The Easter Egg

VC Note:  As some of you know, over the past two weeks I have been revising and adding to my second novel, a story of religious intrigue.  Yesterday, it just passed the 20,000 word mark!  From time to time, I have posted updates of my progress on Facebook and have gotten several requests for samples of my work.  Unfortunately, this novel is not publicly available at this point.  However, to give you a small taste of my style in writing fiction, here is an extremely brief tale I wrote back on Easter of 2013.  I hope you enjoy!

easter-eggThe Easter Egg

By Joshua Huffman

3/31/13

There once were two friends, a young boy and a young girl.  Over the last several months they had become the best of friends, the type who had so much in common and shared everything with each other, from what kinds of foods were their favorites, to their hopes for the future, to their deepest, darkest secrets; the ones that they hid from everyone else.

That Easter these two got together, along with a bunch of other kids, to take part in an egg hunt that the villagers had prepared.  Working as a team, they found the hidden eggs, many more than most of the others, but the quantity of eggs they gathered mattered far less to either of them than the moments they shared enjoying each other’s company.

Toward the end of the hunt, the girl found a particularly unusual egg.  She called her friend over and showed him this amazing treasure that she had discovered.  The boy marveled over the egg for quite a long while; it was the most beautiful object he had ever seen, a dazzling kaleidoscope of the deepest blues and most vibrant greens.

Seeing how much he stood in awe of her new possession, she gladly offered it to her friend.  He refused, sensing its value and feeling unworthy of it, saying that she was the one who had found it and, even if she hadn’t discovered its location, she still deserved it more than he.  However, she insisted that it would mean far more to her if she knew that he had it, rather than if she kept it.

Gratefully the boy accepted this wonderful present from his friend and felt a peculiar flutter in his heart as the girl carefully transferred the egg from her hands to his and their eyes met.

The hunt now over, each participant returned home.  Walking back through the forest, the boy was brimming with indescribable joy.  He bounded happily through the woods, skipping along the journey, and whistling a happy tune.  Not only did he have the great fortune to spend considerable time with a friend whose company he enjoyed more than anyone else’s, but he now carried an important package: a gift that instantly became his greatest possession, not because of some supposed immense financial worth, but made priceless because of the love and sacrifice of the friend who freely gave it to him.

Thinking only of the egg, and therefore not watching where he was going, the boy accidentally strayed a little from the dirt path.  His foot struck a small rock and although it only caused him the slightest of pain, his hands clenched around his egg so that he wouldn’t drop it.  Unfortunately, in the attempt to save his precious package from falling to the earth, he gripped it a little too tightly.  He heard a loud cracking sound and felt something wet in the palms of his hands.

Awash in a feeling of dread, the boy slowly opened his hands to survey the egg.  Much to his horror, he saw that the shell now had a long crack down the middle, a small piece had broken free, and yolk leaked through his fingers and was forming a small pool on the forest floor below.

Not knowing what else to do, the boy tried to force the shell fragment back into its proper place, but his plan only made the hole larger and he grew frustrated and overwhelmed with despair.  Overcome with grief, with no more ideas on how he could fix this problem, he plopped himself down on the ground and cried.  He cried for the loss of the egg, of course, because he thought he would never see something so beautiful again, but he cried, too, for the girl, the friend who gave it to him, and for everything it represented.

And so he sat, deep among the trees and moss, where no one else could hear him, where no one else could help him, and wept for this fragile egg; he wept until he could weep no more.

Too Fast, Too Spurious

VC Note:  Recently, a press secretary from the Republican National Committee reached out to me as a result of my work on the Virginia Conservative.  Over the last several weeks, I’ve gotten several articles from them and, from time to time, some of their pieces will likely appear here.  Today, I wanted to share their response to Terry McAuliffe’s latest ad regarding the transportation tax bill.

For the record, here is the ad in question:

And here is the Republican National Committee response:

Democrats And Virginia Legislators Catch Terry McAuliffe Speeding Away From The Truth In His Latest Campaign Ad

Terry McAuliffe’s Campaign Is Airing An Ad That Claims He Played A Role In The Passage Of A Transportation Bill In Virginia. “McAuliffe’s campaign ad that began airing last week details McAuliffe’s behind the scenes efforts to lobby Democrats in the General Assembly to vote for the historic, compromise transportation funding package. The ad infers that McAuliffe’s efforts helped secure passage of the measure.” (Todd Allen Wilson, “Sen. Stosch Says McAuliffe Didn’t Help Transportation Deal Pass,” Daily Press, 5/28/13)

Democratic State Sen. Charles J. Colgan, On McAuliffe’s Participation In Negotiations Over Virginia’s Transportation Bill: “When I Was There, He Didn’t.” “Sen. Charles J. Colgan, Manassas Democrat and the longest-serving member of the Senate, was an informal adviser to the conferees as they hashed out differences between the House and Senate versions. But Mr. McAuliffe never spoke to him about it, he said Tuesday. ‘When I was there, he didn’t,’ Mr. Colgan said.” (David Sherfinski, “Virginia Governor’s Race Turns Harsh With McAuliffe’s Soft Campaign Ad,” The Washington Times, 5/28/13)

Democratic State Senator J. Chapman Petersen Said “He Never Spoke With Mr. McAuliffe.” “J. Chapman Petersen, Fairfax Democrat and one of two Northern Virginia senators to vote against the plan, said he never spoke with Mr. McAuliffe.” (David Sherfinski, “Virginia Governor’s Race Turns Harsh With McAuliffe’s Soft Campaign Ad,” The Washington Times, 5/28/13)

State Senator Petersen: “I Don’t Know If He Tried To Reach Me.” (David Sherfinski, “Virginia Governor’s Race Turns Harsh With McAuliffe’s Soft Campaign Ad,” The Washington Times, 5/28/13)

A Senate Aide, On McAuliffe’s Participation: “There Was No Contact Between Terry McAuliffe And Our Office And Nobody Thought He Had Any Impact On The Outcome.” (David Sherfinski, “Virginia Governor’s Race Turns Harsh With McAuliffe’s Soft Campaign Ad,” The Washington Times, 5/28/13)

A Democratic Aide Claimed “She Wasn’t Aware Of Any Direct Lobbying Efforts From Mr. McAuliffe On The Bill.” “One Democratic aide acknowledged that Mr. McAuliffe attended a private caucus meeting but that she wasn’t aware of any direct lobbying efforts from Mr. McAuliffe on the bill.” (David Sherfinski, “Virginia Governor’s Race Turns Harsh With McAuliffe’s Soft Campaign Ad,” The Washington Times, 5/28/13)

“State Sen. Walter Stosch, R-Henrico, Said Claims In A Television Ad By Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Terry McAuliffe Are Absurd.” (Todd Allen Wilson, “Sen. Stosch Says McAuliffe Didn’t Help Transportation Deal Pass,” Daily Press, 5/28/13)

State Senator Stosch, A Conferee On The Bill: “Terry McAuliffe Was Not A Participant Nor Did He Have Any Influence In The Development Or Negotiation Of The Transportation Bill.” “But Stosch, who chairs the Senate finance committee and was on the conference committee of House of Delegates and Senate lawmakers who hashed out the final deal, said McAuliffe is taking credit that he shouldn’t. ‘Terry McAuliffe was not a participant nor did he have any influence in the development or negotiation of the transportation bill,’ Stosch said in a press release Tuesday.” (Todd Allen Wilson, “Sen. Stosch Says McAuliffe Didn’t Help Transportation Deal Pass,” Daily Press, 5/28/13)

A Tilted Controversy

IMG_1873Recently, a war has been playing itself out in the opinion section of my local newspaper, The Daily News Record.  This conflict is waged over the opening of a new restaurant at the Valley Mall in Harrisonburg called The Tilted Kilt.

So what’s the big deal, you might ask?  Well, one of the unique features of this establishment concerns the appearance of their employees.  Their well-endowed all-female server staff wears short plaid kilts (though they look a bit more like mini-skirts than kilts), a matching top, which accentuates their physical features, and a tied shirt that leaves the midriff more or less completely exposed.

Many in the religious community, especially the Valley Family Forum, have strongly condemned the Tilted Kilt, declaring it to be blight on the Shenandoah Valley and a place that sexually exploits and objectifies their women servers as well as their male clientele.  Others, however, including one local church, see the Kilt in a positive aspect, as it is a place that offers new food choices as well as a variety of jobs to citizens.

Yesterday, along with a couple of friends, I visited this establishment to learn a bit more about the controversy first hand.  Given the animosity in the newspaper, I was a bit surprised that there were no angry protestors picketing outside.

Communicating with the wait staff was a bit of a challenge at first; given the abundance of cleavage, one did have to try hard not to stare.  However, as my cousin pointed out, is there too much difference between the Kilt attire and spending a day at the beach?  I ordered a cup of their chili.

After the meal, I took a bit of time to speak with our waitress regarding her experiences.  Perhaps defying stereotypes, she was fairly well educated, a college graduate.  Although she too expected an angry barrage of folks outside the restaurant when it first opened, she stated that protests have been pretty minimal thus far.

So, what do you think about the Tilted Kilt in the culturally conservative Shenandoah Valley?  Is it a boon or a burden?  Is it simply another restaurant trying a new tactic to earn a buck or is it degrading to its employees and customers?

Either way, if you do ever plan on stopping in either to gauge the controversy for yourself or for a bite to eat, I’d recommend against the chili; a few too many onions and not quite enough spice for my tastes.

Coffee With Dr. Berg

Mark BergOn Friday morning, I had the opportunity to sit down to speak with Dr. Mark Berg.  Dr. Berg is running for the Republican nomination for Virginia’s 29th district House of Delegates seat, a seat that encompasses the city of Winchester along with a portion of Frederick and Warren Counties.  In the June 11th primary, he will be squaring off against Beverly Sherwood who has represented the district since 1994.

In the approximately hour long conversation, we spoke about a variety of issues, most notably why Republican voters should vote for Dr. Berg over Delegate Sherwood.  The reasoning against Sherwood is fairly clear for most conservatives.  Sherwood has not compiled a record that indicates she favors limited government.  For example, in the most recent General Assembly session, she voted for the transportation tax hike, labeled the largest tax increase in Virginia’s history, as well as approving the implementation of Obamacare in this state, expanded Medicaid, and creating a virtual statewide Environmental Protection Agency through the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.  Dr. Berg also stated that in recent years Delegate Sherwood “has voted for four out of the five big tax increases.” Certainly these are all issues that would make just about any fiscal or constitutional conservative cringe.

But what motivates Dr. Berg?  Well, professionally and politically he is a retired family practice doctor who has served on the Republican State Central Committee for the 10th district since last year.  However, as is the case with any candidate, it is his position on the issues that is most valuable.  When I asked him about his principles, Dr Berg responded by saying,  “There are two big principles that I think are not promoted and not adhered to well and that’s limited government and individual liberty.”  Unlike Sherwood, Dr. Berg opposes Obamacare and the tax bill.  Regarding Obamacare, he stated, “I know what it is going to do, as a physician I can see what it is going to do and it is a huge mistake both financially for the state and for personal liberty.”  He believes that the state needs to stand up for itself and for its citizens against the ever-expanding encroachment of the federal government.

One big challenge, according to Mark Berg, is that a lot of Sherwood’s constituents don’t know her record.  Her thinking doesn’t match the Republican creed and the traditional conservative values of the Shenandoah Valley.  Government policy should not be designed merely to pick winners and losers.  Too many politicians, in his mind, say one thing and then vote another way.  However, Dr. Berg believes that each legislator ought to be able to justify his or her votes according to his or her own political philosophy.  With those thoughts in mind, given that this year marks the first that Delegate Sherwood has faced a challenge from within her own party, will she listen to the conservative voices in her district by transforming herself into a legislator who promotes their values?  Dr. Berg thinks it is unlikely.  “…After nineteen years of being an incumbent, (she) pretty much continue(s) to do what she’s done.  I don’t think her record is what we need to go forward with right now.”

It seems that Dr. Berg’s message of liberty coupled with a general distaste for Delegate Sherwood’s policies, is attracting considerable support from both within the 29th district, in a coalition of conservatives and the local tea party, as well as recruiting volunteers from other portions of the Shenandoah Valley.   His goal is to speak with as many voters in the district as possible, either in person or through his supporters, in order to form a connection with them and gather feedback, rather than simply blanketing the area with glossy direct mail pieces.

Given that 29th district Republican primary happens to fall on the same day as the statewide Democratic primary and that voters will only be able to vote in one of these two primaries, it seems unlikely that too many Democrats will participate.  However, Dr. Berg thinks that this fact could likely benefit his campaign given that he is the more conservative of the two candidates in the race.

I very much appreciate Dr. Mark Berg taking a bit of time from his campaign schedule to travel down to Harrisonburg to share his message with the readers of The Virginia Conservative.

Lastly, as a bit of personal commentary, for those fellow conservative and liberty-minded voters and activists, I’m sure you’ll agree that Dr. Berg seems to be a candidate who not only shares our values, but also is willing to ardently fight for them in Richmond.  Given everything that I know about the two candidates, if I lived in the 29th district, not only would I be voting for Mark Berg, I’d also do my best to help spread his message to my friends and neighbors and encourage them to get informed and be involved.

Don’t forget to vote on June 11th!

Fun With Chairman Mullins

One extremely frustrating aspect of Saturday’s Virginia Republican Convention (which I cover in considerable detail in a previous article) was the excessive amount of waiting.  Typically, there is a good bit of down time, a good bit of wasted time filled with an array of speakers that do little to alleviate the boredom of the crowd.

Unfortunately, the 2013 Convention offered attendees countless hours with little to do.  Between the technical difficulties associated with counting the first round ballots, coupled with the daunting prospect of another three rounds of balloting, it was inevitable that a bit of mischief would occur sooner or later.  After all, even a fervently Republican crowd could only stomach so many lackluster speakers or repeated Cuccinelli campaign commercials.

At one point, in order to amuse themselves, a few of the delegates in the upper reaches of the Richmond Coliseum began to make and throw paper airplanes.  This new development seemed to greatly upset Pat Mullins, chairman of the state party, who took to the stage and in a gruff voice shouted for an end to the paper airplanes, stating that that these projectiles could damage the three $50,000 screens behind him.  However, perhaps given the chairman’s demeanor, unconvinced that these planes could cause much harm to anything or anyone, or simply irritated by the continued waiting, the paper began to fly from the rafters again a short while later.  For those of us seated on or around the floor, we simply watched as the handful of airplanes glided and fluttered to the ground.

To poke a bit of fun at the whole situation, especially given that Chairman Mullins’ words seemed to fit the stereotypical angry old man motif exceedingly well, I couldn’t help but imagining him uttering these words while I was at the convention.

jra4a1.jpg Enjoy a little humor for your Wednesday afternoon!

TV, The IRS, And The Tea Party

On Monday morning, I received a call from WHSV TV-3.  As part of the Board of Directors for the Shenandoah Valley Tea Party, they asked if I would speak to them regarding mounting protests opposing the heavy-handed tactics employed by the IRS against the tea party.  Naturally, I agreed and, about an hour later, I found myself chatting with a reporter in front of the Artful Dodger in downtown Harrisonburg.

Click on this link to read the article and to watch the segment for yourself.

The 2013 Convention!

Shortly before 7 AM, a multitude of local Republicans gathered outside of the Harrisonburg GOP headquarters to depart for the 2013 state convention in Richmond.  The Obenshain campaign organized this gathering.  I led one of the two buses of 49 other activists.  We left around 7:15 with the second bus stopping in Staunton to pick up additional supporters.

IMG_1886About two hours later we arrived outside the Coliseum.  The scene that greeted us was daunting.  On both the left and right sides of the entrance, long lines stretched seemingly forever.  Outside, most of the campaigns had a table underneath a tent handing out materials.  The one exception was the Davis campaign which merely had a yard sign where one would expect to find her people.  This development did not bode well for the Davis campaign, which I had previously assumed would survive at least to the second ballot.  In addition, there were a fair number of protesters in pink shirts from Planned Parenthood deriding the candidacy of Ken Cuccinelli.

Inside of the building each of the campaigns had an additional informational table, as did a multitude of other organizations such as The Leadership Institute, Middle Resolution PAC, and others.

IMG_1900In the auditorium itself, each delegate was grouped according to the city or county from which he or she came.  This year, the placement of each locality depended upon the percentage of their delegates who paid the voluntary $35 fee.  This change resulted in Harrisonburg city holding the choicest spot on the convention floor, front and center.  Delegates from Rockingham and Augusta Counties, regions whose delegates also strongly supported Senator Mark Obenshain, flanked Harrisonburg.

After many lengthy speeches from Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Ken Cuccinelli, and the various candidates running for the Republican nomination, voting could begin.  Although announced ahead of time, it was interesting that neither Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell nor Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling attended Saturday’s convention.  As an additional note, former Representative Allen West spoke on behalf of Delegate Scott Lingamfelter and Ollie North encouraged delegates to support Pete Snyder.

Voting on the first ballot began about 1 PM or so, but the results were not announced until almost four hours later due to either technical difficulties or a recount requested by the Snyder campaign if the rumors circulating were true.  Although the official tallies were not released due to Delegate Rob Bell’s request to withdraw his candidacy, Senator Mark Obenshain became the official nominee for attorney general.  On the race for lieutenant governor, E.W. Jackson captured an early lead, winning 3,732 votes, about twice as many votes as his closest rival, Susan Stimpson.  Corey Stewart finished third, followed by Pete Snyder, Scott Lingamfelter, Jeannemarie Davis, and finally Steve Martin.  As no candidate received a majority of the votes, Martin and Davis were eliminated and delegates voted again.  Unfortunately, the official numbers for the first ballot were not announced until after many delegates had already cast their second ballot, which likely skewed the next results as we were erroneously led to believe that Stewart placed second instead of Stimpson.  Behind the scenes, the Davis campaign encouraged her supporters to rally behind Jackson.

About two hours later, voting from the second ballot was announced.  Jackson increased his totals to 4,558.38, while Snyder jumped to second with 2066.89.  Stewart finished third while Stimpson and Lingamfelter, with the two lowest totals, were eliminated.  Lingamfelter cast his favor to Snyder while the Stimpson campaign did not recommend any particular candidate.

SOThe results for the third ballot came one hour and forty-five minutes later.  Jackson’s vote total again expanded to 5,934.69 with Snyder second with 3,652.97.  At this point, E.W. Jackson had over 49% of the vote and thus his election on the next ballot was a virtual lock.  The Snyder campaign passed out fliers declaring that Corey Stewart had endorsed Snyder as had Mark Obenshain.  The latter revelation came as a complete shock given that Obenshain had remained silent in this race up until now, coupled with the fact that such an endorsement would be particularly foolhardy given that Jackson’s victory was all but a certainty.  I spoke with both Chris Leavitt, Obenshain’s campaign manager, as well as Suzanne Obenshain, his wife, who denied any endorsement.  In addition, Corey Stewart appeared and walked around the floor with Jackson with raised hands.  It was terribly unfortunate that in a desperate bid to win the Snyder campaign would resort to such dirty and dishonest tactics, ploys that were all too common in the closing days of the campaign.

Update:  Bearing Drift reports the following regarding the actions of the Stewart campaign.

A little after 10 PM, Pete Snyder withdrew his candidacy and thus E.W. Jackson was declared the victor.  With voting finally concluded, we returned to the bus and headed back west to our home across the mountain.

On a personal note, unlike many of the delegates, as I did not have a favorite candidate, I ended voting for three different LG candidates over the course of the day.  I intended to cast my final vote for Pete, but, after his campaign spread their misinformation, I couldn’t reward deception and thus proudly cast my vote for E.W. Jackson.

All in all, it was an exciting and tiring day that went much longer than needed.  However, it was filled with a bunch of surprises and uncertainty, regrettably marred by technical difficulties, a bit of misinformation, and a splash of deceit.

Given that the state central committee has selected a convention in 2014 to choose the Republican candidate for Senate, we’ll do it all again next year.  Hope to see you then!

If He Loses Then We Lose

VC Note:  Most likely along with a multitude of other tea party members, I received the following message from Middle Resolution PAC.  As the title states, I find the line “if he loses then we lose” particularly intriguing.  Given the numerous complaints against Corey Stewart currently circulating on the internet, I’d hate to peg my fortunes on his performance tomorrow.  So will the tea party rally behind Mr. Stewart?  Will this support scatter?  Or will it concentrate on another of the seven LG candidates?  I guess we’ll see.

TMR logo

The last 2 weeks have been difficult on us all as we have been in the throes of a political mudslinging match aimed at our candidate, Corey Stewart, the perceived front runner in this race.  I want to make a plea to everyone not to get distracted by the smoke and mirrors of a political primary but to focus on the candidate whom we’ve selected to represent grassroots conservatives in VA.  If he loses then we lose and we must do everything we can to help him win the nomination on Saturday.

The attacks on Corey’s campaign ethics are based on hearsay and innuendo with no proof that he is in any way involved with unethical behavior.  While Corey is the focus of these attacks the whole delegate list has been receiving e-mails from John Gray, a former democratic opponent of Corey’s, attacking Corey’s record.  How did John Gray get the delegate list?  Recently 2 pieces of direct mail were sent from  “Checks and Balances for Economic Growth” attacking Corey Stewart calling him “King Corey!” So clearly they also have the delegate mailing list and clearly there are a number of dirty hands in all of this yet the bloggers and Breitbart are focusing on Corey.  Why is Breitbart so concerned about a 7 way LG primary race?  The Breitbart articles by Michael Patrick Leahy, seem to be very concerned about possible ethics violations by Stewart, but ignore many of the same actions by other candidates. Is he interested in the shadow group doing direct mail pieces against Stewart? Nope, just Stewart!

A couple of days ago Grover Norquist railed against Corey’s tax record on the John Fredericks show.  Here is the tax pledge that Corey signed:

Notice that Grover Norquist endorsed the pledge that Corey signed.  Why is he criticizing Corey for signing and adhering to the pledge that his group constructed?

Throughout this process Corey has been forthcoming with us and has met or talked to every tea party with concerns about the attacks on his record (in one instance to his detriment).

The whole purpose of the vetting process was to unite conservatives behind a candidate and help that candidate win against a well funded, data rich, progressive democrat candidate. Corey prevailed in a thorough vetting process that looked at campaign strength, ability to fund raise, and knowledge of free market principles.  We were not the only ones who vetted these LG candidates, John Tate head of Campaign for Liberty and Morton Blackwell of the Leadership Institute did their own vetting and came to the same conclusion that we did; Corey Stewart is the candidate best suited to defeat the democrat in November.

Corey’s record cutting regulations, cutting spending, and fighting illegal immigration is consistent with tea party principles. He is no stranger to the tea party, he attended one of the first CoLA meetings to help create a state immigration policy that would mirror what he has done in PWC.  He also sought tea party support for a bill to eliminate the corporate income tax and he continues to keep an open line of communication with tea party activists.

Corey’s accomplishments in Prince William County are a model for our state government.  While spending in VA has grown by 66% Corey has cut $143 million in spending from the county budget and per capita spending is below what it was in 1992.   While little has been done to address the challenges of illegal immigration at the state level Corey has implemented policies to enforce immigration law and has reduced crime.  While we just received the biggest tax increase in VA history to supposedly fund transportation, Prince William County funded a $300 million dollar transportation project without raising taxes.  If we want to solve the transportation issue we should call on other counties to maintain their own roads and decentralize road building and maintenance from VDOT to the localities.  Lastly, while Medicaid spending has increased by 1500% in the last 30 years, Corey’s most recent budget proposed 9.6 million in cuts to social services.  This is the type of leadership that we need in VA and I hope you will all rally behind Corey on Saturday and push him across the finish line.
Best Regards,
Angie

A City Council Surprise

Harrisonburg City CouncilLast night, the Harrisonburg City Council held their bi-monthly meeting.  As I sat in my chair waiting for the 7 PM start time, one of the regular attendees leaned across the aisle and told me that he saw me on the TV speaking about the city owned golf course.  He went on to say that the golf course was here to stay and that city parks and recreations were not in the business of making money.  I agreed that parks weren’t designed to turn a profit and asked him if he knew of any privately run parks in the area.  Neither of us could name one.  However, I then countered that golf courses can be a source of revenue and asked if he knew of any privately run courses.  He said that he didn’t know of any and, at that point, I realized discussing this point further with him would not be particularly useful.

Anyway, as for the official council meeting itself, most of the event was business as usual, such as the time for public discourse and discussing tax exemptions for a charity.  However, things got a bit more interesting when the subject shifted to energy efficiency in the city.  Recently, the city has been considering the idea of improving energy efficiency in its buildings, a commendable idea as it will likely provide a significant savings to city taxpayers.  As a result, Council Member Kai Degner crafted a deal with a company who specializes in this kind of work to make these improvements.  However, the city manager declared this action was quite irregular as normally these issues are typically explored by the city staff, bids are accepted from a number of companies, and then the council picks the option that they feel best suits the city.  Although it is good to see Kai Denger working hard on this issue, given that neither the majority of council nor the Harrisonburg staff seemingly had a hand in this company’s selection, if the idea moved forward, it could bear the stain of crony capitalism.

Harrisonburg Mayor Ted Byrd argued that in the interests of the free market, the council should not simply accept the company of Degner’s choosing without considering other avenues.  When Degner proposed going ahead with the desired company, it seemed quite likely that the vote would fail.  This fact is significant because, of the multitude of council meetings that I have attended over the last six months, not a single proposal had failed nor had the vote been anything but unanimous.  Cognizant of such a possibility, Council Member Degner revised his proposal to allow other companies to bid for this contract as well.

At this point, Council Member Abe Shearer raised a new point.  Why should the council only allow companies who offered a money back guarantee for their work to bid for this project?  If the council could find a company with a good reputation who did not have such a guarantee, and at a considerable savings, shouldn’t they have the same chance to offer their services as well?  Vice Mayor Charlie Chenault seemed to disapprove of that idea.

In the vote that followed, Degner and Chenault approved the revised plan, as did Council Member Richard Baugh who declared that he was satisfied with this compromise.  Although clear that the measure would pass despite their objections, both Mayor Byrd and Council Member Shearer voted no.

As mentioned, I’ve attended quite a few council meetings as of late.  However, last night marked a first, the first time that I was proud of my council for voicing my shared concerns about a fair and open process, for supporting the ideals of the free market, and for demonstrating that they are more than a monolithic group, a rubber stamp for any and every proposal that is presented to them.  Returning to an earlier subject, last night gave me hope as well that the council might one day jettison the golf course, realizing that its public ownership is not a proper function of local government.

I appreciate Council Member Baugh for not simply accepting the first proposal as stated.  However, I write this post especially to praise Mayor Byrd and Council Member Shearer for their firm stands at Tuesday’s meeting.

Corey Stewart & The Truth

VC Note:  I wrote the following piece back on March 22nd of this year.  For the last several months, I have debated whether or not I should post it; after all, I don’t enjoy writing negative articles against candidates.  However, given recent high profile endorsements, including the virtual tea party endorsement, along with a slew of anonymous hit pieces tied directly or indirectly with the Stewart campaign, I realized that this issue must be highlighted and not done in secret on behalf of someone else, but through my own hand.

There are two facets to Corey Stewart and his campaign that, in my mind, set him and his campaign apart from the other six in this race to be Virginia’s next lieutenant governor.

The first is that his campaign is the only one of the seven to speak with me about working for him.  In all fairness, I’m a bit surprised by this development.  Although I’ve discussed this issue with the Cuccinelli campaign and both the Bell and Obenshain camps, I’ve taken a rather neutral approach to the LG race.  Nevertheless, while attending a dinner with Mr. Stewart, his staff, and fellow members of the tea party in Harrisonburg late last year, I was told that the Stewart campaign was looking to hire someone with Ron Paul connections to work within the liberty community.  Given that I served as the director of grassroots organizing in South Carolina for Dr. Paul in 2007/08, appointed myself the unofficial Harrisonburg coordinator for the 2012 campaign, and have been quite active with my fellow brothers and sisters in liberty over the years, I suppose that I would fit the bill pretty well.  In addition, at that time I was (and unfortunately still am) searching for political employment.  And yet, despite the chance to make a steady paycheck and work amongst my Ron Paul brethren once more, I did not jump at this opportunity.  But why?  This question leads me to the second issue.

Rewind the clock to late 2010 and early 2011.  Before Corey Stewart began his listening tour, gauging the idea of running for U.S. Senate, I didn’t know too much about him.  Sure, he was and is the Chairman of the Board of Supervisors for Prince William County; cracking down on illegal immigration was his signature issue that brought him a lot of praise and condemnation from various folks, but those details covered the extent of my knowledge.  However, on February 24th of 2011, Corey Stewart came to speak to the Harrisonburg Tea Party.

Looking back further, as I wrote back in October of 2010, a new Facebook group popped up called “Republicans Against a George Allen Comeback”.  At that time, I didn’t pay the group much mind.  After all, like many Virginia Republicans, I still wore the rose-colored Allen glasses.  In my mind, George Allen was a great governor and a pretty good senator who ended up saying some stupid things which cost him his position back in 2006.  In addition, I should add that I almost always develop a very strong sense of loyalty to my former employers; even though I didn’t work for him directly, in 2006 I was an employee of the Republican Party of Virginia whose top priority was Allen’s re-election.

I found that the more I learned of Corey Stewart on the night of 2/24/11, the more I liked him.  Therefore, when he repeated some of the same claims offered by the previously mentioned Facebook group, I decided to look into the matter.  Was George Allen, as Mr. Stewart suggested, a “mediocre” senator? (video from VA Social Conservative).  Did he support many of the same big government programs that tarnished the Republican brand in Washington, programs for which I previously condemned Republican president George W. Bush?

Upon Mr. Stewart’s urging, I set aside my previous thoughts about George Allen and looked at his record objectively.  And what did I find?  The sobering truth.  As many readers already know, unfortunately George Allen was one of those Republicans who vastly expanded the role of the federal government in areas such as education, health care, and the erosion of our civil liberties.  For me, the facade that I had wishfully erected around George Allen since my first days in politics had been shattered.  I was convinced that Virginia conservatives could and should nominate someone far better than Mr. Allen to send to the U.S. Senate.

By November 1st of 2011, Corey Stewart decided against running for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate.  So then, he must have rallied behind one of the candidates, like Jamie Radtke, right?  No, in a stunning complete reversal, he endorsed George Allen.  According to Politifact, “Stewart was asked about his characterization of Allen as a ‘mediocre’ senator. ‘All in all, I’ve got to say that I retract that statement and I have to say he had a very good senate record,’ he said.”  But wait just a second.  As he was no longer in office, George Allen’s Senate record did not change.  The only thing that did change was Corey Stewart’s political motivations.

I was (and still am two and a half years later) shocked by this development.  How could Mr. Stewart tour Virginia for the purpose of deriding George Allen to endorse him only nine months later?  Obviously, the answer, as Corey Stewart states in the Politifact article, stems, not from desire to spread the truth, but from his political ambitions.  Is this quality of flexible morality something you desire of someone who seeks to lead us in Richmond?

Given these factors, I’m sure you can understand why I didn’t pounce upon the opportunity to work on the Stewart campaign last year.  Yes, I’m sure that they would have compensated me fairly well, but what price would I have to pay?  If I promoted his message to my fellow liberty-minded activists would I completely destroy my credibility in the movement?  If I knowingly worked for someone who I didn’t trust from the very beginning could I bear the sight of looking at myself in the mirror?  Now, I know that some would merely shrug their shoulders at this idea.  After all, a job is just a job.  But I firmly believe what you do (and what you do not do) is an important reflection of who you are.

Many people value my writing on this blog for its objectivity, which I appreciate.  However, I must state my strong opinion that although Mr. Stewart might be a fine candidate and person in many regards, I can only support candidates I can trust.  Therefore, I could not work for Corey Stewart nor will I be able to cast my vote for him at the Republican convention on May 18th.  The last thing either the Republican Party or Virginia needs to promote is another self-serving politician willing to say or do anything to advance his or her own political career.

Stewart in HarrisonburgAlthough you can only see some of the words written behind Mr. Stewart as he spoke against George Allen at a local Baptist church in 2011, you can see, perhaps ironically that they are from the Bible, John 8:32. “Then you shall know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

Should the Stewart campaign wish to offer a rebuttal to this piece, I’ll be happy to offer their commentary to you.