Sunday, April 30, 2006

Response to David Toscano and Tammy Londeree on my endorsement of Rob Schilling published on George Loper's blog

Dear George,

If I may, I'd like to respond to my critics for whom I'm thankful. Feedback really does make the world a better place.

First in regard to David Toscano:

"to correct Blair Hawkins posting on Mr. Schilling and eminent domain, since I was the patron of the bill, I should know a little about it. The initial language that Mr. Hawkins referenced passed the Senate by a wide margin. I was concerned about the eminent domain provisions in the bill and offered a substituted version that stripped out the language and left in the affordable housing initiative. That substitute passed with almost no opposition in either the House and Senate and has now become law."

Actually, as best I can tell, Senator Creigh Deeds changed the amendment, which was necessary to survive a Senate subcommittee. Toscano introduced an identical bill in the House which passed unanimously. The final bill passed the Senate 37-2.

History of Toscano's HB998 and Deeds' SB202. It is kind of hard to figure out what happened.

But compare how Toscano speaks and how I speak. In the letter, I was pointing out the importance of a minority voice. So I gave what I thought was the final vote count. I omitted the unanimous House vote because it didn't add to my point. But Toscano says "wide margin" and "almost no opposition." We don't know if the House vote was 99-1 or 80-20. He gives his conclusions but omits the details.

Whereas I have built trust by giving the details and my conclusion. It's not unusual that others look at the same facts I have presented and arrive at a different conclusion. By not speaking substantively, Toscano misses an opportunity to be informative on an issue people apparently care about and to demonstrate that he is informed.

Toscano is correcting me to say the initial language passed the Senate by a wide margin and he changed the amendment which was later passed. He doesn't give a link where you can see his source information because you might arrive at a different conclusion.

I spoke briefly with Toscano in the hall outside Council Chambers on Nov. 21, 2005 the night the original amendment passed City Council. He's a nice guy with no ill will. He asked me what I thought was the motivation for the amendment. I theorized that Council wanted more direct control of its real estate business.

The letter I wrote to Toscano and Deeds opposing the amendment Only Deeds wrote me back. Both representatives deserve credit. But Deeds deserves a little more.

Here's what The Progress had to say about the bill:

"City's home loan bill passes committee"

By Bob Gibson, Daily Progress staff writer, January 18, 2006

RICHMOND - A bill to allow Charlottesville to create loan and grant programs to help low- or moderate-income residents buy a home scraped through a Senate subcommittee Tuesday. Hours later, the bill sailed through a full committee after it was amended to ensure the city would not be taking property through eminent domain.

Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, D-Bath County, said his measure is a charter bill requested by the city. It was amended twice in the Senate Committee on Local Government.

Deeds' Senate Bill 202 limped into the full committee on a 3-2 vote Tuesday morning from a subcommittee chaired by Sen. Emmett W. Hanger Jr., R-Mount Solon.

The full committee endorsed the bill on a 13-1 vote hours later after Hanger supported it and helped amend the measure. The bill is intended to give Charlottesville some powers in its city charter to deal with affordable housing problems using tools Alexandria already has.

"Some of my colleagues never want to emulate the city of Alexandria," Hanger said of some fellow Republicans who view Alexandria - and Charlottesville - as small urban hotbeds of liberalism with political atmospheres that should be neither encouraged nor enhanced.


As bills to amend the city charter, the Deeds and Toscano measures must pass each chamber by two-thirds majorities. Neither legislator said he is certain of approval in the GOP-controlled House of Delegates.

And now for Tammy Londeree:

"I am not sure that Hawkins can make the assertion that Schilling is the "only" candidate who does not like the City taking private property to claim as their own. In the League of Women Voters' Forum, a citizen questioned all three candidates about certain property grabbed by the city for their own use. I was impressed with how Dave Norris said that he did not believe in that use of power by the city and he asked Julian Taliaferro about the last time the city took private citizens land. I believe they both said that they had not heard or seen any such abuse by the city government in more than ten years. They said that the actions of the city have been more fair and upfront."

I think you'll find a compelling argument that the Democratic candidates do indeed support what Schilling has taken a pledge to oppose. Eminent domain to seize and sell property. Please explain to me how I'm wrong.

Eminent domain dominates Charlottesville Council race: Schilling & Weber on May 2 April 25, 2006

Dave Norris knows my political agenda, which is obvious. I'm building a foundation that one day may lead to a city charter amendment to outlaw what happened at Vinegar Hill and elsewhere. If not, maybe a better job or book deal. My writing has certainly improved but still sometimes inflammatory.

I don't see how we put urban renewal behind us with a simple verbal promise not to do it again while asking for more power to do it. I began speaking on this issue in 2000 and local politics has changed dramatically since then. Until there's a clear law that prohibits the seizing and selling of real estate, this issue is going to grow even bigger.

Blair Hawkins


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