Republicans Stage Upset in BoS Races

Both Republicans running for the Albemarle Board of Supervisors have won: Duane Snow in the Samuel Miller district and Rodney Thomas in the Rio district.

Snow was in a three-way race against Democrat Madison Cummings and independent John Lowry, all vying for a seat vacated by outgoing independent Sally Thomas. Cummings came in second, just behind Snow, with the independent a distant third.

The contest between Thomas and Democratic incumbent David Slutzky was closely watched. Slutzky’s intellectual, open-minded approach to government has a way of frightening more conservative voters, and Thomas’ campaign was premised on opposing Slutzky’s support of limited growth and related standard conservative issues. It’s a relatively narrow win—249 votes out of 4,735 cast, not counting outstanding absentee ballots and conditional votes—but a win just the case. Slutzky won easily in 2005, defeating Republican Gary Grant 58% to 38%.

Their victories remove two seats from the Democratic persuasion, tilting the whole board strongly towards conservatives, who only lost control of the BoS two years ago, when Ann Mallek defeated incumbent Republican David Wyant. Mallek and Dennis Rooker (who ran unopposed today) are left as the only reliable Democratic votes. With Lindsay Dorrier and Ken Boyd‘s seats up for reelection in two years, expect Democrats to be gunning hard for both of their seats.

Interestingly, both of today’s Republican victors were born and raised in Albemarle County, while all of their opponents moved here as adults. That may be a coincidence, but I suspect not. For most candidates, the sort of missteps that Rodney Thomas made in his campaign wouldn’t just end their campaign, it’d end their political careers. An electorate who has known the candidate for many years is going to be more forgiving.

64 Responses to “Republicans Stage Upset in BoS Races”


  • You’re missing the end-quote on the href attribute of the John Lowry link, so a sentence or two is being elided.

  • Interestingly, both of today’s Republican victors were born and raised in Albemarle County, while all of their opponents moved here as adults. That may be a coincidence, but I suspect not.

    You know. Something has to be wrong with things when that fact is something worthy of note. As if the original “locals” weren’t fit to govern themselves before the transplants arrived and made this place the “transplant utopia” that it has become.

  • As a “local”, I’m deeply concerned about the implications of this race. Keep in mind Republicans and Dorrier consistently voted against every conservation and rural protection measure that ever came up. Hollymeade “Town Center” happened under Thomas’ watch.

    I hope I’m wrong about what these election results mean, but either way I think we can thank the local chapter of the Sierra Club for this, as they distracted the voters away from the real issues enabling a Republican takeover. That means from a practical standpoint, not only did they fail in stopping one road, but they helped put in place people who very well may create a whole list of new roads and pavement over formerly green space.

    I sincerely hope I’m wrong about that though, and that Snow and Thomas will work to preserve farmland, rural Albemarle and it’s natural systems.

  • The readthehook article has an interesting comment that the Hook mis-portrayed Rodney Thomas’s position on the up-hill water plan.
    http://www.readthehook.com/blog/index.php/2009/11/03/slutzky-ousted-machine-coasts-to-victory-in-city/#comments
    I would like to see an open defense by the Nature Conservancy of that plan, it seems like they are just letting RWSA carry their water (!). I assume the vision has to do with taking down dams generally, and turning NW Albemarle into a riparian haven… but the most I’ve heard is vague bits about stream health on the Mormons. Their agenda might be defensible if they would own up to it. But likely the city would see it was throwing away megamillions worth of dams it owns outright(?).

    About the voters forgiving Rodney Thomas for his fond memories of Burley, I would go with a more psychological explanation, rather than tolerance for local. It’s likely a bit of Obama backlash & racial anxiety. Or you don’t even have look at it psychologically, just consider the mechanics at how these outrage and apology cycles work. A certain shame was lost when Obama won!

    No president in history has been accused of being so many bogeymen, I’d wager: communist, fascist, socialist, muslim, non-citizen, joker, czarist,… Even Hillary Clinton did not suffer that degree of incoherence.

    (And that list doesn’t even include what they were saying during the election, remember black liberation theologist, terrorist sympathizer, anti-Constitutionalist, acolyte of Bill Ayers? More coherent then!)

    All of it just distracts from holding these politicians to account for what they actually do. Where is the Wall Street reform? I predicted here 14 months ago Wall Street would stop it, and they have. Handing reform over to the Fed is pitiful.

  • “As if the original “locals” weren’t fit to govern themselves before the transplants arrived and made this place the “transplant utopia” that it has become”

    I found that quote interesting as well. Not sure what Waldo’s intent was, but it gives the sense that he thinks the locals were in need of enlightenment and were going to screw the whole thing up if left to their own devices. It also may indicate that Waldo thinks locals are more tolerant of racism than transplants.

    I also find it funny that the description of Slutzky is “open-minded.” Open minded with respect to what? Greater regulation? Reduced abilities to control one’s assets? Higher taxes?

    I’m a *conservative) democrat, but Slutzky struck me as overreaching in much the same way a national figure like George Bush did. Inherent in his world view seems to be an assumption that property owners can’t be trusted, that they have gotten over on the rest of the populace, and that regulation is the answer to all of this. He seems to be often reference the exception rather than the rule in order to justify his position, and appeared to want to impose draconian taxes and regulations on the many to limit the abuses of very few.

    It could be, though, that he just enjoys seeing himself quoted in the press and proposes some of his outrageous ideas just to stir the pot. He did seem to “think out loud” a lot. I’ll allow that’s a possibility, and that in practice he could be more reasonable.

  • I think bo and TrvlnMn are reading a bit much into Waldo’s factual observation that “both of today’s Republican victors were born and raised in Albemarle County, while all of their opponents moved here as adults.” He goes on to theorize that locals who’ve known a candidate for years would be more likely to overlook “the sort of missteps that Rodney Thomas made in his campaign.” That seems to me to pretty much be the extent of the conclusions he draws from the observation.

    It seems like you’re reaching pretty far to interpret his observation as a slap at the locals or a suggestion that the locals can’t govern themselves. (He’s a local himself, no?)

  • Not sure what Waldo’s intent was, but it gives the sense that he thinks the locals were in need of enlightenment and were going to screw the whole thing up if left to their own devices. It also may indicate that Waldo thinks locals are more tolerant of racism than transplants.

    Erm…what now? I can’t understand how you extracted a word of that from the paragraph that I wrote. Your inference is not my implication (or belief). Perhaps you stopped reading midway through, and missed the the last sentence? As somebody more on the “local” half of my stated dichotomy (not born here; my parents moved here when I was a kid), is it your proposal that I’m a) tolerant of racism b) in need of enlightenment from transplants or c) both?

  • Your last sentence was what led me to qualify what I said, allowing that I’m not sure what the intent was. Regardless, your statement wasn’t exactly a ringing endorsement of the intelligence of natives of the area, in particular when taken with the above statement that it was Slutzky’s “intellectual, open-mindedapproach” that frightened conservatives.

    It’s kind of hard to read that in a vacuum and not think that either conservatives have negative connotations, or that the writer of the passage thinks negatively about convservatives. (As a disclaimer, i’d like to think of myself as a liberal, or at least someone who is not frightened by intellect and open-mindedness.)

    Maybe this is all semantics, but it didn’t strike me as particularly even-handed.

  • Bo, tell me where Slusky in terms of actual policies he voted for was “overreaching”, I think people were upset by ideas that he’d bring forward, but when it came time to write policy and vote on it, I think he was known for taking all sides into account. Name where exactly Slutzy did anything to burden people with regulation or reduce “abilities to control one’s assets”. What he did do was fight to enforce existing zoning and ordinances, and protect natural resources.

    Even on the taxes thing… Show me where he alone was responsible for raising taxes, without the support of Boyd and other supervisors? I think what he was bashed for doing was merely bringing up the uncomfortable point that if we don’t raise taxes then the County may have to cut services. Likewise, it would have made a huge amount of sense to spend extra on capital improvements during a downturn when costs were low. Nonetheless, people said they didn’t want a tax increase so he proposed a low tax rate himself. Isn’t that the kind of leadership we would want? Someone that examines all options and listens to the public?

  • Your last sentence was what led me to qualify what I said, allowing that I’m not sure what the intent was. Regardless, your statement wasn’t exactly a ringing endorsement of the intelligence of natives of the area, in particular when taken with the above statement that it was Slutzky’s “intellectual, open-mindedapproach” that frightened conservatives.

    You’re assuming that Thomas’ supporters were conservatives, something that I didn’t say or assume. Since you bring it up, I think Thomas’ voters probably tended strongly to be local; whether they’re conservative or not, I can’t say. My guess is that they are, on average, more conservative than Slutzky’s voters, but that their range on the ideological spectrum is far greater.

    You may not have been reading this blog very long, so you may not have noticed I generally frown on people wandering into town and telling us not to worry, they’ll tell us how to run things now. :)

  • I wonder what the folks in Winneba would say?

  • I think Slutzky land use gambit backfired in earlysville (northside) where is got crushed. The Rob Bell machine was active there as well.

  • I clicked on the Lindsay Dorrier link above to confirm that he does run as a Democrat, though by some standards he is not “reliable”. Many years ago his organization invited me to attend a caucus when he was up against Bruce Kirtley for the chance to oppose French Slaughter(?) for Congress if memory serves . I went , listened to the speeches and voted for Kirtley as he was way more progressive and articulate. Kirtley got the nomination and was subsequently crushed.
    One thing that I thought was interesting was that the link claimed that in 1979 over 10,000 votes were cast in the Scottsville District county supervisor race.

  • Correction: The 1977 race was for delegate from the 58th District- Paul Harris beat Bruce Kirtley.

  • Interestingly, both of today’s Republican victors were born and raised in Albemarle County, while all of their opponents moved here as adults. That may be a coincidence, but I suspect not.

    I made my first comment only because when it comes to elected races it seems to me that genuine area natives- if they aren’t incumbents- have an up hill battle.

    Beyond any observation I’ve made in my posts on this thread- I would like to know what Waldo found it “Interesting(ly) that the victors were natives and the opponents weren’t.

    I live in the wrong district but I would’ve voted for Snow simply because when I was a kid, my best friend lived across the street from the senior patriarch of that family (and I think the founder of the Nursery- if I remember correctly he was murdered in his home- presumably by one of the derelicts he was often trying to help).

    Of course my friend’s memories of the Snow kids were that when they’d come over to visit the patriarch they’d always wind up in his front yard destroying his toys. :)

    Kids are nasty little beasts. ;)

  • I think it’s interesting as a mini-trend, a trait that stands out in correlation (though not necessary causation) with victory. The same as if both of these guys were the only former police officers in the race, the only candidates to decline contributions of over $100, etc.

    I live in the wrong district but I would’ve voted for Snow simply because when I was a kid, my best friend lived across the street from the senior patriarch of that family

    That’s really what I have in mind when I speculate about the effects of being a local. I have a few conservative friends who I’ve known since I was a kid who, if they ran, I’d vote for them. It doesn’t matter that I disagree with them strongly, I’d support them just the same. That’s an effect that can’t be ignored.

  • Bryan C,
    I doubt that Slutzky’s stand on land use cost him the election, since the majority of residents in the Rio district fall within the growth area. I would submit it was his history of voting for tax increases that hurt him and the impression he was non responsive to the voters. With the Daily Progress reporting the county’s deficit is now 5 million dollars, it will be interesting to see if the same voters will tolerate the county giving 18 million dollars in tax breaks to the wealthiest land owners in the county under the land use program. You did have one person agreeing with you in a comment in the Daily Progress today, saying Slutzky lost because Land Use was a “property rights” issue, which shows the arrogance of some receiving the tax break because it ignores the fact Land Use is voluntary program and not a right. I look forward to seeing how the 18 million dollars for land use will be justified under the new zero based budgeting system, but would put good up money to bet the issue will never see the light of day.

  • That is telling, AnotherView, that you characterize the land use program as “tax breaks for the wealthiest.” I suppose it means Slutzky was successful on some level in re-framing the discussion and portrayal as one to incentivize preservation and rural/agricultural activities into a loophole for land users to avoid taxation before cashing out.

    No doubt this has hapened, but the percentage and frequencey is so small in relation to the overall particpation in the program as to be laughable. Slutzky knows this, but this was the straw man he used as a way to justify higher taxes and reduce the control land owners have over their land.

  • Bo,
    I would suggest you look at the facts when it comes to cashing out. Try Biscuit Run, Old Trail, North Pointe and on and on, all were under land use. To add insult to injury when these so called farms were sold to the developers the owners did not pay one cent for the 5 years back taxes since at the time of sale the zoning of the land did not change. It was only when the land was rezoned by the developer did the 5 years of back taxes get paid. And do you think the developer didn’t pass the charge on to the people who bought homes in the new developments? Not only did the tax payers loose money they invested, since most of the land in land use has been there for many years, but the people who bought homes essentially paid a surcharge to pay for the back taxes.
    Data from the Piedmont Environmental Council shows we have been losing land to development in the rural area at a rate of several thousand acres per year. Data from the county show similar losses. So to say that this is so small as to be laughable, may not be so funny to those of us picking up the tab.

  • “Biscuit Run, Old Trail….” i won’t comment on North Pointe as I don’t know the specifics. I do happen to know that the families that owned those developments owned them for decades…at least in the case of Old Trail living on the farm (and yes it was a farm). The dynamics of the county changed and the families were approached by developers. This is a get rich quick scheme?

    I am pretty sure the market dictated the price of the lots and homes at Old Trail (are there any homes in Biscuit Run now? the market can dicate other things, too, not always pleasant for developers. Bear in mind that capital was put at risk in all of these transactions). If the market didn’t bear those costs, the homes and lots don’t get sold no matter what the intent of the developers is to pass costs along (which is what all businesses do, when they can).

    I think probably we have some fundamental disagreements about taxation. It is not surprising that the rural areas are diminishing as population increases, and I am absolutely an advocate for striking a balance there and making sure the character of the county is maintained. But in my view the landowners did absolutely nothing untoward in the 2 examples i’m aware and were not at all “gaming the system.” They just happened to own land that ended up being valuable–not an evil thing. Slutzky’s taxation plan increases the “tab” to many who can’t afford to pay—and then there’s the question of what to do with the money–a whole other debate.

    I think our fundamental disagreement is probably that you can’t stand these windfalls that occasionally occur and view it as abuse of the system, and I believe that the medicine that people such as Slutzky propose is far more harmful than any underlying illness.

  • Maybe Thomas would have lost if more “Negroes” had voted.

  • You wouldn’t have said that before President and Commander-in-Chief Barack Obama was dutifully elected with a near-landslide majority of the popular and electoral vote, would you have?

  • Bo
    It has nothing to do with windfall profits, although it is one example of the failure of the land use program. The fact the families who owned Biscuit Run and Old Trail owned and operated them for decades just means the tax payers lost a good deal of money before they decided to cash in and the end result was more development. If you have data to support the loss of 18 million dollars of revenue needed to pay for the program, then by all means present your proof. To date the data I have seen shows no positive return on investment to those who pay for the program. That said, I support maintaining the rural character of the county. I simply would agree with Mr.Slutzsky in his approach in requiring land in land use be in easement. I would go even one step further in putting any additional revenue gained as the result of such a change in the land use program into the ACE program, which buys the development rights from real farmers, who want to maintain their farms. But I think both you and I know Land Use is not really about protecting farms but protecting future profits at the expense of the tax payer.

  • My respect for Slutzky’s political abilities are increased as your post is a perfect example of him successfully reframing the issue from what it was originally.

    RE: the “loss” of $18MM: there is no loss, as that money was never owed. Taking advantage of provisions as they are intended (and complying with them) is not skirting the payment of taxes. The county created this program to incentivize rural landowners to hold and manage their land. Inherent in this was a recognition that farming (term used broadly) is a typically lower margin occupation, and that commercially, the land is less valuable than residential land. To say that those who eventually change the nature of their holdings owe back taxes is like saying the US government is “owed” additional taxes on capital gains because they’re not taxed at the same rate as ordinary income. The intent of the law (as evidenced by the need to reapply periodically) was never to lock landowners into committing to a specific use forever, but for a period of time (with “clawback” provisions of, I believe, 5 years).

    What do you imagine the result would be if all of this land was suddenly taxed at residential or market rates? Many, many parcels would have to be sold, I can guarantee you. And to the extent you’d like to change the nature of the program to lock undeveloped parcels in permantently, i submit to you that those landowners should receive back taxes of whatever amount they paid.

    Re: return on investment: how do you measure that? what’s the investment in public services on all that rural land? Pretty darn small, I’d imagine. Even so, when Old Trail got developed, the back taxes were paid by the developer, who then created a neighborhood providing a pretty healthy annuity to the county in high value homes and accompanying property taxes. What’s the issue here? that the taxes were paid by someone other than the family?

    YOu seem to really believe there is a cabal of famers and land owners out there getting over and just biding their time until their “future profits” come in. Really? Even this debate we’re having here centers around 3 parcels out of how many? 100? 500? 1,000? Quite simply, the huge majority of land will never be developed in the way that Old Trail, North POint, or (one day) Biscuit Run have been or will be. and i would remind you that sometimes things don’t work out as quickly or as profitably as developers would like (see: Biscuit Run).

  • I would also note this entire question is a straw man for avoiding the discussion around the bloat and inefficiency of county government.

  • @colfer: I’m assuming that your comment was for me. Yes, I would have mocked Rodney Thomas for his racial cluelessness before Obama (for whom I voted) was elected. In fact, Thomas reminds me of that old SNL skit with Frank Sinatra and Stevie Wonder singing “Ebony and Ivory”:

    Stevie:
    I am black, and you are white.

    Sinatra:
    You are blind as a bat, while I have sight.
    Side by side, you can be my amigo, Negro,
    Let’s not fiiiiight.

  • There is no way ‘bo’ is a ‘liberal’ as he claims in one part, but then every position he takes is pure right-wing. Deference to the “market’s pricing support”, the blindness as to the fairness of tax loopholes, simply leaning on tax code for justification, convenient confusion between “law” and “ethics” when favorable… liberal? No way!

    That too – being able to lie and deceive even more frightfully easily – is absolutely owned by right-wingers.

  • ok. this was a pretty good discussion. i guess it’s over as we’re going to just fight over labels if we keep going. Fine I’m not a liberal if you say so….from an economic standpoint that’s probably true. My right wing friends would certainly not claim me either. This doesn’t add much to the debate though.

  • Bo, thats just Majunga (aka “Symp,” aka “Majunga,” aka “Sympatico”) trying to stifle discussion by being an ass. I apologize for him, because he doesn’t have the sense to do it himself. It’s best to ignore him. He doesn’t speak for anybody else; I’m not sure he speaks for himself.

  • Bo,
    As far as no loss of income I suggest you contact the county who did the 18 million calculation. The fact is the tax rate would be reduced 10 cents for all residents if land use was dropped. As for what the result would be on land values if land use was dropped, I believe you would see what’s call the “free market” in action with prices in line with reality instead of the artificially inflated prices due to land use. As for how do you value return on investment I believe you answered the question when you said the program was an incentive to land owners to hold and manage their land. I would submit that when you look at the data showing the loss of land in the rural area to development what you see is a failure to meet your own criteria. But facts are something you seem to have no problem ignoring.

  • Waldo:

    Stifle discussion by being an ass.

    What have you resolved, Donkeyface? Absolutely nothing. ‘bo’ claimed to be a ‘liberal’. Why? Is it now out of fashion to be a ‘conservative’? Is that going to flipflop back and forth again and again with every wind of Gallup polls?

    I am not stifling anything. The fact is, I offer a completely different view of things and you can’t handle that. Obviously, it upsets your little blog denizens.

    Waldo:

    That’s really what I have in mind when I speculate about the effects of being a local. I have a few conservative friends who I’ve known since I was a kid who, if they ran, I’d vote for them. It doesn’t matter that I disagree with them strongly, I’d support them just the same.

    Is it any wonder absolutely nothing of lasting value gets done in USA 21st century? Talk about an inbreeding mentality! You should be ashamed of yourself, but instead, you’re proud of your intellectual dysfunction.

  • was a good discussion. There will be more. I think we’ve reached the end of this one. Given that things have been redefined, I actually would say that from your perspective you’re probably right. I just disagree with the lens you’re viewing things through. (though not sure what “facts” I’m ignoring)

  • Is it any wonder absolutely nothing of lasting value gets done in USA 21st century? Talk about an inbreeding mentality! You should be ashamed of yourself, but instead, you’re proud of your intellectual dysfunction.

    Your complaint is that I support integrity and character over ideology? Yeah, I’m sure there’s a special place in hell for me for that transgression…

  • Dirt Worshipper, you write “I hope I’m wrong about what these election results mean, but either way I think we can thank the local chapter of the Sierra Club for this, as they distracted the voters away from the real issues enabling a Republican takeover.

    No one lost this race but Slutzky himself. I didn’t know one democrat who wanted him to win. He was arrogant, and even if I did agree with his policies, his attitude lost the race, not anyone else. Hope this taught him and the democrats a lesson. If they want to win, they need to run better candidates who are descent people.

  • Waldo: You “support integrity”, but you’re you have no integrity. You blocked my IP but have made no mention of it here [my IP is now spoofed to post this]. Way to go, Donkeyface! You’ve shown your colors and they ain’t pretty.

  • You blocked my IP but have made no mention of it here

    You have a dynamic IP from Embarq. Blocking your IP would work for perhaps one post; or I could be overbroad, but then I’d be blocking lots of people, including myself. You’re enough of a pain in the ass as it is. Don’t take it up a notch by blaming me for your computer problems. If I want to get rid of you, I’ll tell you to stop coming here and, if you violate that, I’ll send a cease-and-desist to Embarq. (Oh, and your IP isn’t “spoofed.” It’s the same damned IP you used before.)

    No, I’ll use the same system I’ve successfully employed with “Jogger”: a three strike system. Jogger’s got two strikes. One more and he’s out. We’ll start you at one. For the shit I’ve put up from you in the past few years, let’s just call that one strike. Each time you willfully inhibit discussion by being an ass, that’s another strike.

    I give you a week. Unless you “quit” again now. Then it’ll be two weeks, what with the returning a week later.

  • No one lost this race but Slutzky himself. I didn’t know one democrat who wanted him to win.

    *raises hand* I think Rodney Thomas is a nice guy, but I preferred David Slutzky. And I’m a Democrat. So there’s one. And I’ve talked to a lot of Democrats about this race, and a dozen come to mind who wanted him to win. Now that I think about it, I can’t summon to mind any Democrats who I talked to about the race who wanted him to lose.

  • Small town, small minds… “willfully inhibit discussion by being an ass” Now is that a factual statement or just your dumbass opinion? Or have you not known me since you’re a kid, so you could overcome your objections? I’ve got an idea: point me to a decent LOCAL blog site, a generalist like this cvillnews.com sack of crap here, just better. And that’ll be the last you have to bear of my dissension to your glory. Otherwise, you’ve got the market cornered so stop complaining.

  • Name where exactly Slutzy did anything to burden people with regulation or reduce “abilities to control one’s assets”.

    regional transit authority.

  • Majung’s a live one!

  • Sorry Waldo, I missed you in my count, but the people I talked to were hoping Thomas would win. I also wouldn’t be surprised if he turns out to be more environmentally concerned than Slutzky. Just because he made some mistakes in the past doesn’t mean he didn’t learn from them, and growth doesn’t have to be bad, as long as it is well planned, which I haven’t seen happen under the current regime.

    Anyone who would support destroying Ragged Mt. Natural Area and 54,000 mature trees and thinks that planting seedlings as a replacement is not an environmentalist. Anyone who would support a water plan that has a pipeline, of at least 9.5 miles , to pump water uphill with electricity, necessitating a huge carbon footprint, is not an environmentalist. Any one who allows the airport to clear cut a forest along a stream for the airport extension runway, and then replant it with seedlings, is not an environmentalist. In fact, Slutzky supported this airport extension by bending the rules and calling it a driveway so the it didn’t need the same level of environmental review. Go look at it Waldo, and then tell me that Slutzky was good for the environment.

  • Oh, I complained about the airport thing at the time, Eric—during that exact same week, I was layout out mucho dinero for an engineer to design the driveway for my new house to the same specs as the airport runway, only I was also supposed to jump through some hoops involving conducting a pair of studies (IIRC) about plants and wildlife that would be harmed by the process. I don’t believe the airport folks had to do that.

  • Majunga, I have no idea of what you’re talking about. Like I said: you’ve got one strike and two more coming to you. If that’s a problem, start your own blog. I’ll even promote it on Charlottesville Blogs. I’m done playing semantic games with you here.

  • Eric, can I assume that you are a Sierra Club member? If so, then you prove my point.

    I’ll be the first to admit that Slutsky was not the most progressive candidate, but the Thomas had won, he jumped to say that he’d support Boyd’s agenda and vision for the County. Boyd has voted against every single environmental initiative the county has ever proposed during his term. So whether it be critical slope, stream buffers, land use revalidation, phasing and clustering, mountain top protection, etc. He’s opposed them all and Thomas will too. In fact, I’d be glad to wager a friendly bet, using Waldo’s system, that Thomas will even vote to roll back existing environmental protections, or will just stop enforcing ordinances and will indiscriminately issue waivers (which amounts to basically the same thing). Don’t like that? Pick your environmental metric, and put down some money.

    As for the water supply issue, good luck on that one. The real issue has always been uncontrolled development. As long a development is relatively uncontrolled and developers are given free reign, then water will continue to be an issue. Even with just the existing approved developments, water is already an issue. That means that dredging or not, you’re going to get an expansion at Ragged Mountain eventually. Slutsky understood that. The only mitigating factor is the economy.

    Once upon a time, the Sierra Club used to fight for James Spiny Mussels, now apparently it works for developers, golfers, and Republicans. For the sake of saving some trees at Ragged Mountain, the Sierra Club is willing to sacrifice the entire rural area and it’s ecosystems.

  • Once upon a time, the Sierra Club used to fight for James Spiny Mussels, now apparently it works for developers, golfers, and Republicans. For the sake of saving some trees at Ragged Mountain, the Sierra Club is willing to sacrifice the entire rural area and it’s ecosystems.

    John Martin once said he was in a car with some State officials when they (unnamed) got out of their car, went under a bridge, and found ONE James spinymussel in Beaver Creek. This undocumented discovery has absolutely nothing to do with the position supported by the Sierra Club. Different rivers. Unfortunately, this anecdote was the basis for discarding the idea of building a dam atBeaver Creek. Since the dam at Beaver Creek was never really on the table, I have no idea of the Sierra Club’s position on that dam.

  • There was an interesting reference to the mussel this in an article on Charlottesville Tomorrow. In it, after meeting with Regulators in Richmond, Norris Said:

    “We may come up with a plan that meets our needs, is cheaper, minimizes tree loss, and it may still get turned down by Richmond if it doesn’t meet these criteria… I also found it eye opening that preserving the health of the mussels and the fish may determine our path forward.”

    Leaving aside C-ville Eye’s point about the veracity of mussel reports, I’m still rather shocked that the Sierra Club hasn’t looked at the water plan through this lens. Go back a few years and you actually have activists coming to meetings dressed up as spiny mussels and such protesting the bypass. Where are those protesters now?

    I’m not saying I’m against dredging, but I am saying that it’s dangerous to rally for or against something just because Hawes Spencer is obsessed with it. When issues are this complex, you need people at the top that understand some rather complex laws and policies. This single-shot mentality really can create a disaster.

    Did folks like Eric ever sit down and talk to Slutsky about these issues? I have… and while I didn’t always agree, I almost always learned something I didn’t know before that changed how I saw the issues. Regardless, what’s done is done. In a few years, one side will be able to definitively say “I told you so”, but until then, we’re all guessing as to what this will really mean for the County, especially given the budget problems.

  • Realenvironmentalist

    Think you better check this out Dirtworshipper. Unfortunately, the people at the top have not proven trustworthy –read this and tell me if you find any factual errors ? Do you really believe that dredging would cost between 140 – 210 million dollars for the South Fork Reservoir ? Do you really believe this plan is the only way to ” save the Moorman’s” ? Do you really believe the demand analysis for the amount of water we need in the RWSA plan is correct now that we are 25% below the Gannett Fleming estimate ? Do you believe the 5% conservation number in the plan is correct given that we’ve dropped our water usage voluntarily by 22% in the last ten years even though there are more hook-ups, and 9% more population? Do you believe we should approve a reservoir plan with no idea of a route for the pipeline that must be built to fill it, as Mr. Frederick is saying ?

    Please read this and them tell me you believe the people at the top

    http://cvillewater.info/myths_redherrings.html

  • Dirtworshipper, I appreciate that you are willing to openly defend the Nature Conservancy Plan. The community needs the opportunity to debate this now that so much about the plan has changed, thanks to misleading dredging estimates, escalating dam and pipeline costs, and the way we are using water.

    Hopefully Dirtworshipper you and I can agree on this scenario. If you are building a house, and once the builder looks into the site and says, sorry the ground here is unstable and I can build it, but it may triple in price, and there is a large embankment that might cave in and has to be re-enforced by code and that could also cost a large sum that we hadn’t anticipated, because of the state oversight, oh and by the way the route that we were going to use for your water and sewer lines isn’t feasible, and it looks like the next best route will be double the price to put in , and since you and your wife have divorced maybe you don’t need such a big house now and that means the other location we looked at first, before we chose this site, would be just fine for what you need now and for the forseable future, so as I said, we could go ahead with this idea for triple the price I quoted you, or maybe we should come up with Plan B now that your needs have changed and the price has substantially escalated…..

    so Dirtworshipper can we agree, our need for the amount of water we were planning for has changed, and at some point the price is unaffordable for this community and it’s citizens to bear ? What price do you believe that to be ?

  • Dirtworshipper, Have you read the book “Rivers of Life” by Brain Richter ? This book is the backdrop for the Nature Conservancy push to make rivers more sustainable for the acquatic life therein, and is a noble goal.  Unfortunately the plan they have for the Moorman’s could do more harm than good and goes against much of what is written in this book. The water plan as they conceive it, is to manage the river, not allow natural flow, which would mean taking down the dam. Since there is no stream gauge on the Moorman’s no one knows what natural flow is for this river. There is no science behind the way they plan to manage it in terms of the health for the indigenous species that live in that river, in fact it could be more detrimental to their long term survival then helpful. Mr. Richter admits in this book that what is being done presently is guess work and experimentation, and the Moorman Plan for our water supply would be another experiment.  We do know that one fish that would definitely be helped by their water management scheme –the trout– that are stocked by Trout Unlimited in the Moorman’s which controls the value, both recreational and financial,  of these fish by issuing licenses to fish there.

    After you read this book let me know so we can discuss these issues.

  • Betty,

    I never said that I backed the Water Supply plan. I do think its crazy that the Sierra Club has sought to eat it’s own. I know people in TNC, and have worked with them on projects before. I don’t always agree with their methodology, but they are good people and believe they are doing the right thing. I could debate details of the water plan but I’m sure people couldn’t give a flying monkey about my opinion on that.

    My issue is merely that the Sierra Club has adopted blinders (generously donated by Hawes Spencer), which caused them to help put a pro-development Republican in office. The biggest irony is that I sincerely doubt that the new BOS will be supportive of the same kind of water conservation efforts which have allowed us to make the kind of gains you’re talking about. Growth (and the way we are growing) has always been the main issue.

    You can talk about dredging all you like, but what about addressing the situation that caused the sedimentation in the first place? Boyd opposed measures to fix that problem and Thomas was Chair of the planning commission when they knew the grading was wrong at Hollymeade and chose to do nothing about it (causing a mudslide that buried the southbound lanes of 29 North.)

    Furthermore, I’ll gladly lay down money that neither Snow nor Thomas will vote to stop the flooding of Ragged Mountain, so helping put them in office was rather pointless even on that one rather narrow issue.

  • ” I know people in TNC, and have worked with them on projects before. I don’t always agree with their methodology, but they are good people and believe they are doing the right thing”
    “My issue is merely that the Sierra Club has adopted blinders (generously donated by Hawes Spencer), which caused them to help put a pro-development Republican in office”
    Dirt Worshipper usually decides on issues, not upon the merits of an argument, but according to the side of the people he likes. That became evident to me during a discussion about the proposed botanical garden for McIntire Park. He has met with the proponents and believes they believe they are right. This is a very common way for people in Charlottesville to make decisions. That’s why we have the Council we have.

  • No, if the issue was the water supply then I could rationally discuss that. Fact is, there was no substantial difference between Slutsky and Thomas on the water issue. Thomas just refused to sign the agreement as a purely political move. You’re rather famous for trying to change what the actual issue is (i.e. bait and switch).

    I’d be happy to reopen the McIntire Park issue, but I don’t think you can rationally discuss it. You see shadows behind every corner, and those kind of conspiracy theories are non-falsifiable. I could never provide you enough evidence to disprove anything. I’ve never seen you change your position on anything no matter how much evidence someone provided.

  • “You’re rather famous for trying to change what the actual issue is (i.e. bait and switch).” And your guiding every ost’s conversation that you have commented upon as a discussion on growth is called …? Switch then bait?

  • Dirt Worshiper, I do think you may be mistaken about the differing positions of Thomas and Slutzky on the water supply. Last Friday Thomas made the first statement, by any elected official, that the entire plan may need to be scrapped or reworked, as he said, “we don’t have the money”. I wonder if you have talked to the Sierra Club about why they changed their position ? What surprises me is that any environmental organization would support the Nature Conservancy’s Plan given what we now know. I do hope you’ll read Mr. Richter’s book ” Rivers of Life ” and our Red Herring Report. Without news organizations willing to report this information how would the public be able to form an opinion about what is best for the community ? The people at the top, that you refer to, have done everything they can, as you will see documented in the Red Herring Report, to keep information from the public. How can we trust them ?

    The press is the means we have in this country to keep those at the top honest, and without their investigative reporting, and providing a voice for groups such as ours, much of what we now know to be false would have remain hidden.

    http://www.readthehook.com/blog/index.php/2009/11/07/supe-elect-thomas-eyes-water-plan-for-ax/

    http://cvillewater.info/myths_redherrings.html

  • I saw that comment by Thomas, I also think Boyd was right when he said that people’s positions change when they actually get in office. I stand by my offer of a friendly bet that neither Thomas nor Snow will vote to take flooding of Ragged Mountain off the table. How about if I win you donate $25 to The Nature Conservancy, and if you win I’ll donate $25 to the Sierra Club?

    I’ll put that book on my list to read; however, I’m pretty familiar with TNC’s methodology and it’s philosophical basis. I’m also familiar with wetland mitigation and wetland/stream diversity issues. (As for mussels, I’ve actually grown them before, so I have an idea of their specific needs.) I could easily point out flaws in TNC’s approach, and as I said, I don’t agree with them in many situations. For example, one flaw is that wetland mitigation rarely ever creates a new wetland. Mostly people get credits for enhancing existing wetlands. That means a sum loss of wetlands.

    However, here are some big flaws in the arguments of opponents of the water supply plan:

    1) We can reduce flows to the Morman’s river and the North Fork? Actually, it’s not clear that the Feds would allow such a thing. As Dave Norris discovered, the ESA has some pretty strict requirements, and the Feds and State officials may prevent us from decreasing the amount of water released. In other words, large parts of the plan may be beyond our control.

    2) Water Conservation?. Early gains in water conservation are easy. You simply patch the holes in the pipes and encourage people to install low-flow shower heads and toliets. I think it’s overly optimistic to believe water usage would continue to decline once developments like Biscuit Run are built. (And yes, I know the economy is working in our favor right now, but there’s no reason to believe that will last).

    3) The Elephant in the Room. Growth is the biggest issue affecting all of this. As long as residential growth continues in an unsustainable fashion, eventually we will have to increase the water supply beyond dredging. Maybe that’ll mean a pipeline to the James, or getting an exemption to the ESA to create a new reservoir.

    I think the Women’s League of Voters of Charlottesville/Albemarle have been involved in this issue longer than just about anyone else, and their perspective is somewhat illuminating. A long time ago they published an excellent report charting residential growth, water use, and water supply. It was really clear looking at the graph that a crisis was imminent, and sure enough droughts and water rationing hit us soon after. I’d love to see an update of that graph, and it seems that’s the piece of the puzzle that’s really missing in all of this.

    Lastly, as I said before, any plan (dredging or not, flooding or not) must take into account sedimentation. That means better controls on development and erosion. Ken Boyd opposed such legislation and there’s every reason to believe Rodney Thomas will oppose it too. Until we reduce sediment and NPS pollution then all the other efforts are just a waste of taxpayer money. In fact, there was a great slide show of a development right by the North Fork with inadequate sediment control when the ordinance was proposed. Why dredge if we’re just going to let it get filled up again?

  • Dirt Worshiper,
    Here is one answer to your question about stream flow requirements for the Moorman’s. This was written as a letter to the Daily Progress by Dan Bieker, who was president of the Ivy Creek Foundation when Ragged Mt. Natural Area was founded and is a teacher of Natural History and Ornithology at Piedmont Virginia Community College, and a highly respected environmentalist.

    Dan Bieker’s letter: ( written before the dam estimate tripled in price and the pipeline route became an unknown)

    Controversy that has developed over the current water plan (Ragged Mountain Reservoir expansion/pipeline) should not be surprising, as details come to light. Benefits of the plan can certainly not be denied, but respected conservationists and economists can offer valid arguments why the plan is not the most cost effective or least environmentally damaging option, as officials assert. A cost/benefit comparison would seem to be a draw at best.

    Improved stream flows, especially for the Moormans River, are a major force behind the water plan, and rightfully so. Courageous citizens have fought for years to improve river flow. The water issue comes down to storage capacity; but any scenario, not just the current plan, that increases capacity can increase stream flows; it’s simple physics. The health and volume of the Moormans does not depend solely on the proposed plan.

    Listening to officials espouse the benefits of the plan, one might think it’s a heaven-sent answer. A national model? Hardly. The truth is we could improve stream flows all over the country by using massive amounts of horsepower to pump water uphill to storage reservoirs, at $100’s of millions per project, but is that an answer ? Even if this project IS the lesser of evils, one might think twice before trumpeting that as a national model. Not to mention the tremendous (and glossed over) destruction that will take place at Ragged Mountain Natural Area – not only loss of trees, but the fragmentation of contiguous forest by miles of roads to facilitate improvements to the interstate.

    At what point does the expense of this project make it a tragic boondoggle? The jail expansion fiasco a few years ago, and the way in which the proposed western bypass estimates seemed to double in cost every few years come to mind. Rate payers’ wallets have been entrusted to an engineering firm that substantially overstated (to put it kindly) the cost of dredging; has the firm similarly, to their benefit, underestimated the cost of dam/pipeline construction? If costs rise at the rate that their consulting fees have risen, we are indeed about to be hosed.

  • I don’t think Dan’s Statements are unreasonable. He’s right that the current plan has significant environmental costs. Honestly, I see any attempts to expand the water supply as subsidizing unsustainable growth. To me, it just seems logical that if there’s not enough water to sustain it, then we shouldn’t build it in the first place. Somehow everyone seems to be in denial about that issue though…

    Given that’s an idea far too radical to ever be accepted by local government and citizens, We’re stuck with a range of options that all have environmental costs associated with them. As Dan mentioned, local environmentalists once lobbied fiercely to increase Morman’s river flows, and now the Feds are probably unlikely to ever to allow us to reverse that decision. I’m frankly not sure there’s as clear a path forward as either side suggests.

    C-ville Weekly recently did a good article about the change in the balance of power on the BOS. It concludes among other things that “it’s likely that developers will get a markedly friendlier reception from the new board on matters of planning and zoning.” Keep in mind, there is a rewrite of the Comp plan going on, so this power shift could be very significant. For example, what if Crozet doesn’t want a new light industrial zoning? They might have it forced upon them anyway.

    Look at how long Sally Thomas held her seat. If Duane Snow and Rodney Thomas stay in office even a fraction of that time, then pro-development planning and zoning decisions could cause far more loss of habitat and forest than would be lost at Ragged Mountain. Once again, the Hollymeade martian landscape was approved on Rodney Thomas’ watch. As I said, I hope I’m wrong, and there’s not much to be done about it now anyway. Nonetheless I’m still peeved at the local Sierra Club for their single-shot single-issue campaining for the Republican party, so they’ve pretty much lost any credibility in my eyes as a legitimate environmental organization.

  • Dirt Worshipper, I don’t understand your contention that the Sierra Club was to blame for Slutzky and Snow winning. They didn’t endorse either, and I don’t think the water plan played into any of the elections in a significant way. I believe in the City, Democrats win now that the election is combined with national and state wide races, and in the County taxes, property rights, and budgets were the biggest issue. Just my opinion. I don’t think candidates who decimate the environment of Albemarle, or who are not fiscally conservative, will get re-elected in this economic climate.

  • Sorry, meant to say Thomas and Snow winning.

  • Well I keep calling the South Fork Reservior the North Fork (probably because it’s North of me!)

    Perhaps I should be a bit more clear. No, of course the Sierra Club was not solely responsible for the Republican takeover of Albemarle. Many factors cam into play. Obama mobilized conservative Republicans, and that was a huge paart of it as well. That said, in past elections environmentalists were a powerful force. They helped elect Sally Thomas and Ann Malek. What the Sierra Club did very effectively was divide the Environmental community (and it’s not just me who thinks that). I think the sum effect of their not endorsing a candidate, individual members openly endorsing Rodney Thomas, and attacks on Slutzky, was to convince environmentalists that this wasn’t an important election, so many stayed home. IMHO, they’ve become completely out of touch with the real environmental issues in Albemarle County.

    If there are Sierra Club members out there who disagree, then please prove me wrong. I challenge you to take on the issues that really matter, including the loss of rural land, loss of habitat, and suburban sprawl. Challenging a road project or a water project is merely addressing the symptoms, not the problem. Over the next few years, things are going to get a lot worse, and environmentalists are going to have to work just to hold ground in this county. We need environmentalists as actively engaged issues like Places 29 and NPS pollution as they are in the water plan if there is going to be any lasting change.

  • If we are truly going to preserve, protect and maintain the best of our region and keep it affordable, so businesses chose to locate here, it will take all of us working together, Republicans, Independents, and Democrats, from both the city and county, working with developers who want to bring jobs to our area, which we need, and making sure that there is adequate infrastructure and reasonable growth, not unlimited, so as to preserve the quality of life for all those who live here, and will come in the future.

    I do not believe this is a partisan issue. The days of unlimited spending are over and with that will come a new awareness of the need to maintain what we have and not squander our resources.

  • I don’t disagree with any of that, and I do hope that Snow and Thomas are up to the challenge. The current budget situation will be a difficult hurdle. My concern is that the current balance of power removes any incentive for Supervisors to actually work together.

    Now how do we bring jobs to the county? I think there’s a right and a wrong way to do that. The right way is with citixen involvement and support, not through back-room deals and secret meetings that circumvent public processes (and Democrats are equally guilty of that) For this reason I seriously question any deals that would expand the growth area to benefit specific developers. (Especially since there is adequate land for redevelopment.) One exception might be if it involved a TDR, but with Slutzky gone I think that kind of innovative thinking is gone too.

    So, how do we move forward? I think that every solution henceforth has got to be framed in economic terms of dollars and cents. Of course, that’ll put the majority in a peculiar situation since beloved programs like land-use taxation are such a money-pit. To do what Snow proposes in terms of the budget will involve severe cuts. The easy stuff has already been cut, and now there will need to be some very difficult decisions about what to eliminate and what to keep.

  • The best way to prevent these back-room deals and secret meetings is for the press to hold our elected officials accountable and expose them if this is occurring. The press needs to make more use of Freedom of Information Requests as our group has done. Luckily, we have one newspaper the Hook, that is willing to preform this function, go after the office holders and ask the difficult questions. We need more reporters in town willing to represent the people. It is not their job to act as an arm of government, it is their job to represent us.

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