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Upcoming Local Government Meetings

Monday, July 25th @ 7pm--Commonwealth Attorney's Forum, Hosted by Shen. Valley Constitutional Conservatives, Dennys, 250 Conicville Road, Mt. Jackson

Tuesday, July 26th @ 7pm--Strasburg Planning Commission, 125 E. King Street, Strasburg

Tuesday, July 26th @ 7:30 pm--Woodstock Planning Commission, 135 N. Main Street, Woodstock

Campaign News: Commonwealth Attorney’s Forum Next Week

July 20, 2011

Readers (what few may not have been scared off) will note there hasn’t been much content around here of late. More on that in a bit. First order of business, however, is to announce an exciting event scheduled for next Monday. I know that I previously put a moratorium on CWA race coverage (and suffered the dwindling traffic for it), but this is not so much news as about a chance for you to hear from the candidates themselves.

Next Monday, July 25th the Shenandoah Valley Constitutional Conservatives will hold a candidate’s forum between the three announced candidates for the position of Commonwealth’s Attorney. Two candidates are Brad Pollack, an attorney in private practice in Woodstock from the Orkney/Basye area, and Mayor Jeremy McCleary of Woodstock, who also has his own private practice in Woodstock. Both men are seeking the nomination of the Republican Party at the County’s upcoming convention on Thursday, August 18th at 7:30 p.m. at Central High School in Woodstock. A third candidate, Amanda McDonald Wiseley of Strasburg, who is in private practice with her husband in the firm of Wiseley McDonald Wiseley, was previously seeking the nomination but left the race to run as an independent on allegations that opposition camps were circulating rumors regarding her current pregnancy and general fitness to serve in order to derail her campaign. (EDITOR’S NOTE, 7/21: I wanted to clarify that the allegations of said rumors were made by the Wiseley campaign itself in the press release announcing an independent run, in which they refused to name who was spreading said rumors or even their affiliation. Although they were echoed by the Shenandoah Valley Herald in an editorial last week, to date no evidence has been produced that such rumors were actually circulating). It is known that Wiseley has been circulating petitions but it is not yet clear that they have been turned in and certified. The filing deadline is 7 p.m. on August 23rd, the same day as the state primary in those areas that will be holding them. There’s no primary in Shenandoah County this year, as both political parties chose non-state run nominating methods.

The forum will be held at the Mt. Jackson’s Denny’s from 7 to 8:30 p.m. next Tuesday, July 25th. It is hosted by the Shenandoah Valley Constitutional Conservatives, a Tea Party-esque group that has been meeting for some months with a focus on both local and national issues. The format, as we know it right now, will be opening statements from the candidates followed by the candidates answering questions from the audience. We’ll provide more details on the format as we get them, but as we see it, this is not a traditional debate with a moderator asking screened questions with time allowed for rebuttals, but we’ll see.

Please share this with anyone you know with an interest. Email me at shenandoahsunshineproject@gmail.com for RSVP details–the sponsors are asking that you PLEASE RSVP in advance, as room is expected to be limited. Also of note–you may order off the menu at your own expense during the evening, but from the perspective of an ex-political professional, I ask you please stay away from the louder foods (celery, carrots, tacos, and broken glass cassarole).

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Project News: On Election Coverage

June 19, 2011

Over the last week, much of our coverage here has been about developments in the Commonwealth’s Attorney race. This project was started with the intention of bringing greater light to public policy and politics in Shenandoah County. We do so with an eye on the goal of increasing public discussion and involvement in the political and governmental process. Elections and campaigns are an inevitable part of this–they’re the point where we every four (or two or eight, depending on the office) years decide which candidate has the best ideas on how to manage the office they’re seeking or what public policies they hope to push for, depending, again, on the nature of the office.

With that said, I don’t want this project to become consumed with the tit for tat of the campaign. Our sole goal in presenting the candidates running for office is to put the information out there for the public to decide–I don’t want to particularly report on the give and take on the issues between the candidates. Now you may be asking–isn’t that a contradiction? To report on the issues before governmental bodies but not in the election? Not in my view. Elections are fought on issues that are not only related directly to policy but also character and personality. The issues we present that are before public bodies, on the other hand, are the result of debate just within that body and dictated by factors such as state and local law. This is where I believe that the focus needs to be: on those issues.

Our campaign coverage was always intended as something of a sidenote-we want to put the information out there but then let the people decide and the press to set the tone of the race. It is in the public policy sphere that we come in–to bring light to information that the press simply does not have the wherewithal to cover in full. We’re needed there most–with campaigns, we just want the information about who the candidates are to be present, and then let the people decide. Even our our first article on the election for Commonwealth’s Attorney was on the process, qualifications and history of constitutional offices and county elections.

So with all that said, I want to announce that I’m launching a moratorium on coverage of the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s race. Well, not so much a moratorium, but a clarification of what we do here. With the field set, from this point on we won’t be talking about the jockeying back and forth on the nod, be it in regards to delegate views, the flow of the race, or the issues or personalities at hand. I feel I’ve done a good job of just setting the ground floor–at this point, though, this website will be neither a participant nor judge. We’ll report on the outcome when the race is over, but until then, we’re going back to our primary focus on public policy.

We’re sorry if you’re disappointed, coming to rely on this site for “the scoop” on the race, but if you read our mission page, that’s not what I’m here for. Still, please, participate, get involved with this race. The simple fact of the matter, though, is given where I want to go with this website and my personal position within the Republican committee, I don’t want to be nor do I think that I can justify or even attempt to be unbiased and objective in my reporting on it.

So with that, let the games begin–just not with us. Feel free to poo poo us if you see fit, but that’s where I stand on this.

News: Redistricting Finalized–Find your precinct!

June 18, 2011

As mentioned previously, it is done: redistricting is complete for Shenandoah County. Alot of little changes here and there in terms of precinct lines–well, depends on if you live in a precinct that’s closing. Mt. Olive, Forestville, Columbia Furnace and Signal Knob will be closing, but by and large voters in those precincts will stay in their supervisor districts. The biggest change is for District Three, which will be picking up Fort Valley as a precinct in addition to St. Luke and Edinburg. The practical effect of this is that Fort Valley voters will be voting for a supervisor for a second time in two years in November.

Curious about where you fall? Use the map above to figure it out. One thing about the map–Riverbends precinct was NOT created, so all those voters will not only vote at Central High School alongside Woodstock town voters but will be a part of the precinct proper. Essentially, the proposed Riverbends precinct would have been an administrative move more than anything else–there would have been a seperate set of pollbooks and officials for Riverbends, but they would’ve voted in the same place. Now, don’t worry about that–if you’re in District 4 according to the map, you vote in Woodstock and are part of that precinct. A bigger implication–those voters who were moved from Mt. Olive to Woodstock are now entitled to vote at the Republican Mass Meeting and attend the County Convention as delegates from Woodstock.

So again, figure out where you vote (click on the map to make it larger) and get involved. Still not entirely sure where you vote? Contact the Registrar’s office, or wait for your new card to arrive sometime around September.

OPINION: Congressman Goodlatte’s Weekly Column for June 17th, 2011

June 17, 2011

Ed: Below is a column from Congressman Bob Goodlatte, Republican from the 6th Congressional District of Virginia, which includes Shenandoah County. We’re primarily a site about local politics, but state and national candidates and officeholders are welcome to send us articles and columns about any issues that are of concern to the people of Shenandoah County, as we feel citizens have a right to hear their comments. We want to provide a forum for candidates of all offices to reach out to the voters of Shenandoah County, as we feel this is something lacking in the current media paradigm. However, we still ask that citizen commentary be focused on local issues–there’s enough back and forth on national issues from citizens in the current papers. The below column does not neccesarily reflect the views of Shenandoah Sunshine or myself, nor should the publication of any candidate or officeholder’s words be considered an endorsement of their candidacy or the viewpoint they express.

Congressman Bob Goodlatte’s Weekly Column: June 17, 2011

The Technology Sector is Vital to Our Economic Recovery

The technology industry in America is a major driving force and job-creating engine of our economy.  The most recent data indicates that Virginia is one of the leading states in terms of the number of technology jobs.  In order to grow our economy in Virginia and nationally we must ensure this vital sector is protected and able to flourish.  Recently I was joined by House Speaker Boehner in announcing the House Republican Technology Working Group’s agenda for this Congress.  As Chairman of the Working Group we will focus on the issues that will help America maintain and expand its competitive edge in the technology sector while creating jobs to fuel economic growth.

Specifically, we will promote policies to protect American intellectual property. America is the most innovative nation on earth, due in part to the strong intellectual property protections our Founder’s included in the Constitution and Congress’ commitment to keep those protections strong and current.  In order to grow our national economy we must ensure this vital sector is protected and able to thrive.

The Working Group also intends to support efforts to protect the U.S. from cyber attacks.  Protecting cyberspace is vital to securing critical assets like telecommunications, energy, water, health care, transportation, emergency and financial services.

Another key component of the Technology Working Group’s agenda is promoting free and fair trade.  In order to increase the competitiveness of American companies, Congress must pass pending free trade agreements to expand market access for domestic products.

The Technology Working Group believes access and retention of the world’s best and brightest workers is key to our economic recovery. Congress must examine current education programs to make sure they are operating effectively and that we eliminate duplicate, unneeded and unsuccessful programs.  We will also examine current visa and immigration laws to make sure we attract and retain the best and brightest minds.

Additionally, we intend to focus on policies that update the tax code to ensure job growth.  We will promote tax reforms that put Americans back to work and encourage companies to invest domestically.  Business owners across the country want to invest in their firms and hire new workers.  Congress must ensure that our overly complicated tax code doesn’t stand in their way.

The Technology Working Group will also promote policies that reduce unnecessary red tape and regulation.  Regulatory and tax burdens often times tie the hands of business. Congress must focus on policies that allow businesses to use their resources to innovate, not force businesses to use them to comply with government red tape.

I am working hard to advance a pro-growth jobs agenda where the technology sector can flourish here in the 6th District of Virginia and across the country.  In working to advance these and other technology policies, we will ensure that the U.S. continues to lead the world in innovation and that the technology sector in America remains a driving force and job-creating engine of our economy.

To contact me about this or any other matter, please visit my website at www.goodlatte.house.gov.

OPINION: Karen Kwiatkowksi’s Column for June 17th, 2011

June 17, 2011

Ed: Below is a column from Karen Kwiatkowski, candidate for the Republican nomination for the 6th Congressional District in 2012. We’re primarily a site about local politics, but state and national candidates and officeholders are welcome to send us articles and columns about any issues that are of concern to the people of Shenandoah County, as we feel citizens have a right to hear their comments. We want to provide a forum for candidates of all offices to reach out to the voters of Shenandoah County, as we feel this is something lacking in the current media paradigm. However, we still ask that citizen commentary be focused on local issues–there’s enough back and forth on national issues from citizens in the current papers. The below column does not neccesarily reflect the views of Shenandoah Sunshine or myself, nor should the publication of any candidate or officeholder’s words be considered an endorsement of their candidacy or the viewpoint they express.

The Sherman Amendment – Defunding the Libyan Escapade
Last week, a Democratic Representative from California named Brad Sherman came up with a great idea.  How about the House of Representatives, as keeper of the federal government’s funding, decide that it would no longer pay for Obama’s unconstitutional war in Libya?  Intervention ended, constitutional rule restored!

It was a great idea.  Sherman’s Amendment 414 to H.R. 2055 (Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012) prohibits the use of funds in contravention of the War Powers Resolution.   On June 13th, it was voted upon, passed and added to the appropriations bill, with support of many members of the house, including our 6th District incumbent, who recently published his opposition to Obama’s military intervention in Libya.

This bill, as modified by Sherman’s amendment, narrowly passed the House and was sent to the Senate.  This time, although, our incumbent voted against it.  Presumably, he voted against H.R. 2055 because the appropriations bill contained too much of the typical pork, earmarks, and waste, in this time of near federal bankruptcy.  Hopefully, he did not vote against it because the House Republican and Democratic leadership both opposed the now-attached Sherman Amendment.

Incidentally, this intervention in Libya will cost over $1.1 billion by September 30, 2011.   Stopping it now might have made up for some of the other waste surely included in the 2012 appropriation.   Perhaps we can rely on the Democrat- dominated Senate to affirm the House’s bill, including the correct assertion that Mr. Obama’s unlawful Libyan war be defunded.   I’m not holding my breath on that.

The ongoing Libyan intervention clearly violates the Constitution, and while the Republicans are making hay by criticizing Obama’s war, they seem less than excited about actually doing something about it.  Reducing the unlawful expenditure of public money, or reining in an overly assertive executive who seems to believe he is a king doesn’t seem to be on the Republican agenda in this case.

Representative Sherman should be lauded for his amendment and one hopes the Senate will not defang its language nor ignore its intent.   But the people of the 6th District of Virginia might look at this flutter and fretting from Washington in a slightly different way.

What should have happened?  Republicans in the House seem today pretty charged up 100-plus days after the President’s unlawful attacks on Libya, without Congressional permission or rationale, in violation not only of the Constitution as originally written, but of the 1973 War Powers Resolution (itself an after-the-fact reaction to Nixon’s war-without-asking against Cambodia).     Why didn’t a Republican propose serious legislation to block the funding 99 days earlier?    There is always some legislation to attach an amendment to in Washington, and few rules or reasons constrain this practice.

But instead, we saw the GOP as effectively silent.    What should have happened some time ago was a real Congressional protest, led by Republicans, honoring the vision of another Virginian, who understood the nature of executive storytelling and the idiocy of wars desired by presidents and their advisors.  Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1782,

Never was so much false arithmetic employed on any subject as that which has been employed to persuade nations that it is their interest to go to war. Were the money which it has cost to gain, at the close of a long war, a little town or a little territory, the right to cut wood here or to catch fish there, expended in improving what they already possess, in making roads, opening rivers, building ports, improving the arts and finding employment for their idle poor, it would render them much stronger, much wealthier and happier. This I hope will be our wisdom.

Adventuristic wars are indeed waste, and usually fraudulent, as no doubt we will find out years from now, after the money for Libya is all spent and the government officials write their memoirs.  I’d have hoped that at the very least, a Republican-dominated House of Representatives, holding the pursestrings to war and all other spending, would have activated and defunded President Obama’s intervention in Libya months ago.

Instead, we heard only public complaints geared towards making Republicans look conservative, while it took a Democrat from California, no less, to actually try and do something about it, in the solid Constitutional language of public funding.

The United States is the throes of a fiscal and moral crisis, and the executive directed Libyan war is only a symptom of far greater challenges we face as American citizens in the 21st century.  But some things are not that hard to understand, and they are not that hard to do.   It just takes a one representative with a clear understanding of the Constitution, brave heart and a backbone of steel.  It’s not too much to ask, and it should never be a rarity.

PROJECT NEWS: Interns Wanted/Desperately Needed

June 17, 2011
tags:

KIDS!

Are you as insanely interested in local government and politics as Craig was at age 16?

or, do you have a court order mandating that you find something more productive for your time than the game colloquially known as “mailbox baseball”?

or, have your parents threatened to send you off to live with Aunt Ida to pick beans for the rest of the summer if you don’t find something to do?

If this describes you, or if the days following the end of school haven’t already bored you to death, then you may qualify to become an intern for the Shenandoah Sunshine Project!

In all seriousness, I started this project with one intent: to provide more comprehensive and complete coverage of local politics than ever attempted before in Shenandoah County. However, as I am oft to say, somebody has to pay the bills around here. Additionally, if I am to cover anything at all, I need to keep myself alive–hence doctor’s appointments, like the one that scrapped our coverage of the morning meeting of the Board of Supervisors and Strasburg Town Council this week. However, I still remain dedicated to this project (even Media Monday, though I may need to work out a new schedule), but yes, even I have my limitations. So a reader and supporter came up with an idea–why not enlist students to help?

So I thought, yeah, that sounds like a good idea. So let’s give it a whirl. Shenandoah Sunshine is looking for one or two interns to help with the filming of Town Council and Board of Supervisors meetings. The work won’t be steady–we essentially just need someone to fill in for me when I’m not available. But I can guarantee at least two meetings a month, if not more.

What qualifications does a ShenSun intern need? That’s the beautiful part–none really. Well, let’s back up. One, we do expect you to obey the rules of decorum at government meetings. So that means no talking, no loudly chewing gum, no smoking (yes, we do not discriminate here at Shenandoah Sunshine, so smokers allowed, but we can’t change the rules on where). I don’t particularly mind texting, but keep in mind you will need to be moving the camera some and generally pay attention. Two, we have the general expectation that you will not be rough on our equipment (I use it to earn a living elsewhere), so no catching it on fire, dropping it, etc. But we will show you how to use it, and hey–you’re part of the Web generation–you shouldn’t have a problem.

What do you get for being an intern? Well, we can’t offer much, but we may offer a little more than most. First off, we’ll give you $15 for each meeting you cover. Yes, that’s a flat fee, so you may be making more or less than minimum wage depending on how long the meeting goes, but if its excessively long, I can bail you out or make it worth your while. The point is to make sure you’re covered for gas and can maybe pick up two McDoubles on the way home (yum!) Additionally, we’ll work with your teachers or professors if such an activity has the opportunity to earn you extra credit in class. Finally, you’ll get a letter of recommendation, along with the use of your involvement on your resume. OH! And you’ll get credit on the blog as well.

So who might be eligible? Well, again, we only ask that you be able to pay attention and use our equipment. That said, this opportunity will probably be of most interest to those majoring in or hoping to study journalism, media, law or political science. We do ask that you have your own reliable transportation, so you should be between the age of 16 and 25 and be enrolled either in high school (home, public or private–just somewhere) or an associate’s, bachelors or master’s program.

Interested? Or think your kid should do this? Send me an email at shenandoahsunshineproject@gmail.com with a brief description of who you are and why you want to participate. I’ll try to get back with you as soon as possible–particularly because there’s a few meetings I may need covered next week.

Thanks, and we look forward to hearing from some fresh young citizen journalists!

Campaign News: Gilbert, Obenshain Secure Re-nomination; GOP Convention to be held August 18th

June 16, 2011

More details later tonight, but the long and short of it–last night Senator Mark Obenshain (R-26) and Delegate Todd Gilbert (R-15) secured their respective re-nomination by being the only candidates to file by the 5:00 p.m. registration deadline.

Additionally, the call to convention for the Shenandoah County Republican Party was issued at last night’s Republican Committee meeting. The convention is slated for August 18th at 7:30 p.m. at Central High School in Woodstock. Delegates will  be elected at mass meetings on the precinct level.

Currently, there are three announced candidates for the office of Commonwealth’s attorney: Mayor Jeremy McCleary of Woodstock, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Ken Alger of Edinburg, and attorney Amanda McDonald Wiseley of Strasburg. Sheriff Tim Carter and Commissioner of Revenue Kathy Black are also seeking renomination and are not believed to be facing any opposition. Supervisors Steve Baker (District 2), David Ferguson (District 3) and Conrad Helsley (District 6) have not yet announced their intention to seek re-election, but all are well within their boundary lines after redistricting and at least Baker and Helsley are widely believed to be seeking renomination. No opponents have announced as of this posting.