Williams Would be Great on City Council. I’m voting for Milteer

I like LeOtis Williams. I’ve supported him in the past when he ran for delegate and I’ll probably support him in future political endeavors. He’s a successful businessman, a philanthropist, and a popular figure in Suffolk. But he shouldn’t be in the race for the Whaleyville seat for Suffolk city council this year.

Given an electorate’s first, second, and third choice, our electoral system often elects the third. This year, that third choice will be Mike Britt, the overtly Republican candidate for Whaleyville.

City council candidates don’t run on party tickets in Virginia, but that rule has become nothing more than a technicality lately. Whaleyville votes almost 2 to 1 for the Democrat. But this year that 2 is going to be split between Williams and Curtis Milteer.

Curtis Milteer has been Whaleyville’s councilman for as long as most of his constituents can remember. Some people are saying it’s time for him to step aside and let someone younger take over. I agree, but Milteer isn’t stepping aside yet and he still has support among constituents who think he’s been good for the borough. I believe that support includes some Republicans. Milteer will lose some votes to Williams but he might still have enough to hold on to his incumbency. Williams, on the other hand, might get enough votes to beat Milteer, but he’s not going to beat Milteer and Britt. Too many Republicans are going vote for Britt and too many of Milteer’s loyalists will vote for Milteer.

And that’s going leave us with Republicans once again cheering and saying, “The people have spoken” as they seat a representative who doesn’t represent the people.

This is a redistricting year which means it’s a bad year to loose a borough to Republicans. Curtis Milteer has been doing a fine job for many years and I have faith he can keep going for a little longer. The chances of a Democrat winning if they split their vote is diminished, but Milteer has a better chance of holding on than Williams has of beating him and Britt together. My vote is too important to throw away. I’m voting for Milteer.

(note, I accidentally posted this while I was still drafting, and the earlier version had incorrect information)

Black Lives and Blue Lives

There’s a meme going around complaining that while mothers of “Young Men” (sarcastically printed in quotation marks) who were killed by police spoke at the Democratic National Convention, there were no family members of fallen heroes who were killed by “Thugs” (quotes mine).

Image described in paragraph above

But there were no family members of fallen heroes at the Republican National Convention, either. Family members of fallen heroes didn’t speak at either convention because we already agree that the deaths of police officers are tragic. That’s why we have severe penalties for violence against the police and compensation packages for family members of fallen heroes.

Those compensation packages would be more generous if Republicans didn’t fight against police unions. It’s only Republican lies that suggest Democrats are against the police. Democrats do more to support the police than Republicans do, but we all agree that the police deserve our support.

What we don’t all agree on is that something should be done about the few rogue cops who murder or brutalize the citizens they’re supposed to protect. Republicans seem to feel that the lives affected by dangerous or murderous acts committed by police don’t matter, as long as it’s not happening in their own neighborhoods. They claim that it’s best to just shut up about it, and that even mentioning the fact that sometimes people are murdered by police is the same as calling for the deaths of good cops.

Except for a few bad actors, nobody is calling for attacks on the police. That’s why Hillary Clinton praised the 500 applicants who wanted to become police officers in the aftermath of the Dallas murders, and why she said of the police, after Baton Rouge “They represent the rule of law itself. If you take aim at that and at them, you take aim at all of us. There can be no justification, no looking the other way.”

In my city, where “Police hugs make Sydnee smile”, community leaders and the police are working together. For those in Suffolk, there will be a Unity Parade, during National Night Out, and community leaders and police departments across the nation are working together in similar outreach efforts.

Dead cops isn’t the answer, but neither is ignoring the problem. It’s too bad that the phrase “All Lives Matter” was born as an attack on the Black Lives Matter movement. Indeed, all lives do matter, Black lives and blue lives included.

Blogging Again

After a very long break due to such real-life distractions as a difficult computational mathematics class and duties as the Suffolk Democratic Committee chairman, I’m going try this again.

Anyway, to start off with, I just sent an email to my delegate Rick Morris, in response to an email from him about his recent town hall meeting and a poll he conducted prior to the meeting. In that email, he wrote

71% of those polled agreed that Obamacare should be repealed and 68% agreed that Medicaid Expansion is not for Virginia.

75% of those polled did not want to repeal the Virginia Marriage Amendment which is an amendment to the Constitution of Virginia that defines marriage as solely between one man and one woman and bans recognition of any legal status of gay marriage.

I wrote,

If most of those who took your recent poll were on your mailing list, then that fact would skew the results away from an honest sample. Also, I’m sure you know that questions phrased like …

“Do you support or oppose ObamaCare’s Medicaid Expansion in Virginia? While expansion could provide coverage for 400,000 currently uninsured Virginians, it could cost the Commonwealth of Virginia over $1 billion per year, forcing cuts to other key services like education, mental health and public safety.”

… don’t yield honest results. An honest sampling of your constituents would certainly yield different results.

As disappointed as I am with the push-poll, I do applaud you for hosting town hall meetings. I hope you will continue to increase your efforts to honestly represent your constituents.

I don’t blame Mr. Morris for conducting an email poll of those who are on his mailing list. I would only ask him to acknowledge that such a sampling is made up almost entirely of people who support him and not of the general population of his constituency. If he makes that acknowledgement, then the fault is on the part of his constituents who have chosen not to involve themselves in the political process simply because they don’t agree with the views of their representative.

I do blame Delegate Morris for his push poll questions. It is dishonest to tell people what to think and then brag about how they agree with you. This is common practice for the likes of Randy Forbes, and here Delegate Morris seems to be following Congressman Forbes’s lead.

On the other hand, Rick Morris seems to be making some effort to reach out and hear his constituents. For that Delegate Morris deserves some recognition.

Remember that your political leaders are your representatives, but it’s hard to hold them accountable for not representing views of those who don’t voice them.

Delegate Morris represents Virginia’s House District 64. His website includes not only a (somewhat confusing) contact form, but very clearly includes his email addresses and phone numbers.

Another view of the pencil suspension

At the Suffolk Democratic Committee meeting last night, a member of the Suffolk School Board who attended the meeting said that after the pencil incident, nobody contacted anybody in the school board who could have reversed the principal’s decision to suspend two boys for pointing pencils at each other while saying “Bang”. Instead, the parents of one of the children went straight to the press.

She said that had the school board been contacted, the board would have overturned the suspensions. Despite the fact that she was unable to deal with the situation, she has received letters from as far away as Texas insulting her and her “liberal values”.

I don’t know who the teacher is. I don’t know about the “liberal values” of the teacher, the principal, or the spokeswoman who defended the idea that a pencil is considered a weapon when it is pointed at somebody. But I do know that neither the principal nor spokeswoman have been involved with the Suffolk Democratic Committee for at least as long as I’ve been a member, and that a school board member who agrees the whole incident was a silly mistake is a Democrat.

Notes from Suffolk’s Public Hearing on the Budget

I attended the City of Suffolk’s public hearing on the budget last night but had to leave before council members spoke at the conclusion. An overwhelming amount of citizens spoke in support of fully funding the school board’s budget request. Most of those suppoters were connected with the school system and spoke proudly of the acccomplishments of Suffolk public schools and about how difficult it is for teachers, administrators and staff to work with relatively low funding levels provided to the schoolboard by the city. Wendell Foster of the Education Association of Suffolk said other regional cities provide more school funding as a percentage of their budget than Suffolk does, with another speaker saying “Dead Last” while another acknowledge that Suffolk did “beat Newport News”.

Few who came to defend the schoolboard’s funding directly addressed Mayor Linda Johnson’s assertion that we must either cut services or raise taxes. In fact, only a few citizens did respond to the mayor’s options, and most chose a third: cut abuse and mismanagement. Elliot Joyner had a list of eight suggestions, aimed at cutting “out of control spending”. This included cutting the amount of vehicles and driving, both of which he said was excessive. He also suggested cutting Parks and Recreation and Public Works in half. Other speakers also spoke to abuses and attacked the mayor and city manager over their high salaries. Chris Dove said the council is “reaping what [they] sowed” by breaking zoning laws, allowing an increase in population accompanying a decrease in property values, resulting in the shortfall which was the primary concern for the meeting.

A few speakers did express a willingness to endure tax increases in support of the schoolboard and other spending, including a businessman who said he has been successful and the city already has “plenty of” his money. At least two speakers defended the city manager and mayor and praised them for the city’s growth and for keeping Lipton Tea in Suffolk.

Even those who attacked the city council over spending cited other areas, not the schoolboard, to cut funding.

A few speakers spoke to specific issues. Marion Flood, who defended the schoolboard, decried the loss of Robertson Elementary and, in general, the lack of spending in Whaleyville. “What does Whaleyville get?”, she asked, and called for a computer lab in the Whaleyville recreation center to assist in after-school education. Two speakers complained about excessive development and loss of services in Pughsville, one saying the streets are so blocked by cars that an ambulance would have difficulty gaining access to the area. Linda Bunch of Suffolk Art Leage said investment in arts is an investment which provides a return of at least three times over. Karen Joyner of the Foodbank Of Southeastern Virginia defended spending on human services.

The Suffolk News Herald quickly posted a summary of the hearing. As Tracy Agnew reports, the mayor and councilmembers spoke at the end of the meeting and addressed the overwhelming amount of requests to fully support the schoolboard and other spending, but the very small amount of concrete suggestions on how to do so.

Councilman Charles Parr said he had not heard the specific suggestions he had hoped to hear, with a few exceptions.

“It’s ringing in my ears — education, no tax raise, education, no tax raise,” he said, adding later: “I’ve heard, I want this, I want that, I want this, but don’t raise taxes.”

I received an email from Arthur Singleton, who was at the meeting with me and stayed until the end, saying, “You missed the best part of the meeting”. According to Mr. Singleton, council members pointed out how the financial status of the city has improved under the leadership of our city manager, and that her pay hike was a promise made to her when she was hired at a low salary, with the challenge to improve the moody rating of the city. Council also pointed out that the emergency response bus was a federal grant, and that it was not paid for with city tax dollars.

Updates, Mar 20th: I added Art Singleton’s comments.

Santa for Seniors, Driver Days, and my Periodic Republican Attitude Adjustment

Every now and then I get to thinking that Republicans are just a bunch of mean, stupid lowlifes and I get ready to write a nasty post saying just that. Several weeks of dishonest smears by phone and by mail, along with a few stories about stolen or vandalized yard signs, canvassers getting an earful of racist and jingoistic nonsense, and a weekend in the Organizing for America tent at Driver Days in Suffolk, Virginia, can do that to a Democrat. Fortunately, before I finish such a post, I usually meet someone who reminds me that there are truly good people who don’t agree with me about important issues. This weekend, during Driver Days, that person was Deneen Evans, a representative of Home Instead Senior Care, and a good, compassionate person who will probably vote for Romney.

Deneen Evans speaking with visitors at Home Instead tent at fair.
Deneen Evans with Visitors, and Staff Coordinator Kathie Czerwinski

Driver Days is a street festival in the Driver neighborhood of Suffolk. It’s a nice festival, and I don’t want to scare anybody away from having fun in the good city of Suffolk, but the festival can be a little disheartening when looking at it from behind a table covered with Obama, Kaine, and Ella Ward literature. A big part of Driver days is a celebration of the confederacy, and not all of the confederates there are the “heritage not hate” types, unless you can convince me that the bumper sticker about picking cotton is actually some kind of an apology. Most of the people who passed by our booth this year were carrying Romney signs and wearing confederate flags.

Confederate Bikers walking near Confederate Memorabilia Tent at Fair

There were a good number of Democrats who stopped by, including a couple of bikers and guy with a big confederate patch on the front of his straw hat, but the Driver festival is, by far, Republican territory and the dirty looks and occasional rude comments from the Romney supporters can really lower someone’s opinion about Republicans.

It was nice to have a friendly native nearby. Home Instead had the spot next to ours, and Deneen and I had a lot of time to chat about politics, Suffolk, and the kind of care, or lack of it, that many seniors are receiving today. One of the things we discussed were the bleak conditions of a local assisted living facility which used to be called Nub Jones, but recently changed it’s name to Oakwood. Deneen not only works for a Senior Care company, she is a volunteer and an advocate for her company’s Be a Santa to a Senior drive, for which Home Instead collects gifts and distributes to them to seniors living in nursing homes such as Oakwood.

This year, as last, the Walmart on Main Street will have a gift giving tree for collecting donated gifts from customers. Here’s how it works (shortened, from the website).

  • Remove an ornament from the tree
  • Purchase the gift
  • Bring ornament and gift back to store and give to a store employee

Deneen and I won’t agree on the best way, as a nation, to ease the suffering of seniors who can’t afford an appropriate level of companionship and medical attention in the last years of their lives, but we do agree that something has to be done.

There is an article about the Be a Santa to a Senior program in the Suffolk News-Herald.

You’ve probably passed by one of those trees. It’s one of those things most of us ignore while filling our carts with corn-syrupy food products and Chinese made plastic trinkets. This year, take a little time to look at the tree and do something to help out. A small gift can make a big difference in the life of a lonely senior.

Ella Ward’s Pancake Breakfast in Chesapeake

Congressional Candidate Ella Ward is hosting an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast on Saturday, August 4, at the Gourmet Breakfast Place on 838 Old George Washington Hwy. N. in Chesapeake.

The cost of admission is $10.00, and admission can be purchased online with ActBlue.

This will be a great opportunity to meet Dr. Ward and her supporters, and to help her get to Washington and properly represent the citizens of Virginia’s 4th District in the United States Congress.

Please see the flyer for more information.

Saturday, August 4th, 2012
8:00am – 10:00am
The Gourmet Breakfast Place
838 Old George Washington Hwy. N., Suite 100, Chesapeake, Virginia 23323.

Portrait of Ella Ward

Southern Democrats Should Support Marriage Equality, As Should We All.

Here in Southern Virginia, I’m baffled and depressed by the number of Democrats who wax conservative when discussing homosexuality, and cite Jesus as the reason for doing so. But there are plenty of Christian laws that we don’t enforce in this country. In the Bible, Jesus said, “a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife”. But there is no law against being single, and no law against living with your parents, so why should there be a law against gay marriage?

Those who discriminate against homosexuals do so not because they love God but because discriminating makes them feel superior. The rules that we naturally love are the ones that we can easily follow while others struggle to do so. Those of us who are straight men are not straight because we’re law abiding or disciplined or moral. We’re straight because we like pussy. Does that make us more godly? Closer to Jesus? We share a quality that we share with most roosters, billy goats, and male dogs. I can think of no quality that I share with a billy goat that makes me feel morally superior to people who don’t share that quality. I might if I were a vegetarian.

Discriminating by sexual preference is as abhorrent as discriminating by race. Supporting laws against homosexuality doesn’t make you a good Christian, supporting religious doctrine doesn’t make you a good American, and liking pussy doesn’t make you a good man. All Americans, and especially Democrats, should support the president, support marriage equality, and stand against discrimination.

The Suffolk, Virginia, Community Heroes Luncheon

Next weekend, on May 5th, the Suffolk Democratic Committee (in Suffolk, Virginia) will, for the fourth year, honor three citizens of our city at a very nice luncheon at the Quality Inn. The three honorees are heroes who the committee believes have distinguished themselves with selfless contributions to the community.

When deciding who the heroes are, the committee does not test for politics. This year, one of our honorees will likely vote for Mitt Romney in November. But this woman volunteered for years at the Tidewater Free Clinic and has distinguished herself by helping desperate people receive vital medical services while treating each of her clients, despite their social and economic status, with the same courtesy and respect with which one would treat a friend.

In the next few months many of us will get into emotional arguments with friends and strangers about economics, war, the power of government, the use of lethal force, and host of other vital topics, and we may feel that those who disagree with us are selfish, stupid, or crazy. But in the end, good people don’t necessarily believe what you believe or what I believe, and can hold views that we find to be outrageous.

By all means, argue. I have opinions and I’m not afraid to use them. But in the end, remember to recognize the goodness of those people around us, despite our strongly disparate views.

Tickets next week’s event are $25 and you can contact me or visit the SDC’s site for more information.

Good, Low Cost Dental Hygienic Services for Hampton Roads

If you have any kids age 5-12 in need of a dental cleaning, please consider Old Dominion University’s School of Dental Hygene, and especially consider Sahar Asif, my hygienist and a student. Don’t let the word “student” scare you. ODU dental students have plenty of training in the art of dental assault and can claw at your teeth and gums with the ferocious zeal of any professional.

Sahar Asif at Work on a Patients Teeth

Seriously, Sahar is competent and kind, and if she handles rugrats with the same care with which she handles grumpy old men, the kid will be in very good hands.

Because it is a school, the services are extremely inexpensive. The fee for dental cleaning for a child aged 5-12 is $20.00.

You can get more information at www.odu.edu/dental, or send an email to dental@suffolkian.com (My email account, not theirs. I’ll only forward emails exclusively pertaining to dental appointments at ODU).

Updates: I made a couple of changes since the original post. I added the photo, changed the title (the original was stupid) and added contact information.