Sign-Up for Back to School Night

Summer is quickly coming to an end and Hunter Mill is gearing up for Back to School Nights at 21 schools from August 23 to September 26.  BTSN is a great opportunity for us to reach parents of school age children in our community to let them know about the November elections and the candidates.

Please consider signing up for one (or more) of our Back to School Nights through our Sign-up Genius link BTSN Hunter Mill 2018.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Christine Rohrer at christinefrohrer@gmail.com or 703.598.4918

Comstock stays mum during congressional committee attack on integrity of FBI

By Julie Galdo:

Two of northern Virginia’s Congress members defended our federal intelligence agencies against vicious insinuations of corruption last month during the aggressive questioning of FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok. But our region’s third member of Congress was nowhere to be seen.

Gerry Connolly called the hearing “a new low” for Congress

Strzok came across as a dedicated Federal employee who made a dumb mistake by expressing his personal feelings about politics in his official email account. But his Republican inquisitors tried to build that into a wholesale indictment of the integrity and professionalism of our most trusted institutions.

Strzok pointed out that that sabotaging an investigation would require everyone above him to sign off on his effort to subvert the investigation all the way to the director of the FBI. “Multiple layers…section chiefs, unit chiefs, case agents and analysts–all of whom were involved in these decisions.

Don Beyer also defended the integrity of the FBI

But several of the Republican House and Judiciary Oversight Committee members were undaunted by reason and continued their assault on Strzok. Their logic can only lead to the conclusion that you can’t trust anyone in the intelligence and national security communities — that they are all motivated by politics and not love of country.

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-11) was having none of it. At the hearing he called the Republican questioning an attempt at “destruction of the reputation of the FBI” and “a new low for the United States Congress.” Don Beyer called it a hearing that “had no purpose other than to give Fox News coverage of Republicans attacking the FBI and DOJ.”

Meanwhile, Barbara Comstock was notable for her absence

But their colleague Barbara Comstock (R-10) did not have the courage or decency to stand up for the intelligence community. Does Comstock truly believe that many of the men and women who serve in intelligence and national security are not to be trusted? Or is she simply not be trusted to stand for what she knows is right?

 

From The Blue View

Time to vote for politicians who support gun safety

By Karen Kirk:

“VOTE THEM OUT” was the rallying cry of speakers and protesters as more than 100 people gathered outside of the NRA Headquarters in Fairfax Saturday in support of gun safety.

“This nation breathes the oxygen that is the promise of liberty and right now, our people are suffocating,” said speaker Micaela Lattimer, a 17-year-old Latina from Maryland. “We’re not free when gunshots pierce classrooms. We’re not free when people are criminalized just for being black or brown. We’re not free when gun violence in Atlanta, Chicago, St. Louis, Baltimore and Detroit goes ignored,” said Lattimer, speaking in English and Spanish.

“We point cameras to schools whose windows are shattered but muffle the voices who cry black lives matter. When black activists protested police brutality they were met with full riot gear and teargas,” said Lattimer, who helped organize the rally.

“To my fellow young people, it is now our job to actively urge those around us to vote and to lobby legislators and question authority,” she said. “Eternal vigilance is necessary to protect our freedom.”

“To elected officials, we the people are calling on you to develop and carry out policy that prevents a firearm from getting into the cold grip of a domestic abuser, policy that prevents the phone call telling a family their child was gunned down at age 16, policy that protects black youths from the shackles of criminalization and policy that keeps hateful people from committing a massacre. Most of all, policy that promotes humanization and education.”

“If you wish to stay in office, we demand that you actively protect our inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” Lattimer said.

Read the rest at The Blue View

Jennifer Wexton plans to repeal and replace Comstock

By Karen Kirk:

“Good afternoon. I’m Jennifer Wexton and I’m going to repeal and replace Barbara Comstock,” the Virginia State senator told the audience at The Good Ole Girls brunch on Sunday at the Tysons Corner Marriott.

Jennifer Wexton greets a guest at The Good Ole Girls brunch (Photos by Karen Kirk)

Wexton, who is running for the CD-10 seat, said that like many of us after the 2016 election, she just wanted to pull the covers up over her head. “But I think most of us realized that we can’t just stay under the covers for the next 4 years so we ultimately came out and seeing what the administration has been doing — the attacks on the institutions that are here to keep us safe, institutions like the free press, institutions like our intelligence community, and attacks on civility, the rule of law, immigrants, women, the environment, I knew I had to step up again and run for Congress.”

“So this is going to be an election about contrasts because Barbara Comstock and I are both women and that’s about where the similarity ends.”

  • On women’s health:“Barbara Comstock has said more than once that she wants Roe vs Wade overturned, and with Donald Trump making appointments to the Supreme Court, she may get her wish so it’s more important now than ever that we have members of Congress who are pro-choice and fight to do things like fully fund Planned Parenthood. I will do those things in Congress.”
  • On health care: “Barbara Comstock has voted 6 times to repeal Affordable Care Act and rip health care coverage away from millions of Americans. She voted to eliminate the individual mandate which has spiked insurance premiums for everybody and thrown the individual markets into chaos. I on the other hand along with (Loudon, VA Delegate) Karrie Delaneyand my friends in the General Assembly have expanded access to affordable healthcare to 400,000 Virginians.
  • On guns: “Barbara Comstock is the top recipient in money from the NRA — bought and paid for by the gun lobby. I have been fighting for years for common sense gun violence prevention and gun safety legislation. I will do the same thing in Congress.”

Wexton then outlined the contrasts on how each candidate deals with this president, saying “because while drafting our Constitution, our forefathers foresaw that we could have a president like Trump, but what they didn’t see was that we could have a Congress that enabled him.”

Read the rest at The Blue View

College students need to apply for absentee ballot

The author’s son Ben, preparing to return to college

By Stephanie Witt Sedgwick, from The Blue View

If it’s August, it’s time to start getting ready to send your college student back to school.

The No. 1 item on the To Do List: Have them apply for an absentee ballot or register to vote ASAP and wait a week or two until they are registered and then have them apply.

It’s fast. It’s easy.

Go to: Register to Vote and Apply for Absentee Ballots

Documents: Your student will need their social security number and driver’s license number

Reason for applying to vote absentee: Student attending college or university outside of locality of residence.

Address: Your student can receive their ballot at their home address or college address.

Plans change. Don’t count on your student coming home to vote or voting in person absentee during fall break.

New policy for police in Fairfax schools to focus on law enforcement, not discipline

By Matthew Dunne:

The policy governing roles and responsibilities of  armed police officers who patrol the hallways of every public middle and high school in Fairfax County is about to be improved, after a community panel submitted more than 50 pages of comments in a wide-ranging review.

Although universal agreement was not reached, the policy review, the first in several years, led to significant improvements, including establishing a bright line between school discipline and law enforcement.

[Editor’s note: Some panel members believe the policy should strengthen protection for immigrant students – read story here]

The revised policy is set to be voted on by the Fairfax County School Board this coming Thursday, and will take effect with the start of the school year on Aug. 28.

The policy review grew out of concern that the existing agreement between the Fairfax Police Department and the school board had led to disparate treatment of minority children. In response, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chair Sharon Bulova appointed an ad hoc committee of community representatives to provide input on the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the school system and the police.

Some parents and community members view armed police in schools, known as school resource officers (SROs),  as a necessary safeguard against the many dangers in our world. While violent crime remains at historic lows, gun violence, sex trafficking and gang activity continue to threaten the safety and security of our children in school.  From this perspective, SROs serve as the first line of defense.

Other parents and community members view SROs as the problem, not the solution. Dash cam, body cam, and cell phone videos have revealed a disturbing pattern of discrimination and violence against minority children across the country.

In Fairfax County, there are conflicting reports on SRO interactions with students. However, data compiled by ACLU People Power show that approximately two-thirds of those arrested by SROs are African-American or Hispanic, even though these groups together constitute only one-quarter of the county population.

Similarly, two-thirds of students receiving suspensions are African-American or Hispanic, even though these groups together constitute only one-third of the student population.

Led by Communities of Trust Committee Chair Shirley Ginwright, the SRO review committee engaged in a thorough review of the MOU, starting with its first meeting on July 2. The process was at times contentious because the stakes were high and the time was limited. The parties had to bridge serious differences of opinion and understanding on SRO activities within three weeks. The committee members submitted dozens of comments, which were compiled into a matrix exceeding 50 pages in length.

The draft reviewed at the final meeting on July 19 committed Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) to “handle discipline within the school disciplinary process without involving SROs” and affirmed   “that school administrators and teachers are responsible for school discipline and that law enforcement is not to be involved with disciplinary action.”

Read the rest at The Blue View

Be ready for Comstock to use smear tactics in 10th district race against Wexton

By Rob Abbot:

As the race between Jennifer Wexton and Barbara Comstock to represent Virginia’s 10th district in Congress heats up, we need to be ready for Comstock to revert to her usual vicious and false campaign tactics.

To see her modus operandi clearly, you need look no farther than her last contest. Just last month, she faced a relative unknown, retired Air Force pilot Shak Hill, in the Republican primary for the seat. Apparently worried that her funding and name recognition advantages would not see her through, she unleashed a scurrilous attack on Hill two weeks before the election, using a puerile nickname (“Shady Shack”),  childish insults (“creepy”; “can’t win”) and insinuendos that her opponent was a pornographer.

This was business as usual for Comstock. In her five previous election contests –three for state delegate followed by two for Congress — she showed an aptitude for finding a small chink in her opponent’s armor and magnifying it to create a misleading, even slanderous narrative that portrays the opponent as personally dishonorable. Sadly, these reprehensible tactics have worked —  she has been successful in all these races.

Here are some examples:

— In her first campaign in 2009, for  Virginia House of Delegates, Comstock accused her opponent of abetting child molesters. In truth, the opponent had voted for an austerity budget that provided for early release of non-violent offenders.

— In 2011, running for re-election, she maintained that her opponent had supported raising taxes –even though the opponent had never held public office.

–In 2013, running for a third term in the Virginia house, she painted her opponent as a tax cheat. The reality is that the opponent’s spouse had been late paying a property tax bill.

Even before running for office herself, Comstock had become a veteran in using smear tactics against political enemies. As an investigator for a Republican Congress member  in the 1990s she spearheaded massive, coordinated efforts to bring down President Bill Clinton with fake “scandals” such as Filegate, Travelgate, and Whitewater.

Media accounts of her pulling all-nighters poring over thousands of pages of subpoenaed documents somehow paint this behavior as endearing. In truth, Comstock built her career and reputation by trying to tear down Democratic opponents, not on the basis of policy disagreements but by suggesting that the opponent is morally repugnant and unfit to serve.

Read the rest at The Blue View

Kavanaugh will support Trump’s march toward autocracy

                      Judith Shamir

By Judith Shamir:

Donald Trump has always made it abundantly clear that his choice for the Supreme Court would be someone who, like him, is staunchly determined to overturn abortion rights as well as many other civil and human rights. In picking Brett Kavanaugh as his nominee, he is fulfilling that promise.

Kavanaugh’s pick is the most frightening of all the prolific steps toward autocracy that the Trump regime has taken so far. Seeing Trump’s cozy conversation, just concluded, with his Russian puppet master in Helsinki highlights the danger of picking a nominee with so little regard for rights and rule of law.

Whatever he might say about respecting precedent and giving due consideration to the facts of each case, Mr. Kavanaugh has demonstrated that he will not hesitate to bend the law to serve his views.  In a dissenting opinion on a recent DC Circuit Court decision, Kavanaugh argued against allowing a young undocumented woman to access abortion care, putting her health at risk by delaying the procedure. In another dissent, he argued that the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive coverage requirement places a “substantial burden” on religious employers who seek exemption from this mandate.

Some might say that we dodged a bullet – that Kavanaugh is actually more “moderate” than other potential nominees. Should we feel relief then? Certainly not. Kavanaugh believes the President should not be subject to subpoena or charged with a crime while in office. His writings indicate that he would favor dismissing the independent counsel’s investigation as unconstitutional, making the prospect of his participation in Supreme Court rulings regarding the Mueller investigation yet another dramatic threat to American democracy.

Read the rest at The Blue View

Fairfax NAACP Recognized as Best Branch in the United States

By M. J. O’Brien:

The Fairfax County NAACP has been named the top branch in the country by the national organization. The branch will receive the prestigious Thalheimer Award, given annually to the branch with the most outstanding achievements, next week at the NAACP’s Annual Convention in San Antonio, Texas.

Kofi Annan, President, Fairfax County NAACP

“Fairfax County is the home of the best branch in the NAACP in the nation,” said Kofi Annan, president of the Fairfax branch in announcing the award. “We’ve always felt that way … but today it became official!”

Established in 1944, the Thalheimer Award recognizes “outstanding achievements” by local branches in “the implementation of the Association’s strategic priorities and goals.” These include “enhancing advocacy, civic engagement, economic and political empowerment, criminal justice, and educational equity.” The award is named for Dr. Ross Thalheimer, a psychologist who was executive director of the Community Guidance Service and also founder of the American Institute for Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis.

In its application for the award, the branch cited a variety of activities and initiatives, including the successful two-year “Change the Name” campaign that sought to convince the Fairfax County School Board to change the name of J.E.B. Stuart High School. Name change proponents pointed out that naming the most diverse high school in the county after a Confederate general was a detriment to learning and an insult to students and residents alike.

In July 2017, the school board voted that the name of J.E.B. Stuart had to go and later in the year support coalesced around the name Justice High School. The school is being revamped this summer and will officially open with its new moniker next month.

Read the rest at The Blue View

Trump is out of step with Republican voters on environmental protection

By Vivian Thomson:

My mother, who passed away in May at the age of 100, was a lifelong Republican. But she was also a conservationist and environmentalist who was deeply concerned about climate change. She could not abide pollution and the waste of resources. She was horrified by Scott Pruitt and by the president’s blinkered support for coal.

It turns out that my Republican conservationist mother’s opinions reflect Republican voters’ views generally.

As of this spring, a Yale University-George Mason University poll showed that 69 percent of Republicans support regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant.

Even in 2013, by a margin of almost two to one, Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents supported taking action to reduce fossil fuel use. In 2017, 62 percent of Trump voters said they support regulating or taxing greenhouse gases.

Before the 2015 climate talks in Paris, 85 percent of Democrats, 64 percent of Republicans, and 71 percent of survey respondents overall agreed that reaching an international accord to limit global warming was important.

The bottom line is that, while Democratic voters tend to feel more strongly about these issues than Republicans, there is widespread bipartisan support for reducing greenhouse gas emission, advancing our reliance on renewables, and meeting our commitments to the global community.

What these poll results also signify is that many national Republican politicians are not only hiding from well-established scientific and court findings, they are out of step with of their constituents.

Republicans like Richard Nixon and George H. W. Bush took the high road on public health and environmental issues because of strong public support that crossed party lines. At the state level, the three states that lead in wind energy, with 41 percent of installed capacity—Texas, Oklahoma, and Iowa—were counted in Trump’s column.

Read the rest at The Blue View