May 25, 2011
Governor Bob McDonnell came to Staunton on Monday, appearing at two special events. In the morning he was at the School for the Deaf and the Blind, where he signed a piece of legislation that makes American Sign Language qualify for foreign language requirements at schools of higher learning. In the afternoon, he was at Cadence Incorporated, located in the Green Hills Industrial and Technology Center, announcing a major investment by that manufacturer of precision medical instruments. The company "will invest $15.9 million to expand its operation in the City of Staunton and create 65 new jobs within three years," according to the Governor's Web site. Also see the News Leader.
This deal came about because the Governor approved the allocation of $150,000 from his discretionary economic development fund. It may have been the key factor in why Cadence chose this area over the leading alternative, Costa Rica. (!) The money is supposed to help train the new workers, and perhaps defray other costs. One might question whether this sort of state economic intervention is consistent with free market policies that are often touted by conservative Republicans, and it certainly bears scrutiny. Realistically, however, there isn't much that state and local leaders can do about the situation, because "everybody does it." Perhaps some constitutional reform can put a lid on such policies that pit one state against another.
Over the past month, the local political picture has come into a little clearer focus. Former Augusta County Republican Chairman Kurt Michael and his associate David Karaffa announced they are running for the Augusta County Board of Supervisors, in the Beverley Manor and Wayne districts, respectively. Karaffa was the preferred "Base" candidate in July 2009 when the local Republican leaders had to choose a new candidate after Chris Saxman abruptly announced he wasn't going to run again. Dr. Marshall Pattie is running in North River district. Meanwhile, incumbent supervisor Tracy Pyles is running for reelection. Pyles was the lone dissenter during the controversy over property taxes March 2009, becoming a tacit ally of the "grassroots" faction in the local Republican Party. He in effect endorsed Michael, Karaffa, and Pattie. (See the News Leader.) I posted a comment about Michael tossing his hat into the ring on the blog piece "Bloggers who have run for political office" at bearingdrift.com. Because the precise district boundaries have yet to be finalized, however, there remains some question about the fall campaign.