Mother May I?

I hate Virginia’s senseless love of Dillon’s Rule. As Baconators know, Dillon’s Rule is a century old legal philosophy which holds that localities have no inherent political power since locality rights are not specified in the US Constitution. The vast majority of states have diluted Dillon’s Rule by overtly granting localities some level of home rule. Virginia has bucked the trend and remained one of the staunchest adherents to an undiluted implementation of Dillon’s Rule.

Some contributors and comment writers on this blog would have you believe that Virginia’s addiction to Dillon’s Rule is relatively inconsequential. They will say that localities in Virginia have all the power they need to effectively govern, solve their own transportation problems, establish functional patterns of human settlement, etc.
This Tuesday’s election provides a glimpse into an alternate reality. One of the issues on the ballot is a constitutional amendment for the Virginia Constitution. Voters are asked to decide on this amendment in the form of a question to which they may vote “yes” or “no”.
Here is the question –
Question 1: Exempt Property
Shall Section 6 of Article X of the Constitution of Virginia be amended to authorize legislation that will permit localities to establish their own income or financial worth limitations for purposes of granting property tax relief for homeowners not less than 65 years of age or permanently and totally disabled?

Wow! We need a constitutional amendment to allow localities to set their own means tests for property tax relief.
I voted today by absentee ballot (I will be out of my district next Tuesday). Trying to be a good voter, I read Section 6 of Article X of the Constitution of Virginia before I voted. It is an incoherent, rambling almost illiterate belch of prose which illogically staggers through a list of property which may be exempted from state and local taxes.
For example, Article X, Section 6 (c) (7) provides the following exemption … Land subject to perpetual easement permitting inundation by water as may be exempted in whole or in part by general law. Is this a flood plain, a duck hunting field or a swimming pool?

So, what’s the “net net” here? We need a constitutional amendment to let localities recognize that being “rich” in Lee County may not make you “rich” in Old Town Alexandria. I suppose the alternative would have been for the General Assembly to set the definition of “rich” for everywhere and let the pieces fall where they may.
Virginia’s love of Dillon’s Rule handcuffs localities from even the most obvious and logical exercises of self-governance.
Dillon’s Rule is the crack pipe by which the power addicts in the General Assembly smoke our freedoms to feed their egos.
It’s time to break their crack pipe.
We need a new constitution.

Share this article



ADVERTISEMENT

(comments below)



ADVERTISEMENT

(comments below)


Comments

29 responses to “Mother May I?”

  1. Gooze Views Avatar
    Gooze Views

    Groveton,
    Good post. I could never figure out the law of the Dillon Rule and there are other decisions that directly contradict it.
    Plus, I have lived in a bunch of states and I was always struck by how much power the Virginia state government has as opposed to localities. In places like New York, Boston, Chicago and Cleveland, you know who the mayor is, but you often have to look up who the governor is.
    It might be interesting to trace a history linking the Dillon Rule with the Byrd Organization which dominated Virginia with a one-party system for decades.
    You have a good idea that some kind of state constitutional work is needed to resolve this.

    Peter Galuszka

  2. At first blush I could not disagree with Groveton …

    but think about this… who is it that is being asked?

    is it not the citizens of Virginia?

    I do not know what kicks off a decision by the GA verses one that gets asked of citizens on referenda but I'm pretty much a supporter of referenda anyhow.

    Asking citizens is a good thing in my view especially when it comes to local BOS.

    We had an interesting similar situation locally when the BOS voted to give 100% tax rebates on anyone who built an energy-efficient home to standards.

    Well.. when a whole bunch of people took them up on it – they realized that it was a good motive gone bad especially as the other taxpayers realized that their taxes would make up the shortfall.

    Long story short- they had to backtrack.

    Had the GA granted a similar thing – with no skin off the state revenues but much skin off of local property tax revenues – the localities would have screamed bloody murder.

    If you 're going to have a provision like that – isn't it better to ask the people via referenda?

    "Mother May I" is the BOS/State asking citizens for permission – no?

  3. James A. Bacon Avatar
    James A. Bacon

    I would agree that Virginia needs a new constitution. But it will take more than simply repealing the Dillon rule to create a decent system of governance. As Ed Risse never tires of reminding us, our governance structure of cities, counties and towns was designed for an agrarian era. It might have made sense once. But government entities no longer reflect underlying economic or social realities.

    At the very least, we need to create a tripartate level of government — states, regions and municipalities (perhaps Ed could elaborate upon his ideas for neighborhood and community levels of government) — in which particular government services, and the tax sources to pay for them, are entrusted to the level of government most closely aligned with the level of impact.

    Simply shifting power from the state to the existing municipalities will not accomplish much. You replace one set of out-of-touch boobs with a different set of out-of-touch boobs. Regional problems such as transportation and land use must be addressed regionally. Giving local authorities more power will not make that happen.

  4. Virginia's locality boundaries are older than agrarian – historical artifacts from the time of the King of England and really make little sense in the modern world.

    but Virginia has encouraged and incentivized regional approaches and actually allows consolidation via citizen referenda.

    May localities have banded together to create regional authorities for libraries, jails, water/sewer, etc but remain pretty much stuck on BOS, public safety and schools.

    but again.. consolidations are in the hands of citizens if they so choose.

    Northern Va has actually had the right to assess income taxes to pay for transportation infrastructure but has never exercised it – because it requires a citizens referenda to gain approval.

    Would it had been better if Fairfax could have implemented an Income Tax without approval of the voters?

    Be careful what you wish for.

    The Dillion Rule exists to PROTECT citizens from arbitrary decisions made without approval of the citizens.

    Groveton – as usual as of late – portrays the Dillion Rule as the enemy of the citizens when, in fact, it's a check on unapproved actions that citizens have not approved.

    Dillon is in some respects – is very Tea Party-ish.

  5. Accurate Avatar

    Mr. Bacon –
    While I understand the concept and ideas behind a 'Regional authority' in the one place that it has been tried, I can't say it's a rousing success, it's merely one more layer of out-of-touch boobs and rubes that make lousy decisions. I'm speaking of METRO a regional entity that was put together in the Portland, Oregon area over 20 years ago when we were told that the entire country was moving in that direction. METRO's main responsibilities are land-use, refuse collection, transportation and the Portland Zoo (I have no idea how that last one ended up in thier basket). They basically have control in those areas that trumps the counties control of those areas. METRO basically controls three of the most populus counties in Oregon, Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas. Like any government entity you will find it's supporters and the members are elected members (and they draw a salary). However, by-in-large, they are not viewed (by the general pubic) as a necessary entity or valuable entity. They are horribly political even while they are not 'allowed' to run as D's or R's.

    Bottom line, I've seen a regional entity at work and am extremely unimpressed. Especially when the entity over-rides what one of the counties and the residents within that county want. No Jim (and EMR) and 'Regional Government' is just one more bloated layer of useless government sucking up more taxpayer money and ticking off more residents. I much prefer the government be closer to me (i.e. county) than a regional one.

  6. Groveton Avatar

    Excellent comments.

    My belief is that as much governance as possible should be decentralized. I believe that the government which governs closest to the people governs best.

    I recognize that some things need to stay centralized. Farifax County does not need its own Navy. The Navy is properly a function of the national government. However, I also believe that too much power is centralized today.

    The feds should decentralize power to the states. This is a very Tea Party -esque thought. I would posit that our national government is more liberal than the majority of state governments.

    The Commonwealth of Virginia should decentralize power from Richmond to the localities. Depending on where you live this could be a very conservative or progressive thought. Arlington County is more liberal than the state. Devolving power from Richmond to Arlington would let the people running Arlington implement more progressive laws, rules and regulations. If you are among the few Tea Party members living in Arlington this would make you sad.

    Jim B and Ed R are quite right in saying that changes in the demographics of Virginia should be driving this decentralization. I would add technological change as a driver. Both gentlemen are also right in saying that the issue is bigger than any single constitutional amendment or election. We need fundamental change in government.

    Peter's example of Chicago is spot on. I commuted to/from Chicago every week for almost 2 years. I still get to Chicago almost every month. Most of my relatives either live in Chicago or once lived in Chicago. Every Chicagoan I know thinks their city is well run. I say, "What about the corruption?". They say, "That's a thing of the past. Look at how well the city works.". I say, "The taxes are too high.". They say, "At least we get something for the taxes.".

    Chicago works because the aldermen have power. Power to fix potholes. Power to get transportation issues addressed, etc.

    Fairfax fails because supervisors have no power. There is little reason to ask them for help because they with can't or won't help you.

    Everybody in Chicago knows the name of their alderman. Most have personally met the alderman. I'd guess that fewer than 25% of the people in Fairfax County can correctly name their supervisor. I'd guess that fewer than 10% have ever seen their supervisor in person (not counting 4th of July parades).

    The supervisors blame the state. The state representatives blame their lack of power in the General Assembly. It just doesn't work.

    I know a lot of people from Chicago who now live in Northern Virginia. I have never met one Chicago transplant who thinks Northern Virginia's government (including the nannies in Richmond) works as well as Chicago's government – even with the tax differential.

    Chicago works because the local politicians get things done. That does not appear to be the case in Fairfax County. And … given the absurdly detailed question on the ballot regarding local means testing of senior citizens and the disabled regarding property tax rate relief (it fells absurd even typing the sentence) – I have to agree with the local politicians.

    We need to get the nannies in Richmond off our backs.

    As an aside, there is another question about raising the level of the rainy day fund. I'd summaraize by saying that the nannies want more of our money in their cookie jar. Not just NO but HELL NO to that one.

  7. James A. Bacon Avatar
    James A. Bacon

    Accurate, are the representatives on the Portland regional government elected in a regional vote? Or are they appointees from municipal governments who happen to be elected officials?

    There's a big difference. If the representatives aren't elected in a regional election, they really aren't accountable.

    Just a thought.

  8. Accurate Avatar

    It's a regional election. However, typically all the candidates sound the same. It's the same rhetoric over and over.

    One place where the idea didn't quite work is that Portland is on the northern border of Oregon. They have two interstate bridges which go from Oregon, Portand, into Washington, Vancouver. Literally, Portland's city limits stop at the edge of the Columbia river and on the other side the state of Washington and city of Vancouver starts. The regional government did NOT include Vancouver or the Washington county government. Of course the idea was brought up several times, but after seeing what a fiasco METRO is, Vancouver and Washington have turned down the offer, overwhelming, every time it's been offered.

    No, they are directly elected, but as for a body that is helping the area … certainly not in my book.

  9. Accurate Avatar

    The head of METRO is an 'at-large' position, meaning everyone in the region votes for that person. The other positions are suppose to be representative of your area of the region. So you'd vote for the head guy and your 'local' rep.

  10. One interesting side note – The Portland Oregon MPO is the only direct-elected MPO in the country I believe.

    I think Groveton's gone off the deep end here…

    Is Alexandria going to have it's own air and water quality standards?

    Should Arlington care what Fairfax dumps into the Potomac upstream of Alexadria?

    How about license plates.

    Will there only by local jurisdiction platess and not state plates?

    building and fire codes?

    traffic signal standards?

    interstate design standards?

    car safety and auto emissions?

    water and food safety?

    prescription drugs?

    lead in paint?

    dixoin in fertilizer?

    salmonella in eggs/food?

    bizarrooooooo

  11. Anonymous Avatar

    Groveton my not have read the AntiPartisan Voters Guide far enough to have read this:

    THE TOP PRIORITY

    The top priority for Fundamental Transformation of governance structure is NOT to end wars, balance budgets, eliminate trade deficits, create jobs, support renewable energy, reverse environmental degradation, address climate change, fix Social Security, provide adequate health care, reform the criminal justice system, transform education processes, end monopolies and inequitable subsidies, solve the Mobility and Access Crisis, solve the Affordable and Accessible Housing Crisis, solve the Helter Skelter Crisis or even cure Mass OverConsumption.

    The TOP priority of Fundamental Transformation of governance structure is to set in motion an evolution of governance so that there is match between the structure of Agencies and the economic, social and physical reality in 2010.

    Matching governance structure with reality requires that Agencies exist for EACH of the nine organic components of human settlement from the Cluster to the Community (4), from the SubRegion to the MegaRegion (3) and from the continent to the planet (2). That will allow for the evolution of THE functional governance imperatives:

    The level of control and responsibility must be at the level of impact.

    When there are multiple levels of impact, responsibility must be SHARED in an equitable manner.

    The ‘biggest’ Agency does NOT control JUST BECAUSE it has a larger jurisdiction or is ‘higher’ in the overall governance structure.

    The closer an Agency is to the subject of Agency action, the better.

    The closer the citizens who elect the Agency are to the subject of Agency action, the better.

    There must evolve governance procedures that respect citizen interests at smaller scales of governance without endangering the interests of citizens at larger scales of governance. The principles that evolve should reflect the universal imperative of sustainability – to meet citizens current needs without jeopardizing future generations ability to meet their needs.

    These imperatives for the allocation of governance responsibility are no more radical than:

    ● “The king does not have the ONLY say” was in 1215,

    ● “There are THREE Estates” was in 1302,

    ● “The Crown cannot UNILATERALLY declare a tax on tea” was in 1773, or

    ● “Of the people, by the people and for the people’ was in 1776

    New scales of governance Agencies and new relationships between governance Agencies are essential for civilization to achieve a sustainable trajectory.

    The root problem is not BIG government. The problem is BAD governance structure.

    The dysfunction of scale in managing society does not end with Agencies,. Big, unaccountable Enterprises and Institutions are just as detrimental to citizens and Households as Big, unaccountable Agencies.

    While it is true that a growing number of Citizens do not trust ‘Big’ government, they do not REALLY trust ANY level of government as currently structured. Many believe any change will just make things worse. The first step is broad citizen support for to Fundamentally Transform the governance structure.

    Observer

  12. Anonymous Avatar

    Groveton my not have read the AntiPartisan Voters Guide far enough to have read this:

    THE TOP PRIORITY

    The top priority for Fundamental Transformation of governance structure is NOT to end wars, balance budgets, eliminate trade deficits, create jobs, support renewable energy, reverse environmental degradation, address climate change, fix Social Security, provide adequate health care, reform the criminal justice system, transform education processes, end monopolies and inequitable subsidies, solve the Mobility and Access Crisis, solve the Affordable and Accessible Housing Crisis, solve the Helter Skelter Crisis or even cure Mass OverConsumption.

    The TOP priority of Fundamental Transformation of governance structure is to set in motion an evolution of governance so that there is match between the structure of Agencies and the economic, social and physical reality in 2010.

    Matching governance structure with reality requires that Agencies exist for EACH of the nine organic components of human settlement from the Cluster to the Community (4), from the SubRegion to the MegaRegion (3) and from the continent to the planet (2). That will allow for the evolution of THE functional governance imperatives:

    The level of control and responsibility must be at the level of impact.

    When there are multiple levels of impact, responsibility must be SHARED in an equitable manner.

    The ‘biggest’ Agency does NOT control JUST BECAUSE it has a larger jurisdiction or is ‘higher’ in the overall governance structure.

    The closer an Agency is to the subject of Agency action, the better.

    The closer the citizens who elect the Agency are to the subject of Agency action, the better.

    There must evolve governance procedures that respect citizen interests at smaller scales of governance without endangering the interests of citizens at larger scales of governance. The principles that evolve should reflect the universal imperative of sustainability – to meet citizens current needs without jeopardizing future generations ability to meet their needs.

    These imperatives for the allocation of governance responsibility are no more radical than:

    ● “The king does not have the ONLY say” was in 1215,

    ● “There are THREE Estates” was in 1302,

    ● “The Crown cannot UNILATERALLY declare a tax on tea” was in 1773, or

    ● “Of the people, by the people and for the people’ was in 1776

    New scales of governance Agencies and new relationships between governance Agencies are essential for civilization to achieve a sustainable trajectory.

    The root problem is not BIG government. The problem is BAD governance structure.

    The dysfunction of scale in managing society does not end with Agencies,. Big, unaccountable Enterprises and Institutions are just as detrimental to citizens and Households as Big, unaccountable Agencies.

    While it is true that a growing number of Citizens do not trust ‘Big’ government, they do not REALLY trust ANY level of government as currently structured. Many believe any change will just make things worse. The first step is broad citizen support for to Fundamentally Transform the governance structure.

    Observer

  13. Anonymous Avatar

    Groveton my not have read the AntiPartisan Voters Guide far enough to have read this:

    THE TOP PRIORITY

    The top priority for Fundamental Transformation of governance structure is NOT to end wars, balance budgets, eliminate trade deficits, create jobs, support renewable energy, reverse environmental degradation, address climate change, fix Social Security, provide adequate health care, reform the criminal justice system, transform education processes, end monopolies and inequitable subsidies, solve the Mobility and Access Crisis, solve the Affordable and Accessible Housing Crisis, solve the Helter Skelter Crisis or even cure Mass OverConsumption.

    The TOP priority of Fundamental Transformation of governance structure is to set in motion an evolution of governance so that there is match between the structure of Agencies and the economic, social and physical reality in 2010.

    Matching governance structure with reality requires that Agencies exist for EACH of the nine organic components of human settlement from the Cluster to the Community (4), from the SubRegion to the MegaRegion (3) and from the continent to the planet (2). That will allow for the evolution of THE functional governance imperatives:

    The level of control and responsibility must be at the level of impact.

    When there are multiple levels of impact, responsibility must be SHARED in an equitable manner.

    The ‘biggest’ Agency does NOT control JUST BECAUSE it has a larger jurisdiction or is ‘higher’ in the overall governance structure.

    The closer an Agency is to the subject of Agency action, the better.

    The closer the citizens who elect the Agency are to the subject of Agency action, the better.

    There must evolve governance procedures that respect citizen interests at smaller scales of governance without endangering the interests of citizens at larger scales of governance. The principles that evolve should reflect the universal imperative of sustainability – to meet citizens current needs without jeopardizing future generations ability to meet their needs.

    These imperatives for the allocation of governance responsibility are no more radical than:

    ● “The king does not have the ONLY say” was in 1215,

    ● “There are THREE Estates” was in 1302,

    ● “The Crown cannot UNILATERALLY declare a tax on tea” was in 1773, or

    ● “Of the people, by the people and for the people’ was in 1776

    New scales of governance Agencies and new relationships between governance Agencies are essential for civilization to achieve a sustainable trajectory.

    The root problem is not BIG government. The problem is BAD governance structure.

    The dysfunction of scale in managing society does not end with Agencies,. Big, unaccountable Enterprises and Institutions are just as detrimental to citizens and Households as Big, unaccountable Agencies.

    While it is true that a growing number of Citizens do not trust ‘Big’ government, they do not REALLY trust ANY level of government as currently structured. Many believe any change will just make things worse. The first step is broad citizen support for to Fundamentally Transform the governance structure.

    Observer

  14. Anonymous Avatar

    Groveton my not have read the AntiPartisan Voters Guide far enough to have read this:

    THE TOP PRIORITY

    The top priority for Fundamental Transformation of governance structure is NOT to end wars, balance budgets, eliminate trade deficits, create jobs, support renewable energy, reverse environmental degradation, address climate change, fix Social Security, provide adequate health care, reform the criminal justice system, transform education processes, end monopolies and inequitable subsidies, solve the Mobility and Access Crisis, solve the Affordable and Accessible Housing Crisis, solve the Helter Skelter Crisis or even cure Mass OverConsumption.

    The TOP priority of Fundamental Transformation of governance structure is to set in motion an evolution of governance so that there is match between the structure of Agencies and the economic, social and physical reality in 2010.

    Matching governance structure with reality requires that Agencies exist for EACH of the nine organic components of human settlement from the Cluster to the Community (4), from the SubRegion to the MegaRegion (3) and from the continent to the planet (2). That will allow for the evolution of THE functional governance imperatives:

    The level of control and responsibility must be at the level of impact.

    When there are multiple levels of impact, responsibility must be SHARED in an equitable manner.

    The ‘biggest’ Agency does NOT control JUST BECAUSE it has a larger jurisdiction or is ‘higher’ in the overall governance structure.

    The closer an Agency is to the subject of Agency action, the better.

    The closer the citizens who elect the Agency are to the subject of Agency action, the better.

    There must evolve governance procedures that respect citizen interests at smaller scales of governance without endangering the interests of citizens at larger scales of governance. The principles that evolve should reflect the universal imperative of sustainability – to meet citizens current needs without jeopardizing future generations ability to meet their needs.

    These imperatives for the allocation of governance responsibility are no more radical than:

    ● “The king does not have the ONLY say” was in 1215,

    ● “There are THREE Estates” was in 1302,

    ● “The Crown cannot UNILATERALLY declare a tax on tea” was in 1773, or

    ● “Of the people, by the people and for the people’ was in 1776

    New scales of governance Agencies and new relationships between governance Agencies are essential for civilization to achieve a sustainable trajectory.

    The root problem is not BIG government. The problem is BAD governance structure.

    The dysfunction of scale in managing society does not end with Agencies,. Big, unaccountable Enterprises and Institutions are just as detrimental to citizens and Households as Big, unaccountable Agencies.

    While it is true that a growing number of Citizens do not trust ‘Big’ government, they do not REALLY trust ANY level of government as currently structured. Many believe any change will just make things worse. The first step is broad citizen support for to Fundamentally Transform the governance structure.

    Observer

  15. Anonymous Avatar

    Ok, Ok, Ok

    We get the point, Observer

  16. Anonymous Avatar

    Sorry, Blogspot must be having a bad hair day.

    Observer

  17. Anonymous Avatar

    Groveton,

    Private property rights are the ultimate form of "decentralized" government.

    Protecting individual rights and individual freedom is governing "closest to the people".

    Get your laws off my property and out of my wallet.

    Freedom Works

  18. Maybe, I come from a town meeting form of government. I've seen the good and the bad thaalt comes when everyone has a say in what you do.

    I've been screwed over far more by my local government than by the feds, even if I count my share of the national debt.

    And I do not believe I have proportionately more power to change it.

  19. Supervisors are virtual gods, compared to the Selectmen in a New England town.

    Once elected they answer to no one, within the Dillon limits.

  20. Freedom only has half the picture. His property rights are not infinite or inviolate. They are only equal and opposite to everyone else.

    We need laws and regulation to ensure property is properly defined, registered, and protected. We do a lousy job of that now, and real property rights means more government, not less.

    On the other hand property rights are property in and of themselves. We need fair and free markets in order to enjoy and benefit from our property.

  21. Some physical conservatives actually believe that if we cut government in half we will double our incomes.

    Say taxes are 30% and you cut in half. Where would you invest the extra 15 percent lol that would double your income?

    Voodoo economics.

  22. Not to mention, what would make you think you could cut government in half without losing some benefits?

  23. When you talk about cutting government – many of us do not appreciate the proportions of the various agencies to choose from.

    this chart shows that:

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f0/US2009FederalExpenditures.png

  24. The current right wing propaganda machine message is that the govt is "out of control" and needs to be reined in.

    The facts – which the RWPG and those who repeat their spurious messages love to mangle are otherwise but unfortunately the average person has bought the big lie.

    The Truth:

    FICA funds Medicare and SS – not general income taxes.

    The annual deficit is not the same thing as the accumulated debt – that is the result of annual deficits.

    PROJECTED Deficits are not the same as CURRENT Deficits.

    PROJECTED SS/Medicare Deficits are NOT THE SAME as PROJECTED General Govt deficits and cutting entitlements will not balance the general govt deficit and debt.

    The govt went from surplus to deficit at the time the Bush tax cuts were passed and govt was not cut proportionally to maintain balance.

    The deficit got worse when we then added new spending for two wars – also without paying for them with taxes and/or cutting other govt to compensate.

    The tax cuts did not generate new jobs.

    the tax cuts did not generate increased tax revenue.

    we cannot balance the deficit by cutting non-military, non-Homeland security govt unless you want to cut most of the non-military agencies of which each budget is less than 100 million.

    What is going on with the RWPG is a classic and enormously successful misinformation campaign which is going to result in a Republican Congress and possibly a one term President depending on how long it takes the general public to recognize the actual facts outlined above.

  25. Groveton Avatar

    Observer:

    Why don't you think I read the Anti-partisan voting guide?

    As far as I can tell, I agree with most of it.

    As I wrote, "Jim B and Ed R are quite right in saying that changes in the demographics of Virginia should be driving this decentralization.".

    LarryG falls into his usual "ad absurdum" argument. I never said the state government should be eliminated. LarryG knows that. He just can't deal with the reality that the city of Chicago has a more effective government (as viewed by the voter – taxpayers) than any jurisdiction in Northern Virginia. If you doubt me – find somebody from Chicago living in Northern Virginia and ask them.

    Peter is quite right when he writes, " In places like New York, Boston, Chicago and Cleveland, you know who the mayor is, but you often have to look up who the governor is.".

    Dr. R is quite right when he writes, "The closer an Agency is to the subject of Agency action, the better.".

    LarryG – the only think that is bizarre is your inability to understand what multiple people are telling you.

  26. what Mr. Groveton and those of the right persuasive cannot accept is that an individual can see the good in Obama's approach and still see the correctness of a fiscal conservative approach without buying into the hypocrisy of the right wing that has so many biazroo voices about government that one can only view that as biazaroo.

    When folks like Groveton openly side with the likes of Cuccinelli – and other righties who have expressed bizaroo right wing ideas you get yourself associated with them.

    For myself – I accept the need and duty for fiscal conservatism but I am not about to align myself with the likes of many on the right who basically are fundamentally dishonest about their true positions on government.

    These are people that Groveton aligns with and then claims he does not share their extreme views.

    My approach is to disavow them at the start and make clear what my positions are – and are not.

    We need the Federal and State Govts.

    Half the states in the country are Dillon rule – and the Dillon Rule is a lot like the US Constitution in that it reserves power and it delegates power and the consistency of that approach is what has made the US a stable Democracy.

    I think referenda are the ultimate expression of citizen rights – and I will pick them any day over the local BOS having unfettered power.

    And the compromise position is Dillon and the GA.

    I do not want my BOS to have the powers that Groveton wants his BOS to have and I bet most of the folks in Fairfax don't either.

    We can disagree on what powers govt can hold – but that does not make me a liberal nor will I align myself with liberals nor conservatives.

    What I point out often is the absurdity of taking such positions.

    Dillon and Home Rule are choices both with advantages and disadvantages.

    In every state in the union the State House controls the state and holds much of the power – delegating… on an elected governance basis.

    Groveton blames the state for problems just like he blames the Fed but he has no solutions other than truly bizarre ones (in my humble opinion) and I point out the absurdity of those positions until and unless a clear position is laid out.

    Richmond is not a clown show any more than Fairfax is or is not.

    It is what it is and it's not that different from the other 50 states – to say nothing of the fact that unlike most states and most cities that he touts – Va has a AAA bond rating while the "home rule" cities he names – do not.

  27. Groveton never said he wanted to eliminate state government, only that he prefers government closer to home.

    We cannot govern with a League of HOAs.

    The extreme right advocates eliminating almost all regulations and dismantling most of government.

    I'm not sure I see a lot of difference between advocating anarchy and grovetons position.

    I'm more afraid of what my local government can do to me than I am of the feds. That is because of personal experience and published history. Were Jim crow laws federal or local? Was Kelly prompted by federal or local action.

    Who do I think it is easier to buy, locals, or Feds?

    My local government is prohibited from making dacisions according to gao guidelines which call for positive net social value. Instead, they may only consider what affects the county budget, a tiny piece of the citizens welfare.

    Republicans are set to take over the house. It will buy next to nothing compared to a similar takeover of the BOS.

  28. There are some good "reads" out there on the Dillon Rule and comparisons with Home Rule.

    In ALL of them – they make the point that State govt still decides what local govt can and cannot do.

    Maryland is a Dillon Rule State even though at times it "feels" like a Home rule state.

    Some references consider Virginia a "hybrid" state because cities and towns are allowed to have their own Charter which explicitly defines their powers and some have more powers than counties.

    Here's one of those references:

    Home Rule in the United States

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Home_Rule_in_the_United_States

    even though I'm often an opinionated obnoxious son-of-a-gun, these debates on BR spur me to read more on the subjects.

    A simple GOOGLE search:

    "home rule" dillon government

    will bring up ample reading material from which to better understand the two forms of government.

    Finally – many of the complaints about Dillon Rule focus are two key areas.

    One is land-use and the other is taxation.

    In Va – there are more than a few folks who believe that Dillon Rule protects land owners and taxpayers from local governance abuses.

    And I agree.

    The basic problem in Va is that citizens do not have the right to initiate referenda except on a few specific things and this makes it very difficult to overturn local BOS decisions or recall them from office.

    I'm not advocating "mob rule".

    I'd set a high bar for local referenda – 75%.

    If Fairfax had citizen referenda – it's likely that the promoters of Tysons would have had to not rely so much on lobbying local and even state government and meet more with citizens to craft a plan that had more substantial community support.

    So I go one step further than those who say governance that is local is the best governance..

    That kind of governance is no better than State or Federal Governance if the local elected think they have 4 years to make decisions and get away with them.

    Even Congressman and State elected have to stand for election more often than that.

    I would keep the four years but allow citizens to call for new elections at any time they wished – with enough votes.

    And I would citizens to overturn local BOS decisions – again with citizen-initiated referenda and the 75% threshold.

  29. Andrea Epps Avatar
    Andrea Epps

    I am flattered to have had the opportunity to serve as a panelist for the Virginia Natural Resources Leadership Institute Richmond session on land use and the Dillon Rule for the past four years.
    There are four panelists with different opinions on the real nature and effect of the Dillon Rule.
    I have spent countless hours looking at both sides of this and from what i have seen, it doesn't matter. By that I mean that moat Home Rule states simply dictate what localities can't do. In the end, it boils down to state either dictating what a local government can do, or what they can not do.
    I agree that a new governance structure is necessary, and would be beneficial to the citizens of Virginia, I just don't have the slightest bit of hope it will ever happen. We hold on to John Dillon and his rule ( that doesn't truly enter the equation until someone files a suit)like it's as important as the air we breathe.

    Personally, I think local governments today don't fully use the true powers of the current zoning enabling legislation, but that's a conversation for another day.

Leave a Reply