Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Va. Republican Chairman Federick faces ouster

Update: Petition: "We support Chairman Jeff Frederick". Started by Willie Deutsch on Mar 20, 2009.

Charlottesville, Va.—The Republican Party State Central Committee (SCC) will attempt on April 4 to unseat popularly elected Chairman Jeff Federick. The committee consists of 77 members. Frederick was elected at the Richmond convention last year, unseating John Hager.

I received two robocalls this week from a group calling itself Grassroot Republicans of Virginia. The first Monday evening credited 5th Congressional District Chairman “elitist” Tucker Watkins with the ouster attempt. The robocall this afternoon asked me to contact my committee representative Rachel Schoenwald.

I called Rachel and she called me back. I said I support Frederick and asked why this is a committee action and not a recall vote. She said it’s the party rules and referred me to the Bearing Drift Blog for more details. My position on political parties has long been to change the rules if the arbitrary rules are blocking your goals.

Rachel’s husband, Albemarle County Republican Chairman Christian Schoenwald, will address this matter Thursday morning on the Joe Thomas show on WCHV 1260 AM / 94.1 FM.

As a delegate, I voted for Frederick last year. From the research I’ve done, the case against Frederick seems flimsy. While the ouster is not a legal proceeding, principles of due process should be followed. (A) The accused is presumed innocent. In other words, the SCC is presumed to be lying and must present evidence. (B) The secrecy surrounding the charges, up to this point, is tantamount to anonymous accusers. (C) Some of the charges are in the form of a negative. Frederick doesn’t have to prove he followed a procedure; the accusers should prove he did NOT follow the procedure.

The difficulty of proving a negative is why the accused has presumption of innocence in the first place. What evidence can the accuser produce? There’s no evidence he did it, therefore he must not have done it. So zero evidence is used to support the charge?

If Frederick simply stepped aside for the good of the party, it would appear as an admission of guilt. If he's innocent of one or more of the charges, he should fight it. In my decade of political involvement, I've learned this much: you have to go public. Private discussion with an official has no effect. Just as privately telling a bank robber to stop robbing banks has no effect. Or telling a politician his actions do not reflect his rhetoric has no effect. People will do in darkness what they would never think of doing in the sunlight while people are watching.

I’ll continue to follow this story. Below are links and excerpts to sources I’ve consulted so far.

Republican Party of Virginia

“Pro-Frederick Robocalls Begin” by Jason Kenney, Mar. 12. Includes audio of one of the calls.

“Jeff’s a Fighter” by JR Hoeft, Mar. 17.

“The State Central Committee Votes for Itself” by Jame Atticus Bowden, Mar. 17.

The State Central Committee (SCC), Republican Party of Virginia, will vote on April 4th, 2009 to lynch its chairman, Jeff Frederick or not. The letter of accusations is kept secret to only the members of the SCC. I’m an elected member of the SCC for the 1st CD - since 2000. But, I’m not allowed to share with the elected city and county chairman or the rank and file Republicans, what the accusations are, so much for being open and above board. When Republicans across the Commonwealth can see the charges, they will see that a cabal on the committee created this crisis.

“Frederick’s Letter To Grassroots And Unit Chairmen” by Jason Kenny, Mar. 17.

Notice of Intent to Remove Jeff Frederick as
State Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia
Initial Response to Charges - Summary

The Call to remove Chairman Frederick consists of ten charges. Charges 1, 2, and 3 concern the Chairman’s management of RPV finances. Of those three charges, Charge 1 is the most specific, while Charges 2 and 3 are widely ambiguous, lacking specific references detailing the allegations. The remaining seven charges in the Call concern alleged infractions of the Party Plan or specific interpretations of the Party Plan.

Charge 1:

Failure to transmit, in a timely manner, online contributions made to the Republican Party of Virginia and processed by his own company. Withholding 7% of online contributions made to the RPV for a period of weeks during the summer of 2008 after repeatedly assuring the Executive Committee that he was not using his company as a vendor for RPV.

Response to Charge 1:

While waiting for a newly contracted vendor to complete work on a new RPV website and for a new online donation vendor to complete its setup requirements, the Chairman established a “place holding” website through his own firm, GXS Strategies, Inc., also using its online donation company and subsidiary,, for a period of 91 days. In return for a 7% discount fee, it was expected that would cover all incidental expenses related to any transactions, including payments to merchant banks and credit cards.

Key facts:

· This “place holder” approach was immediately successful. Under the previous chairman, the Party raised only $2,000 online for the first five months of 2008 combined. After the Chairman and RPV staff set up an efficient, yet temporary system, the Party raised over $21,000 online in just three months at no cost to the Party. The funds collected by the RPV website were deposited into a non-interest bearing escrow account for distribution to the Party. Distributions were made on 8 July and 1 October.

· The “place holder” page automatically reported contributions to the RPV employees’ responsible for fundraising supervision, and, providing redundant transparency, the entire account was accessible to RPV employees.

· Of the $21,135.00 in contributions collected for RPV by, the company retained 7% of the total, or $1,479.45, to cover incidental expenses and required remittances to merchant banks, credit card companies, and an online processing service. After fulfilling obligations to merchant banks and credit card companies, retained a maximum total of $581.62 to cover other incidental expenses associated with the credit card collection process.

· In order to fully comply with Virginia campaign finance disclosure law regarding the work it did on behalf of RPV in constructing the “place holder” website and donation page, GXS Strategies, Inc., of which is a subsidiary, reported an in-kind contribution to RPV in the amount of $17,717.61 on 8 September.

· Far from withholding money from RPV to benefit himself, Chairman Frederick’s company provided free services to the Party in an amount that was 30 times greater than the total of the alleged monetary compensation received by his company.

· All records, documentation, and filings verifying this information and detailing these transactions can be accessed via the Virginia Public Access Project, The State Board of Elections, the Federal Elections Committee, and internal RPV documents.

To summarize Charge 1, the Chairman’s company donated $17,717.61 in-kind to the RPV. During the period this company was used, RPV netted $19,655.58 from its online donations. The Chairman’s company provided interim services for 91 days, and the Executive Committee and RPV staff had a full accounting of the fundraising.

Charge 2:

Repeated failure to fully comply with a July 22, 2008 directive unanimously adopted by the RPV Executive Committee to disclose existing and pending contracts with vendors.

Response to Charge 2:

A search of existing contracts reveals that the Executive Director of the RPV provided every known contract to members of the Executive Committee, and that a good-faith effort was made to inform members of future contracts. The Executive Committee itself acknowledged in September 2008 that they were in possession of those records, and no member has indicated to RPV, in writing or otherwise, of the existence of any contract or agreement by which we have not fully complied with this directive, let alone repeatedly so.

Charge 3:

Unauthorized expenditures of RPV funds for unbudgeted activities without either State Central Committee or Executive Committee consent.

Response to Charge 3:

While there is no specific allegation in this charge, it has been suggested by more than one Executive Committee member that the Chairman’s procurement of office space in Northern Virginia was a breach of his authority.

The Chairman rented space at a rate of $600 per month for an office in Prince William County to serve as a Northern Virginia satellite office for RPV and for his legislative constituent service office. It was his intention to use the office space for himself for donor meetings and for other business to be conducted by RPV’s Northern Virginia Field Director and its Finance Director. For the period beginning 15 October 2008 and ending 15 June 2009, Friends of Jeff Frederick paid $2,400 for its portion of the office and RPV paid $2,400.00 for its portion. All payments were made directly to the landlord.

The Party Plan grants the Chairman authority to operate the State Headquarters within the approved budgets for personnel, but makes no other restrictions on the Chairman’s ability to authorize expenditures.

Charge 4:

Failure to provide members of the State Central Committee with a reasonable time to review and consider the proposed 2009 budget prior to proposed adoption by the State Central Committee. Failure to provide one or more members of the State Central Committee with any opportunity to see the proposed budget prior to the meeting.

Charge 5:

Disregard for the minimal rights of members of the State Central Committee to participate in discussion and debate at the December 2008 meeting by refusing to recognize numerous members attempting to speak and failing to ascertain the required 2/3 vote necessary to end debate. Lack of transparency in the budget process by giving members less than 36 hours to consider the budget rather than the usual three weeks.

Charge 6:

Corruption of process by failing to conduct a proper vote on 2009 budget by (1) beginning, but not completing, either a hand count or roll call vote, both properly called for; and (2) unilaterally declaring the vote result without even a partial count of those in favor and no count whatsoever of those opposed.

Response to Charges 4, 5, and 6:

These charges all refer to the approval of the 2009 RPV Budget at the 5 December meeting of the State Central Committee. They state that Chairman Frederick demonstrated a less than firm grasp on the proceedings at various SCC meetings by failing to provide adequate time for budget review, or by failing to recognize various members during debate. More accurately, though, they reflect the disappointment of some State Central members in the outcome of this meeting.

The Executive Committee recommended against approval of the budget by the State Central Committee. But after a prolonged and contentious debate, the State Central Committee voted to approve the budget, which is now in force.

Robert’s Rules of Order and the Party Plan provide every member the opportunity to object and to challenge the Chair on rulings and by raising points of order. Further, Robert’s is clear that it is the responsibility of each member to guard the process by interaction and objection. In this case, no objections were made to the rulings, votes, and procedures described in these charges at the time of the meeting.

Charge 7:

Failure to “promptly convene” the Appeals Committee upon timely receipt of an appeal of a ruling by the General Counsel.

Response to Charge 7:

The “Appeals Committee” is not recognized by the Party Plan, so it not subject to any specific timeline. Moreover, decisions of the Appeals Committee must be affirmed by State Central if they overturn the ruling of RPV General Counsel. The appeal in question was filed specifically to the Appeals Committee the day before the December 2008 meeting of the State Central Committee. Because of an amendment made to the RPV Budget at the December 2008 State Central Committee meeting, the Party’s then-General Counsel stepped down. A meeting of the Appeals Committee could not be scheduled until after a new General Counsel accepted the post.

After a new General Counsel accepted the post, several attempts were made to schedule this meeting to comply with the availability of all participants. Despite these difficulties, the Appeals Committee is scheduled to meet on 20 March 2008, two weeks prior to the first State Central Committee meeting since December.

Charge 8:

Circumventing the State Central Committee by appointing committee and otherwise assuming Duties clearly prescribed in Article III, Section D, as duties of the State Central Committee without consultation or authorization.

Response to Charge 8:

There is ample and long-standing precedent for the Chairman to establish ad hoc committees without SCC approval. In fact, members of the Executive Committee and the SCC both offered positive feedback on the establishment of these committees, and further, no member lodged any objections. Further one of the established committees was specifically requested by a District Chairman on the Executive Committee.

Charge 9:

Damage to the reputation and effectiveness of the Republican Party of Virginia through refusal to coordinate activities, including campaign messages, with Republican nominees for public office.

Response to Charge 9:

Evidence to the contrary on this charge is extensive and heavily documented. In fact, the Chairman and RPV staff undertook several sensitive assignments from both federal and state elected officials and nominees.

Since Chairman Frederick assumed his current position, RPV staff works cooperatively, frequently, and regularly with Republican nominees, candidates, and elected officials. There are numerous examples to support this fact.

[NOTE: Since much of the evidence contradicting this charge contains sensitive internal campaign documents, supporting documentation is being offered exclusively to members of the State Central Committee.]

Charge 10:

Failure to notify the Executive Committee of a possible breach of security and/or compromise of security of data residing on servers and failure to act promptly to investigate potential breach when requested to do so.

Response to Charge 10:

In November 2008, some members of the Executive Committee alleged that there had been a breach of RPV’s e-mail lists. Less than 24 hours after the breach was alleged, Chairman Frederick utilized experts in his firm to investigate the possibility of any breach. After an extensive system analysis, which included an examination of log files, no evidence of a breach was found and the Executive Committee was so informed.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Everywhere a Tea Party

Charlottesville, Va. will have its own Tea Party rally on April 15 from 3 to 5 pm at the Downtown Pavillion.

"Tuesday March 17 [Bill Hay] will be talking with Rob Schilling on his Charlottesville radio show on WINA 1070. We will be talking about grassroots activism and the importance of getting involved on the local level. I am scheduled to be on at 1:15. Of course we will be talking about the up coming Tea Party."

Virginia Tea Party

Here's a couple views of Cincinnati's Tea Party on Sunday. I came across them while reading Tyrone's Wake Up Black America.

Thousands gather for 'Tea Party' (Local news)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Eminent domain still dominates Charlottesville politics

Charlottesville, Va.—Incumbent Mayor Dave Norris, civil rights opponent, will seek re-election in November. Also seeking this year’s Democratic “nomination” for two seats are Councilor Julian Taliaferro and left-wing activist Kristin Szakos.

The only thing different about this year is there will be no mass meeting. Instead the Democratic Party will hold an “unassembled caucus” or firehouse primary on Saturday, May 9. It’s basically a primary controlled by central party officials. City residents who pledge to vote for the Democrat winner in November will be allowed to participate. Officials say they will release further details on how this new process will function.

Norris has a long record of opposing civil rights. He is a former chairman of the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority, which has since 1954 used eminent domain to seize, destroy, and sell the best-known black neighborhoods and business districts in Charlottesville, Vinegar Hill and Garrett Street (now called the Warehouse District).

In his 2006 campaign, Norris asserted he opposes eminent domain but supports selling real estate seized through eminent domain. On November 21, 2005 he supported City Council’s city charter amendment to expand eminent domain to further damage already achieved by the Housing Authority. A state Senate committee stripped the unconstitutional provisions out of the amendment. What remains of Section 50.7 is the tax-credit for low-income homeowners.

Eminent domain is the Fifth Amendment civil right that government can seize your property for a legitimate public use. The Amendment guarantees due process to seize and sell your property; i.e., you must first be convicted of a crime.

To cover up these well-known felonies by the Housing Authority, on November 20, 2006, after his May election, Councilor Norris opposed release of the Housing Authority archives of over 6,000 documents and over 1,000 photographs. Norris refused to use his connections with the urban renewal agency (Redevelopment and Housing Authority) to release these public documents. That night Blair Hawkins exposed assistant manager Rochelle Small-Toney for blocking access (she resigned spring 2007). The most recent request made by Hawkins to Councilor Holly Edwards was February 12 on the Rob Schilling Show on WINA. Blair’s Blog contains more on Charlottesville’s urban renewal than any other online source.

Julian Taliaferro was Norris’ running mate. Though liberal and in agreement on eminent domain and revisionist history, Taliaferro has been relatively more conservative. According to the Schilling blog, central party Democrats are favoring Norris and Szakos.

2009 is only the second Council elections to occur in November. Council changed May elections to November to save money and to build a mandate. While more people vote in November, the number who vote in Council elections has changed little. Voters simply leave the local ballot blank. The November 2005 referendum to switch to an elected school board won while the Democrat leadership and 2,500 core partisans opposed it.

The Republican Party did not field a candidate in 2007 and may not again this year. The Democrats don’t want non-partisan elections because, in the general election, their sole position is “I’m a Democrat. He’s a Republican. What else do you need to know?”

To be an independent candidate on the ballot, you must garner at least 125 verified petition signatures by June. Contact Voter Registrar Sheri Iachetta for dates and details.

Dave Norris Campaign Webstite

Kristin Szakos Campaign Website

Julian Taliaferro doesn’t have a campaign website yet.

“Cville Dems Dissing Taliaferro?” by Rob Schilling, Mar. 13, 2009.

Public Housing Association of Residents, “nationally recognized, non-profit organization, founded in 1998”.

I stand to address the cliché about the projects known as Public Housing. I hear a lot of people saying, “I can’t go in the project or you need to get out of the projects." When I think about our busy society, people on the move are always people planning and they have a project in mind. So you see today, where I come from a project is good, as well as being a community and a home for where I live.” (Riverside resident Sherrie Clark, upon graduation from the 2007 PHAR Resident Intern Leadership Program -- 6/24/07) (Editor's Note: Public housing is a felony under the U.S. Constitution, a clear civil rights violation.)

“Latest Archive Request on WINA” and latest urban renewal timeline, Feb. 12, 2009.

“Nominated: 3 whites for 2 seats: First black mayor calls for racial quota on Council”, Mar. 5, 2006.

“Eminent Domain dominates Charlottesville Council race: Schilling and Weber on May 2”, Apr. 28, 2006.

“Democrats regain monopoly in Charlottesville: School Board weak on safety”, May 4, 2006.

“Democrats nominate Huja, Edwards, Brown: Challengers Seaman, McKeever to remain active”, Jun. 3.

“Voter approve Council, School Board junket to Italy”, Nov. 7, 2007.

Monday, March 09, 2009

‘Crying Drought’ Fatigue

Charlottesville, Va.—Here are couple comments I’ve posted recently on the Water Supply Plan debate.

"League of Women Voters Ask: What do we do when the rains stop" by Sean Tubbs, March 5, 2009, Charlottesville Tomorrow

"Crying Drought" Fatigue

"If the model tells us that there’s a greater than 20% probability that total storage will be less than 80% within 12 weeks [A], we know that we need to start calling on a drought watch," Fern said. "If the model is run a little later and we find out that there is a 10% probability that storage will be less than 70% within ten weeks [B], we go to the drought warning, and finally if all of a sudden we run the model and there’s a 5% probability that total storage will be less than 60% in eight weeks [C], we need to go to the third stage, which is a drought emergency." (Gary Fern)

Think about this for a minute. We're now in a drought emergency. (C) 95% probability that storage will be greater than 60% in 8 weeks. We're also in a drought warning. (B) 90% for greater than 70% in 10 weeks. AND we're in a drought watch. (A) 80% plus chance we'll have more than 80% storage in 12 weeks. We're in perpetual drought. Reservoirs are not supposed to be constantly at 100%.

How about this: How long without rain before reservoirs go dry? What's the longest dry spell on record? We don't ask these questions because everybody knows the drought crisis is fictional. But no one wants to call the "experts" on their gobbedygook. When's the last time a reporter asked RWSA how long our supply will last versus the dryspell of record? RWSA doesn't have any records on past drought conditions and water levels, according to Tom Frederick. I keep referring back to the drought of record 1977 (which today RWSA doesn't recognize) when RWSA reported how many days of supply we had on hand. 7 months (226 days) after 10 months of drought 50% drier than any other drought (including 1930 & 2002). When's the last time it didn't rain for 7 months. Never. a 45-day dry spell is rare. Who cares about rainfall deficit if there's enough water supply? Of course I've reported on this extensively. But lack of record keeping and lack of data generally require pseudo-scientific reasoning where you start at the conclusion and work backwards, dismissing anything that might contradict the foregone conclusion.

"Mayor Norris repackages his water plan for local Democrats" by Brian Wheeler, Feb. 21, 2009, Charlottesville Tomorrow

"Fuzzy History, Faulty Conclusions"

Sometimes we don't speak up and correct people because we want to be polite. And often those corrected become resentful. But we do the community a disservice when we silently allow misinformation to be disseminated.

Thanks to Liz for her historical summary. But it is not true that 2002 was the worst drought on record. RWSA consultant Gannett-Fleming gave this date in 2002 but has stopped saying this, according to Kevin Lynch at a May 19, 2008 City Council meeting after I had corrected a speaker who repeated the myth. There is a large volume of contradictory evidence from many sources. In 2002 RWSA chairman Rich Collins did not correct the misinformation although he had implemented water-saving measures during the first mandatory conservation in 1977 as a local housing official. As recently as 2009 RWSA director Tom Frederick said 2002 was worst drought for parts of our watershed and 1930 for other parts.

Liz gives the impression she's estimating/guessing at the dates. She gives 1908 for Ragged Mountain lower dam but no mention of the city's first reservoir in 1885- the upper dam. And 1920s for Sugar Hollow, 1960s for South Rivanna, 1980s for Buck Mountain. Why didn't she give the year they were built or went into operation or purchased if she had done the research? Based on this information, if someone wanted to go back and research, they'd have to look through the whole decade, making it a daunting effort.

Liz doesn't mention when RWSA was formed, giving the impression that RWSA has been around since 1908. If you go back and look at the actual history, as I have, her summary gives the impression she's omitting important milestones to avoid the controversies surrounding them at the time, and apparently nowadays as well.

I have written several historical summaries with details. My latest includes a searchable, almost word-for-word transcription of the RWSA Charter that governs the Rivanna Authority. The 42-page scanned document is available to anyone. You can email the address on the blog for the actual document (6 meg pdf). The question is: can you handle the real truth?

Rivanna Four Party Agreement 1972 to 2012

(From E-mail to Rob Schilling with attached 'Four Party Agreement' and copied to Tom Frederick, RWSA who had sent the agency's charter to me in response to a request for it and follow-up to 2005 request for info on 1977 drought, Feb. 10, 2009)

"Note that RWSA has stream flow data from 1977 but no "description of the actual conditions that occurred in any past drought." Given the large volume of documentation on the 1977 drought locally from many sources which led to acquisition of land for Buck Mountain Reservoir 1983, it's incumbent on RWSA (Gannett Fleming) to show why 1977 does not merit honorable mention as a significant drought, especially since this drought occurred during the life of the agency. Kevin Lynch said to me on May 19, 2008 at a City Council meeting that Gannett Fleming has stopped saying 2002 is worst drought of record, apparently in the face of overwhelming contradictory evidence."

"Four boards negotiate recommendations from reservoir task force report" by Sean Tubbs & Brian Wheeler, March 9, 2009, Charlottesville Tomorrow for March 3 meeting.

Rivanna Four Party Agreement 1972 to 2012

"Council approves water plan again", Jun. 2, 2008

"Dredging alternative at Citizens forum" May 5, 2008

"The emperor has no water" Hoax, Mar. 16, 2008

"2007: Year of the Non-Drought" Jan. 3, 2008

"50-year Water Plan for 76% more population: Ragged at same phase as Buck Mountain", Sep. 18, 2007

"Rivanna uncomfortable using Buck Mountain land for Ragged Mountain plan" Nov. 2, 2006

"Council approves Ragged Mountain option: Water for another 50 years" Jun. 6, 2006. Includes Tom Frederick’s report to Council Feb. 7, 2005

All about "The Last Drought," Sep 3 2002

"Drought Perspective," Sep 18 2002 (comparison of droughts 2002, 1977, 1930)

All 23 pages of the 2001-02 pamphlet series, includes much local water history.