koch brothersBy Peter Galuszka

The Koch brothers are back in the bucolic suburban tracts of Chesterfield County.

This time, their national group, Americans for Prosperity, has launched a robocall campaign to oppose a proposed real estate tax hike of 4.6 cents to help pay for $304 million renovations to schools or perhaps hire more teachers to bring classroom sizes back to pre-recession levels.

It’s apparently the second time that Americans for Prosperity have been on their case in Chesterfield. Last year, the hard-right group sent out bizarre “report cards” to ordinary citizens bashing them for not registering to vote.

In one famous local case, a recipient was actually a registered and active voter and greatly resented the idea that a multi-million dollar national outfit like the Americans for Prosperity was trying to monitor his personal business.

This time, Sean Lansing, the group’s Virginia director told the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the goal is to “educate” residents on the issues, as if they are too stupid to understand local tax and classroom size problems that they probably know far better than some AEP appartchiki.

Chesterfield has caught itself in a bind because it hasn’t raised real estate taxes since 1990 despite its brisk growth rate. Voters in November voted down a 2 percent meals tax that could have raised money for schools. Henrico County voters, by contrast, narrowly approved a 4 percent meals tax and thus have no budget crisis that another tax hike is needed to resolve.

Admittedly, one of Chesterfield’s problems is bad planning. The staunchly Republican county has a long history of being very friendly to developers. Consequently, the county is in a constant service “catch up” mode. Need schools, such as Cosby High near some of the county’s largest residential developments, was already way overcrowded before it was finished a few years ago.

What is puzzling is what the Koch brothers are so interested in Chesterfield. It is hardly an election battleground. There is no strong Democratic or other opposing party. Yet with consummate arrogance, this cabal believes that residents need robocalls to “educate” them.

“Educate” them for what? If you want good schools and other services, someone has to pay for them. And as a Chesterfield resident for nearly 14 years, I can attest that taxes here are considerably lower than other places I have lived as an adult (Washington, New York, Chicago, suburban Cleveland, etc.).

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11 responses to “The Koch’s Bizarre Meddling in Chesterfield”

  1. Les Schreiber Avatar
    Les Schreiber

    This is the result of the Citizens United case. It appears that they are trying out techniques to see what might be effective in different areas in 2014 and 2016. If you think Citizens United created a political mess wait and see what Scalia and his band of reactionaries put forth in the Hobby Lobby case. It will be interest ing to see how a corporation can have religious beliefs and those beliefs could trump a law that has already been ruled constitutional. Whats next for these jerks. Burnings at the stake,sponsored by GM,and a return to the ghetto underwritten by IBM. Its tragic but the whacks jobs appear to be winning.

  2. Breckinridge Avatar

    I guess along with Obama Derangement Syndrome, which is real, we now have to have add a diagnosis called Koch Brothers Paranoid Delusions. They may be bankrolling the AFP but they are hardly the only donors, and I suspect many AFP activists live in Chesterfield and just wanted to use the group for their own reasons. Perhaps Chesterfield residents are actually paying for the calls. People don’t like paying higher taxes, big surprise. Political robo-calls are hardly an experimental technique.

    I will happily restrict corporate donations when you agree to restrict the unions or donations from liberal non-profits. What I don’t like, what needs to be dealt with, are the layers of secrecy that either keep the donors secret or delay the disclosure until after the smoke clears. I don’t think full and prompt disclosure violates any free speech provision but it is the congressmen and state legislators who refuse to pass those laws.

    And I agree — don’t really see how a corporation can pray, or take communion, or cross its legs and meditate at the ashram. It can have political and economic interests on behalf of its stockholders, but religious beliefs? Naaah. Hobby Lobby should lose.

  3. […] The Koch’s Bizarre Meddling in Chesterfield – Bacon’s Rebellion […]

  4. just curious – would folks be okay with Exxon or GM or Microsoft funding political messages that have almost nothing to do with something about them and everything to do with partisan views of taxes in general?

    do you really want robocalls from AIG or Dominion Power?

    be honest.

    this has nothing to do with unions or Obama.. but it does have to do with truly reactionary thinking in my view.

    I’ll ask again.. do you really want Nokia or Oracle running robocalls about Chesterfield taxes?

  5. Breckinridge Avatar

    Why would Dominion do robocalls when just buying the politicians outright with campaign contributions does the trick?

    Are you so naïve as to assume robocalls are the only means corporate leaders have to impact political decisions in this country? Or campaign dollars, for that matter? Do you know nothing of the real history of this country? One way or the other they will have an impact, as will the unions and all the other special interest groups – all of them with the same right to petition the government for “redress of grievances.”

    I am no follower of the Koch’s and I am not a member of AFP. But it has every right to participate in the political process as a PAC or as a grassroots organization and the I stand by my original diagnosis — Koch Brothers Paranoid Delusion. The problem the Left has with that court decision is it leveled the playing field.

    1. We were getting all sorts of robocalls from organizations across the spectrum. One set of rules. If one side can do it, so can the other.

      Try http://www.nomorobo.com/ It blocks most robocalls after one ring. It’s so much fun to see Royal Cruises and Credit Card Services appear on the caller ID and then get flushed into the telecom toilet.

  6. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    I really don’t think I am that naive when I question why the AEP and Kochs are interested in such a granular matter as a real estate tax increase in one county.
    Also, I am not sure you are entirely clear thinking when you try to connect Dominion with the Koch Brothers.
    What is scary is that data bases are so advanced they allow far outsiders to micromanage hyperlocal stuff. It’s not paranoid. It’s real. Sorry don’t understand.

    1. Breckinridge Avatar

      I didn’t mention Dominion first. Just couldn’t resist the softball 🙂 I made no connection between them and Dominion.

      I agree, with the new technology these techniques can be more effective, but any limits on them or regulations have to be across the board. You cannot whine about corporate involvement and allow union involvement. A stockholder is the same as a union member, an individual who has chosen to share risk and benefits with other individuals. (Except in states where union members don’t actually choose to join.) I doubt the Koch’s could find Chesterfield County on a map, but AFP has state and local grassroots organizations and if the state or local leaders want to get involved in a county tax fight, that is their right. Assuming that the Koch’s are personally directing that, that is what I label paranoia. AFP is formidable because it really is a grassroots organization, not a wholly owned subsidiary of just one corporate entity.

  7. Peter, if I lived in a county that had enjoyed the growth of Chesterfield, I would be upset not that taxes had been held flat, but that the increased revenue had not been properly managed. A resident should expect periodic tax rate increases OR some growth to escalate revenue, but not both. Why not direct your criticism at the poor spending management?

    1. Breckinridge Avatar

      The story this morning, if I recall, said that county spending overall was down $50 million since 2009 and the school division was down $60 million. What I could not fathom was the connection between the two, but it is possible that is really going on is school spending is down $60 million but the rest of county government went up $10 million (thus leaving the total drop only $50 million). If that is case, that would be strong evidence of fiscal mismanagement.

      Part of the problem is Chesterfield is no longer growing like it did, and home and commercial real estate values have not recovered from the recession. These stories always focus on tax rates, not tax bills — the taxes on the same house fluctuate wildly with the value. If they add this nickel to the rate, will people actually be paying more tax on the same house than they paid at peak value?

    2. I’m not sure there’s the evidence of poor spending management in Chesterfield. County schools and roads appear to be underfunded to meet needs, in my estimation as a Chesterfield resident and fairly conservative Republican.

      I do believe that VDOT does a subpar job of maintaining Chesterfield’s roads- they’re in bad shape with poor drainage and potholes galore (especially after this winter). Meanwhile, our neighbor across the river and the spoiled child of VA state government is paving the streets with gold, under a sweet deal with the state.

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