A little over a week ago, Stafford County Supervisor Cord Sterling (R-Rock Hill) appeared at a Tea Party rally in Stafford and did his very best to appeal to this fringe crowd. Regardless of our political differences, I used to have a level of respect for Mr. Sterling; however, after his despicable behavior at this rally, it’s hard for me to ever view him the same way again.
Recall, this is the same rally where Delegate Bob Marshall (R-13th) suggested that it was ok to shoot people over taxes and Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart compared the Obama administration to the Nazi’s. I guess Sterling agrees with these statements.
He chose to respond to my post describing his statements (on video) at this rally by leaving a comment on this blog. It contained so many accusations and, what I believed to be, false information that I decided to do a little fact checking on it, prior to posting it. He focused most of his attacks on our school system and presented certain data as fact, which couldn’t be further from the truth. This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone by now.
Here’s the comments addressed directly to me:
Had you but asked, I would speak to your group as well.
Nothing Shed. I am, and have always been a fiscal conservative. I believe that one’s books, and budgets, should be balanced. I believe debts should be paid and not passed on to the next generation. I believe in providing the maximum service at the lowest cost to the taxpayers.
I would seriously call into question Sterling’s claim of being a “fiscal conservative.” We will explore this momentarily.
Regarding healthcare package–Sen. Schumer and I disagree. I think the previous practice of “until graduation” was appropriate. I believe strongly in personal responsibility. Now, taxpayers at all levels (federal, state, and local) will have to pay for health care for adults dependents (who are no longer dependents by any other definition).
So, is Sterling now distancing himself from the story that he told the crowd? If he wanted to voice his opposition to health care reform that’s fine, but to makeup a story about Sen. Schumer to fire up the crowd against this common-sense reform is outrageous.
Sterling says that he agrees with “the previous practice of ‘until graduation’ [in allowing parents to cover their children].” In order to compete in the global economy, many children are staying in school to attain advanced degrees. This new law will allow parents to continue covering their children, if they choose. If parents like Sterling want to throw their children off of their health insurance, he is still free to do so. The many health care reforms present in this bill will actually be a net positive for taxpayers (helping to save money) and will ultimately decrease the deficit by over $1 trillion, according to the Congressional Budget Office. That seems like a bill that a responsible “fiscal conservative” would support.
Regarding the courts–I believe that the priorities of the voters who pay the taxes should come before the interests of others. That is why I will continue to support the parks and rec bond package and the transportation bond package approved by the voters and will not support additions to the courts complex. By the way, there are two new courts planned, not just the J&DR.
How can Sterling claim to be a “fiscal conservative” and support borrowing money for transportation and parks and recreation? One of the ways that this was going to be paid back was via revenue collected from the business tax, which Sterling and his fellow Republicans nixed at the beginning of the year. Voters approved this bond with the notion that this revenue stream would be there. Homeowners will now bear the brunt of this bait and switch by the Republican-led board through higher taxes, in the years to come.
What makes this worse is that Sterling spent a county surplus to pay for repealing the business tax – this, at a time, when our county was already facing significant budget shortfalls for FY ’11 and ’12. This only further compounds the problem. This is the height of hypocrisy and, worse, fiscally irresponsible.
Regarding the school budget–I sat down with them and they were unable to answer the questions. Before the session, when questiosn were asked of the Superintendent, he dismissed the questions and told me the budget was passed and i could find the information there. I did and that is where the facts you say i distorted come from. Here is the text of an email i sent the school board chair and her colleagues after our joint budget work session. My frustration is with the school central office staff though i recognize it did not come across as clearly when i spoke as to whom i was referring. And yes, there are central office administrators i am in favor of replacing.
Listen, Sterling could have easily chosen to meet with school central office staff to get whatever questions he needed answered on any number of occasions. This is like a child waiting the night before to do his homework and then wondering why they didn’t have enough time to understand it. He simply could care less about the school system budget and only began to care when he thought that he could make political hay out of it.
How Sterling can also claim that he is simply stating facts about the budget and not distorting it is comical. What’s clear is that he is making statements and assertions about things that are simply not true, even after he has been proven wrong.
Also, Sterling claims that he was calling for school central office staff to be fired; however, that claim is ridiculous. All one has to do is watch the video. He was clearly calling on folks to fire the school board – not the way I would choose to work with another elected body. So what central office administrators would Sterling like fired? And, for what reasons? It sounds to me that Sterling is simply putting
his political agenda above our children.
As for the letter that Sterling mentions, containing his made up “facts,” it was broken apart and answered by the school system here.
In the letter, I particularly love when Sterling says, “I agree that our teachers should have salaries competitive with the other school systems. I can also see from the budget that those funds were there, but the schools system administration diverted them.” I love the disingenuous sentiment from Sterling and his total lack of understanding of the budget.
The School system responded by noting, “In order for our teachers to have salaries competitive with the other school systems, increases in the magnitude of triple to quadruple what has been requested are necessary.” They went on to say that these funds (SFSF) were not diverted and that they are still being used for instruction. As they also noted in their response, “A more complete understanding of both the FY2010 and FY2011 budget will make this quite evident.” If these funds were used to provide raises to our teachers, the school system would require an additional $11 million to meet the projected recurring costs of them. Is Sterling offering additional funds to provide these much deserved raises? I think not. Stafford schools is pretty much playing defense, doing everything they can to protect against laying off teachers.
Perhaps most disturbing of all, Sterling’s letter clearly shows someone that is trying to twist the facts and cast aspersions on folks’ characters and motivations. For him, this is just a political game.
Those details are from the Superintendents budget request, not mine. The budget request he sent me to when I asked questions. I recognize that we may disagree on these and other items. I accept that. I do hope we can keep that disagreement civil.
It should be clear by now that Sterling does not understand anything about budgeting and has not done his homework well enough to understand the school budget; however, he has no problem presenting certain information as “fact” to further his political agenda.
I too agree that we must keep our disagreements civil. Attacking our school board and central office staff, based on a political agenda, is not what I call being civil. Nor is distorting certain data as “fact” to score political points.