It’s high time for change in the state senate

On Nov. 3, Louisa County voters will once again make a choice for State Senate in Virginia’s 17th District. As a result of gerrymandering by Republicans in the General Assembly, our District includes: part of Albemarle County; part of Culpeper County; all of Fredericksburg city; part of Louisa County; all of Orange County; and part of Spotsylvania County.

Our partisan gerrymandered district allows a monopoly of mainly party loyalists who have little or no political accountability for their actions, such as bringing our state government to a halt and promoting a corporate friendly agenda that does not serve the best interest of its citizens.

It will take concerted action by the citizens of Virginia to break the gridlock imposed by right-wingers.

On Election Day, you will see the names of Ned Gallaway (D) and Bryce Reeves (R). Do voters understand their political differences?

Ned supports the appointment of a non-partisan commission to take responsibility for redistricting so that all voters can choose their representatives … Bryce promotes additional gerrymandering in District 17 so that government gridlock will prevail until the right-wingers get their way.

As the current chair of Albemarle County School Board, Ned is committed to expanding educational funding in the state… while Bryce consistently votes to remove money from public education to fund private schools for the wealthy. Ned focuses on teaching children… while Bryce promotes legislation allowing security guards to be armed on school property.

Ned supports extending medical coverage to 400,000 currently uninsured hardworking Virginians and creating about 30,000 health care related jobs statewide, while Bryce voted against the Equal Rights Amendment in committee (SJ216) and voted against domestic violence bills in committee (SB943).

The candidate choice is clear but you must vote to dislodge this dysfunctional faction in the Senate!

Control of Virginia Senate is at stake in this year’s election. In 2011, Edd Houck lost his seat to Bryce Reeves by just 226 votes because of low voter turnout. Your vote makes a difference.

Mark S. Chapman

Give Governor McAuliffe a Partner in Growth

Since the beginning of the McAuliffe administration, 480 economic development deals have been closed in Virginia with more than $7.9 billion in capital investment, more than any previous governor in his first two years in office. He has grown exports to other countries and landed deals to bring manufacturing to Virginia. He has also worked to reform education and the SOLs. He has moved the Commonwealth toward energy independence with more clean energy and energy efficient programs. He has gotten state justice grants to improve community policing, improved voter registration processes through DMV, and so much more. He has, like Kaine and Warner before him, been a good governor working to enrich the state and its people instead of himself, like other recent governors.

McAuliffe is a GO-TO governor but he needs partners in the state legislature to keep our education and our economy and the Commonwealth moving forward. One of McAuliffe’s goals is to get the Federal Government to return to the State of Virginia over $1.7 BILLION DOLLARS in federal funds that Virginia is losing because of not expanding Medicaid to the working poor (employees at places like McDonalds, Walmart, Hardees, etc.). If this program was expanded, over 30,000 healthcare jobs would be added to the Virginia economy.

But the Governor needs legislative help to bring good education, good jobs and to grow Virginia’s economy. The present General Assembly is determined to block anything by a Democratic governor, including programs that will benefit all of us. That’s politics. This November, let’s replace our present senator (Bryce Reeves) who has voted for the insurance companies and the banks and realtors and the NRA, but NOT for public education and workers’ rights and healthcare and equality for women and children.

We can send a partner in progress to the Virginia Senate this November 3rd. A vote for Ned Gallaway for the Virginia Senate in the 17th district is a vote for working families and the middle class.   Gallaway is a businessman, a former teacher and the chair of the Albemarle School Board. He believes strongly that education is the key to opportunity and a strong economy. A strong economy benefits everyone, including our many retired families in Virginia.

Send a strong advocate for the 17th District to Richmond this November. Vote for Ned Gallaway for the 17th Virginia State Senate seat. Give Governor McAuliffe a partner to help move our state forward, for jobs, for education, for healthcare, for a better life for all of us.  Vote for Ned Gallaway for State Senate (17) on November 3rd.

JoAnna Hickman

Gallaway and Reeves speak at candidate forum

This forum held last week at Germanna Community College will likely be the only time anyone in the 17th Senate district has an opportunity to hear the two candidates running for this seat speaking at the same place.

So without further ado, here is the video taken this past Thursday.

It should be noted that this forum, was the only event in the Central Virginia region where the Republican candidates running for state office consented to appear onstage with a Democratic … or any opponent for that matter.

Although it should be noted that Bryce Reeves was accompanied by  2 fellow Republicans; Nick Freitas who is running unopposed for the 30th House of Delegate seat, along with Michael Webert who is also running unopposed for the 18th House of Delegate seat.

In listening to the two candidates for the 17th Senate District speak about their priorities the differences between them couldn’t be clearer.

Jon Taylor

Gallaway talks about the issues

With all the recent focus on the local races in Louisa County in BlueLouisa ,  the state races have been overlooked, largely because two of the three state candidates who are representing Louisa County are running unopposed.

The only state election which is being contested is the 17th Senate race between Democrat Ned Gallaway and Republican incumbent Bryce Reeves, and over the past few weeks many local resident’s have been asking.

Who is Ned Gallaway and what does he stand for?

This 10 minute video clip from our local CBS channel 19 in Charlottesville below should help answer some of those questions.

As you can see, education is his main priority, and as the Chair of the Albemarle School Board, he has extensive experience in working with others and getting things done. He has an Ed.D in Education from the Curry School at UVA, and is committed to protecting and expanding education funding in the state because Richmond just isn’t doing enough to make sure our children receive a world class education.

Instead, we are forced to deal with regulations that mean our teachers have to teach to a test (SOLs) instead of helping students learn individually.  Rather than tackle public education head on and work to identify solutions to some of the challenges facing public education in Virginia, the incumbent Bryce Reeves has consistently voted to take money out of public education to fund private schools.

Actions that will  benefit wealthy Virginians and corporations to the detriment of Virginia’s middle class families.

When it comes to the Federal Common Core standards, Ned is opposed to top / down, rigid structures that inhibit teachers from teaching children in the manner they know best – project based learning and assessment. And he believes in standard of learning as long as they  are pertinent and rigorous.

Standardized testing preparation and assessment create a rigid culture that inhibits teachers from personalizing teaching – what to teach and how to teach, what to assess and how to assess – to each child. And then – of course – come the economic consequences if the states standardized testing scores are not met.

We need standards of achievement and learning – but the model needs to allow for content appropriateness, time for teacher preparation, autonomy, and commitment to non-testing prep pedagogy.  More importantly, the education of Virginia’s children  must prepare them for their futures so that they our can go out into the world and compete with the graduates from other states, and countries.

Jon Taylor


Fake journalism and revolutionary truths

In his novel 1984 George Orwell wrote, “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”

Today, we live a world where deceit touches all of our lives, where reality has been privatized and illusion legitimized. Where censorship by media; politics by media; and diversion by media – all offer a surreal assembly line of clichés and false assumptions.

Where every time we pick up a digital device, turn on our computers and TV’s, or even read a paper – we are being manipulated and lied to. Edward Bernays, who first coined, “public relations” 80 years ago, as a euphemism for “propaganda,” also invented the term “invisible government.”

Writing, “Those who manipulate this unseen element of [modern democracy] constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country …We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of …

He goes on to say that the aim of this invisible government is a conquest of our sense of the world, our political consciousness, our ability to think independently and most importantly our ability to separate truth from lies. Calling this merger of corporate and political interests by it true name ­­— fascism.

Words that few dare use these days, least they be accused of rummaging through the dustbin of history. Yet, today fascism is alive and well, and like in the 1930’s, the big lies are delivered with regularity of a metronome.

ISIS is bad. Russia is always bad. China is getting worse. Corrupt banks, corporations and institutionalized  racism and poverty is good.

Those who question the official version of reality are usually tagged as “radicals” – whatever that means. While real dissent has become rarer than sightings of the snowy egret; yet those who dissent have never been more important.

With few exceptions, our news media, who are paid to keep the record straight, have become absorbed into a system of propaganda which is no longer journalism, but anti-journalism.

Offering up content that is so un-watchable and unreadable that unless you are prepared to monitor and carefully deconstruct every assertion, there is no effective way to tell a bold faced lie from a carefully crafted omission, half truth or even the truth.

Leaving the voters to decide which “reality” they chose to believe in, transforming Fox News motto of, “We report, you decide,” into “We deceive, you believe.”

And in the case of our local paper, The Central Virginian,  their approach is to give the impression that they are informing the people of Louisa County about local issues and candidates.

With their publisher, Steve Wheddle claiming that they will be publishing in depth looks at the candidates and the races before the election.

And sure enough, they published a 8 page election section in their October 22nd edition filled with 4 pages of paid political ads. Beyond the CV asking a few questions of each of the candidates, it was  filled with lots of  filler content, stuffed like a sausage full of useless additives.

And it should be noted that while they did cover all of the candidates running for office this year, they asked considerably less  questions of the candidates than did one of their sister papers, the Herald-Progress or even the Louisa Democratic Committee.

Another indication of their steadfast commitment to low information journalism was their refusal to print an ad by the Louisa Democratic Committee promoting Blue Louisa. An ad which appeared in the monthly publication, Louisa Life, directing people to the candidates response to their questions in

And it should be noted that during a conversation with Mr. Wheddle, managed to give Blue Louisa a backhanded complement, claiming with a straight face that they can’t accept ads from their “competition,” effectively admitting their failure to adequately cover local issues, particularly around elections.

Their ongoing refusal to provide meaningful coverage of local issues, and the candidates during this election and previous elections is one of the main reasons why Blue Louisa was created.

One reality that none of us can ignore is that many of the outcomes of this coming Novembers vote were determined long before any of the candidates decided to run.

At the state level, it’s largely because of gerrymandered districts which allow politicians to effectively pick their voters., rather than the voters picking their representatives.

And its a pattern that is sustained at the county level by voter ignorance, apathy and local papers which are decidedly incurious in their questions and stenographic in their coverage, and from all appearance devoted to maintaining the existing status quo.

Despite the vast number of signs which have popped up all over the County, particularly for the Treasurers and Sheriffs race, the only local elections which are likely to be remotely competitive are in the the County’s reddest district;  the Jackson District, where the Board of Supervisors and School Board races have several newcomers to the political scene.

While it’s still possible that we could be surprised by the results of these races, I wouldn’t count on it.

Because, no matter how this election turns out, the lack of coverage about the issues and the actions of our elected officials by the Central Virginian will continue to be a concern.

Jon Taylor

Board deflects concerns about Sheriff’s raises

As Virginia’s state and local election season enters its last frenzied weeks, expect to see the op-ed pages of our local papers filled with letters supporting favored candidates.

Like the endorsements of Sheriff Ashland Fortune, coming from “the usual suspects” like; American’s for Prosperity … I mean Republican Senator Reeves, and former Louisa Commonwealth Attorney, now Republican Senator Garrett, along with letters from many former and current county employees.

I would particularly like to point out how all these recent letters have made liberal use of a collection of “factoids,” layering existing details on top of each other in order to make their claims seem more far more significant than they really are.

Like their “examples” of how Sheriff Fortune …. I mean Donnie Lowe is an excellent steward of the taxpayers’ money. When if fact, they are predicated more on personal beliefs, and not relevant information.

Half truths which pointedly ignore the fact that over the past few years, the LCSO has been coming before the Board of Supervisors asking for supplemental appropriations to cover their “unexpected” costs.

With Donnie, I mean Sheriff Fortune expecting the people of Louisa County to believe that these annual $ 250 – 300 thousand dollar supplemental appropriations should never be questioned.

Like his supporters, Sheriff Fortune…. I mean Donnie manages to avoid addressing the relevant issues, along with answering basic questions like; what’s keeping the LCSO from implementing a budget that takes the previous year’s unexpected costs into account?

Speaking of appropriations, did you know that during last years supplemental request that Sheriff Fortune asked for a $ 10K raise? And after the Board turned that request down, he turned around and reallocated departmental funds to give himself a raise.

According our County Administrator, Christian Goodwin, and Louisa District Supervisor Troy Wade this is a common practice in many county departments, with Wade claiming that several other constitutional officers are also making more than the minimum amount dictated by state law.

However, after making calls to several current County constitutional offices, those claims don’t appear to be entirely accurate. With both Nancy Pleasants and Henry Wash stating for the record that they are currently making the state mandated minimum salary, and they have never asked for any raises for themselves while in office.

And stating that any merit raises they deem necessary for their employees are brought to the County Administrator, who then takes it to the board as a “courtesy,” even though they have the necessary funds in their budget.

Of course, the Board is free to vote to raise the salaries of any of their constitutional officers as they see fit. Beyond there being absolutely no record of their having ever done so, the biggest problem is that apparently neither they nor the new County attorney see this as a potential legal or ethical concern.

In fact, they seem more concerned with sweeping this issue under the rug until after the election is over. Despite the fact that it puts the County at odds with existing state statutes, where constitutional officers, such as Sheriff, Treasurer, Clerk of the Court etc., base salary is proscribed by law

And when someone like Supervisor Wade goes out of his way to claim how “open and transparent” the Board is in it’s dealings with the public, he’s  being deliberately disingenuous. That fundamental lack of honesty has been the Republican Parties MO from state candidates all the way to local elections.

Just look at what took place at the Republican’s mass call for candidates this past April, where any doubts that it wasn’t “rigged” process should have been removed by the fact that the votes were counted by none other than Mr. Wade and Graven Craig, the new chair of the Louisa Republicans.

And make no mistake, this same dynamic of unaccountability and a desire to get re-elected by doing and saying as little as possible that is driving most of the candidates running in this year’s elections.

Even when local elections are being contested, most of the general public will never get a chance to hear those candidates speak, or debate each other even if they are willing to pony up money at the Farm Bureau or NAACP dinners, the best they can hope for are scripted presentations.

The biggest indication of the incumbent’s non-participation in the electoral process is the fact that there will be absolutely no debates between the candidates in any of these contested elections, particularly the Sheriffs race.

Allowing incumbents like Donnie Lowe… I mean Sheriff Fortune to enact their agendas with minimal public commentary or opposition once they have been re-elected.

In that regard, Mr. Wade’s comment’s last year the CV about the upcoming 2016-17 FY budget were likely the most honest assessmentthat we will ever hear from any of the Board members about long term state of the County’s finances, “it’s “naïve” to think that the county could fund the county’s projects without a dramatic increase funding such as an increase in property taxes somewhere on the order of 13 cents per $ 100 of assessed value.

And sure enough, the Board approved an increase of 4 cents for this fiscal year, along with increasing the tax on vehicles, knowing full well that another increase will likely be coming in the next fiscal year.

And with 2 of the 3 Board members (including Mr. Wade) running unopposed for re-election any public reaction to those tax increases will become the problem of the other 4 Board members running for re-election in 2017.

Editor’s note: This lack of accessibility and accountability by our elected officials starts with the soft bigotry of low expectations by the people of Louisa County, who have grown accustomed to “not asking any questions, as long as their public officials won’t tell them any lies … or truths,”  actions which in turn allow the Board to continue avoiding dealing with pressing community issues.

Like bringing high speed internet into the county, completing the James River pipeline project, along with kicking the entire question about the ethics or even the legality of a constitutionally elected officer like Sheriff Fortune giving himself a raise without their approval down the road until after the election, all the while telling us there’s nothing to be concerned about.

Jon Taylor

Community policing, how much are you willing to pay?

As the country is moving towards reform and away from mass incarceration because our extensive research has proven that imprisonment does not prevent or even lower crime rates and that most offenders will be returning to their communities, but, more importantly, that we won’t be able to pay for our out of control warehousing of prisoners. Indeed, we lock up more people for longer periods of time than any other country in the entire world and even execute many people, yet we continue to watch crime rates escalating everywhere, in large and small, and in rural and urban communities.

It appears that Louisa, like most in this state, does not focus on rehabilitation, drug or alcohol treatment, inside or outside of jail or prison, and has not removed the numerous barriers to reintegration into the community to significantly lower recidivism rates. Most Virginia offenders serve extremely long sentences with few being released on parole and most returning to prison for violating their probation or for new offenses.

What will it take to change the focus from removal, warehousing and lengthy prison terms to adopting effective and successful alternative models of community policing, rehabilitation and reform which have proven to be most successful?

A new day is upon us whether we realize it or not – this requires changing the old and usual ways of operating because they are just not working. Unfortunately, we see Louisa law enforcement doing what it has always done – making numerous arrests of low level insignificant drug users and dealers, and other low level offenders and petty criminals adding to the already skyrocketing number of inmates Louisa taxpayers will be paying for as our jail subsidy expires.

Researchers have clearly determined that all of America has miserably lost the so-called “War on Drugs,” (not that one really ever existed) is and has only benefited law enforcement and police who have profited more than anyone from unconstitutionally and illegally seizing the cash and property of anyone they happen to encounter under the criminal asset forfeiture laws.

Law enforcement has handsomely benefited from seizing cash and property from anyone they allege on the spot that the person committed a crime without an arrest, conviction or proof of evidence in a court of law under the “civil asset forfeiture laws. Accordingly, the Commonwealth law enforcement community pressured legislators to strike down the revision of the “unconstitutional civil asset forfeiture law” which allows them to take your cash and/or proper without a conviction for any crime – a NUMBER ONE CASH COW FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT NATIONWIDE.

Just how much are you, Louisa taxpayers, willing to pay for these low level arrests when the truth is that they are not having “any real impact on crime or public safety” in your community, no matter what the local media or sheriff’s department wants to claim? Or would you prefer to spend money on alternatives to incarceration and substantive rehabilitation and re-integration programs that have admirable success rates?

Are you willing to swallow a ten, twenty or thirty per cent tax increase? You had better give it serious thought and make your choice known as we get railroaded down this dead end path hijacking your pocketbook forever!

Do your own fact-checking if you want to learn the truth! Louisa is not now, nor has it ever been a major distributor of drugs or a major crime area in spite of the usual “fear mongering” by those with a vested interest in keeping their jobs, wanting to justify their ever-increasing law enforcement budgets of your tax dollars to benefit themselves and their families and those who have vowed to keep it peaceful, quiet, rural and filled with the right kind of people” by any means necessary.

Beware! We have had the Bush color-alerts and alarms, the space and immigrant alien invasions, the abandoned backpack scares, the endless “terrorists” threats and the ultimate law enforcement threats of “drugs taking over your community.” As absurd as that may sound, Americans have always bowed hand over foot to these “fear campaigns, believing whatever they have been told,” with no knowledge of or effort to discover the truth.

Gloria Pope

Sabotaging the sheriffs race

This is in response to Keenan Dakota’s letter of Oct. 1 regarding Major Donnie Lowe’s name being dragged into the election process, even though he is not the one running for office, and to Sheriff Fortune’s recently mailed flyer which I received today. I understand Keenan’s concern, but Keenan needs to know why this is being done.

Although Lowe is not running, he has been directly involved and personally responsible for many of the derogatory comments about Mike Silberman. He was attributed in an article on the front page of The Central Virginian with challenging Mike’s honesty. He attacked Mike’s character at the Louisa Republican Committee meeting in April, which caused Mike to lose the Republican nomination. He may not be running for office, but he certainly is trying to derail Mike’s chances of winning.

Who can blame him, he has a lot at stake since there are no less than four family, or former Lowe family members, on the sheriff’s payroll. Although Sheriff Fortune’s flyer states that he promised to never hire any of “his” family, his actual statement just said “family members.”

Sheriff Fortune’s flyer says that Mike is inexperienced for emergencies, uninformed and dishonest, and he can officially state that Mike did not leave the Louisa County Sheriff ’s Office on his own volition. Mike is a decorated military officer with 23 years of experience who has spent multiple tours in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Our combat troops face daily emergencies that far exceed anything that happens locally. He also has 14 years experience as a law enforcement officer. As far as Mike not leaving on his own volition, I have a copy of the letter from Fortune accepting Mike’s resignation and thanking him for his service. Lowe recommended him for hire to another law enforcement agency. If Mike was such a bad employee, why would either of them do what they did? Although Fortune may not rehire him, he is eligible for rehire.

I am tired of Mike being called dishonest and inexperienced. He is a trustworthy and upstanding member of our community and does not deserve to be denigrated by Lowe or anyone else.

Deanna Nicosia

Who’s up for election?

In the campaign for the coming election for Louisa County sheriff, harsh words are being said. It is predictable that a lot of information (or accusations) about the candidates and character assessment (or mud-slinging) will be part of an election.

But, I believe that the electoral process is degraded when the actions of other officers–who are not up for election–are dragged into this process. For instance, Major Donnie Lowe’s name has been mentioned in several letters to the editor. Since he is not running for office, there is no appropriate venue for him to address any concerns that people bring up. This seems unfair to me.

In the recent past, the Louisa County Sheriff’s Office has been in the national news for how they handled the recent outbreak of sexting among high-school students (sending nude or partially nude photos to friends over the Internet). Major Donnie Lowe was the main architect of the protocol for dealing with this rather widespread problem. The sheriff’s office stopped the sexting outbreak without ruining the future of any teens whose main crime was being stupid. Sexting among teens is a difficult national problem and the national media held up the Louisa Sheriff’s Office as having a very effective protocol that other police departments would do well to emulate.

I don’t have any insight about whether Sheriff Fortune delegates effectively or excessively. My brief experiences with Sheriff Fortune are that he is accessible and compassionate, traits I wish every police department shared. I also believe that Major Lowe has been among Louisa’s finest officers and that his reputation should not be smirched since he isn’t running for office and he has no way to defend himself against people’s accusations and assertions.

Keenan Dakota