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Archive for November, 2009

Balancing the Ol’ Checkbook

November 30, 2009 Leave a comment

I neglected to link to this last week, but Tertium Quids praised Goochland County for putting its checkbook online. From the RTD editorial they linked to:

That represents a quantum leap in clarity over the financial reporting of some local governments, whose budget documents are sometimes long on verbiage and short on specifics. Knowing that a utility department’s personnel costs are X hundred thousand and its operating expenses are Y million doesn’t say anything about whether the money is spent wisely and well.

Nick Howard at TQ suggests the next step is the launching of a citizen’s audit committee to examine the newly open expenses. This all sparked my attention in light of this move by our own county government here in Shenandoah:

The Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors might turn to professionals to help find a new county administrator.

Current County Administrator Vince Poling announced last month that he plans to retire in 2010. On Monday, he said his target retirement date is June 30.

The supervisors have established a salary range of $85,000-$100,000 for the new administrator, said Poling, whose salary is $111,000 a year.

He said four executive search firms have been interviewed, and District 6 Supervisor Conrad Helsley, the chairman of the personnel committee, is negotiating with one of the firms.

Though Supervisor Helsley makes some intriguing points as to why a search firm may be needed, its still a question for debate, particularly when one would hope that Supervisors should know what they need in an administrator.

At any rate, this, along with nauseating budget documents whose line items offer very little insight into just how money is spent and anectodotal stories from local merchants about misguided expenses, adds further fuel to the fire for transparency here in our own backyard.

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Obenshain at the Advance

November 30, 2009 1 comment

In my inbox today comes word that State Senator Mark Obensahin, who represents my neck of the woods, will be hosting a “sweet” hospitality suite at the Advance:

A celebration of Election Day’s sweet victory with sweets – featuring ice cream and a coffee bar – and sign up for drawings for ten copies of Craig Shirley’s “Reagan’s Revolution” and ten copies of Ron Maxwell’s critically acclaimed Civil War films “Gettysburg” and “Gods and Generals”

These sorts of family-friendly events have become the rage at the last couple of Republican Advances/Conventions and are a welcome change from others were booze is more the norm. They’re also smart politics with the religious right and homeschoolers continuing to flex their respective muscle at these events.

The bigger story here though is that Obenshain is venturing out on his own to do a hospitality suite. Hospitality suites are historically a way for potential candidates and leaders to both thank activists for their support and get their attention in an intimate setting. Obenshain had been touted by some as a possible candidate for AG in 2009. However, he yielded to Ken Cuccinelli. Word has it that the Senator was worried about putting his family through the challenging grind of the campaign as his children enter late adolescence (one is finishing high school and another is a freshman at JMU). This is a position to respect.

Additionally, it gives Obenshain time to continue to build his already stellar credentials as a law and order type (he and Todd Gilbert have led the fight against crystal meth and the expansion of the death penalty to those who order capital murders) as well as a reliable voice for fiscal conservatism (VDOT, anyone?).

Given this record, his stellar service to the party (he was a constant source of support for me during my time in Harrisonburg), and his current role as an advisor to AG-elect Ken Cuccinelli during the transition, Senator Obenshain will be one to watch in the next four years. If nothing else, I can guarantee you he will be a strong voice for fiscal sanity in the Senate (a space where it is often hard to find) and an advocate for the sort of pragmatic plans with strong conservative foundations that Bob McDonnell advocated on the trail.

Some ’09 Bits and Pieces

November 30, 2009 Leave a comment

Here’s some interesting stories and media about both the aftermath of the 2009 election season. First, the Richmond Times Dispatch on the brilliance of the McDonnell campaign. They note the importance of competence in a campaign. Just how can voters be expected to support someone who can barely manage their own effort to get elected:

The underlying problem for Deeds may have had little to do with strategy and tactics, however; at times the Deeds campaign appeared incompetent. Groups reported great frustration in trying to set up meetings and forums with Deeds. The candidate himself proved inept when working crowds. The Democrats dispatched mediocre surrogates to events where Deeds’ presence was required. Appointments that should have been scheduled in a day or two took several days or more.

The McDonnell effort never faltered. The candidate and his team stayed on message. If someone were to ask aides who would win the Notre Dame game, the snap answer would say, “Bob’s for jobs.” “Honey, what’s for breakfast?” “Bob’s for jobs.” And so on. McDonnell arrived early at breakfasts, lunches, and dinners — and lingered. He did not rehash old stories about setting out for college with $80 in his pocket but would address issues of immediate concern to his audience. He explained the state implications of Obama’s far-out agenda. His staff promptly returned calls and e-mails.

There’s also some commentary on the brilliant handling of the thesis issue, and notes that while Obama may have had some effect, ultimately campaigns matter.

Meanwhile, McDonnell’s ticket mate Ken Cuccinelli is getting to work. Also from the RTD:

Ken Cuccinelli sits at the head of an empty table in a large conference room at the Virginia attorney general’s office in Richmond — a fast-food cheeseburger in one hand and an open binder, thick with office briefings and organizational charts, in front of the other.
He intends to devour both.
As the attorney general-elect, Cuccinelli — a 41-year-old lawyer, fa ther of seven and Republican state senator from Fairfax County — inherits a statewide office formerly occupied by Bob McDonnell, who leveraged the high-profile post into a successful run for governor this fall.
“The first priority really is to get a team in place here that can continue, and we’re always seeking to improve the professional quality of the work done in the AG’s office,” Cuccinelli said.

The article also features praise from, of all people, Ken Willis, state director of the ACLU. It also features some of Ken’s trademark good humor and humility:

McDonnell, who turned the office over to Bill Mims in February to run for governor, said Cuccinelli has good people to work with in his old office.
Said Cuccinelli: “He emphatically told me I was getting a good office, by which he meant very knowledgeable and professional, very capable, doing a good job, even while struggling with the budget.
“He finished with: ‘Don’t screw it up,'” Cuccinelli added. “So I’ll try not to screw it up.”

Finally, via Bearing Drift, comes a remarkable video showing some of the hard work and dedication of people behind the scenes. It also features some heartwarming scenes of the Governor-elect himself being, well, a real person and the good natured, dedicated man that so many of us on the Victory staff were extremely proud to work for.

[blip.tv ?posts_id=2900328&dest=-1]

Remember what you’ve got

November 30, 2009 Leave a comment

This story from Maryland caught my eye, because it relates to something I’ve been pointing out to young people (read: high schoolers) for a while. From WTOP:

Carl Snyder, like many young people, registered to vote when he got his first driver’s license.

With an October birthday, the Tuscarora High School student planned to vote shortly after he turned 18 in the November 2008 presidential election.

As has been the history in Maryland, he expected he would also vote in the February primary, since he would turn 18 before the general election.

All that changed in 2007 when his father, Cliff Snyder, read a Washington Post article about a “quiet loss of voting rights.”

His first thought was what kind of voting rights were being lost?

Cliff Snyder read that the Maryland State Board of Elections, acting on the advice of the attorney general, had reversed the long-standing position that 17-year-olds who would be 18 by the general election were eligible to vote in the primary as well.

Although Cliff is a Republican and Carl wanted to vote for Obama in the Democratic primary, the Army microbiologist and trained lawyer went to court on his son’s behalf. He recalled how he had voted in the 1973 primary despite not turning 18 until the period in between the primary and general himself.

I myself participated in the 2004 nominating process and was a delegate to the 2004 State Convention. I turned 18 right before the Convention, but I also attended the District Convention (where I actually served on the Nominations committee) that May before my birthday. I recognized my right to participate in the nominating process since I was a fully registered voter. Virginians are allowed to register to vote and have all the rights of registered voters as long as they’re 18 before the next general election.

I think this only makes sense–individuals who are going to vote in the general have every right to select the nominees that will represent their party in that election. To do otherwise is to have an arbitrary rule needless discourage full participation in the democratic process.

The Readers Speak

November 30, 2009 Leave a comment

Ok, my loyal band of readers/people brought here by my Facebook ramblings, here’s the skinny. As someone who is currently unemployed yet trying to pick up some freelance work while returning to school, I really only have the cash/time to cover one major conservative event in the next few months. Worry not–I have some exciting plans to see what I can cover for free (or at least only the investment of mileage), but I want some input to see what’s most worth my time.

Here’s what I have it narrowed down to: CPAC 2010 or the Advance this weekend. Both events have their upsides: the Advance is sure to be an exciting affair as Republicans look back at what they did right this cycle and as the jockeying begins for 2013, while CPAC offers the same jockeying on the national stage for 2012 in addition to (hopefully) the beginning of a conservative policy resurgence.

So what most tickles your fancy? I can’t say that my decision will be completely based on the results, but it would at least give me some understanding of what subjects I dwell on here are most popular amongst my readers.

So have at it–which major event should I attend?

Rumble in the Fifth

November 30, 2009 Leave a comment

I’ve written before that I full expect a number of congressional primaries across the country to become extremely heated affairs as activists attempt to define our party in both 2010 and 2012. One race that I particularly have my eye on is the six (possibly seven) way affair in the Republican primary in Virginia’s Fifth Congressional district. GoDanRiver.com reports that the 5th Congressional District Committee (composed of chairs from the 21 counties, state central representatives, and a few others) will decide from one of four nominating methods on December 12th.

In addition to the nominating process, the party will also decide on the location of a convention — if that is the elected method — as well as local party filing dates and fees. Candidates must also file with the Federal Election Commission within 15 days of raising $5,000.

Watkins said 15 unit chairpersons took a straw vote a few months ago, with 10 voting in favor of a convention. Primaries tend to cost more money, but not necessarily, he said.

“A primary, many people believe, has a bigger access to more people,” he said. “A convention is easier to limit it to just Republicans … You have to decide which you think is a better way to nominate the candidate.”

Given the right-ward tilt of state central seats in the last few years and the fact that a number of county chairs in the area are very conservative, I would put the smart money on a convention. I still tend to prefer conventions, given that they tend to turn out nominees that are close to the activists who will support them through the general. However one county chair pointed out an inconvenient truth that has nagged me since former State Central member Anna Lee pointed it out to me a few years ago when we were both on the State Convention Rules Committee.

Ronnie Mayhew, the chairman of the Pittsylvania County Republicans, said he would vote for a primary Dec. 12 because it is the only method in which military servicemen and women can vote absentee, and because a primary would reach the widest range of voters. Mayhew also said he supported State Sen. Robert Hurt, R-Chatham, for the nomination.

I think that there probably should be some allowance for absentee votes–I know that the Democrats currently allow them when they do firehouse primaries. At the time, the best way to reform this glaring inconsistency is to go with primaries. However, I highly doubt we’ll see it any time in the near future.

I expect if it is a convention one or two candidates will drop out before the filing deadline. Bob Holsworth seems to believe that this nominating affair will not be that big of a deal, given Hurt’s large degree of institutional support. However, the article points out Hurt’s biggest fault:

Many grassroots Republicans have been critical of Hurt’s voting record — which includes his 2004 vote in favor of then-Gov. Mark Warner’s massive tax increase.

I strongly suspect that Hurt remains the frontrunner. However, until he can explain that position away and absorb criticism of it, he’s going to continue to get a great deal of heat from Laurence Verga and Fed Kidd Morton, the two most reliably conservative “outsider” candidates in this race. Also a wild-card: Michael McPadden, who seems to be carving out a niche for himself as the standard bearer for Ron Paul Republicans.

 

One Scary Map

November 30, 2009 Leave a comment

Take a look at this fascinating and frightening map showing how deep the unemployment hole has gotten nationwide (H/T Hit and Run).

Unemployment has gone from 5.8% to 8.5% nationwide since President Obama took office. Guess when the colors in Virginia’s counties start getting darkest? Seems to me its right around Janurary 2009–around the same time that Governor Kaine started his summer job as DNC Chair. Thank heavens he’ll soon be able to go full time.