On Thursday I’ll be attending my first meeting of the Lord Fairfax Soil and Water Conservation District Board as one of Shenandoah County’s two voting members. Before each meeting I’ll be posting the agenda here. Also available here are the LFSWCD December 2011 Draft Minutes and LFSWCD January 2012 Meeting Reports from other departments that we work with. I’m not posting them verbatim due to the size, but there they are available for download should you be interested. Note that last month’s minutes are a draft and do not constitute the official record until approved at Thursday’s meeting. After Thursday’s meeting I’ll post notes from the meeting.
10:00 CALL TO ORDER
INTRODUCTION OF GUESTS
10:15 1. MINUTES OF DECEMBER MEETING
10:20 2. TREASURER’S REPORT
10:25 3. CHAIR’S REPORT
10:40 4. LORD FAIRFAX SWCD REPORTS (Additions to written reports)
- Conservation Technical Specialist – Pete Benedetto
Conservation Technician – Jed Rau
Conservation Technician – Sam Truban
Conservation Easements – Jim Lawrence
Conservation Technical – Marcus Adams
Dam Safety - Lauck Walton
Education & Information – Mary Gessner
Erosion & Sediment Control – HB Simpson
Finance – Bud Nagelvoort
Legislative – Bud Nagelvoort
NSVRC Water Resources Advisory Committee – Wayne Webb
Personnel – Richard Hoover
Pure Water Forum – Craig Orndorff
Royal Phoenix Easement Committee – Richard Hoover
Shenandoah Resource Conservation & Dev. Council – Joan Comanor
Shenandoah County Water Resources Advisory Committee – Henry Staudinger
11:10 5. COOPERATING AGENCY REPORTS (Additions to written reports)
- NRCS, Natural Resource Conservation Mike Liskey
DCR, Conservation District Coordinator DebbieCross
VA. Cooperative Extension Representative Jake Grove
VA. Department of Forestry Representative Joe Lehnen/Justin Barnes
Va. Dept. of Environmental Quality Representative Bob Peer
- Martha Shickle – Northern Shenandoah Valley Regional Planning Commission –Chesapeake Bay Remedial Program
Movie franchises work best in threes. Comedy has its own rule of threes. And here in Virginia, we have three statewide elected officials elected in the year between the presidential and midterm elections. So, of course, I feel like I have to complete my own trilogy of posts about the state of the race for 2013. As has been said by me and plenty others, much is in flux right now, and this isn’t even the biggest race on the radar. Those, of course, are the US Senate Race and the Presidential election, for which the GOP will need all hands on deck next year to prevail in. However, as we recently saw with the discussions over the presidential primary ballot requirements and the “loyalty oath” issue for said primary, these races are definitely coloring how people are approaching the 2012 races. So, since we’ve already gotten a feel for where we’re at for the Governor and LG races, why not go for a threepeat?
A caution–let us not read too much into any results I have to offer. If anything, the only thing internet polls are good for are for giving us a slight idea of who has the best organized and motivated people. That, and just who reads what blogs. (My readers/acquaintances seem to be more Bolling fans than Cuccinelli fans, given that my poll results were the inverse of Bearing Drifts) But, in a number driven business, they’re just fun too, so why not?
- Delegate Robert Bell–Bell is starting his fifth term in Richmond as a Delegate representing a Piedmont based district, with territory in Albemarle, Greene, Fluvanna and just a chunk of Rockingham Counties. (This makes for an interesting race, as that means two candidates represent parts of the same locality) Bell was first elected in 2001 and has represented a “purplish” district–mostly due to the Albemarle based precincts but has consistently done well. Bell’s ambition has been known for a long time, but this cycle marks his first clear shot at the brass ring. Bell has often been considered one of the “young guns” of the General Assembly (though at forty four, he’s just five years younger than another candidate). He’s married with two young children. Bell has been a pretty reliable conservative in the General Assembly, but some of his legislative agenda has tended towards strengthening laws and regulations–something that may not play well with the current libertarian leanings predominant amongst many Virginia GOP activists. Bell chairs the powerful Criminal subcomittee, which handles a large chunk of legislation that comes through the GA each year. Additionally, Bell is a former prosecutor, something that’s always a plus (though not a necessity) in this race. Bell is also a pretty formidable fundraiser.
- Fairfax Circuit Court Clerk John Frey–Frey, the three term clerk of the combined Fairfax and Fairfax Circuit Courts, is something of an unknown entity to many activists–even a few in Northern Virginia. However, from what I had learned about Frey, he certainly brings an interesting angle to things. For one, he’s not in any real way tied to Richmond as it is, and I think we can expect him to talk alot about the relationship between the state and localities, a tack that will likely also be taken by Corey Stewart in the AG’s race. Additionally, he brings the sort of executive experience that Bell and Obenshain don’t quite have, running an office of more than one hundred fifty employees with a budget of $11 million. I’m not sure about Frey’s experience as a lawyer nor his fundraising abilities, but it’ll be interesting to learn more, as he’s attempting a path that hasn’t been successful on the GOP side since Jim Gilmore won the AG slot in 1993 (going from local to statewide office).
- State Senator Mark Obenshain–Right now Obenshain is said to be “exploring” a run for Attorney General, but he has launched a committee specifically for this race and its said that an official announcement is forthcoming–he’s in. Obenshain is embarking on his third term in the State Senate. Obenshain has twice handily dispatched opponents in this rock solid red district, and in 2011 no one even bothered running against him. Obenshain has been a stalwart conservative in a Senate that was, earlier in the last decade, more under the influence of moderates. Obenshain has a reputation as a fighter but also as somebody who can get things done. Obenshain has been a decent fundraiser, but compared to Bell, he’s never had the real need to raise a huge chunk of coin to get the job done. Obenshain is more closely linked to Cuccinelli than Bell, the two having been close in the State Senate, and therefore may draw many of Cuccinelli’s supporters, but Obenshain has clearly stated his neutrality in the Governor’s race. It certainly doesn’t hurt, either, that Obenshain is the son of a party legend, former RPV Chair and 1978 Senate Nominee the late Richard Obenshain (who died in a air crash during the campaign and was replaced on the ticket by now Former Senator John Warner). I’m not sure but I don’t believe Obenshain has any prosecutorial experience but is regularly named one of Virginia’s “Legal Elite” by Virginia Business Magazine. Obenshain has two children in college, is married, and is 49.
- Former Arlington School Board Chair Dave Foster–Foster ran in 2009 and came in third at the convention to Cuccinelli and Brownlee on the first (and only) ballot. Foster’s primary claim to fame is as a member of the Arlington County School Board (0nce as chair) and is regularly touted as a figure who can break the Democratic stranglehold in that region (although the School Board is non-partisan). Foster raised a decent amount of money in the AG’s race last time but never really gained any traction, squeezed by Cuccinelli’s strident conservative legislative accomplishments and Brownlee’s tough on crime rhetoric. Foster has remained active, hosting hospitality suites at recent Advances. Foster’s biggest appeal was and is as a Republican in deep blue territory–but last time he wasn’t the only one, with Cuccinelli in the mix, and this time he won’t be the only one either if Frey does indeed make it to the primary. Foster may instead make the race to replace now-State Senator Barbara Favola on the Arlington Board of Supervisors, but the guy’s scrappy–if he takes a pass on that, and its looking very likely, then we’ll have a better idea of where he’s leaning.
- Former US District Attorney John Brownlee–Brownlee could make the race again, having placed second to Cuccinelli at the 2009 State Convention. Brownlee is many a consultant’s perfect storm candidate–a veteran, a tough on crime prosecutor, young, great looks. However, Brownlee, despite his sterling prosecutorial credentials, never really made a strong case against the Cooch and managed to lose a good chunk of the rural counties, supposedly his strongest area as he served in the Western District in Roanoke. Still, Brownlee was a pretty decent fundraiser and pulled in some pretty good supporters, but don’t count him out yet. However, keep in mind that a GOP win in November could lead to different opportunities for Brownlee…..
So there’s your slate, folks. Vote above, with the usual choices (all of the above mentioned plus undecided and someone else). Feel free to share any further thoughts or candidates in the comments below.
As SWCD Director, I often receive notices for conferences and meetings on a wide variety of agricultural and environmental topics hosted by the commonwealth’s SWCDs and their governmental and non-profit partners (which, as I’m quickly learning, are too numerous to list here). As many of my constituents are farmers or otherwise involved in the agricultural industry, I’ll be sharing them here from time to time. I know my readers are a mix of politicos and constituents (probably the latter mostly for right now), but as I continue my service I’ll be using this platform equally to inform my constituents about the activities of the board as well as my regular writing. So without further ado:
The Virginia No-Till Alliance will be presenting a conference on no-till practices at several sites around the commonwealth in February. The closest one to Shenandoah County will be at the Rockingham County Fairgrounds on February 7th, 2012 from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm. Without going into a great deal of technical detail, no-till farming is essentially a method of crop production that does not disturb soil through a variety of practices, therefore increasing water and nutrient content in the soil and decreasing erosion. For more on the practice, this article from Wikipedia is a relatively good overview.
If you wish to attend the conference, RSVP with the Rockingham County Cooperative Extension Office by January 30th by calling 540-564-3080. For more information about what will be offered at the conference, see their brochure here. To learn more about conference speakers visit the alliance’s website here.
And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for, if you didn’t get enough (albeit unintentional) laughs during his five terms in the Senate, the only man in D.C. funny enough to deliver his verdict in an impeachment trial citing an obscure precept of Scottish law, Mr. Snarlin’ Arlen Specter!
For what it is, it’s not a bad set. I’ve heard most of the jokes in other forms, though, so I’m thinking that he found them in the pocket of that jacket that looks like he bought at the estate sale of some former Catskills comedian (ha-cha-cha!) Be forewarned: the Senator works a little “blue” (an old school comedy term for “dirty”)
Hopefully, in 2015, he’ll be able to join by then Former Senator Al Franken on a nationwide Former Senators of Comedy tour!
UPDATE: Via Bearing Drift, it has been learned that Rick Perry has launched his own legal challenge. Actually, it’s beyond launched–the suit has already been filed in the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Virginia. Their argument seems to be that the requirement that voters be registered to vote or eligible to register in Virginia unconstitutionally restricted his ability to recruit signature gatherers. (Focus on seems to be–I’m not a lawyer) They cite a number of other cases in which registration requirements were struck down. We seem to finally have a number for Perry–6k signatures. This isn’t even close to the 10,000 valid required. We’ll see how this pans out–he may get relief from the court, but I imagine the jeers will be even louder from the blogosphere than they were before. Also, one correction–any legislative fix will require 80 delegates, not 60 as I wrote earlier. That means they’ll need 13 Dems to cross over (12 if Putney votes with the GOP).
This is a Virginia-centric blog, so of course, one would expect me to view the entire political landscape through the prism of the Old Dominion. And sometimes, that can be a rather jaundiced view. However, a funny thing happened over the weekend….Virginia became kinda important. Or at least we think we did, or maybe we became less important….at any rate, people were talking about us.
That came when, in the early hours of Christmas Eve, it became known that the ballot for the March 6th Republican Presidential Primary would feature only former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and Texas Congressman Ron Paul. Volunteers at RPV’s Obenshain Center had been working since the morning of December 23rd. Paul and Romney got through easily, but on that evening it was discovered that Texas Governor Rick Perry wouldn’t make it. That pretty much left Gingrich for those who don’t much care for either candidate, and the supporters of those two to root for Gingrich to fail. Facebook and Twitter lit up with conversation rivaling election night itself. Granted, some of this was likely due to the fact that “Ron Paul” is something of a fighting word for both Ron Paul detractors and supporters, but it was still pretty amazing for the night before Christmas Eve. Ultimately, around 3 a.m., word came out that Gingrich had indeed fallen short. Huzzahs rang out from those who don’t much care for Gingrich, while everyone else who doesn’t much care for Romney or Paul found themselves rather disgruntled. To add tragedy to all of this, one volunteer died in an automobile accident after a day of working to verify signatures.
So what now? Well, let’s first look at this close to home. The very first reaction to this was the first thing that comes to the mind of any loser (or to the mind of any candidate too lazy/principled to fill out paperwork *cough*AlAsbury*cough*): Write-in Time! However, despite the fact that it is discussed every time a primary comes up, write-ins are not allowed in Virginia primaries. Newt Gingrinch, a Virginia voter, was out of the loop on this, along with Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who suggested such a thing in his post-Christmas newsletter. What’s left for Gingrich? Well, there could be a legal challenge, but the Washington Post talked to observers who suggest this as unlikely. The other possibility would be an emergency change in election law that would allow write-ins. But the RTD notes this too is a problem: the GA doesn’t convene until Jan 11th, and ballots must be printed by Jan 21st. Emergency legislation requires a supermajority of (updated) four fifths–32 Senators, and
60 80 Delegates. Those are high barriers, and with a very slim Republican majority based solely on the fact we hold the LG’s chair, very unlikely to be reached.
The Winchester Star had the below article on the Lord Fairfax Soil and Water Conservation District’s officers election. As my term does not begin until the first of January, I did not have a vote in this matter, but I look forward to working with all of the officers listed below:
Chairman: Richard Hoover (Elected, Warren County)
Vice Chairman: Marcus “Bubby “Adams (Elected, Frederick County)
Treasurer: Bud Naglevort (Elected, Clarke County)
Secretary: Amanda Campbell (Secretary, Staff)
Richard W. Hoover, who has served on the commission as the Warren County director since 2007, will head the panel.
District directors coordinate local, regional and national conservation efforts – both public and private – as well as administering technical assistance funds and promoting education programs to protect water quality and reduce water pollution.
Hoover is chairman of the Avtex Superfund Site Committee and serves as the Lord Fairfax District’s representative to the Pure Water Forum. He also heads its Personnel Committee.
Frederick County Director Marcus “Bubby” Adams Jr., who was first elected to the district board in 2004, was selected as vice-chairman. The full-time farmer chairs the Conservation Technical Committee and serves on the Personnel Committee.
Clarke County Director Bernard “Bud” Nagelvoort was re-elected treasurer. He was elected to the board in 1999, and is a past district chairman.Nagelvoort chairs both the Legislative and Finance committees and serves on the Conservation Technical Committee.
Amanda Campbell, district administrative assistant, was re-elected secretary. She has been employed by the district since 1985.
Tomorrow I’ll be getting up information about an upcoming public informational meeting on the District’s two dams, Birdhaven and Lake Laura, both of which are located right here in Shenandoah County.
The biggest political news in Virginia over the last few weeks has been the emerging primary between Lt. Governor Bill Bolling and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. Well, to a certain degree….that story is slowly being overtaken by talk of the Governor’s agenda for the upcoming General Assembly Session and the upcoming Presidential Primary (though if Virginia will have much impact right now is anybody’s guess).
However, a new survey from Public Policy Polling (a Democrat leaning firm in North Carolina) put the conversation back in the news. Right now, Cuccinelli has a tentative lead over Bolling, 44% to 25%. A few issues with this poll–one, they use automated polling, rather than live interviews. Two, there’s no indication in the toplines that there was any real attempt at geographic weighting. One big issue right now for Bolling is that he simply doesn’t seem to generate much attention from the GOP faithful, despite having been in the limelight for the last seven years, stemming back to his first run for his current job. While his net favorable is +24%, 52% of primary voters don’t have an opinion of him. This compares to Cuccinelli’s net +41%, with 27% not having an opinion. However, Bolling is already attempting to heighten his profile, starting with this WaPo profile on his new role as the state’s “part-time decider” (referring to his new role as the tie breaking vote in the State Senate). Meanwhile, Cuccinelli has fired back at some of the key criticisms of his decision in an email to supporters shared at Bearing Drift.
So all that’s going on….but what about the race for the silver medal? That is to say, what about the Lt. Governor’s race? Right now, the other race ginning up alot of attention is Bell v. Obenshain v. Fairfax Circuit Court Clerk John Frey for Attorney General. Historically, here in Virginia, Attorney General has been the preferred stepping stone to the Gubernatorial nomination, but that all really depends on just how things play out in the general. If your AG candidate lose but the LG wins, then they suddenly find themselves in the catbird seat. Given that Virginia has few statewide offices compared to neighboring states, its not a bad place to be if your aspirations eventually head in the direction of the Governor’s mansion. So, naturally, the position tends to draw stiff competition, even if, statutorily speaking, its pretty dang boring (though most LGs preside over the Senate more actively than their federal counterparts and McDonnell has given Bolling more duties to Bolling than usual, the primary duty is still the macabre responsibility of waiting for the unthinkable to happen).
So, who wants this possible diamond in the rough? Here’s the rumored/announced contenders so far:
Announced On the precipice of announcing, but not quite yet…..
- Prince William County Chairman Corey Stewart–So far Stewart is the only announced candidate for Lt. Governor. Corey has been making the rounds for several years around the state and already earned a great deal of cachet through his localities efforts on illegal immigration. He would not be the first local elected to make the leap from county politics to the state level (his predecessor, Sean Connaughton, ran for the position in 2005), but he’s probably the best positioned, coming from a key locality for statewide campaigns. He also carries less of the baggage that weighed down Connaughton in terms of fiscal issues. Furthermore, Stewart is also guaranteed to shake up the debate on localities versus the state in a way that Warrenton Mayor George Fitch failed to do in his quixotic 2005 Gubernatorial campaign. UPDATE: Corey isn’t exactly announced, but he’s definitely way more “in the game” than the rest of the field. So I’ll keep him separated from the rest of the bunch with the caveat that he’s not announced–but he’s more or less running.
- Keith Fimian–Mr. Fimian has twice been the GOP nominee against now Congressman Gerry Connolly (formerly Fairfax County Chairman). Fimian came very close to an upset in 2010, but alas, no cigar. However, he still has a large following and certainly would start out with some strength in 2010–something that would make the roadmap more difficult for Stewart. However, Fimian won’t start with much of a base outside of the 11th unless he really steps up his operation over the next twelve months, and as a two time loser may have an image problem to overcome. Still, he’s a dynamic figure and one to watch at this stage.
- Pete Snyder–Mr. Snyder is the founder of New Media Strategies, an Arlington based social media firm. He recently left the firm to start a venture capital firm, Disruptor Capital, and to head RPV’s Victory 2012 program. Snyder is certainly well known within professional political circles, but less-so-amongst rank and file activists. However, he has strong business ties (ones that will only get stronger with his new venture) and his part in the Victory program will bring him a higher profile over the next year. Again, his NOVA ties are a plus. However, his part in the Victory program could possibly be as much a hinderance as a help, as there will likely be pressure for him not to be campaigning while trying to win Virginia for the GOP.
- Ed Gillespie–Former RPV, RNC, and McDonnell for Governor chair, Gillespie has a long, long history of Republican political work. He’s going to bring not only political expertise to the table but also financial ties and likely a top notch management team. Gillespie won’t likely be able to bank on NOVA ties as much as the aforementioned candidates. He’s one of those Beltway types who lives in Virginia because, well, what professional Republican wants to live in Maryland (Sorry Krystle, but if its any consolation, I still want Crabs for Christmas)
- Senator Jeff McWaters–I’ve gotta admit, I’m somewhat in the dark on McWaters, other than he won a special election for the seat of now Sheriff Ken Stolle down in VA Beach. Also, he’s earned a 92% rating from the American Conservative Union–not shabby. It would be a big jump to go from one and change terms in the State Senate to a statewide bid–right now, I imagine the talk is driven largely by the lack of other contenders from that part of the state. But he’s not a horrible fundraiser and was certainly generous with his money in 2011, so we shall see.
So that’s the field right now. I have them all included in the poll above, so vote away….well, them plus one. Right now, as a wild card, I’m including Delegate Ben Cline. Why? A few reasons. One, although is pretty much assumed that Delegate Cline is the heir apparent to Congressman Goodlatte, Goodlatte is pretty young in Congressional terms–he could conceivably serve another decade or so, so long as he beats off his upcoming primary challenge (and right now that seems like a good bet). Cline has a leadership PAC (although its seen little activity), and he hosted a hospitality suite at the Advance this year. He’s put himself through law school since he started his run in the House. I’d be surprised if Cline, a young comer by any account, sits still for too long–it’d be curious for someone to go from LG to Congress, but hey, stranger things have happened. At just 39 Cline certainly has room to grow, so hey, why not?
I suspect that the field we discuss now will not be the one we end up with in June of 2013. I suspect a Richmond based candidate will pop up, and I would be very surprised in that many NOVA based candidates stay in. In 2005 there were 5 candidates flirting with LG at one time or another but only 2 ended up on the ballot. It’s a big task getting on the statewide primary ballot (ask Emmet Hanger), so we’ll revisit this later. For now, though, have fun, and include any additional rumors you’ve heard in the comments.