Sunday, September 08, 2013

Syria, NSA, Public Housing topics at Republican fundraiser

Congressman Robert Hurt, City Council candidates Buddy Weber and Mike Faruggio at Bashir’s on Downtown Mall Sep. 7

Charlottesville, Va. – U.S. House representative Robert Hurt said he opposes intervention in Syria as the situation appears right now. But he will get a top-secret briefing in the next few days, after which he will make a final decision.

But Hurt seemed to take the side of the National Security Agency spying on everyone. Hurt claimed only meta-data is collected from third parties like your phone company when evidence shows that calls are also recorded. It’s chilling to think information held by third parties isn’t private such as bank accounts, stock markets, medical records, hard drives backed up on the internet.

Hurt said that Edward Snowden is a traitor, not a hero. There is a right way and a wrong way to leak top-secret news of criminal activity by the government. Why can’t he be a traitor AND a hero like Thomas Jefferson? Traitor to Great Britain and hero to the American colonies, who complained the right way for more than a decade leading up to the revolution.

To be a hero, you must risk your personal safety, your life for a greater purpose. Edward Snowden is a role model because he has given his liberty and property for a greater goal. He’s a hero because his life is in danger as our government tries to hunt him down as public enemy Number One. [Oops. I originally said Eric instead of Edward. Corrected 9-20-2013.]

Congressman Hurt came out to support the two Republican candidates for local office in the Democratic one-party town of Charlottesville for the Nov. 5 election. It’s an off year for Congress. Hurt described his district as stretching from Interstate 66 to the North Carolina border. The city voted more than 80% against Hurt, now in his second term, but were outvoted by the mostly rural 5th District. The latest strategy is to engage urban areas where liberal policies have failed and try to win Democratic districts as the rising Republican stars have done.

At the local level talk was about public housing and how City Council promised Tuesday night that City Manager Maurice Jones will get a $17,000 bonus if he improves the Housing Authority. Some argue it’s his job to help out troubled departments and he shouldn’t get a bonus for meeting a so-called “stretch goal” that’s totally subjective.

It’s confusing because public housing has many names: urban renewal, eminent domain abuse, housing rehabilitation, economic revitalization, blight removal. The names keep changing to hide the reality and history of unintended consequences. For example, who’s against renewing the urban area, who’s in favor of urban decay? How did urban renewal become a dirty word?

To hide what reality? WINA radio host Rob Schilling brought clarity earlier in the week. While serving on City Council 2002 to 2006, Schilling said he was asked to help the Housing Authority because of his background in Real Estate. The urban renewal agency is a real estate company with the authority to buy property that’s not for sale.

What’s the Constitutional issue? It’s a felony to use Eminent Domain to seize and sell real estate, to claim public use when it’s really private use. If it’s a temporary public use, you should rent. However Due Process (found guilty of something) does allow seized property to be sold but only at auction to prevent corruption. There’s no restriction on how eminent domain property should be sold so corruption is widespread.

How is it illegal and legal at the same time? While the Supreme Court has ruled it’s okay to seize and sell property without due process, no judge has the authority to overrule the Constitution. When people argue that urban renewal is legal, they list other people who say it’s legal. They never argue that “public use” is an alternate spelling of “private use.” They argue the Constitution is a founding document like the Declaration of Independence and without legal power.

Friday afternoon on WINA’s “Charlottesville Right Now,” candidate Charles “Buddy” Weber talked about public housing but was confused and confusing. He said the Housing Authority is not a city department but under the “purview” of City Council. He claimed Westhaven is the largest public housing when in fact Garrett Square is the largest public housing. You can’t trust anything the Housing Authority says.

I wish I could give a link other than my blog that tells the whole story. But city employees and city councilors (whose names are documented) have actively blocked the full public housing/urban renewal archives from being published. UVA historian Scot French and the Carter G. Woodson Institute participate in lying about Charlottesville’s history as they pretend Vinegar Hill is the only fact. They promised to digitize more than 6,000 documents, but they never did.

Why does Garrett Square feel left out? Because the Housing Authority seized the land for urban renewal, sold it, and now manages all 150 Section 8 housing vouchers at Garrett Square. In fact there are at least 526 public housing units. Buddy Weber left them out as public housing because his information comes from Housing Authority and City Council, supporters of urban renewal and known liars.

The Daily Progress did a story about UVA’s Garrett Hall but did not say and refused a letter saying who the building was named for. Now the newspaper has taken to calling the Garrett neighborhood as the area south of the railroad tracks. The area is also called Warehouse District and Downtown Extended. What’s so horrible about Garrett Square that editor Anita Shelburne and latest reporter Aaron Richardson would be so dishonest and disreputable? We’ll have to wait for history to reveal those answers sometime in the future.

Alexander Garrett was a friend and financial advisor to Thomas Jefferson. Garrett was at Monticello on July 4, 1826 when Jefferson died. Garrett was also the first bursar of UVA, sheriff, court clerk, and other titles. In the mid-1820s he built his house on 117-acre Oak Hill farm. After his death, the farm became a neighborhood, business district, and industrial zone.

Nowadays only Blair Hawkins and WCHV’s Coy Barefoot can talk about the pre-Garrett Square history when discussing the “Strategic Investment Area” (yet another name for Garrett district). We don’t have to pretend that Vinegar Hill is the only urban renewal.

Maybe the Republican candidates can foster more healing. They’re calling for better management, current policy with 7 directors since 1998. They’re also talking about the Homestead Act, where public housing tenants can eventually become the owners. It’s like asking how we can make slavery work. We haven’t found the magic master who can make it work.

Certainly a lawyer and police officer should know that Courts cannot authorize felonies. Legalized crime creates the same problems as illegal crime. They have an uphill battle since their colleagues have done so much damage to the public housing community.

Republican Party of Charlottesville for latest stories and YouTube of Congressman Robert Hurt and candidates Charles "Buddy" Weber and Mike Faruggio.

Resolution 1313: Housing Authority is city agency, Dec. 30, 2012. Is CRHA a local department with federal funding, or a federal agency? Are public schools locally controlled with state funding (AG Cuccinelli’s position)? Or are they a state agency, which can be taken over by the state (Governor McDonnell’s position)? I agree with Cuccinelli. They can cut off your funding but not take you over.

Wanted: New urban plan for Garrett urban renewal zone, Mar. 5, 2012.
Council prepares fake apology for urban renewal, Oct. 18, 2011. Good summary of the issue with many links.

UVA’s Garrett Hall namesake suppressed by newspaper, Aug. 28, 2011. Includes photo of Garrett Hall and Garrett House, 1952 Daily Progress article when it was okay to talk about history, and letter too radical to print.

Historical Society: Jefferson School 1865, Aug. 17, 2010. Another example of Daily Progress suppressing history.

More urban renewal archives online, Jan. 18, 2010. All the photos CRHA/City allowed me to see and then claimed I had access to the entire archive 6000+ documents and 1000+ photographs. Link to “The Vinegar Hill Project” where otherwise respectable people claim Vinegar Hill is the only urban renewal in Charlottesville.