An email from the Corey Stewart for Lieutenant Governor campaign landed in my inbox today with such a depressing thud that I couldn’t focus any longer on getting productive work done. This campaign silliness has gotten so bad I’m starting to get awfully angry.
Stewart is obviously concerned about all the criticism he’s been getting lately and today’s email is an attempt to not answer the criticism, but deflect it using a ridiculously evasive ghost-written piece supposedly authored by a former leader of the Virginia Tea Party Patriots. There’s a lot to shoot at in this propaganda piece, but I’ll just focus on one of the low-hanging rotten pieces of fruit.
…Mr. Gray flails at Corey on the county’s capital investment in the Hylton Performing Arts Center. This may be why county residents have never judged Mr. Gray as fit to serve. The investment in Hylton was done in collaboration with George Mason University and was part of an ongoing public-private partnership that includes the George Mason-Prince William Campus along with the Innovation Technology Park. The research being done at George Mason’s Campus in Prince William County is creating a new industry, and with the county’s partnership at Innovation the economic development possibilities are endless.
This apparently is in response to a recent article on Breitbart that pointed out what a fiscal boondoggle the Hylton Performing Arts Center has been for the county. It wasn’t at all a great conservative concept to saddle taxpayers with a huge chunk of the capital costs of this project, and it is quite ridiculous that taxpayers are increasingly saddled with defraying portions of the operational costs of an opera house that isn’t hitting the financial benchmarks for fiscal sustainability that were touted when we got snookered into this deal. Despite a contract between the county and George Mason that taxpayers wouldn’t be funding operations, taxpayers have been doling out $400,000 a year in an effort to keep this operation afloat and in this year’s recent budget there was an attempt to divert even more taxpayer dollars to Hylton.
We taxpayers were promised that if we funded a portion of the capital costs of construction, the arts center would quickly become fiscally sustainable, not need taxpayer subsidies, and county residents would gain a long-term cultural benefit. Instead, we end up with a financial black hole that government officials have used as a political campaigning opportunity that will require endless public outlays. Stewart hasn’t even offered a plan on how taxpayers will ever get off the hook for this red ink-spewing project, much less even acknowledged there’s a problem here.
I’d expect an honest campaign to own up to the problems here and talk about a plan to fix this. If I were in Stewart’s shoes, I’d talk about how this was in motion before he was elected, how the county can’t back out of the deal now, and if the funding was pulled not only would there be some non-obvious financial impacts but it would be a blow to the community. Then he could say that they’re studying the problem to see how the balance sheet for this operation could be improved, including the possibility the operation could be sold off. Not a hugely convincing argument, but it would at least be based on what might qualify as an honest evaluation of the facts and provide some hope that this sordid tale will eventually come to an end.
Instead we get this highly irritating and utterly ridiculous attempt to lump the performing arts center into the industrial development efforts at Innovation Technology Park, which itself hasn’t turned into the huge success story we were all told was right around the corner. Innovation and the Hylton Performing Arts Center have utterly nothing to do with each other. The contract between the county and the Hylton Performing Arts Center doesn’t at all deal with Innovation and not a single vote taken on the arts center ever mentioned Innovation, either. Insofar as Innovation was supposed to improve the county’s proportion of commercial to residential property, that hasn’t quite worked out either as the commercial component of the county’s tax base has actually shrunk during Stewart’s tenure.
This argument makes about as much sense as a Tea Party leader trying to argue that pouring millions of tax dollars into a concert hall somehow is in any way fiscally responsible or in alignment with the ideals of the Tea Party movement. When Stewart’s campaign ghost-writes a defense of their campaign that is supposedly coming from the Tea Party movement, it might help if the campaign had some small inkling about what the Tea Party actually stands for instead of demonstrating such massive ignorance about it.
The opinions expressed here are solely the views of the author, and not representative of the position of any organization, political party, doughnut shop, knitting guild, or waste recycling facility, but may be correctly attributed to the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy. If anything in the above article has offended you, please click here to receive an immediate apology.
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