Articles from January 2008



Bill Clinton: Please consult a history book…

Or the “internets”.

From Jake Tapper’s blog at ABC News: Bubba: Obama Is Just Like Jesse Jackson:

Said Bill Clinton today in Columbia, SC: “Jesse Jackson won South Carolina in ’84 and ’88. Jackson ran a good campaign. And Obama ran a good campaign here.”

This was in response to a question from ABC News’ David Wright about it taking “two Clintons to beat” Obama. Jackson had not been mentioned.

Boy, I can’t understand why anyone would think the Clintons are running a race-baiting campaign to paint Obama as “the black candidate.”

— jpt

For those that don’t remember back to 1984 and 1988, here’s a reminder of the candidates that did end up being the Democratic nominees for President (both images from Wikipedia):

1984: Walter Mondale

What happened to Mr. Mondale? He went on to lose in the biggest electoral vote landslide — ever (only 13 votes against Reagan’s 525). He also lost the popular vote with only 40.6% of the vote against Reagan’s 58.8%.

 

 

 

1988: Michael Dukakis

And what happened to then Governor [of Massachusetts] Dukakis? He lost the electoral vote with only 111 votes against George H. W. Bush’s 426 votes. He obtained 45.6% of the popular vote against Bush’s 53.4%.

 

So, Bill…are you saying that your wife is going to get stomped in the General Election?

More on the telecommuting program

From http://www.visitcaroline.com/telecommuntingad.html :

Wireless telecommunication pilot program begins February 1

The Caroline County Board of Supervisors has teamed with Virginia Broadband on a pilot project to allow residents to telecommute from the Community Services Center located at 17202 Richmond Turnpike (adjacent to Bowling Green Primary School) in Bowling Green.

The details of the new service, initiated by Board Chairman Floyd Thomas, are as follows:

  • Available every Friday beginning February 1 from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. in a reserved room in the Community Services Center
  • Wireless Internet connections will be available
  • Partitions will be used to separate work areas and allow for privacy

The new program will be monitored throughout the month of February to determine the level of public interest. If there is sufficient interest and participation, the program will continue beyond February.

For more information, please contact Information Technology Manager J.P. Montague at jpmontague@co.caroline.va.us 804 212-6011.

Delegate Chris Peace’s response; then my reponse:

I previously pointed out that Delegate Chris Peace voted to not record subcommittee votes (and to not allow live television broadcasting of the House of Delegates session).

Delegate Peace in an email to a third party:

I appreciate your sending me your thoughts regarding recorded votes in subcommittees. It is unfortunate that this issue has been so misunderstood. Most people don’t know the facts.

No final action on bills can be taken in subcommittee — final action can only occur in full committee where all votes are recorded and available on-line. Subcommittees act as mark-up or working sessions to address problems which may be foreseeable, correct those problem if possible and put legislation in a proper posture giving it the best chance of passage. It provides an atmosphere to air concerns and institutes efficiencies for the session.

Although subcommittees do take action on legislation, their decisions – under Democrat control or Republican – have never been posted separately on the Internet. This is because the result of any actions can be ascertained quite easily by reviewing the bill summaries that are available on the Internet ( http://leg1.state.va.us ). A bill that was not fully prepared to be taken to the full committee or failed to win any significant support would be listed there as “Left in Subcommittee”.

Often in this process, a bill will receive little support and not enough to move forward. The full committee — irrespective of the subcommittee’s recommendation — can bring up any bill at any time. In addition, subcommittee meetings are open to the public and all are welcome to record any portion of the subcommittee proceeding, be it testimony, arguments, and/or votes.

The legislature typically goes through between 2000-3000 bills within a 45 or 60 day session. If you do the math, that’s a lot of output each day, so we must have a process in place that let’s us allocate time and divide the work in the most efficient manner.

I share your view — and agree — that citizens should know where their elected representatives stand on legislation before the General Assembly. I believe our current system does a good job of balancing the necessity of letting the sunshine in on the legislative process while having a procedure that promotes efficiency.

Again, thanks for your note. Please let me know if there’s anything I can do to serve you better.

Delegate Chris Peace
97th House District
804-698-1097 (Richmond Office)
804-730-3737 (District Office)

I respectfully disagree for several reasons.

Here’s what former Delegate John Welch said in 2007:

The great thing about what we did last year in the House: we gave killing power to subcommittees. So now, as a — I’m a subcommittee chairman of two committees now. And we can actually kill a bill in subcommittee and it cannot come up in full committee. And it used to be able to get killed in subcommittee, and go in front of full committee, then it would get passed and moved on. So, the [inaudible] knew how to work that game.

So now, I have as few as five people on my subcommittee and as a subcommittee chair I can usually reel a few of them [inaudible].

So — um — they know it’s a different world out there and they have to come to us and they have strike deals. And one of them deals is that you treat me as a peer — not as a citizen. So that’s where we are.

Here’s what the Richmond Times-Dispatch said:

Republicans in the House of Delegates started off this year’s session with a profoundly dubious decision. Once again, they chose to let subcommittees kill bills with unrecorded voice votes.

Here’s what the Daily Press said:

Open government took a slap in the face when the Republican majority in the House of Delegates changed the rules in the 2006 legislative session. The change allows bills to die in subcommittee without a recorded vote.

Here’s what TriCities.com said:

In the latest open government clash in Richmond, Delegate Bob Marshall has emerged as an unlikely hero – the lone voice of reason among House Republicans.

Marshall, a fiery social conservative who hails from Prince William County, was the only member of his delegation to vote in favor of recording subcommittee votes last week. The measure did not pass.

The subcommittee system remains an unaccountable black hole, where House lawmakers send unpopular measures to die. No comparable bill-killing chamber exists in the state Senate.

Here’s what The Daily Progress said:

Call it the gulag of lawmaking.

Proposed bills go into the darkness and there they are killed, no spotlight, no fingerprints.

The General Assembly continues to cloak in secrecy some of its most basic decisions, those concerning the life or death of proposed laws. A bill to change this was defeated on a largely partisan vote during the very first hour the legislature was in session.

Here’s the background:

Two years ago, the GOP majority in the House of Delegates used its new power to change the legislative rules under which the House operated. Bills that went to subcommittee for evaluation could be killed there – with no recorded vote.

Previously, subcommittees had recommended the fate of legislation to their full committees.

Although the committees often accepted those recommendations with little or no discussion, at least there was a chance for further discussion. And there was a record of who voted for or against sending the bill forward to the House.

Constituents could find out not only what happened to a bill, but who made it happen. The old system provided openness and accountability.

[…]

Proponents also pointed out at the time that the subcommittee meetings were open to the public. Members of the public pointed out that the subcommittee members huddled together at tables set at a sufficient distance that spectators seldom could hear what was happening. There were no microphones and scant effort by the subcommittee members to make their voices heard.

Here’s what The Daily News Record said:

Two years ago, the House voted to change the rules to allow subcommittees to kill legislation, although critics said that bills should not be killed by a few people without a recorded vote. The critics had a good point, if not the majority of votes.

House of Delegates degrades into outright juvenileness

From the AP via WTOP: Va. House Floor Clash Prompts Partisan Meltdown:

What little remained of bipartisanship in the House of Delegates lay in shambles Thursday after a rare procedural move by Republicans triggered a fierce floor dispute.

The extraordinary partisan rancor arose over a delegate’s routine request to withdraw a bill he sponsored and left in doubt whether the House GOP majority and the Democrats can cooperate effectively in the remaining 43 days of the 2008 General Assembly.

“It was not a good day for the commonwealth,” House Democratic Leader Ward L. Armstrong said after lambasting the GOP as bullies and tyrants.

“They put a bill in, then they’re too cowardly to take a vote on it,” House GOP Leader H. Morgan Griffith said after the clash.

And you’re too cowardly to record subcommittee votes…

Del. Adam Ebbin, D-Alexandria, had asked that his legislation to allow collective bargaining by state and local government employees be withdrawn. Such requests are often made and routinely granted every year.

But Republicans refused, intent on forcing Democrats to take a floor vote that could potentially alienate unions, among the Democrats’ most generous constituencies.

In a roll call vote, the House’s 53 Republicans and two allied independents voted against a motion to withdraw the bill for the year while 43 Democrats voted for it.

The floor speeches that ensued bordered on breaching the House’s nearly 400-year-old rules on civility: fingers jabbed angrily toward partisan adversaries amid icy glares and hot rhetoric.

Armstrong, D-Henry, urged his fellow Democrats not to debate or vote on a subsequent motion to engross and advance Ebbin’s bill, then pointed toward the Virginia flag bearing the state motto, “Sic Semper Tyrannis” (thus always to tyrants).

“The tyranny of the majority is what you want, it’s what you shall have,” Armstrong said.

Griffith shot back: “I have not heard such philosophical tripe in all my years here, in all my life.”

The ensuing roll call showed 55 Republicans, two conservative independents and two Democrats voting not to advance the bill. There were no votes in favor of it, and 42 of the House’s 44 Democrats did not vote.

Then, invoking a rare parliamentary privilege, Republicans singled out 25 Democrats who did not vote and, one-by-one, ordered that the official record reflect that they had voted no, just as the Republicans had, creating an inflated final count of 82-0 to effectively kill Ebbin’s bill. Griffith said he quit after 25 because he got tired.

After the vote, Del. Lionel Spruill, D-Portsmouth, was angry but worried. “This _ the rest of this session _ is going to be rough if we can’t find a way to put this behind us.

Griffith acknowledged a measure of payback in making an issue of Democrats’ ties to labor. Unions have helped Democrats gain House seats in every legislative election since 2003.

Remember this when a Delegate says they don’t have the time to cover certain bills or issues.

So…full-time funding for the Commonwealth’s Attorney of Caroline County? When is the hearing for that going to be?

When is the hearing to fix the completely FUBAR Composite Index that counts federally owned property (that the feds don’t pay real estate taxes on) as an income source for the county? Meaning the county loses money from the state because the state says the county is getting money from the feds when they’re not.

But no, we have to do one-by-one votes for a bill just to pay back a group.

UPDATE: Fred2Blue has more.

January 22, 2008 – Board of Supervisors meeting roundup

CALL TO ORDER

INVOCATION

PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE

AMENDMENTS TO THE AGENDA

Added “I) Emergency Procurement – Videotaping” to the consent agenda and “Dominion Power Presentation” as the second item under Presentations/Reports.

OPENING BOARD COMMENTS

Chairman Floyd Thomas announced that the county would start a trial telecommuting program at the Emergency Operations Center tentatively scheduled for every Friday in February. Details are still being worked out. Contact County Administrator Percy Ashcraft for more information.

RECOGNITION OF EMPLOYEES OF THE YEAR

Finance Accountant Clerk Blanche Johnson of the Finance Department and Firefighter/Medic Leigh Doucet of Department of Fire, Rescue, and Emergency Management were named Co-Employees of the Year.

PRESENTATIONS/REPORTS

  • Report from FRED Transit Manager

The county requested FRED put in for a grant that would pay for most of a bus route between Ladysmith and the VRE station in Fredericksburg. Locations for pickup in Caroline County are in the Ladysmith area (exact locations to be determined).

  • Dominion Power Presentation

Dominion Power is planning on building two new power turbines and a 450 kilovolt line in Upper Caroline. The Free Lance-Star has more [scroll down] and Dominion Power is holding an open house at Upper Caroline Volunteer Fire Department on January 31.

  • Update on Status of Lewis & Clark Elementary School Construction

The Free Lance-Star: Caroline school opening on hold

  • Presentation of FY 2008 Mid-Year Financial Report

Projected budget surplus if I heard correctly (see how long that lasts). Sales tax revenues are up 6%.

REPORTS FROM SUPERVISORS

  • Education
  • Utilities/Public Works
  • Finance
  • Public Safety
  • Economic Development

Commissioner of Revenue Sharon Carter gave a presentation on the “Composite Index of Local Ability to Pay” which is used by the Commonwealth of Virginia to determine how much money each school district gets from the state. According to the formula used by the state, Caroline County is better able to pay for their schools than Spotsylvania County!

Why?

Because the formula uses the county’s true values of real estate that is assessed even if the property is exempt from real estate taxes!

Say like 22.2% of the county in this one area called “Fort A.P. Hill”!

And as required by the Constitution of Virginia: “All assessments of real estate and tangible personal property shall be at their fair market value” even if the property is exempted from taxation!

And before you ask, I doubt that Fort A.P. Hill brings that much money into the county: the base has a small amount of personnel that are permanently stationed there that would be spending their money in the county, there is a negligible civilian personnel (outside of force protection and fire/rescue) there compared to Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Dahlgren, for example, that would bring in money either.

Bravo, General Assembly, Bravo.

APPOINTMENTS

  • Fredericksburg Regional Alliance – Board of Supervisors Representative

Sili nominated by Rozell, seconded by Acors: 5-0.

  • Industrial Development Authority (IDA) – Reedy Church District
  • Rappahannock Area Agency on Aging (RAAA) – Citizen Representative
  • Recreation Advisory Committee – Port Royal District
  • Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) – Mattaponi District
  • Green Government Commission

Sili nominated by Acors, seconded by Rozell: 5-0.

  • Committee of Governing Body Members

Popowicz nominated by Acors, seconded by Rozell: 5-0.

Sorry, didn’t catch the names for the other appointments.

CONSENT AGENDA

A) Approval of Minutes

B) Approval of Warrants

C) Proposed Purchases Over $7,500

D) Review of Planning Commission Actions

E) Approval of Change Order #9 for Courthouse Renovation Project

F) Approval of Visitor Center Payment Request #12

G) Approval of Change Orders #17 and #18 for Visitor Center

H) Approval of Supplemental School Appropriations

I) Emergency Procurement – Videotaping

Approved.

7:30 P.M. PUBLIC COMMENTS

Two parents voiced their complaints regarding the plans to move students into Lewis & Clark Elementary School during the middle of the school year.

One citizen expressed concerns regarding his property values and safety concerns of having another power line run through his property with Dominion Power’s plans.

One citizen expressed concern over the (extremely stupid) regulations that the Planning Commission is considering.

Floyd Thomas tentively allowed public comments on the Ladysmith Sub Area Plan (which normally wouldn’t be allowed since it was on the agenda) but rescinded the courtesy after one citizen decided to read verbatim from a letter he had sent to the Board after being told not to do so.

PUBLIC HEARINGS

Proposed Acquisition of Property by Condemnation (Ladysmith Solid Waste Convenience Site)

Moved to closed session at Ashcraft’s request.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

Adoption of Ladysmith Sub Area Plan

Continued until the February 26th meeting. Public comments will be allowed at the February 12th meeting.

NEW BUSINESS

Renewal of Medical and Dental Insurance Coverage for the Period of March 1, 2008 to February 28, 2009

Approved. Popowicz proposed, Rozell seconded: 5-0.

Selection of Firm to Provide Executive Search Services

Search services needed due to vacant Finance Director position. Approved.

Proposed Establishment of Lieutenant Classification in the Department of Fire & Rescue

Position needed due to the increased amount of paid personnel (especially since Field Supervisor/Captain Brady Grim is still recovering from injuries sustained in a car accident). Approved.

INFORMATIONAL/CALENDAR ITEMS

  • Board/Staff Liaison Guidelines
  • Update on Radio System Upgrade (Voter Project)

CLOSING BOARD COMMENTS

Reminder about telecommuting program.

CLOSED MEETING

ADJOURNMENT

If I missed anything, leave a comment.

Next meeting: February 12, 2008.

There will be a joint Board of Supervisors/School Board meeting work session February 4th 5th at 6:30 pm at the Community Services Center to discuss education issues.

Took him long enough: Kucinich out.

Kucinich to drop bid for presidency

UPDATED: Charges against Lashawn Monroe certified

From the Richmond Times-Dispatch: Murder charge certified against Caroline man:

Felony charges were certified today to a Caroline County grand jury against Lashawn Monroe in the November slaying of Raquel Hunter.

Hunter’s body was found about 11 p.m. Nov. 10 on the ground outside the Madison Ruritan Club hall in Ladysmith. The hall had been rented for a birthday party for another teen.

Monroe, 22, is charged with murder and illegal use of a firearm.

Next stop: Grand jury.

Not sure if the charges will go to the special grand jury (not sure it has been formed yet) or if they will have to wait until April for the regular grand jury.

UPDATE: Richmond Times-Dispatch: Caroline murder trial advances:

A Ruther Glen man accused of killing a 16-year-old outside a birthday party on the night of November 10 had a murder charge against him certified by a judge to a grand jury today.

Lashawn Montque Monroe, 22, is charged in the death of Raquel (pronounced Rockwell) Tremain Hunter, 16, after a fight at the party at the Madison Ruritan Club in Ladysmith..

Party crashers, including Monroe, were ejected from the party, according to testimony in Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court today. A melee ensued and the shooting took place about 11 p.m. in the Ruritan Club parking lot.

Javon Edwards, 18, testified that he saw “a big pile of people on top of each other,” including Hunter. He said he helped separate the fighters and noticed that Hunter “swung at somebody.”

He said he was standing next to Hunter when he heard a gunshot and saw a flash between Hunter and Monroe — and then watched Hunter slump to the ground.

Queried by Caroline County Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael M. Weise and defense attorney John L. Mahoney, Edwards said he could not say who fired the shot.

“The flash came from the front of who?” Weise asked Edwards.

“The defendant,” Edwards said.

Detective Travis Nutter testified when he began interviewing Monroe a few hours later, Monroe denied having a gun. Later, said Nutter, Monroe admitted that he took a handgun to the party and fired it.

Nutter testified that Monroe told him he saw a “friend and someone else in a confrontation” outside the Ruritan building and when he heard a shot, “he pulled his gun out and shot as he was running away.”

A state medical examiner, Shane Chittenden, testified that Hunter’s body bore three bullet wounds.

Fred’s out.

Fred Thompson Quits Presidential Race

(H/t: Virginia Virtucon)

Mother charged in Bowling Green Primary School gun incident

From The Free Lance-Star: Mother charged in school gun case:

The mother of a 4-year-old Bowling Green Primary School student who authorities said brought a gun to school last week, was charged Saturday.

Caroline County Sheriff Tony Lippa said the woman, who was not named to protect the identity of her child, was charged with recklessly leaving a firearm so as to endanger a child under the age of 14, which is a class 3 misdemeanor.

Lippa said the mother told police she kept the gun loaded and in plain sight for protection for the child and herself.

He said a lesson should be learned from the incident and parents should remember to separate ammo and guns and to get gun locks, which are free at the Sheriff’s Office, for their guns.

He said however, that he understands there’s a tradeoff for those who want their gun for immediate use, such as protection, as in this case.

Lippa said he was not sure whether the woman would face any additional charges, but he said she will go to court on at least the one charge Feb. 26. She was charged in a summons.

The loaded pistol was found in the boy’s possession last Thursday when a fellow student spotted it and told a teacher.

The police were then called, the report taken and the gun confiscated, according to previous police reports.

Lippa said it’s important to remember and be thankful that no one was hurt.

“We avoided a tragedy,” he said.

“BeBe” Goes to Jail

That’s a reference to Ernest Goes to Jail in case you didn’t get that…

From The Free Lance-Star: Man, 19, held in slaying:

A man wanted for a Jan. 12 slaying at a Fredericksburg nightspot was captured early yesterday in Westmoreland County.

Brandon Lee Smith, 19, was taken into custody without incident shortly before 2 a.m. at a home just outside Colonial Beach, police said.

Smith is charged with first-degree murder in connection with the shooting death of 30-year-old Dasan Ka’Wila Richardson.

Richardson was working as a bouncer at Mi Casa Restaurant in Central Park when he was shot twice in the chest with a .45-caliber gun during an altercation involving Smith and others, police said.

Fredericksburg police quickly identified and charged Smith in the slaying, but were unable to find him until yesterday.

Police said that Smith, also known as “BeBe,” is a member of the gang “Pound Property,” a gang which operates primarily in Colonial Beach, King George and Westmoreland.

Details regarding what led to Smith’s apprehension were sketchy yesterday, but city Lt. Eddie Delano said the key tip regarding Smith’s whereabouts was received by the Colonial Beach Police Department.

I guess some of your boys aren’t too happy with you.

Beach police and Westmoreland deputies later went to the house and surrounded the residence. Smith walked out and gave himself up.

He was later turned over to Fredericksburg detectives and is being held without bond in the Rappahannock Regional Jail.

According to police, Richardson was working for a promoter who had rented Mi Casa for a “hip-hop” event.

Shortly after 1 a.m. that morning, Smith was forcibly removed from the building because he is underage and because event sponsors recognized him as someone who had caused problems at prior events.

Court records state that Smith returned five to seven minutes later with several other associates and got into a fight with bouncers.

Richardson was shot at point-blank range.

Smith also has drug trials pending next month in Fredericksburg Circuit Court.


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