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Jeff Branscome writes about Spotsylvania County.

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VRE Summit and who went

Only four supervisors showed up to the VRE Summit last night, and one of them was on the panel. Supervisors Hap Connors, Benjamin Pitts, Gary Skinner and Jerry Logan were at the meeting.


Is that a sign that VRE might pass 4-3?

I wouldn’t take it that far, but one resident criticized the other three supervisors for not showing up, saying this was an opportunity for them to learn more about the service and get some factual details. Just keep in mind, the entire event was recorded and will be aired on the local government channels. I believe about 30 to 35 questions were asked and there were more than 75 on the list. I know that probably more than half of the questions came from e-mails residents sent me, but some key questions did go unanswered. I’ll try to get answers to them in the coming weeks.

At the very end of the meeting, one man just stood up and said out loud "Just Join!" and I am not even sure he was a VRE supporter. 


Post tags:


  • MAVRICKinc

    Looks like I’m first at bat. I’m working off the comments section of Dan Telvock’s coverage and published results of the VRE Summit meeting at Riverbend HS, at the direction of Supervisor Jerry Logan.

    Any questions the public may have had was confined to a minute. The answers by panalist were as long as 5 minutes and at moments closer to ten. The audience could not have much larger than 50-75 county constituents. The rest were Spotsylvania County Board members who have already decided on the VRE vision, plus county associteas who were told to show up. I lost count at 30 County associates in attendance. Special interest groups were also there to see what 50-75 people might have on their mind.and presented in the form of questions that could only be a minute long. If anyone, like myself, attempted to couch their question with some facts and a platform for the question, there were members of the audience who would shout you down, before making it to the question.

    If you were to turn around and see who was shouting out “QUESTION?” you would see a very menacing individual standing up, with his arms folded and making sure no one got more than a minute at the provided microphone.

    I was genuinly amused to see what role Democracy plays in the making of informed decisions on Spotsylvania County’s business ethic, conduct and business agendas.

    Larry, this is just an aside, but how surprised were you when the Transportation Advisory Group (TAG) when 6f.) PROJECT STATUS REPORTS came up for discussion? While the Study Report is dated from May 18, 2009 (Joint Meeting), you might want to pull up the minutes of the May 15, 2009 FAMPO meeting. I’ll let the record speak for itself. It left me with an indelible mark on the back of my head on who is really standing at the helm and charting what is now the I-95 Acess Study.

    The VRE is a critical and component part of the over-all land-use agendas that are now making there way to the BOS under the guise Bill 3202 and sets out how Urban Development Areas will necessarily impact Spotsylvania County and its citizens.

    Every time I open up my copy of the VRE Master Agreement, I’m always confronted with two (2) FAMPO analysis propositions that are posted on their website along with the VRE Master Agreement.

    I belive they should be required reading, but what di I know.


    It’s about funding mechanisms that are contradicted by the VRE MASTER Agreement and its contract provisions, conditions and liabilities were Spotsylvania County to sign on.

    The second analysis is titled “EXTENSION OF VRE SERVICES TO SPOTSYLVANIA COUNTY ANALYSIS OF PROS AND CONS.” Since I don’t have a sense that anyone in this region is at all interested in seeing or reading beyond a titled page, I’ll provide the wording on page three (3) of this document.

    It reads: “Future Transportation and Land Use Efficiencies: Here the pros cite the fact that the CSX infrastructure already exist, and excess capacity therefore exists to make future increases in VRE service, without the added cost of widening, as is the case in highways. They also cite the fact that development of a new Spotsylvania station can be completed in conjunction with a set of focused land use developments, such as those offered by Tricord at Summit Crosing. In this case a campus of mixed use development, including residential, retail and office is proposed.

    If anyone wants to see mixed use development up close I would suggest going to Short Pump, just outside Richmond proper. There’s a great Italian restaurant there. The name starts with an M.

    Back to the VRE Master Agreement. Anyone with a copy of this document are invited to refer to D. ADDITIONAL CONSIDERATIONS (1)

    The BOS just authorized the purchase of $30 million General Obligation Bonds because the development community couldn’t get financing with there line of credit so they are using Spotsylvania County’s AA bond credit line at AAA rates to underwrite to pay for the bridge over I-95, leading to Mr. Cosner’s/Silver’s Hospital and the roads leading to the Hospital and Rt 17.

    Under Urban Development Ares you will be refered to POD F, which includes development of more than just a hospital.

    Check the Massaponax Corridor Survey with Planning and FAMPO in mind. When you get to the I-95 nterchange that will be south of the Rt 17 corridor.

    Unless or until you understand the terms of the VRE Master Agreement you will remain in the tall grass.

    Our BOS and County Attorney have had this document for years and yet never made it availbe to public consumption until May 22, 2009. Stafford is already feeling the pain but refuse to acknowlege they may/will be required to underwrite VRE out of their General Funds. Fredericksburg is still paying down their parking garage debt with VRE monies and return on investment. There’s more.

  • lgross

    It might be me but I can’t seem to understand much of the point[s] here.

    They seem to me all over the map…implied accusations of if no outright wrongdoing… certainly nefarious conduct;
    but we never get to the specifics.. connect the dots

    For instance, we keep talking about the VRE Master Agreement as if there is some really bad stuff in there but we
    never really get down to the specifics that are of concern.

    I’m probably slow.. but you need to get to the specific passages that of are concern and give a commentary as to
    why you consider them significant.

    Ditto with FAMPO and UDAs.

    You might need to slow it down and spread it out if you want me to better understand although if it is just I who is
    having this problem then just consider me not bright enough to stay up with the commentary.

    Just for the record – I’m not into conspiracy theories in general… not to say that all is sweetness and light in politics
    and government in general but as long as the roads and stoplights work and there are police and fire and rescue
    around when they are needed and gets get a decent education.. then ….in my mind.. we talk about how to go
    forward, how to do better

    So.. I’d ask… let’s start with ONE THING… like the VRE Master Agreement. How about going through chapter and
    verse of the specifics that are in your view significant and worthy of concern from others such as myself or other
    readers of this.


  • MAVRICKinc

    I hardly think so.

    Since you have had your copy of the VRE Master Agreement since May 1, 2009, and have read it, I’ll conclude you have found nothing in this document that concerns you.

    If, on the other hand, you have concerns about this document you might want to let us know what those concerns are.

    Supvisor Jerry Logan, through his postured questions of the VRE Summit panalist described several concerns he had with the VRE Master Agreement and the responses he got back from his panalist was a polite NO and that the VRE Master Agreement’s contract terms and conditions would not be changed or modified.

    You had to be there to understand how scripted this Summit hearing was.

    Simply said, VRE and their diciples were the only ones who showed up at the meeting.

    The FLS is going to schedule televised versions of the Summit hearing. Please make sure you listen carefully to the panalist responses, in keeping with the fact that Supervisor Logan, Board members and County Attorney have had this document in their possession for years, but never supplied it to the public until May 22, 2009, when the County posted the document on FAMPO’S website (fact), not our own. Stafford County, nor Fredericksburg City have ever brought this document to the publics attention.

    Conspiracy? Your use of the word is a little over dramatic and intended only to call me out from under your feigned confusion. You’ve put your branded comments on just about anything that would or could undermine your comfort zone and vision. You said “as longas the roads and stop lights work and there are police and fire and rescue around when they are needed and get a good education…then…in my mind…we talk about how to go forward, how to do better.”

    I’m very confident you get it but would rather obfuscate the big picture by going from one box to the next, one at a time, when VRE,Urban Development Ares and FAMPO are all tied at the hip, and are as one common vision being developed by our elected officials, and special interest.

    Remember Dan Telvock mentioning that the Planning Department was conducting FOCUS NEETINGS with the power brokers. He failed to mention that the public, press and Planning Commission members were not invited and could not attend.

    Apparemtly Mary Lee Carter and another Commision member were apparently supplied admission tickets, but the public was barred from attending. I’m looking for a letter from Planning, after County Attorney Stroman edits what can only be described polite NO.

    Larry, you got your FAMPO packet this past Thursday nite, just like me. There was only one citizen who showed and that was me. You will recall at the time set aside for Public Presentation, I asked for a show of hands from all FAMPO representatives attending on whether they had a vague or critical understanding of the VRE Master Agreement. I only got two hands raised, and yours was not one of them. Simply said, you were either at this meeting or a figment of my imagination

    If you’ll read my initial comments to this blog site, you’ll discover it leads to a big picture and I did supply you with a map on where some of your answers will be found. If you’re not going to look, listen or read the map, how can I be expected to follow in your foot steps, ONE THING at a time?

    For the moment I’m going to stick with GRAMPS’ tea leaves. He may not have the stomach to come forward, but he certainly hit the nail on the head. You may wish to ignore his insights as well as your own.

    They’re all a matter of record, but if you intend to remain confused, try calling on Hap Connors or Gary Skinner what all this means. Ask them to detail what’s wrong with the VRE Master Agreement.

    I attended one of Connors Townhall Meeting which was attended by Matt Kelly, Fredericksburg City Counsil, Secretary and Executative to the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission and 8 members of the Chancelor Community. When it came to discussing anything about the VRE Master Agreement, Connors would only discuss the gas tax and Mr. Kelly would only answer my inquiries about the Master Agreement in terms that the document and its terms and conditions remained a “work in progress”

    Mr. Kelly also served on Supv. Jerry Logan’s VRE Summit hearing panel. Somewhere between his credentials, serving VRE in a management capacity, it occured to me that his sales pitch to join VRE rubbed up against a real conflict of interest.

    As far as I know there are 120,000 citizens in Spotsylvania County, but you’re only one of a few who show up on this blog.

    I really do believe you should drop the pretense and put your head around the facts, with the full understanding your contributions to date would seriously challenge your version of confusion. You really do know but you’re not telling. That’s OK by me. Your self described “come-here” may be 45 years old and you may want us to think you are of different mind, but you’re really not. Your a player.

  • lgross

    Mav – you’ve got to tone it down and be more
    specific on the points if you want a response from

    If you don’t want to do that – that’s fine but I’ll very
    likely not respond anymore to your posts.

  • MAVRICKinc

    Larry: I’m n+
    ot sure what you want me to tone down. As far as specificity, I’ve already assigned what documents you may want to read or understand.

    I don’t make the rules. You have your own set, and I’ll look at anything you have to say, but will draw from my own conclusions. I asked for a response from you or anyone else who wants to speak up or out on this blog or any other.

    I enter the field of play without a single expectation or political agenda. If your rules call for me to communicate on any blog, by your rules only, it might do you well to do as you’ve suggested: “I’ll very likely not respond anymore to you post.”

    This is starting to sound like a kid I once knew, who told us that if we weren’t going to play by his rules, he was taking his ball home, so no one else could play the game.

    Larry,you’ll have to recall we were introduced by Supv. Hap Connors and his version of fair play. If you don’t recall I’ll be more than willing to bring your words back, verbatim, if you think that will serve any purpose.

    It’s really a choice you’ll have to make for yourself. I’ve already signed off on the Fredtalk User Agreement. As far as I know I haven’t violated any of their rules.

    If the heat is to much, maybe you should stand down and take a breather. As far as I know my words and thoughts are being read by more than just youself. Maybe you should start talking to them instead of me. Again, a choice you can make on your own. I’ll return back to this blog site, not by invitation, but additional comments I wish to make about VRE/Land-Use agendas, UDA’s, legislative loop holes and the visions of those who fit on to a single stage, or a special interest group you can fit into a single FOCUS meeting with our Planning Department.

    Good hunting. If you get lost again, my map should get you back home…safely.

  • lgross

    Mav – It’s not a question of rules. It’s a simple question of being
    understand what you are saying and I cannot.

    you talk in very general but accusatory terms..

    it’s clear you think the VRE Master Agreement has bad stuff in it but
    you don’t get to the specifics of what you are talking about

    If you, for instance, could point out the most egregious parts of the
    VRE MA that you believe should concern folks – then that would be
    most helpful.

    The MA may indeed have some “gotchas” in it but to believe you – all
    the other jurisdictions including Fairfax, Arlington, Prince William, etc
    .. all of them have screwed up by signing the MA.

    So you need to get down to the specific areas that you feel make it a
    bad deal for Spotsylvania.

    If you cannot or will not do that.. I’m sorry but I don’t really have
    anything to add to what you are saying.

  • MAVRICKinc

    Did you see that article posted by the Assiciated Press with the FLS (June 12. 2009) about Metro being awarded an $18 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration (stimulus money)?

    Senators Jim Webb and Mark Warner thought the money would help create or save jobs and improve public safety.

    Last paragraph of the article reads: “Metro has estimated it needs $12 BILLION in capital funding over the next 10 years to replace aging equipment and maintenance services.

    The article should mean absolutely nothing to you, but connect this to paying into VRE’s capital improvement projects and programs by way of their Master Agreement you might get a better idea of where “Participating” jurisdictions fit into to the grand scheme of things.

    The Master Agreement spells out how our County may or may not prosper under the terms of this MA.

    The Commissions (NVTC and PRTC) have total control over County budgets. The Commissions add up all their of operating cost, liabilities and capital investements and spread these out over its membership budgets. Should the County come up short on their budgets.

    Please see III. Financial Plans And Budgets. Part A (page 6 and 7 of the MA). I was particularly taken by subsection (1), (4), (5) and (8). You may however want to read the entire Section referenced in the MA.

    Under C. Preparation of SUBSEQUENT Annual Budgets. I was taken by the use of “SHALL”, and within the frame-work of this part of the MA.

    Under D. Shortfalls In Budgeted Funds. See and read pages 8 and 9.

    There’s a lot more but I don’t think it appropriate to be oinned down any than I have.

    While you are reading along, you may want to know which VRE members gave up the gas tax and pay VRE out of general funds. I maintain Stafford County is very close to paying their share of VRE budgets out of general funding. Simply said, the gas tax is just a carrot that continues to diminish as VRE continues to invest more and more money into their capital improvements and projects…

    This is what all the hollering is about. Stafford and Fredericksburg need our additional cash to fray the cost of supporting their MA with VRE and its massive spending agendas. The number crunching is already on line.

    Even you did a little math on the gas tax with numbers already provided by the Committee of 500, and supported by the Fredericksburg Chamber of Commerce, and Real Estate Associations.

    I can assure you this is not rocket science.

    Until you or anyone else with an interest in this matter should read the documents referenced here and other blog sites first, before you start throwing throwing rocks.

    Larry, this is the second time you have drawn a line in the sand. Your words: “If you cannot or will not do that…I’m sorry but I don’t really have anything to add to what you are saying.”

    What you cannot do or will not do is something you’ll have to resolve on your own. I don’t speak for anyone but myself. If you don’t like what I say or how I say it is something you’ll have to manage on your own.

    I have no interest in trying to persuade you of anything. That’s your call. But, I am interested in what all the fuss is about. After everything is said and done I have no expectations what I say will be anything else but a blip on your screen.

    My math skills are confined to a simple equation; 2+2 is supposed to equal 4. Try balancing Spotsylvania County’s check book and budget and see what you get. It’s not going to be 4. When I balance my checkbook, if it doesn’t come up 4, I go back to every line item to see why I’m getting a 6 for a 4.

    Take care. I’ll be back again whether you show up or not.

  • grice

    Maverick, I was at the Summit also. While I applaud Mr. Logan for organizing it, and while some worthwhile infl was passed, it was largely a cheerleading session for VRE. Probably 80% of what passed for “answers” were unsubstantiated psalms for VRE and why Spotsy should join.

    You make a great point about why Stafford and the others want us to join – to spread anticipated VRE costs – its sounding more and more like some state sponsored pyramid scam.

    Regarding the MA, the panel made it very clear that Spotsy would not get any meaningful changes made – which, in turn, means that Spotsy would be signing up to a promise to always pay VRE’s bills, regardless of the amount. It also means that, since the MA states very clearly that all members must agree to release any member, Spotsy will not have any practical way to leave. In other words, should all the rosy projections VRE supporters make about how much VRE will do for us turn out to be just so much hogwash, we’re still stuck with VRE.

    AND the result of that is that Spotsy would have its hands tied in looking for more effective regional transit solutions. We would essentially be saying that VRE is our solution, no matter the cost, no matter the quality of service, no matter how few ride it.

    AND there’s another aspect also. Let’s say VRE is wildly successful. What happens to the gas tax? It goes down and pays less (sorta like happened to Stafford this year), which means our general tax dollars wouls be needed to support VRE – VRE’s own success, in other words, would destroy the purported benefits of the tax (of couse, the General Assembly can always increase the tax again, and again, and. . .

    There’s one final point to make. Some point to the fact that none of the member juristictions have wanted out of VRE so why should we wory that the MA doesn’t offer a practical way out for Spotsy? Has anyone stopped to think there may be reasons for that? I can think of several possibilities. First, maybe the “good days” of VRE are coming to an end – that VRE costs will continue their consistently high growth and, unless more members can be sucked, the current members will be in trouble. Second, maybe there’s a difference between Spotsy and the other members – there’s a point beyond which the distance between the heart of a metro area and number of commuters served by a metro rail system falls off – becomes non-productive. There are a lot of factors that determine where that point is, but its entirely possible that Spotsy is about there.

  • lgross

    Okay… so let me see if I understand.

    The reason(s) that Spotsylvania would be getting a bad deal is that once
    Spotsylvania signs on the dotted line they will immediately assume a pro-
    rata share of the existing debt?

    is this true or not true?

    If true, how much would this be?

    What does VRE’s debt profile over the last five years look like?

    what major new purchases are in the works?

    Is it true that once Spotsy signs on the dotted line that they can only leave if
    they get permission from a majority of the members?

    My understanding also was if they leave that they no longer can collected the
    gas tax even to pay off the debt.

    what is the truth there?

    These are the questions that I could not completely determine by reading
    the MA but I will admit that I am not particularly good at understanding
    things written in that form… same problem with reading legislation and the
    Va Code.

    The VRE Forum was no surprise to me. The signs were all present that it was
    being used to promote VRE rather than deal with substantative questions.

    A commitment to post ALL of the questions and answers online was never
    made clear until the day before the meeting and a far as I can tell we still
    do not have all the questions and answers to date posted anywhere.

    I’ll hang with the discussion as long as we deal in specifics and steer clear of impugning motives of people without providing very specific circumstances.

    In some folks minds, they may feel that the County and the BOS has not
    done a good job and that the VRE issue is yet another example of bad

    I’m not there yet. I see a lot of good that they have done but also some
    mistakes – par for the course for many of us.

  • grice

    lgross, good questions. A couple were danced around at the Summit, such as being able to continue to collect the tax to pay off the debt, even if we left VRE, but no definitive answer was given.

    The one question you asked that’s actually clear in the MA and was reinforced by the panel was that, not just a majority, but ALL members have to agree before one can leave.

  • lgross

    I have about a dozen more similar questions – one’s that the BOS probably already have the
    answers to but are not being shared by them or by anyone else at the summit.

    In case folks have not gotten my drift – it’s the process that I feel is important because at the end
    of the day – we need both Spotsylvania citizens and the BOS to make an INFORMED Decision and I
    do very much believe that citizens should know the answers also – that they should be satisfied that
    they know the pros and cons

    .. and then as several, including Gramps has said – and THEN – the BOS does make it’s decision
    after hearing from the citizens.

    I favor VRE if it is part of a wider vision for more/better transit in the region that would accrue from
    the 2% tax – IF… VRE is a tenable proposition.

    My bigger concern for VRE is what it would do to the county’s ability to maintain it’s credit rating and
    to be able to borrow money in the future. In other words, will it’s share of the VRE debt count against
    it’s credit rating and ability?

    by a “wider vision” – I mean an equitable approach to more/better transit for ALL citizens to include
    rail access beyond rush hour commuter rail

    more/Better FRED transit; right now FRED is not even close to being viable for most local workers who
    might use it to commute to their jobs.

    and finally, we need to acknowledge that we are a commuter-centric county and in addition to VRE,
    we have other commuters who use vans and buses and they should not be treated less equitably
    than VRE commuters in m view.

    And I do not have a problem with Spotsylvania joining regional authorities to provide infrastructure
    and services as long as Spotsylvania citizens gain benefits from such alliances – which I think they
    do if you consider things like water, sewer, libraries, jails, FRED and services to the poor, elderly and

    it makes perfect sense to have a single region function with ONE set of administrative management
    rather than duplicate that for each locality.

    Mr. Logan had a good idea about the summit, but the concept failed because he and/or the
    organizers did not insure that there would be a way for all questions including the substantative ones
    would be available for all citizens to see those questions – and a way for all citizens to see the
    answers so the summit ended up being perceived (perhaps rightly so) as a mere exercise in VRE

    So to finish – it’s about the process. If we have a good process, we end up with informed citizens
    who can share a relevant view with their BOS and the BOS, in turn, can make an informed decision in
    representing the folks who elected them.

    Right now – the VRE “process” is tainted in my view. The goal should be – by the time the vote is
    taken – that every citizen who wants to know – does know – the facts – not myths and not
    misinformation and it is the job and the duty of the BOS to make sure that happens – and they have
    the power to do it if they want to.

  • MAVRICKinc

    Larry: has it ever occurred to you that condesension doesn’t make much of an invitation to share and exchange thoughts that may be different to your own?

    What did you expect, as return on your verbal and published investment with: “I’ll hang with the discussion as long as we deal in specifics and steer clear of impugning motives of people without providing very specific circumstances.?”

    I’ve made my position on the VRE matter, as well as I possibly could. Have no secrets; just a lot more questions. The answers to your questions are a matter of public record.

    You’ve set the stage. Your barrage of questions at this site are looking for me for answers, when you should really be talking to your district supervisor, county Board of Supervisors or the County’s Attorney. They have all the answers and have had for years. What part of that don’t you get?

    When was the first time you knew about the VRE Master Agreement? All you’ve been doing is measuring money and return on investment from a now 2.1% gas tax.

    If you’re looking to me to answer questions you’re throwing up against this VRE wall and to see what sticks again, is something you take up with our elected officials

    If you want to know what Spotsylvania County gets back, from day one of joining VRE, by endorsing the VRE agenda, check with your supervisor or County Attorney.

    It’s reasonable to conclude they have all the answers, and why should’t they? If the BOS is 2 months away from voting on the VRE agenda, why would’t they have all the answers? At Jerry Logan’s Summit hearing, our County attorney was seated at the panalist table. Mr. Logan was asking questions he should have already had the answer to?

    Why do we have a County Attorney in the first place? Why would’t he have advised the entire BOS long before we showed up and two(2) from a vote?

    Simply said, this Summit meeting and the script that followed was designed a long time ago. If you want to get 50-75 folks to show up for the speech’s that took place on June 11, 2009, our BOS accomplished really only one very critical thing. It’s called “due process.”

    If we continue to focus on your version of “the PROCESS” we’ll be missing the point entirely. If you’re going to rely on what comes out the other end of process, maybe you’ll want to know the people who are really making the decisions and deposits on this County’s soil or what’s left of it in the next ten years.

    If you want to know what the VRE debt profile looked like over the last 5 years, why don’t you first ask youself what 3 fare hikes in less than a year, speaks to how good VRE’s business model
    really is.

    Instead of asking me questions, why don’t you just pull up the VRE wesite and look for yuorself. Again, this is all public knowledge and record. Better still, ask yourself why this information has not been made available to the public by way of our Spotsylvania County government and their repective interest?

    Why did Spotsylvania County post the VRE Master Agreement on FAMPO’s website (May 22, 2009) instead of their own? Don’t ask me, ask them.

    GRICE had a thought that could easily be explored, if you’re willing to face the consequences and what you find in the VRE Master Agreement. Been there, done that. I’ve asked for answers, up close and personal, but to no avail.

    While my conclusions are not cast in concrete, I’m still, same as you, have questions our elected officials have yet to answer. I gather you would prefer not to know, and rely on your instinct to muddle through this imperative with the least amount angst and stress that comes with knowing there are pieces to this puzzle that are found but not put into play.

    If YOU need a bill of particulars to proceed, I suggest you send it to the Spotsylvania County Board of Supervisors and their attorney of record,Jacob Stroman, Esq. I already have my answers to interrogatories, which lead me back to the same point I started from.

    At this moment in time I’m making ready to be at tonight’s scheduled FAMPO meeting. The public is invited, but we don’t expect much of a citizen turn out. They too would prefer not to know and continue to follow the path of least resistance; aka the High Road.”

    If, at any time, you wish to debate my credibility, you are invited to sit down over a cup of coffee or a small glass of Merlot, to lay this out at a table of your choosing. I’ll bring the refreshments. Choose one or the other. If it’s the other I’ll make sure to bring along my designate driver, unless of course, there is taxi service available at the table of your choosing.

  • lgross

    Well! I’m glad we got THAT settled!!!


  • MAVRICKinc

    Larry: you posed one of many questions in a previous drawdown. It had to do with what Spotslyvania would be resonsible for, from day one in signing the VRE Master Agreement.

    Matt Kelly advised me our membership budgetary responsibility was $0 on day one and was not of much concerned or interested because VRE/FAMPO stimuls money is sitting on all kinds of stimulus money. Makes sense to me, except fo rthe fact the VRE Master Agreement doesn’t read that way under title of III. FINANCIAL PLANS AND BUDGETS…A.PREPARATION OF SIX YEARFINANCIAL PLANS. It may be $0 on day one but budgetary obligation, as a member of VRE are only as good as receiving the next yearly VRE and Commission budget obligation, which necessarily averages out to our pro-rata share of a total CIP agendas.

    Stafford and Fredericksburg never passed on the VRE Master Agreement to their constituents. Their elected officials signed off on the VRE agenda, without ever letting any of its citizens know what a VRE Master Agreement even looks like,much less how this Aggreement impactsa their tax dollars.

    If you got the latest packet of last nitght’s FAMPO meeting, you’ll see that Spotsylvania County BOS chairman, Hap Connors ,is now also the NEWLY ELECTED chairman of the the George Washington Regional COMMISSION’s Executive Committee. Mary Katherine Greenlaw of Fredericksburg is Treasurer and Robert Woodson of Stafford County got Secretary.

    So, if you ever want to know anything about the VRE initiative, Supervors Connors has all your answers but so far wishes to remain anonymous and not forth coming with the rest of us.

    Was that too harsh a statement to make? If you think so, I suggest you rewind the past two years and see what came to the public by way of the VRE agenda.

    Should you want to debate the issue may I suggest you read Virginia’s Long-Range Multimodal Transportation Plan…2007-2035. If that’s too general a statement to make, please have FAMPO provide you with a copy of last night’s meeting or download it off the FAMPO website. It’s all public knowledge, if anyone cares to look or has the least bit interest in what Spotsylvania County is going to look like in the next 10 years.

    You will see for yourself how Transportation, Urban Development, Land-Use, the construction of Land-Use Ordinances, 3 acre mentalities, taxing districts and special interest are all joined at the hip. This should be no revelation to you since you’re a very important part of the “PROCESS”, not the solution.

  • lgross

    my focus on process and my insistence that we not Impugn individuals with broad, unspecified
    inferences goes to my belief that government functions better when enough citizens understand
    what is going on – because then they can influence the elected at elections and often in between

    My second premise is that I believe that most people believe that Spotsylvania will grow and that
    growing is inevitable and healthy provided it’s done in a fiscally responsible manner in such a way
    that level of service/quality of life is reasonably protected.

    who decides what is “fiscally responsible” and “reasonable”?

    elected officials and informed citizens who are effective at involvement

    Having said that – Spotsylvania will make land-use and transportation citizens – as Fredericksburg
    and Stafford have done and continue to do.

    BOS normally make land-use decisions and are in the middle of transitioning from a state-
    directed (VDOT) approach to transportation – at the local level.

    FAMPO is a Federally-mandated Regional Transportation Authority not unlike Virginia’s Planning
    Districts in mission and scope. Virginia’s Planning Districts are more than 40 years old while the
    MPOs like FAMPO are around a decade or so.

    But both of them seek to establish regional perspectives on transportation and land-use issues to
    include both infrastructure and services.

    And yes – they are governed essentially by appointed elected officials, not directly elected boards.

    FAMPO plays an increasingly important role because Federal and State Tax money is allocated to
    FAMPO to decide how to spend on Transportation infrastructure and services.

    It’s not a pretty process. There are lots and lots of different players with different pots of money
    controlled by different laws, regs, and agencies.

    A flow-chart of the “process” would be laughable because I suspect that even those who are
    responsible for different parts of the elephant don’t know all the other parts.

    What does all of this have to do with VRE and the VRE Master Agreement from my POV (point of

    VRE is a transportation decision that has become (in my view) a symbol of how little the public
    really knows and understands how transportation decisions are made.

    That’s how, in my opinion, VRE sort of “slipped under the radar” in Stafford and Fredericksburg.

    but VRE is perceived by folks who live and work locally as “special treatment” for the “comer heres”
    who have (in their mind) – invaded the county and driven the price of land and homes out of the
    grasp of local workers while at the same time insisting on more services, more expensive services
    (higher taxes).

    So the locals see VRE as a symbol of favoring commuters at the direct expense of those who
    choose to not commute but work locally.

    On the other side of the coin, the commuters see VRE as a “good thing” worthy of taxpayer
    subsidies because it “takes cars off the road”.

    I could make an argument for either side (and have) but at the end of the day – I feel that it is
    important for citizens to be involved – to be informed – and to not be misinformed – and for them
    to participate in making the decision.

    So the questions I ask are not ones that I probably could not find out (like you) by reading the
    MA (though I am inept at understanding legalese in part because the MA is but one piece of the
    puzzle…the Va Code being another… and the whole thing in a state of flux because of changes in
    the laws and funding…

    the questions – and the answers are important to many Spotsylvania citizens and I understand the
    tendency of public officials including the elected to not want to fly in the middle of the flak… a
    perfectly understandable human trait for most of us and not necessarily evil to the bone as some
    cynics might believe.

    so .. enough blather for this morning.. and I apologize in advance to any/all who are reading this
    and thinking “man is this guy a pompous blowhard”.

  • grice

    lgross, one clarifiaction – the VRE opposition is much broader than you imply. I’m one of those commuters and I strongly oppose VRE – not because it “favors” a small segment of commuters, but, besides escalating VRE ticket cost, for a number of other reasons.

    For example, look at VRE station locations. To say they’re inconvenient for most workers who commute outside the county is a vast understatement. Even when combined with other modes of mass transit, this remains true, and that’s not considering the total cost and commute time (and delays, etc.). VRE will never serve more than a small segment of our population, commuters included.

    Another reason is that it just doesn’t provide enough bang for the buck – especially when that buck gets, essentially, permanent head of the pay line privileges. If the tax could be used equitably and effectives for a truly regional mass transit solution, I’d probably be all for it. As is, its not a lot different, or better, than that bridge to nowhere they were going to build in Alaska.

  • MAVRICKinc

    Citizens of Spotsylvania:

    The meeting conducted by Supv. Jerry Logan and televised viewing are under copyright regulation.

    Simply said, the televised feed we are getting on our TV sets, has nothing to do with County business models or agendas on the subject VRE. The County and BOSs disclaim any involvement with Mr. Logan’s Summit presentation on June 11, 2009. Mr. Logan has exclusive rights to anything that that was said, including the questions asked by Supv. Logan because he paid, out of his own pocket, the cost associated with putting his VRE Summit hearing on the Riverbend High Scholl stage for only his Courtland District constituents.

    So, who have I now impugned?

    All I did was call County on when the DVD rendition of the meeting would be made available for public consumption, much like we would find at our local libraries on BOS and Planning Commission meetings. I was advised the County and BOS have no connection to or with Supv. Logan’s VRE Summit presentation, and that if I or any other citizen want to invest in a DVD format, we would have to take this directly with Supv. Logan, who owns copyright of this VRE Summit presentation.

    I’m not the pompus blowhard that Larry would make himself out to be, but neither is Larry.

    I think of Larry as more the artful dodger than blowhard. He’s one of our distractions and guardians of the gate.

    Should anyone have problems with my findings, all you have to do is check the record. It’s all public information. No one has accused me of misinformation or distortion of anything I have put into publication or verbal discourse. If you don’t want to know that’s OK with me. If you have questions call your local district elected officials. Ad Hoc sentiments are not going to put anyone in the know. If you want to know, I can only suggest you read the VRE Master Agreement and the fine print.

    The voice of Spotsylvania County always comes with a disclaimer. You will find it in the use of the term “if” while paying allegiance to hollow promises. The thing about grabbing hold of an elephant part is the story of the BLIND MAN who is first introduced to the elephants tail and asked what he thinks he’s holding on to. Bottom line; he’s still BLIND, no matter which part of the elephant he embraces. I guess the Blind will continue to lead the Blind.

    The voice of Spotsylvania County claims to have read the VRE Master Agreement along side his caveat and disclaimer (excuse) that he has problems with the leagalese of contract language , provisions and conditions.

    It occurs to me that if the voice of Spotsylvania County is having problems understanding the VRE Master Agreement, he would have called on County Attorney Stroman, long before now, to fill in the gaps. Not sure where this blind man is going to take us. While my own vision is compromised I can still tell you what an elephant looks like; even with my eyes closed.

  • lgross

    Interesting story about the recording of the summit. I wouldn’t dare impugn anyone but if the situation is as
    described.. it sound peculiar.

    re: Gprice – yes… I have mentioned before the perceived (actual) disparities between subsidizing VRE which is a
    limited service compared to bus/vanpools and yet… VRE get’s priority… why is that?

    In the end – with HOT Lanes coming – carpools, vans, buses will have much more future potential to “take cares
    off the road” than VRE..

    In some respects, if we are going to incentivize people taking mass transit – why not prioritize buses/vans?

    re: getting info from the County Attorney….. I think for me this boils down to who the County Attorney really
    works for and though he is paid for by the taxpayers, methinks he “works” for the BOS and if the County “had
    nothing” to do with Mr. Logan’s summit then why was the County Attorney there?

    re: impugning folks…. I’m not opposed to holding an individual responsible for a direct act but for myself, and I
    speak only for myself, I’m not comfortable attributing county policy to generalized nefarious conduct.

    I can’t tell Mav for a lot of what you say whether or not you are in favor or opposed …and why… I’d feel more
    willing to dialog if you were to say a thing.. and then follow up with why you think it is a good thing or a bad thing
    and why.

    We’ve got a pile of words and I’m no closer to understanding how you feel about these issues other than “read
    the document/agreement/etc”.

    I can’t even tell at this point how you feel about growth in general.. whether it is good, bad or indifferent…
    whether the county is doing a good job or a bad job or what specific things are good or bad…

    If you were KING – Mav … what are the things that you’d accomplish for the better in Spotsylvania?

  • gramps

    interrupting this “debate.” I have a practical question. Why do you suppose Mr. Telvock has been so “quiet” since he reported (6/12/09 FLS article) on the VRE “summit” meeting where he was the co-facilitator? He has not commented about VRE on the blog, written any other articles that have been published, or commented anywhere else that I have seen. I thought we were told that all the questions would be published along with all the answers. Perhaps I am mistaken. This silence may be the real story regarding the VRE summit and not the fact that the County is taking a “hands-off” stance about the tapes, etc. To me, this is indeed a very curious turn of events following all the “hoopla” that receeded the summit.

  • gramps

    third to last word should be “preceeded” in my last post. Sorry about that.

  • lgross

    Gramps.. I’m glad to see that others have fun with their typed words not matching your brain-to-finger instructions!

    re: debate – no debate – I just prefer some level of specificity if I’m perceiving a claim of wrongdoing .. perhaps a character flaw
    on my part. We all tend to get cynical at times… true.

    re: Mr. Telvock reporting – appears to have cooled it on the blog but still doing news articles …. so a bit of a mystery ..perhaps
    life/work has become busier than before leaving less time for blogging…

    re: VRE Summit… wasn’t it also reported that “… Aimee Mann, the Board of Supervisors’ clerk, will be taking minutes” ?

    Again… how can the County Attorney and County Clerk for the BOS support this event and someone get told that the BOS has
    nothing to do with it?

    Something seems not kosher here… and Mr. Telvocks silence makes it even more disconcerting…

  • MAVRICKinc

    Have no idea why the Voice of Spotsylvania and ihis component members are having so much difficulty making their calls to anyone on the BOS, County Staff, or County Attorneys offices.

    I’ve put my findings in writing, with a serious understand there is more.

    Supv. Hap Connors serves as chair of the Executive Committee of the Potomac and Rappohannock Transportation Commission. He has most of the answers but apparently has nothing to say, even though he was in attendance at Supv. Logan’s Summit hearing.

    Sandwiched in the middle of this Summit and empaneled with Mr. Logan’s hearing representatives dialogue was Matthew J. Kelly, Fredericksburg Town Council, and as of last Friday was Secretary of the PRTC Commissions Executive Committee.

    Next to him sat Paul V. Milde, III, Stafford County BOS (Aquia) and vice chairman VRE Operations Board.

    It was disclosed at the Summit Hearing that neither Stafford County or Fredericksbugh City ever held up the VRE contract to its citizens for a second opinion or public referendum. Why? Because they could. It’s as simple as that.

    We’re following the same path. It really doesn’t matter what citizens think or even know about thew VRE Master Agreement. If that were the case Supv Connors would/should have leveled with us long ago.

    Supvs. Skinner, Pitts and County Administrator Doug Barnes are in regular attendance at FAMPO meetings. Kelly Hannon of the Free Lance Star shows to cover FAMPO meetings. Spotsylvania County Planning Department shows up at FAMPO meetings. Any questions? All you have to do is go to the FAMPO website and download the minutes of every meeting ever held at the George Washington Commission Regional headquarters on Princess Anne Street. The public is invited to attend meeting or wait for your elected officials to get back with you.

    Don’t want to know, that’s OK too. The Voice of Spotsylvania serves on the FAMPO Transportation Advisory Group (TAG) and has all kinds of critical information available to him on the VRE agenda but insists he needs to know what I have on hand to prove his point, when he already knows the answers to his questions, and if not, has a ready made network connection.

    From a personal point of view, if I had any questions about VRE and VRE Master Agreement I would invite Supv. Connors to join in the debate and have him tell us what he knows, with the understanding my vote does count either.

    Let me know when you get your DVD account of what happened last Thursday.

  • gramps

    perhaps the erstwhile Mr. Telvock has been given the suggestion that FLS staff need to remain totally neutral on the VRE issue. Could publishing the summit “questions and answers” be considered non-neutral?

    I also wonder, with lgross, what happened to the minutes kept by the young lady taking them??

  • lgross

    re: ” Supv. Hap Connors serves as chair of the
    Executive Committee of the Potomac and
    Rappohannock Transportation Commission. ”

    Is this true? How can that be when Spotsylvania is
    not a member?

    the things I don’t know just continue to pile up….

  • lgross

    I’m starting to feel like one or two folks were sold a bill of goods on this deal….

    be interesting to hear the real skinny on this at some point…

  • MAVRICKinc

    Gramps: Ms. Aimee Mann is in charge of transcribing the meeting minutes. She’s currently working toward this end, but between her equally pressing county resposibilities, a final transcription may take as many as 2 to three weeks and maybe more. Be assured, she’s very good at her job.

    The Voice of Spotsylvania has once again asked me to assume the role and wearing the robes of KING and let him know how I might do things better in Spotsylvania.

    Since I have no expectations of ever winning the lottery, or sitting on any other kind of throne outside the walls of my bathroom, I thought I would direct you to another KING. He is a she. Her name is Brenda King and quite vocal.

    In my place, you may want to check out her latest FLS editorial comments: June 18, 2009 “Is there a secret source of revenue in Spotsylvania?” I’m making it part of my required reading agenda. You may want to do the same.

    I look at her insights and recall as some serious stepping stones to what you claim is nothing more than speculation.

    My connection with KING is at best remote. We have never had occassion to speak or exchange thoughts. You may know her as Chair of the Spotsylvania County Historical Preservation Committee. She works closely with Anne Beals, who works closely on Preservation Committee matters as well as chairing the Spotsylvania County Forrestal/Agri and PDR Committees.

    The only point I would venture to make is that it’s a very small world we live in.

    I particularly like this KING for her spunk and willingness tolay it on the line, whether anyone is listening or not.

    Let me know when Logan or Connors decide to become part of the debate. You can ask ALL the questions. All I’m interested in are the answers.

  • lgross

    my view – not if the answers to the questions are
    authoratative and referenceable.

    my belief has been that a valuable and long
    standing tradition of the free press and reporting is
    to get at the facts with the issues but maybe that’s
    just me playing turnip falling off the truck – again.

  • lgross

    is she doing this as a private citizen supporting Mr.
    Logan or is she doing this in the employ of the

    I know Mav.. I’m such a drag asking all these
    questions … and geeze the “voice” doesn’t seem to
    know squat…

    Oh Ms. King? Did you say C500? gazooks!!!

  • MAVRICKinc

    Larry: you’re having far too much fun making fun of the entire population of Spotsylvania County.

    Your comic presence is starting to become frayed at the edges. You’re becoming silly and the only progrees you seem capable of making is confined to a circle.

    You are the Voice of Spotsylvania County. You also serve on the FAMPO Transportation Advisery Group. What have I gotten wrong so far?

    Otherwise, why would you ask me whether anything I’ve published to this blog or any other, is true or not? You’ve been invited numerous times that if you don’t get it, make your own calls.

    When you tell your readership that you didn’t know Supv. Hap Connors is Chair of the Executive Committee of the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Committee, you’re misleading the public.

    When you ask your readers if this fact is true or not merely adds insult to injury; not to me, but them.

    When you ask how this counld be true when Spotsylvania “is not a member”…of VRE…I have to ask how much more obfuscation can you possibly bring to the table? When you cap this off with “the things I don’t know just continue to stack up”…speaks volumes of your allegiance to what is, not what could be.

    Your follow-up second thought, June 18, 2009 that you are “starting to feel like one or two folks were sold a bill of goods on this deal…be interested to hear the real skinny on this at some point…”

    So, what’s holding you back? The truth of the matter, or do you wish to remain a clown in deference to your proclamation you may have fallen off the turnip truck more than once?

    If you want to know anything about about Ms. Mann’s role in transcribing Supv. Logan’s VRE Summit Hearing, you can always call her; 540-507-7006. She’s quite capable of answering any questions you might consider asking.

    My reference to Brenda King’s edtoral comments made no mention of her affiliations beyond the fact that she Chairs the Spotsylvania County Historical Preservation Committee.

    I’ll assume you know something about Mrs. King that I know nothing about, beyond what appears to be some kind of preconceived notion or predjudice you have about her contributions to Spotsylvania County.

    I found her editoral comments very informative and enlightening and worth the read of all Spotsylvania County citizens; all 120, 000. What does the Committee of 500, while not a fan, have anything to do her findings and conclusions, or is your notion someting you stick in both ears, for want of not knowing rather than confessing the fact there are more sides to the truth than you’re willing to make avaiiable for public consumption.

    I call it transparency. You call it a question that you already know the answer to but can’t bring yourself to level with anyone who needs answers.

    Since I showed up at Supv. Logan’s VRE Summit Hearing which was also attended by yourself. I was genuinely curious what other members of the audience took from this staged event.

    Apparently Alan Branfman showed and provided us with his take on the VRE Summit hearing. While I don’t recall seeing anyone in attendance wearing blinders, his letter to the edition did show up in today’s FLS (June 19, 2009- “VRE: A little tax could do county great good.” with his take on the VRE agenda and Supv. Logan’s VRE Summit hearing.

    I found myself standing in Mr. Branfman’s shoes when he described the VRE Summit haering as “sparcely attended.” From that point on, I found myself standing again in my shoes and concluded Mr.Branfman must have been left in the tall grass with the same script he was provided years ago.

    I firmly believe his recollections should be read from a critical point of view. After I finished reading of all his comments, it ocurred to me
    to ask, at what point was the light swith turned from ON to OFF. I went to read his proclamation again, but couldn’t make it past his 1st paragraph.

    When he made it to…”But there are still folks who DON”T WANT TO BE CONFUSED WITH THE FACTS”, I didn’t see much reason to continue. Why? Mr. Branfman made no mention of the VRE Master Agreement (details) which was only partly addressed by the Summit panalist, in very clear terms. Perhaps, Mr. Branfman had left the meeting when this issue was being addressed.

    Larry, you were there but can’t stand the thought of turning your light switch from OFF to ON.

    I sincerely hope you have been entertained by your banter, but the truth is still waiting to be told. Make your contribution with what you really know, or continue to play the clown.

    Simply said…your call not mine.

  • lgross

    PRTC Commissioners
    Executive Committee
    The Honorable Michael C. May

    is this the PRTC Commission that we are talking
    about? Perhaps I am confused again.

    ” Since I showed up at Supv. Logan’s VRE Summit
    Hearing which was also attended by yourself.”

    pretty sure I was not there Mav…

    On the proffers AND UDA issue – check out the
    BOS Agenda for June 23!

  • MAVRICKinc

    Larry: I stand corrected.

    I mistakenly took GRICE’s attendance at the Summit hearing and blog comments as yours. I’m reminded to read the small print on who’s blogging, who’s not and who was really in attendance at the Summit.

    I also stand corrected on who sits as the Chair of the PRTC Commissioners. While the Chair was not present at the Summit Hearing, Mr Logan had PRTC’s Secretary, Matt Kelly, Fredericksburg City Counsil (Member VRE Operations Board) and their Treasurer, Paul Milde,III, Stafford County BOS, and Vice Chairman VRE Operations Board to take questions from Supervisor Logan at his VRE Summit Hearing of June 11, 2009.

    While in attendance at the Joint Meeting of the George Washington Regional Commission and the Fredericksburg Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (FAMPO)

    I received a copy of the George Washington Regional Commission Resolution No. 09-10 laying claim that the George Washington Regional Commission approved a new slate of officers to serve as the Executive Committee: Chairman-Henry “Hap” Connors, Jr. SPOTSYLVANIA COUNTY.

    I don’t expect it will take me much longer before I have a list of players who conduct business for VRE and their business agendas.

    I think I got it straight this time around and promise to do better in the future. For now, I’m working on the VRE Master Agreement that no one knows about except those who voted it in without referendum or public knowledge the MA even existed, much less what this part of joining VRE calls for. Since I stand to be corrected, I’ll wait until someone in Stafford County or Fredericksburg stand up and confirm otherwise.

    Until then you may want to continue unraveling Fredericksburg’s taxing agenda. I would join you but I havemy hands full at this end of the equation.

  • lgross

    …in my opinion was good. There was some overt cheerleading but there were also some answers that cleared up some misconceptions.

    However – in listening to issue of adding an earlier train – that was tied to more VRE riders – expected to come from outlying jurisdictions such as Caroline
    and King George – the issue of increased use of local roads to support folks driving to the Spotsylvania VRE station was finessed …

    Again.. the discussion went to the idea of VRE taking cars off of roads – alluded to cars off of I-95 but not cars off of local roads – which, in fact, would
    increase if new ridership came from outlying locales – on the fringes of South Spotsylvania, Northern and Eastern Caroline and King George.

    We have had for a few years a proposed development in Caroline – called Haymount that was advertising in the Washington Market as essentially living in
    the country and riding commuter rail to work.

    The obvious question is – is that use of VRE – essentially an enabler of more sprawl?

    How can VRE be placed in Spotsylvania without it attracting even more folks who want their version of “affordable homes” (NoVa perspective) – homes
    outside of the designated growth areas in the rural areas which currently do not charge proffers?

    As Mr. Jackson says – how do we encourage “good” growth and avoid the “dumb” growth.

    If we approve VRE – are we approving more “dumb”, uncontrolled growth that will increase taxes to pay for the infrastructure needed to support that growth?

  • MAVRICKinc

    Agenda downloaded last Fiday. Since no one gets to say anything I decided to watch the 6pm meeting. Beyond the “consent agenda” the only matters of interest are the Athey-Vogel Legislative study on UDAs, chopping up the stimulus money and saving local business.

    By the way, I’m on notice that Spotsylvania County will be sending the DVD rendition of the June 11 Summit to two of our local libraries. I’ve asked to purchase a copy of the DVD from County but have yet to hear back.

    Whether you know it or not, you just opened a door to all things found behind closed doors. Rather than jumping in with too much information I’m going to stick with the VRE Master Agreement for now and connect, work my way to all things that can only be described as Spotsylvania County’s heritage, legacy and more lost causes. We’ll meet somewhere in the middle. I graze on both sides of the fence and have no political agenda. No brands on my hide.

  • lgross

    The Athey-Vogel Legislative study is potentially the uninvited 600lb gorilla in the growth management arena if it veers
    towards replacing the current “voluntary” cash proffer system with a legislative dictate.

    If one really wants to get bound up about politics – picture this – a State-imposed law, crafted with abundant input from
    the development community that essentially outlaws cash proffers and effectively requires localities to approve rezones
    with impact fees set by the state.

    There’s been problems with how cash proffers are calculated with different methodologies and different fees from year
    to year and form county to county .. creating, in effect, a wild-wild west approach (certainly in the minds of developers).

    Virginia – being a Dillon-Rule State … has essentially abdicated Dillion-Rule Philosophy on cash proffers in that
    normally Dillon-Rule pretty much dictates what counties can and cannot do in many land-use circumstances and
    generally does not allocate discretionary taxing authority – which is what some developers believe cash proffers are, in

    But the interesting thing here is that the state could intervene and change the rules – but they really cannot force
    localities to approve rezoning proposals – or can they? with UDAs?

    I’ve probably got the above all balled up so if folks see flaws in what I’m saying.. have at it.

  • gramps

    my gut reaction is that the county would be wise to stay away from an awful lot of this fed stimulus money. The fed is awful good at changing the rules in mid-stream and in placing their own definitions on “requirements.” The “up-front” investment (before reimbursement) is a very scary proposition. I recall the old saying, “when the government says it wants to ‘help you’, you best ought to run the other way as fast as you can.”

  • lgross

    I got the same flavor but I thought the idea of the stimulus was to funnel the
    money to the localities (and other entities) who would, in turn, spend it to create
    jobs and buy products and services (which would create jobs)….

    … but listening to the dialog.. it sounded like the poison apple……

    so… all of this talk about the tremendous deficit that Obama has created with the
    stimulus -… it sorta sounds like.. he intends to get every penny back… and then


  • gramps

    Oh, I think the idea is correct. However, the deficit will be there since any money not making it into the hinterlands will be spent elsewhere by our ever “vigilant” leaders.

  • lgross

    yup – it will be spent but it looks like that the takers of it will be more
    desperate than say a county like Spotsylvania – which is not a bad

  • MAVRICKinc

    This past Monday I attended a FAMPO “Technical Committee” meeting which provides for “Public Comments.” In lieu of the most recent, tragic rail incident on Metro Line, I thought I would ask what role VRE, its Master Agreement with Contributing and Participating Membership provisions would play in underwriting some part or share of this tragic even.

    I recited from page 14 of the VRE Master Agreement which provides under B. FUNDING OF INSURANCE PLAN (1): and reads:

    “In order for the COMMISSIONS (Northern Virginia Transportation Commission and Potomac and Rappahanonock Commission) to carry out these obligations and fo no other purpose, the PARTICIPATING JURISDICTIONS hereby agree to provide in the manner and in the amounts set forth IN THE ANNUAL BUDGET, sufficient monies to fund the costs of the foregoing insurance plan. Such costs shall include ANY and ALL cost associated with securing, maintaining, and administering the insurance plan, ALL costs for defense and settlement of claims, suits, causes or actions covered by the plan, and shall specifically include, but not be limited to, the cost to purchase commercial insurance, to participate in alternative insurance mechanisms( it’s called REinsurance…think of AIG when you ponder this mechanism) and to obtain the services of the Division of Risk Management as administrator of the insurance plan.”

    Chair to this meeting advised me that the FAMPO Technical Committee does not take questions from the public, just comments. He confessed he, nor his Committee had answers to my question, but that question could be best answered by my Spotsylvania County Administrator’s Office, Doug Barnes or the George Washington Regional Commission Executive Committee Chairman, Henry “Hap” Connors of Spotsylvania County. I thanked the Committee, took my seat, and took in the rest of the Committe’s working agenda.

    Since Supvs. Connors, Pitts and Skinner and Doug Barnes, and members of our Planning Department play serious roles in the FAMPO/VRE and County Land-Use Agendas, it occurs to me, any one of them or all, would have an answer to the question but continue to maintain silence every time the VRE Master Agreement comes up in conversation. Maybe Attorney Stroman has an answer, but doesn’t take meetings or questions from the public.

    I think I’ll start with page one of this Master Agreement and work my way to page 20, where the contract language ends. In the interim, I suggest that Spotsylvania citizens download the VRE Master Agreement from the FAMPO website. If you don’t have download capabilites find someone who does. Knowing what this agreement provides requires reading the document. If the legal mumbo-jumbo is beyond comprehension find someone you trust and have them provide you with a translation. If that doesn’t work call your District BOS representative or Doug Barnes, our County administrator.

    FOOTNOTE: Matt Kelly, Fredericksburg Town Council is stepping down from his many posts for a well deserved vacation from politics. I’ve been assured by the highest authoritiesa that Mr. Kelly will be sorely missed by FAMPO and its many layered transportation and Land-Use Agendas.

    More to come….

  • MAVRICKinc


    “A. PARTIES: Master Agreement entered INTO BETWEEN and AMONG the Northern Virginia Transportation COMMISSION and the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation COMMISSION”… and identifies current PARTICIPATING and CONTRIBUTING members.

    Spotsylvania County has yet to join VRE and has held the line for 20 years.

    Every member of the Spotsy. BOS, Offices of the County Attorney, some members of the Planning Commission, Planning Department and FAMPO representatives, including Supv. Connors, Skinner, Pitts and County Administrator Doug Barnes have had this MA in their posession for months and years.

    Supv. Marshall has known about this document and its terms for years, even the most current July 2007 amended version.

    My question is why these county employees and elected officials chose not put this VRE Master Agreement on line or before the public before May 22, 2009, when Spotsy asked FAMPO to post this contract on their website and not Spotsylvania County’s website. Run a records check and you’ll find that Stafford County never identified that this MA even existed. Their Board of Supervisors sold only the gas tax and failed to mention to the public that the gas tax and this Master Agreement come with serious conditions, not the least of which brings serious impacts to County Budget’s.

    Frederickburg followed suit and unilaterally joined VRE with a counsil vote. Fredericksburg, without sharing with its citizens that the gas tax ALSO included the contract terms of the VRE Master Agreement. Even the Committee of 500 ventured publically to sell the virtues of joining VRE based solely on their number crunching and “gas tax” dialogue, without any mention of the VRE Master Agreement or that it even existed

    The VRE Master Agreement does’nt even mention, reference or acknowledge that a gas tax is not even mentioned as part of the contract language that comes with signing on to VRE and their Master Agreement.

    “C. PURPOSES of Master Agreement:

    (1) to provide for the OPERATION and MAINTENANCE of commuter rail service by acquiring the NECESSARY CAPITAL EQUIPMENT and FINANCING…to provide for the construction of necessary platforms, stations, parking areas, storage facilities, and ALL OTHER FACILITIES NECESSARY for the operation of commuter rail service; to establish an adequate of insurance, and to pay for the operation and MAINTENANCE of a commuter rail service project constisting of trains making round trips on each of TWO LINES originating in the Manasses area and the Fredericksburg area to Union Station in the District of Columbia….”

    When we get to BUDGET formulation for PARTICIPATING members you’ll have a better idea of the impact of this language to Spotsylvania County’s budget agendas, were we to join VRE.

    Keep in mind that more than one PARTICIPATING member now pay their share of being a member with VRE out of their GENERAL FUND since they’re not getting anything back on the gas tax mechanism.

    I believe Stafford not too far from allocating monies from their General Funds because of diminished gas tax returns on investment with VRE, because of the Capital Improvement spending of the VRE and its Associated members.

    The dialogue between Stafford and Spotsylvania that’s been going on for some time should be testament enough that VRE is not everthing it was cracked up be. But who knew a Master Agreement even existed?

    I’ll conclude here with “PURPOSES: (2) to agree and COMMIT to a complete financial plan, and the procedure by which annual budgets shall be developed that are satisfactory to the PARTICIPATING and CONTRIBUTING JURISDICTIONS.”

    Once we get to the 6 year budget formulation on page 6, under III. FINANCIAL PLANS AND BUDGET, you’ll see how “purpose” translates into lots of money we SHALL budget for joining VRE and has nothing to do with return on investment at your local gas station.

    (3): a hollow contractual promise. (4) will wait for my return to this subject, unless I fall down and can’t get up again.

  • MAVRICKinc

    The meeting minutes of the FAMPO May 29, 2009 Technical Committee Meeting have been approved on June 26, 2009 and have been put on line at the FAMPO website.

    SEE: “Resolution 09-16…Endorsing Regionwide conduct of LAND-USE SENARIO PLANNING and directing staff to conduce same. (On the first Thursday of each month, the Chief Administrative Officers meet at GWRC [George Washington Regional COMMISSION]. The next meeting is June 4. The Regional Land Use Scenario Planning Program will be an agenda item at that meeting WITH THE GOAL OF INCREASING LOCALITIES’ COMFORT LEVEL WITH THIS PLANNING.)”

    And we thought/think our Spotsylvania County BOSs are in control of our near future.

    Discussion Items deserve a critical read. Our Mr. Rodney White , Spotsylvania County was present as a member of FAMPO with the right to vote. Mr. White can best be described as one of the County representatives who brought this county to vote for the 2005 Bond Referendum at $144 million, which we were later to discover was 45% short of what it should have been.

    Under STAFF REPORT (page 10 of these approved FAMPO meeting mnutes, you can read for yourself: “On June 11 (2009) The Regional Transportation Forum, at Belmont, with Mary Lee Carter, Mark Dudenhefer (Stafford Cty./ FAMPO Executive), Matt Kelly F’burg Town Council and FAMPO Executive member) AND OTHERS, and in the Spotsylvania Courty Courtland District(Supv. Jerry Logan), a VIRGINIA RAIL EXPRESS (VRE) Summit with Edd Houck, Matt Kelly and others will occur. A VRE Summit link exists on FAMPO’s Web Site PLUS FAMPO’s Web site has facts on VRE.”

    Who wants to see the meeting minutes recorded at Belmont, that was conducted prior to the staging of Supv. Logan’s VRE Summit meeting of June 11, 2009 with his Courtland District voting constituents.

    Please feel free to to read on. Somewhere toward the end of the meeting minutes you’ll find your copy of the VRE STRATEGIC PLAN.

    Back to the VRE Master Agreement, which county resident’s have no say or referendum representation.

    The Spotsylvania County BOS and Office of County Attorney, and County Administrator are the only ones who can decide whether we join VRE or not and they have all the details, but continue to hide this knowlege from public notice or comprehension.

    Simply said, when the BOS have their “Public Hearing” on VRE, you will have only 3 minutes at the podium to yell as loud as you want on whether we join or not join VRE. This is Democracy at its best. I prefer to think of our County Government as an “oligarchy” and taxation without representation. I, like many others have witnessed for the past two years how oligarchys are constructed.

    I’ll give you a hint. At the outset, January 2007, our BOS chose to eliminate 13 citizen oversite committees, who’s services came to US “free-of-charge.”

    Senator Houck confirmed at Supv. Logan’s VRE Summit, that to change our laws on our ability to have a voice in County business by way of referendum requires the BOS to formulate a bill, that he would received, but to put it through the General Assembly system, the request would most likely be dead on arrival.

    Simply said, the only thing we’re good for is just another funding resource to underwrite the visions of the power brokers of this County, with the BOS serving as the wall we keep butting our heads against. It’s unfortunate that the only thing we get back for our money is a headache.

    VRE Master Agreement, page one: C. PURPOSE
    (4) ” to establish and organize responsibility for the ADMINISTRATION and OPERATION of commuter rail services anf for the administration of CONTRACT, LEASES and OTHER AGREEMENTS entered into by the COMMISSIONS for such services.”

    Sound familiar? I just described what it’s like to be a citizen in Sponsylvania County, without the rights to change anything in the County business ethic and “businees as usual” business model as the only business model to be offered to County citizens.

    If we’re in fear of being found out or expressing and opinion different from those who rule us, maybe it’s best that we live in a County without rights and remain comfortable as one of silent majority.

    PURPOSE (5) will take us from page one(1) to page 2 and will be presented next time around.

    If the citizens of Spotsylvania

    Attorney Strohman made it abundantly that the citizens of Spotsylvania County have no legal recourse to question any part of joining VRE or not, much the same way as Stafford County and Fredericksburg signed on to VRE with no citizen participation, except to embrace a gas tax dialogue, with no mention of the terms and contract conditions of the VRE Master Agreement.

    Anyone who might want to question my comments, thoughts and findings, just call Supv. Milde of Stafford County, or Matt Kelly, F’burg Town Council for their imput, or just rerun Supv. Logan’s VRE Summit Meeting of June 11, 2009.

  • GuvLuvr

    Have just perused the Master Agreement.
    Thanks nailed it. Logan needs to read this to the Committee of 500.

  • MAVRICKinc

    Supervisor Logan and every Board member need to read the VRE Master Agreement to their constituents and county citizens. The Committee of 500 and their published principles never made it past the gas tax funding mechanism. Since the VRE Master Agreement reared its ugly head, the Committe of 500 have remained silent.

    I can attest to the fact I provided the Committee of 500 a copy of the VRE Master Agreement and will conclude, at this moment, they have nothing to say or sell beyond their gas tax sales pitch.

    Why don’t you scan the VRE MA and send it to you friends, and see what the think.

  • MAVRICKinc

    C. PURPOSE is still the prelude to all things that VRE has to offer this County and any other County who joined with absolutely no understanding the VRE Master Agreement even existed and have no recourse to change, modify or withdraw from this contract without serious budgetary consequences.


    Who out there knows what a blank check looks like? If you don’t, put pen in hand and fill in the blanks, but leave the amount blank, give it to VRE and let them fill in the amount.

    Page 2: “PURPOSE (6) to provide for land acquistion, the construction of station sites, platforms and parking facilities at MUTUALLY AGREED LOCATION, and the MAINTENANCE of rolling stock; and”

    Read ahead to page 10 STATION SITES AND CAPITAL GRANT FUNDING: “B. Construction of stations, platforms, and parking lots SHALL be the responsibility of the PARTICIPATING JURISDICTIONS in which are located, except as otherwise stated herein…”

    I’m going to take a trip to the Fredericksburg station site to see how much progress the Town Council of Fredericksburg have made in bringing their station site (owned by CSX) to just look like something that might cave in, at any moment. Since Fredericksburg is still using their gas tax refund to pay down the debt service and cost of their paking garage.


    I can only assume, after this read, that we have a critical working knowlege of knowing what an “open-end” contract looks like and inures only to the benfit of many contract entities we have no knowlege of or what it’s going to cost, from year to year.

    Please recall Supv. Logan’s question to his VRE Summit “panel. He asked if the county fell on hard times and couldn’t come up with the County’s share of the VRE yearly budget, was it possible to amend the contract language of the VRE Master Agreement so that Spotsylvania County could be protected from having to use “general funds” to cover any shortfall in payment of their share of the VRE contract revenues.

    If you don’t recall, the answer to Supv. Logan’s question, after slipping and slidding around the answer came up as NO.

    What part of NO doesn’t anyone understand? The VRE Master Agreement is cast in concrete. What saddens me most is that the Spotsylvania County Board of Supervisors knew what the answer would be, years ago. We’re just catching the last act.

    I’ll let you read D. EFFECTIVE DATE AND TERM (page 2 to 3) from your own copy of the VRE MA (boring) at least until you “(4) Term– This Agreement SHALL continue indefinitly unless terminated sooner as provided herein.”

    Anyone interested in what “sooner” means I would refer you to page 19…XI. WITHDRAWAL FROM MASTER AGREEMENT. Just above, page 19 take a look at X. NON-APPROPRIATION OF FUNDS. While the language may look like a deal breaker, I was mosat interested in the part that reads: The failure of a PARTICIPATING or CONTRIBUTING JURISDICTION to make its payment SHALL not relieve the other jurisdictions of their obligations hereunder. The COMMISSIONS in their SOLE DISCRETION may refuse to provide service to any PARTICIPATING JURISDICTION that fails to appropriate and pay its share of the cost of commuter rail service.”

    Again, is there something about NO that we can’t quite put our head around?

    Wait until we get to XII. CHANGES AND AMENDMENTS. The answer is still NO.

  • MAVRICKinc

    Dan: I’ll continue my VRE oversite dialogue on your June 25, 2009 blog site under “Comprehensive Plan…Big Deal?” Apparently I’ve worn down the dynamic duo to such a point they can only speak to their version of censorship. No surprises. After all, they made it abundantly clear at the outset they are the “company” guys in charge of chaos and more confusion. I wish them well. Should they ever return to the field of play, I, for one, will be caused to question where their loyalties lie.

    See you at the June 25,2009 blog site.