Sunday, May 23, 2010

Offered Without A Hint Of Irony

From The Washington Post, and written without a hint of irony.
In politics today, the narrative is king. Through the early months of this year, the narrative -- stoked by Republican spinmeisters -- held that President Obama and his agenda were so unpopular that the Democrats were almost certain to lose the House in November and possibly even the Senate. Last week's elections were a reminder that the narrative can sometimes get ahead of the facts. - Dan Balz
When The Post writes about the narrative, without acknowledging its role in setting it, the media has truly come off its rails.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Leesburg Road Priorities

PhotobucketEven though the Town will be getting no money from the state for its roads, the Town Council has identified the projects that are next on its priority list. They include:
  • Road widening on S. King Street, Sycolin Road and Evergreen Mill Road, as well as Rt. 7 going out to Rt. 9.

  • Completion of Battlefield Parkway from S. King Street to the Greenway

  • The Sycolin Road Flyover

  • Interchanges on the Bypass at Rt. 7, Edwards Ferry and Battlefield
I give the Council credit for its forward thinking, as all of these improvements are indeed necessary to manage the growth in traffic we can expect to see here in Leesburg over the next five years. The Interchanges on the Bypass seem to me to be especially critical. I also believe we need to address the Leesburg bus system in concert with roads improvements as interchanges on the Bypass would make buses in Town even more critical.

However, as Leesburg Today notes:
Many of these projects identified as funding priorities by the council have either no or little funds set aside.
There's a saying I've heard for the situation we're in, "I don't have an answer, but I certainly admire the question."

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Old Leesburg Map

I think I've found a new favorite site, the Loudoun County Office of Mapping's Flickr site. Check out this old map of Leesburg.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Better Bus Service In Leesburg

Leesburg is a great place to live. The people are friendly, the Town is remarkably well run, and the services and amenities are second to none. That being said, there are people who live in Leesburg who are underserved by the current transportation model: public transportation riders.

The Leesburg bus system is an amalgam of fixes to presenting problems, and aimed less at residents than visitors. For example, local buses don't run on weekends, even though the Trolley does.

A simple step that could be taken to help Leesburg citizens without cars, or with limited transportation options would be to make weekend bus service available. There is a concentration of available (retail) jobs along the 15 Bypass, and a concentration of people who need jobs elsewhere in Town. Leesburg would do well to provide a linkage for those residents to the available jobs when those jobs need to be filled - on the weekends.

Of course, making bus service in Leesburg available should go hand-in-hand with making it attractive. For this, the Town should build some bus shelters in places without them, and provide benches at popular stops such as the government center. Those of us with cars recall the difficulties we had getting around town during the snowstorms this past winter. Imagine what it would have been like to have to wait for a bus in that weather, without a bench or a shelter.

It is encouraging that the community is taking the first step towards such a vision for Leesburg bus service, beginning work on a bus shelter for the Heritage Square neighborhood. Let's all work together to provide better bus service to the rest of the Town as well.

(Incidentally, we need better buses countywide as well.)

Monday, May 17, 2010

An Interlude: Wolfgang

Dilbert.com

I work with these kids of guys. My job is basically translating for them (into, you know, normal people talk).

Friday, May 14, 2010

Who Is Jeff Barnett?

Jeff Barnett ButtonThe name Jeff Barnett has been in circulation a lot in Democratic circles of late, but it may be a name some Democratic voters may not know. So who is Jeff Barnett? He is a veteran, a Democrat, a homeowner, a father and a fighter for you and me.

Jeff Barnett is our Democratic candidate for Congress in Virginia's 10th district, running against 20-year incumbent, Frank Wolf.
A new vision for the 10th District

My name is Jeff Barnett, and I am running for Congress in Virginia's 10th Congressional District.

Forty years ago I answered the call to serve when I took the oath for the United States Air Force. Today I am stepping up to serve again. I am running for Congress because our district needs someone who believes in stepping up to our problems, not passing the buck to the next generation of Virginia. We need to start solving our problems now. In our time. On our dime. We need to focus on producing economic growth while helping families keep their homes, sparking the next generation of job growth, creating the next generation of transportation, and achieving national security. - Jeff Barnett
That's who Jeff Barnett is.

I first met Jeff at the LCDC Reorganization meeting in January. He spent many (boring!) hours on a Saturday watching the most procedural of events, just for the opportunity to see, meet, and talk with Loudoun's democrats. He spent his time listening to our diverse voices, and hearing what we had to say.

I met Jeff again at an event hosted by the Lansdowne Democrats. On a grey afternoon, Jeff met with a score of Democrats in a neighbors house and talked with us about health care, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the burdens of debt carried by so many of our students.

But Jeff's primary message truly struck home for me. He talked about the debt and despair brought on by the housing crisis. He talked about neighbors losing their homes, people unable to make their mortgage payments because of losing their jobs. He talked about how Loudoun county had suffered from the housing bubble more than most anywhere, and how its aftereffects reverberated from house to house and street to street.

And then Jeff talked about people like me.

He talked about homeowners who were underwater, but making their payments in good faith, even as the banks they were paying were reneging on their own promises, and refusing to renegotiate terms, even as they negotiated the best terms they could from our government.

Jeff understands that we need to fix our problems in our time and on our dime. That means doing it now, not leaving it to the next generation, that means talking about defense spending as something to be considered rationally. It means governing for you and me.

So that's who Jeff Barnett is, and why he's going to have my vote in November. I hope he'll have yours.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Relay For Life in Leesburg - June 12-13

The Loudoun County Democratic Committee will be sponsoring Relay for Life teams to walk in the Relay for Life at Heritage high school on June 12-13th. We already have one full team (15 people) and are now putting together a second!

Our Reason to Relay

Fighting cancer is a team effort. The impact we can make together is much greater than what any of us could do alone.

At the American Cancer Society Relay For Life, our team will camp out overnight and take turns walking around the track to raise money and awareness to help the American Cancer Society save more lives from cancer. By joining or donating to our team, you will be a part of a life-changing event that gives everyone in the community a chance to celebrate the lives of people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and fight back against a disease that takes too much.

Please make a donation, or join our team and help us create a world where cancer can no longer claim another year of anyone’s life.

Ellen Heald is organizing the teams, and the LCDC will have a tent at the Relay. We Democrats are committed to our community and are proud to be able to support this great organization. I hope you'll consider joining the team and walking that weekend.

Even if you can't come, perhaps you would donate $5 or $10 towards my fundraising goal? Thanks!

(Crossposted to Loudoun Progress.)

Charles Mann For Kelly Burk - June 27th

Retired NFL Defensive Lineman is hosting an event for Supervisor Kelly Burk on June 27th!
Join Supervisor Kelly Burk and her special guest, Former NFL Defensive Lineman, Charles Mann for an evening of food, drink, and entertainment provided by the Mystery All-Star Band!

What: 2010 Campaign Fundraiser
Date: June 27, 2010
Time: 3pm - 6pm
Where: 38683 Mount Gilead Road, Leesburg, VA 20175

Guests: Former NFL Defensive Lineman and TV Commentator, Charles Mann
Band: Mystery All-Star Band

Price: $100 per person

Sponsorships - $250 (Pro Bowl)
$500 (MVP)
$1,000 (Hall of Fame)

Point of Contact: RSVP to 703-431-4728 or kellyburk@aol.com
Come out and support Supervisor Burk's campaign for Leesburg!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Loudoun Progress

I'm proud to announce a new community blog for Democrats, progressives and open minded neighbors in Loudoun County: Loudoun Progress.

This new community blog is the brainchild of the authors of four local blogs here in Loudoun County, myself (Leesburg Tomorrow), the Doorbell Queen (True Adventures of the Doorbell Queen), Dave (In Through The Out Door), and David (Equality Loudoun). We four will try to bring a variety of perspectives and ideas to our new online community. Among us, we represent four different Districts and four distinct experiences in Loudoun, from long-time residents to relative newcomers, and from parents to people still fighting for the right to be recognized as equally married.
We're all members of the LCDC. We're all activists. We're all a bit rabid on our own particular soap-boxes.

This blog will not be taking the place of our individual blogs, but it will be a place to continue conversations we're having elsewhere and to start conversations with a Loudoun focus.

After much debate among the four of us, we decided to have a commenting policy.

"Commenting Guidelines:
Anonymity is allowed, but we prefer signed comments.
No Spam
No ad hominem attacks.
Don't get offended if Liz calls you out for using belittling language. It's not censorship: it's basic decency." - Welcome to Loudoun Progress
I hope you will come join our community at Loudoun Progress. We look forward to hearing your voice, but please be civil, lest you suffer the wrath of Liz.

With the advent of Loudoun Progress, I will be doing my best to take Leesburg Tomorrow in a more local direction. I hope you'll keep following us both here and at Progress, as we are all glad for our readers in the great debate that is our democracy.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I'm Glad That's Settled

Did you know that the border between Loudoun County, Virginia and Jefferson County, West Virginia was only finalized in 1998?
After 20 years of collaboration and teamwork between officials from the Commonwealth of Virginia and the State of West Virginia, a formal boundary has been drawn between Jefferson County, West Virginia and Loudoun County, Virginia.
...
When Jefferson County, then Virginia, was formed in 1801, the legal description of the boundary between Jefferson and Loudoun spelled out at the time as, “the crest of the Blue Ridge.” As Jefferson County grew, questions arose as to which state provided fire protection, where some children would attend school, even where to pay taxes. In the late 20th century, the two states agreed to survey the boundary using the latest satellite technology, global information systems, aerial photography and computer modeling.
...
By agreement the survey was contracted and performed in 1996 by Patton, Harris, Rust & Associates, “to establish the top of the watershed along the Blue Ridge Mountain from the corner monument with Clarke County and Loudoun County, Virginia and Jefferson County, West Virginia northeastward to the Washington County, Maryland, Jefferson County, West Virginia and Loudoun County, Virginia corner (the mean low water mark of the Potomac River on the Virginia side.)” Their report, finally and very clearly delineating the 16-mile boundary, was prepared in March 1997 and revised in March 1998. - Loudoun.gov
It seems strange to me that the borders of state that was home to the most famous surveyor in American history are still in dispute. The border with Tennessee, for example, wasn't truly finalized until 1902!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Leesburg Democrats Organizing May 24th

The past few weeks have seen some fairly significant changes in Democratic politics in Leesburg. On April 11th, the long-serving District Chair for the Leesburg District of the LCDC, David Kirsten, stepped down from that position after many years of dedicated service to the Town. At the time, I was acting both as David's Vice-Chair and the Precinct Captain for East Leesburg. With David's resignation, it fell to me to serve as the Acting District Chair for the Town elections. Now that those elections are over, the responsibility falls to me to reorganize the District in preparation for the November elections and redistricting to come.

As such, I am calling a general organizing meeting for Leesburg Democrats on May 24th at 7pm. We will be meeting at the new LCDC headquarters at 1 E. Market Street, Suite 201. If you are a Democrat in Leesburg please join the Leesburg Democrats mailing list (see the Google Group box in the upper right of this blog), so you will be informed of things going on in Town that are likely to interest you. Through that Group, you can RSVP for the organizing meeting.

Leesburg Democrats need you, today. The time has come to re-energize the Obama majority in Town, and lay the groundwork for the next decade of prosperity in Leesburg. I will be a candidate for District Chair at the May 24th meeting, and we are looking for people to serve as Vice Chairs and Precinct Captains as well.

As a result of the changes in the District, and to my responsibilities, the tenor of this blog may be changing somewhat, as I work to orient it more towards the Town's politics. There are a number of existing and planned outlets for my blogging about other matters. Leesburg Tomorrow should be about the future of our Town, and I will do my best to make it so.

Incidentally, I recently secured the domain LeesburgTomorrow.us for this blog. It will be switching over to that domain in the next day or two, so make note of the new Domain!

Please come out May 24th, and as David Kirsten would say, "Go Dems!"

Friday, May 7, 2010

LeesburgTomorrow.us Coming

Please note that in the near future, this blog will be moving to the Leesburgtomorrow.us domain!

So, if you're not finding it at blogspot.com, head over to Leesburgtomorrow.us!

Loudoun's Virtual Farmers' Market

At the LCDC meeting last night, I learned about the online, virtual Farmers' Market that is available here in Loudoun: Loudoun Flavor.
Loudoun Flavor Market is the first Virtual Farmer's Market affiliate of the Fresh Fare Market. Like other Fresh Fare Markets in other counties, Loudoun Flavor will offer Loudoun County’s most convenient, high quality fresh farmer’s market. We will strengthen our local farm & town economy and improve our quality of life. Loudoun Flavor and Fresh Fare Market will provide a virtual marketplace with physical pick up points where residents can obtain excellent farmed and handmade products, education, resources, opportunities and assistance towards this mission. We will strive for a sense of community within our membership and in conjunction with our sponsors and affiliates. The results will be meaningful to life in Loudoun. Areas positively impacted will include human health, history and land preservation, air/soil/water quality, farm animal health, related industries and small businesses (including agriculture, tourism, local retail, healthcare, education) and employment rate. - Loudoun Flavor
Pretty cool, huh? You can order from local farmers, online, and pick up your orders at nearby locations.

Kincora Hearing Monday

When Democrats ran for the Board of Supervisors in 2007, they ran against over development, and bad development. It was often perceived that Democrats were standing against all development, but that isn't the case. We're looking for managed, planned development of the county that is in line with what can be sustained without harming the prosperity of our community.

This isn't an easy needle to thread, and the input of the community is critical to making development decisions. Developers and businesses are having their voices heard before the Council and Planning Commission, but in the midst of the a recession that has residents looking to their jobs and wallets more than the field next door, the voice of the community has been quiet when it comes to discussions of development.

Kincora
(Kincora is proposed for the western side of Rt 7 at Rt 28.)

Into this context appears a reapplication of what might be one of the only development projects that was actually denied by the previous Board of Supervisors, Kincora.
Around 1000 A.D., Kincora was the capital of Ireland and home of Brian Boru, Ireland’s first “High King.” During this period, Kincora served as the seat of Irish commerce and knowledge.

Utilizing this “unification” theme, the Kincora Mixed-Use Development will be an amenity-rich community of unsurpassed architectural quality, smart design, and environmental sustainability – at the crossroads of Loudoun County’s “knowledge” and “commerce” corridors. When complete, this dynamic 424-acre pedestrian friendly commerce center will be a model for sustainable development mixed-use projects, including over 165 acres of natural protected wetlands, parks, and trails. - Kincora-va.com
On Monday, May 10th, there will be a public hearing on Kincora, a development that is not included in the current plans for the county, has been previously denied, and faces serious questions about funding in its current form. Supervisor Andrea McGimsey has asked for the community to come and speak their minds on this proposed change to the county plan.
Dear Neighbor,

Developers are proposing a major mixed use project called Kincora at the intersection of Route 7 and 28. They have submitted a rezoning application that includes apartment buildings/residential units (not currently allowed under the county’s comprehensive plan), office buildings, and retail. Many citizens in our district live near the Kincora site and drive on Route 7 and 28, and we need your input as the Board of Supervisors begins to consider the application.

Please attend the Public Hearing next Monday evening to share your thoughts directly with all members of the Board of Supervisors on this proposed development.

Date: Monday, May 10, 2010
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Location: Board Room, County Government Center, 1 Harrison Street, SE, Leesburg

To speak at the public hearing, call 703-771-5072 to sign up; you can also sign up at the hearing. Directions to the Government Center are available online. There are multiple items before Kincora on the public hearing agenda. I do not anticipate many speakers for those items, but you may want to bring a book to read while you are waiting for your turn to speak. - Supervisor Andrea McGimsey
In talking with Supervisor McGimsey about Kincora, she pointed out that mixed-use development is generally a good idea, when it is done according to plan (think Dulles Town Center), but that there are real questions to be raised about putting residential developments right alongside major highways. Kincora would put residential houses alongside Loudoun County's two main highways, with the potential traffic and health considerations of such development to consider, it is critical that the community come to the hearing and make their voices heard.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A Muslim Patriot

Thanks to Think Progress, word is getting around that the person who first noticed the smoking car in Times Square and thought to do something about it was a Muslim immigrant. So there's an immigrant who saved American lives, and happened to be Muslim.

The last paragraph of the article is especially sweet.
Reflecting on Niasse’s good samaritanism Muslim-American author Sumbul Ali-Karamali writes, “It’s somewhat consoling to know that the man who first noticed the smoking Nissan Pathfinder and sought help is also Muslim, a Senegalese immigrant. … I grew up Muslim in this country, with Muslim friends and non-Muslim friends, and there was very little difference between the two groups. We were all American.” - Think Progress
Americans, all. Not just some, not just those living in "red states" or "real America."

All.

All loving our country and countrymen and women, and watching out for each other, no matter how hard their own lives might be.

Man, I love this country.

(With a tip-o-the-hat to the Doorbell Queen.)

Leesburg Election Results 2010

The results from last night's election are in, and it was a mixed night for Democrats in Leesburg.

Mayor:
Kristen Umstattd - 1,704
Tom Dunn - 1,437

Our mayor was re-elected with a nice margin. It is interesting to note that she received fewer votes than any of the Council candidates who won.

Town Council (Winners indicated with a "+")
+ Kevin Wright - 1,861
+ Marty Martinez - 1,849
+ Ken Reid - 1,797
Neely Law - 1,376
Ann Robinson - 993

All the incumbents were re-elected by a healthy margin. Neely Law came closest to unseating the least-popular incumbent, Ken Reid, but was still over 400 votes shy of doing so. As has been noted by some supporters of the Southwest Connector, this means that Trail is unlikely to move forward anytime soon.
Wright, Martinez and Reid won the election. Neely Law's loss is SW Leesburg's loss. Now we'll need to continue fighting for the SW Connector trail. Today, the SW Connector has the support of 3 of our 7 Council Members: Butler, Martinez and Wright. Dunn, Hammler, Reid and Mayor Umstattd all need additional convinci...ng that SW Leesburg wants this trail. Please make your voices heard. Send a letter to Council at council@leesburgva.gov and make plans to attend the community input session on Wednesday, June 2 at Loudoun County High School from 7:00 to 9:00. - Russ Shaw, Save The Southwest Connector
As for the ever-present question of turnout, more people voted this year than two years ago.

Total Registered Voters - 24,424
Total Number Voting - 3,178
Percent Voting - 13%

The precinct-by-precinct turnout numbers help explain some of the results.
Greenway - 19%
Balls Bluff - 12%
Evergreen - 7%
Tolbert - 5%
W. Leesburg - 21%
E. Leesburg - 7%
Dry Mill - 20%
Smart's Mill - 16%
Cool Spring - 15%
Brandon Park - 5%
Heritage - 17%

With 21% turnout and 536 votes cast, W. Leesburg laps the field in voter participation. Personally, I feel that's because W. Leesburg votes at Ida Lee. I suspect there are a lot of people who vote because they're on their way to the gym, and notice there's an election while they're there. I only wish we could have polling places in more locations like that! Maybe Balls Bluff voters should be able to vote at Target, for example. (I have never understood why election officials must beg and plead for places to hold elections so often. Popular businesses should allow polling places to be setup at their locations as a matter of civic pride!)

As for me, I am personally disappointed in the results from E. Leesburg. It is the largest precinct by far, with 800 more registered voters than any other precinct in Town. And yet, it had the 4th lowest number of votes cast and second lowest turnout by percentage. This was a real blow to Ann Robinson and Neely Law, as E. Leesburg has traditionally been a Democratic precinct. Even in November, when Bob McDonnell won a resounding victory, he only won E. Leesburg by one vote (and I am pretty sure I could've gotten us that darn vote if I had knocked a couple more doors in my neighborhood.)

Nearly twice as many people voted in E. Leesburg's February 2008 Democratic primary between Sen. Clinton and Sen. Obama (553) as voted here in the May 2010 Town Election (234). That represents at least 200 Democratic votes gone missing from this one precinct. The lesson from November 2009 and May 2010 is that the time has come to reawaken Leesburg's Obama majority. Jeff Barnett is going to need us in November.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Sen. Herring Defends Science, and UVA

Sen. Mark Herring has called out Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli for using his office to attack people he doesn't like.
HERRING TAKES CUCCINELLI TO TASK FOR AG’S ATTACK ON SCIENTIST
~Calls AG’s Action Abuse of Power~

Leesburg, VA – Senator Mark Herring (D-Loudoun and Fairfax) today raised serious concerns about the actions of Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli in issuing a civil subpoena for information on former University of Virginia climate science professor Dr. Michael Mann’s research while at the university.

“On its face this seems to be a serious abuse of the power of the Attorney General,” Herring said. “This is Virginia, since when do we investigate professors when we disagree with them?”

“What would the founder of the University of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson, think of a government official using the powers of his office to investigate a teacher whose views the official disagrees with?”

“What is clear from Mr. Cuccinelli’s own words is that long before he took the oath office Mr. Cuccinelli had closed his mind to Dr. Mann and other scientists who are concerned about climate change. And in Virginia, Mr. Cuccinelli has a right to a closed mind, but what he doesn’t have the right to do is impose his conclusions on scientists who disagree with him. It’s wrong, it’s an abuse of power and its dangerous.”

“And it is, in these tough times a terrible waste of time and effort better spent on the real business of the office of Attorney General.”

“This action will jeopardize Virginia’s ability to attract scientists and researchers to our prestigious universities for fear that they will be investigated when the Attorney General disagrees with their findings, not to mention our ability to promote advanced technology industry locating in the Commonwealth.”

Senator Herring is a practicing attorney in Leesburg and a University of Virginia alumnus. - Sen, Herring's Facebook Page
It's great to see Sen. Herring join the chorus of voices calling the Attorney General's actions what they are: abuse of the office.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Who Is Voting For Whom In Leesburg

It's been a tumultuous campaign in Leesburg this year, and it all comes down to turnout among supporters tomorrow. Town elections have notoriously bad turnout, and with five candidates vying for three open Council positions, the question comes down to who will get the most supporters to the polls. One of the more interesting subplots of this season has been who is supporting whom.
  • Councilman David Butler has made it known (on Facebook) who he will be supporting:
    David Butler : Just a reminder for everyone in Leesburg to vote tomorrow. Neely, Marty, & Kevin will be getting my votes for Council.
  • The Leesburg District voted to endorse Marty Martinez, Neely Law and Ann Robinson

  • The wider LCDC itself voted to endorse Marty, Neely, Ann and Kevin Wright, although voters can only vote for three candidates. Voting for four will spoil your ballot and negate your vote entirely.

  • The Doorbell Queen endorsed Marty Martinez, as have most of my neighbors. In fact, I think that coming out to vote for Marty is a good enough reason to go to the polls all on its own.

  • The vast majority of people I've spoken with agree that Mayor Umstattd should be re-elected. Tom Dunn isn't a good answer for Leesburg, or anywhere else for that matter
And now, some end-of-election business that is worth finishing up:

Neely Law has sent out her final request for your vote tomorrow.
Tuesday, May 4th is here tomorrow and it's time to go the polls and vote.

Nine weeks ago, I knocked on my first door asking people for their support to elect me, Neely Law, to Leesburg Town Council. The campaign has been a very positive experience and I am very appreciative of the support throughout the community.

I decided to run for Town Council because I know I can strengthen and enrich the Leesburg community by using a proactive decision-making process to build effective partnerships and consensus around solutions.

My role in the community as Chair of the Environmental Advisory Commission and the Leesburg Watershed Committee has provided me the opportunity to create a number of community initiatives. Initiatives brought forward by partnerships, grant funding and the need to view economic development and the environment as mutually beneficial objectives of the Town Plan.

My ideas and approach to decision-making can facilitate a new energy and dialogue on Town Council. The Town needs leadership that has a vision to guide the decision-making process and to set clear standards and expectations for development.

Please go to your regular polling place. Polls are open from 6am to 7pm and vote for Neely Law.

Thank you for your support.

Neely

Visit www.NeelyLaw.org for more information