Saturday, February 28, 2009

Perhaps we're getting somewhere on PATH


Evidently, Chris Miller and Bri West of the PEC met February 26th with Sen. Webb at Webb's request, because his office is getting swamped with letters and appeals from PATH opponents! So Webb asked PEC to give him a briefing on PATH. Grass roots action is paying off.

With this persistence by the people, we're building enough resistance in the State to push the Senators to have to investigate this. If they do that honestly, they'll see that the need for that transmission corridor is flawed, and that usage data does not support the claims of Allegheny.

Proposed federal transmission line legislation will be key to this discussion. Miller will talk to Webb about major problems with proposed federal legislation to be introduced by Sen.Reid that seeks federal approval of transmission lines over state objections. Utilities push hard for a "streamlined/one stop" approval of transmission from dirty coal generation to be included within the smart grid approach designed for renewables and clean generation. Agreed, states do a miserable job with transmission lines; W Va. approved TRAIL after it received $100 million from Dominion. VA's SCC approved TRAIL after Dominion bought out the natural gas generating company that would have made TRAIL unneeded. And Dominion "owns" Va's legislature's majority.

Federal transmission line preemption could only serve public interest if it required full compliance with NEPA and its requirements for programmatic and project impact statements and public participation and inter agency review concerning need, alternatives, and impacts. Including that process explicitly could be a major improvement over what we now have at the state level, but utilities will fight that tooth and nail.

Miller has already met with Carol Browner, WhiteHouse global warming guru, and briefed her on PATH and the travesty of linking it's archaic nature with new technology in wind and solar power transmission.

AEP has asked Loudoun County to "release" the open space easement it holds on the property in Rivers Edge so that it could use that right of way. This, of course, would be terrible precedent and cannot be allowed. It's an action that would facilitate PATH in contradiction to the Board's PATH resolution, passed last week.

So, keep those letters going to Warner, Webb, and Kaine for a comprehensive analysis of PATH's need, alternatives, and impacts. Freedom to enjoy ones home and property is a basic American right. That right is now being taken away without justification and without meaningful opportunity for public engagement. The laws and the process of decision making are biased and corrupted by narrow utility interests. It's past time for our government representatives to represent citizens. Call them to accountability, now.

UPDATE: Apparently, Congress is getting nervous about private ownership and State control.
In what appears to be another direct move pulled from socialists, they're now intending to block State's control of their own interest and install a Federal Gov't act to run right over State's rulings.
We don't need no steen-king State Regulators

We're going to have to do this ourselves.

Sen. Mark Warner
Sen. James Webb

Governor Tim Kaine Email here

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Bridge on Rt. 29 is re-named for PFC. EJ Andino

House OKs Renaming Route 29 Bridge in Honor of Fallen Servicemen

Posted: Feb 2, 2009 12:05 PM

Updated: Feb 16, 2009 03:00 AM

Virginia’s House of Delegates has unanimously approved a bill to rename a bridge on Route 29 in honor of two servicemen killed in Iraq.

The bridge over the Rapidan River between Greene and Madison counties would be called the "Fallen Heroes Memorial Bridge."

The bill honors Corporal Adam Fargo and Private First Class Edwin Andino, who were both killed in Iraq.

“…I think it's a very modest expression of our appreciation for their sacrifice,” said Del. Rob Bell, (R) 58th District. “I think it's an appropriate thing to do."

The measure passed the House on a 98-0 vote. It now heads to the state Senate.

Reported by Adam Rhew

For those who were not aware, my nephew, EJ, was KIA in Sept. 2006 while counterattacking mortar positions in Bagdhad.With the passage of the Bill in the Senate, the authorization to change the name has been approved, and the ceremony was Sunday.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Sins of Our Past.....

The discussion turned to history on another blog, and I began to see a distinct reinvention of the history that didn't square with the real occurences. Seems that if you let something go long enough without correction, some parties will reinvent (or misremember) it to take some of the sting out of it. If they have to also reinvent...or flat out ignore... some of the supporting facts that caused their irritation with the outcome, they've also shown a readiness to do exactly that, as well.

This is, however, just another chapter in the ongoing politics of the Country. It's happened before, and it'll be attempted again. The Supervisors who met defeat in the 2007 elections, due in large part to the countywide citizen's feelings that that bunch of Supervisors had sold us down the river to bigname developers (most of whom donated gobs of cash from OUTSIDE of the County), are being defended by some ...and using the lack of a current prosecution as the proof why it's just a rumor..

The most recent occurence of that in either Fairfax or Loudoun that could be found where guilt was actually tried and assigned was this guy.

As anyone can read , five long years passed before the court tried them, the sentences were passed, and they began to serve their time. Actually, at the 2 year mark after the activity, Mr. Cotten was actually serving his reelected term on that Board of Supervisors in a Vice-Chairman's role.

It appears that what occurred was the payment-reinforced rezoning of a parcel...and that payment was split with two other Supervisors who helped give the vote two more legs to stand on. Once the vote had carried, Mr. Cotten took his $1500 cut and doled out $1000 each to the other two who had helped him carry the vote.

A lot of noise has been made about other Loudoun County Supervisors not having been charged from activities where investigation by the FBI commenced in early 2007 . Some like to taunt that after two years, there are still no indictments.

Judging by the looks of the Fairfax incident, it appears that we still have plenty of time to try the guilty and have any sentences bestowed that a court trial imposes. A rough count say that clock still has three years on it.

It should also be noted that a very engaged and pressing group took the Republicans to task in that election. It wasn't as simple as Supervisors having an "R" behind their names. It came down to honor in our local committee, and how we appeared to the common voter in the County. It came down to seeing us actually remove a perceived blight from within, or allowing that "blight" to define our party , and say to that voter "we are unwilling to clean house".
A number of people undertook the effort, often at great personal cost. We were alienated from the Party. We were savaged in online blogs. We were pushed aside at Conventions. And where we were not successfully pushed out of other Conventions, the actual effort to do so was indeed undertaken.

And in bringing this piece to the current day's report....we're strong at the LCRC. We may not see eye to eye on every point, but those in attendance agree to disagree politely. We discuss things now. Gone is the old call to banish anyone who disagrees. Gone are the witch hunts to find and cast out anyone who didn't march to the drum.
Our organization has escalated and prospered under Chairman Caroline. We have focus, we have direction.
Meetings are cordial, discussion is open , but also conducted in orderly fashion. Our reworked website is the envy of fellow chapters in surrounding counties. So is the roll-out of the 2008 election cycle , when Loudoun County turned back a 9 point defeat to a mere 3 points...beating our two sister counties of Fairfax and Prince William by the entire 6 points--all in the face of a "perfect storm" brought about by a dissatisfaction with the previous administration.
I'm proud of the progress we've made. But to truly understand just how far we've come, one must reflect occasionally on how bad we once were .

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Did INOVA pull the Snow over our eyes??

Did INOVA pull the Snow over our eyes in the last moments of the Hospital vote?
And for those who don't actually follow, Mr. Miller has ALWAYS driven a used Jeep.
This is the last evidence of a failing and grasping campaign for Dulles by someone who just keeps on giving even after the citizens sent him packing back in 2007.
Snow fake car ad

Did INOVA's strategists do the same thing in the final moments of the vote??
Roll out an orchestrated lie straight in front of us while they misdirected our attention "over there" to a sideshow?
I'm researching and documenting an angle that might make some raise eyebrows across the county.
As far as the cyber-discussions go, we have only two "expert" housewives trying to hold up an intense defense of INOVAs practices...and not very well, I might add. (witness the misleading statements there and at TC regarding "an existing COPN on Rt 50 "--which doesn't exist, and such great thoughts as "checking a box" that will magically realign the State's COPN location formula)
I think that new information that's coming in and will be reported here will not only clarify and remove the double standard being applied to HCA, but also be pretty hard to undermine, because it'll be the truth, not some magical misdirection that side-steps the truth.

Until then, we have another Public input session before the BOS on Tuesday, February 17th at 9:30. I ask all county residents who would like to see the FTC weigh in and give suggestions to the the Loudoun BOS, show up that morning and ask the Board to delay the final decision until they have this final piece of the puzzle , and then they can proceed. They owe that much to the county residents. Show up and remind them of their responsibility to us.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The dudgeons against The Imperial We.

Seems that NUMEROUS calls were going out to the Federal Trade Commission in past days. Surprisingly, a number of them predated the actual vote by Loudoun County Supervisors. Apparently, members of the general public, having a true sense of fair play, exercised their dialing and e-mail fingers and contacted the one place that they knew would take their concerns seriously. One needs to wonder if, in fact, it was citizens who alerted the FTC when the topic was addressed at the dais the other day.

This post is not to point fingers at particular Supervisors (although some might actually need to be pointed out--it won't be done here), but to point to the larger phenomenon. Citizens actually going outside the channels and acting for the betterment of their community.

If you're a steady BPM reader, you're aware that I made a call to all citizens to contact the FTC in my last post. What I did not know at the time is... there was already two citizen-inspired undertakings to do exactly that. As one detractor of my policy beliefs coined..."The Imperial We" endeavors to run things in this county. This is proof positive that they do. It also identifies that collective as concerned citizens, not political hacks...not paid advocates... just plain 'ol citizens...and lots of them.

This is most welcomed by public policy advocates (of the unpaid status-- which I am a proud member of) and in keeping with the tenets of a representative Government by the very people it serves. It pointedly takes aim at anyone who dares to go against the desires of the citizens, and isn't that who our elected representatives said they wanted to represent?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The citizens of Loudoun get the screwing of their lives

HCA's Broadlands Regional Medical Center was voted down today. The good guys: Miller, York, Burton and McGimmsey.
The selfish @%$ who thought (wrongly) that they could strongarm a hospital on Rt. 50 instead: Burk, Kurtz.
And then those who covered themselves in an empty Comp Plan argument:
Buckley, Waters
And then the sadly comical and totally "say one thing, but do another":

Most of the attributes of the argument are here.
Some of the later arguments will be pulled out and autopsied tomorrow.

Overall, the vote was FOR the SUPERVISORS and AGAINST us.

Wait till we get some more credible info on the FTC coming to INOVA Loudoun like they did in INOVA Prince William !!

Speaking of the Federal Trade Commission:
This was the press release for INOVA's last local overreach.
Another case is easy to find when you plug in "Hospital, FTC and "divest" into a google search.
One entry in particular comes up pretty far in the results. Long and short of that case is: Hospital gets too big, runs out competition and gets smacked down with an order to divest some of their holdings to give the State some competition between entities.

For Release: May 9, 2008

FTC and Virginia Attorney General Seek to Block Inova Health System Foundation’s Acquisition of Prince William Health System
Transaction Would Reduce Competition and Result in Higher Health Care Prices in Northern Virginia

By a unanimous vote, the Federal Trade Commission has approved a complaint challenging the proposed acquisition by Inova Health System Foundation (Inova) of Prince William Health System, Inc. (PWHS) and authorized the staff to seek a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction in federal district court to block the deal pending a full administrative trial on the merits. The action in federal district court will be brought jointly with the Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
The administrative complaint charges that the proposed acquisition would violate the federal antitrust laws by reducing competition for general acute care inpatient hospital services in Northern Virginia. The complaint further charges that as a result of the merger consumers in Northern Virginia will pay higher prices and lose the benefits of non-price competition.
According to the FTC, the acquisition of independent PWHS by Inova, the largest hospital system in Northern Virginia and PWHS’s closest competitor, would eliminate the significant, existing price and non-price competition between them in offering hospital services to the community.
“There is no question that Northern Virginia residents have benefitted from the robust competition between Inova and Prince William Hospital through better services and lower prices,” said Jeffrey Schmidt, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition. “If Inova acquires Prince William Health System, this vital competition will be lost, health care prices will increase, and many residents will be forced to accept reduced health care coverage or no coverage at all.”
The Proposed Transaction
On August 1, 2006, Inova and PWHS entered into an agreement under which PWHS would merge into Inova, the largest hospital system in Northern Virginia. Absent FTC action, the parties may consummate the merger this month.
PWHS, a non-profit corporation based in Manassas, Virginia, operates one general acute care hospital in Northern Virginia, Prince William Hospital, which has 180 licensed beds. PWHS primarily serves consumers in western Prince William County and the cities of Manassas and Manassas Park.
Inova, a non-profit corporation based in Falls Church, Virginia, is by far the largest hospital system in Northern Virginia. It owns five hospitals in the region, which together have nearly 1,900 licensed beds: Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church; Alexandria Hospital in Alexandria; Fair Oaks Hospital in Fairfax; Loudoun Hospital in Leesburg; and Mt. Vernon Hospital in Alexandria.
After the merger, Inova would control approximately 73 percent of the licensed beds in Northern Virginia and six separate hospitals. Only four independent hospitals would remain: Fauquier Hospital in Warrenton; Reston Hospital Center in Reston; Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington; and Potomac Hospital in Woodbridge.
The Commission's Complaint
The FTC’s complaint charges that Inova’s proposed merger with PWHS would violate Section 7 of the Clayton Act, as amended. According to the Commission, Inova and PWHS currently are close competitors in Northern Virginia for the provision of general acute care inpatient services. The complaint alleges that the relevant geographic market is Northern Virginia, including Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William counties, as well as the independent cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas, and Manassas Park. According to the FTC, hospitals outside Northern Virginia do not compete with Inova and PWHS, as relatively few patients in Northern Virginia travel to Maryland or Washington, DC for general acute care inpatient services.
Competition between hospitals is vital in constraining health care costs to consumers and ensuring high-quality services. The complaint charges that because of the close competition between Inova and PWHS, particularly between PWHS and the nearby Inova facilities of Fairfax and Fair Oaks, health plans are able to negotiate to keep health care prices down, most significantly at PWHS. The existence of independent, competitive alternatives provides health plans with the threat of substituting alternatives during negotiations with a hospital.
The merger would eliminate this competitive constraint and potential alternative for health plans, leading to significant price increases at PWHS and incremental price increases at Inova. The complaint alleges that these price increases would lead to higher health care costs for employers, health plan enrollees, and consumers in Northern Virginia, especially in the area nearest PWHS. Because many smaller employers cannot afford to pay higher prices for health care coverage, their employees will suffer the consequences from less health care insurance and forego the care they can no longer afford.
The Commission voted 3-0, with Commissioner J. Thomas Rosch not participating, to issue the administrative complaint. The issuance of the complaint is the first step in the administrative trial process. Inova and PWHS will be offered FTC’s “Fast Track” administrative trial procedure. Chairman William E. Kovacic and Commissioners Pamela Jones Harbour and Jon Leibowitz are committed, subject to the bounds of reasonableness and fairness, to a just and expeditious resolution of any potential appeal that may be taken to the full Commission. Should there be an appeal, the commissioners commit to make every effort to issue an appellate decision approximately 90 days after receiving a notice of appeal (assuming no cross-appeal) or 120 days (assuming a cross-appeal).
The Commission vote authorizing the staff to seek a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction blocking the transaction pending the administrative trial also was 3-0, with Commissioner J. Thomas Rosch not participating. The complaint will be filed jointly by the FTC and the Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Virginia in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Alexandria. It will be available on the FTC’s Web site as a link to this press release upon filing. The administrative complaint is available now on the FTC’s Web site as a link to this press release.
NOTE: The Commission issues or files a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. The complaint is not a finding or ruling that the named parties have violated the law.
The FTC’s Bureau of Competition works with the Bureau of Economics to investigate alleged anticompetitive business practices and, when appropriate, recommends that the Commission take law enforcement action.

To inform the Bureau about particular business practices, call 202-326-3300, send an e-mail to, or write to the Office of Policy and Coordination, Room 394, Bureau of Competition, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Ave, N.W., Washington, DC 20580.

Mitchell J. Katz,
Office of Public Affairs

Matthew J. Reilly,
Bureau of Competition