Thursday, January 29, 2009

McAuliffe Workday and Phonebanking for Bulova

I just received this press release from the Terry McAuliffe campaign. McAuliffe had previously announced that he planned to do a series of workdays around Virginia.

January 27, 2009


This Saturday, gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe will participate in the second of a series of work days with the fire fighters of Firehouse #41 in Fairfax Station. In his work days, McAuliffe is getting a firsthand look at the economy from the perspective of working Virginians, spending the day working alongside people in the jobs that they work every day around the Commonwealth.

Saturday afternoon, McAuliffe will also participate in a phone bank for Sharon Bulova, candidate for the Chair of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

10:30 am - 12:30 pm
Fairfax County Firehouse #41
9610 Hampton Road
Fairfax Station, VA 22039

2:15 - 3:15 pm
McAuliffe for Governor Headquarters
7600 Colshire Drive
Fourth Floor
McLean, VA 22102
This is a great idea. The first politician to do this was actually Bob Graham, when he was governor of Florida. Graham had an irrepressible sense of humor and didn't mind poking fun of himself. Floridians were greatly amused to watch him mangle hamburgers in a Burger King and drop garbage, when he worked for Waste Management. Pretty much everybody agreed that the governor shouldn't give up his day job to join the blue collar workforce.

McAuliffe appears to have the same good natured sense of humor and willingness to try anything once. Heck, he once wrestled an alligator to raise money for Jimmy Carter.

Anyway, this will be a great event, which will also help out a great candidate running for Chairman of the Fairfax County BOS.

Don't think for one moment that we can rest on our recent successes. The Republicans are hungry for a victory and view Virginia as ground zero to begin their climb back from defeat. And they are not at all above their usual tactics of demogoguery, blaming Sharon and the Democrats for an economic downturn that by all accounts began with their national policies. I'll have more to say about that over the weekend.

Meanwhile, if you're in Fairfax, come out and meet Terry and make some calls for Sharon to get out the vote for the special election on February 3.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Richmond Mayor Endorses Brian Moran

Brian Moran picked up the endorsement of Richmond's mayor, Dwight Jones. Here's the release from the Moran campaign:

RICHMOND – Today, Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones is announcing his endorsement of Brian Moran for Governor of Virginia. Jones is a minister and the former Chair of the Legislative Black Caucus. In endorsing Moran, Jones cited Moran’s long record of fighting for working families, ensuring equal opportunity for every Virginian, and championing civil rights.

“Brian has a long, proven record of fighting hard for working families in Virginia,” Jones said. “I’ve known Brian for more than a decade and worked side-by-side with him in the legislature. We’ve fought for equal rights, quality education and equal opportunity for everyone.”

Mayor Jones is the former Chair of the Legislative Black Caucus and Delegate from Richmond City. He and Moran worked together on a number of initiatives in the General Assembly, including raising the minimum wage.

“Dwight Jones is a man of character who always does what’s best for working people,” Moran said. “I’m proud and honored to have his support. Richmond is our capital city and I share Mayor Jones’s commitment to strengthening Richmond’s economy, protecting communities and making sure everyone has equal opportunity in this great city.”

Jones joins other prominent Virginia leaders who have announced their support of Brian Moran for Governor: The Chairman of Mark Warner’s campaign for Governor, former Congressman L. F. Payne; House Minority Leader Ward Armstrong from Martinsville; the majority of elected Democrats in Loudoun and Arlington Counties; the mayors of Norfolk, Hampton, Newport News and Portsmouth; and the majority of the members of the Democratic Party of Virginia’s Steering Committee.

Want More Specifics on Why Sharon Bulova is Most Qualified for Fairfax Chairman

The other day I put up a post about Sharon Bulova and why I support her to be Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. A Pat Herrity supporter - and one who is well informed and a good writer - challenged me to provide more specifics about Sharon. Fair enough point. So, I tried to in my comment section. However, I just received an email from the Bulova campaign and I think it and Sharon do an even better job of defending Sharon, her accomplishments, and her ideas from the accusation that she lacks specificity.

I am printing it in its entirety because this "compare and contrast" campaign piece says it all best:
Budgets and Controlling Costs:

There are still some people who ask, "What can I say about Sharon to explain why she should be Chairman of the Board? What does she stand for?" Hopefully, the literature we have been sending out has helped to answer this question, but we only have one more week so we are asking for your help.

Tell your friends, neighbors, co-workers, and everybody else:

Sharon Bulova led Fairfax County to adopt personnel principles to ensure that the County is competitive to attract and retain excellent public employees. She has created the sensible policy that the County should not be the highest or the lowest in the region. - Her opponent says that the county is spending too much on its employees at the same time he complains that teachers salaries too low. He says we should spend more on our classrooms, but when he presented a budget as an alternative to the Budget Committee, he proposed $21 million LESS for schools.

In the last Budget crunch in the 1990s, Sharon Bulova led the effort to consolidate services and administration, and to work with private partners to get more for our money. She knows how to do this without cutting quality services. She knows that the challenge in a right budget is preserving services so that when the economy recovers, they can be rebuilt without having to start from scratch. - Her opponent thinks the way to save money is just to stop doing things like preserving affordable housing. Apparently, he doesn't know that stop-and-start is not a very efficient way to operate. The costs of rebuilding a service from scratch is always higher.

Sharon Bulova knows that the way to build a budget is to listen to the needs of all kinds of people from all parts of the County. She led the effort to hold more than a dozen "dialogues" with citizens to hear what they think is most important and what can be trimmed. She knows how to work with her colleagues to build a budget with broad support.- Her opponent drew up his own budget and presented it without consulting others. His budget got almost no support from other members of the Board.

In short, Sharon Bulova has a record of patient persistent work to get effective financial planning done. In his one year on the Board of Supervisors, her opponent has shown that he doesn't know how to get a majority of the Board to work with him for the changes we need.

Pat Herrity, likes to brag in his campaign speeches about how he knows how to say "NO."Saying "NO" is no way to govern.
So, remember that the special election is next Tuesday, February 3. Vote accordingly. Vote Yes, not for Mr. No. Vote for Sharon Bulova, a consensus builder with over 20 years of experience and accomplishment in Fairfax County

Meet the Real Foes of The Employee Free Choice Act

So, you'd like to maybe know who some of the foes of the Employee Free Choice Act are? Hold on to your hats with this one (and special thanks to Spotter for sending me this). According to Huffington Post, it's none other than some of the most profligate CEOs whose own bad business practices caused the economic crisis we're in. Oh, and some of those with the greediest hands out for TARP funds. I kid you not because I'm just not a good enough fiction writer to make this up. Here's the money (yes, pun intended) quote:

Three days after receiving $25 billion in federal bailout funds, Bank of America Corp. hosted a conference call with conservative activists and business officials to organize opposition to the U.S. labor community's top legislative priority.

Participants on the October 17 call -- including at least one representative from another bailout recipient, AIG -- were urged to persuade their clients to send "large contributions" to groups working against the Employee Free Trade Act (EFCA), as well as to vulnerable Senate Republicans, who could help block passage of the bill.

Bernie Marcus, the charismatic co-founder of Home Depot, led the call along with Rick Berman, an aggressive EFCA opponent and founder of the Center for Union Facts. Over the course of an hour, the two framed the legislation as an existential threat to American capitalism, or worse.
You'll have to excuse my incredulity but I thought these dudes were the biggest existential threat to American capitalism and a lot worse. They are the ones who caused the public's loss of faith in American business because of the way these near criminals have conducted themselves.

In addition to opposing EFCA, they also are raising money for vulnerable conservative Republican candidates - you know, the very people who actually opposed socialism for greedy rich CEOs and voted against the bailout. In fact, talk about biting the hand that literally fed them, without the Democrats, they wouldn't have a bailout to piss in.

Remember, these are the men and women who grabbed public funds to bailout corporations they ran into the ground and then went partying at fancy resorts. Now they are fighting against union protection, higher wages, and a decent working environment for janitors, coal miners, maids, and other ordinary workers.

Meanwhile, actual union members risked their lives to save other's lives in the miracle on the Hudson. Believe me, it wasn't just God who made that miracle, but brave and well trained men and women acting as His angels. And those people owed their safety training to good union apprenticeships and classes that let them upgrade their skills at no expense to their employers.

Now you know who is really waging class warfare - and on the government's dime no less. You know, if I were a conservative, not only would I be ashamed, I wouldn't take their money. It would be like an abstinence only group getting its funding from the most active hooker in town.

New Terry McAuliffe Ad

I am officially uncommitted in the 2009 gubernatorial primaries - that's for all the candidates, not just the ones running for governor. I am not yet committed for LG or AG either. And I want to be fair to everybody running. Also, I'll probably be heavier on the praise than the criticism regardless of whether I endorse or not. Besides the obvious fact that, yes, I am a political hack for the Democrats, I have no desire to see any of our candidates so bloodied in the primary that they can't compete in the general. In Virginia, more than in some other places, like the Northeast, there are stark differences between Republicans and Democrats, even the most conservative of Democrats is more mainstream than the Republicans. So, it's not hard, except in exceptional situations, to remain open to all sides in a Democratic primary.

I am impressed with Terry McAuliffe's first commercial because he's smart enough to realize that jobs and the economy are probably going to dominate most voters attentions. First, here's his ad.

Now for some commentary about the ad.

Yesterday's bad news about major companies like Caterpillar and Sprint-Nextel shedding hundreds of thousands of jobs worldwide sent shock waves across an already crumbling economy. And some of those jobs are in our region. Nobody is feeling secure right now. And when voters' pocketbooks and financial futures are being directly threatened, it sure gets their intention. Right now, Terry looks most in touch for picking that up.

To me, that fact is more important than the fact that he was the first to launch a television commercial. I agree with critics who say it's too soon. But at least he's talking about jobs in a tangible way. Green jobs are crucial to a new economy. But they seem too far away to people feeling threatened right now. Concentrating on the ports, seems to be supporting shovel ready jobs right now.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Sharon Bulova: A Candidate of Substance

The following is the classic definition of chutzpah: A defendant accused of murder is convicted, and at his sentencing throws himself on the mercy of the court because he is an orphan.

Here’s a newer definition: The Republicans, who until recently were in charge of all three branches of the federal government, cause an international economic meltdown and financial crisis of epic proportions. Then, local GOP politicians point their fingers at Democratic incumbents in well run counties and towns and accuse them of causing the budget shortfalls now showing up in localities across the country. That is either real chutzpah or a shocking lack of understanding of basic economics and ignorance of the principles of good governance.

That was the tactic Keith Fimian used in his campaign against former Fairfax Chairman, Gerry Connolly. And The Chronicle called him out in this statement:
Fairfax County government has won awards for its management and Fairfax residents know that they have a very effective county government and school system and strongly support it. This has made it difficult for Fimian to find an example of governmental failure to pin on Connolly. His most recent clever solution to this problem has been to blame Connolly for the projected 2010 budget deficit of $430 million. He has been sending out regular press releases to area newspapers citing the projected deficit and blaming Connolly. All this even before the Board of Supervisors has held their first meeting to address the problem.

Blaming Connolly for the budget challenge that the county faces best illustrates Fimian’s total lack of understanding of the critical issues facing the county, state, and federal governments. It would appear that he doesn’t realize that virtually every local government in metropolitan Washington is struggling with the same issue. For example, last year Fairfax County was able to close a significant budget shortfall and maintain essential programs with only a three-cent increase in the property tax rate, which, for the average taxpayer, represented no actual increase in taxes as a result of the decrease of the average assessment. By contrast, Republican-controlled Prince William County raised their tax rate by 27 percent.
But that blunt talk has not deterred other Republicans from using the same losing line in their latest campaign attacks. Take Pat Herrity, who is reprising the unsuccessful Fimian accusation in his campaign against Sharon Bulova for the Chairman’s seat. Now, here’s what the Washington Post said about it.
It's that fiscal crisis -- a $650 million hole in a $3.4 billion fiscal 2010 budget -- that has dominated the campaign. Both candidates agree that the property tax rate must be raised and that deep cuts will still be impossible to avoid. But Mr. Herrity contends that Ms. Bulova and her Democratic colleagues increased spending recklessly in recent years and didn't do enough to gird for the current crisis.

There's some truth to this. Although the property tax rate was actually reduced as home values skyrocketed, the amount of taxes homeowners paid doubled in the past seven years. But the spending wasn't profligate -- about three-fourths of the increased revenue went to education and public safety. Some of the money also went to a reserve fund Ms. Bulova wisely created in the 1990s. It's hard to fault her for failing to foresee an unprecedented financial collapse that has left localities across the region reeling. And, if Ms. Bulova deserves some criticism for not anticipating the downturn, then she also deserves some credit for overseeing a long period of robust growth
In fact, Bulova has been a highly competent chair of the Budget Committee. She was first elected to the Board of Supervisors in 1987. In that time, her accomplishments include serving as chairman of the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission, where she has been a member since 1988. She helped bring the Virginia Railway Express (VRE) to Fairfax. Mark Warner appointed her to the Governor’s Commission on Rail Enhancement in 2004. As a member and former chair of the Northern Virginia Regional Commission and member of the Council of Government, she has been involved in finding regional solutions to quality of life and economic development issues facing Fairfax and the entire metropolitan region.

As the Washington Post endorsement also notes, Sharon is a consensus builder. She is the type of moderate, business oriented, leader who has managed, over a span of more than 20 years, to work with members of the business community, environmentalists, labor leaders, and Fairfax residents to create one of the best communities in the region in which to live.

Pat Herrity, meanwhile, is an abrasive ideologue who has been in office since 2007 and so far has a slim record of accomplishment. That’s not to say he won’t be an effective leader someday. But right now is neither the time nor the place to “shake things up.” That’s only because the problems Fairfax is facing are caused by the same economic crisis that is roiling every municipality in the nation. And the truth is Fairfax is in far better shape than most of its neighbors, regardless of the party affiliations of their leaders, because Fairfax has had good stewards.

Republicans want to claim that Sharon has not shown substance because she doesn’t have a laundry list of ideas on her website. She doesn’t need them. She has years of accomplishment. Meanwhile, Herrity has a website full of radical ideas, most of which are bad ones that have already failed elsewhere. For me there’s only one choice. And it’s a substantive one.

On Tuesday, February 3 – that’s next Tuesday – make sure you vote for Sharon Bulova if you live in Fairfax County.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Welcome Article XI

Question: Where can you find a blog that has Lowell Feld, Miles Grant and Jim Hoeft as contributors?

It's Articel XI, a brand new environmental blog that has brought Lowell out of semi-retirement. It promises to be a non partisan effort to begin a dialogue on environmental issues, from different political perspectives. Jim reminds readers that one of the founding fathers of the modern conservative movement, Barry Goldwater, was as passionate about conservation as he was about free markets and recognized the sometime contradictions that arose from those positions. Of course, real creativity often comes about precisely because of the tension of holding two diametrically opposite points of view in balance and arriving at a third, brand new position because of it.

Meanwhile, Lowell, Miles, and other contributors, who will be familiar to RK readers, will continue to write insightful posts on the Virginia environment, energy issues, and climate change. They will continue the quality that readers have come to expect from them.

I'll admit, that's not my area of expertise or even my passion - politics and economics are, with a dash of religion and culture thrown in. But since RK turned out the lights, nobody has been doing the important stories on energy conservation and the environment that need to be done. It's because it's a topic I know so little about that I welcome this new site. I need it as a resource as much as anybody else.

So, welcome to the Virginia blogosphere.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Change Is Here!

Marching in the Official Inaugural Picket Line Yesterday

They came! All three gubernatorial candidates and one of the candidates for LG. They came bearing gifts and sustenance to cold and hungry picketers and one walked the picket line.

The first to arrive was Terry McAuliffe, passing out steaming cups of coffee and chocolate chip cookies. Then Creigh Deeds, also with coffee and cookies, showed up. Brian Moran grabbed a sign and joined the line of marchers. So did longtime Democratic activist and fund raiser Mame Reilly. Jody Wagner brought popcorn for picketers. And Rabbi Bruce Aft of Adat Reyim blessed the group, which was 200 strong, and spoke of social justice for workers.

They came and remembered their working class roots and their core party values. They came to be with us in nearly freezing weather for two hours before heading off to dress for more glamourous Inaugural Balls.

Terry McAuliffe passing out coffee and cookies to picketers (the woman in the line directly across from him is Mame Reilly)

Creigh Deeds handing out coffee

Brian Moran is all smiles as he marches with demonstraters. He grabbed a sign too, although it's not pictured here.

Jody Wagner handing out bags of popcorn.

Rabbi Bruce Aft, of Adat Reyim, getting ready to bless the crowd.

Finally, this sign says it all. Until the workers have their contract restored!

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Dream Lives On!

Come To The Official Inaugural Picket Line

Honest, you can't make this stuff up. Tonight, at 5 p.m., join the Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union (HERE/UNITE) in front of the National Airport Hilton in Arlington.

The Airport Hilton was one of the first Northern Virginia hotels to have an HERE contract but new owners took over the franchise and voided the contract. So, join the folks from the Northern Virginia Central Labor Council, HERE and elected officials and candidates as they march for worker justice.

In addition to Brian Moran, who has listed it on the USA Service calendar, Creigh Deeds, Terry McAuliffe, Jody Wagner, and Jon Bowerbank are expected to be there.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

What If Everything You Thought You Knew About Unions Was Wrong?

What if everything you thought you knew wasn’t true? And what if you had to rethink some conventional wisdom and revise some stereotypes you had been brought up with from the time you entered elementary school? What if the conventional wisdom was just wrong about something you held as real? Here’s an example of what I mean. For years, we have all been encouraged to believe the carefully crafted and cultivated meme that business people were the repository of all wisdom and that left unfettered and unregulated, they would create unlimited prosperity. The entrepreneurial spirit was celebrated above all else and with it a bias against any government regulation.

In the wake of the economic meltdown that took our whole economy crashing down with it, nobody any longer believes the likes of Jeffrey Skilling, Ken Lay, Robert Nardelli, or hosts of other captains of industry are heroes. They are seen for the greedy robber barons they always were. People for whom day trading was a major pastime are now afraid to even look at their 401 (k) plans and certainly don’t believe a privatized Social Security system, based on investment in the stock market, is the best place to park their retirement nest egg. In fact, is there anybody left to argue that totally unregulated markets have the wisdom to even keep us safe even from food borne illness let alone other dangers?

So, if all the experts were wrong about the wisdom of totally unregulated markets, maybe they also are wrong about the way they’ve been portraying unions and union members. The average American has a stereotypical view of union members as lazy and overpaid. And ungrateful too. But what if union workers actually were well-trained heroes who saved lives?

It turns out they are.

As Emptywheel points out in this diary on Daily Kos, all those involved in the dramatic rescue of the U.S. Airways passengers from the Hudson River were well-trained union members who cited their unions for giving them the training and skill to perform their jobs and save lives. But first let’s start with today’s Washington Post report, which, while lauding the rescuers as individuals, is conspicuously silent on their union backgrounds.
No ferry captain expects to encounter a disaster of this magnitude, said Lombardi and a half-dozen other captains who helped all 155 survivors of a US Airways jet that crash-landed in the Hudson River. But they're trained for it. They learn CPR, basic firefighting and hypothermia treatment.

Last July, a Circle Line vessel rescued survivors of a helicopter that crashed near the Lincoln Tunnel while on a sightseeing trip. In August, New York Waterway deckhands plucked a struggling swimmer out of the Hudson. In September, New York Water Taxi crew members rescued a 65-year-old man whose kayak capsized during a lesson.

In fact, there are so many ferryboats moving thousands of people a day through the congested New York Harbor that they have come to be an efficient and flexible waterborne first-response team.

Their response time is almost always less than two minutes, most often less than a minute and a half, said Vince Lucante, a port captain for New York Waterway, Lombardi's company. On Thursday, Coast Guard video showed, the first boat was alongside the jet within three minutes of it hitting the water.

"It's not in the day-to-day job description, but it is there," said Michael Starr, another port captain for New York Waterway. "People don't often realize the emergency skills a ferryboat job requires."
What’s missing in this report is where those ferryboat workers got those emergency skills. It wasn’t from the ferry companies, but from their union training. All the skilled trades unions have apprentice programs that train potential members in basic skills and then give them courses to upgrade those skills so members can qualify for even better paying jobs in their field. That training is paid for by the unions out of union member dues, and it saves the companies that hire union workers money. Because the unions take the responsibility for training their members, companies don’t have to provide those courses.

As it turns out, most of the ferryboat workers are members of the Seafarers International Union (SIU) or the Marine Engineers Beneficial Association (MEBA), two unions that spend a lot of bucks to keep their members skills upgraded. I know this personally because my husband, Dan, is the assistant to the President of the SIU and we've been down to the SIU training facility in St. Mary's County, Maryland. It's an exceedingly well run, ultra modern school, where seafarers upgrade their skills at no cost to themselves or the shipping companies that hire them.

In addition, the airpline pilot, Capt. Chesley Sullenerger, whom every newspaper and major broadcast station has lauded as a hero, is a member of ALPA, the pilot’s union. Here’s a quote from the AFL-CIO blog, which gives the full story of the backgrounds of these brave men and women who saved so many lives:
The quick thinking, bravery, experience and extensive training of US Airways Flight 1549 pilot, Capt. Chesley Sullenberger, co-pilot Jeffrey Skiles, the crew of flight attendants, the air traffic controllers guiding the flight low over Manhattan and the rescuers were the key factors in yesterday’s “Miracle on the Hudson,” where 155 people survived an emergency landing in the river.

The mainstream media is chronicling the miracle, but as Marcy Wheeler on Emptywheel points out:
What they are not telling you is just about every single one of these heroes is a union member.

They are union members who got that that extensive safety and job training thanks to their union contracts.

Sullenberger, with 40 years of flight experience, served as instructor and safety committee chairman for the Air Line Pilots (ALPA). Following, the US Airways merger with America West, the airline’s pilots are now members of an independent union.

The crew of three flight attendants who shepherded the passengers safely out the emergency exits are members of the Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA). Says AFA-CWA President Patricia Friend:
Flight attendants are highly trained safety and security professionals and today’s successful evacuation is an overwhelming example of the necessary role flight attendants serve on board the aircraft. Flight attendants receive extensive training on emergency evacuations and each year they undergo additional training to ensure their proficiency.

The air traffic controllers who helped route the Airbus A320 around Manhattan, after Sullenberger reported that a bird strike had shut down both engines, are members of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA). As Reuters reports:
The ferry crews that immediately responded when they saw the plane in the river are Seafarers (SIU) members. The SIU provides extensive safety training for its members. Marine Engineers (MEBA) members pilot many of the ferries and fireboats that responded. Those police and fireboats that arrived to pull passengers to safety are crewed by members of the Fire Fighters (IAFF) and Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (PBA).
As Wheeler points out:
They are the men and women who performed so heroically on 9/11
You won’t get this story from any of the mainstream media, which is unfortunate. Neither the right nor the left trusts the newspapers or television stations to give unbiased reports anymore. And that’s a dangerous situation. Face it, bloggers are not professional journalists and for the most part don’t have the time, training, or skill to break the major stories or do in depth exposes.

But because newspapers are failing in their responsibility to present fair, accurate, and complete coverage, more and more people are turning to other sources. We need all the media outlets, from blogs and alternative media to a vibrant mainstream media that is unafraid to tell the truth, the whole truth. Because when you leave important stuff out, it may be a sin of omission, but it still slants the story and leaves people with their stereotypes unchallenged. And that means everything - or at least some things - that we believe may not be true. And the public's distorted views about unions is one of those things.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Creigh Deeds' Public Calendar for Inaugural Events in NoVa

Creigh Deeds will be very visible in Northern Virginia, attending many of the Inaugural events in the area. Here are the highlights of his public schedule for the upcoming Inaugural weekend and a good chance to get out to an event and meet him.
Senator Deeds' Public Schedule for January 16-18, 2009

WHAT: Prayer Service at Dar Al-Hijrah Mosque
WHERE: 3159 Row St., Falls Church
WHEN: Friday, January 16 at 12:30PM

WHAT: Winchester Democratic Committee Inaugural Breakfast
WHERE: Mount Carmel Baptist Church Family Life Center, 1309 Opequon Ave., Winchester
WHEN: Saturday, January 17 at 9:00AM

WHAT: 44/44 Grassroots Pre-Inaugural Ball
WHERE: Arlington Grand Ballroom, Crystal Gateway Marriott, 1700 Jefferson Davis Hwy., Arlington
WHEN: Saturday, January 17 at 7:00PM

WHAT: Fairfax County Democratic Committee Blue Jeans Inaugural Ball "Denim to Diamonds"
WHERE: Richard J. Ernst Community Cultural Center, NOVA Community College, 8333 Little River Turnpike, Annandale
WHEN: Saturday, January 17 at 8:30PM

WHAT: Mount Vernon District Democratic Committee Volunteer Thank You Event
WHERE: St. Aidan Episcopal Church, 8531 Riverside Rd., Alexandria
WHEN: Sunday, January 18 at 3:30PM

WHAT: The Grassroots Inaugural Gala "A Jeans to Sequins Party" Celebration and Fundraiser for the Arlington Food Assistance Center
WHERE: The State Theater, 220 North Washington St., Falls Church
WHEN: Sunday, January 18 at 7:00PM
I'll be periodically updating public schedules when our candidates are appearing in the Northern Virginia region, as time permits. One cautionary note: If you are a candidate and I don't post your schedule for this weekend, it doesn't mean I dont' like you or won't support you. It's an oversight and I'm gonna apologize up front. But I don't sit in front of my computer updating 24/7.

So, don't try to parse any special meaning from an oversight. I'm a time challenged amateur, folks!

Terry McAuliffe Swearing In Watch Party in Richmond

Update: As I promised, I will be periodically updating candidate appearances, as they come in (or as I get to read them, since I'm behind in my email). Here are some more events that Terry McAuliffe will be attending during the Inaugural weekend:
In the coming days, gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe will join fellow Virginians at inaugural events in Arlington, Annandale, Falls Church, Leesburg, Richmond, and Washington, D.C. Details of his schedule can be found below.

8:30 PM

44/44 Grassroots Pre-Inaugural Ball
Crystal Gateway Marriott
Arlington, VA

10:00 PM

FCDC 2009 Blue Jeans Inaugural Ball "Denim to Diamonds"
Richard J. Ernst Community Cultural Center
8333 Little River Turnpike
Annandale, VA

10:30 PM

Yes We Did- Jeans and T-Shirts Grassroots Inaugural Ball
The State Theater
220 North Washington Street
Falls Church, VA

10:30 AM

Leesburg 17th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration
Old Loudon County Courthouse
Leesburg, VA

7:15 PM
Virginia Inaugural Ball
Westin Arlington Gateway
Arlington, VA

11:00 AM

Swearing-In Watch Party with Terry McAuliffe
The Camel Club
1621 West Broad Street
Richmond, VA

8:00 PM

Mid-Atlantic Ball
Walter E. Washington Convention Center - Hall A
809 Mount Vernon Place NW
Washington, DC‎


Tuesday, Gubernatorial Candidate Terry McAuliffe will hold a swearing-in watch party in Richmond. Joining with community members, McAuliffe will watch the historic swearing-in of President-elect Barack Obama.

WHAT: Swearing-In Watch Party

WHO: Terry McAuliffe, Candidate for Governor
Community Members

WHEN: Tuesday, January 20th, 11:00 am -- Doors open at 10:30 am

WHERE: The Camel
1621 West Broad Street
Richmond, VA
That's the round up, so far, of what the three Democratic gubernatorial candidates will be doing around the Virginia area. Depending upon your own schedules, this is a good time to get out, celebrate our victories from 2008, and get a jump on the 2009 campaigns all at the same time.

Brian Moran in Charlottesville This Weekend

While Creigh Deeds is headed to Northern Virginia, Brian Moran will take his campaign to the Charlottesville area for some of the long Inaugural weekend. Here's his schedule so far:

Brian Moran’s Public Schedule
ALEXANDRIA – Brian Moran will travel Saturday in the Charlottesville area and then participate in activities on Sunday and Monday for President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration.

SATURDAY, JANUARY 17 WVAX will air Brian Moran’s appearance on “Albemarle Political Corner” with Fred Hudson, in which he talks about the first announcements of his environment and energy plan. Hudson is the Chairman of the 5th Congressional District Democratic Committee.
WHERE: WVAX 1450, Charlottesville, Va.
WHEN: 9:00 a.m.

Brian Moran will visit the Charlottesville Democratic Committee meeting and talk about his campaign for Governor and the first announcements of his environment and energy plan.
WHERE: JABA Building 647 Hillsdale DriveCharlottesville, Va.
WHEN: 9:30 a.m.

Brian Moran will attend the Special Olympics Tennis Finals.

WHERE: Boars Head Inn, 200 Wellington Drive, Charlottesville, Va.
WHEN: 1:30 p.m.

Getting Priorities Straight on Health Care Spending?

Warning: This is a joke. It was sent to me by a friend with a slightly twisted sense of humor. It's why I cultivate and value her friendship:
Pfizer Announcement

Pfizer Corp. announced today that Viagra will soon be available in liquid form, and will be marketed by Pepsi Cola as a power beverage suitable for use as a mixer. It will now be possible for a man to literally pour himself a stiff one Obviously we can no longer call this a soft drink, and it gives new meaning to the names of 'cocktails', 'highballs' and just a good old-fashioned 'stiff drink'

Pepsi will market the new concoction by the name of: MOUNT & DO.

Thought for the day: There is more money being spent on breast implants and Viagra today than on Alzheimer's research. This means that by 2040, there should be a large elderly population with perky boobs and huge erections and absolutely no recollection of what to do with them.
On a more serious note, there are insurance companies that will pay for Viagra but not for prescription birth control pills or devices. Even more telling, dental care is not covered as a medical expense by many insurance companies. Nor are glasses, hearing aids, orthotics and other auxilliary medical devices. I can't imagine that those items are not considered medically necessary while coverage of Viagra is earnestly defended as "medically necessary to preserve and enhance lifestyle choices," as one executive years ago claimed on one of the Sunday morning talk shows.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Bucket of Cold Water in the Face in Freezing Weather

First, let me congratulate Charnielle Herring on her victory over Republican Joe Murray in the 46th's special election. However, it was the squeaker that shouldn't have been in a district that usually goes 70 to 75 percent Democratic. It was Brian Moran's reliably safe district, most of which sits comfortably in Alexandria. Kenton Ngo has one of his famous maps up, illustrating the district and which parts went red and which went a sort of rust color (I guess that's like purple - it denotes a not strong Republican area).

The New Dominion Project also reported that the House Republicans have voted to refuse to seat Herring.
The specific parliamentary motion to bar Herring from her seat was the rejection of a motion to take up the official communication from the State Board of Elections. When the House of Delegates receives the official SBE certification, it typically is placed on the calendar before the morning hour without objection
While that is probably a temporary inconvenience to an already short session in Richmond, I can't say I blame the GOPers when the race is that close. They want a recount.

More to the point, though: What happened?

I think several factors came together and led to this near upset of the Democrat. For one thing, the Republicans right now are simply hungrier for a victory than we are. They have had dismal showings in Virginia in two election cycles: 2007 and 2008. They poured a lot of money into taking this seat simply because they are hungry for any sign of resurgence. Even though Joe Murray's presence or absence wouldn't tip any balance in the Republican majority in the House of Delegates, right now the Republican Party needs any kind of win. It's more a morale booster to show the rank and file activists that they are on their way back up. And let's face it, what else do they have to do during the bleak month of January?

They certainly aren't out buying gowns for Inaugural balls or trying to scrounge up tickets to the actual Inauguration. Virginia Democrats, meanwhile, are - shall we say - otherwise distracted with exactly those activities. When you get outside of the commonwealth, the Inauguration is all anybody normal is talking about.

Most Democratic voters and even activists really want to bask in the warm glow of a hard won victory, not turn around and start the battle all over again in earnest. The Republicans, on the other hand, are eager for just that. If the situation were reversed, I'd be itching for the next fight and the sooner the better. But not now. Those of us who are paying attention, writing on blogs, going to phone banks and knocking on doors in 20 degree weather are doing it despite the fact that - this time - there really is something else we'd rather be doing. And that's taking a moment to enjoy what we've already accomplished.

And you can't discount voter fatigue. Anybody normal - not those of us who are political junkies - thinks this is nuts. And they are actually right. Vivian Paige summed it up perfectly (emphasis is mine):
Charniele Herring wins in the 46th - Charniele Herring won the special election in the 46th House district Tuesday by a whopping 16 votes. Say what you will about the results but I think the overwhelming factor is that Virginians are tired of elections. Something needs to be done with the never-ending election cycle. Even political junkies get tired.
As usual, Vivian is a voice of common sense who nails it.

Even if we never had a special election, the constant cycle of elections every year is tiring not just to political junkies but worse to voters. Voter fatigue is a real danger because it leads to disgust and people opting out of voting all together. In fact, I have a sneaking suspicion that this is exactly the original purpose of the never ending election cycle here in Virginia. Political machines don't want large voter turn out, which could actually lead to unpredictable results, They want a very predictable small core of party regulars to dominate the election process and how better to discourage large voter turn out than to have constant elections? But that no longer works for Democrats.

In fact, we lose ground in special elections. Almost always. It's how Ken Cuccinelli won his first election - I believe it was in a low turnout, low interest race while everybody was away on vacation.

Truly this time, there's not much that can be done about the back to back special elections that seem to be occurring on a daily basis in Northern Virginia. When Brian Moran resigned his seat, it made it a necessity. But if Charnielle Herring actually loses in a recount, Democrats will be furious that Moran's actions led to a Republican taking that seat because of the necessity of a special election on such short notice at the beginning of one of the coldest months of the year.

In the Fairfax County race for Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, on the other hand, there truly was nothing that could be done to prevent the special election. Gerry Connolly has wanted to run for Congress for a while and this was his time. He didn't step down until he had to. And everybody has a right to move up and to realize their dreams. Unlike Brian, I can't really fault Gerry. In fact, I'm genuinely happy for him and think he will serve Virginia well in Congress.

Nevertheless, Sharon Bulova faces some of the same obstacles that Charnielle Herring did - voter fatigue, political activists focused on Inauguration activities, and simple grassroots activists being burned out. Thankfully, though, Sharon's election is still a few weeks away, February 3. And Herring's oh so close call is not just a wake up - it's an ice cold bucket of water in our faces.

The Republicans are still hungry. We still want to bask in the warm glow of victory. But we can forget that now. It's time to shop for thermal underwear, rather than tuxes and ball gowns, and get out and knock on those doors. Let's not give the Republicans too big a morale boost going into the 2009 elections!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Terry McAuliffe's Greatest Fault

Terry McAuliffe is, by his own admission, impatient. He made this confession at a bloggers conference call this morning. In answer to Vivian Paige's question, "what is your greatest weakness," McAuliffe didn't hesitate to state it was his impatience. "I want to get it done yesterday," he said.

Not a surprise. That's probably the great fault - if it's a fault at all - of most charismatic visionaries. And that he is.

Ask anybody who's met him and the first thing they'll mention is his energy and enthusiasm. It's almost a cliche. And both were in great abundance during this morning's blogger's conference call in which I participated. Other participants included Aimee Fausser, Rick Howell, and conservatives Jim Hoeft and Norman Leahy. They all have interesting takes on it, so go visit their sites.

Terry McAuliffe spoke fast and juggled a lot of balls in the air without dropping any of them. He has a vision and a bunch of creative ideas for Virginia.

The first thing he stressed was his business experience, beginning when he started his first business at age 14. It was called McAuliffe Driveway Maintenance (no, that wasn't mentioned on the conference call; I looked it up) By the age of 30, he was Chairman of the Federal City National Bank. McAuliffe also claims to have started five successful businessses in Virginia. In addition to his business acumen, McAuliffe racked up political success as a Democrat who landed a job on Jimmy Carter's 1980 re-election campaign and at the age of 22 became Carter's national finance director. He has since served the DNC in many roles including that of chairman from 2001 to 2005.

In answer to a question on the budget shortfall, McAuliffe took raising taxes off the table, stating, "You don't raise taxes in a recession." It was a point he returned to several times.

On the other hand, he emphasized that Virginia needed a revenue stream so that programs would not be cut either. Indeed, he wants to raise teachers' salaries to the national average so that Virginia can retain the best teachers. Right now, we lose almost half our teachers, in some areas, to other states. McAuliffe also would like to see smaller class sizes for K-3.

He also would like to see Virginia schools build gyms again to fight childhood obesity. On the issue of health care reform, he expects Virginia to benefit from Obama's health care plans. He also reminded his listeners that, as a friend of Hillary Clinton, he is no stranger to health care reform efforts.

He came up with one intriguing solution to a problem that gets little attention but that everybody knows exists in populous areas of the state: Long waits to get doctor's appointments. I know that I have long thought this was the dirty little secret of our health care delivery system. In Northern Virginia, it can take a woman up to six months to get an appointment for a routine mammogram. Getting an appointment with your family doctor can take up to a week, and during flu season you sometimes risk getting complications before you can actually get into a doctor's office. I was surprised to hear a politician finally recognize this obstacle to truly good health care.

McAuliffe's solution is to provide targeted tax cuts as an incentive for doctors to practice in Virginia. In addition, he stressed placing more emphasis on preventive medicine and encouraging physical fitness.

Returning to the theme of increasing the revenue stream to Virginia, McAuliffe said that although our state has been cited as the best place to do business, we have not been as competitive as we could be at attracting new business. This is especially true in Southside and Southwest. McAuliffe mentioned creating enterprise zones and stressed the need for public private partnerships to solve our problems and keep the level of service that many Virginians value. McAuliffe also suggested that he would donate his salary.

On energy, he also came up with the offbeat idea of converting chicken waste into renewable fuels and would support wind farms. He's been a leader in supporting alternative energy solutions. And he cited the need to finally solve Virginia's transportation problems, envisioning a role for light rail. Again, he stressed the need for a revenue stream, growing the economy and bringing in good paying jobs to accomplish his ambitious goals.

Within about 20 minutes the fast talking McAuliffe had laid out a vision and a platform that proved he's more than ready to take on the competition for the governor's race. With his boundless energy, he reminded me of a runaway train, hurtling toward the next big idea - and wanting it yesterday. And it was refreshing. While I remain undecided, he has certainly caught my attention. And I hope yours.

If so, you can visit his website to find out more.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Sharon Bulova Office Opening on Saturday

While I'm at it, don't forget Sharon Bulova's Office Opening Party is from 1 to 3 pm tomorrow at her new headquarters, at 5618 Ox Road, Suite C, Fairfax Station. It's in the same shopping center as La Tolteca Restaurant and is in the building above the Post Office. Activities include button making for the campaign, picking up literature and meeting the candidate.

In addition, phone banking will begin on January 5th, from 6 to 9 pm at the FCDC, 2815 Hartland Rd, Falls Church and at the Firefighters Local #2068, 10500 Sager Avenue, Suite A, Fairfax. Canvassing begins Saturday, January 10th. (h/t to Left of the Hill for the information. Bryan has much fuller details at his site.)

Sharon Bulova: Journeyman Supervisor - Not Flash In the Pan

Well, if it's already the second day of January, you know the New Year's good cheer has already gone as flat as day old champagne. And if it's Virginia, you know we're into another hotly contested campaign, a special election, and silly season is about to begin in earnest, even though the rest of the nation gets to rest on its laurels and actually get ready for an inauguration. For them, poor innocents, politics is over. Now, they just get to celebrate the victory, or rest up for the next major contests - probably two years away. But not Virginia!

Here, silly season has already kicked off in earnest by VA Blogger at Too Conservative with a post claiming that Sharon Bulova, candidate for Chairman of the Fairfax Board of Supervisors, put an ad up on Craigslist for field staff for door-to-door canvassing. VA Blogger surmises from this that Sharon doesn't have an adequate campaign staff, and that she must be hiring everything from entry level canvassers to her campaign manager from employment ads.

Not so. As I pointed out in a comment on Too Conservative, Sharon has a seasoned, competent staff and this is a non-issue. In fact, it's probably scraping the bottom of the barrel for petty nitpicking. Here's why.

In a special election, it's all about the ground game. Especially in one with a low profile like this one. And the turn around time is ridiculously short. The election will be held on February 3. That gives both sides only a month to reach voters, who are largely burned out and uninterested. Heck, even activists are tired after the intense 2008 campaign season.

The other problem is that both Herrity and Bulova have low name recogntion. In Sharon's case that's because she hasn't had a seriously contested race to compete in. She's a pro business, moderate, centrist Democrat, who is in step with her district. The GOP never had an interest in challenging her before. The upside of that was that she was able to focus on working hard for Fairfax County and she was spared from focusing on all the campaign hoopla. But the downside is that because she was a journeyman worker bee rather than a charismatic flash in the pan politician, she has quietly contributed to the success of Fairfax County, which has consistently been named the best managed county in the country by pro-business groups like the Chamber of Commerce.

Of course, VA Blogger, and no doubt he's only repeating what the Republicans hope will be their best talking point, is trying to pin the county's $650 million deficit on the Democratic management of Fairfax. But that argument failed back when the Keith Fimian camp first tried it out on Gerry Connolly, and it won't work now. Here's what The Chronicle said back then.
Blaming Connolly for the budget challenge that the county faces best illustrates Fimian’s total lack of understanding of the critical issues facing the county, state and federal governments. It would appear that he doesn’t realize that virtually every local government in metropolitan Washington is struggling with the same issue. For example, last year Fairfax County was able to close a significant budget shortfall and maintain essential programs with only a three-cent increase in the property tax rate, which, for the average taxpayer, represented no actual increase in taxes as a result of the decrease of the average assessment. By contrast, Republican-controlled Prince William County raised their tax rate by 27 percent.
What the newspaper said then is equally true now. And it is a lasting testament to not just VA Blogger but to the refusal of the Republican Party, including Herrity himself, to acknowledge facts.

The truth is Fairfax County has not been mismanaged by anybody. But this country experienced a financial meltdown that began with an unregulated mortgage industry, a series of foreclosures, and exotic mortgage based derivative investment instruments that had an international domino effect that brought economies crashing down across the globe. This was a failure at the top of the Republican administration in Washington, DC that made the financial and business world collapse like a house of cards, not just in Fairfax or in the U.S. but across the world. Just as Gerry Connolly couldn't be blamed for that, neither can Sharon Bulova. But if Republicans want to stick with that argument, ok. The more they do, the more I'll point out that with eight years of an incompetent Bush administration, seven years of a Republican dominated Congress and a conservative, anti-regulatory philosophy that dates back decades, this is their recession. Their failure. They own it. And they are not going to be able to slither out of it and blame anybody else for it. Period. End of story!

Meanwhile, all the GOP has is Pat Herrity's family name, a recycled charge about mismanagent of Fairfax that didn't work the first time around, and a silly accusation about Craigslist. It's not much to base a campaign on. But when you have an inexperienced candidate with not many accomplishments, you give it the best shot you can.