Monthly Archives: August 2005

Potts’ Heavyweight Supporters?

In a sign that Russ Potts may yet gain traction in the gubernatorial race, past chairmen of the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce have sent a letter to the chamber asking it to invite Russ Potts to the planned Sept. 13 gubernatorial debate. Chamber President Bill Lecos says that won’t happen. Leading the charge on Potts behalf is Mike Anzilotti, who says neither Kaine nor Kilgore have proposed adequate transportation solutions.

“If we could just move them off of their positions and get them to recognize the problem,” Anzilotti said.
“We have nothing against the chamber. All we are trying to do is give Russ a platform.”

Anyone seen the letter or list of signers?

The story says 15 of the 20 former chamber chairmen signed the letter. From the chamber’s site, here is a list of 16 people identified as former chairmen:

William Wrench
Todd A. Stottlemyer
Terrie G. Spiro
Robert Skunda
Philip M. Reilly
James P. Popino
Dale Peck
Clark Massie
Gary Hevey
David Guernsey
L. Burwell Gunn, Jr.
James W. Dyke, Jr.
Nancy Eberhardt
Michael Carlin
William F. Blocher
Michael G. Anzilotti

Update: Although Mike Shear quotes from the letter in his Post story today, the letter was apparently not distributed to the press and will not be, according to one former chairman.

Great Products … But Not for Sale At Any Price

The soft drink industry has expressed such faith in its products that it wants to voluntarily limit their sale.

Responding to the clamor of school principals everywhere who can’t say no,

The president of the American Beverage Association, the industry’s main trade group, announced in a speech yesterday that major players in the business have signed on to a set of voluntary limits that would keep all soda and juice drinks out of elementary schools while curtailing the sales of certain beverages in middle and high schools.

This is a strict no tolerance policy.

For middle schools, from sixth grade to eighth grade, vending machines will sell no full-calorie soft drinks during school hours, or any full-calorie juice drinks containing 5 percent real fruit juice or less.

So the kids will get to choose between sugar substitutes that probably cause brain cancer and sugared water that contains 6 percent juice.

In high schools, the industry is asking that no more than 50 percent of a vending machine’s options be soft drinks.

The other 50 percent can be trans fat treats at 50 cents per ounce.

Advocates of children’s nutrition generally praised the effort while suggesting that the directives don’t go far enough.

“It’s really the first clear admission on the part of the beverage industry that soft drinks in schools are a problem,” said Margo G. Wootan, director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, an advocacy group that promotes nutrition.

But Wootan said the guidelines, while setting very strict limitations on marketing sodas to children up to fifth grade, are fairly lax when it comes to older kids. She said that in addition to soft drinks, there should be restrictions on sales of sugary fruit drinks or sports drinks, which are just as bad as soda pop nutritionally.

“In elementary schools, you might find one vending machine in a gym somewhere,” she said. “But in high schools, you might find several banks with half a dozen or more vending machines. To have such a weak policy for high schools is to miss the whole point.”

Now wait a minute. Give the beverage industry some credit here. They’re replacing the whole point with a 2% point, or even a skim point.

Under pressure from parents and advocacy groups, the soft drink industry has been slowly scaling back its child-focused marketing, but the new unified plan represents a change in approach. For the past couple of years, the vending and soda industries have largely responded to the issue of obesity in children by stressing that kids aren’t getting enough exercise and need to eat more balanced diets in general.

It’s just that the soft drink industry has yet to create a more balanced Coke, Mountain Dew or RC Cola. They are reportedly in talks with McDonalds and Burger King to create solid food products that will complement the empty calories of sodas with the full calories of saturated fat, thereby creating a more balanced approach to early death.

Anybody got change for a dollar? I’m thirsty.

Herndon Says Yes

The town of Herndon, Virginia, thrust in the national spotlight over the issue of immigrant workers, last night approved spending $175,000 to create a formal gathering place for day laborers, many of whom are immigrants, some of them illegally so, but probably most of them, in the interpreted words of one such immigrant, “honest workers, not criminals, like they say.”

It was ugly. People concerned about the neighborhood ambience and property values were called bigots. Immigrants were accused of spreading tuberculosis. And “one speaker Tuesday night testified that the day laborers represent the ‘comeuppance of the white man’ over the conquest of Native Americans hundreds of years ago.”

But in the end, by a 5-2 vote, the town council said

[T]hey were helpless in the face of what they called a federal failure to police U.S. borders. They said it was their responsibility to bring order to a neighborhood nuisance that had become the town’s most divisive issue in recent history.

“Here we sit, expecting this local government to resolve a national immigration problem that is out of our control,” said council member Harlon Reece.

…The dissenters said a vote to spend public money on a laborer site would amount to an endorsement of illegal immigration.

Still, council member Dennis D. Husch, who opposed the measure along with member Ann V. Null, expressed frustration with federal policies. “Shame on [federal officials] for their cowardly retreat,” he said. “True leadership was in their grasp.”

Could he have been talking about President Bush and the Republican majorities in both houses that could do something about illegal immigration? Oh no, he was talking about “true leadership.” Besides, Bush is on a five-week bike ride.

The Post’s Lisa Rein explains how this became such a national issue, even though Arlington and other Washington suburbs have formal, tax-supported gathering spots for day laborers.

In recent weeks, radio talk shows, cable news and Internet blogs fumed that taxpayer money would help immigrants who might be in the country illegally. They advised rounding up such immigrants instead.

And exactly what would the Herndon police do if they rounded up all the illegal immigrants looking for work, besides tell their white collar friends that there are opportunities hanging dry wall at $10 an hour?

Well, I guess they’d feed them and clothe them and house them in the pokey. At taxpayers’ expense, no doubt. Then after the money all but run out at city hall and before school started, Herndon could put them in a Fairfax County school bus and drive them back to Mexico, Costa Rica and Honduras, — and Guinea, Ghana and Gabon. Can you drive to Africa? No problem, Herndon could rent planes cheap from Delta.

That would leave all the lawn mowing to Fairfax County high school boys and all the toilet scrubbing to Fairfax County high school girls and their bored mothers.

And while were at it, let’s stop buying from countries that are filled with immigrants — like China. I hear they’re mostly Chinese there. I’m sure most Herndoners would give up $10 shirts and instead buy $50 ones made in Southwest Virginia, where the mills would all be re-opened.

Wait, I think I’m on to something. Quick, anyone have the phone numbers of the Kaine and Kilgore campaigns? This sounds like a revolutionary Virginia economic plan in the making.

Four reproters gae us stories this morning about the Herndon vote. One wonders if Christina Bellantoni was at the meeting she reported on.
Her spin:

On Tuesday and again last night before voting after 11 p.m., the council heard testimony from scores of residents, most of whom oppose the application…

Was Ms. Bellantoni at the same meeting as The Post?

The speakers last night — the carry-over crowd from a seven-hour hearing Tuesday in Herndon’s small council chambers — were evenly split about the proposed site…

Or the Richmond Times-Dispatch?

Comments appeared to be about equally divided between supporters and opponents…

Or the AP?

The comments were split about evenly between those who said the site would provide a safe gathering place for people looking for work and those who opposed the facility, saying tax dollars shouldn’t be used to provide the site for day laborers…

“The president is biking for five weeks”

From Today’s Washington Post front page story about traffic:

Travel experts said late July and August are the height of vacation season for Washingtonians. School hasn’t started yet, Congress is out of session, the president is biking in Texas for five weeks, and seemingly everyone else has left the swelter of the city for a mountain peak, sandy beach or some other version of paradise.

Not everyone. While candlelight vigils were held through out the world against the Iraq War, “the president is biking for five weeks.”


Having just returned — via the I-95 parking lot — from vacation, this item seemed an appropriate way to say, I’m baaaaaaaaack.

“Stultified Mediocrity”

Ugh. The Roanoke Times calls both Kaine and Kilgore mediocre. But at least Kaine’s campaign apparently knows how to use email.

Perhaps the humidity has him frazzled, as Kilgore experienced a now-regrettable ah-ha moment this week upon reading an article in The New Republic that quoted Richmond Mayor Douglas Wilder as saying, “For too many years, this city has been satisfied with stultified mediocrity….”

That’s it! Fresh proof that former Richmond Mayor Kaine is a practitioner of mediocrity. Kilgore dashes off an e-mail to an aide, writing, “How about sending this to the press?? Get others to ask, what was Kaine’s role?? This could get us on offense on rt [his shorthand for right] issue.”

To Kilgore’s chagrin, the aide failed to strip his message from the bottom before hitting the “send” button.

Kilgore on Higher Ed

Give Kilgore extra credit for again taking the lead in proposing programs, this time in higher ed. It seems like we’re always hearing that “Kaine’s program will be announced soon.”

But again Kilgore fails the acid test as asked by Sen. Russ Potts, “How would he pay for those?”

Kilgore says “the money for the expanded grants and for the engineering scholarships would come from growth in the state general fund from a burgeoning economy.”

The two main proposals are 100 engineering scholarships to students who eventually earn an engineering degree and then work in Virginia (for how long, who knows?) and an increase in publicly funded grants to students attending private colleges.

Makes you wonder about his priorities — even if he did say where the money is coming from — that he proposes to spend $20 million more a year for students at private colleges but only $1 million more a year for state college students.

Or is he? Help me with the math. Kilgore says the engineering grants will be for 100 students a year and I’m assuming for at least four years it takes to get the degree. Well, if you have 100 students one year and 100 students the next, each getting $10,000, isn’t that $2 million a year? And of course in the fourth year of the program, it would cost $4 million a year.

Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine rightly points out that Kilgore opposed the tax increase that gave higher ed about $240 million extra dollars a year.

Kilgore also said he wanted to expand diversity at state schools.

Kilgore on Wednesday also tried to clarify his comments from last month’s debate that affirmative action programs kept “good, qualified students” out of Virginia schools.

I’m not sure if he’s talking about programs for racial minorities or geographic minorities. It’s widely believed, and I don’t doubt it, that there are geographic quotas that mean better Northern Virginia students lose out to students in other areas to maintain a geographic balance at state schools.

“It is the No. 1 complaint I hear, when I am traveling in northern Virginia or Hampton Roads, when a parent comes up to me and says, `My good student cannot get admitted into a Virginia college or university,'” [Kilgore] said during the July 16 debate with Kilgore, the first of this election year.

Kaine said those comments, together with warnings Kilgore gave state college officials two years ago about their affirmative action programs, show Kilgore is hostile to college efforts to achieve racial diversity.

“There’s plenty of ways to get a diverse (student) body,” Kilgore said. “I’ve said time and time again you get a good mix of urban and rural students, you base it on financial need, you base it on first-generation college students. If you base it on those issues, you’re going to get a very diverse student body, and we have to encourage college administrators and admissions offices to be out there seeking a diverse student body.”

Yeah, and you’ll still get better students in some areas losing out to students elsewhere. Or is that what he’s talking about? Who knows?

Sometimes when I read Kilgore’s comments, I feel like the Aflac duck who looks stunned in the commercial where Yogi Berra says, “They pay you cash, which is just as good as money.” Kilgore might say, “I give you promises, which is just as good as money.”

Different Ideas

During a round-table interview with reporters from five Texas newspapers, Bush declined to go into detail on his personal views of the origin of life. But he said students should learn about both theories, Knight Ridder Newspapers reported.

“I think that part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought,” Bush said. “You’re asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas, the answer is yes.”

I wonder if Bush thinks kids should learn about homosexuality, about how and why radical Muslims feel they way they do, and about how the careless use of guns kill thousands of people.

Or does he get to choose what “different ideas” we can learn about.

You know sometimes his intellectual dishonesty, his hypocrisy simply astonishes me.

A Kiss is NOT Just a Kiss

Not if you’re Dick Black. The man is still outraged by a play written by a Stonebridge High School student and performed earlier this year. The play about a high school athlete coming to grips with his homosexuality has a scene where two boys move toward a kiss before a black out.

I don’t have an online link to the Leesburg Today story but I was sent the relevant portions of it.

“[Black’s opponent] David Poisson thinks that it is proper to have boys kissing boys on stage in our public high schools,” Black said. “I do not and that is a fundamental difference. I think his argument that there are lots of Republicans who favor boys kissing boys in our public schools is a con job. I am opposed to the introduction of vice and corruption in our community and I am going to oppose it.”

But boys didn’t kiss boys, though that they were about to was apparently the impression that was left.

Other parts of the article illustrate that when it comes to the courage of his convictions, well, he’s a coward.

One message Poisson said he is hearing from voters is the debacle over a controversial student play at Stone Bridge High School which Black strongly opposed because two male students portrayed a kiss.

“People now say ‘I was a Republican but not that kind of Republican,’” said Poisson. Poisson sharply criticized Black for generating public alarm of the student play and then not attending one of the public meetings the school system held to discuss controversial revisions to policies that will govern the content of future productions. He said the school administration told him they spent 2,000 man-hours discussing the issue and crafting policy, at the same time they were preparing for graduations and SOL tests.

“Dick Black likes to throw a stone in the window and run in the other direction as fast as he can,” Poisson said. “He’s had seven years and he’s produced nothing. He’s introduced no major bill on education, transportation or health care and he hasn’t helped seniors.”

When asked Tuesday why he didn’t attend any of the public meetings with the school board when it crafted the play policy, Black said the voters of his district know where he stands.

Yes, we know where he stands but he won’t do it in public.

As an ex-Marine, Black should know that this is called having no guts.