months for the Prince William School Board. With a new chairman and new members in place, a lot happened that will benefit our schools, students, and employees.
Passing a Budget Based on Needs
Residents are well aware of how class sizes rank higher than other counties in the region. The School Board passed a budget that further reduces class sizes from efforts begun a couple of years ago. Additionally, the budget provides more funding Special Education and English language learners. Special Education funding was one of the major issues in School Board member Justin Wilk's campaign. It is also very encouraging to see increased funding for disadvantaged students and Pre-kindergarten programs. Just a year ago, Prince William County was lambasted in the Washington Post for not providing enough Pre-K programs. Additionally, a compensation increase was provide…

Everything Else that Happened at Wednesday's School Board Meeting

At Wednesday night’s School Board meeting, The Godwin Middle School renaming brought forth the Washington, DC news media. Numerous citizens spoke for and against the compromise to change the name to George Hampton Middle School during citizens’ time. However, there was no decision made at this meeting to rescind the motion (which passed unanimously) that named the new “Ferlazzo” Elementary School for Kyle Wilson and renamed Godwin for George Hampton. A motion to rescind may come up at a future meeting.
While my fellow count, Manos the Master wrote about the naming issue on this blog and another blog, The Prince William Muckraker, has covered the great comments made at this School Board meeting by Chairman Ryan Sawyers about the renaming, I’d like to focus on the other things you may not have known that happened at this School Board meeting.
And, that is because much, much more occurred at the meeting….
The FY2017 Budget and CIP Was Adopted The budget passed by the School Board does a …

Lost in the Shuffle

It's all gotten out of hand.

Distrust. Taping of phone calls. Saving of private message conversations. Racist messages left in the mailbox of a school board member. Heated online discussions. Division of the community.

All of this has happened since the unanimous vote by the entire School Board to name a new elementary school after firefighter Kyle Wilson and to rename Godwin Middle School for George Hampton. This decision came not as an thoughtless farce, but, rather, a well-intentioned compromise offered by School Board Member Justin Wilk as a way to honor both men that were in consideration for the naming of the new elementary school. This decision has been met in praise by some and vehement disagreement, if not anger, by others.

While, in the aftermath, Wilk made some regretful comments in private, it should be made clear that he apologized profusely for them. To further condemn Wilk is to condemn any elected official for doing something similar. Don't forget, BOCS Chairm…

Growing the Commercial Sector in Prince William County: The Chicken and the Egg

Last week, Potomac Local reported that Iron Mountain Information Management will be building a data center complex just outside of Manassas in Prince William County. This is good news as the county works to attract more revenue-positive developments in the commercial sector. More of a percentage of taxes are paid by homeowners in Prince William County than in neighboring counties like Loudoun and Fairfax. Long term solutions to funding schools and county services need to address this gap.

Loudoun County is attractive to businesses because of its proximity to Dulles Airport. Additionally, the county will benefit from an extension of the Metro silver line. Meanwhile, Fairfax County has a closer proximity to Washington, DC. That does not mean Prince William County does not boast a lot that should attract businesses. For example, our county boasts a George Mason University campus and Quantico Marine Corps Base.

It is often said that lowering taxes and tax incentives are needed to attract…

Pools and Names of Schools: The Great Tragedy of Disproportionate Angst

A few years back give or take while we as a county were still languishing in the throes of a recession, we as residents of Prince William would learn that our so called “leaders” would be brazen enough to request a pool for our children. What prompted more suspicion was the apparent location.Right smack dab in the middle of the county, where many of the local leaders and upper middle class residents called home.While these same local leaders discussed a need for more pools in our county that would include a swim team, swimming lessons and even physical therapy among other assets to certain residents and students in which a pool could derive, the detractors were quick to find themes of attack and resentment.

You could look at that moment and see where the tension amongst local activists, citizens and those aforementioned leaders struck a certain nerve that would drastically alter our discord and dealings with local happenings within our county.Some people developed local forums.Other a…