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Hospital, Local Politicians React to Healthcare Ruling

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — Leaders at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center in Woodbridge are unclear on how to react to the landmark decision today to uphold President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform law.

The healthcare organization that purchased Woodbridge’s Potomac Hospital in 2009 and changed its name to Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center in April, says advances in technology and their sheer size will best position them adapt to the healthcare mandate that requires every U.S. citizen to purchase medical insurance.

‘It’s difficult to predict the far reaching results of today’s ruling. But what the U.S. Supreme Court decision doesn’t change is our strategic direction. Sentara is well positioned for the ripples of this decision because of our vision and strength as an integrated system,” stated Sentara CEO Dave Bernd in a press release.

It’s not just healthcare professionals who are reacting. Unsurprisingly, local politicians have also chimed on the decision.

“The ruling means more than 837,000 Virginians receiving Medicare – seniors and the disabled – including 56,000 of them in the 11th District, will receive free preventative services including colonoscopies and mammograms. It means nearly 3 million Virginians, more than 330,000 in the 11th District, with cancer or other chronic conditions will never again have to worry about arbitrary annual or lifetime limits on coverage. And it means that young adults will be able to remain on their parents’ health insurance policies until age 26,” stated Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Fairfax, Prince William.

Overall the high court upheld the law, and likened it to others that give Congress the ability to levy taxes on citizens. Many Republicans who denounced the president’s healthcare law say it’s up to voters to elect candidates to Washington who, now through the legislative process, will vote to repeal the law.

“Be careful what you wish for…now the ‘government’ is on a path to tell you what you must and must not do, whether you like it or not. As Justice Kennedy stated, the role between the citizen and the state has now fundamentally changed. The battle is now on to fight for the foundation of our government; the power is derived from the people,” Stafford County Board of Supervisors Chairman Susan Stimpson posted to her Facebook page.

News
Gibson to Face Connolly, Perkins in 11th Race

FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. — There will be an independent congressional candidate on the ballot this fall for voters in the 11th District.

Fairfax County resident Mark Gibson said he collected more than 1,000 signatures from area voters, which clears the way for his name to be listed alongside Democratic Incumbent Rep. Gerry Connolly and Republican challenger Chris Perkins.

The 11th Congressional District (Microsoft Sliverlight plug-in needed to view map) includes Dumfries, Woodbridge, Lake Ridge and Occoquan, as well as Reston, Herndon, Tysons Corner in Fairfax County and Fairfax City.

“I can’t thank everyone enough: friends, friends of friends, neighbors, colleagues, and complete strangers,” Gibson said in a press release. “These are all voters who want to get involved in our political process, giving voters a greater number and more diverse selection of candidates for Congress. Getting on the ballot is a strong victory for democracy.”

Gibson, a CEO of an IT firm,  faces the two-term Connolly, who also served as the At-large Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. Perkins is a retired Colonel and former Green Beret who has lived in Fairfax County since 1991.

 

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Lingamfelter to Compete with Stewart?

Del. Scott Lingamfelter (R, Woodbridge)

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — Will he, or won’t he? If the look of an email sent out by his campaign staffers late Tuesday afternoon is any indication, he probably will.

Delegate Scott Lingamfelter, R-Woodbridge, Fauquier, appears to be putting his name in the upcoming Virginia Lt. Governor’s race for 2013. The staunch Republican who lives in Dale City is known for prodding reforms within the Virginia Department of Transportation, and recently made waves in the debate over now-defunct slush funds for Prince William County Supervisors.

Lingamfelter said he’s received lots of calls asking if he’ll run.

“I am very grateful and humbled by the positive response I have received. People are seeking proven conservative leadership and I believe my record as a movement conservative will be a rallying point for many Virginians. We will have more to say about this effort next week. You should expect a media advisory in the coming days,” the email stated.

If Lingamfelter officially announces his bid for Lt. Governor, he’ll join Prince William County Board of Supervisors At-large Chairman Corey Stewart who has been making his rounds across the state campaigning for that job.

There’s been no response yet from the Stewart camp on what Lingamfelter’s move might mean for their campaign. Stewart is scheduled to appear alongside other fellow Republicans this weekend for a fundraiser inFairfaxCounty.

 

The email distributed by Lingamfelter:

 

News
Kaine Cautious on Sweeping Budget Cuts

Timothy Kaine seeking a U.S. Senate seat for Virginia campaigned in Woodbridge on Friday. (Submitted)

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — Timothy Kaine made a campaign stop in Woodbridge on Friday to tell voters  he’ll fund more educational opportunities.

Over coffee at Osprey’s Landing restaurant at Belmont Bay, Kaine told resident’s he’s the right choice for U.S. Senate because he’s had experience in an economy in recession during the time he was governor of Virginia between 2005 and 2009.

“On the economy, Virginia has some lessons for the nation,” said Kaine. “When I was governor we were in the worst recession in 70 years, but we were still among the lowest 10 unemployment rates and top 10 median incomes,” stated Kaine in a press release following the event.

Instead of across-the-board budget cuts, Kaine favors more financial support for schools and students with math, technology, and other career, technical, or workforce training.

Kaine faces former U.S. Senator and Virginia Governor George Allen during this fall’s General Election.

Since last year, Kaine has hosted 55 roundtable discussions similar to the one held in Woodbridge on Friday.

 

News
Allen in Stafford Ahead of Primary Election

STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. — U.S. Senate hopeful George Allen will be in Stafford County today for pizza.

He’ll join Delegate Mark Dudenhefer, Stafford Board of Supervisors Chairman Susan Stimpson, and Sheriff Charles Jett at noon for a get-out-the-vote event at Family Pizzeria, at 1924 Jefferson Davis Highway in Stafford.

Allen, who faces Virginia Senator Bob Marshall and Tea Party Candidate Jamie Radke in a  Republican Primary Election set for tomorrow, has toured much of the Potomac Communities as of late. Last week, Allen partnered with Prince William Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart on a tour of Woodbridge.

Allen’s Democratic opponent is Timothy M. Kaine, a former Governor of Virginia.

Polls open Tuesday at 6 a.m. and closed at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Find out where to vote

The following candidates are listed on the ballot for the June 12 Primary, according to voterinfo.sbe.virginia.gov:

U.S. Senate

George F. Allen Republican georgeallen.com  

E. W. Jackson Republican jacksonforvirginia.org  

R. G. “Bob” Marshall Republican bobmarshall2012.com  

Jamie L. Radtke Republican radtkeforsenate.com  

U.S. House of Representatives 11th District

Chris S. Perkins Republican perkins2012.com  

Ken L. Vaughn Republican vaughnforcongress.com

 

News
First Lady Rallies Voters to Obama’s Vision

First Lady Michelle Obama addresses a crowd of more than 400 people at VFW Post 1503 in Dale City, telling supporters her husband, President Barack Obama, needs four more years to finish the work he’s started. (Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com))

By KJ MUSHUNG

DALE CITY, Va. – The parking lot of the Veteran’s of Foreign Wars building on Minnieville Road was full hours before First Lady Michelle Obama was slated to appear. So was the parking lot of the Staples Mill Shopping Center down the street. Nearby neighborhood roads were lined with cars as people walked some distance to see the first lady speak on behalf of her husband’s campaign.

According to Prince William County Fire Marshal Matt Greenfield, 475 people filled the small VFW building for the event. Because the facility could only hold a limited number of people, many there were volunteers for the Barack Obama reelection campaign. So the first lady’s message wasn’t so much “vote for Obama,” nor was the visit about raising funds from the audience. Instead, it was more of an urging to register voters, to get friends, family and neighbors involved in the campaign and to tell others about Obama’s “vision.”

PLUS: First Lady makes a surprise stop in Occoquan 

Obama told the crowd that the president needed four more years to finish the work he started and to achieve some of the goals that he had not yet accomplished, such as equal pay for women. She listed a few of the president’s accomplishments so far, like helping the auto industry get back on its feet, the benefits of the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, the return of troops from Iraq and the elimination of Osama Bin Laden.

“Because of [health care] reform, insurance companies will have to cover preventative care,” she told the crowd, throwing in other details, for instance that senior citizens on average can save about $600 a year on their prescriptions because of the reform.

Obama reminded the audience that one of the first bills her husband signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act. “Women’s success in this economy is the key to families’ success.”

A follow-up to that law, the Paycheck Fairness Act, which is supported by the president, has been blocked by senate Republicans.

The first lady said all of the accomplishments her husband has achieved so far are on the line with this election. “We cannot afford to turn back now. We have to keep moving forward.”

She said that this election could be a close one and may come down to only a few thousand votes. (The Bush-Gore race of 2000 may have come to mind for a few people listening.)

Kristine Hatton, a county resident and student at Northern Virginia Community College, said what resonated with her was Michelle Obama’s remarks about women getting equal pay.

Gail McDonald traveled from Loudoun County to be present. She’s the Ashburn team leader of Loudoun County’s Obama reelection campaign. For her, the first lady’s remarks about healthcare resonated the most.

“I have a son who has diabetes,” she said. Not restricting her son’s health care options because of this pre-existing condition is of key importance to her.

 Michael Futrell, co-chair of the Young Democrats of Prince William County, said: “People need to realize you can’t look at this as a snapshot, you’ve got to look at this as a motion picture. You’ve got to make sure you see the whole thing. And when [Michelle Obama noted] everything [Barack Obama] was able to accomplish… it’s astounding. It reminded us of what we need to be able to do to help him. We need to make sure we don’t repeat [the past] where we got him elected but we didn’t give him any assistance or any help.”

“The thing that really jumped out to me was, not just let’s make sure we get him elected, but the importance of getting Tim Kaine and getting Gerry Connolly elected,” Futrell added.

 

News
Allen Touring Woodbridge Wednesday

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — Senate hopeful George Allen will join Virginia Lt. Governor hopeful and Prince William At-large Board Chairman Corey Stewart on a tour of Woodbridge Wednesday.

Allen will appear at 8 a.m. for a breakfast at Appliance Connection in Woodbridge, a kitchen electrics store owned by Prince William Coles District Supervisor Marty Nohe.

At 9:30 a.m., Allen will tour the Prince William Realty office on Prince William Parkway. Just before 11 a.m., the tour will stop at Stonebridge at Potomac Town Center, home of Wegmans in Woodbridge.

Allen will wrap up his tour in eastern Prince William with lunch at the Woodbridge Senior Center.

The tour has also scheduled a stop at the Loft Data Center in Manassas later in the day.

According to a press release, the event is part of Allen’s “Send a Message” tour.

 

News
Prince William Slush Funds Banned

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — Elected officials in Prince William County today voted to do away with discretionary funds.

In a letter from At-large Board Chairman Corey Stewart, the county’s top official announced the Board banned the monies known as slush funds from their budgets. The funds were not in the best interest of the county government or taxpayers, stated Stewart.

The Board also put in place tighter restrictions on how staff members who work at offices of Prince William Supervisors enter into contracts. The latter move was to fend off additional criticism of the Board, whose eight members have come under fire for the use of discretionary funds to pay for pet projects.

As part of the new rules, each Supervisors office will receive $20,000 less per year to bring funding in line with that of the At-large Chairman. In a press release, officials outlined how Supervisors may spend monies going forward.

• Funds may not be appropriated in cash or through in-kind donations to any non-governmental organization or any governmental entity that is the recipient of appropriated funds in the Prince William County budget:

• Funds may not be used to sponsor events or advertise in any publication associated with events;

• If a Supervisor is to attend an event in furtherance of the official duties of the District Supervisor, funds may be used to purchase a single ticket for admission to the event for the individual District Supervisor and/or designated staff member;

• Fund balances currently existing in District Office expense accounts for the current fiscal year or carried over from prior years may be transferred to a currently approved Capital Improvement Project fund or approved future Capital Improvement Projects;

• Fund balances remaining in District Office expense accounts at the end of each future fiscal year shall be automatically transferred to the County Revenue Stabilization Fund or to an approved Capital Improvement Project at the request of the District Supervisor;

• Board members will not pay nor incur a legal obligation to pay overtime or allow incurred comp time to Board office employees;

• No Board member will employ or retain any full-time or part-time employee on the County payroll who owns, is employed by, or is a contractor to any company which offers services for hire to any political campaign of that Board member;

• No Board member will engage or retain any vendor services using County funds where the vendor has been retained or is currently retained by the political campaign of that Board member;

• Every Board member will follow County Personnel Manual policies regarding nepotism in hiring employees and managing Board offices;

• Board members may retain up to 10% of salary and benefits cost on an annual basis to cover any unintended staff costs year-to-year.

 

News
Prince William ‘Slush’ Funds at Center of Debate

UPDATED

By URIAH KISER

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — The debate over discretionary funds in Prince William County has reached a crescendo, prompting one official to call for banning them altogether.

Discretionary funds, also dubbed “slush funds,” are monies left over to Prince William County Supervisors after the costs of operating their offices have been paid. Each supervisor has an office to serve their respective magisterial districts, each with staff to field questions and concerns from constituents.

On Saturday, Delegate Scott Lingamfelter, R-Woodbridge, Fauquier, said he would introduce legislation next year that would bar local governing boards from having discretionary funds.

“If the Supervisors feel that they have a special project they want to do, put it in front of the people at the time the budget passes when folks are focused on the process,” said Lingamfelter. “I don’t think its right to provide politicians with money that they can hand out or expend on just about anything they want. While I know they have to put each item before the board for a vote, most times this is just a formality. A more disciplined approach is required.”

The Prince William Board is expected to address the matter at Tuesday’s meeting. Neabsco District Supervisor John Jenkins since the beginning of the year has donated at least $7,350 of his funds to local schools, a library, to the Prince William / Greater Manassas Boys and Girls Clubs, and other local organizations — more than any other Supervisor in Prince William’s Potomac Communities. He said the “discretionary” term doesn’t paint the entire picture.

“The term is misused; there really aren’t any discretionary funds. The funds we do have are used to run offices and are moved around occasionally to fund certain things,” Jenkins said Sunday afternoon.

Other supervisors in the Potomac Communities have also donated to certain causes like public schools, charity walks, events, the arts, and environmental organizations, according to public meeting agendas.

Supervisor Maureen Caddigan has donated $4,150, Marty Nohe $3,400, Frank Principi $1,625, and Mike May $375 since beginning of 2012.

According to documents produced by the Prince William County Budget office, public school funding is the largest portion of the funding pie, accounting for 48 percent of the county’s $912 million budget.

The debate is also turning heads in neighboring Stafford County where Lingamfelter’s proposed legislation got the attention of Board of Supervisors Chairman Susan Stimpson. After Lingamfelter announced his pending legislation,  Stimpson took to her Facebook page to share her thoughts. 

“I love it when politicians grandstand. One delegate (not from Stafford!) just sent out an email update that he is going to introduce legislation to prevent local governments from having “slush” funds. I wrote him an email telling him that not all local governments are corrupt and perhaps we should meet to discuss this legislation. He said he’d have his staffer call my office. Um, yeah. I don’t have an office. And I don’t have an assistant,” Stimpson posted.

Stimpson never mentioned Lingamfelter by name, and told PotomacLocal.com that Stafford Supervisors do not have discretionary funds or individual offices or aides. Stafford does employ one Citizens Action Officer who handles questions or complaints from county residents.

News
New Training, Education Needed to Fill Open Jobs

By STEPHANIE TIPPLE

MANASSAS, Va. — A top educator says there will be 500,000 – 600,000 job vacancies in Northern Virginia over the next few decades.

Northern Virginia Community College Dr. Robert Templin made the forecast Wednesday during the Prince William Chamber of Commerce’s education summit, and says it will be due to economic growth, mismatches in worker skill sets, and available jobs. Education is going to be a major player in expanding the county’s workforce, he added.

Templin, and other regional leaders, say the area needs to push for more innovative education programs, and job training.

Amy Harris, head of Northern Virginia Systemic Solutions, began the summit by signing a resolution to work with the chamber to expand educational programs, create internships, and provide job shadowing activities for the future workforce. This partnership also looks to expand STEM learning – an integrated approach to learning science and math — in public schools, to better equip students for careers, and help to prepare them for college.

“Our economy, in Northern Virginia, is becoming a thinking-based economy. Virtually all of those jobs are high wage, high education jobs. We can grow our workers – if we’re really smart, we’ll get to it now,” said Templin.

Northern Virginia Community College currently hosts a workforce and STEM based learning program, titled the Pathway to the Baccalaureate, which helps 7,000 children — particularly those in high risk categories — to move into the career field they want to pursue, guaranteeing the students admission in George Mason University.

George Mason University Assistant Provost of Graduate Education Dr. Michelle Marks said colleges must innovate to stay competitive and cater to the learning methods of the a generation of students by 2020. In this age group, where 50 percent of fifth graders own a cell phone, 90 percent play computer games and 26 percent use more than one form of media at once, college courses were going to need to become customizable, with curriculum and learning methods chosen and created by students, in a mainly virtual setting, said Marks.

Also at the event, three high school students were given $2,500 scholarships to the college of the student’s choosing. The three students; Hannah Weatherington, Hayley Lawrence and Brooks Martino, were chosen by a team of members from the Prince William Chamber for their academic excellence and community involvement.

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Advocates Laud Settlement in Mental Health Case

By SHERESE A. GORE
Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va. – Calling it a “historic opportunity,” mental health advocates are awaiting a judge’s approval of a settlement agreement that would improve the lives of thousands of Virginia’s intellectually disabled citizens.

U.S. District Judge John Gibney Jr. is scheduled to make a decision on the 2012 settlement agreement filed by state and federal officials over Virginia’s non-compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Central to the federal government’s complaint was Virginia’s failure to provide services to the intellectually and developmentally disabled in the most “integrated setting appropriate to their needs,” in accordance with the ADA and the 1999 Supreme Court decision Olmstead v. L.C.

Individuals are classified as “intellectually disabled” for a combination of factors manifested before age 18, such as an IQ testing of 75 or lower and limitations in adaptive behavior such as problem-solving and interpersonal skills.

In a January letter to the General Assembly, Gov. Bob McDonnell acknowledged the state’s shortcomings.

“Although we were forced into a process and timeline we did not invite, we affirm our longstanding commitment for a stronger, more integrated system of care,” McDonnell wrote.

The settlement follows a series of federal investigations of the Central Virginia Training Center in Madison Heights, near Lynchburg, in 2008.

The CVTC is one of the state’s five “training centers” – institutions for the care of intellectually disabled people. Currently, Virginia’s training centers house more than 1,000 individuals. The CVTC is the largest, with more than 400 residents.

In its findings, the U.S. Department of Justice determined that systemic failures within Virginia “have resulted in the needless and prolonged institutionalization of … individuals in CVTC and in other segregated training centers throughout the Commonwealth who could be served in the community.”

Mental health advocates criticize the continued use of institutions by states such as Virginia to provide services for intellectually disabled citizens.

“Number one is that it deprives them of everyday liberties – most things we all take for granted: to be able to make the types of choices we make every day in terms of when to get up and when to go to bed and who to associate with,” explained Jennifer Mathis, deputy legal director of the Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law in Washington, D.C.

“Secondly, it perpetuates the stereotypes and assumptions that people with disabilities are incapable or unworthy of participating in society.”

The Bazelon Center is a nonprofit advocacy group for people with mental disabilities.

Federal investigators found that CTVC residents had little privacy and limited opportunities to associate with nondisabled people. They also found that because of procedural shortcomings, some residents suffered repeated injuries and the facility had slow rates of discharge and transition planning.

The Justice Department also accused the commonwealth of “misalignment of resources that prioritizes investment in institutions rather than community-based services.”

Of particular concern was the lack of availability of Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services Intellectual Disability Waivers that would provide community-based day and residential services to intellectually disabled citizens. These ID waivers, as they are called, would help satisfy the “integration mandate” of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

About 8,600 Virginians are receiving services through ID waivers. However, more than 6,000 Virginians are on a waiting list for ID waivers.

Of the individuals waiting for services, 3,500 are classified as “urgent” due to risk factors such as aging caregivers, abuse or neglect.

The Justice Department’s investigation noted that the waiting list exists even though community care is less expensive than institutionalization: Virginia spends on average $194,000 to house an individual within a training center as opposed to $76,400 for community-based services provided by an ID waiver.

“Theoretically, there’s no limit to the waivers,” said Richard Hemp, co-author of the State of the States in Developmental Disabilities, a research project administered by the University of Colorado.

“Think of it as a push-pull phenomenon, where the federal government is trying to push the waivers to the state because … they are convinced by the research that shows that waivers are clearly the most cost effective way to go.”

Mental health advocates applaud the settlement agreement as long overdue.

In April, a coalition of 70 advocacy groups signed and presented to Judge Gibney a statement saying, “The settlement affords an historic opportunity for thousands of Virginians with intellectual and developmental disabilities to live full lives in their own homes and communities.”

Among other features, the agreement would create 4,170 more ID waiver slots by 2021.

That “will make a huge difference in the lives of thousands of citizens with ID who will have access to person-centered services and better quality of life,” said Silva Bey, executive director of Community Living Alternatives, a day support and residential program in Fairfax.

In addition, the agreement calls for the closure of four of the existing training centers within 10 years, creation of crisis services and regional mobile dispatch teams, as well as vocational and housing assistance.

“Virginia has the opportunity to make things right,” said Jamie Liban, executive director of The Arc of Virginia, a leading advocacy group for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“The settlement agreement provides a solid framework to help Virginia responsibly transition to a community-based system of care that is focused on safety, quality and community integration.”

News
New Law Targets Cigarette Smuggling

By PIA TALWAR
Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va.  – You soon will face state fines and criminal charges if you buy large quantities of cigarettes in Virginia intending to resell them in state with a higher tobacco tax.

Beginning July 1, a new state law targets people “who possesses, with intent to distribute, more than 5,000 (25 cartons) tax-paid cigarettes.” Violators would be guilty of a misdemeanor and would face a civil penalty of up to $5,000 for a first offense, $10,000 for a second offense and $50,000 for subsequent offenses.

The phrase “tax-paid cigarettes” means cigarettes that have been legally purchased in a state and usually carry the state’s tax stamp.

Virginia has the nation’s second-lowest cigarette tax – 30 cents per pack. Only Missouri is lower, a 17 cents a pack. The tax ranges as high as $4.35 per pack in New York, according to the Federation of Tax Administrators. The median tax for the 50 states and Washington, D.C., is $1.25 per pack.

As a result, someone can buy cartons of cigarettes in Virginia and resell them at a big profit in other states. Virginia authorities want to stop that.

This year, the General Assembly unanimously passed two identical bills: House Bill 479, proposed by Delegate David Albo, R-Springfield; and Senate Bill 347, sponsored by Sen. Ryan McDougle, R-Mechanicsville. Gov. Bob McDonnell signed the legislation into law in March.

The law targets people who are outside the “legitimate distribution chain” for cigarettes. It would not affect registered cigarette wholesalers.

The state statute expands on federal law. In 2010, President Barack Obama signed the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act. The PACT Act regulates mail services and other businesses that deliver cigarettes and tobacco merchandise to customers.

Under the federal law, such businesses must “pay federal, state, local and tribal taxes and affix applicable tax-stamps before delivering these products to customers. Carriers must also comply with tribal, state, and local laws as if the sellers were located in the same jurisdiction as their end-user customers, and register with the state making periodic reports to state officials.”

Another applicable federal law is the Contraband Cigarette Trafficking Act. It was enacted to stop criminal organizations from “receiving financial gain through transportation and sale of contraband tobacco from no- or low-tax locales to high-tax jurisdictions.”

Last year, for example, authorities charged three Virginia men with trafficking cigarettes from Virginia to Northern states, violating the CCTA. They were Vijay Nanubhai Patel, the owner of a Citgo gas station in Fredericksburg, and two of his employees – Pullin Amin and Diveshkumar Desai.

According to state and federal officials, Patel, Amin and Desai bought taxed and untaxed cigarettes from an undercover law enforcement officer in Virginia.

Patel and his employees kept the cigarettes at the Citgo station before selling them to cigarette traffickers. The traffickers, in turn, transported the cigarettes to New York, Pennsylvania and other states for resale.

According to the indictment, between June 11, 2010 and April 21, 2011, Patel and his employees sold more than 38,000 cartons of cigarettes to New York traffickers, costing New York city and state governments $4.9 million in cigarette taxes and $432,000 in sales taxes.

At one point, Patel, Amin and Desai were selling tobacco traffickers about $1 million worth of cigarettes a month, officials said.

Amin and Desai pleaded guilty in December, and Patel pleaded guilty in March. Patel agreed to pay restitution of more than $5 million to the states that lost tax revenues because of the cigarette smuggling operation.

The case was investigated by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Virginia attorney general and Spotsylvania County authorities.

News
Allen, Wittman to Stump in Area

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — George Allen is scheduled to stop in at the Prince William County Republican Headquarters tonight.

Allen, who is seeking the Republican nomination for a U.S. Senate in Virginia, will meet volunteers at the headquarters in Woodbridge at 6 p.m., according to a release from his campaign.

Those who want to meet Allen are invited to at attend the appearance at 4431 Prince William Parkway, near the Prince William County Government Center.

Allen, a former U.S. Senator and Virginia Governor, faces former Virginia Governor Tim Kaine and Independent Jamie Radke.

Also this week, Rep. Rob Wittman, R-1, will hold a second campaign kickoff event on Sunday in Stafford County. Wittman will meet supporters at 5 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Express Hotel at 560 Warrenton Road in south Stafford.

The incumbent is seeking reelection to represent Virginia’s first congressional district which spans from Stafford County to Williamsburg.

News
Lingamfelter Chosen as Delegate at GOP Convention

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — This past Saturday, Delegate L. Scott Lingamfelter, R-Prince William, Fauquier, was elected to represent Virginia’s First Congressional District at the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. Lingamfelter will join the two other First Congressional District Delegates in Tampa to nominate the Republican candidates for President and Vice-President on the United States.

“It is a distinct honor and very humbling to have earned the trust of the voters at the First Congressional District Convention. I vow to work hard and represent the strong conservative values of this district at the National Convention in Tampa. On to victory,” said Lingamfelter.

In August, 2,286 delegates and 2,125 alternate delegates will meet at the 40th Republican presidential nomination convention in Tampa, Florida to nominate the Republican candidates for President and Vice President and officially kick-off the 2012 General Election campaign. Delegates travel to the convention at their own expense and participate in various convention sessions.

In 2008, Delegate Lingamfelter was elected to represent the 11th Congressional District at the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota and was selected as Co-Chairman of the National Security Subcommittee of the Republican National Convention’s Platform Committee.

Delegate L. Scott Lingamfelter is a retired U.S. Army Colonel who was first elected to represent the 31st District in 2001. He recently won reelection to the House of Delegates in November, 2011. The 31st District includes parts of Prince William County and Fauquier County.

-Press release

News
Connolly Recognized for Government Workforce Efforts

Congressman Gerry Connolly, D-11, will be honored for his support of the federal workforce and his efforts to promote good government at a ceremony Wednesday evening where he will receive the 2012 Public Service Award from the Public Employees Roundtable.

This is the first year the organization is handing out what will be annual awards.

Being honored with Connolly are Rep. Frank Wolf, R-10, and Senator Daniel Akaka of Hawaii. The Public Employees Roundtable (PER) is a non-partisan coalition of 30 organizations dedicated to the betterment of the federal workforce.

In choosing Connolly to receive the prestigious award, the PER selection committee cited his vocal and tireless championing of federal employees, legislation he sponsored aimed at bettering the federal workforce, and his willingness to stand up in Congress for federal workers against repeated assaults against their pay, their pensions, and their integrity.

“I am proud to stand with those who are advocates of the federal workforce and believe in the dignity and nobility of public service,” Connolly said

-Press release

 

News
Dumfries Mayor Swear-In Set for Tuesday

DUMFRIES, Va. — Virginia’s first town is ready to induct it’s new mayor.

On Tuesday, Mayor-elect Gerald “Jerry” Foreman will be sworn in as mayor of the small town. Interim Mayor Nancy West, who has served as interim mayor since the death of Mayor Fred Yohey in November, is expected to step down from the Town Council.

Other seats on the council are expected to change hands after July 1, when Dorothea Barr and Gwen P. Washington are expected to step down from the council. Washington did not seek reelection, but newcomer Helen Reynolds will take her seat on the council for the first time, and past council member Charles Brewer has once again been voted to the Council.

The swearing in ceremony will take place at 6 p.m. Tuesday at town hall.

News
Dudenhefer Earns Top Marks from Chambers

NORTH STAFFORD, Va. — Delegate Mark Dudenhefer, R-Stafford, Woodbridge, has received “A” ratings from both the Virginia and Prince William chambers of commerce for the 2012 Legislative Session. Grades are issued to recognize legislators for their support on initiatives that will help move Virginia forward, and provides analysis of the legislators’ support for the business community’s priorities.

“I am honored to have received such high marks from Virginia businesses, especially at a time when job creation is so important,” said Dudenhefer, who represents the 2nd House of Delegates District, covering North Stafford and eastern Prince William County.

This isn’t the first time that Dudenhefer has received accolades from the business community. During his campaign last year, he received the endorsement from the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), commonly referred to as ‘The Voice of Small Business’.

The respective reports cards are available at vachamber.com and pwchamber.org.

-Press release

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Foreman Wins in Dumfries Election Upset

By URIAH KISER

DUMFRIES, Va. — Gerald Foreman has been chosen Mayor of Dumfries during a town election that saw heavy voter turnout.

Foreman won with 57 percent of the vote and faced Interim Mayor Nancy West who has served as interim mayor since November following the death of Mayor Fred Yohey. West also served on the Town Council since 2008 and has lived in the town since 1963.

Foreman, who currently serves as a Town Council member, ran on a platform of lower taxes, abolishing the Business and Professional Licensing Tax, or BPOL – a tax on business gross receipts – as well as placing the town’s needs in the forefront, and in some cases, on the same level as the needs of the county it sits in, Prince William. He could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday night.

More to the Story: See election results from the Town from the Virginia State Board of Elections.

Three Town Council seats were also up for grabs on Tuesday. The only incumbent council member that will return to the governing body is Vice Mayor Willie J. Toney.

“This is a diverse community, and each one of these diverse neighborhoods all need certain things, like sidewalks and a sound wall, and you have to listen to them. Because if you’re talking too much they won’t know you’re listening to them,” said Toney.

A former Dumfries Town Council member, Charles C. Brewer, and newcomer Helen Reynolds will fill seats that will be vacated by current council members Dorothea Barr, and Gwen P. Washington who did not seek reelection.

During the last hour of voting on Tuesday, crowds gathered outside town hall which served as a polling place. As police officers directed in and out of the tiny establishment, election officials inside reported 400 people had come to cast their ballots by 6 p.m. – which is an unusually large amount of ballots cast during town elections normally held in May.

Many of the late voters said they cast their ballots for Nancy West, a retired school system employee who they hoped would be able to do more for children in the town.

“We need more activities for children,” said Dumfries resident David Miles. “We don’t vote straight Republican or Democrat, we look at the person and then make a decision.”

Other residents said they cast their vote in hopes elected leaders would conduct themselves more professionally during meetings.

“I think it would be wonder to have a Town Council that could just work together on the issues facing Dumfries, without all of the infighting and squabbling,” said Dumfries resident Michelle Wheeler.

The newly elected mayor and council members will be seated July 1.

News
Dumfries 2012 Voter Guide

DUMFRIES, Va. — Dumfries residents will head to the polls Tuesday to elect new Town Council members as well as a new mayor. PotomacLocal.com has compiled our Dumfries’ voters guide to help you understand who are the candidates and link you to their respective webpages.

Mayoral candidates
Nancy West – (Interim mayor)
Age 74
Married, four children (1 deceased)
Retired school employee
Why she’s running: “Our 2020 Vision Statement talks about developing our old port area with restaurants, shopping and parks. The town is in negotiations to make that happen and, I hope that it isn’t too many years down the road before we see a wonderful development there.”

Gerald Foreman (Incumbent Councilman)
Age: 50
Married, one daughter
Aviation logistics consultant
Why he’s running: “The Mayor performing as a Leader, serving ‘all’ the Town citizens, Business Owners, Town Government and fellow Councilmembers. The number one issue is the way Council works with each other, communicates, and exchanges ideas.  We need to do a better job.” 

Council candidates
Dorothea Barr (Incumbent)
Realtor
Age: Not provided
Why she’s running: Diversify town revenue streams, promote a better image of the town and ensure equal treatment of property owners and businesses regarding the application and enforcement of ordinances.

Willie J. Toney – (Incumbent, vice mayor)
Age: 61
Married, one stepson
Retired from Washington, D.C. government and youth services
Why he’s running: “I advocate for people too often overlooked and try to be a strong voice for baby boomers because this is an aging community.

Charles Brewer (former Dumfries Councilman)
Age: Not provided
Fire sprinkler services manager
Three children
Why he’s running: “I want to get the tax rate down, start a street light program and try to get the legislature to fund the Route 1 project.”

Helen Reynolds
Age: 53
Principal Systems Administrator BAE Systems
Married, two sons
Why she’s running: To bring integrity back to the council, and prosperity (bringing businesses to the town of Dumfries).

Derrick Wood
Age: 34
Married, three children
Personal chef
Why he’s running: Improve community involvement, use technology to promote the town

News
Torian Recognized by Chamber

On Wednesday, April 18, the Virginia Chamber of Commerce recognized Delegate Luke Torian with The Economic Competitiveness Award, which recognizes legislators who worked to improve Virginia’s business climate during the 2012 legislative session. Delegate Torian sponsored legislation that gives local governments regulatory flexibility needed to attract and retain businesses engaged in providing services in support of national defense.

After the press conference when asked to comment Torian said “I am honored to be receiving the Economic Competitiveness award from the Virginia Chamber of Commerce. It is my hope that we see many positive developments from the passage of HB 406”. Torian said, HB406 will “allow companies to know that we are serious about them being a part of our community.”

Also on Wednesday, The Virginia Chamber of Commerce released its 2012 Legislative Report Card. In addition to grading legislators based on their pro-business voting record, the Legislative Award recognizes legislators for their support of initiatives that enable Virginia to maintain its distinction as one of the best states in the nation for business.

“The Legislative Report Card allows us to recognize and honor legislators who uphold free market principles and support the interests of the business community,” said Barry DuVal, President and CEO of the Virginia Chamber.

-Press release 

News
Va. Chamber Recognizes Lingamfelter

The Virginia Chamber of Commerce recently released its 2012 General Assembly Report Card. Delegate L. Scott Lingamfelter (R-Prince William, Fauquier) was pleased to receive a score of 98 percent on the legislative report which informs citizens on key business related votes taken by the General Assembly during the 2012 Legislative Session. The Virginia Chamber of Commerce compiles annual voting records of all General Assembly members on important legislation affecting business and industry in the Commonwealth.

“One of my top priorities in Richmond is to make sure that our business community has the resources that they need to grow, expand, and prosper. This means creating a favorable business environment which gets rid of burdensome regulations and red tape and allows start-ups and small businesses to do what they do best- innovate. I am honored to receive this high rating from the Chamber for the work that my colleagues and I did this Session to help boost Virginia’s standing as the best state in the nation to do business and earn a living. Really, it’s about jobs”, said Lingamfelter.

According to their website, the mission of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce is to be a non-partisan, business advocacy organization that works in the legislative, regulatory and political arenas to act as the catalyst for positive change in all areas of economic development and competitiveness for the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Delegate L. Scott Lingamfelter is a retired U.S. Army Colonel who was first elected to represent the 31st District in 2001. He recently won reelection to the House of Delegates in November, 2011. The 31st District includes parts of Prince William County and Fauquier County.

Press release 

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