Mt. Vernon, Va. –– The assistant to a Fairfax County supervisor who pulled an unpopular April Fools Day joke has resigned after six years at his post.
Ron Fitzsimmons on Sunday gave his resignation to Mount Vernon Supervisor Gerry Hyland. The resignation came 10 days after Fitzsimmons posted to his Facebook page –– Mount Vernon News –– that a chain of adult video and novelty stores, MVC, was looking to purchase the building that currently houses a Safeway grocery store in the Hollin Hall section of Fairfax County.
It was an April Fools Day joke, and no adult store was eyeing the area, officials later said.
But Fitzsimmons never let anyone in on the joke, and then removed the post from the page.
It caught the attention of business owners and the Mt. Vernon – Lee Chamber of Commerce, who complained and called the post inappropriate.
Fitzsimmons on Thursday afternoon issued an apology for making the post on his page, and apologized if some took it as offensive.
Fitzsimmons is said to have handed his resignation over voluntarily because he was looking to explore other opportunities, and not because of the erroneous Facebook post.
“On Sunday, Mr. Fitzsimmons on his own decided this was the best thing for him to do. Supervisor Hyland did not ask for his resignation,” said Hyland spokesman Brett Kenney.
Since 2004, Fitzsimmons worked in Hyland’s office as a part-time aide tackling housing issues, and issues having to do with the county park authority.
Fitzsimmons Facebook page is still active and polling residents about their options on local issues, such as Mount Vernon’s news county parks authority representative.
Woodbridge, Va. –– Supervisor Frank Princpi will once again take to the phones to get a feel for what’s on his constituents’ minds.
The elected official will hold his second telephone town hall meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday April 14.
Principi says 10,000 residents will receive an automatic call from his office that night, and those who wish to remain on the line to ask a question of the supervisor may do so.
Those who remain on the line will be added to a queue and will listen other ask questions as they wait for their time to speak.
Those who would like to participate in the conference may call ahead of time for more information, at 703-792-4646 or by going to the supervisor’s website.
Pricipi’s last tele-town hall took place in January, and many of the issues discussed were he loss of commuter parking at Potomac Mills mall and about day laborers who stand at the corner of Prince William Parkway and U.S. 1.
Some who questioned the supervisor wanted him to move the day laborer site, saying it was unappealing to have so many people standing at a high-traffic intersection.
Principi said he, along with the county, had few options to remove the day laborers from the post because they stand next to a convenience store that sits on private property.
During the last tele-town hall, fewer than 10 questions were answered during the conference. Principi invited those who did not have their questions answered to post them to his website to be answered at a later time.
Woodbridge, Va. –– Governor Robert F. McDonnell came to Woodbridge on Saturday to help launch the campaign of a fellow Republican.
Richard Anderson (R-51) is vying to return to Virginia’s House of Delegates this fall and invited McDonnell to Appliance Connection on Prince William Parkway to speak on his behalf.
“The Republican Party is alive and well in Prince William County. I think back to the election in 2005, when I was running for attorney general, and I just squeaked by with 364 votes and Prince William helped us win. We had a similar situation in the last campaign in 2009,” said McDonnell.
It was a morning filled with talk of reducing the size of government and spending, growing the economy, lowering taxes and having faith in god –– principals Anderson said he also believes in.
“When I was going to leave the Air Force after 31 years, I was thinking about going into the aerospace defense and work in the private sector. But I turned down all offers and traded military service for public service,” said Anderson. “I took a look at my revenues and my budget, I cut them in half just like any good government should do.”
Anderson retired after 30 years in the Air Force and won his House seat in 2009.
This year in the state legislature, he saw several of his bills signed into law including a bill that closed a loophole in a older law requiring all drivers in the state to stop for school buses and a bill that requires contractors doing business with the state to submit to a federal immigration background check.
Anderson lives with his wife, Ruth, in Woodbridge and currently has no one running against him for the seat.
Appliance Connection is owned and operated by Marty Nohe, a Republican on the Prince William County Board of Supervisors.
Area transit services will operate on a normal schedule if there is a shutdown of the federal government on Monday.
Virginia Railway Express says 35 percent of its riders are not federal employees and will continue to run trains on a regular schedule.
The Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission’s OmniRide commuter bus service will continue to operate on a regular schedule on Monday and Tuesday, but ridership will be evaluated and necessary adjustments made on Wednesday morning.
“We plan to operate regular service for OmniRide commuter buses on Monday and Tuesday because many of our passengers do not work for the federal government and because other passengers who do work for the federal government will be deemed ‘essential’ personnel who are expected to report to work as usual. Also, we understand that some federal agencies will have their employees come in for up to four hours on Monday morning to close up shop,” said PRTC spokeswoman Christine Rodrigo.
Passengers who subscribe to OmniRide’s Rider Express email service will automatically be notified of any schedule changes that may be implemented Wednesday. Riders can also call 703-730-6664 for more information about scheduling.
Fairfax County Connector buses will also run on a normal schedule Monday despite any federal closure, the agency stated Friday.
The potential government shutdown would affect essentially stop paychecks for federal workers, contractors, and would close all of the National Parks.
It also means U.S. military service men and women and Department of Defense workers would not be paid until congress and the president come to an agreement on a funding measure.
If a funding bill is not passed by midnight to avert a shutdown, active duty and reserve military personnel will be paid what they earned prior to the shutdown, which amounts to about half of their normal mid-month paycheck, according to Defense Finance and Accounting Service.
Any shutdown would not affect payments made to those retired from the military.
As a shutdown of the federal government looms, Robert Wittman (R-1) in the House of Representatives to pass legislation to fund the governmental operations through next week.
The spending bill, which passed the House and now moves onto the Senate, would fund the federal government through April 15.
In addition to the short-term funding fix, Wittman says the bill also provides for $12 billion in spending cuts.
“I firmly believe that the federal government must tighten its belt, but believe we can avoid a massive government shutdown and uncertainty for families across this country. As I have said, it is unconscionable to not pay our men and women who are risking their lives overseas to protect our freedom,” in a press release.
Lawmakers spent much of Thursday evening in emergency sessions looking to find ways to continue funding government operations. If a deal is not reached by midnight, a partial closure of the federal government will occur leaving many federal employees, contractors and military personnel without paychecks.
Contract workers with the state will soon have to submit their employees to an immigration check.
A bill sponsored by Virginia State Senator George Barker (D-39) and Del. Richard Anderson (R-51) was signed into law this week, requiring all contractors working for the state to submit to an E-Verify check through the Department of Homeland Security beginning Dec. 1, 2013.
The bill was the lone immigration bill to survive in this year’s General Assembly session.
E–Verify is the same system used by the Social Security Administration to verify workers’ legal presence in the U.S.
“I have submitted E-Verify legislation every year since I entered the Senate of Virginia, and this is the first time that my bill has made it through the entire process. It was a long journey, but standing with Gov. McDonnell was a satisfying moment for me and made the effort worthwhile,” said Barker in a press release.
The requirement would apply to all new companies who apply to work with the state, as well as companies with more than 50 employees working as part of a state contract valued at more than $50,000 during the past 12 months.
“This law moves us in the right direction by ensuring that companies doing work under a state contract are using employees who are lawfully present in the United States,” said Anderson in a press release.
North Stafford, Va. –– A well known name in area politics may be exploring a run for a newly created district in the Potomac Communities.
Stafford County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Dudenhefer is eying the newly shifted 2nd District Virginia House of Delegates seat, sources say.
Approved last night by Virginia House of Delegates, the 2nd District was shifted to the Potomac Communities from Southwest Virginia after population there has declined in the past 10 years.
The newly shifted district encompasses North Stafford, Quantico and Woodbridge east of U.S. 1.
Dudenhefer on Thursday would not confirm that he is running for the seat, but did say he has been approached about running for the position by various politicians including Virginia House Speaker Bill Howell.
A long proponent of improving transportation in the region, Dudenhefer said if he did run he would focus on improving the Interstate 95 corridor and lowering taxes.
“I take serious these issues of lower taxes and smaller government because I’ve done it. Under my leadership, we passed the first comprehensive plan in Stafford County in 22 years. I have name recognition among fellow Republicans and in North Stafford,” said Dudenhefer.
Dudenhefer was reelected to the Stafford County Board of Supervisors for a second term, this time as chairman, in 2009 beating his democratic opponent with 63 percent of the vote, according to state election records.
He retired from the U.S. Marine Corps in 2004, after 30 years in the service.
Virginia’s Senate must give final approval for the creation of the 2nd District, as well as the state’s overall 2010 redistricting plan passed last night by the House.
Prince William County, Va. –– Wooodbridge may soon lose its only high school, and may not be the one you’re thinking of.
A plan put forth by the Prince William Board of Supervisors, called the seven district alternative map, moves Freedom High School on Neabsco Mills Road from the Woodbridge district into the Neabsco District (Dale City).
The issue was discussed last night as residents spoke at a public hearing about the county’s magisterial redistricting process ––mandated every 10 years after the census –– to determine voting precincts and who will represent neighborhoods on the Board of Supervisors.
“Removing Freedom would make Woodbridge the only district without a high school, and this is unacceptable,” said Bonnie Klakowicz, president of the Prince William Education Association.
Klakowicz reminded the Board the Neabsco district is represented by an entirely different member of the School Board member that represents Freedom High School now, and that parents used to dealing with Woodbridge district School Board member would have to begin working with one from the Neabsco district.
What’s more confusing under the new plan, she said, is some parents would work with the Woodbridge School Board member during their child’s elementary and middle school years and then be forced to work with Neabsco’s during their high school years.
Woodbridge Senior High School is in Lake Ridge, in the Occoquan District, and there are no plans to change the district in which that school sits in.
Tuesday was the final public hearing on the county’s redistricting process. A final plan must be approved and submitted to Virginia’s State Board of Elections on April 18 and then submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice for review.
At 6:30 p.m., minority residents are expected to present their drawn maps that are expected to counter the lines drawn by officials that for the next 10 years will govern political boundaries and districts in the county. The presentation will be held at the Prince William County Government Center in Woodbridge.
A press release from the organizing group says minorities have for years been excluded from county services under previously drawn maps.
The county board will take up a public hearing on the redistricting process that must be completed April 18.
Officials say Prince William must reexamine its magisterial districts as they have experiences major growth in the past 10 years.
According to proposed district maps produced by the county, the Coles District would expand to include portions of the Manassas area. Each district would encompass about 57,000 residents.
The public hearing to address the changes begins tonight at 7:30.
Prince William County, Va. –– The man looking to unseat Prince William County Board Chairman Corey Stewart got a nod Monday from a seasoned Northern Virginia politician.
Democratic congressman Jim Moran (D-8th) endorsed Babur Lateef in his bid to become Prince William’s next board chair.
“Congressman Moran has been a strong advocate for Northern Virginia’s families and businesses for decades,” Lateef said. “I welcome his support of my campaign.”
Leteef is an eye surgeon for Woodbridge and announced his candidacy in January.
He has mounted his campaign against Stewart by saying taxes rose during his term as Board Chair, along with class sizes in county schools.
Stewart has long clung to illegal immigration as a camping issue, and launched a crackdown on illegal immigrants after he was reelected to the post in 2007.
Moran was elected in 1990 and is now serving his 10th term in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The general election will be held November 8.
Stafford, Va. ––Eric Olsen says he is the clear choice for Stafford County’s next Commonwealth Attorney.
Olsen made his campaign announcement on a cold, damp Thursday afternoon on the steps of the county’s courthouse in front of about 80 supporters.
“The primary function of local government is to keep people safe. There are a lot of other things that local government does, and all of them are necessary, but let me tell ya, they don’t amount to a hill of beans unless people are safe inside of their homes, people are safe when they go to their schools, people are safe when the go to the grocery store,” said Olsen.
During his speech, Olsen spoke of his time on the job prosecuting murder and domestic violence cases since he was hired to work in the commonwealth’s attorney’s office in 1989.
Olsen wants at least one change to the commonwealth’s attorney’s office, saying he would assign someone from the office to each magisterial district to be a liaison to community groups and home owners associations.
“There’s a movement across the county to move to a different type of an approach to prosecution, and it’s called community prosecution. Most law abiding citizens have two experiences with the criminal justice system: if they’re a victim they have an experience with it and if they are sitting on a jury they have an experience with it. Other than that they don’t know what a prosecutor does,” said Olsen.
His opponent, defense attorney Jason Pelt, is also seeking the Republican Party’s nomination for the position. Pelt charges Stafford’s Commonwealth Attorney’s office spends too much money to combat crime, and says he could do the same work for less money.
Olsen says you can’t put a price tag on justice because not punishing criminal behavior and incarcerating those who commit crimes only encourages more crime.
“You can’t measure the criminal justice system in terms of dollars. You can measure it in the competence of a prosecutor, you can measure it terms of your passion to present cases, but you can’t measure it in terms of dollars and cents,” said Olsen.
At the podium next to Olsen for his announcement Thursday stood retiring commonwealth attorney Daniel M. Chichester and Stafford County Sheriff Charles E. Jett.
Olsen was hired by Chichester in 1989, and was handpicked by the outgoing prosecutor as the candidate to be his successor.
Olsen described himself as a local man who has only been away from the Fredericksburg area for three years, long enough for him to go to law school. He got his undergrad from the Mary Washington College.
A long-time resident of Fredericksburg, Olsen said he is selling his house there and has rented an apartment on Poplar Road in Stafford County. Changing his residence to Stafford allows him to run for the position.
Stafford, Va. –– Jason Pelt announced his bid to be Stafford County’s next Commonwealth Attorney on Tuesday.
A defense attorney in his own private practice in Stafford, Pelt says the office he wants to lead currently spends too much money see’s little return on its effort.
“The Commonwealth Attorney’s office is horribly inefficient, wasting tax dollars while doing nothing to combat crime or promote justice,” said Pelt. “In our sister county, Spotsylvania, there is a less than one-percent difference in the crime rate between that county and Stafford, but Stafford County spends $1.2 million more than Spotsylvania does in their Commonwealth Attorney’s office.”
Pelt, a republican currently running unopposed, says he is seeking the nomination of the party.
He acknowledged outgoing Commonwealth Attorney Daniel Chichester who held the job for 40 years.
“I’m not running against him, so you’ll hear me say nothing negative about him, but changes do need to occur, and there needs to be an end to the mentality to where ‘we need to spend more money to combat crime because we can’t put a price on justice.’ The price of justice should be less than $3 million per year [Stafford is] spending,” said Pelt.
Pelt also said lines of communication between the Commonwealth Attorney’s office, the sheriff’s department and clerk of the court can be improved –– something he’s learned during his time on the job, he said.
Pelt accepted an officer’s commission in the Marine Corps in 1998 and served as both a defense attorney and a federal prosecutor in the JAG Corps until 2005. He is now a Marine Reservist.
Chichester last month suggested Eric Olsen, a deputy commonwealth’s attorney in Stafford County, would make a good replacement for him.
Olsen lives in Fredericksburg and would have to relocate to Stafford County to be able to run and be elected to the position.
Woodbridge, Va. –– Political season in Woodbridge kicks off next month with an appearance from Gov. Robert F. McDonnell.
The governor is expected to appear at 8:30 a.m. Saturday April 9 at an event for Del. Richard Anderson (R-51).
The event is a fundraiser for the freshman delegate who is looking to return to Richmond for another two years.
The event is not free, but will be held at Appliance Connection at 13851 Telegraph Road #101 in Woodbridge.
The appliance store has another political connection , as Prince William County Supervisor Marty Nohe on his LinkedIn page lists himself as the president of the store.
A special meeting of the county’s board of supervisors to adopt the redistricting plan was announced late Friday night, to be held at 7:30 p.m. April 18 at the Prince William County Government Center in Woodbridge.
The county originally thought they would have until May 17 to adopt the new redistricting plan.
“The change stems from an error realized by the Electoral Board. State and federal law requires absentee ballots be available no later than 45 days prior to a Primary or General Election. This requirement was not communicated to the County during the planning process for redistricting. The letter from the Electoral Board indicates that ‘… the May 17, 2011, date is no longer early enough for the Board of County Supervisors to finally adopt its redistricting plan,’” stated a press release from Prince William County.
The county’s next electoral board meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. April 5, and is open to the public.
Stafford County has also called public meetings about their redistricting process.
Town hall meetings will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday April 7 at Stafford High School at 33 Stafford Indian Lane, and at 7 p.m. Thursday April 14 at North Stafford High School at 839 Garrisonville Road (Va. 610).
Woodbridge, Va. –– There’s a lot of meaning in the two-letter word “at.”
A bill by Del. Richard Anderson (R-51) adds the word to an existing law passed in the 1970s that mandates drivers stop at school buses.
Without the word, some judges interpreted the law literally to where drivers must stop school buses, not stop “at” school buses.
Some drivers who failed to stop at a stopped school bus loading or unloading children were let off the hook because of the loophole, said Anderson.
The new law takes effect immediately unlike other bills signed into law which take affect July 1.
“I was pleased to patron this legislation to ensure that our children are safe on their trips to and from school. Parents expect us to take care of their students from the time they leave home and until they return. This bill does just that,” said Anderson in a press release.
Anderson drafted the bill and filed it with the house clerk’s office, but it was similar to another bill by Del. Scott Surovell (D-44).
Surovell’s bill was absorbed into Anderson’s bill and both freshman delegates worked together to pass the legislation.
Legislators’ attempt to put tougher restrictions on illegal immigrants in Virginia failed in the state Senate Wednesday – all except for one bill.
The E-Verify bill, which would require any corporation doing business with Virginia subject their employees to an electronic background check verify their employees are eligible to work in the U.S.
It has survived in a Senate some Republicans say too often block measures to curb illegal immigration in the state. Democrats often say immigration reform unfairly targets Hispanics and could lower the rate at which they report crimes to local police. (more…)
Woodbridge, Va. –– A new bill sponsored by a Woodbridge lawmaker would force state agencies to verify that those contracted to work for them may legally do so in the U.S.
Del. Richard L. Anderson (R, Va.-51) has sponsored HB 1859, which would require any agency contracted to do $50,000 or more in work for the state submit their employees to an E-Verify check, which would determine their employment eligibility.
The bill remains in committee but is gaining traction among lawmakers. (more…)
Woodbridge, Va. –– Richard L. Anderson has accepted a high-ranking position in with the Civil Air Patrol.
The republican delegate from Virginia’s 51nd District, which includes Woodbridge and Lake Ridge, was appointed chairman of the organization’s board of governors this fall.
He will assume his new role in February.
Anderson, a retired Air Force Colonel, brings with him more than 30 years of experience working with defense missile and space command.
He joined the Civil Air Patrol in 1969 and has served the organization as both a cadet and senior member.
“It is truly a privilege to be elected chairman of the Board of Governors,” Anderson said in a press release. “I look forward to this new opportunity to continue to serve this outstanding organization, one of the premier community service organizations in America.”
Later in his CAP career, Anderson from 1993 until 96 was one of the youngest national commanders ever to serve in the organization. (more…)