They Did What?

Here’s the latest salvo from the General Assembly battlefield: Senate Democrats this afternoon killed a measure that would ensure that funds raised by regional levies would be spent exclusively in the regions that paid the taxes.

According to an email missive from the Virginia Senate Republican Caucus, Sen. Creigh Deeds, D-Bath, led Democrats on the Privileges and Elections Committee to defeat the measure proposed by Senator Ken Stolle, R-Virginia Beach. It failed by a single vote, despite unanimous Republican support.

Stolle’s measure would have initiated the process of adopting a constitutional amendment that would establish a “lock box” for regional transportation funds. Without a constitutional guarantee, future legislatures could divert the funds for any other purpose. Said Stolle: “Without this constitutional protection, taxpayers have no assurance that the measures we pass will do what we say they will do. This vote today does a great disservice to those who want to find solutions to our transportation challenges.”

I have to agree. I’m sure the Dems offered some fig leaf of a reason for blocking the measure, desperately needed to retain trust, and I’ll report it when I come across it. Until then, I find this action unfathomable.

Update: OK, here’s the story (as I understand it). Deeds blocked the Republican version of the lockbox measure in order to submit a substitute bill. That bill added some clarifying language regarding regional authorities but otherwise preserved the intent of the original. States Peter Jackson, with the Deeds campaign: “I think it’s worth noting that the same day Stolle expressed such outrage at Senator Deeds in that missive from the Senate GOP, he voted to advance the McEachin/Norment bill to the floor.”

If that’s the case, I have to ask, what was the purpose of the email salvo?

Speaking of Deeds, he’s offered a couple of interesting bills: one an income tax credit to employers whose employees enter into flextime scheduling agreements that allow them to avoid rush hour commutes, and a tax credit for employers to conduct a telecommuting assessment. Encouraging flextime and telecommuting are good things. But there must be another way to spread those practices. The state tax code is riddled with too many tax credits already.

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  1. Jim Bacon Avatar
    Jim Bacon

    Groveton, I would expect that you would support something like a constitutional lockbox on regional levies — anything to ensure that RoVa politicians don’t get their mitts on money raised by NoVa. It certainly makes sense to me. Now tell me, do you really trust the Ds any more than you trust the Rs? If so, maybe I could interest you buying in a piece of property over there in London. It’s called the London Tower…

  2. Groveton Avatar

    I already own the London Tower. Bought it last Friday from a nice lady – related to the Queen she told me.

    Anyway, I’d like to hear the Democrat answer as to why they blocked the lockbox bill. I struggle to see why they would but I’d like to hear them out.

  3. Groveton Avatar

    Guess I am going to have to vote fro Brian Moran for gov. in 2009. Oh man, it’s going to hurt to put in that vote.

    I am guessing that “Dirty” Deeds will come out saying that he wants telecommuting and that wouldn’t work with a regional lock box.

    One R vote for me for sure – Gilmore. If Warner ran for dog catcher, I’d fist vote against him them buy a cat just in case he slimes hos way into office.

  4. Groveton Avatar

    I understand that my state Senator Janet Howell D-Reston, is the Chairwoman on that committee. Is it possible to find out how she voted?

  5. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    do ya’ll think this vote had anything to do with those who feel that Regional approaches amount to balkanization?

  6. Scott Leake Avatar
    Scott Leake

    Not to keep you in suspense, J. Howell voted against the lock box bill. Thanks for the softball.

  7. Anonymous Avatar

    I suppose that I could be convinced to vote for a measure that requires my tax dollars to be spent in front of my house. At some level of competent governance, however, we probably can hypothesize a class of elected officials who can maintain the confidence of the citizens that there is a rough justice in making sure that the Commonwealth and its citizens as a whole benefit from rational public investments in educational and transportation infrastructure. A pure hypothetical, I guess, not particularly applicable in Virginia.

    NoVA Scout

  8. Accurate Avatar

    “I’m sure the Dems offered some fig leaf of a reason for blocking the measure,…”

    The reason is that they are democrats, the idea of having funds that they couldn’t touch for any pet project that suited their fancy stands the same chance as a snowball does in hell. However, I AM an equal opportunity citizen and I fully realize and acknowledge that the republicans are just as nasty with money. It’s just that the democrats lack any polish doing it.

  9. Anonymous Avatar

    Groveton, with respect to Mark Warner, I agree with you. I’ve been critical and supportive of Tim Kaine on specific policies, but his general level of integrity is substantially higher than Mark Warner. Mark Warner is probably as greasy as Obama and well slimier than Slick Willie ever dreamed of being.

    I never thought I’d be thinking and saying kind thoughts about Bill and Hil, but compared to Warner and Obama, they belong in the church choir.


  10. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    The “lockbox” issue is another one of those slimy concepts that are purposely left not explicit.

    For instance, there is a difference between a State-level Lockbox and a Region-level Lockbox – especially when the discussion is about Regional Taxes.

    If you want to talk about a Regional tax, the implication to most people is that it is EXPECTED to be spent for ONLY Regional purposes..

    Anyone who thinks that the folks being taxed are going to be okay with that money not spent Regionally is too stupid or cynical to be in politics in the first place IMHO.

    Even the term “lockbox” at the State level means different things to different people – and again – not fully explained in many discussions.

    Some believe that ANY money spent on ANY Transportation is a “lockbox” while others believe that a Lockbox should mean ONLY money spent on roads.

    There IS a legitimate issue about whether Regional-specific taxes is balkanization.

    I don’t agree but I acknowledge that some folks can view it this way.

    In that case, it is conceivable that those that favor statewide solutions ONLY would vote against regional taxes.


  11. Anonymous Avatar

    Nova Scout:

    You are back! Good to hear from you.

  12. E M Risse Avatar
    E M Risse

    If Ron Utt can double post, so can I:

    This debate — and every other one about the Rule in Dillons Case, Party politics, smaller governemt is better, etc. — is an example infinite rebuttal loops, the closest thing in the universe to perpetual motion.

    There is one escape:

    Fundamental Transformation of governace structure to reflect the organic structure of human settlement patterns.

    The Planet is real, Continents are real, Regions are real and so are Aplha Communities, Alpha Villages, etc.

    Nation-state borders, State lines, county / municipal boundaries and all the byproducts such as MPOs and COGs are excuses to not do citizen’s and socities business in an efficient, effective and sustainable way.

    With direct democracy at the Cluster scale and representative democracy at the level of each of the organic components of settlement above the Cluster — Neighborhood, Village, Community, Regional, etc., — the most important elected position would be your Cluster representitive on the Neighborhood Board, not someone beholden to a party platform or winning the next election by .5% based on costly misleading ads.

    Given the current structure of governance you cannot expect a different result than what you are getting.

    (If think otherwise you (we all) have passed the initial screening test for insanity.)

    Support Fundamental Transformation of governance structure or stop complaining.


  13. Groveton Avatar

    “With direct democracy at the Cluster scale and representative democracy at the level of each of the organic components of settlement above the Cluster — Neighborhood, Village, Community, Regional, etc., — the most important elected position would be your Cluster representitive on the Neighborhood Board, not someone beholden to a party platform or winning the next election by .5% based on costly misleading ads.”.

    I agree. So – how to do this? I think we need to rewrite Virginia’s constitution. There have been 6 state constitutional conventions in Virginia’s history as I recall. I think it’s time for #7.

  14. Anonymous Avatar

    we can’t even agrde on a transportation bill.

    good luck with that.

  15. E M Risse Avatar
    E M Risse

    Anon 12:51:

    Of course there is no agreement on a transportation bill or a transprotation strategy.


    Those who are fussing over it are beholden to the outdated, partisan and corrupt system that got them elected.

    The system was designed for an agrarian socitey with 95% of the population subsistance farmers and not much more than 5% literate.

    It was the best in the world 200 years ago but about the only thing that is the same now is the contorted remnants of that acient system. It has nothing to do with the economic, social or physical context in which citizens now live — not the way they communicate, not the way they are educated, not the way they acquier goods and services, nothing..


    A Constitutional Convention will be necessary but first,

    There has to be broad based citizen understanding of the problem and the alternative solutions.

    Citizens are not now getting the information they need to make rational decisions in the voting booth or in the market place. (THE ESTATES MATRIX)

    There is a good deal that counties / municipalities could do to start the process. See our column this week.

    Once the “electeds” understand they will be out of office unless they support Fundamental Transformation they will fall over themselves to try to “help.”

    I have been involved in applications of elements of the overarching program to know citizens can bring about Fundamental Transformation but it will only happen when enough are as fed up as you and I are.

    That is why Jim Bacon, myself and others laid out PROERTY DYNAMICS.

    It is a long road but what is the alternative?

    More Politics As Usual.


  16. Anonymous Avatar

    “It was the best in the world 200 years ago”

    We have a bicameral legislature with the house based on population and senate on district. It provides the checks and balance that prevent mob rule. It is designed to have disagreement.

    I don’t see anything better in operation anywhere.

    On the other hand, you can’t make a rational decision in the voting booth because access to the ballot is so tightly controlled. No matter what the names are, it is the same dogma. Politics as Usual as you say.

    You seem to believe there is only one problem and one solution: everyone to see things your way. You think people don’t understand, and I think they do, but they don’t care all that much.


    The idea the most important elected position would be your Cluster representitive on the Neighborhood Board frankly scares me to death. It sounds creepy. I’ve seen how incestuous really local politics can be, and HOA’s are already out of control, in my book.

    You wind up trading political party dogma for dogma based on personalities, family, and local financial gain.

    In stories of Chicago and Russia it is always the local party boss or informant that winds up extorting the citizens.

    No thanks, I prefer something more tolerant, transparent, and predictable.


  17. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    The concept is not unknown.

    Many New England places have governance at the same levels.

    NYC has it down to ward levels.

    I strongly suspect that there are villages around the world that have such discrete governance levels.

    But how do you coordinate governances higher up on the hierarchy?

    For instance, how would you make decisions about where to put a new rail or have a regional medical center or just about any entity that provides services at a scale that deals with a region…i.e. multiple NURs even?

    We already have fairly granular governance with BOS.

    We could break it down smaller but still.. how would you.. for instance deal with public safety?

    Right now – it’s done at the county level.

    Let’s pretend county governance goes away.

    How then are schools or fire and rescue handled?

    If citizens – even citizens fed up with the current governance shortcomings …actually want change – where is the specification for Fundamental Change?

    What exactly should citizens advocate for instead of what we have right now?

    I don’t think most citizens know what changes to pursue…

    If they don’t know how – the Fundamental Transformation is more of an academic concept than a specific path that citizens can advocate for.

    and surely.. somewhere in this world – this is a prototypical template…. to present to citizens as a starting point.

  18. Anonymous Avatar

    I lived under the New England system, that’s what I was talking about. Too much politics, too few families. If you weren’t born in, it was hard to get in. It had good features and bad. If the town is big enough to eliminate the paterfamilias problem, it works OK, otherwise, you liteally have government in your shorts.

    Also, Massacusetts has all but eliminated county goverment: it is all done at the town level. Schools, fire, and rescue.

    You do have good local oversight, but the moderator controls the meetings.


    What exactly should citizens advocate for instead of what we have right now?

    We need citizen input in addition to the voting booth. My suggested budget survey of the tax form is one example. Public hearings are not enough, and they are slanted towards activists on either side. As it stands now anyone can stand up and say “What the people really want is…..”

    Government has to seek out the voice of the silent majority.

    Goverment does a very poor job of outreach to find out what people want. Primarily because having been elected, officials are too busy pushing their party’s dogma to listen: instead they figure they have a mandate.

    We need more candidates on the ballots, representing more points of view, otherwise it’s a choice between frick and frack.

    More candidates make it harder for special interests to back a winner.

    Take Groveton’s suggestion: allow political contributions and tax them heavily.

    Any others?

  19. Groveton Avatar

    I lived in Chicago for a while (1.5 years) and my wife grew up there. I think their political system is superior to Virginia’s. Was the original Daley machine corrupt? Yes, although the corruption was manageable. Chicago, during the original Daley regime, was known (correctly) as the “city that worked”. Was the Byrd machine at the state level in Virginia corrupt? Yes. And hideously racist as well.

    As a resident of Virginia, I’d be very careful about tossing the corruption flag on Chicago.

    My issue with Virginia’s approach to government is not the structure of the state legislature but the excessive centralization fo power in that state government. I believe that both cities and counties should be afforded “charter rights” in the Virginia Constitution. These rights should devolve some state power to the localities.

    I believe this will start something of a viruous cycle. The clear assignment fo power to localities will bring attention to the actions of the local politicians. The attention will educate the voters. Educated voters will make better choices on election day. The improved local “political class” will exercise their new powers more effectively.

    Chicago may have been corrupt but no one can say that the MSM failed to completely cover local politics. Every Alderman was routinely on the front page of Chicago papers. Every cab driver and back office accountant could recite, chapter and verse, the comings and goings of the local politicos. I think the voters in Chicago tolerated more corruption than they should have tolerated. However, the corruption never became life threatening because the MSM covered the politics.

  20. Groveton Avatar

    Jim Bacon:

    It seems that I may not be buying London Bridge just yet. I exchanged e-mails with one of the NoVA legislators involved in the lockbox issue. I am told that there are two bills (Sen Stolle) amd Sen McEachin) which have the same intent. The bills are being combined and the combined bill should be passed today.

    To refresh your memory, you wrote, “Now tell me, do you really trust the Ds any more than you trust the Rs?”.

    I responded, “Anyway, I’d like to hear the Democrat answer as to why they blocked the lockbox bill. I struggle to see why they would but I’d like to hear them out.”.

    It now seems that they will support the combined bill. Assuming that, my answer to your question – “…do you really trust the Ds any more than you trust the Rs?” is YES I DO.

  21. Anonymous Avatar

    Senator Deeds offered three excellent bills including the updated bipartisan lockbox bill

    For more see

    We need more of these types of out-of-the-box ideas


  22. Anonymous Avatar

    NMM – Senator Deeds has long believed that NoVA’s money rightfully provides services for his constituents and helps keep their local taxes low. That’s fine, but our local legislators should not be helping him.

    Now if he’d get an adequate public facilities law through the GA for Fairfax County, I might cut him some slack.


  23. donaldo Avatar

    can anyone explain what em risse is talking about. translation, pls

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