Showing posts from March, 2016

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…

Supervisor Candland's Fuzzy Math Part I: Is Government Spending Out of Control?

If you've heard it once, you've heard it a thousand times.... Over the last few years, spending keeps increasing at ridiculous rates! It must be reigned in or terrible things will happen!
After all, who can argue with charts like these?

These are the types of charts that are usually touted every budget year by the likes of Supervisor Pete Candland, Mac Haddow, and blogs like The Sheriff of Nottingham to convince county residents that government spending must be reigned in. Why would there need to be such huge increases in per-capita and per-pupil spending?
However, these charts only tell part of the story. Supervisor Candland cherry-picks the data by using the most austere years, such as 2011, for the determination to show how much spending has increased. Those years were austere for a reason as property values fell during the recession. Painful cuts were made by both county government and the school system during these years with the expectation that as the economy improved,…

BOCS Debrief: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Friday night, the BOCS once again discussed the budget and advertisement of a tax rate. Three proposals for advertised tax rates failed on 4-4 votes. These included $1.115 from Supervisor Candland (a self-described "compromise" from his prior $1.102 flat tax rate),$1.145 from Supervisor Principi (the tax rate suggested by the Five Year Plan), and $1.122 from Supervisor Anderson (the current tax rate).

The Good
Advertisement of the $1.145 Property Tax Rate: With the Board's failure to advertise a tax rate, the rate will be advertised administratively by Acting County Executive Christopher Martino and his staff. The result will most likely be the advertisement of the default $1.145 rate (3.88% average tax bill increase) suggested by the Five Year Plan. While Chairman Corey Stewart may have threatened, "Citizens should not read anything into the advertised budget," this is a win because there will be the opportunity for not only the Board to properly discuss the bu…

McCoart Madness Part II: The Cliffhanger Ends Tonight

After a grand recess, the Board of County Supervisors is poised to advertise a tax rate tonight at 7pm at the McCoart Building. The operative word here is advertise, not adopt. The final adopted tax rate in April can be lower, but not higher than the rate advertised tonight.

The conventional wisdom would have been to advertise a tax rate of $1.145 which would have raised taxes, on average 3.88% for county residents, in line with the long-term plan previously agreed to. Note the chart below. A 3.88% average increase is far cry from the 23% more that Loudoun County residents pay and the 43% more that Fairfax County residents pay in property taxes.

It is important to consider that Prince William County ranks last in the region for per-pupil spending but that Loudoun County only spends 18% more per student and Fairfax County only spends 28% more per student, lower, respectively, than the percentages that residents pay more in taxes in those counties. More funding is needed, but outrageou…