Unpacking the sausage of Fairfax County elections

By Brad Swanson:

You should not look too closely into the making of laws or sausages, runs the saying attributed (incorrectly) to Germany’s “Iron Chancellor”, Otto von Bismarck. But what would he have thought about the convoluted process of making Democratic Party candidates for Fairfax County elected offices?

Overall, there will be more than 50 offices on Fairfax County ballots on November 5, 2019. Whew! And before you have elections you have candidate selection –or, in the case of non-partisan offices, endorsement.   And this is a process of legislative, not to mention sausage-packing, complexity.

To keep the machinery moving, Fairfax County Democratic Committee (FCDC) helpfully keeps a  list of candidates and ongoing selections, updated frequently. Click here  to access.

To start, here are the offices to be elected on Nov.  5:

9 State Senators
17 House of Delegates Members
9 Board of Supervisors Members
1 Chairperson, Board of Supervisors
1 Commonwealth’s Attorney
1 Sheriff
9 District School Board Members
3 At-Large School Board Members
3 Soil & Water Conservation District Directors

Total: 53

More from The Blue View

Money in politics emerging as top issue in Virginia 2019 elections

By Abby Fox:

The heated topic of money in politics in Virginia drew a star-studded list of speakers and a large, boisterous audience to a forum on Nov. 28th at the Mason District Government Center.

State legislators, candidates and activists took turns detailing the corrosive effects of corporate money on politics throughout the Commonwealth, calling out Dominion Energy, the NRA, the Koch industrial family, tobacco giant Altria, and private prison company GEO Group, among others.

The speakers agreed that the topic is sure to play an important role in elections in Nov. 2019 in which all 40 state senators and 100 state delegates will be chosen.

Event sponsors included: People Demanding Action, the End Corporate Rule Issue Organizing Team of People Demanding Action, Progressive Democrats of America-Virginia, Our Revolution Northern Virginia, Our Revolution Arlington, American Promise – Virginia, Our Revolution Alexandria, Activate Virginia, and Loudoun Progressives.

(Photo: Yasmine Taeb says she will take a leave of absence for six months to wage an electoral battle for Virginia state senate)

Much more from The Blue View

Prize-winning author to present radical right’s plan to steal democracy on Oct 3

By Brad Swanson:

Prize-winning author Nancy MacLean visits northern Virginia Oct. 3

Celebrated author Nancy MacLean visits our region on Wed. Oct. 3 for a free presentation on her prize-winning book “Democracy in Chains:The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America ” .

MacLean’s book has won prestigious awards and she has earned national prominence — including this recent appearance with Bill Maher —  for exposing an organized campaign by radical libertarians to seize the agendas of the nation’s universities, political institutions and judicial system, aided by the open wallets of the Koch brothers.

The presentation is 7:30 – 9 pm on Wednesday October 3rd at Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fairfax at 2709 Hunter Mill Road in Oakton, VA 22124. (Directions here).

Sign up to reserve a seat here.

The radical right seeks to destroy public faith in institutions in order to protect the power of the 1%. They work assiduously to promote a national agenda that undercuts our democracy. And the evidence of their success is everywhere, from the White House to classrooms, courtrooms and state assemblies.

More in The Blue View

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

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

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

Review group questions police role in Fairfax County schools

By Brad Swanson:

What should be the role of cops in schools? Should armed police officers even be allowed in schools?

These were among the issues that rose to the surface in a tense meeting Monday night of a community group charged with reviewing the terms under which police officers are assigned to high schools and middle schools throughout the county.

“Kids should not be consigned to hell because they made one mistake [in school],” argued Matthew Dunne, representing the Fairfax County Council of PTAs.  Dunne and 14 others are members of the School Resource Officer (SRO) Community Review Committee, appointed by Board of Supervisors Chair Sharon Bulova to review the draft of a new memorandum of understanding between the Fairfax County School Board and the Police Department governing  the cops-in-schools policy.

The meeting was attended by about 50 members of the public, some of whom waved signs and heckled speakers. Bulova, Police Chief Ed Roessler, and School Superintendent Dr. Scott Braband bore the brunt of criticism as committee members questioned key tenets of the program and called for more time to complete their review.

Bulova defended her decision to fix an accelerated timetable of only three meetings for the SRO committee, pointing out that the new agreement had to be finalized this summer so it could take effect with the start of school on Aug. 28.

But some committee members pushed for a top-to-bottom review, and even questioned whether Fairfax should station police officers in schools at all.

“There are school systems elsewhere that have safe environments without the presence of armed guards in the schools,” said Sookyung Oh, a committee member representing National Korean American Services & Education Consortium. But Commitee Chair Shirley Ginwright, representing the Communities of Trust Committee, said the program of placing police in schools is a reality, and the question before the committee is how to improve it.

Read the rest at The Blue View

Photo Essay: Thousands rally in Washington, D.C., to bring families together

Tens of Thousands of demonstrators rallied Saturday in Washington, D.C., to protest the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy and separating children from their parents.

On a sweltering day in the capital, the crowd gathered at Lafayette Square across from the White House to protest separating thousands of children from their parents at the border and the new plan to detain families together. Some 600 “Families Belong Together” rallies were held around the country.

The rally began with Sebastian Medina-Tayac of the Piscataway Indian Nation addressing the crowd in Spanish and English, reminding people that this is a nation of immigrants. Then he beat the drum.

Then Jocelyn, an undocumented immigrant who didn’t want to give her full name, told of how she was separated from her son when she came to the United States from Brazil last August and she was held at a detention facility in Texas. She said that she was told that her son could be adopted. It took 9 months for them to be reunited.

Celebrities Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of the smash musical “Hamilton,” singer Alicia Keys and actress America Ferrera were among the rally speakers. Miranda sang a lullaby from “Hamilton,” Keys read a letter from a mother separated from her son and Ferrera talked about being a new mother, her Honduran roots and her duty to defend justice.

After the rally, protesters marched down Pennsylvania Avenue past the Trump International Hotel to the Department of Justice.

Read the rest at The Blue View

‘Shock and Awe’ movie shows how a few reporters ‘got it right’

By Karen Kirk:

In the march to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, there were few dissenting voices. Most of the news leading up to the war was about the Bush administration’s false claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction that Saddam Hussein could unleash on us at any time.

But at the Knight Ridder Washington Bureau, there were a few journalists who discovered the truth — that there wasn’t evidence of weapons of mass destruction. They wrote stories that most newspapers, even those owned by Knight Ridder, wouldn’t run, preferring to reprint reports from Judith Miller of the prestigious New York Times, who was being fed, and repeating, misinformation from high government officials and sources inside Ahmad Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress.

A couple of years later, Miller spent 85 days in jail protecting her source, the recently pardoned Scooter Libby, who had identified Valerie Plame as a member of the CIA. Miller was forced to resign from the Times in 2005 after persistent questions and concerns about her actions.

Now, in the new movie “Shock and Awe,” director Rob Reiner is telling the story of how reporters Jonathan Landay and Warren Strobel and veteran war correspondent Joe Galloway, under the direction of Bureau Chief John Walcott, got to the truth.

Read the rest at The Blue View