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It’s Easy To Get Cynical

By Greg L | 3 April 2011 | National Politics, Manassas Park, Virginia Politics, Manassas City, Prince William County | 22 Comments

It’s really easy to be cynical about our political process at the federal, state and local levels given the utterly depressing news we’ve been bombarded with in the past week.  The more we hear these kinds of stories, the more ammunition is handed to the Tea Party movement that they’ll use to blast their elected officials with.  When “government of the people, for the people and by the people” seems in real danger of perishing from this earth, it’s going to get a whole lot of people legitimately riled up.

At the federal level, we learned this week that despite Congress rejecting the “Nightmare Amnesty,”  the Obama administration has decided to simply impose it through executive fiat.  Forget the checks and balances of our government, the peace prize wielding “Anointed One,” who has nevertheless bombed more people than every other Nobel Peace Prize award winner combined, is just going to impose his will by dictate no matter what any other branch of government decides.  Obama is looking more like royal than presidential, making the rules up as he goes along, and trampling the Constitution as if it were a doormat.

Next up we find that 5,000 noncitizens likely voted in last year’s elections in Colorado, but at the same time the Obama administration is actively trying to prevent legislation at the state level that would ensure voters provide proof of their citizenship at the polls.  When the integrity of the election system gets so solidly abused and federal officials aid and abet that abuse, could the death of representative democracy be all that far behind?  Instead of addressing this problem in any way, the administration starts telling the Border Patrol to stop arresting illegal aliens they encounter at the border.  Not only that, but ICE has been releasing known criminal illegal aliens back into our communities after they’ve been turned over for deportation by state and local law enforcement agencies.

At the state level we find out that freshman senator George Barker is the one responsible for the horrid senate redistricting plan, which was devised using a piece of freeware software intended to demonstrate the political power of gerrymandering.  This makes about as much sense as drafting the budget using the game “Mafia Wars.”  This is how we end up with utterly inane senate districts that snake hither and yon designed not at all to ensure effective representation for communities sharing common interests, but only to protect one political party’s majority in a legislative body.  Senator Janet Howell was even bold enough to quip “Everyone was consulted… All Democrats have been given what they like.” At least these shenanigans aren’t without grave political risks, but regardless of who wins each particular district the voice of the electorate will be muted and their interests abused.  When elected officials choose their constituents instead of the other way around we don’t have a republic, we have a politburo-controlled oligarchy.

As if that weren’t enough to get your gander up, the Virginia Department of Social Services has taken it upon themselves to propose a regulation that would expand state law prohibiting discrimination to include sexual orientation, something the General Assembly has adamantly refused to do.  Not only does this proposed regulatory action steal authority from our elected officials, but could harm the ability of faith-based non-profits to assist in child adoptions in Virginia as they would be forced to adopt policies promoting homosexuality and actively consider as adoption parents those that engage in behavior that are legal grounds for divorce under Virginia Code.  When did the bureaucrats take over our government?

And then we have our annual budget charade in Manassas, Manassas Park and Prince William Counties.  Armed with little more than what amounts to an Executive Summary from staff, Manassas is proposing raising taxes without adding a single police or firefighter position, Prince William County is raising taxes while they’re still funding the duplicative and wasteful taxpayer-funded leftist propaganda operation known as the “Human Rights Commission”, and Manassas Park is paying their city attorney $175 an hour for a part-time job with no performance measures whatsoever for the next fifteen years.  Did any of these localities pay any attention at all to the citizens crying out for fiscal restraint over the past several years?  Or is government just entitled, at the behest of unaccountable bureaucrats, to seize whatever proportion of our wealth it wants?  Of note not one single elected official has demanded to see how these sparsely-documented budget proposals were drawn up, why budgeting using the previous year’s expenditures is being used as a methodology, nor threatening to vote against budget proposals that don’t provide sufficient detail to determine whether the level of spending is justified or not.

Yeah, I get pretty cynical seeing this over and over again.  I bet I’m not the only one.



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22 Comments

  1. AmericaFirst said on 3 Apr 2011 at 4:57 pm:
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    No, its hard NOT to be cynical. These douche bags we hire to represent us never fail to let us down. Obama is little more than the usual RINO unmasked.

    Have a problem with that? Show us the difference. How have any of the so-called republicans really stood up and acted as if America was more important than their job?

    That is their job of collecting graft, pay offs and general grifting.

    Maybe they can explain why they spend exponentially more than they can possibly earn to get their job.

    Its the grease, baby. The grease.

  2. Cynic said on 3 Apr 2011 at 5:49 pm:
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    Are saying that democracy is failure.?

    How can that be when everything is for the best in this best of all possible worlds.?

  3. Disgusted said on 3 Apr 2011 at 6:20 pm:
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    Grow up, boy scout. This is politics in the raw. The party in power consolidates its base. The minority gets told to suck eggs, Doesn’t make it right, but it still goes on. Dream on if you think your Tea Party blowhards will be any different. If by some miracle they get a majority, they’ll do the same stuff and the liberals will be boo-hooing about the demise of the Constitution.

  4. Raymond Beverage said on 3 Apr 2011 at 7:59 pm:
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    Greg, you wrote “Armed with little more than what amounts to an Executive Summary from staff, Manassas is proposing raising taxes without adding a single police or firefighter position”.

    First off, I personally like Manassas’s Budget format. As someone with over three decades as a Comptroller working with budget formats at Federal, State and Local levels, at least you can read it, find where the money is, how things relate. Ever try to find something in that joke of a County Book? Shoot, I laugh at all those fancy colors and emphasis on Strategic Plan - and yet, there is no tracking each FY against the Plan even though they add all those bells and whistles to the book. I asked once if there was software to do that to get true Budget Performance Data and nope, not there.

    There are also 3 Firefighter/Medic positions being added in City Manager’s Proposal - the skill set for those positions is holding certifications as EMT or Paramedic, and Firefighter II plus HAZMAT. Dual hatted positions. The City is eliminating one Captain position, but adding 3 Fire Rescue Battalion Chief positions.

    2 Police Officers added in FY 2011 are being carried over into FY2012, and one position is being added. Albiet, this position is restricted for one year and funded by the Water Fund with main duty being security out at the Dam and Water Treatment Plant. At least no further cuts. And Council has not submitted their view yet on adding more officers vs. proposed.

    As for the taxes, 1cent being added to Fire Levy (bringing it to 2cents) and dedicate it for an equipment fund; something sorely needed. Average Tax bill is supposed to climb 3.1%, but so did Assessments….mine jumped around 85%. Slick part of Assessment is it used to be “Land and Building” and now is “Land and Building Improvements”. So if houses similar to mine had City-permited work done to make improvements, and those permits and improvements added to their assessment record, when the one is done on my house (no major improvements), mine goes up because others are adding those granite countertops (as an example).

    That process of assessment stinks.

  5. Greg L said on 3 Apr 2011 at 8:12 pm:
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    Raymond, I was intending to criticize my experience with the PWC proposed budgets much more than Manassas City, but looking at the prose it came out much more as a criticism against Manassas City, which isn’t what I intended. I suppose a more thorough discussion of the Manassas City budget is called for instead of lumping all three jurisdictions into one where those that might be better than PWC and Manassas Park is called for.

    My concern with Manassas is what seems to be needless additional budget items such as for wellness programs instead of those that actually deliver value for the residents. There’s been a lot of back-channel concerns expressed that since the revenue outlook is getting better suddenly a bunch of pet projects are getting proposed rather than continuing on the fiscal conservatism that has been the hallmark for the past two cycles.

    Thanks for weighing in. I always appreciate it when the actual decision makers take the time to explain what’s going on.

  6. Jose said on 3 Apr 2011 at 8:14 pm:
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    “Everything is changing. People are taking their comedians seriously and the politicians as a joke.”
    -Will Rogers

  7. Maureen said on 3 Apr 2011 at 10:29 pm:
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    Can’t forget that water and sewer are supposed to increase in the city again. This happens almost every year.

    Why all of a sudden do we need a police officer at Lake Manassas? What happened to the volunteers at the fire/resuce? And I would bet a battalion Chief is paid alot more than a regular firefighter. Why do we need three?

    Ray, do you know any of the answers?

  8. Raymond Beverage said on 3 Apr 2011 at 10:48 pm:
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    @Greg…Thanks! You’re right about some of the items slipping in. I have been looking at them hard to see what the true value in doing them are. Think we could fill a whole new discussion on some of them. And could spend days on the County one :-)

    @Maureen…part of the issues around our City-owned water & sewer is meeting the ever increasing Federal mandates/standards/requirements which are just getting heavier and heavier in terms of volume of paper to meet. I take a small consolation in our rates are still lower than other places (for the moment). I have to back track that thing about the Police Officer and the lake - not really 100% sure of all the details.

    As for the GMVRS, they have been having a tough time getting volunteers, and so more career has been added to deal primarily with daytime runs. Recruiting has been a tough row to hoe for them, but they at least are more readily acceptable of the career folks. As to the 3 new Chiefs, part of that is related to work out of the F&R Committee as the F&R System continues to evolve. There has been a dirth of command structure, and if you look through the report from the Virginia Fire Service Board, you’ll see some of the issues with a rank and command structure was noted.

    http://www.manassascity.org/DocumentView.aspx?DID=3840

  9. Maureen said on 4 Apr 2011 at 4:26 am:
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    Thank Ray.

  10. Just the Facts said on 4 Apr 2011 at 6:54 am:
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    Don’t foget the BOCS’ abdication of fiscal responsibility by continuing the “Arts Grants Panel.” The BOCS turns over a couple of hundred thousand dollars a year of our money to an unelected panel to divy out to their pals in the “arts community.” That includes tens of thousands to Manassas Ballet, largely to subsidize Mark Wolfe’s dance school, which competes with private schools in the area that don’t come to the taxpayers with their hands out, and who pay their taxes. Some of the groups receiving our money don’t even meet the panel’s own criteria to receive funds, but that doesn’t seem to matter to panel members or the arts laision.

    Don’t forget the huge subsidies to the Hylton Performing Arts Center. They can’t pay their bills or meet their mortgage payments, so Prince William County taxpayers are being played for suckers to bail them out.

    Thought bailouts were done? Forget that thought and get out your checkbook.

  11. Raymond Beverage said on 4 Apr 2011 at 8:24 am:
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    Hylton Performing Arts Center: As those of you who follow the County Budget closely, each year they post on the Budget portion of the website the Q&A received from the various Offices of the Supervisors. There are two sets on Hylton giving the complete background - one in #6 and one in #7. Link below to the Q&A page:

    http://www.pwcgov.org/default.aspx?topic=040059000300002936#q&a

  12. Just the Facts said on 4 Apr 2011 at 10:16 am:
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    Thanks for the link, Raymond. In a nutshell, the Performing Arts Center was sold to taxpayers as a “community” institution with an annual debt price tag of $1.6 million. The Center wanted more, so they issued more debt and came back to the County asking for another $300,000 annually. We’re up to $1.9 million annually. In addition to the $300,000, the County is throwing in another $200,000 annually. Add to that monies coming from Supervisors’ funds to the Center, Manassas Ballet, etc. Moreover, after the Center got the money, they changed their name and focus from “Community” to “Hylton” Performing Arts Center. Ticket prices are high and most PWC families can’t afford to attend much, if at all.

    Also, don’t buy into the economic impact report. Those are prepared by consultants hired by organizations seeking public funds and always show huge benefits. The question is, what benefits have we actually obtained as a result of paying higher taxes?

  13. hazegray said on 4 Apr 2011 at 10:21 am:
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    I get “performing arts” free in DC walking down the sidewalk listening to street musicians playing for money. A lot better system with no administrative overhead — those who want to contribute can do so, those who do not, don’t!

  14. Just the Facts said on 4 Apr 2011 at 11:40 am:
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    Here’s some more interesting financial data about the Hylton Performng Arts Center.

    The feasibility study in 2002 said the cost would be $33.3 million. The BOCS committed PWC taxpayers to paying 60% of design, construction and debt service cost not to exceed $36 million in 2004. In 2010, Performing Arts Center staff informs the County that they’ve issued another $4 million in debt and asks PWC taxpayers to pay 60% of that liability.

    This facility is operated and controlled by GMU, yet PWC agrees to shoulder 60% of the financial burden, with GMU paying only 30% and the City of Manassas the remaining 10%. 60% of the costs of a facility PWC doesn’t even control, and we have to negotiate further even to get access for our school system?

    Who is negotiating on our behalf? (hint: Peacor signed the 2004 staff report and was responsible for overseeing the budget process. I guess she was too busy keeping things under control in OIT to pay much attention to the financing of a performing arts center).

    Taxpayers - bend over, and get out your checkbooks again.

  15. Independent Thinker said on 4 Apr 2011 at 6:04 pm:
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    I just found the change I can believe in–unfortunately it was 32 cents in my pocket. YES WE CAN!

  16. Raymond Beverage said on 4 Apr 2011 at 8:42 pm:
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    @Just the Facts, you’re very welcome. I like reading the targeted questions, and then see what comes out of Budget Office for response.

    Personally, within the City, I am one of the voices who say “where is the bang for the buck?” The County predicted about a 10% return of folks coming into County and spending money (meals, hotels, etc) for the various performances. What does the City get? I suggested the City LUC maybe see if a GMU School of Management Cohort would be willing to take this analysis up for a project. Have to wait and see if anyone bites on the idea of getting some free labor to do a study :-)

  17. Anonymous said on 5 Apr 2011 at 8:23 am:
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    Paper today has news of the big party on the taxpayer dime for the hylton for chuck colgan this weekend - hylton gets an “A” for finding innovative ways to get tax dollars - note the names of those attending in the article - 2 republicans!

  18. Anonymous said on 5 Apr 2011 at 8:43 am:
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    Notice:

    City of Manassas Budget mark up is this Wednesday at 5:30 in city hall 2nd floor. Please come and watch (some) Republicans spend money like Democrats all the while calling themsleves fiscal conservtives at nominating conventions and tea party events.

  19. Just the Facts said on 5 Apr 2011 at 8:58 am:
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    From the article today,

    “Jean Kellogg, executive director, told the audience that ‘As we celebrate the Hylton’s Center’s first anniversary and honor the public service of Senator Colgan, I want to thank everyone who has made this year an extraordinary success.

    “Our Hylton Presents and Encore series will have exceeded our goals by the end of the season and brought over 11,000 people to the Hylton in its first six months. Our local resident art partners have been their audiences grow significantly with more than 17,000 people attending their performances.”

    However, the feasibility study on page 25 projected attendance in the facility’s base year of 190,000. http://www.pwcgov.org/docLibrary/PDF/14033.pdf

    They’ve been open six months and total attendence is only 28,000 when they projected 190,000 when selling this project to taxpayers. The next six months include the summer when virtually nothing happens at facilities such as this one. How can Ms. Kellogg describe the first six months as an “extraordinary success.”

    With attendence this far below expectations, it’s no wonder they keep coming to the Prince William County taxpayers with their hands out. Their attendence projections missed the mark by an even wider margin than do their cost estimates.

    Anyone else think it’s time to pull the plug on this white elephant and cut our losses before they get even larger?

  20. Harry said on 5 Apr 2011 at 10:54 am:
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    Palin/Barbour 2012.

  21. mpcinsider said on 21 Jul 2011 at 6:24 am:
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    Stick a fork in them

    http://manassaspark.patch.com/articles/manassas-parks-credit-rating-drops-five-notches

  22. mpcinsider said on 4 Aug 2011 at 6:52 am:
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    More borrowing. Get a life MP

    http://manassaspark.patch.com/articles/city-officials-prepare-to-borrow-4-million-to-cover-projected-shortfall

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