Archive for December, 2009

On Leadership

Saturday, December 26th, 2009

Today’s article in the Daily Progress describes a behind the scenes effort to overthrow a sixteen year protocol of Albemarle County for choosing the Chair of the Board of Supervisors. I will use all my persuasive powers to retain the process, as I was persuaded by others to do two years ago, because of the stability it provides.

I will fight to make sure the interests of Albemarle County’s citizens are not subverted to the benefit of one or a few. The role of the chairman is not to dominate the agenda and actions of the board, as some would prefer, but to lead the meetings, to make sure all members of the board and members of the public are treated with respect and provided a chance to share their views. As Chair of the CHART committee for six years, I spoke last in order to draw ideas and comments from the rest of the committee and represented the committee at the Metropolitan Planning Organization.

In November 2009, I completed a two-year Supervisor Certification program offered by VA Association of Counties and also the Certification Course for Chairs and Vice Chairs in spring of 2008. I am the first elected official in Albemarle County to complete the program of study.

Government works best when the citizens have easy access to the process, to share their views and bring about compromise in order to preserve the qualities of life we appreciate and for which new people move here. Government works best when there is transparency and open discussion rather than back room dealings to achieve votes for chair or mayor which can disable the effectiveness of the Board for months to come.

This is a challenging time and we should rely on our processes to ensure deliberative debate and sound decisions.

On Snow Plowing

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

I want to give thanks for the efforts of the Free Union and Yancey VDOT depot workers who dealt with the December 17 storm. The workers gave us their all, trying to clear interstate highways, secondary roads, and neighborhood streets.

To me the lesson is that we have too few people and machines available to deal with such a storm. Eighteen years ago there were twenty giant orange dump trucks at the Free Union depot, each with a crew to operate it each shift when needed.  After successive cuts at the state level, this force was reduced to four orange trucks and crews while 80 subdivisions were added to the state highway inventory. Was the savings to the state bottom line worth the danger and loss for the citizens? Does privatization work when the private vehicles are too light to deal with this kind of snow? The same result occurred in March 1993, when successive snows immobilized the area. It was two weeks before people could move in Earlysville Forest and a resident died waiting for an ambulance as four farmers on tractors tried to plow a path.

It is fashionable to think government is the problem today, but our community and our individual citizens need reliable and effective public  safety support, to prevent injury and property damage. Any potential savings must be balanced against the cost of lost wages and lost productivity to our workers and businesses, the cost of lost learning time for our students, and the cost of life and limb as hundreds of vehicular accidents occur. Perhaps this recent weather event will help us focus on these needs. Being prepared is not just a motto, it is a way to survive and thrive when hazards appear.

Citizens can share their views with their delegates and senators in Richmond who have power over the budget for VDOT.  See the right sidebar for contact information.