Where’s Vanessa Griffin? Not in Aquia, But in Paul Milde’s Pocket!

jailIt wouldn’t be an election in Stafford without a residency controversy. And, Stafford’s non-resident Commonwealth Attorney Eric Olsen is at the center of controversy again – this time sweeping someone else’s residency issue under the rug.

Aquia School Board Candidate Vanessa Griffin, following in Olsen’s footsteps, has found herself embroiled in a residency scandal of her own.

In August of 2013, a longtime resident of Aquia Harbour and active community member, Kevin Odlum, filed a formal complaint with the Virginia State Board of Elections requesting that Ms. Griffin be disqualified as a candidate for the Aquia School Board seat – based on the grounds that she does not meet the residency and domicile requirements under Virginia Code 24.2-101.

To support his claim, Mr. Odlum provided the following in his complaint:

Ms. Griffin has not proven her intent to domicile at her residence on Pepper Tree Lane as supported by her movement of personal affects via moving truck, the removal and relocation of her pets and complete absence away from the property – she returns to her property to tend to overgrowth in the yard to once again, not to be seen for several weeks when the routine again repeats itself. Ms. Griffin was witnessed to be living in the Aquia Harbour subdivision in the location considered “Section 2” or the Griffis-Widewater Magisterial District at 205 Sail Cove, Stafford, Virginia 22554 owned by her boyfriend, Michael Paul, and where she houses her belongings, her automobile, her pets and where she arises and retires to each day.

Interviews with neighbors along the Pepper Tree Lane corridor will clearly corroborate the fact that she has not been living there.

On Ms. Griffin’s Declaration of Candidacy form, she claims 211 Pepper Tree Lane as her “domicile.”  The problem is that upon review of the property, it’s clear that NO ONE is “domiciled” there. Her property has overgrown grass, pulled shades, grass growth in the driveway and mold on the front of the home.

Mr. Odlum’s complaint is also supported by neighbors and by Ms. Griffin’s own words. In a candidate profile appearing in the Potomac Local, she claims her boyfriend Michael and his daughter Kallie are her “family.” In the Free Lance-Star Election Guide, she repeats her “family” claim stating that she is “in a relationship with Michael Paul and helping to raise his daughter, 5-year-old Kallie.” Call me old-fashioned, but if you’re raising a child with someone and saying that they are your “family” wouldn’t it follow that you are living with them? This claim is supported by neighbors who insist that she has, in fact, moved her personal effects to her boyfriend’s residence in the Griffis-Widewater district – which would disqualify her from running for the Aquia School Board seat.

Lucky for Stafford residents, Stafford’s non-resident Commonwealth Attorney is on the case. In an absolute twist of irony, the Virginia State Board of Elections asked City of Fredericksburg resident Eric Olsen to investigate – it’s like the fox guarding the chicken shack. Wait for it…after an interview with Ms. Griffin, an examination of her voter and candidate filings and an examination of the information provided in Mr. Odlum’s complaint, Fredericksburg’s own Eric Olsen determined that there was no violation. That’s right, the guy whose claimed Stafford residences including a garage and a crony’s rental property with no electricity, who said he only went to his own home in Fredericksburg, 22401 for “conjugal visits” during his 2011 run for Stafford Commonwealth Attorney, gave Ms. Griffin a pass. Oh, the irony!

The real question is why is Ms. Griffin going to such lengths to hide the fact that she isn’t living in Aquia District? Could it have something to do with the fact that she is in cahoots with Aquia Supervisor Paul Milde? According to campaign finance reports, Milde is one of the largest contributors to her school board campaign.

Earlier this year Ms. Griffin began attending meetings with the Stafford Democratic Committee and even flirted with the idea of running against Paul Milde for Aquia Supervisor – even agreeing with their Chair that it “appears to be true” that Milde had been bought by developers and that she finds this to be “unsettling.” She goes on to ask the SDC candidate search committee chair, “What kind of support does the Democratic Party offer it’s candidates?”

Ms. Griffin wrote that if she got the financial support that she mentioned, then she “would run against Milde this year.” However, “it would have to be worth all of the appointed positions that I would likely have to give up.” Those are the appointed positions that Paul Milde gave her.

So when Ms. Griffin couldn’t get the money she demanded from the Democrats to run against Paul Milde, she had a sit down with Milde who paid her off for not running against him for Supervisor. Milde’s poured thousands into her campaign coffers for School Board. If you can’t beat ’em, buy ’em!

Is this the sort of person that you want serving in a School Board position in Stafford County – looking after the well being of our children? Integrity matters!

Do you want Paul Milde, who because of his extensive criminal record couldn’t even get a job sweeping floors in a Stafford school, to have a bought-and-paid for puppet to push his radical agenda on our children? Maybe Ms. Griffin can help him get a nice plot of land for his toxic spewing incinerator. She’s already proven that she’s only looking out for herself – unless of course, you’re sitting on a pile of money as high as the rubble piled in Aquia Town Center.

Even the Stafford GOP has turned their back on her un-endorsing her candidacy after endorsing her. The “Republican on Republican” in-fighting in the Stafford GOP has reached astronomical levels.

I urge Aquia residents to stand up for integrity by voting for Irene Egan for Aquia School Board on November 5th!

Posted in 2013 Election, Commonwealth's Attorney, Local Politics, Spotsylvania County Board of Supervisors, Spotsylvania County Schools, Stafford County Board of Supervisors, Stafford County Commonwealth's Attorney's Office, Stafford County Schools Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

GOP’s Debt Double Talk

pinocchio1March 19, 2013 — I found this blog over the weekend.  It points out how Republicans created the debt and deficits that they now say are immoral and want you and me to pay for, while they protect their moneyed pimps and the defense industry.  The article further details how Wall Street and Big Banks tanked the economy, received a bailout, gave out millions of dollars in bonuses and now join Republicans in trying to close the debt on the backs of the middle class, kids, the elderly and the poor.

As the article notes, after having created the mess, Republicans suddenly had their Debt Baptism and were born again the very same month that Barack Obama was sworn in as President:

“Republicans became debt and deficit sensitive in January 2009 just as President Obama was being inaugurated, and they embroiled the entire country, including Democrats, in their single-minded reduce the deficit mission. However, Republicans exempted those who benefited from the debt of any repayment, and are attempting to rob Americans’ health and retirement accounts, domestic programs, and government services to repay the debt and give more “free stuff” to the debt creators. It is important to note that the people who caused Great Recession were bailed out by taxpayers, and are reaping 93% of the recovery and if Republicans have their way they will give more to those responsible for the Recession.”

But, wait!  Now, Republicans are once again debating themselves….

On the Sunday news shows, Republican Speaker John Boehner and self-professed Republican Budget Boy Wonder Rep. Paul Ryan said that the debt was not an immediate threat.  Huh?  After four years of blaming President Obama for the debt they created and then becoming born again Debt Baptists who’ve been preaching from street corners about the evils of debt, now we hear from Republican leaders that what they’ve been preaching about the debt is not true.

This should offend everyone with an ounce of common sense and intelligence.  But, more offensive than Republican lies – they’ve been doing that for years! – is how the media just continue to let them get away with their bold-face lies and glaring hypocrisies.


Posted in National Politics Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,

Good-bye to a Good Man

20130312-172643.jpgMarch 12, 2013 — A sad note today, as I write about Duval Dickinson, who passed away this weekend. I know the Dickinson family, and especially like talking to Duval’s son, Clay, who is smart and carried his Father’s joy for people and life. I took my lawn mowers to their shop every late winter for tune-ups, and they were always honest and fair and good.

Honest, fair and good. Those were the values that Duval and his wife instilled in their children. And that was Duval.

Duval was a Republican through and through. But, he wasn’t the kind of extremist, fear and hate, scorched-earth Republican that we see all too often these days.

He was the kind of Republican I grew up with in my family and friendships. To him, being fiscally responsible meant managing your budget in a balanced way by watching spending and yes, if it was called for, appropriate tax hikes and other ways to raise revenue. He believed in a limited role for government without demonizing it, and he believed in individual freedoms that government shouldn’t intrude upon. He was an old-line, true conservative in every way, who espoused the reasonable conservative philosophy we remember in Eisenhower, Buckley, Goldwater and yes, even Reagan, who raised taxes 11 times when it was necessary and didn’t pretend he was the Nation’s preacher by legislating right-wing social issues.

And that is why Duval fell out of favor with today’s new breed of Republicans. Today’s paper recounts the right-wing revolt led by Del. Mark Cole and others that ousted Duval from the Chairmanship of the Spotsylvania Republican Committee:

Dickinson chaired the Spotsylvania County Republican Committee for a decade, until religious conservatives disenchanted with the GOP leadership staged a coup. A major reason for their revolt was the old guard’s opposition to Christian right candidates such as Oliver North, who unsuccessfully sought a U.S. Senate seat in 1994, according to an article that appeared in The Free Lance–Star in 1999.

No, Duval was not one of this new breed. He was not one of them. He was reasonable – and honest, fair and good.

[Image via FLS.]

Posted in Local Politics, Spotsylvania County Tagged with: , , , ,

NOT Wanted for the Innovation Economy: Cucinelli & Co.

helpnotwantedMarch 10, 2013 – Republican Attorney General Ken Cucinelli, the presumptive Republican nominee for Governor, opened up his Fredericksburg area campaign office over the weekend.  Joining him were Cong. Rob Wittman, Del. Mark Cole and Sen. Bryce Reeves, all of whom spoke of their support for less government.

Of course, all Republicans talk of smaller government, except when it comes to wanting government in your bedrooms or involved in women’s Ob Gyn appointments.  Or when they vote for more government benefits for their friends and benefactors.  Or when they rely on government jobs and take government paychecks, like Wittman (a long-time state employee before his election to Congress), Reeves (long-time government employee until his wife hired him) and Cole (government contractor for over 20 years and now local government employee).  They are largely forgiven by constituents, many of whom are government employees or retirees who profess a belief in less government and who elect these gentlemen.  Amazing how paychecks and retirement benefits can quickly blind principles.

I guess it’s not surprising that these Republicans support Cucinelli, the darling of the right-wing.  Cole and Reeves’ actions and voting records on social issues clearly show their right-wing credentials, and Wittman is so scared of a primary challenger that he will say and do anything to appease the far right.  As I wrote in a previous blog, Wittman has put his intelligence and common sense in a blind trust to secure his place on the Republican ballot.  He has chosen to even forget his career as a biologist to endorse Cucinelli, who doesn’t believe in science or evolution, and spent a lot of his time as A.G. and taxpayer money to sue a UVA researcher, who wrote about the dangers of climate change.

In addition to their rhetoric about smaller government, Cucinelli, Wittman, Reeves and Cole will tell you that they are pro-business and worship at the altar of the private sector, though they haven’t spent any real-time working in the private sector.  They will repeat the Republican mantra that less government, less taxes and less regulation will cure all of our ills and create economic nirvana.

However, Virginia’s economy is at a crossroads, and it’ll take more than this worn-out talking point to create a prosperous path of opportunities for all Virginians.   Our over-dependence on federal contracts will become tested over the next several months as federal budget cuts kick in.  Some business leaders and politicians understand the challenge.  They have been working together to lay the groundwork with public investments and policies to foster innovation and tech-based economic development.

This is a new economic era – the innovation economy – that requires a new mindset.  It requires leaders willing to rise above their narrow ideologies and partisan needs to understand the needs of this new innovation economy – e.g., collaboration between government and business on research, investments and workforce development – including an understanding of the more tolerant social beliefs of new workers needed to make this economy thrive.

What this new innovation economy does NOT need is Ken Cucinelli, or people who think like him: Wittman, Reeves and Cole for starters.  Cucinelli wants to cripple and shrink government.  He attacks researchers.  He attacks women’s rights and gays.  He attacks the very things necessary to transition Virginia to this new future.  A Governor Cucinelli will do things and say things that will brand Virginia as an intolerant place to work and live.  He will promote policies that discourage public-private collaboration and investments.  No emerging technology company, and no young worker who works there will want to stay or come here.

In short, if we want to wean ourselves off the federal dole and transition to the innovation economy; if we want to enhance Virginia’s brand as the best place for these new emerging businesses; if business leaders care about their bottom lines; if voters care about creating a better future, they do not need to hire Governor Cucinelli as Virginia’s CEO and top salesman.  They need to vote for McAuliffe, a successful businessman who gets it.

Posted in 2013 Election, State Politics Tagged with: , , , , ,

The Sequester: The Republican’s Economic Sabotage

sequestrationMarch 4, 2013 – Once again, because Republicans in Congress would rather play politics and avoid potential primary challenges instead of doing what’s right for America, we are facing yet another crisis of their own making.  Of course, like Pavlov’s dog when that alarm bell rings, they foam at the mouth and blame the President.

They say that this was President Obama’s idea.  They are partly right, because THEY agreed to it during the 2011 Budget Control Act, which incorporated the sequester in case Congress and the President couldn’t agree on a compromise plan to develop a budget while tackling long-term debt.  The thinking of the Administration in suggesting the sequester was that no one in Congress would be so stupid as to let the sequester happen.  They’d HAVE to compromise.

Well, the Administration was wrong.  Evidently, there ARE enough stupid people in Congress to let it happen.  We have a Congress now that is sabotaging the economy because Republican Speaker John Boehner can’t control his unruly House and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell still wants the President to fail.

Just so folks know, in addition to slowing economic recovery and increasing unemployment, this is what we face if the Republicans allow the sequester to happen (White House document):

Impact of March 1st Cuts on Middle Class Families, Jobs and Economic Security: Virginia

Unless Congress acts by March 1st, a series of automatic cuts—called the sequester—will take effect that threaten hundreds of thousands of middle class jobs, and cut vital services for children, seniors, people with mental illness and our men and women in uniform.

There is no question that we need to cut the deficit, but the President believes it should be done in a balanced way that protects investments that the middle class relies on. Already, the President has worked with Congress to reduce the deficit by more than $2.5 trillion, but there’s more to do.

The President has put forward a balanced plan to not only avoid the harmful effects of the sequester but also to reduce the deficit by more than $4 trillion in total. The President’s plan meets Republicans more than halfway and includes twice as many spending cuts as it does tax revenue from the wealthy.

Unfortunately, many Republicans in Congress refuse to ask the wealthy to pay a little more by closing tax loopholes so that we can protect investments that are helping grow our economy and keep our country safe. By not asking the wealthy to pay a little more, Republicans are forcing our children, seniors, troops, military families and the entire middle class to bear the burden of deficit reduction. The President is determined to cut spending and reduce the deficit in a balanced way, but he won’t stick the middle class with the bill. The President is willing to compromise, but on behalf the middle class he cannot accept a deal that undercuts their economic security.

Our economy is continuing to strengthen but we cannot afford a self-inflicted wound from Washington. Republicans should compromise and meet the President in the middle. We cannot simply cut our way to prosperity, and if Republicans continue to insist on an unreasonable, cuts-only approach, Virginia risks paying the price.


 If sequestration were to take effect, some examples of the impacts on Virginia this year alone are:

Teachers and Schools: Virginia will lose approximately $14 million in funding for primary and secondary education, putting around 190 teacher and aide jobs at risk. In addition about 14,000 fewer students would be served and approximately 40 fewer schools would receive funding.

  •  Education for Children with Disabilities: In addition, Virginia will lose approximately $13.9 million in funds for about 170 teachers, aides, and staff who help children with disabilities.

 Work-Study Jobs: Around 2,120 fewer low income students in Virginia would receive aid to help them finance the costs of college and around 840 fewer students will get work-study jobs that help them pay for college.

 Head Start: Head Start and Early Head Start services would be eliminated for approximately 1,000 children in Virginia, reducing access to critical early education.

Protections for Clean Air and Clean Water: Virginia would lose about $2,997,000 in environmental funding to ensure clean water and air quality, as well as prevent pollution from pesticides and hazardous waste. In addition, Virginia could lose another $826,000 in grants for fish and wildlife protection.

Military Readiness: In Virginia, approximately 90,000 civilian Department of Defense employees would be furloughed, reducing gross pay by around $648.4 million in total.

o Army: Base operation funding would be cut by about $146 million in Virginia.

o Air Force: Funding for Air Force operations in Virginia would be cut by about $8 million.

o Navy: Cancel the maintenance of 11 ships in Norfolk, defer four projects at Dahlgren, Oceana, and Norfolk, and delay other modernization and demolition projects.

 Law Enforcement and Public Safety Funds for Crime Prevention and Prosecution: Virginia will lose about $276,000 in Justice Assistance Grants that support law enforcement, prosecution and courts, crime prevention and education, corrections and community corrections, drug treatment and enforcement, and crime victim and witness initiatives.

 Job Search Assistance to Help those in Virginia find Employment and Training: Virginia will lose about $348,000 in funding for job search assistance, referral, and placement, meaning around 18,390 fewer people will get the help and skills they need to find employment.

Child Care: Up to 400 disadvantaged and vulnerable children could lose access to child care, which is also essential for working parents to hold down a job.

 Vaccines for Children: In Virginia around 3,530 fewer children will receive vaccines for diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, whooping cough, influenza, and Hepatitis B due to reduced funding for vaccinations of about $241,000.

Public Health: Virginia will lose approximately $764,000 in funds to help upgrade its ability to respond to public health threats including infectious diseases, natural disasters, and biological, chemical, nuclear, and radiological events. In addition, Virginia will lose about $2,140,000 in grants to help prevent and treat substance abuse, resulting in around 1,700 fewer admissions to substance abuse programs. And the Virginia State Department of Health will lose about $337,000 resulting in around 8,400 fewer HIV tests.

STOP Violence Against Women Program: Virginia could lose up to $172,000 in funds that provide services to victims of domestic violence, resulting in up to 700 fewer victims being served.

 Nutrition Assistance for Seniors: Virginia would lose approximately $1,215,000 in funds that provide meals for seniors.

I would close by urging you to contact our Congressman, Republican Rob Wittman, who is a smart man.  But, it’s no use.  Sadly, it seems that he has put those smarts and commonsense in a blind trust in order to tow the Party line dictated by Republican Leader Eric Can’t-or and to avoid a primary challenge.  Profiles in courage?  Doing what’s right for America?  Not here in the 1st and 7th Congressional Districts.

Posted in Local Politics, National Politics, State Politics Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

New Dawn Braying: GOP Promises, Rhetoric Meet Reality

reality-checkMarch 4, 2013 — Today’s Fredericksburg Freelance Star has a piece on Dawn Shelley, Republican on the Spotyslvania County School Board, asking the Spotsylvania County Board of Supervisors for more money in the upcoming budget.  Going further, she asked the public to “beg” for more money.  As we know, that Board is now run by a Republican majority that ran on the same ticket with Shelley…. This will be interesting to watch.

Shelley was responding to the budget proposed by Spotsylvania County Administrator Doug Barnes, who was given instructions by his Republican Board not to raise taxes.  In order to do that, Barnes’s proposed budget recommends a school budget $7 million less than what the School Board requested.

To make things more interesting, the Republican Board of Supervisors imposed categorical funding on the schools last year, which means that they have the authority to fund school programs they deem important and cut those they don’t.  According to a member of the School Board, this has reportedly outraged them – although you’d never know it because they have been extremely silent – because they have the Constitutional authority to manage those funds.  This can and will be debated – and has been in years past – but the fact of the matter is that most residents believe that the School Board is the elected body responsible for schools, including the management of their budget.  Like Supervisors, School Board members are elected by the people to manage our schools, and they can be held accountable.  Pretty simple proposition.

But, what makes the pleas by Shelley interesting is that in the 2011 elections, she sought, and received, the endorsement of the Spotsylvania Republican Committee.  In doing that, she ran on a ticket who ran on a platform and promise to cut taxes while fully funding education and strengthening public safety.  So, if they promised these things, especially the full funding of education, then why ask the public to “beg” for something they said they would do?

Again, elections matter.  Promises matter.  Honesty and integrity matter.  Will the people of Spotyslvania County remind Shelley and her Republican allies of their promises?  And if they break those promises, will the people hold them accountable?  Perhaps, but only if the people are reminded; but unfortunately, there is no real reporting in the local paper, and no real loyal opposition in the County keeping people informed.

To fill that vacuum, I created this blog, and it is my hope that through this, we can leverage our voices to keep facts alive and keep our elected officials honest.


Posted in Local Politics, Spotsylvania County, Spotsylvania County Board of Supervisors, Spotsylvania County Schools, Spotsylvania Government, Uncategorized Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

Will Spotsylvania Voters Hold New Republican Majority Accountable?

accountability-groupFebruary 18, 2013 — In an op-ed in yesterday’s Fredericksburg Freelance Star, Alfred King, Spotsylvania Republican money man, perennial candidate and budget advisor, admitted that math, not ideology, is the driver behind budget making and praised former Spotsylvania County Board members for sound fiscal stewardship.

In his piece, King concluded that the current Spotsylvania County Board of Supervisors, headed by the new Republican majority, has to decide between cutting services or raising taxes when formulating the County’s upcoming budget.  As a wise man once said, “No sh***, Sherlock…!”

Now, most rational people understand that this is pretty much always the case when formulating budgets.  But the new Republican majority, like their brethren at the state and federal levels, promised no new taxes!  That they would take this pledge is nothing new, but they also promised to fully fund education, strengthen public safety services, particularly fire and rescue, return to taxpayers the $9 million surplus built up by the previous Board AND cut taxes!  Alfred King, running for Commissioner of Revenue, was right there with them.

It will be interesting to see how they tap dance their way through this budget and hold onto their promise.  They spent a lot of time and money in 2011 lying about how the old Board and County Administrator mismanaged budgets and other services.  However, now that they are in charge of a growing County with a growing appetite for good schools and safe streets, they are finding out that governing is hard work and not something you can do with bumper sticker slogans and empty pledges.

I fully expect them to walk back their promises by blaming the old Board or announcing something unforseen that they just learned!  No matter what they do, it will be interesting to see if the people of Spotsylvania County – and the Spotsylvania Democratic Committee – hold the new Republican majority to the bold promises they made in 2011.

Posted in Local Politics, Spotsylvania County, Spotsylvania County Board of Supervisors, Spotsylvania Government Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,