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Jeff Branscome writes about Spotsylvania County.

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Battle of the Minds On Toll Authority: Gary Jackson vs Hap Connors

The toll authority for Spotsylvania County and Fredericksburg got its first step of approval Tuesday night in Spotsylvania. But two members, Gary Jackson and T.C. Waddy, voted against creating the authority.

There really is no harm in creating the authority right now, but Mr. Jackson also points out that he doesn’t think there is any harm if the Board decided not to create it right now.

Jackson demanded additional details about the toll road proposal, or alignment 5 of the Outer Connector. He said that officials with the Fredericksburg Area Metropolitan Planning Organization haven’t been consistent with the estimated traffic the road will carry. He said a letter from FAMPO to the feds in January cited 20,000 to 30,000 vehicle trips a day on the proposed toll road. On Tuesday night, the number ballooned to 35,000 vehicle trips a day.

Jackson didn’t understand where FAMPO got that estimation from, and after their presentation Tuesday night, neither did the public.

Since Tuesday, Mr. Jackson and Supervisor Hap Connors have been battling it out over e-mail.

At about 6 a.m. Wednesday, Jackson sent an e-mail to county staff and some supervisors saying that he intends to review all materials associated with the toll road and interchange study “that you and FAMPO have this far refused to provide.”

Jackson said this road has been studied for years and he isn’t sure there’s much work product. He wanted supervisors to pause on the toll road authority until FAMPO returns with documents that show a toll road to bypass State Route 3 is financially feasible.

How much will the toll be? Tuesday night, Lloyd Robinson of FAMPO used a scenario of charging $1 for the toll. With the 35,000 vehicle trips a day, that’s $35,000 a day and enough to borrow half of the cost of the almost $300 million project.

But that’s not even really an estimate. It was just a scenario used as an example.

Mr. Connors said no one has been refused the work product for the toll road and interchange.

“We asked for and received a briefing last night, and now after requesting it at the hearing, Lloyd Robinson and Doug [Barnes] agreed to provide you and other Board members any and all material associated with the project,” Connors said.

Mr. Jackson’s beef is why wasn’t this material provided during the public hearing? When I spoke with him yesterday he said it is an open government issue for him: If there’s a public hearing on creating an authority that can charge a toll to use a road, then all of the details about this project, including price, toll charges and alignments, should be included.

Mr. Connors sent out another e-mail this morning that said creating the Authority and the toll road are two separate issues.

“Our approval the other night does not bind us to the parkway or anything else for that matter,” he wrote. “However, as I also said, it does send a message to the feds and to state officials that we hear them clearly when they tell us to devise creative solutions that focus on regionalism, alternative funding mechanisms and public-private  partnerships – if we want our projects to move up the chain. That is what we are doing, and we don’t have to agree with all of that or the state of transportation affairs, but it is what it is, and it is in our best interest to move forward.”

Connors no longer is on the FAMPO Board. Benjamin Pitts and Jerry Logan now serve the county on that panel.

Mr. Jackson replied that he is not buying Connors’ “spin on this kerfuffle.”  (Hat tip to Jackson for using the word kerfuffle)

“I believe I made it clear at the previous public hearing that I wanted to see the data in support of this 3 year, publicly funded toll road/interchange study.  Instead, the board and public is presented with a warmed over “executive summary” and a scolding by Mr. Robinson when I questioned the absence of any hard data.”

Mr. Jackson and Mr. Robinson weren’t seeing eye to eye Tuesday night, and at times the conversation turned defensive.

“Look, the toll road authority ordinance passed.  Game over.  The usual players win again.  Now, can I please read the report so I can try to assess the consequences.  That’s all,” Jackson wrote in his e-mail.

Stay tuned….


  • bhaas

    I agree with Mr. Jackson this time. What is the rush here? In addition, I thought Lloyd Robinson was downright rude.

  • http://Z2KS LarryG

    I respect Mr. Jacksons’ judgment … usually he has a point .. before others has recognized it…

    It would have been nice for the public to know what this toll road authority can do (and not do) BEFORE the meeting powerpoint…

    I do not recall seeing it in the agenda…. packet…made available online. did I miss it?

  • Martin (Marty) Work

    I’m signed in under CAPTCHA RCE8 which should change when I enter “Submit Comment”, pull up an error code and diect me back to yet another/different CAPTCHA Code.

    So, I’ll do this in pieces in order to confine the FLS “Gotcha Code damage to a minimum.

    Not that it really matters much, but Larry and Bill may want to pull up the Spotsylvania County BOS “AGENDA” for April 13, 2010. You will see how the BOS tucked into their 6:30 pm Public Presentations…No.9 (last on the public presentation agenda) where they introduced the BOS’s introduction for adopting Chapter 25, George Washington Toll Authority, under the terms of the State adoption of their Chapter 801 in April 2009.

    If you were to review the televised version of theb April 13, 2010 meeting, you would see for youself, NO ONE person stood to make a public presentation on this proposal or even asked how Chapter 25 of the County Ordinance read or Chapter 801 of the State’s adoption which is 10 pages long and lethal IMO.

    The BOS April 27,2010 scheduled meeting will find the BOS adoption process at the 6:10 pm “Public Hearings” and described under the same heading listed in the BOS’s #9 in their April 13, 2010 meeting

    The April 27, 2010 Executive Summary provides, in part, they have achieved their requirement of having two (2) public hearings and would move to a vote on Mqay 11, 2010., which they have also accomplished, without a single word from the public. Why? Only the BOS and FAMPO representative knew anything about this proposal.

    Supv Connors has sufficiently described, in his public commentary, “it is what it is, and it is in OUR? best interest to move forward.”

    There’s a lot more, but I’ll stop here for the moment and RESUME later. By separate copy I’ll supply Larry and Bill with copies of what I have, so there won’t be any more excuses, on their part or anyone elses, that the BOS continue to keep the public at arms length, and have done so in a willful manner, not condusive to best business practices or protocols.

  • Sillyyouare1957

    LarryG, do you want government to do everything for you??? All you have to do is read House Bill No. 2099 and it will answer all of your questions….You can find that information on the Virginia General Assembly website. As for Mr. Jackson, I think he is taking this issue to extremes as he does so many times !!! The Toll Road Authority is just the beginning of a long process that will determine if a toll road can even justify itself. The State has put local governments in the road building business and I expect our local elected leaders to begin to address our transportation issues. Anyone running for re-election in the Virginia General Assebly will not get my vote, because they have failed to address our transportation needs. It is that simple….

  • Martin (Marty) Work

    Have no idea where SILLY has his/her head buried but sound bites just don’t cover it anymore. HB 2099, Chapter 801 is a nightmare if it were ever allowed to underwrite the County’s George Waashington Toll Authority, which made it through “public presentation” without the public knowledge or acknowledgement a presentation was being made.

    Spotsylvania County has over $100M in transportation funds left over that the BOS received by way of a 2005 referenedum, but can’t spend because it translates directly increased property taxes. Five years after the fact, the BOS bought $27M in Go-Bonds at 3,3 % interest to underwrite Cosner and Silvers road projects and THEY are back asking fo another $15.5M to EXTEND their road projects because they can’t obtain financing in the open market. Sad story?

    Not really. The BOS got their 3 penny tax increase to cover their bet and keep their special interest groups MOVING FORWARD.

    Without government assistance? Which government is Silly refering to? Spotstlvania County is a government. What are their elected officials doing that truly represents the best interest of their citizens and community?

    THEY have a “FOCUS GROUP” without minutes that no one is allowed to attend. the BOS like to refer to this GROUP as “staff” who are assigned and tasked to conduct business for the County, that no one knows about, including the press, Larryg or Bill.

    Supv. Jackson is the least of anyone elses problems. This BOS has a voting block that makes deals BEFORE they ever come to a vote. Who’s left out of this loop. WE are.

    These silly little games that get played out are merely for your entertainment.

    Let’s see what FAMPO, aka Fredericksburg Area Metropolitan Planning Organization has to say for itself.
    Supv Connors resigned his post as Chairman of the FAMPO Policy Committee and had Supv. Pitts installed as the new Chairman of FAMPO.

    Doug Barnes, County Administrator, serves on this same FAMPO Board. So where is the disconnect between FAMPO conducting their business and the Spotsy BOS claiming they are in the dark about any business being conducted by FAMPO? If we were to ask Supv Connors, Pitts, Skinner, Logan and Doug Barnes what they don’t know about FAMPO, what do you think their response would or necessarily should be if WE were to ask?

    The current BOS have all the leverage they need to make Jackson go away, but how about the rest of US? If you or any member of the public were to attend FAMPO meetings you would better understand what, if any information, is ever passed along to the public through their Couny elected
    officials who conduct busines on several sides of a door that does not permit entry.

    Lloyd Robinson is FAMPO. Whatever he knows goes directly to our elected officials attending regularly scheduled monthly meetings at FAMPO headquarters in downtown Fredericksburg VA. So, why the disconnect between FAMPO meetings, and a wealth of information that never makes it to public forum except in staged events that only Connors, Skinner, Silver, Cosner, Logan, Pitts and Barnes know anything about but will not discuss, even in polite conversation.

    Larryg is a member of FAMPO, but I don’t see where he makes any efforts to bring FAMPO’s Transportation Advisory Group’s intelligence to the public. Although I will admit FAMPO’s public outreach program deserves a lot of credit for being put into place in 2010, but the proof of whether it works or not is still in the pudding.

    There’s more, but I’m settled down with an excellent Merlot and prefer not to be anymore distracted than I’ve already been today. But, be assured, there will be a tomorrow we’ll ALL get to celebrate.

  • Wiseman

    Battle of the minds? I feel for Connors, Jackson will run circles around him.

  • http://Z2KS LarryG

    @silly – Well Silly, if the bill is available for all to see, then what was the purpose of the briefing to the BOS an the questions and answers all about?

    do you want govt to do everything for you?

    Why does the BOS get a presentation and the opportunity to ask questions and the public does not?

    If you want the public to be part of this process – to understand that the authority is a necessary component of future road efforts, then you have to seek buy-in from the public.

    You won’t get it this way.

    All you will accomplish with this approach is to produce more and more folks with the attitude of Mr. Jackson.

    It’s not a good process and instead of leading to solutions, it will lead instead to controversy, and a lack of trust in going forward.

    You have a bad public process here and it actually undermines the idea of citizens being involved in the process of deciding what to do about local roads.

    More of the same approach we’ve had for years – and indicative of our efforts on the Harrison Road Connector.

    The proof of a good public process is – success.

  • Sillyyouare1957

    Well Martin (Marty) Work you have “once again” proven to me without any doubt that you really don’t know or have a clue as to what you are talking about. To begin with HB 2099 is the passed General Assembly legislation which outlines the establishment and operation process of the George Washington Toll Road Authority. This legislation mandates how the “Authority” will operate and who will operate it. If you don’t like the law, contact your General Assembly Members. You also stated that Mr. Connors resigned from FAMPO as Chairman and that Supervisor Pitts is now Chairman of FAMPO. That statement is “totally” untrue. Yes, Supervisor Connors did resign but Supervisor Pitts is not Chairman of FAMPO. Get your facts correct and then start writing with some knowledge as to what you are talking about.

  • Sillyyouare1957

    It is a shame that Spotsylvania County has two members of the Board of Supervisors (Connors and Jackson) conducting the people’s business in such a fassion. To me that acts of both are unprofessional and lack leadership. The exchange and tone of such e-mail message after the vote has been taken, making those emails available to the press, deserve both Supervisors to be reprimanded by the full Board of Supervisors.

  • http://Z2KS LarryG

    just FYI – as a member of FAMPO TAG, I have consistently taken every opportunity to urge a more robust public process for FAMPO – and they ARE doing better but still we need to not only stay the course but increase the efforts at engaging the public so that the public starts to better understand the role of FAMPO and regional decision-making and the reality that new local/regional roads are now our responsibility.

    And – I ADVOCATE a direct elected FAMPO rather than the current appointed leadership.

    FAMPO should be directly accountable to the citizens in the FAMPO region – ESPECIALLY if FAMPO is destined to be involved in collecting and/or spending tax revenues of any kind.

    Additionally, alternatively, I would support is referenda of regional road plans. In other words, let FAMPO put together the proposal but every road in the regional plan ought to be approved by the folks who will be paying for them.

    This is, by the way, the very reason why the two Transportation Authorities for NoVa and Hampton Roads were shot down by the Va Supreme Court – essentially that those authorities were given taxing authority – without any accountability such as direct elections or referenda.

    I strongly support both as a way to develop an accountable relationship between FAMPO and the citizens of the FAMPO region.

    In my view, the Toll Road Authority – did not seek public buy-in but rather did the usual.. “you have been duly notified” type of public process and I just don’t think that is a good process.

    We absolutely must engage the public – ON THEIR TERMS if we really do want some kind of a unifying approach to regional transportation challenges.

    If we set up a process where we attempt to “tell” the people what will be done – it will likely fail and not before one or more politicians are seriously damaged as a result.

  • http://Z2KS LarryG

    I would submit to SILLY that the email exchange between the BOS – is, in fact, indicative of a public dialog if they were provide that opportunity.

    It’s not unprofessional to argue the merits of how we should process this, in my view.

    I do not subscribe to the view that politicians should “decide” for us at all and would remind SILLY just how many raging public controversies we have seen in this region when the public was ignored and decisions made before the public had the opportunity to really engage the issue.

    this are not short cuts here.

    I do understand that leadership is a needed component but we also need to understand that you cannot lead where people do not understand and do not want to go until they do understand.

    Mr. Jackson was performing that role in my view.

    He wants a thorough understanding of the implications and I’m will him on this.

    We have to build a relationship with the public that assures them that there is some level of accountability in the decision-making rather than the ” you will be told what we decide” mindset that seems to be favored by some.

  • SteveThomas

    I certainly hope that, when time comes to make decisions on moving forward to halting this project, all the folks who are interested in it here come out to speak at THAT public hearing. More involvement, more information is a very good thing!

  • http://Z2KS LarryG

    The message that is not getting out is that VDOT will not be building any more roads in our region and that we have some decisions to make with regard to that reality.

    That’s the message that Hap Connors is carrying. He knows that reality.

    We can decide to turn down this project but what will we do about our transportation needs in general ?

    Mr. Connors is frustrated that we have few to none options at the state level and apparently most of us do not believe that no more money is going to come from the state or VDOT for roads.

    If we continue to grow and we do not start planning for the roads that will be needed, what will happen?

    To me, THAT’s THE DISCUSSION that needs to take place in the public realm and so far.. our answer is to just say NO to any ideas of us paying for new roads.

    that’s not going to work.. we ought to know that, right?

    what is our answer to this challenge?

  • bhaas

    Here’s where we we are today. The state is out of the road business as of now and for the forseeable future. Education funding at the state level is getting tighter as we speak. In fact, all “state-to-local” funding is getting tighter as we speak. We need rural roads paved, we need existing roads maintained, we need(?) a toll road/connector and a new I-95 exit(?), we need a whole bunch of road money. We need more education money. We neeed money for public safety, public works, judicial administration, health & welfare, parks and recreation, and general govrnment. Everything.

    Now, where is this revenue going to come from? Not from the state and the GA is not about to raise state income taxes. Short of the county hitting the lottery for a one or two year infusion where is that money going to come from?

    I suspect we all know wherefrom it will come; I await your answers to this problem.

  • http://Z2KS LarryG

    I really would like to hear from others on what we should be doing now… coming up with our own approaches to funding roads .. or hoping the state will relent and raise the gas tax.

    If there is a 3rd option, I’m all ears.

  • Martin (Marty) Work

    Let’s go with Option #1 first and work our way down to Option/Door #3.

    Before resuming this discousre, I need a moment with our Editor in Chief; SILLY.

    I stand corrected. When the George Washingron Regional Commission, Chaired by Supv Benjamin Pitts at their monthly “joint meeting with FAMPO, Chaired by Matt Kelly (F’burg), with Vice-Chair Mary Greenlaw (F’burg/ realestate) they ALL, including Logan and Barnes,meet and sit down at the same table along with Stafford , Caroline and King Geroge County’s, elected officials. They ALL received the same paperwork to take home, or not, while planning for REGIONALIZATION to take place. I believe Larryg made position on all things REGIONAL abundantly clear. One draw back though, the regional population doesn’t have a clue what’s going on and the role citizens and their pocketbooks will play in THEIR PLANS.

    Rodney White, Spotsylvania Co. Chairs the FAMPO technical committee. Rodney isthe one who brought us the 2005 Transportation Referendum agenda, before the vote on $144M in transportation funding , that in part was to pave all those rural roads Supv.Waddy has been complaining about for the last 10 years. I know I was sold on the idea being presented by Spotsy. However, I was a little disappinted, after the vote was taken, the projection of $144M came in 45% lower than what it should have been. I do know and have read HB2099 and the Gen’l Assenbly’s contractual language, Chapter 801, 10 pages long, and
    find myself much more than Silly could ever hope to be.

    I don’t know who Silly is, but he/she apparently knows who I am, and still doesn’t get it. This world is full of “foregone conclusions.” So, what would it matter to me what Silly thinks he knows, when he/she hasn’t told us anything about a very important issue at hand, other than to reflect on his version of silly putty and serving up nothing more than distractions.

    Larry, when you use the term WE, who, in more precise terms are you refering to; US or THEM? Jackson has only described the tip of the iceburg. Who, among US wants to turn it over and see what’s really going on down below and STILL behind closed doors.

    So, my door number 1 is all about transparency. So far, the Spotsylvania County BOS, staff, and real parties of interest haven’t come forward and made it abundantly clear they don’t intend to, but THEY want US to move forward. Simply said Larry, WE can’t move forward, not on our own accord, because our elected leadership won’t let US in, until after the fact, and the deal has already been made without any participation from the public.

    Does the VRE and VRE Master Agreement ring any bells? Each member to the VRE Master Agreement passed on joining without a single member of the public knew this agreement even existed. So, let’s ALL join hands and wait for the other shoe to drop.

    If Steve wants to throw good feels at a brick wall, he might want to wait around to see those feelings drop to the ground for the umpteenth time.

    Bill, questions and dialogue are heart felt, but you must recognize the public have no solutions, since much of the information necessary to make an informed decision is denied to US by the Spotsylvania Government. The best we could ever do is make a guess. When Steve and DJ made their pitch, the only thing I heard back from Spotsy Government were answers Steve and DJ didn’t have a clue even existed. WHY? The Spotsylvania Government doesn’t make that information available to the public. WHY? My GUESS is, they have more to lose, iuf and when they were ever “found out.” Sort of like national reform for Wall Street, that has so far dug their heels in, from being found out.

    I want desperately to trust everyone. But when there are no qualified answers to simple question, I tend to raise flags, much tjhe same way as Silly and Larry want the flags brought down, and have the public salute their government for having brought us to this point in time.

    Dancing around this ISSUE is not going to move US forward, until local government is caused to play by the rules…not theirs…but ours. This challenge has been renewed over and over for years, but there’s always someone or group who supresses the notion that things are just not making any sense and maybe we should look into this current issues with both sides agreeing to listen and provide necessary information to support their version of critical thought. Simply said, guys and gals, if you don’t want answers, then stop asking the questions.

  • http://Z2KS LarryG

    I don’t know if Marty actually speaks in riddles or I just can’t get to the gist of his points…sometimes

    Here’s the VDOT 6-yr plan: If you put “Spotsylvania” and skip through it, you’ll see what will be done in the next 5 years and it boils down to widening Route 3 and the 208 Phase II and that is pretty much it.

    The trajectory is pretty clear.

    The shortfall issue with the bond referendum was simply this – the county found out that the dollar estimates in the VDOT 6yr plan were off by a LOT in part because at that time VDOT was not making annual adjustments for inflation.

    Spotsylvania is not the only county that does road referenda, by the way – many of the NoVa counties do also – multiple bond issues.

    How much we know or don’t know about the specifics of the VRE or toll road authority verbiage is certainly not unimportant but one can know 100% of both agreements and it won’t chance the transportation funding realities that we face.

    This is sort of like worrying if your car has had it’s timing chain checked lately as you discover your brakes have failed and you’re headed down a hill.


    I agree – we need to find out more about how a toll road authority would work – and as I said earlier, I’m not real keen on appointed members and I would like to know more about it’s ability to authorize debt of any kind that might have an adverse impact on County bond ratings.

    We do need to to know that and other things and on that matter, I am with Mr. Jackson and Marty .. let’s try to get it right.

  • Sillyyouare1957

    Martin (Marty) Work here you go again, making statements that have no fact behind them and are frankly very misleading. The public process for the Toll Road Authority was very open. There were two “PUBLIC” hearings advertised well in advance in the newspaper before any vote was taken by the Board of Supervisors. I didn’t see you or LarryG at either of the meetings. Both you and LarryG love to criticize just because the two of you fail to receive “special treatment.” Well grow up! The Board of Supervisors followed the legal requirements to the “Letter of the Law” everything has been done in the open and in the public’s eye. If you have real “PROOF” that it wasn’t, let’s see your “PROOF or just shut up. Stop your crying, you don’t derserve special treatment no more than the rest of us…..Either be part of the legal process or get out of the way. Our elected leaders have work to do. Government can not nor should it alter itself just to try to adhere to your moaning sounds of dislike because you didn’t like the way something was done or you can’t promote your own political agenda.

  • bhaas

    Sorry Marty…I do not agree that the public has no solutions. The fact is that the solution MUST come from the public; particularly the tax paying public.

    I understand your lament about certain practices adopted in the conduct of our local government. For the purposes of this discussion we must lay that lament aside; it has no relevance here.

    I am still waiting for some answers!

  • http://Z2KS LarryG

    @silly – well… it’s clear you are from the “you are duly notified, figure it out for yourself school” which is not a good public process in my view especially for new ways of doing business.

    It’s this kind of thing that breeds mistrust of public officials and even though I do not agree with Marty’s conspiratorial leanings, he represents others who think similarly.

    Following the “legal” requirements is NOT engaging the citizens, providing them the opportunity to ask questions, and in general understand better what is on the table.

    Just like the county strongly encourages developers to hold community meetings even though they don’t have to “legally”.

    This sounds just like VDOT’s attitude by the way and all it will get you is suspicion and hostility from people you probably would be better off supporting.

    It’s a bad governance attitude Silly. Providing citizens with information about things that affect them is NOT special treatment and it’s unfortunate that you represent that view.

    This is an exceptionally important juncture for citizens and taxpayers because we are faced with a future where our development decisions, more than ever, must take into account the transportation impacts since we will likely be picking up the tab for it.

    This is an opportunity for those who govern – to LEAD…

    or they can just say they’re “legal” unless someone can prove otherwise.

    That attitude essentially assures folks with Marty’s attitude and if you think it does not have consequences, you’d be wrong… it very much harms our ability to reach consensus on contentious and controversial issues – like the Harrison Connector.

    A good public process – is much more than what is “legal” and I would posit that the idea behind the developer community meetings is a better approach.

    Those who advocate the Toll Road Authority need to get out and provide citizens the opportunity to see that idea just as much as a developer needs to do the same for his projects.

    Your attitude is where we get our very ugly, usually unresolved controversies from in my view.

  • http://Z2KS LarryG

    Mr. Haas asked for some answers. Here goes my view. We have traditionally approved development.. commercial and residential.. without regard to what kind of transportation infrastructure would be needed – nor the cost of it.

    I would cite the simple traffic signal that have become necessary to serve dead-ended subdivisions.

    Such signals cost hundreds of thousands of dollars AND they degrade the transportation utility of the main road – creating congestion at these signals, especially when the do not operate optimally.

    We’ve always expected VDOT to figure out what to do about these things – and to pay for them.

    and if we CRAP up a road like Route 3 with poorly planned development.. to ultimately build us a multi-millions dollar bypass.

    No More.

    From now on, every decision we make to approve a new business or a new subdivision is likely to have consequences to people who drive and to taxpayers.

    This is not a RADICAL concept.

    Every City and Town in Va, plus two counties in Va, and thousands of counties in the other 45 states that hold the counties responsible for local roads do this on a regular basis.

    Fredericksburg routinely has to think “transportation impacts” every time a new development proposal is put before them.

    Spotsylvania has indeed demonstrated some forward-thinking leadership on the issues.

    They did present to the voters a bond referenda.

    They ARE getting involved in locally administered projects which not only offer some cost savings but as important, allow phasing on Spotsylvania’s terms and not VDOTs.

    Spotsylvania is now looking at more Special Transportation Districts for new commercial development and we see the benefit of new infrastructure put in place concurrently with the development at Harrison Road/Route 3 and Conser’s Corner that includes a new bridge over I-95 to the new Hospital.

    Spotsylvania also offers transportation districts to those who have unpaved roads and don’t want to sit on a waiting list – the county will cost-share with them and then set up a 20-year horizon pay back so it’s affordable for owners.

    So we are doing many things much better than in the past.

    The Toll Road Authority .. COULD BE – one more arrow in the quiver.. one more tool in the toolbox .. PROVIDED – the public really understands what it is and how it might work – and in my view – decides whether or not we want it or not – as opposed to having it decided for them even if they object.

    We already know how that approach “works” – it does not.

    First the outer connector wast stopped because it had an awful attitude about the public process then the Harrison Connector suffered the same fate for similar reasons in my view.

    Roads are NEVER easy and they are almost never uncontroversial and they do require very heavy lifting on the part of those who are in charge of shepherding them – and I use that word shepherding on purpose.

    If Spotsylvania is not already using the State condoned procedure called Official Maps, they should – and those designated corridors should be the subject of a wide and deep public process so that the citizens in the county are aware of those corridor designations, have the opportunity to give input to adjust them and basically have a place on the Spotsylvania website that they can go and consult if they are making plans themselves that may be in conflict with the future designated corridors.

    Finally, I seriously disagree with Marty about the concept of Regionalism but I do acknowledge that he represents others who also are not keen on that idea.

    They do not fully understand what a Planning District is nor the MPO nor how the two of them work and they are suspicious of the leaders of those organizations because they are appointed and not elected and few right now want them to have anything like a taxing ability.

    If those organizations want to promote the concept of regional funding for regional projects, they need to work much, much harder at engaging the public on that issue and the attitude of Silly that folks have been “duly notified” about public hearings — will, in my view, result in a very ugly , very damaging failure that may well destroy any future ability for regional cooperation on regionally-funded transportation projects.

  • bhaas

    Excellent beginning by Mr. Gross; he has provided a coherent process for planning our transportation expenditures in the future. Certainly, a needed first step. I expect we will hear soon from others that will disagree about the planning process and have other ideas that may well be coherent and useful as well.

    When I asked the question originally, I was thinking a liitle further down the budget road. It may well be that my thinking is premature, but let me explain my thoughts.

    I was thinking about our last two local budget cycles. County staff, the BOS, the SB, and all of us labored over those issues and even fought about some of them. To me what happens is that the staff puts together a budget as does the SB and then the classic battle begins; the climax comes when the BOS decides what is cut and what is funded with available funding.

    Now, there is nothing wrong with that process. And yes, as I am sure Larry would agree, it would be better if better planning was done for some of the really big projects. But, to quote Mr. Connors, it what it is. However, eventually we reach the point in the budget “dance” where I would think that the staff and BOS have to look at the revenue side; particularly the real property tax side.

    In the past, the staff and the BOS come to the table with a preconception that an equalized tax rate is the only acceptable approach. SO we have a balance sheet that does not grow on the revenue side, but HAS GROWN on the expenditure side because of all the new projects (paving rural roads, building “toll” roads, constructing I-95 exits, needing a new fire and rescue station, needing more sheriff’s deputies, new sheriff’s vehicles, and well, you know progress means growth and that costs money).

    I guess it has been my observation that our local budgeting is handicapped by our preconception that the county source of revenue is absolutely and forever MAXED out. We raised the property tax rate from $0.62 to $0.86 and the county bottom line basically stayed the same.

    Thus, another way of asking my question about wherefrom will future revenue requirements be met would be to ask where is it WRITTEN IN BLOOD that county revenue is MAXED out? If, indeed we are maxed out then there must be some serious document in the “files” where some very smart people have proven that thesis. Where is it? Who decides these things?

    If our transportation and development growth deserves excellent planning, and I agree it does, then our revenue growth deserves equally serious planning. Is there even a process that looks at the REVENUE CAPACITY of a locality?

    I hope now that with this clarification we can hear some further ideas about our revenues. Are we really maxed out?

  • Martin (Marty) Work

    Starting out with all blanks filled in and have been assigned TE8S as my “GotchaCode.”

    Let’s resume with SILLY’s #17 comments.

    Silly is in a strategic place of hiding, behind his anonymous moniker and lays claim, “here we go again, making statement that have no FACT behind them and are frankly very misleading.” From this, I can conclude SILLY knows who I am, and was in attendance at my 5 years worth of attendance and 3 minute presentations, necessarily sits very close to the BOS, or sits on the BOS, or has a very close alliance with the BOS’s strategic planning for Spotsylvania County, that’s conducted still behind closed doors, with no minutes. Talk about aleap of faith

    When Silly claims HE didn’t see Larry or myself at “either meeting” (April 13 and April 27) conjures up, less conspiracy theories, Silly was present at these meetings and close to a microphone. Silly claims that if we have NO PROOF we should just shut up, while he returns to his hiding place behind the “letter of the law.”

    I have to ask SILLY what statements I have made in the past, to this monent in time, that did not or did not have a factual basis from which to debate, argue, and better understand why the Sotsylvania County BOS (elected officials who “have work to do”) can’t bring themselves to trust the PUBLIC, any more so than the public can trust the BOS, or Wall Street

    Since I don’t have anything to hide, and Spotsylvania County has filmed my presentations for the past 5 years, along with documented proof I have on file as well as the County Administrator’s Office. What does Silly or the BOS have to hide from the rest of US?

    Simply said I don’t have any secrets. I’m an open book. I have no political agenda, nor do I need one. Label assignments only muddy the waters, much the same way as SILLY is attempting to do here.

    The more I think about SILLY and his version of the law, it occurs to me, from prior recorded blog comments a year or so back, that SILLY could very well be Supv.Connors in disguise. I attended his Town Hall meetings, along with Pennington, Barnes and Matt Kelly.

    Connors was one of the Board Supervisors who attempted to change the BOS By-Laws to keep me from showing up at BOS scheduled meetings. It’s all on tape, and I believe Dan/FLS did a follow-up story about this event ans somethingto dom with “free Speech” I know I was at the meeting and maybe SILLY was there too.

    The BOS eliminated 12 public committees, who gave, free of charge, very useful oversight skills, well beyond that of any BOS member, in order to simplify the decision making processes, without prying eyes. I called it an OLIGARCHY kind of government on several occassions while standing at the podium, before the COUNTY BOS.

    So,Silly, who’s whining now and “making statements that have no fact behind them and are frankly very misleading.?”

    Bill, let’s not take too much out of context. The PUBLIC does have solutions, but the Spotsylvania County BOS will not let that happen based on THEIR rules of engagement, not the PUBLIC.

    Since you are waiting for answers, how long do we have to wait. Last time we did this was almost a years ago and you and Larry still don’t have answers from anyone in elected office or the STAFF that serves them.

    I want solutions just as much as you seem to, but continuing to go around in the same circle, with no answers and still arrive at the same place you stated from 10 years ago, and still have no answers or solutions to the question at hand appears to be more of a distraction than a step forward

    I would like to proffer that I don’t give a rats*** whether you agree with me or not. Your postured positions and claims to know better rests on your shoulders not mine. I’m st6ill comfortable in my own skin and will continue to say it like it really is, but without the whipped cream topping and chocolate sprinkels…to be continued

  • Sillyyouare1957

    Well Mr. Work you are wrong once again!!! There is a thing in the 21st century called television….The last time I checked meetings of the Board of Supervisors are televised….Once again, you have done what you do best, jump to conclusions without having all of the facts.

  • bhaas

    Well, my friend Marty apparently likes con-frontation more than he likes con-versation. My questions involve citizen conversation. WE do not need Marty’s permission nor do we need the permission of the BOS to have these conversations.

    Spotsylvania county is facing serious problems and I do NOT GIVE A RATS*** about worrying about picking fights with Sillyyouare1957 or anyone else. If “Silly” is a member of the BOS, a highly placed county staff member, or a member of the GA in Richmond; it means nothing to me.

    If you have nothing to add to our potential conversation on the question at hand…PLEASE butt out. Thank you.

  • http://Z2KS LarryG

    Well, apparently, there’s not much thought on how Spotsylvania and the region might actually go forward on transportation.

    I can share one approach that is going on at FAMPO. It’s called Regional Land Use Scenario Planning. I won’t give the link because apparently this blog is set up to hold any comments that have such links and such comments do not get released quickly so if you go to the FAMPO website and click on the Reports and Studies link it will bring up the Scenario Planning Link and provide a good intro into what this is about.

    It’s not an overt advocacy of a particular approach to development but rather using tools to show the scope and scale of transportation infrastructure needed to serve different kinds of development ranging from compact new-urban style to large lot rural development.

    This study will look at what land is currently designated for in terms of use designations but then also look at what would happen if land included more UDA (Urban development Areas) – very much akin to what Spotsylvania calls Primary Settlement Areas.

    It has 3 primary scenarios:

    1. – Stay the current course – no changes in land-use and accept the continuing transportation infrastructure deficits.

    2. – seek more transportation funding

    3. – seek more funding AND change the way we do land-use

    Scenario 3 will attempt to develop information that will show how more compact development will reduce the need for funding (not to zero for sure) but change the trend line for more and more needed transportation funding.

    I do not expect earth-shattering revelations to emerge from the study but rather to get the issue about land-use on the table for discussion.

    There is a bit of fear and loathing with respect to an MPO – which has a transportation mandate to treat into land-use but more and more MPOs across the country including the Washington Area are recognizing that land-use decisions drive the need for transportation infrastructure and you really cannot totally separate the two if there are transportation deficits that we cannot adequately fund and resolve.

  • Marty Work

    Just an experiment I’m trying out. Filled in all the blanks and CEY3 is my CAPTCHA Code. Did the same thing yesterday but the FLS IT team would not allow my comments to be published.

    Since this has happened on several previous occassions, I decided to record my comments BEFORE pushing the Submit Comment button. So let’s see if this experiment works.

  • Marty Work

    Have done the same thing as I did about, but this time my CAPTCHA Code is Z4D8.

    The CAPTCHA Code CEY3, in my # 26, worked like a charm and no “error” messages popped up. Let’s try this again to see if we can get two in a row.

  • http://Z2KS LarryG

    Marty, I think you may not understand how captcha codes work. They are totally randomly generated on a per comment basis.

    NO human is involved in the process at all. The computer generates the code – purely randomly and holds it in a buffer and then asks you to key it in and if what you key in matches it, then your comment gets published.

    Now.. it appears with this particular version of captcha that sometimes.. even if you key in the correct code, it will reject it for some reason.

    when this happens.. just go ahead and use the next code it provides and you’ll be fine. The previous codes are no code once a new code has been generated.

  • http://Z2KS LarryG


    ” The previous codes are no GOOD once a new code has been generated.”

    In other words, the ONLY code that is valid for you for a particular comment is the last/latest code presented to you.

  • Martin (Marty) Work

    See what I mean. Apparently in the IT system, when you enter comments with the desigated CAPTCHA, an error message comes up about “CAPTCHA cookies” When I return to my comments, one of two things occur…the comments have been removed, OR a new CAPTCHA code replaces the one originally used and I enter the new CAPTCHA Code, submit, and another error code comes up. On my return to my comment page, everything has been erased. That’s why I record my comments now before I push the submit button.

    My two experiments today were flawless and accepted with no error messages.

    Since everything commented on yesterday was lost but recorded, I’ll return to my usual discourse later in the day.

    By the way, your #25 has the makings of a good start TOWARD “transparency” but we still need to call out our elected officials to contribute more to the lines of communication, with the public. So far, it appears they are not going to budge one inch.

    Did you and Bill get my records on the April 13 and 27 BOS meetings? Used PDF format so there shouldn’t have been any problems.

    Got to go. My grandson is expected to return from Afganistan soon, and the family is all a twitter about his homecoming and the events that follow. I volunteered. Can you imagine that? To be continued

  • bhaas

    larry…read your observation that there is apparently not much thought on how to go forward on transpo. Similarly, there seems not to be much thought or interest in examining local revenue levels. Hence, that kind of puts the “kabosh” on further dialog here for now. I am going to send you something I put together on spotsy and surrounding localities local revenue levels.

    Marty…I did not get anything (pdf or otherwise) from you.

  • Martin (Marty) Work

    BILL: the info is 49.5 MBs large. You might just want to go to Spotsylvania County’s website and pull up the BOS agendas for April 13 and April 27, 2010. I’ve already provided where to find the information you and Larry claim to have missed, when the May 11, 2010 BOS meeting hit the fan.

    By the way, the subject/issue being discussed here is not about Transpo or the examination of Spotsylvania County or the Regions “revenue levels.”

    It’s about how Spotsylvania County government communicates with themselves and using the George Washington REGIONAL Commission, FAMPO and special intesest development partners are conducting business behind closed doors and complete secrecy, without the public’s knowledge, understanding or acknowledgement.

    Do you just want this nightmare to go away for another day, or let your elected leaders to lead you and the County by the nose? Too harsh?

    Does Supv. Jackson’s inquiry and simple questions speak of conspiracy? Should we be concerned with his “the usual player win again”, when all he’s looking for is the basis of a 5-2 vote on creating a TOLL ROAD AUTHORITY? Simply said, if he can’t get answers, much along the same lines you scream out from the side lines, how can any member of the public think they have, or will have a chance of being included in the conversation going on behind close doors and claimed to serve in our best interest? Or, are we confined to the consequences of the five Supervisors, who see their role as all inclusive with public, but without the public.

    When Supv Connors uses legaleze like “NO ONE has been REFUSED the work product for the toll road AND interchange…is not saying the information was ever made availbale to the public. If that were the case, and it is, some members of the BOS have violated their oath and ethics of the office they hold.

    When supv Connors provides that “creating the AUTHORITY and the toll road are TWO SEPARATE issues, when one empowers the other, IS NOT two separate issues, what are WE to think? Not talking about what Larry, Bill or Mr. Silly thinks, or even if they do.

    “It is what it is” is just another STEP BACK to the good old days and business as usual. If that were not the case, Supv. Connors would not be expending so much energy trying to remove Supv Jackson’s inquiry from PUBLIC inspection….to be continued with or without the cheer leading from the sidelines….

  • bhaas

    Well pardon me all to h*** and back. The subject of this blog thread is the TOLL AUTHORITY. Since when does that not include a discussion of transportation issues and County revenue issues? REVENUES are what makes all the pistons of gov fire properly.

    Marty, unfortunately, your problem is that any discussion that does not ATTACK the BOS or the County staff simply does not interest you.

  • http://Z2KS LarryG

    That’s pretty much been my complaint. It’s hard to discuss anything without it being turned into yet another mud slinging affair.

  • Martin (Marty) Work

    Larry: lets use some of your own words, but from another blog site under title of “February 5 Internal Review Is Donw.” It’s the No. 3 comment by you and follows Steve’s “observations.

    “I’m (Larryg) of the opposite opinion. The more you HOLD INFORMATION BACK the more people form there own (uninformed) OPINIONS and the more they suspect that bad stuff is being held back/censored- and then inevitable…yada, yada…-the drip, drip, drip of information coming out is much, much more corrosive and undermines trust.”

    “I (Larryg) won’t vote for anyone for local office whom I (Larryg) leans toward secreting information…in my mind, we already have way to much of it-by govt- ESPECIALLY at the local levels- which ‘in theory’ is the best way to govern according to our conservative friends. I (larryg) sort of expected better…sigh.”

    Bill, your problem is that you deal in distractions, and have done so for years. You and Larry continue to stand guard at your post at the gate leading to the Spotsylvania County’s castle. You know, the one that has a draw bridge, a moat all the way around, that comes with a warning sign…STAY OUT OR BE PROSECUTED.”

    You claim I have the problem for not following in your foot steps, but as far as I can see you’re still looking for answers to your questions, but to date have not received any answer back. If you’re going to stand there and paw at the dirt, how can any of us follow your lead when you’re standing still.

    It’s really simple, where ar FAMPO’s records in support of THEIR TOLL ROAD AUTHORITY? It’s obvious Supv Jackson wants this material, if for no other reason or rationale, than to understand which records FAMPO is working with, in the establishment of a transportation authority that the puvblic knows nothing about.

    If you and Larry are having such a hard time with the framework of my thoughts on the issues in front of us, then all you have to do is withdraw from the field and stand guard.

    Will return, but noticed DAN doing a followup to this issue which has yet to be resolved. I’m going for transparency, and that’s my number 1 priorty at this time.

    So Larry, who’s holding back now?

  • Martin (Marty) Work

    Dan Telvock published his followup under title of “County joins toll board. Supervisors CONNORS,LOGAN and PITTS will serve on this TOLL AUTHORITY under the guise of the ordinance change (Chapter 25) and HB 2099…Chapter 801 written by the Commonwealth of Virginia.

    Fredericksburg has one more “due process” public meeting to hold before THEY join. Stafford County doesn’t even intend to hold public hearings.

    Those details Supv. Jackson was looking for, after the vote was taken 5-2 is now being described by Lloyd Robinson, Director, George Washington Regional Commission/FAMPO as a “thousand-page book, with additional details on the project will be completed in a few months. So, why the need to establish a TOLL AUTHORITY when FAMPO has yet to provide “details”, beyond a briefing BOS received from Lloyd Robinson on the night of the vote to establish the AUTHORITY, without anyone the wiser, including the public.

    I’m reminded the Board worked another change in zoning ordinance that was tucked away in the Board’s consent agenda.

    Who’s running Spotsylvania County? The BOS? OR the members of the BOS who also serve in the management ranks of FAMPO and the George Washington Regional Commission.

    I believe it has been well established our elected leaders serve in many different official capacities that are now falling into conflicts of interests and no longer represent the best interest of the County’s citizens, whether they be in Spotsy, Stafford or Fredericksburg.

    I won’t reflect on how this same government strategy bought into the VRE agenda and their master agreement which remains as toxic as it was 10 years ago.

    So, how does anyone sustain a “conversation” in this blog, when they wish only to hear themselves speak, not to the issues but all those OTHER MATERIAL DISTRACTIONS that have nothing to do with moving forward.

    Larry, your No. 25 started out to be a coure WE may want to take, but then you draw the line in the sand by saying “I (larry) WON’T give the link because…”

    Why can’t we just pull up www. and take a look at the entire site, from committees, agendas to VRE, etc, etc? It’s an easy read except for the anacronyms. You’ll need their dictionary…more to come

  • http://Z2KS LarryG

    It is the instinct of many in govt to shield and not release information. It’s not just in Spotsylvania. It’s fairly endemic across the region and the state.

    If Spotsylvania were an egregious example of this, I’d be with those making that case but I just don’t see them as particularly more egregious than other like Fredericksburg or Stafford or other MPOs and Planning Districts across Va and I know for a fact of some counties and MPOs that are worse.

    I agree that at times, we don’t do ourselves proud on a full-disclosure public process but I do not think this automatically means that elected and staff are conspiratorial, corrupt and up to no good on a systemic basis which is the feeling I get when Marty seems to get rolling on virtually every issue that is said to be yet another example of bad faith govt in Spotsylvania.

    Once in a while,, it would be most refreshing to hear something like, ” perhaps this would be a better approach…… ” eh?

  • Martin (Marty) Work

    Larry, my comments are not intended to mean anything more than processing facts and questions you don’t care to acknowledge or do anything about but pay lip service to a government that can’t bring itself to answer the hard questions or involve the public. What’s so hard to understand about that?

    We’ve already discussed your penchant for disclaimers, circles, and distractions for years. I’m not here to have you conduct your business any other way than you have for years.

    What do you or anyone else have to claim what I have said in the past or present that was not true? Conspiratorial? Corrupt? Up to no good on a “systemic basis”?

    You’re trying much to hard to bury me and without justified cause. If you do not intend to cross over the line you and Spotsylvania County have drawn in the sand, how would or could you reasonably conclude there is “perhaps a better approach” when you can’t even get anything more than half a story, rich with speculation and no answers. How can you, in one blog sight (see my No. 36) look for more transparency in government and in this one tell us you KNOW FOR A FACT OF SOME COUNTIES AND MPO’s that are worse.

    Is this what you call relevant? Comparing one bad apple to another and all you want is apple sause at the end of the day. Next time you want to use me…and “virtually every issue” in a single sentence, you might want to consider providing us all with a list of every issue you are refering to.

    I’m looking for information and answers that could reasonably prove you’re right. Business decisions are made every day in this world, and I’m part of that process, but cease to understand how you or anyone else in Spotsylvania County make informed decision with no details.

    By separate cover I’ve supplied you with a letter written to Bobby Orrock from Atty General Cuccinelli, dated April 27, 2010 discussing what AUTHORITY is and what is not. In addition I’ve supplied you with “A New Vision for Surface Transportation Policy in Virginia” which should make for some interesting reading. There’s more. I’m still connecting dots on this side of the fence, while you languish on your side with your bowl of apple sause.

    Harsh? Too Harsh? When you stop making excuses and be of a single train of thought, maybe we’ll have more to talk about. Until then, I have sufficient ingredients in my thoughts that beg to differ with yours on any issue you care to name. Since, as Mr Silly claims that I’m always wrong about EVERYTHING you shouldn’t have much trouble convincing me that your way is the only way…to be continued…

  • http://Z2KS LarryG

    I think the question at hand is how we might handle transportation needs in our area in the future since the state is pretty much out of money and does not seem inclined to increase the gas tax.

    The “vision” paper you allude to is a white paper that basically explores this issue as well as some potential ways to deal with the issue – to include tolls and taxes at the local level.

    There are conservations that are taking place by those who are concerned about transportation and funding issues.

    I think we need to have the conversation – to include the public – and I supported Mr. Jacksons inclination to not be in such a rush.

    Could we use some more transparency? Of course.

    Will the lack of it keep us from going forward? No..

    Do I see the other players as “scheming” by writing these white papers or getting opinions from the AG? No.

    Spotsylvania is no better or worse in general than most other jurisdictions in Virginia that have similar challenges with taxes, schools, roads, EMS, etc.

    It’s the nature of people and govt to not operate as perfectly as they might. so what?

    Are you going to spend your time arguing that the people and the process are wrong most of the time?

    We’ve had this conversation before. We have very different ways of thinking about the issues. I’m not on your track. I consider it to be not constructive and pretty much full of hate and venom of those who apparently have done you wrong – in your mind.

    I’d prefer that you keep it to yourself and stick to the issues myself. If you can’t so be it but I’ll not further humor you.

  • Martin (Marty) Work

    Just got back in town from scheduled appearances in Fredericksburg and County. Stopped by Cosner’s Hospital to see what all the fuss was about. I was impressed. Went from there to the Courthouse to see what our home went for on the auction block. Did my rounds with the County Administrators Office and stopped by at one of the County’s scheduled PDR meetings, but didn’t stay. But, everybody except Debra was present, and said to say Hi. T.C. wanted me to stay, but at 3pm in the afternoon I was more concerned with I-95 traffic, and besides Ms. Deale was there taking notes, called minutes,.and she promise not to leave me out of the loop.

    So, how was your day? I’ll get back to on your excuses. You did get my mailings didn’t you?

    I’ll be back, but after a good night’s rest. You sound a little tired yourself. Can I reccommend a good Merlot to go with your discourse? I just put down a Blue Moon which is made here. Good stuff, but if you add orange it tastes even better.

    Next time I come by and waive, you might want to waive back.

  • Martin (Marty) Work

    Larry, your No 40 response only serves to be disappointing, espaecialy when you conclude that lack of transparency from our County Government will not stop Spotsylvania County from moving forward. If this is the level and parameters from which you want your government to operate from, rthen I must conclude you’r part of the problem, not a solution.

    I’ll say it here as I have said it on numerous other communication sites. No ONE person, elected official, department or commission in Spotsylvania County has DENIED there is a “FOCUS GROUP”, without minutes, in Spotsylvania County government, where no one is allowed to attend, including the free press, unless thy are the stakeholders and engines that run Spotsylvania County government.

    Since you don’t want to know, I’m not sure what more you have to contribute to this blog and others where you claim to be something you’re not.

  • Martin (Marty) Work

    Larry, just one thing crossed my mind about your NO 40.

    Next time you want to throw this idea into the discussion that you’re looking for constructive thought and that I’m full of hate and venom for those who apparently did me wrong…in my mind, let’s, you and me, take a walk into the history books and paper trail I left behind, that’s a mile wide and see what we find from a constructive point of view. If you want to see, and hear recorded messages over the years, or want to read what is public record maybe you’ll want to stop playing these cards and betting against my credibility and ante up your own.

    This is an area and issue, with just the slightest inference, could change this entire conversation, which by the way, is still in play and drawing close to the end of the third chapter. Continue to make it the basis of your debate over the issues found in this or any other blog site. I can honestly say you’ve received adequate notice. You’ll find the answer in Roberts Rules, if you care to look.

    Thanks for being so patient, but I think we have other fields to plow. Come on along if you care to. I’m not going anywhere.