April 2, 2009
The Republican candidate for governor Bob McDonnell paid a visit to Harrisonburg during the final leg of his campaign "kickoff" yesterday. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to attend. According to the News Leader, he emphasized his background that better equips him to manage the state government during difficult times such as these, and his firm commitment to keep taxes low so as to maintain a healthy business climate in which job opportunities expand. He also called attention to his strong record on energy issues, favoring off-shore drilling.
One of McDonnell's statement made me a little uncomfortable, however: "We need a wider and a safer Interstate 81." If he means widening the highway in cities and on big hills where trucks cause traffic snarls, then yes. But if even hints at the massive expansion that would amount to a "highway to hell" (see Feb. 2005), then absolutely NOT. McDonnell was cautious on the proposed closings of I-81 rest-stops, suggesting partial privatization as one way to avoid that. What needs to happen is that truckers who park there to rest need to pay an appropriate fee, probably $10 per visit. That would be more economical for them than staying overnight at a private truck stop, which are losing a lot of business to the public rest-stops. They were designed primarily for the convenience of travelers, not as a cost-cutting "freebie" for businesses.
Churchville lawyer/sheep farmer Francis Chester is frustrated that his campaign to fight property tax assessment hikes isn't being taken seriously. And so, he is following through on his threat to sue the Augusta County Supervisors, as well as county Commissioner of Revenue Jean Shrewsbury. He rejects outright the suggestion that the county should cut tax rates to mitigate most of the effect of the higher assessments. He simply refuses to compromise. See News Leader. I repeat my firm contention that politicizing the process of making property tax assessment leads us down a dangerous path, having a destabilizing effect on local government finances that would hurt vital services and make the county less business friendly. Also, litigating political disputes erodes the bonds of community trust.