Monday, May 23, 2011

Vote for Leesburg

Vote for our home town as the best small town in America!

Dear Friends,

Rand McNally (the map people) have an online contest to find the best small towns in America. The winners will be featured in the Best of the Road cross-country rally this summer and in the 2013 Rand McNally Atlas.

Please go to and vote for Leesburg! It’s quick & easy. Just follow the link and enter Leesburg, VA in the search box. Voting has been extended to May 30th, so we have just a few days to let the whole country know that Leesburg is the best town in the U.S.!

The competition is fierce, so if you find that you cannot get through on your first try, please be sure to try again!

Please forward this message to your friends, and ask them to vote, too!

Thanks ~

Kelly Burk

Friday, May 20, 2011

Prioritizing Disasters

It has been far, far to long since I told you to go read Digby.

But who's supposed to pay for this? It does cost money. And while this is a major disaster, there are all kinds of unforeseen disasters that happen on a national scale -- like a housing crash caused by crooks and a very high unemployment rate that lasts for years or becoming disabled and not being able to work or getting old and needing health care that you cannot possibly save enough money in your lifetime to pay for. Life happens to everyone in one way or another and you never know if you're going to be hit with a major disaster in your own life. Are you less worthy than these victims of the tornadoes and floods?

It's very easy to say that your particular disaster is worthy of spending tax payers money. But why you and not them? How do you "prioritize" that? - Digby

So. Go. Read.

Profitably Undocumented

Did you know that there's profit in keeping migrants undocumented, and therefore detainable?

There is.

Something to keep in mind this election season.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Medicine, Progress, Politics and HIV

An incredible, amazing headline was posted on CurrentTV's website this morning:

San Francisco Man First Person Ever To Be Cured Of AIDS

In essence, a bone marrow transplant from a man with an incredibly rare immunity to HIV was able to, apparently, cure another man's HIV. This is the kind of "miracle of science" we've become all too used to. We will do well to reflect on where these incredible advances come from.

This incredible breakthrough is the direct result of progressive perspectives and policies, and flies in the face of conservative opposition and backwardness. At each step of the way towards this advancement, progressive ideas made things possible, even as conservative voices decried the emergence of hope or acknowledgement of human need.

First off, HIV is a problem that originally manifested in the public imagination as "the gay cancer." As a result, it was dismissed and ignored for far, far too long. Indeed, even today there are advocates opposed to HIV research on the basis of their anti-equality agenda. Had the Republicans been in charge of the House in the 1980s, you can bet that AIDS would be a far greater epidemic today than it already is.

Second, the procedure that yielded this miracle, a bone marrow transplant, is the direct result of generations of applied science, pushing the cutting edge of medical knowledge. Modern Republicans are more interested in cutting off the advance of medical knowledge. Indeed, in Arizona, Republican policies directly led to the death of a patient who was denied a bone marrow transplant. Throughout history, conservatives have stood in the path of science and medical progress.

Finally, the future applicability of this cure could be dependent on the ability to clone and grow the bone marrow of those incredibly unique individuals with HIV immunity. It is just that kind of medicine that stem cell research enables. Again, Republicans for reasons of irrationality, oppose this kind of essential medical research, and would stand in the way of research on a promising treatment option - an option that has been shown to possibly cure the plague of my generation's mindset - HIV.

Reflecting on this headline, I could not help but think of my extremely conservative grandmother, who tells me the world is an awful place and nothing good ever happens whenever I talk with her on the phone. This all too often seems true of Republican policies and opinions. Their policies are about what we can't do, what we mustn't do, what we should forbid. Even their budget proposal reflects this dark pessimism. As President Obama observed:
It’s a vision that says if our roads crumble and our bridges collapse, we can’t afford to fix them. If there are bright young Americans who have the drive and the will but not the money to go to college, we can’t afford to send them. Go to China and you’ll see businesses opening research labs and solar facilities. South Korean children are outpacing our kids in math and science. Brazil is investing billions in new infrastructure and can run half their cars not on high-priced gasoline, but biofuels. And yet, we are presented with a vision that says the United States of America—the greatest nation on Earth—can’t afford any of this.
It is my opinion, and my experience, that things to get better, over time, with the work and energy of inspired people, that leads me to progressive politics. My grandmother, who claims the world is an awful place, nearly died of diptheria when she was a child. Diptheria is something I was inoculated against when I was a baby. I remember, clearly, my week home itchy and ill, with the chicken pox. Decades later, the virus returned as shingles. This is something my children will not have to experience, thanks to a vaccination against chicken pox. These are tangible, proven examples of the world actually getting better for everyone, thanks to open minds, research and generous public support for medical science. That is progress, made manifest in our lives.

And it is the result of Democratic policies and progressive principles. Period.

Though I have no doubt that in fifty years, conservative politicians will happily take advantage of stem cell transplantation procedures to cure their ills, even while decrying the immorality of the medical advances of their day. After all, it was the ministers and conservatives who led the charge against the inoculations of the 19th century.

I guess it's a good thing they were wrong.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Right To Rent

Ever since the foreclosure and housing crisis hit, there have been a lot of creative ideas about how to minimize the impact it has on communities. This is a different issue from that of the debt incurred by the people who took out the mortgages, or the fraud committed by the people who marketed the mortgages. The issue here is what foreclosed homes do the the neighborhoods they're in.

One idea, which has been bandied about for a long time, is to allow people who get foreclosed upon to continue renting the house they once owned. Rep. Raul Grijalva, Chair of the House Progressive Caucus, would see that idea made law.

Just another great idea from Democrats in the House of Representatives, who have been, by far, the most enthusiastic and stalwart defenders of Americans' interests over the past five years.

(With a tip-o-the-hat to David Waldman.)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

An Interlude: Manamana

With a tip-o-the-hat to fellow UVA grad, Rai.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Tavistock, Kinkaid and The Government Center

Loudoun County owns a parcel of land across the street from the Leesburg Airport that is being developed as a badly-needed nexus of public service and government buildings for the County. There are two Leesburg neighborhoods in that area: Tavistock Farms and Kinkaid Forest. These communities were understandably concerned about some of the features of the Government buildings that were planned for the land next to their communities.

Supervisor Burk reached out to her constituents in these neighborhoods, heard their concerns, and worked through her role as their Supervisor to ensure that issues were resolved, and concerns mitigated.

In her newsletter this month, Supervisor Burk summarizes the timeline and process that brought the potential for major conflict between Leesburg communities and the County government to a close. This is an example of the way Supervisor Burk serves both Leesburg and the County, diligently and conscientiously, every day.
Government Support Center Master Plan

I would like to thank members of the Kincaid Forest and Travistock communities,the Government Support Center Steering Committee, and County Staff for their support in resolving the Tavistock and Kincaid Forest Communities’ concerns regarding the construction of Crosstrail Boulevard and the Loudoun County Government Support Center. I am extremely proud of the joint efforts of the Steering Committee members - each worked diligently to respectfully and creatively resolve outstanding issues. I think it is worth noting that this endeavor is a wonderful example of how government and citizens can work together to address citizen concerns and ultimately create a better community. Following is a timeline of the events as they occurred.

November 8, 2010 - Loudoun County’s Office of Transportation held a Citizen’s Information Meeting on the Crosstrail Boulevard project at Heritage High School from 6:30pm to 8:30pm, where my staff met concerned citizens from Kincaid Forest.

November 9, 2010 - My office contacted a concerned citizen and set up a meeting for later in the month that included an additional member of the Kincaid Forest community as well as a representative of the Tavistock community.

November 24, 2010 – The community meeting was held, along with County Staff from Capital Construction, Office of Transportation Services, and the engineering firm Dewberry and Davis. Not only was I made aware of citizen concerns regarding the roadways, but also their concerns about the Government Support Center Master Plan.

It was at that meeting that I decided the best way to resolve these issues was to create a Steering Committee to bring together the affected communities and county staff in order to develop a feasible plan for the Government Support Center in which the surrounding communities felt vested.

February 28, 2011 - I requested the Board of Supervisors support an item to form a Government Support Center Steering Committee. Members of this steering committee included residents of the Kincaid Forest and Tavistock communities as well as staff from the Town of Leesburg and Loudoun County. This item passed with a vote of 9-0.

March 1, and March 3, 2011 - The County held two Information/Public Comment meetings at Cool Springs Elementary to present an overview of the amended master plan for the Loudoun County Government Support Center and plans for the extensions of Kincaid Boulevard, Crosstrail Boulevard, and Miller Drive.

March 22, 2011 - The Leesburg Town Council passed a resolution requesting changes to the currently proposed Loudoun County Government Services Support Center Master Plan.

March 29, April 5, and April 12 - The Steering Committee met and worked diligently to come up with creative solutions to the concerns that were raised previously. Following these meetings, County staff prepared a report, incorporating recommendations proposed by the Steering Committee and presented it to the Board of Supervisors on May 3, 2011.

On May 3, 2011, the Board voted to switch the locations of the juvenile detention center and the warehouse and to send transportation-related recommendations by the Steering Committee regarding timing of the construction of Crosstrail Boulevard, Miller Drive, and traffic calming strategies for Kincaid Boulevard and Tavistock to the next Transportation and Land Use Committee meeting. That meeting is scheduled for 6:00 pm on Wednesday, May 18 in the Board Room at the Government Center, 1 Harrison Street, SE in Leesburg.

Again, I am grateful to the Tavistock and Kincaid Forest communities, Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, Leesburg Town Council, Government Support Center Master Plan Steering Committee, and Town and County Staff for their hard work in resolving these issues for the benefit of both the citizens of Leesburg and Loudoun County.
That is putting Leesburg first, which Supervisor Burk always has.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Taxes, Then and Now

A lot going on, and not a lot of time to blog, so I'm reprising a note I got from a friend that I found to be fascinating.
Just thinking you might be interested in this b/c of your political interests. I do a lot of internet research about the deficit/debt because I'm kind of a finance nerd.

Anyway, using these two sites, you can see what our personal tax brackets have been and would be nowadays.

Using the first site, you can see a history of tax brackets going back to the beginning of the income tax. Using the second, you can plug in the numbers from earlier years to see what the current brackets should be, if we used the same rates.
Using 1964 as an example, you can see that a couple in that year who made $9,000 was taxed at 23.5%, but in 2011 that salary is worth $62,000 and will be taxed 15%. A couple that made $400,000 was taxed at 77%, which is equivalent to $2.7 million today, but our top rate is 35%.

Just thought you might like checking that out.
Thanks for the links and info, Cody!