Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Why VRE, As Offered, is a Bad Deal for Spotsylvania by Supervisor Candidate Chris Yakabouski

Fitz Johnson’s op-ed “How can Republicans be trying to derail VRE?” (op-ed, Oct 22) offers a self-absorbed perspective on VRE that is typical of those who will enjoy a special benefit if Spotsylvania taxpayers bail out VRE. As a candidate for public office, my perspective on this issue is grounded entirely on what is in the public interest.

On August 18, 2009, the Spotsylvania County Board of supervisors voted to join VRE but left it up to the new Board to ratify or reject this deal after the election. I will vote to reject this deal because VRE is dealing from the bottom of the deck and the role of sucker was assigned to Spotsylvania taxpayers. This “deal” is forever. There is no escape and no way to modify its terms regardless of how harmful it is to the County and its residents.

The “deal” touted by Supervisors Pitts and Skinner, unless stopped, would be the most lopsided anti-taxpayer agreement ever entered into by Spotsylvania. Some of the people sounding off are claiming the language of the deal says what it doesn’t say and many of the loudest proponents will personally profit at the long-term expense of the taxpayers of Spotsylvania. I am all for free enterprise and maximizing profits but I absolutely will not stand for people unfairly doing so at the risk and expense of working Spotsylvania families.

After I hear about all the wonderful virtues of VRE, I find myself thinking why not? Sounds ok! What’s wrong with commuter rail? Who wouldn’t want free money for local roads? Who wouldn’t want to bring high paying jobs home to Spotsylvania? Those are the promises and they sound great. But before signing on the dotted line, lets look at what we are getting into and see whether those promises are real or just more pie-in-the-sky offered up by people who stand to make a lot of money at taxpayer expense or who think leadership is figuring out a new way to separate taxpayers from yet another dollar. So let’s have a look, shall we?

The first promise is that joining VRE will miraculously spur economic growth in Spotsylvania. According to the VRE visionaries, high-tech businesses will sprout like mushrooms if only Spotsylvania will impose a new gas tax and pay millions to subsidize VRE. Of course, this pie-in-the-sky promise is easily refuted by simply looking at VRE’s impact on economic development in nearby communities over the past 20 years. Obviously, the dilapidated Fredericksburg VRE station has attracted nothing but problems. VRE’s presence couldn’t even save a struggling restaurant located on top of the VRE station! Look North to Lorton in Fairfax. Several years back Lorton prison closed and the land cleared for development. There was already a VRE station nearby and so one would expect tons of these wonderful businesses to locate in this virgin area. Business parks must dot the landscape where the prison once stood, right? No. Only houses. Lots and lots of houses and lots and lots of people and as much traffic congestion as anyone could want. Lorton is much closer to D.C. than we are, but the high paying jobs didn’t materialize.

Ok, let’s look at Leeland Station in Stafford. This station is located in southern Stafford and had little development around it -- no houses, strip malls, and barely any traffic. This location is very similar to what we have around the proposed VRE station site in Spotsylvania. If you believe Supervisors Pitts and Skinner, Stafford surely must have attracted a huge first class business park with high paying jobs and associated benefits. Drive through sometime. No businesses, just more houses. Promises are one thing, reality another.

Another promise is free money for roads. But if you look at where this free money comes from, it disappears. First, the VRE agreement requires a new gas tax to be forced upon our taxpayers -- teachers, deputies, retired folks, stay at home moms, single moms and dads, those who have lost their jobs, as well as everyone else who drives a car. But at least our roads will be improved, right? Not so much. Every dollar raised by the gas tax is earmarked for VRE, period. There is no language in the proposed agreement protecting the taxpayers of Spotsylvania County. There is no minimum amount Spotsylvania is slated to receive. Instead, the County doesn’t get a dime until the full VRE fee is paid for. Spotsylvania gets the crumbs if anything is left, a huge bill if the tax falls short. And, the dirty little secret Pitts and Skinner try to hide is that if the gas tax falls short, Spotsylvania County would be legally required to raise taxes or cut services to pay the bill.

VRE sounds great. So do flying cars. But neither is a good thing upon which to bet the farm. I am all for improving traffic, and when I served on the Board of Supervisors the county received millions of dollars of traffic funds because of the many good projects which were approved. But in each of those cases, the development benefitted both the developer and the county – all were specifically designed to increase business development and solve traffic problems at the same time. For example the continuous turn lane off Route I-95 at the Spotsylvania exit was paid for, and built from a proffer by the Silver Companies. These are real improvements.

The lofty promises made by the VRE cheering squad hide a bad deal for the citizens of Spotsylvania. And the truth is, I am not opposed to joining VRE if it is a good deal for the taxpayers of Spotsylvania. In the middle of a recession, a mandatory gas tax coupled with a no-escape deal sounds like a terrible idea. As an elected official it is my responsibility to make sure our county is better off when I leave office than when was elected to office. I do not think this current agreement is in the best interest of all our citizens.

—Chris Yakabouski

The writer is the Republican Candidate for the Spotsylvania Board of Supervisors in the Battlefield District

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Fmr. NY City Mayor Rudy Giuliani to Visit Fredericksburg Promoting Bob McDonnell's Candidacy for Governor This Coming Wednesday!

WHEN: Wednesday, October 28, 2009 8:30am

Former presidential candidate and New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani will make a campaign stop for/with Bob McDonnell at the Spotsylvania joint-GOP Headquarters located at 7 Butler Road Stafford, VA 22405 (the corner of Route 17 (aka Warrenton Road, aka Butler Road) and Route 1 just north of the Falmouth Bridge.)

Be there bright and early to cheer Bob to victory November 3rd!

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Bookmark this blog if you want Spotsylvania County, VA election results on November 3, 2009

We'll be live blogging from the polls with up to the minute voting results (we plan to anyway!) Check back here to see how Spotsylvania County blazes the trail for conservative Republican financial values for the whole state!

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Friday, October 16, 2009

Steve Shannon Dodges Questions at Debate and Doesn't Know Answers to Simple AG Questions!

This guy wants to be our Attorney General?? What an ass! He gets his supporters to shoot flashes into a guy's video camera! That could easily blow the circuitry and they know this. Coward!

Steve Shannon. Epic Fail!

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