Guest post by Howard Roark
I was astounded to read in the November 11 “News & Observer” that Manassas Councilman Mark Wolfe is again reaching for the wallets of taxpayers in Manassas and Prince William County. We know already that he padded his request for arts funding to get $55,000 of taxpayer money from Prince William County and additional sums from Manassas, mostly to subsidize the dance school he and his wife run. Much of that money went to his pals who run an orchestra in Annandale.
Now Wolfe and Creston Owen, Chairman of Virginia Civil War Events Inc. want hundreds of thousands of dollars from Manassas and PWC taxpayers to stage Civil War reenactments and other events tied to the 150th anniversary of the First Battle of Manassas. The Manassas City Council approved $100,000 with half of it contingent on Prince William County coming up with a fortune. Owen said, “I believe we have pretty good support from the county. We’re making a formal request to them for a quarter of a million dollars, and from all indications at this point, it looks like we’re going to get that support.” Owen thinks he is going to get $1 million from the State also.
The PWC funding would come through the Parks Authority; the same group that oversees Kathy Bentz’ Arts Grant Panel. That’s the panel that includes Mark Holcomb, a board member of the Annandale symphony run by Wolfe’s buddy Chris Hite. I suppose that Wolfe and his cronies figure that they got the $55,000 from PWC taxpayers so easily; might as well shoot for a quarter of a million this time.
On its web site, Owen’s Virginia Civil War Events Inc. describes itself as “in formation, intends to be a 501C3, not for profit corporation, dedicated to the promotion of civil war history, the education of what Virginia’s role was during this trying time for our country, and the preservation of historical assets of the commonwealth.” Aren’t those the reasons we finance the Manassas Museum? Why should taxpayers pony up hundreds of thousands of dollars for another such organization? Also, enthusiasts reenact battles frequently with no taxpayer funding. As I count the totals here, we’re up to almost $1.5 million in requests.
The article quotes Wolfe, “The citizens out there can very well question why we would spend $100,000 … an absolutely legitimate question particularly in these economic times, but the answer to that is we don’t have much choice.” Sorry Mark, but we do have a choice.
I support commemorating historic events, but are Wolfe and Owen completely insane? The exorbitant fleecing of taxpayers to subsidize Wolfe’s dance school was bad enough. This nonsense dwarfs that excess, however. Where is Corey on this? Why has he not yet disbanded the corruption-filled Arts Grants Panel? Owen seems to think the $250,000 from PWC is a slam-dunk. Where’s the PWC BOCS saying otherwise?
Government finances from the State to the County and the City are in shambles. The unemployment rate nationally is over ten percent, people are losing their homes, and governments are cutting back services and laying off public employees. Nonetheless, Wolfe, Owen and the Manassas/PWC elite think spending $55,000 from PWC (plus whatever Manassas taxpayers kicked in) on a dance school, and nearly $1.5 million on civil war reenactments and duplications of the services the Manassas Museum already provides is a good idea.
Have the inmates taken over the asylum?
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