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November 23, 2004

Happy Thanksgiving!

ElGrowlerGrande will be out of town until probably next Monday. Until then, here's wishing you a happy, safe, and blessed Thanksgiving.

November 21, 2004

Striking Down the Anti-Tax Forces

Last week's November 17 Richmond Times-Dispatch reports, "Pro-tax business leaders have raised $1 million to help friends and afflict enemies in the 2005 lelgislative elections." The paper added the Leadership for Virginia PAC "will be among the richest political action committees in the state, pumping money to centrist candidates for the House of Delegates in both parties." One of the PAC's leaders, former Delegate 'Panny' Rhodes "dismissed suggestions by anti-tax Republicans that the growing surplus -- perhaps $1 billion or more, according to the Warner administration -- is evidence new taxes were unnecessary." The paper also reported the PAC's executive director "said the PAC might target for defeat opponents of the tax increase, virtually all of whom are Republicans."

November 15, 2004

Your Tax Dollars Hard at Work in Arlington County? Not!

In this week's Arlington Sun-Gazette, Arlington County taxpayers will learn of the latest example of wasteful spending by Arlington's spendthrift County Board in the name of compassionate government. One of the Board members attended a national conference of county officials, and learned about an effort in Wisconsin to alert drivers of the need to slow down to "Keep Kids Alive." So if you saw one of the "Keep Kids Alive" signs in an Arlington front yard, be aware that your tax dollars paid for those signs. And you paid 'big time.' The Sun-Gazette reported the county paid about $10 each. Earlier this year, ACTA was quoted a price of less than $3 each for an equal quantity of similarly-sized signs. Arlington's bureaucrats like to tell anyone who will listen that Arlington is "a world-class community." However, only the price is 'world-class' because the few signs we've seen sprinkled about Arlington front-yards are definitely not.

November 12, 2004

Should Government 'Butt Out' of So-Called Affordable Housing

The October 29, 2004 edition of Washington Business Journal contains a detailed discussion of why there is little so-called affordable housing being built in the Washington area even though the headline claims there is "agreement from developers, government and residents that affordable housing is crucial." One developer even opines that affordable housing is "good for the community, and it's good for business." Well, if it's so good for business, then why isn't business subsidizing housing for their employees rather than advocating that all taxpayers in general provide housing subsidies? The paper does identify ways to reduce the cost of housing, which are to reduce "often-onerous county regulations" and the fees that county government charges developers. As economist Walter Williams recently pointed out in a recent Townhall.com column, "political allocation of resources is conflict enhancing while market allocation is conflict reducing."

November 07, 2004

Will Arlington's New High School Be Known as "W-L Green?"

Residents of neighboring Alexandria are raising questions about the cost of the replacement high school for T.C. Williams, which some are calling, "T.C. Green," according to today's Washington Times. One of the factors causing the escalating cost is the so-called "green," or environmental, requirements. We urged Arlingtonians to reject the school bond issue that was on the ballot at last week's elections because about $10-13 million of the cost of the new Washington-Lee High School will go towards making W-L a "green" high school. None of those costs will add one point in student SAT or SOL scores, but will go far towards making the School Board, and its friends in the environmental movement, "feel good" about themselves.

November 04, 2004

Tax Cutting and Smaller Government Get Boost from 'Club for Growth'

The Club for Growth provides economic conservatives who recoil at politicians who prefer solving every 'problem' with "more taxes, more spending, and more government" an avenue to channel political contributions to politicians who believe in cutting taxes and smaller government. Because of the Club's support, the new Congress will have at least 14 new members "who are strong advocates of tax cuts, Social Security personal accounts, and smaller government," according to a press release from the organization. For example, contributions from the Club provided significant support to six candidates who will be joining the U.S. Senate in January. "These victories this year in House and Senate races promises that on Capitol Hill tax cutting is in, big government is out," said Stephen Moore, president of the Club for Growth.

November 03, 2004

Democracy Still Exists in Virginia; Arlington By-Passed

Yesterday's voting saw voters in two smaller counties (Isle of Wight and New Kent) pass meals tax referenda while voters in Hanover County rejected the tax, according to today's Richmond Times-Dispatch and the Newport News Daily Press. Meanwhile, the voting gives me another opportunity to point out that Arlington's liberal elite stuck Arlingtonians with a meals tax more than a decade ago without ever putting the measure up to a vote. During floor debate in the General Assembly on whether to provide localities authority to impose a meals tax, an Arlington legislator attached an amendment giving Arlington's Gang of Five authority to implement the meals tax without a referendum if there was a unanimous vote of the County Board. Read precinct vote totals for Hanover and New Kent counties.

November 02, 2004

Arlington Voters Endorse All 4 Bond Referenda

With all 46 precincts reporting, but not counting absentee ballots, Arlington voters approved $208 million of bond referenda by large margins today. Based on preliminary results posted at the county election office website, voters made the following judgements:

Parks and Recreation -- 76.74% (60,145 Yes, 18,235 No)
Transportation, etc. -- 81.01% (63,236, 14,820)
Metro -- 82.07% (64,400, 14,069)
Schools -- 80.70% (63,222, 15,123)

Incumbent Barbara Favola (D) defeated challenger Landy Patton (R) in the County Board race by a margin of 72% to 28%.

November 01, 2004

When Voting on Those Arlington Bond Issues

Tomorrow's ballot in Arlington includes four bond issues

+ Parks & Recreation -- $75.4 million
+ Transportation & Community Infrastructure -- $35.9 million
+ Metro -- $18.5 million
+ Schools -- $78.1 million

While Arlington continues to hold onto its Triple A bond ratings, our concern is that average per capita debt is growing much faster than inflation. Of the four bonds that will be voted tomorrow, two are especially troublesome. We especially encourage a NO vote on the parks bond and on the schools bond. Engineering studies for the proposed North Tract facilities have not yet been completed; as a result cost overruns could be as high as 40%, which even the county's own capital planning documents acknowledge is a real possibility. This could add $18 million in cost overrun. Furthermore, debt service on the completed $100 million North Tract park will likely add 2.5 cents on the average residential tax bill.

The primary concern with the schools bond is the gold-plating of the proposed replacement of Washington-Lee High School. The School Board plans on spending $10-13 million on environmental trappings, i.e., the so-called LEED certification and utility undergrounding. That money will not improve SAT or SOL results one iota nor reduced the minority achievement gap. In addition, the planned square footage per student (208 sq ft/student) far exceeds what is being provided at nine high schools recently put under construction in Virginia (163 sf/student for two schools in 2002-2003 and 146 sf/student for seven schools in 2001-2002).

The ballot language for the bond issues is at this Arlington County website.