Tag Archives: Prince William County

Umbrella Organizations Always Leave Taxpayers Wet

government wasteSen. Tom Coburn (R–OK), a truly great American, has released his annual report on waste, duplication and redundancy in federal programs. Evidently inspecting catfish is both a vital and difficult task, because it currently takes three different federal agencies to do the job. And as soon as someone can reliably map the location of catfish sex organs, TSA is interested in participating, too.

An editorial in The Washington Examiner has more detail, but what’s important for my purpose is the total figure. If the savings recommendations in Coburn’s last three waste reports had been implemented, taxpayers could have saved almost $300 billion. That’s enough to pay for Obama vacations and Joe Biden’s shotgun shells for the rest of their term.

The problem with figures that large is it doesn’t bother the spenders because it’s not their money and it depresses the taxpayer because he can’t imagine how one would obtain such a sum or make a dent in paying for it.

But don’t despair. We have a waste and duplication situation in Prince William County, VA — where I live — that is easy to comprehend, since it’s one thousandth the size of the fed’s situation, and will give useful training in the art of not wasting taxpayer dollars, because the situation is replicated all across the US.

Currently the county pays almost $300,000 in annual dues to the Metropolitan Washington Council of Government. There are 22 governing bodies that participate and the organization is supposed to have a unified voice on area matters that include police, fire, transportation, homeland security, growth planning and environmental concerns. There is probably a similar organization near where you live.

The WaPost describes the group thusly, “Politically, the council’s members range from very liberal Democrats to tea party Republicans. It’s able to get things done by sticking to non-controversial issues. Those include collecting traffic data and improving communications among emergency personnel after shortcomings were revealed in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.”

What this means is the only projects COG supports are those no one in their right mind would oppose anyway. So why are PWC taxpayers sending $300,000 a year to an organization that does what PWC elected officials are already paid to do anyway? Can’t our homegrown pols represent our interests?

These area umbrella organizations (there’s an apt metaphor: taxpayers get soaked while the organization employees are high and dry) only serve as resume builders for politicians who are eager to move up the electoral ladder and “showing leadership” on a regional basis looks impressive to gullible reporters. COG only serves to increase the size of government and the busybodies it enables.

Until quite recently, if a PWC politician wanted to adhere to a genuine conservative philosophy and withdraw from COG he would have been roasted as a know–nothing reactionary. But that was then, COG, thanks to the hubris of its leftist Democrat members, has now given conservative jurisdictions an excellent reason to withdraw and stop paying dues.

Last month the COG board of directors — with three leftist Dems in charge — voted in favor of calling for a federal ban on assault weapons and armor-piercing bullets, a firearm purchase waiting period and tracing of guns. In MD, DC and Alexandria supporters broke out in drum circles to celebrate. But PW, Loudoun and Frederick counties and Manassas leaders were outraged and collectively threatened to withhold more than $500,000 in dues.

These Virginians said the board had overstepping its bounds and the policy was “inappropriate and disrespectful” of the views of individual localities. Regional cooperation did not include passing federal law and revising the Constitution and was not why COG was created.

It makes you wonder doesn’t it? For that matter, what is COG’s position on Joe Biden’s warning shot or Michelle’s bangs?

The PWC Board of Supervisors was angry enough to pass a resolution opposing COG’s gun control advocacy, with only one member voting against. Frank Principi (D–Ambitious) is one of two PWC members of the COG board and the former COG chairman. Principi didn’t bother to attend the meeting where the gun resolution was passed, but he did find time to vote against the county’s resolution condemning it.

Principi claims he supports the 2nd Amendment — as long as it’s confined to a dusty old parchment — but he didn’t want the board to “pile on.” Principi — a noted profile in political courage in his own mind — blamed politicians who are angling for statewide office for making the COG resolution an issue. What Principi didn’t say was that if he had voted in favor of the county resolution it would have been the kiss of death in a Democrat primary, where the vote would be characterized as ‘caving in to the NRA.’

Feeling the heat, COG backtracked last Wednesday and rescinded the resolution and returned the issue to a committee for further study.  Principi was motivated enough to actually attend that meeting where he voted in favor of both. This is fine, a positive step, but PWC should still head for the door. There are plenty of areas in the county where 300 grand would be better spent.

Fairfax County Board Chairman Sharon Bulova (D–Left), still surprised by the uproar, commented, “I’m hopeful we can find some language, some middle ground, where COG can be a voice on this issue of gun violence, gun safety, safety in our schools and mental health. All of these are appropriate subjects for COG to discuss and come to some consensus on.”

I could not agree more. How about passing a resolution honoring a Fairfax County organization called the National Rifle Association? It’s been doing excellent work on all these issues for years.

Private Sector Ends Unwanted Alien Invasion

Hydrilla: Michelle Obama's heart-healthy next menu item.

Hydrilla: Michelle Obama’s heart-healthy next menu item.

Prince William County, VA is suffering the ill effects of another alien invasion and a collection of politicians is engaged in vigorous hand–wringing over possible solutions.

No, this isn’t another rant about illegals clogging 7/11 parking lots. This time it’s alien plants clogging Quantico Creek.

Recently Dumfries Mayor Jerry Foreman, Del. Mark Dudenhefer (R–2nd), Supervisor Maureen Caddigan, and Dumfries Councilmember Helen Reynolds took a pontoon boat tour of Quantico Creek. (Oddly enough Supervisor Frank Principi, a Democrat who is usually an enthusiastic participant anytime commuter ferries are involved, did not make the voyage.)

Creeping along at about the same speed as OJ’s SUV, the group’s mission was to see for themselves the extent of the hydrilla crop currently infesting Quantico Creek. Hydrilla is a green, leafy and invasive species from Florida that might do well in a vegan’s salad bowl, but causes extensive problems in lakes and waterways.

Hydrilla also has much in common with the federal government: It grows and grows, and as it increases in size all surrounding activity slowly grinds to a halt as a result of silt buildup and tendril blockage.

In Quantico Creek hydrilla is so extensive it’s impossible for boaters to cross and the alien vegetation has crowded out white lilies, swans and crabs.

Unfortunately the creek touches a number of jurisdictions so agreeing on a solution is going to be difficult. If the problem is solved, everyone wants credit but if there are problems no one wants to take the blame. Plus, anytime a political decision takes place outdoors, it attracts “environmentalists” with all the attendant scare stories, warnings and potential lawsuits.

However, I have a suggestion with two advantages in that it saves time and eliminates hydrilla. Simply call the Montclair Property Owners Assn. (MPOA) because it solved the very same problem over ten years ago

Back in 1994 Lake Montclair was rapidly becoming Swamp Montclair. Hydrilla covered approximately 45 percent of the lake. Lakefront property owners were rapidly losing the use of the lake. After easing into the water — jumping was out of the question since it was like leaping into a bowl of mold chowder — you felt like Moses in the bulrushes. The obnoxious plant would rub against your bare legs like a sex harasser on Metro’s Red line.

The MPOA was offered the same three options the politicians are considering. The first is harvesting. Think John Deere combines in the water. Unfortunately, this option is particularly attractive to politicians because it’s perpetual. You don’t eliminate the hydrilla; you just give it a yearly styling.

In fact, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments has been running a harvesting program on the Potomac for almost 40 years. The Army Corps of Engineers (the same experts in charge of levies in New Orleans!) mows the river annually and everyone involved is happy. Politicians get to appropriate and show “concern” for the problem and the Corps of Engineers gets to justify its budget. A win–win for everyone but the taxpayers.

Montclair could have purchased a huge harvesting machine and donated the annual hydrilla crop to the school lunch program. But someone has to operate the harvester, repair the harvester and store the harvester, which means the cost never ends. Appealing to government but a problem for the private sector.

The second option is always carp. Montclair tried neutered Japanese carp in an effort to harvest hydrilla the natural way. I used to throw rice off the dock in an effort to entice passing carp into my section of the lake, but it never worked. And neither did the carp.

It could have been neutered carp suffer from a testosterone deficit that affects their appetite or maybe they were just resentful after losing their manhood. Or it could have been the hydrilla infestation was so extensive solving the problem would have required a concentration of carp dense enough to allow one to walk across the lake without getting your feet wet.

I’m reasonably sure the politicians won’t opt for carp either, not because it’s ineffective, but because it’s tough to have their photo taken hugging a live fish.

The last option is the one that works: herbicide treatment. Naturally this choice put the victims of hysterical “environmentalist” indoctrination into a tizzy because it introduces a chemical into a liquid. Of course adding salt to your soup does the same thing, but “environmentalists” are immune to analogy.

The Montclair greenies were joined by fishermen who had no problem with property owners losing the use of the lake as long as they could persuade a bass to stop hiding in the hydrilla long enough for them to hook it.

After approximately a year of debate (lightspeed in political terms) the MPOA board realized hydrilla was also adding to the cost of lake dredging; the association’s largest recurring expense. So in late 2000 the MPOA board approved a treatment with a chelated copper herbicide. Problem solved without wasting tax dollars or time. It was a perfect conservative solution: local, effective and cost–conscious. Which is another reason Mayor Foreman should call Montclair ASAP.

He’s concerned that eliminating hydrilla could cost Dumfries half its annual $4 million budget. Montclair treated an entire 110-acre lake for only $20,730.00.