Monthly Archives: February 2005

Poisson Kick-Off For Loudoun Delegate Attracts Big Crowd, Donations

Former State Senator Waddell Introduces Candidate

Loudoun County, Va., Feb 28, 2005 – More than 200 people packed the Belmont Country Club Friday night for the kick-off of David Poisson’s campaign for the House of Delegates from the 32nd district in eastern Loudoun County. The event raised more than $16,000 for the campaign.

Former state senator Charlie Waddell, who represented Loudoun for nearly 30 years, introduced Poisson. “David is one of the most able and energetic candidates for the Virginia House of Delegates to come along in a very long time,” Waddell said.

“We need a Delegate in Richmond willing to fight for the things we care about most – someone who is pro-family, pro-business, and pro-Loudoun. We need someone like David.”

At the event, Poisson, who holds both a Ph.D. in higher education and a law degree, pledged to work for the issues that really concern voters: education, transportation and jobs.

“We want a promising future for our children and a plan to make eastern Loudoun County an even greater place to live,” Poisson said. “We can achieve those goals because I believe you share with me two core qualities: confidence in ourselves and the knowledge that nothing of value is achieved without hard work.”

Drawing a distinction between himself and incumbent Dick Black, Poisson said a Delegate should be working on the core needs of his constituents. “We don’t need a delegate lecturing us on the difference between right and wrong,” Poisson said. “We need a delegate who, when things in Loudoun are wrong, is busy in Richmond making them right.”

Poisson pledged “to focus on the real issues that are important to you – education, transportation and job creation. You deserve that – and you deserve results. I’ve spent more than 20 years working closely with business leaders from many different industries. I learned long ago that to be successful in business, you must be answerable to shareholders, to customers, to suppliers, and to employees.

“Why shouldn’t our representatives in Richmond be held just as accountable?”

The 32nd district encompasses northeastern Loudoun County. Poisson, a Democrat, has been one of the top fundraisers among challengers for seats in the General Assembly. He announced plans to knock on the doors of at least 20,000 homes in the district and to meet with at least 300 business owners in Loudoun County.

The Poisson for Delegate web site is

Contact: Robert Griendling


This was not an opinion piece, but a news story. Kudos for Michael Hardy and Jeff Shapiro for calling it like it is.

Against the backdrop of November’s elections for the House of Delegates’ 100 seats and the three statewide offices, lawmakers flooded the assembly in-basket with bills that sometimes seemed more symbolic, even silly, than substantive.

They were, in legislative parlance, “brochure issues” tailored to stir voters, never mind that the legislation stood little chance of being endorsed by lawmakers.

Dishonest Journalism

The Washington Times will even stoop to outright falsehood to promote its radical right agenda.

Lawmakers also rejected a constitutional amendment that would have allowed prayer in public schools….

The truth is — and the Times knows it — is that prayer in schools is allowed. No one can stop you from praying in school. But no one can force you, either. And a private prayer shouldn’t interrupt classes or other student activities. The purpose of the bill was to try to get a foot in the door to allow school officials or Christian groups to lobby for official prayer, likely required prayer.

But the truth doesn’t stop the Times.

Tough on Crime?

The GOP has for decades positioned itself as the party that’s “tough on crime.” Of course, we’ve always known that folks who smokes crack suffers a lot more than someone who robs thousands of people of their retirement savings. So there’s always been an ideological inconsistency.

It has played out again in the Virginia Assembly. The Virginian Pilot editorial page makes the same point I have vis-à-vis red light cameras: If red light runners deserve privacy, why don’t other criminals?

In an exercise of ideological inconsistency and hypocrisy, members of the House of Delegates have all but killed the program. Unless a compromise is reached before the General Assembly adjourns, the “photo red” systems will go dark July 1 in about a half-dozen localities in the state, including Virginia Beach.

Residents around the commonwealth, as they vote in this year’s legislative contests, should remember the names of those lawmakers who sided with lawbreakers – and against the police officials and others endorsing the cameras. Del. John Welch III of Virginia Beach is among those who’s spoken out most vocally against the technology.

The opposition came primarily in the House of Delegates, where ill-defined constitutional and privacy concerns trumped a pragmatic and promising traffic safety measure.

…When these politicians take to the stump, Virginians need to ask:

Do you support your local police? Then why did you disregard their best advice? Law enforcement officials, including Beach Police Chief A.M. “Jake” Jacocks Jr., begged lawmakers to extend the 10-year-old pilot program.

…Do you think cameras invade privacy? Well, what’s so “private” about a public street? Motorists caught by the cameras jeopardize themselves and others. Their individual choice to break the law has implications for society at large. Hence, there’s an obvious public interest.

If those cited for civil violations should be able to face their “accuser,” as some photo-red opponents claim, what about the cameras at convenience stores, ATMs and elsewhere? In the latter examples, the cameras often are the only surviving “witness” to a crime of fraud – or even murder. Lawmakers aren’t suggesting that evidence be excluded; why are they getting all atwitter over the red-light cameras?

Jim Dillard


Retiring delegate Jim Dillard represented the district whose border is just two blocks from me. I had the chance to work with him a little on the education initiatives and would seek his advice, which he gave it candidly. And he always fought for his beliefs, especially for public education.

“People say to me, `Dillard, are you a liberal?’ Sometimes they ask, `You a moderate?’ and others say `Are you a conservative?'” Dillard said. “I say I’m not really any of those. I’m a Virginian.”

The Assembly will miss this moderate but passionate Republican voice. Good luck, sir.

Photo Red Dead

Despite efforts by the Senate to revive the bill, House Speaker Bill Howell ruled the amendment to another traffic bill “not germane.

“Falls Church City Council member David Snyder said the demise of photo red “shows an increasing lack of any concern for the well-being of northern Virginia and other large urban areas.” Falls Church is one of the localities using the technology.

Critics deride the use of cameras as an invasion of privacy and don’t like the practice of ticketing the car’s owner, even though the owner can avoid a fine by stating that someone else was driving the vehicle.

The state government won’t interfere with your privacy when you’re in your car and break the law, but will get into your business if you decide what you want to do with your body or who you will marry.

Republicans: Hypocrites.

What if Gannon was a Liberal?

While the “Jeff Gannon” story is still bouncing around the journalistic circles, it’s clear that the hard questions about why Jim Guckert, Gannons’ real name, got a day-pass to the White House pressroom for two years, without a legitimate news organization as his employer have not been answered.

As an S.F. Chronicle editorial put it, “It’s hard to say which is worse: That the White House had no idea who it was allowing to be within shouting distance of the president — or that it knew exactly who Jeff Gannon was and why he was there.”

Why isn’t this story being dissected by the MSM (mainstream media) 24-7? I think Dan Kennedy of the Boston Phoenix put it best

Of course, the difference is that if, say, a Gore or Kerry administration had brought in a gay hooker to act as a ringer at news conferences, it would have quickly exploded into the biggest story in the country. Fox News would devote hours upon hours to it. So would Rush Limbaugh. So would the Pat Robertsons and the Jerry Falwells and the James Dobsons. Needless to say, so would the Republican Party. And here’s where the difference between liberal and conservative sex scandals, and how the mainstream media handle them, becomes clearly visible. When there’s a scandal on the left, there is a built-in machine, already in place, to spew shock and outrage on a 24-hour-a-day basis, and the mainstream media naturally cover that. But when there’s a sex scandal on the right, there’s really no one to speak out. Do liberals really care that men are having sex with each other? Or that Jeff Gannon supposedly has been paid as much as $1200 for one weekend for the pleasure of his companionship? To ask these questions is to answer them: no, and no.

The paradigmatic example is the Monica Lewinsky story. You may recall that the investigation into Bill Clinton’s sex life was driven not by the media, but by a $50 million official government investigation and a congressional witch-hunt led by the Republican majority. If the Bush White House really does become embroiled in a sex scandal — and, at this point, it looks like a genuine possibility — well, who is going to push this into the hyperstory realm? There simply are no liberal equivalents of Sean Hannity and Rush. Al Franken? Please. He’d be laughing too hard to take this seriously. And Howard Dean is not likely to position himself as the Democrats’ sexual inquisitor.

It’s clear to me that the single greatest media agenda setter are the right-wing talk organizations. Whether it’s Fox New, Limbaugh or increasingly CNN, if they cover it, the MSM will. If they don’t, it’s a quieter story.

It’s up to all of us to demand greater coverage. Howard Kurtz of The Post has treated this as a blogger story. In his online chat earlier this week he identified the more important questions the Gannon affair raises, but he doesn’t seem to have done much digging to find out what the story is.

And that all comes down to who screams loudest and longest. Here’s Kurtz’ email address. Drop him a line.

Quote of the Day

I’ve had five members of the House come up to me to tell me personally that they were glad that we had killed a number of the more controversial bills that had passed the House. They told me that they had voted for them because they felt pressured to by the political environment, but that they thought it was terrible legislation.
My thought to that was, ‘How disgusting.’ If they felt it was bad legislation, then they should have voted against it in the first place themselves.
Sen. Russ Potts (R-Winchester)

Transportation in November

Many think transportation will be the overriding issue in the November campaigns — for governor and the other races. The Hampton Roads Daily Press has a great editorial about the obfuscations many politicians throw out there about it.

Spare us the promises of “restoring trust” to the transportation trust fund. Creating a “lockbox” or some other contrived malarkey for trust funds will only deny the legislature needed flexibility in the future – the kind of flexibility, when faced with a recession and dwindling receipts, that comes in very handy.

Same goes for the proposed constitutional amendment to “protect” the transportation trust fund. It’s meaningless at best and, at worst, could inspire similar efforts to protect this fund or that fund. Really want to protect transportation monies? Then just do it and desist with the stop-me-before-I-kill-again legislation.

Likewise, put the quietus to the sloganeering, label-as-remedy approach to transportation policy. In the current session, legislators have proposed a virtual parade of new “funds.” There’s the “public-private partnership incentive fund,” the “local congestion migration fund,” the “rail enhancement fund” the “commonwealth transportation incentive fund” and the “transit capital fund.”

You may collectively refer to these as the All-Utility Blue Smoke and Mirrors Funds. Each, by its lonesome, is unobjectionable and intentionally so. You put a little dab of money in and it fits nicely into your campaign brochure.

But if “Virginians have lost faith and confidence in how their tax dollars are spent on transportation,” as we’re constantly told, it is because the political system – for nearly two decades – has rested more upon resume enhancement than real, cold-cash road building.

If, for instance, your big idea is to divert revenue sources that currently flow into the state general fund – insurance premiums, for instance – you haven’t done anything but that. You have moved money from one purpose to another and probably with little discussion about the effects upon the first purpose.

Which is how I also feel about the car tax rebate. Those who promote getting rid of it and having the state reimburse localities just means we need to replace one tax with another or cut funds.

Or, if you just go out and borrow against future federal highway funds – which Virginia did a few years ago – while not being candid about the transaction and debt-maintenance costs, then you’re just kidding yourself and deceiving others about what has actually been achieved.

A similar dance is now under way in the name of “public-private” partnerships. Why, if we just provide a few incentives here and there for greater private participation, we might transform how transportation services are delivered in Virginia!

No, you won’t. There’s a role for these sort of public-private efforts, even an expanding role. But at the end of the day a road is a road and profit is profit. The opportunity for mixing the two will always be limited.

So many legislators are now running around promising innovation and rising productivity as the answer to road woes that some, in fact, may believe it’s true. But you still have to provide the money. It has to come from somewhere. You would have better luck chasing after leprechauns than in believing that it will ever take something other than folding money – raised somehow, some way – to build roads.

When the Republican leadership in the House of Delegates, for example, gets up and says, as it did last month, that it was presenting “a transportation plan that does not include a gas tax or any other type of general tax increase,” then it was announcing that it didn’t have a plan.

It is that fact, indifferent to the wiles and artifice of political marketers, that sits now before the candidates for state office this year. Will they be honest about the cost of improving transportation in Virginia, and who will have to bear that cost? Will they talk about tolls? Will they talk about taxes? Will they talk, candidly and forthrightly, about the inevitable decline in economic competitiveness that will follow further inaction?

The 2005 General Assembly was nearly as big a flop on transportation as the one the year before. Now we’re going to have some campaigns. We will discover in short order whether the pretenders will be any more interested in what’s real and necessary than the present bunch.

I disagree with Tim Kaine’s position of phasing out the car tax, but give him credit for honesty — and courage — about transportation.

Lt. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, the likely Democratic nominee for governor, said yesterday that a long-term financial fix for transportation, possibly including higher taxes, will be the “big thing” for Virginia’s next chief executive.

…”I’m not going to take anything off the table,” Kaine said.

But the Daily Press won’t be happy that he followed that remark with “But until we lock up the transportation fund, I’m not talking about new revenue.”

I’m with Kaine on this one. We have a right to some restrictions on how funds promised for one priority can be diverted to another.

Is Big Money a Big “So What”?

That’s the way I feel about it. It think donations, cash or otherwise, should be disclosed, but limiting or other restrictions on political donations are a restriction of the first amendment. If the electorate is informed and we have a vibrant free and dogged press (both assertions are arguable, I admit), then all the money in the world isn’t as powerful as an informed voter.

“Obviously, there is an inordinate imbalance,” said Kent Willis, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia. “That’s the field. That’s the way it’s played. Money talks. Constituents talk. Ultimately, constituents – the ones who cast votes – speak as loudly as corporations with lots of money.”