The Commonwealth Iconoclast

A site dedicated to covering issues relevant to the Commonwealth of Virginia, and nation at large, plus other interesting things too, as I see fit...

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Electricity Deregulation... What a shock!!!

Delegate Clarke N. Hogan Rocking the Boat

Good questions concerning Electricity Deregulation

Virginia… Don’t get shocked!

I know; I know… Gas prices keep going higher and it is a horrible problem…especially for us folks who still insist on driving the behemoth SUVs because “they are safer…blah, blah… and etc. and etc…”

I just need basic transportation so give me a break, please!

My wheels? None of your business!!!

Maybe gas prices are a concern and maybe I do feel a little bit sorry for us Americans even though we may have fallen a little short in the development of a workable comprehensive national energy policy.

But whether we know it or not, we are facing another aspect of the “energy crisis” much closer to home… in fact, in our homes and in our businesses, and practically everywhere else we go where we would like to have lights to see what we are doing.

The crisis is with electricity deregulation.

Electricity deregulation gets some passing media attention but not nearly as much as does the problem with crude oil supplies and pricing.

Maybe it is because the crude oil problem seems to be so tied up with the Middle East, the Muslim world, and the war on terror and all that mess. Or maybe it is because we Americans love our cars so much and are forced to return to the gas pumps every few days to get a new fix of that precious juice that makes are cars purr and go VROOM…VROOM!


So, it was good to see that this under-covered story about electricity deregulation got some well deserved attention in the recent article in the Richmond Times Dispatch entitled “Deregulation skeptic joins panel.”

It is especially interesting since the article focused on the recent appointment of Delegate Clarke N. Hogan to the General Assembly’s commission overseeing electricity deregulation and his early shots across the bow of the commission in challenge to the “conventional wisdom” and the standard “party line.”

This is the same Clark N. Hogan who was the subject of the Iconoclast article on the General Assembly budget fiasco and Delegate Hogan’s quaint “don’t worry; be happy” philosophy on the budget.

But this time, Delegate Hogan is showing some welcome gumption! He is challenging the General Assembly’s commission and questioning their assumptions. He is suggesting that the commission itself may be a “hindrance to meaningful deregulation and energy policy” and doesn’t believe the popular notion that the Virginia deregulation plan is or will be different from the plans in other states that produced drastic rate increases for consumers.

This is not to say that Delegate Hogan has all the answers or that he will single handedly solve this issue of electricity deregulation. But it is refreshing to see that he is taking this issue seriously and giving it some long overdue media focus.

Electricity deregulation is an important issue! It is a big issue! It is a complicated issue!

The Iconoclast is not going to pretend to have any kind of profound insight on the subject. But, looking at it from a practical perspective, we can say unequivocally that electricity deregulation is at least as big an issue as is the availability and pricing of crude oil.

We need to pay attention to this issue!

The fact is, the U.S. economy, indeed the world economy, is energy driven. Without energy, in all its many forms, economic activity nation-wide and world wide would come to a grinding halt. Electricity is a practical form of energy that can be produced by many methods including solar, hydro, nuclear, tidal, wind, and fossil fuel technologies. Electricity is, in fact, indispensible to the world economy.

When you stop to think about it for minute, electricity is really great stuff … it can be produced many ways and almost anywhere and then shot through transmission lines at high voltage for thousands of miles to local distribution systems and then to my house down a gravel road on the side of the mountain to power my sound system so I can listen to my tunes. It is also cool for powering my fridge to keep my beer cold. See more discussion on electricity.

But, I digress… We should not trivialize the importance of electric power in the big picture of our world.

The electric power industry is a $220 billion dollar industry in the U.S. alone and has been characterized as the “last great government-sanctioned monopoly” in America. Deregulation of the electric power industry is going to happen sooner or later for several compelling reasons.

First, this is the United States of America. Americans hate monopolies!

Second, the American capitalistic system is based on free competition with little or no interference by anyone… especially governmental interference.

Third, and most importantly, there is money to be made! Yes... money to be made!!!

The proponents of deregulating the electrical power industry argue that monopolies are bad, even government regulated monopolies (or should we say especially government regulated monopolies). They argue that free competition is good for the consumer… always. (Never question this premise.)

This looks good on paper and you can bet the $50 million dollars spent by lobbyist on “wining and dining” our legislators to explain the benefits of electricity deregulation doesn’t hurt the case.

So far a credible case for the success of electricity deregulation has been made in Pennsylvania with a report of $10 per month savings for some consumers in the Philadelphia region. Mmmm... some consumers? I wonder about the others...

However, there seems to be little or no consensus on exactly what plan of deregulation works. Furthermore the results in several states including California, Maryland and Delaware, has been down right painful and expensive for consumers. California consumers faced doubled electric bills. Maryland and Delaware consumers faced 60 percent and 118 percent increases respectively.

I feel their pain!

Bottom line… the deregulation of the electric power industry is seemingly inevitable, and may or may not be good for consumers, depending on specific circumstances and the policies put in place by the various state legislatures.

There will be winners and losers. The big threat seems to be to the small consumers, homeowners, small businesses, rural areas, suburban areas, farmers, and others who command little respect in the market place. The big electric power consumers can afford lobbyists and can squeeze their legislators and the power companies. They will do ok.

You can bet that big business will always make a profit... kind of like the Enron fantasy... Makes you kind of wonder, doesn't it?

Little people…be afraid… be very afraid…. Your government is working. (I know, I already used that one before, but really, you should be afraid.)

Delegate Clark Hogan is right to ask questions and to rock the boat on electricity deregulation in Virginia. This is a serious issue and serious questions need to be asked. The Iconoclast commends him for his efforts on this one.

Please… let us not get shocked by electric deregulation in Virginia.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Sheriff Stoots Shoots Self in the Foot in Lunenburg County

A real life “Barney Fife” story in Lunenburg County

Special Election in Lunenburg County on August 8th Heats Up

In recent weeks the Iconoclast has covered the election of a local newspaper editor to the office of Mayor of Blackstone. This piece and the ensuing discussion generated a fair amount of interest in neighboring Lunenburg County. One thing leads to another and such it was with the arrival of a parcel of newspaper clippings by snail-mail earlier this week.

Indeed, these clippings revealed an interesting story, as our Lunenburg source promised; one that is still unfolding in the weeks leading up to a special election for Sheriff of Lunenburg County scheduled forAugust 8th, 2006.

In a nut shell, this story is an example of extremely poor political judgment by one recently appointed Sheriff Randall L. Stoots of Lunenburg County. This is a story about politicizing public safty and of squandering of human resources.

It seems the story started with the untimely and sudden death (by natural causes) of then Sheriff Charles Warren Stokes. In the aftermath of Sheriff Stokes’ sudden death, then Chief Deputy Randall L. Stoots, who had served directly under Sheriff Stokes, was elevated to Sheriff by appointment on May 1st, to serve until a special election could be scheduled.

So far, so good…

But then, in a master stroke of political ham-fisted poor judgment, the newly appointed Sheriff Stoots first announces his intentions to run for Sheriff in the up-coming special election, and second, summarily fires two senior members of the Lunenburg County Sheriff’s department, one Deputy Arthur Townsend (21 years with the Department) and two Deputy Jimmy Moses (25 years with the Department). Sheriff Stoots is reported to have been employed in law enforcement since 1997, or about 9 years.

As an aside note, now former Deputy Townsend was a close runner up in the special election for Sheriff of November 2004, losing with 1,253 votes to the winner’s (the recently deceased Sheriff Stokes) 1,527 votes.

In justifying the firings, Sheriff Stoots explained that he asked all deputies for their “continued support and cooperation” and the two fired deputies apparently declined to agree to the offered terms. Instead, the then deputies Townsend and Moses apparently indicated their intent to also toss their hats into the ring for the special election for Sheriff later this summer.

From the news clippings provided, there is absolutely no indication that either deputy (Townsend or Moses) refused to carry out his oath of office or to follow lawful orders from a superior officer. Their only apparent “crime” was their revelation that they also intended to run in the special election for the office of Sheriff later this summer, just like Sheriff Stoots had done earlier.

This seems like a pretty clear intent by Sheriff Stoots to sacrifice two competent and experienced deputies and the public safety in a feeble attempt to eliminate competition in the up-coming special election.

As of this date, a fourth candidate has emerged for the special election of August 8th: Lt. David R. Jackson, a Mecklenburg Correctional Center officer. So, as of now, the special election seems to be a four way race with newly appointed Sheriff Randal L Stoots, facing off against former Deputy Arthur Townsend, former Deputy Jimmy Moses, and Department of Corrections Lt. David R. Jackson.

Four way races are extremely unpredictable, especially when the total number of votes is very small. Our analysis of the 2004 election reveals that only slightly over 5,200 voters showed up to cast votes in a seven way race. The winner in that county-wide race got only 1,527 votes. So the August 8th, 2006 special election can be similarly fragmented and won by a relative hand-full of votes.

The Iconoclast has sworn no oath of personal loyalty to any of the candidates running for the office of Sheriff of Lunenburg County in the special election of August 8th, 2006. However, it is fair to say that the Iconoclast would support the election of the best qualified candidate to “protect and serve” as Sheriff of Lunenburg County.

From the information we have available, it is clear that incumbent Sheriff Randall L. Stoots (just appointed) is the Iconoclast’s choice for the “Barney Fife Self Inflicted Shot in the Foot Award.” And just to be fair, Sheriff Stoots' entire public statement explaining his actions concerning the dismissal of former deoputies Townsend and Moses is provided here.

To: Citizens of Lunenburg County

From: Randall L. Stoots, Sheriff

In 2004, the citizens of Lunenburg County elected Charles W. Stokes as the Sheriff. After careful consideration, Sheriff Stokes appointed me, Randall Stoots, as the Chief Deputy. On April 24, 2006, due to the untimely death of Sheriff Stokes, I was appointed as the Sheriff of Lunenburg County.

As the Sheriff, I asked the deputies for their continued support and cooperation. All deputies, with the exception of two, stated that I would have their support. I personally talked with both of these deputies in hopes that they would reconsider their decision not to support me. Both of these deputies told me several times that they would not support me. Several additional attempts were made to gain the support of these deputies and each time I was told that I would not have their support.

In order to be an effective leader of any organization, you must have the support and cooperation of your staff. This is especially important in law enforcement where the primary mission is the protection of the public. If these two deputies were to come to me today and ask for their job back, I would give it to them. All I would ask for in return is their support of me as the Sheriff of Lunenburg County. I have no hard feelings toward either of these individuals, all that I requested was their support and they said no.

My primary focus as the Sheriff is and will continue to be the protection of the citizens of Lunenburg County.

God Bless the Citizens of Lunenburg
Randall L. Stoots, Sheriff

Frankly, Sheriff Stoots' explanation is a poor one. If you read Sheriff Stoots' public statement he does not say that the deputies refused to honor their oaths of office nor does he say that they failed to honor direct orders. Sheriff Stoots states that "I requested their support and they said no." From the entirety of the information avaialble, it seems quite clear that the "support" Sheriff Stoots asked for is for his candidacy for Sheriff as opposed to asking the deputies to renew their oaths of office by continuing to serve the citizens of Lunenburg County.

There is a big difference between an oath of office serving the citizens and an oath of loyalty to an individual for political reasons.

No Sheriff has a right to require subordinate deputies to swear an oath of personal loyalty to himself, effectively subordinating the oath of office to protect the peace and public safety to personal political interests.

This is just wrong.

As far as endorsements are concerned, the Iconoclast would have to give equal consideration to candidates Arthur Townsend and Jimmy Moses. Each having over two decades of experience and no compelling reason to question their qualifications for office, either one of these candidates seems well qualified to serve as Sheriff of Lunenburg County.

Wonder what words of wisdom Sheriff Andy Taylor might offer on this sorry display of bad political judgment and waste of valuable law enforcement experience? I'll bet Andy would take away Sheriff Stoot's bullets.

May the best candidate win on August 8th, 2006.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Stephen Colbert finds a flaw in gun logic...

I nearly fell out of my chair a few nights ago from laughing while watching the Colbert Report. Mr. Colbert has a regularly occuring segement entitled "Better Know a District", in which he interviews members of the U.S House of Represenatives from various districts throughout the Country.

I believe Mr. Colbert's goal is to eventually interview a represenative from all 435 Congressional Districts. Not only will this be difficult because there are 435 districts, but I'm sure many members of Congress don't find Mr. Colbert as amusing as as I do. Though it's obvious that Mr. Colbert's delivery is highly "tongue and cheek", it's my opinion that Mr. Colbert is developing into the nation's premier satirist. Just ask President Bush...

Anyhow, the other night on the "Better Know a District" segement Mr. Colbert had Nebraska's 2nd District Congressman Lee Terry on the "hot seat". The entire exchange between Mr. Colbert and Congressman Terry was halarious (and kudos to Congressman Terry for aggreeing to appear on this segment by the way) but one particular exchange between Colbert and Lee was particularly funny...(by the way click here to see the entire interview)

SC: (Serious look on this face) The NRA gave you an "A" on your voting record, why not an "A+" sir?

LT: (laughing) I don't know?

SC: (Serious) What's the most absurb thing about gun regulations? Gun registry? 72 hour waiting period? Trigger locks? What part of that is most laughable?

LT: (Serious) The people that are complying with those laws ar not the problem. The laws are focused on good people and philosophically I don't think that's appropriate...

SC: (Serious) I agree, good people shouldn't have laws...

LT: Let's focus on crime...

SC: Too many people forget that passing laws doesn't stop crime...

LT: (knodding in agreement) No...

SC: So, stop having laws...we might get a little less crime, because it wouldn't be illegal then! (laughter)

LT: (somewhat laughing) No, know....(on to the next subject)

Geez, let's just say that Congressman Lee "walked into that one". I'm sure the NRA's upper management didn't enjoy Colbert's interview with Congressman Terry. I wonder if Colbert will now show up on the NRA's "blacklist"?

Personally I fully support the 2nd amendment, but I (like many other people) feel that reasonable regulations/laws are necessary and appropriate. Often 2nd Amendment advocates repeat talking points - similar to those articulated by Congressman Terry - which are supplied to them by professional lobbyist without giving too much thought to the meaning of these talking points. (read above)

I guess what I'm trying to say is that Congressman Terry (and other like him) should try to formulate cogent and logical postions to why overburdensome gun regulations are not necessary, and potentially violate the 2nd Amendment. Because it's painfully obvious that some of the "tried and ture" talking points are - as Mr. Colbert demostrated - indeed laughable...

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Valley Taliban and GOP Hold a Gay Bashing Gala in Harrisonburg Last Night

In case you missed it, the Valley Family Forum, held a "gay sex gala" in Harrisonburg last night at JMU. According to the DNR, some 200 "agents of intolerance" attended and had drinks, ate roast beef, and talked about gay sex for the evening.

Headlining the "gay sex gala" was no other than future Republican gubernatorial hopefulls Taliban Bob McDonnell and Bill "Don't I remind you of Jim Gilmore?" Bolling. According to Bolling, banning same sex marriage is of the utmost importance to insure the future health, safety, and wellfare of the residents of the Commonwealth.

The reason? Well, according to Bolling you never know when some activist lefty in a black robe just might ram gay marriage down our throats, now never mind that same sex couples can't marry in the Commonwealth, or that there seem to be very few - if any - "activist" judges in the Commonwealth. Still we can never be too careful...

Call it what it is - this whole marriage amendment "issue" is nothing more than a ridiculous "cultural wedge" issue solely intended to deflect attention away from more pressing (and important) issues. Period. I find it sad that local and state officials would even attend this crap, but I'm hardly surprised.

Fortunatly, the general public is starting to get tired of this "one trick poney", and interest and opposition to gay marriage is declining. So I guess you could say the more these folks "buck", the more people start to see their actions for what it really is: cheap poltical posturing.

Personally I never really thought about gay marriage before the 2004 elections, but the more folks like the Valley Family Forum hold events similar to the one they had last night in Harrisonburg, the more I'm swayed to support the idea of gay marriage, or some other reasonable alternative. So keep up the good work!

Friday, May 19, 2006

Blackstone's Mayor-Elect Attempts to Set the Record Straight on Conflict of Interest Issue...

The comments below were submitted by Billy Coleburn in response to a recent post discussing Mr. Coleburn's dual role as the Town of Blackstone's newly elected Mayor and chief editor of the Town's paper, The Blackstone Courier-Record. Mayor Colburn took exception to the "tone" of some of the comments in regard to the Iconoclast piece, and he attempts to answer some of these comments. Thanks for your response Mr. Coleburn, and I wish you the best of luck as Mayor of Blackstone!

This is Blackstone Mayor-elect and Courier-Record editor Billy Coleburn,here LIVE on this entertaining blog, to which I was referred by a Farmville friend.

I appreciate your comments--even the biting ones--and your concerns, and I promise to continue making sure the citizens of Blackstone and beyond are informed accurately and timely about their local governments.

Our newspaper, the 6,385-circulation weekly Courier-Record, has won many awards for the manner in which we inform citizens about their communities. I plan for that to continue.

I have hired a reporter to cover the Town Hall beat, and given her complete flexibility and independence, and clear instructions that if I say something stupid or offensive, to be sure and print it. I realize I'll be under the microscope and welcome the scrutiny. I've always tried to do the right thing for the right reasons. The more people know about their local government and public positions/public actions/public comments by public servants, the better.

I promise to be an attentive, outgoing, positive ambassador for Blackstone,and I will strive to make my critics proud of their next Mayor. I will do so without pandering. I campaigned by knocking on just about every door in Blackstone, and making people well aware of my dual roles, my family's history of public service, and also listening to their concerns and welcoming their questions about my many community hats. In addition to serving as editor of the paper and Mayor-elect, I am also Girls Softball Commissioner, and have served as head of my church's Board of Deacons for two years (Blackstone Presbyterian Church). Trust me, if you can keep peace in little league softball, you can truly bring the masses together!

One thing you might note--the Mayor of Blackstone does not vote, only in cases of ties. With a 7-member Council, I cannot recall that happening in the last 50 years. The Mayor of Blackstone DOES have veto power, but five votes from the 7-member Council overrides the veto. There has been ONE Mayoral veto, and that was about 60 years ago. I bring up the issue of voting primarily because the term "Conflict of Interest" has been thrown around, and in most cases, inaccurately.

"Conflict of interest" normally refers to a situation when an elected official has a vote pending on an issue. If that vote goes a certain way in which the elected official can profit in his private capacity, then that's potential for a "conflict of interest," and in most cases, the elected official will not vote.

The blog comment about me talking too much while interviewing people forstories in the newspaper, unfortunately, is 100% accurate. I'm still working on that one! I'm far from perfect and have made many mistakes in the past.

I must dispute one thing in the blog's comments section--I am not a "caustic right-wing hack" and don't plan to ever have an "R" beside my name, or a "D"for that matter, either. The parties have become too mean-spirited and partisan. If Bush found a cure for cancer, Democrats would say it was too risky. If Democrats invented a reliable, super-performing solar or battery car, Republicans would say they're too risky and pose a threat to national security.

Yes, I voted for Kilgore. He deserved to lose. He ran a negative campaign. And while I tend to disagree with Governor Kaine (D) on a number of issues, I find him to be a genuine good guy, and in the scheme of things, being a good man should still count for something these days. In fact, it should count for a lot these days. I also appreciate Kaine's can-do tone, which also is important these days. He is now my Governor, and I respect him.

I definitely lean to the right and consider myself "conservative," and have always tried to be tolerant of all other people. I have always tried to be pleasant and open-minded while debating others. At the end of the day, as a recent letter-writer said of me and my philosophies, we are all Americans.

What bothers me is the tone of some of the comments--both on the blog, and elsewhere in politics. You can really feel the hatred, and that's not healthy for any of us. But always remember what Nixon said about those who hate you. When you hate them back, they've won.

I'm pro-life, and in recent years, have become more and more anti-death penalty. I still waffle on that one. I'm a big believer in the right to bear arms, although I have chosen personally NOT to own a handgun. Hunting, youth sports, photography, and talking all kinds of sports/politics are among my hobbies. I voted for Bush twice, but am very upset with him for not securing our borders and not calling a "time-out" after 9/11 and getting our domestic house in order and our borders safe before stretching our military thin all around the globe. I know these comments have no real bearing on Blackstone, but you have a right to know where I stand on all kinds of

Like many people, I try to be a good Christian and fail often. It is hard to do those things that Jesus would do, such as turning the other cheek and blessing those who persecute you. I'm getting better at it each and every day, but only through God's love.

I've been happily married for 15 years and have two wonderful daughters, age10 and age 7.

I don't have all the answers, but I love my hometown and its people. When I graduated from William & Mary in 1990, I chose to return home, and home iswhere my heart will always be.


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Elkton: Can't we all just get along?


I've been lurking on the Elkton election thread for a while now,
waiting for a voice of reason to emerge, but to my dismay, no one has
stepped up to offer a balanced explanation of what's going on in my
beloved home town. Despite that the rest of Rockingham thinks we can
wall off the town and have it declared an asylum, there are good
reasons for the election results and everything that lies behind them.
I want to outline what I think they are.

I also, and most of all, want to correct the record about Wayne Printz.

Much of what other people on this blog have been saying about Mr.
Printz I can shrug off as the rantings of sore losers, but I've learned
that a lie told often enough and left unchallenged takes on the varnish
of truth, if no one will expose it for what it is.

I've known Wayne Printz for many years, and for many years I've counted
him a friend. In all the time I have known him, from the years he
served on the town council, to his volunteer work in many capacities in
town, to his devoted mentoring of Lucky Sigafoose's son, I have known
him to be a thoroughly good man. Not a perfect man, but an extremely
good man. Every time I've read some nasty snide remark about Wayne, I
think of him putting together a 9/11 Memorial Service, or pitching in
to help in some project, or bringing flowers or food to a neighbor who
needed the cheering up. Good works aren't sexy, they don't get a lot
of attention, and they're easy to overlook, but they are real, and
anyone who has lived in Elkton for more than a year or two has
certainly run across Wayne in private life quietly doing something good
for somebody.

You might say, okay, so he does community service, so what? It's not
that he does community service, it's that community service is an
extension of the way he conducts his life. Anyone who knows Wayne
personally knows that he's genuine, honest, and works hard for the
public good. His heart is thoroughly in the right place. In his
previous years of public service, he's brought these ethics to
government, but recently they have been ignored in the firestorm that
has swirled around him.

It began, as it so often does, with inaccuate media coverage. When a
reporter under a time constraint gets only part of a story and runs
with it, when a reporter new to an area makes a bad impression on the
locals and the locals won't bother talking to him or her, that coverage
is going to be slanted. Since then, with the media guiding perception,
it's only gotten worse.

Two years ago, Elkton elected a divided, but balanced, council. Even
that election was a little underhanded, as some of the candidates
counseled their supporters not to vote for a full slate, but only for
one or two candidates. Thus, two councilmen, Mr. Snow and Mr. Workman,
were elected by slim margins in an election whose voting totals were
peculiarly skewed. It was legal but it was slick, and many Elktonians
weren't expecting that kind of strategy. To many of us, it didn't bode
well for the future.

Then Lucky Sigafoose passed away, and the council selected Mr.
McDaniel, who is also a good person, but who never ran for office,
never attended a council meeting before he was put in office, and whose
vision for Elkton was about as far removed from Lucky's as it's
possible to get. The result was a council that was weighted heavily
towards business interests. When Mr. McDaniel joined the council, Mr.
Dean, who works for Mr. McDaniel and who before had voted as an
independent, fell into line with Messrs. McDaniel and Snow, both of
whom envisioned the Kite property as a golf course and were willing to
do almost anything to make it happen. (I want to be very clear on
this: all of these people are decent. I know all these men, and I
believe they were doing what they thought was best for the town, their
opinions strengthened by the fact that it was also what they wanted to
see happen.)

Add to this a political town manager with ambitions of his own and a
developer offering that very thing that the new majority of councilmen
wanted so badly in exchange for more than doubling the town population,
something that resonates well with businessmen, and you have the mess
that is Elkton today.

At first, the council tried to run over the mayor with their votes and
the pressure of their majority status. When he wouldn't be run over
without putting up a fight, they castigated him in public, accusing him
of being power-hungry, reactionary, divisive, and the puppet of a vocal
minority of old ladies and fuddy-duddies. Talk about projecting your
own faults on your opposition! When Wayne tried to preserve the office
of mayor as he had received it, when he refused to let the office be
eviscerated, they branded him as power-hungry and accused him of trying
to pull an unprecedented power grab, when in truth, that was the very
thing they were trying to pull off with the town charter fiasco. If
the charter that was first submitted to the legislature in Richmond had
passed, this past election would not have been held, and the old
council would have remained in place for another two years, long enough
to have achieved its aims.

Now, some of those people who don't like the results of the May
election and don't like the composition of the new council, for example
on this blog, are blaming all the bad decisions the previous council
made on the mayor. They're blaming him for the town being so deep in
debt, but the fact is, the old council dug the hole so deep, and over
the mayor's objections. They say he's a lousy negotiator, but forget
the the council tied his hands, undercut his authority in public and
gave every indication they didn't care what they had to give away in
return for attracting growth, especially for attracting a golf course.
(You folks in Harrisonburg know something about this--it's one of
those, "how often do we have to say no?" kind of deals.) I think it's
entirely possible that the council willfully stuck us in a no-win
situation, so that, if they could not see the golf course development
through personally, they could justifiably say that getting out of the
deal is prohibitively expensive, which is the same thing that happened
with Harrisonburg's golf course and almost happened with Elkton's
near-disastrous Rockingham Street makeover.

On this blog both Mr. Corbo and "Jeff" have challenged Wayne's
assertion that he supported the town buying Miss Kite's property to be
nice and because she has selflessly given so much to the town. Well,
folks, it's true. It's the way things happen in Elkton, and anyone
who's lived here for any length of time will tell you so. For more
than a century, Elkton's been ignored and/or disrespected by the rest
of Rockingham. We've grown to like it that way. It's made us a tight,
self-sufficient community. We even enjoy our bad reputation--we say it
keeps the riffraff out.

The fact is, Elkton is not like anywhere else, and it doesn't want to
be like anywhere else. Now, I don't know whether the Angler deal is a
good one or a bad one. I don't know. No one does. I can tell you it
hasn't been sold to the public well, and most people know almost
nothing about it.

I can tell you what it sounded like to the average Elkton resident: it
sounded like Mr. Snow's voting bloc was getting ready to turn Elkton
into the next Manassas or Fairfax. And anyone who voted against their
interests was either ignorant, rednecked, or plain stupid. The people
in Elkton didn't want to be the next NoVa community, and they didn't
appreciate being treated so disrespectfully.

The fight in Elkton has gotten very personal and very mean. Throughout
the election and in the public forum the rhetoric has generated more
heat than light. I think a lot of it has gone unanswered because the
people who won are busy getting ready to guide the town out of the
disadvantageous mess that's been left to them. And it's a pity,
because it shows good people in a terrible light (and I know and
personally like all of the players in this drama,) and because I know
that words put out in public, over time take on a life of their own.
It goes down hard with me that so many good people have gotten into a
situation where others with extreme views, bad tempers or only part of
the story are making or breaking their reputations at large.

I believe that the old council was doing what it thought best, but it
forgot to consult the public. It believed its opposition was confined
to a vocal minority. The council members forgot who they were working
for. They didn't ask the public what it wanted. They assumed they
knew better. The Angler deal may be the best thing to come down our
way this century, but if the only thing the public hears about is a
golf course that almost nobody wants and if almost nobody trusts the
builder's intentions, it doesn't matter how good the deal is--the
public's wishes will rule.

This election was a definitive statement from Elkton. Here's what I
think it said: We like our town the way it is. We like our community.
We don't want our town to be like anyone else's. Maybe that's a
stretch, and maybe I'm misreading the situation, but I don't think so,
and here's why:

Folks from Elkton are, by and large, modest, hardworking people with
deep roots in the community and a strong sense of pride. The fourth
grade at Elkton Elementary sponsors an annual heritage day. Through
the whole year, the kids learn about Elkton's own history; they learn
about our culture, they learn who we are. Elkton is not the same as
the rest of Rockingham County; whether our isolation, or the long
experience of being the County's "bad side," or the absorption of
people from off the mountain when the Shenandoah National Park was
built, or for whatever other reason, we see ourselves as different. The
public is not opposed to the future, but in the last election, I think
they saw our sense of self being sold on the cheap, and they said no.

They also saw a council that wasn't listening to them and wasn't
respecting them, and so they elected new leaders to do the public's
work and look after the public trust. We all know each other. We all
work together. It wasn't personal--it was about the future of Elkton.
May the new council do its job well. It's time for those mean spirited
people whose interests don't accord with the majority to suck it up and
deal with the fact that they are in the minority, and to recognize that
good people can disagree on issues and remain civil. Every time you
accuse others of underhanded or unethical motives, you say much more
about yourself than you do about them.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Virginia Delagate Clarke Hogan Provides Answers

Sort of…

“Hopefully, this thing will resolve itself”

Cold shudder...

Be afraid... be very afraid...

As I said earlier, I am really not much interested in getting involved or taking a position on the current deepening crisis with the Virginia General Assembly and its problem with time management and getting the job done.

I know there are good people on both sides who are sincere about doing what is right. Unfortunately, that isn't happening. Some of them just want to go home but know that they can't leave this mess unresolved. There are issues... and unfortunately, the leadership seems, for lack of a better word... lost in space.

I really want them to go home. More time for these ladies and gentlemen to hang out in Richmond, listening to lobbyist telling them how to spend more tax dollars is just not good for our health or pocketbooks.

But friends down in Prince Edward County thought that this little bit of insight was just too interesting to pass up.

So... here we go again...

Recently speaking to the Farmville Chamber of Commerce , Delegate Clarke Hogan, Republican, representing the 60th District in the Virginia House of Delegates including the Counties of Charlotte, Halifax, and parts of Nottoway and Prince Edward, explained the current Virginia budget mess in clear terms not normally expressed by more seasoned politicians. As quoted in The Farmville Herald, Delegate Hogan stated:

“Here are the choices that are in front of us right now. We can vote for a billion dollar tax increase a year and to do that we have to throw out about 300 years of legislative tradition. Or we can sit. And we’re going to sit, and hopefully this thing will resolve itself"

Please take a moment to wrap your mind around this statement reported in the May 10th edition of The Farmville Herald. (Sorry, the Herald’s website is apparently not set up for a web-link of this quote to our blog spot)


Out of the mouths of babes, sometimes comes rare truths and insights, the real thinking, the strategy behind the headlines, the unvarnished vision,the real deal.

In this case that real deal, at least according to Virginia Delegate Clarke Hogan is that “we’re going to sit and hopefully this thing will resolve itself.”

Wow, again.

How can this “thing” just “resolve itself”?

How is this "thing" just going to happen? These are serious issues and Delegate Clarke Hogan is suggesting that they are going to just resolve themselves?

Come on... roads are just the tip of the iceberg... We got education, public safety, human services, health care... This is serious business and this Delegate is saying that this "thing" is just going to resolve itself?

Are these the words of leadership in the Virginia House of Delegates?

Be afraid… be very afraid…

The Blogosphere: In the News... Again?

Frankly, I am a little perplexed. First it was the Daily News-Record in Harrisonburg (April 29th) and now the Richmond Times Dispatch. Stories about, of all things…blogging!

Yesterday’s feature by Ray McAllister in the Richmond Times Dispatch entitled “Truth, lies and ax-grinding mix on blogs with little repercussion” provides useful insight into the what we have come to know as the “blogosphere."

McAllister even mentions in passing The Commonwealth Iconoclast as one example of the broad range of blog possibilities.

McAllister’s article is the result of the flap over a state employee, Will Vehres, a business services manager for the Virginia Department of Business Services, for his apparent misuse of his work time while posting comments on one of his favorite blog spots. Adding insult to injury, Vehres'comments, apparently a lame attempt at humor, were viewed as offensive and insulting the entire Martinsville community. Vehres has since apologized and suffered a range of repercussions.

No doubt, Vehres is neither the first nor will he be the last public official whose attempt at humor fell like a lead balloon. But enough on the Vehres saga. Now back to the blogosphere.

Normally, this idea of blogging is not something I give much thought to. For me blogging is just part of the world we live in… another way to communicate.

But I am curious. How does this modern day past-time for countless millions of people all of a sudden become news?

I’m just guessing, but a hundred years ago, people probably hung out in front of the pot belly stove at the general store, or at the barber shop, or even under a favorite shade tree in the town square just to shoot the bull. I suppose there were always boorish people who seemed to have a knack of saying the dumbest things and just at the most inopportune moment. No doubt there were venues where people of scruples knew to stay away or risk having their ears burnt by the indelicate language.

On the other hand, I’ll bet there were also some real nice folks, smart people who got together at some favorite place and had something to say of importance. There are always people who, more than most, are on top of the latest happenings. Those gabfests were no doubt a lot of fun and indeed useful in keeping people up to speed on what was happening in their community.

That was then and this is now.

The blogosphere is just another gabfest… a very big gabfest…with potentially hundreds of millions of people all over the world listening in.

In the blogosphere, it is a whole lot easier to get lots and lots of people together, albeit virtually, to shoot the bull, just like they did a hundred years ago under the old shade tree. I am not sure that there is really much difference other than we are disembodied and connected only by fiber optics.

Just like in days of old, you wanted to hang out with people you had something in common with and listen to what they have to say. If you don’t care to listen to people yapping about sports or American Idol or politics, you stay away from them. As always, people are wise to chose carefully the words they speak and write and should critically weigh what they hear or read. Always be discriminating in what you say and believe.

But this sudden flurry of mainstream news coverage prompts me to reflect a bit on this phenomenon we know as the blogosphere. Maybe the blogosphere has become more than I thought it was.

Basically, the blogosphere is just a product of the Internet which has only been around since the late 1960s, or so. For regular folks, the Internet probably wasn’t really all that commonly available until the perhaps the late 1980s or early 1990’s. But by 2000, the legions of Internet users numbered in the hundreds of millions world wide with their ranks increasing daily at an almost explosive rate.

Bruce Sterling, in his “A Short History of the Internet” described the Internet as “spreading like bread-mold.”

For those of us in the 30 something and under cohorts, the blogosphere seems like it has been here forever. But the term blogosphere itself is not that old, actually dating only to 1999 when it was first coined by Brad L. Grahm, supposedly as a joke!

Well, it is not a joke any more. It is a world-wide "social phenomenon." Anybody can easily participate in the blogosphere either by doing their own blog or by following along and/or contributing to someone else’s blog.

Little kids use blogs to talk about their friends, sports, music, clothes, or whatever. Some of the blogging is very serious… Unfortunately, blogs can be used to advance the anti-social interests of terrorists or hate groups (I hope somebody is watching them). Some blogs are very scholarly and address issues of profound public importance and human interest.

And surprise, surpirse... some blogs are highly commercial operations with big budgets and staff organizations. Make no mistake... there is always money to be made.

Ray McAllister points out that even the Richmond Times Dispatch, mainstream “legitimate” journalism, now sponsors several blogs covering a myriad of subjects ranging from the fun to the serious. No matter what your interest, chances are you can find it out there in the blogosphere. .

Most blogs, like the Iconoclast for example, have very limited financial and staff resources, and rely heavily upon interaction with other blogs, day-to-day current events and reader suggestions for new posts. We try to keep it interesting within our limited resources. We also try to contribute to the discussion of issues of public interest at any level... the world, nationally, state-wide and locally. There is always something to talk about.

Upon reflection, and especially in light of the recent media coverage, I am led to the conclusion that the blogosphere is indeed changing the world. The blogosphere levels the playing field for anyone with an idea to speak to potentially very large audiences. The mainstream "legitimate" media no longer has a monopoly on delivering the news. Indeed the blogosphere is becoming known for keeping the mainstream media on its toes and a little more honest than it might ordinarily be.

The big challenge in the blogosphere is to say something that will make a difference and make the world a better place. But to do so, one must find a way to somehow rise above the roar that inevitably results when millions of voices speak all at once.

Maybe somewhere in the blogosphere, there is a place for words of wisdom, truth and justice.

But hey, everyone has a right to speak! In the words of Bruce Sterling: "The Internet belongs to everyone and no one."

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Appalachia: Where Official Corruption Is No Joke

New Police Raids Shock Community Already Reeling From Indictments of 14 Community Leaders In March

A Question of Public Integrity…

Or lack of it.

Once again, official corruption in the little town of Appalachia, Virginia bubbles up like raw sewerage, to offend the sensibilities of locals and non-locals alike. Having spent a few happy years out in Southwest Virginia in college, I hate to see this kind of thing happen to the good citizens of that beautiful region.

But, clearly the plot thickens as the story of politics in Appalachia unfolds in all its unpleasant detail.

The Roanoke Times reported yesterday on what is becoming a widening investigation of an ugly mixture of voter fraud, kickbacks to public officials, corrupt law local law enforcement, harassment of political enemies and now…big-time illegal gambling. This news report suggests that authorities believe that both “past and present public officials” are involved in this pitiful case of public corruption. This case is obviously in the very early stages of what promises to be a long and depressing investigation and prosecution of “community leaders” who have abused the public trust for selfish personal gratification and financial enrichment.

Today, the Richmond Times Dispatch reports more details of this sordid affair, including the raid of several buildings in downtown Appalachia and the seizure of $220,000 in hard cash and another $225,000 in investment accounts. The prosecutor in charge of the case is quoted as saying that that these operations were making a “lot of money.” One such illegal enterprise was reported as having invested $190,000 in gambling supplies in just one year. With that kind of business "investment, the mind boggles at what kind of gross this operation is producing.

This report also reveals for the first time that the election fraud indictments that came down in March are probably related to the new investigation of big-time illegal gambling activities.

Even though the 38 search warrants produced some impressive findings, there were no new arrests at the time. Maybe we should say… no arrests yet on these new criminal activities.

Just how big is this case of public corruption? No one really knows at this time. But it is getting bigger by the day and appears to be just the latest in a series of shocking revelations involving the highest public officials in this small Southwest Virginia community.

Readers of the Iconoclast may recall that in March of this year, fourteen people including Appalachia Mayor Ben Cooper, and thirteen other so called “pillars of the community” were indicted on charges involving election fraud.

Now, little by little, we are gaining some insight into the motives of why these pillars of the community leadership would betray the public trust. Surprise, surprise… it is the very tempting opportunity of quick and easy money! Who would have guessed?

While the vast majority of people who become involved in politics are honorable people and appropriately motivated to faithfully fulfill their oaths of office and to serve the public interests, politics also has a way of attracting opportunists who for whatever reasons wind up abusing the public trust. This happens too often it seems.

Sometimes, otherwise good people are overwhelmed by the temptations of power and opportunity and go bad through weakness of character. Other times, make no mistake, individuals of fundamentally bad character, seek out politics as a tool to advance their own selfish interests.

It is too early to predict how the Appalachia story will unfold. But my bet is that the house odds don't look so good this time. That is... not unless we are talking about the odds that somebody is going to the big house!

Also see related articles:

Pork Rind Scandal No Longer A Laughing Matter
Pork Rinds: A threat to democracy?

Friday, May 05, 2006

Crisis in Virginia Leadership

The Virginia General Assembly Paralyzed

Uncertainty and Fear Looms Across Commonwealth

Party Season in Richmond Continues

Just what gives with our fine ladies and gentlemen of the Virginia General Assembly?

Over the past month, I promised myself that I would not get involved or take sides in this deepening crisis with the Virginia General Assembly and its struggles to pass a budget and to somehow get a handle on the enormous transportation challenges facing the Commonwealth.

It is a big job. It is a complicated job. These people who represent us in the Virginia General Assembly are big boys and girls and I figured that they deserved a pass from the Iconoclast while they did their important work. So what if it takes a few extra days or even a few extra weeks?

But seriously, this is getting ridiculous.

According to this morning’s Richmond Times Dispatch, the Virginia General Assembly already deep into overtime, today ties the worlds record for overtime, set by that same esteemed body in 2004, in a similarly embarrassing, costly and harmful state of institutional paralysis, that lasted for 115 days.

There are many other pundits who are far more knowledgeable (and interested) in the matters of state budgeting and the Virginia transportation crisis than I am, but I will nonetheless offer a few observations.

The way I understand it, this growing mess in Richmond is a war of wills between the House of Delegates which is dominated by the “anti-tax” faction, and the Senate, which is…well…also conservative but at least somewhat in touch with the fundamental reality that something must be done to ensure the continuation of essential programs and services.

Recently, the Senate has been toying with the idea of giving special local taxing powers to Northern Virginia, Hampton Roads, and the Shenandoah Valley to address their own transportation needs. It seems to me that this idea might actually have some merit: The more we can keep tax dollars away from the Virginia General Assembly and in the hands of local decision makers, the better!

At least the local governments can pass their budgets on time. Also, think of all the money that could be saved by avoiding the administrative costs of having the tax dollars go from the local taxpayers’ pockets, to Richmond, to the colossal state bureaucracy, and then…only after a good bit of overhead cost is subtracted… back to address local needs. Why send the tax dollars to Richmond in the first place? Keep local dollars local and close to the people who actually pay the taxes.

One downside of this idea is that the rest of the Commonwealth, all areas outside of Northern Virginia, Hampton Roads and the Shenandoah Valley are still left to the mercy of the General Assembly. Mmmm… That doesn’t sound too fair for the rest of us.

Concerning the House of Delegates, their claim to fame is their hard-line “anti-tax” position. This is an extremely popular concept in the eyes of most voters…especially those who still believe in Santa Claus and the tooth fairy. Who really wants to pay more taxes? When is the last time that we can recall any “pro-tax” candidates being elected to any office? Answer: It just doesn’t happen…never…no way!

At best, most moderately rational citizens begrudgingly understand that there are costs associated with living in a civilized society. Taxes are a necessary evil that members of society must contribute so that our society can collectively enjoy security and many important services that help make us civilized…education, health care, roads, care for the needy, etc.

The problem with the House of Delegates is that they seem to be getting the reputation of being an old dog with only one trick that being hard line opposition to taxes.

So, how does the House of Delegates propose to deal with the pressing challenges of transportation, education, health care and human services? Answer: A lot of mumbling and hem hawing about “new efficiencies” in government, blah, blah, blah. Somehow, good government services and programs should just happen without having to worry about how they get paid for.

All the while, these same ladies and gentlemen in the House of Delegates continue year after year putting in for their favorite “pork” deals to be paid for out of… you guessed it… public funds. To be fair, I hasten to add that the Senators get their fair share of pork too. Unfortunately pork and politics go hand in hand.

In the end, the scary thing about having our Delegates and Senators hanging around Richmond for 115 days, is that it just gives them more time to do more damage and give out more pork. Think of the extended social calendar, all the dinners, cocktail parties, receptions, most sponsored by lobbyist, all with one hand slapping the backs of their favorite lawmakers and the other hand out for new pet pork initiatives.

One final thought: During the last election cycle for members of the Virginia General Assembly, I seem to recall an alarming number of unchallenged incumbents… in other words, no choices for the voters. That is a real shame, because as present circumstances clearly illustrate, we need choices and we need real solutions to the difficult problems facing the Commonwealth.

Perhaps tomorrow or the next day, the good Senators and Delegates of the Virginia General Assembly will come to their collective senses and get the work done so that they can go home and we can stop worrying about how much this lack of leadership is costing us. Maybe they will just get home sick.

But for now, the party season continues in Richmond.

Note: Party scene is from unknown and undated event, but you get the idea.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Printz and his Royal Court Rule Elkton's Election!

Last Saturday Jenny Jones, a reporter from the DNR in Harrisonburg, stated that the Iconoclast was a "blog about Elkton". Well, not really. It's a blog that once did a few pieces on Elkton, which (if you recall) turned into quite a fiasco! After I posted the blog entry which was somewhat critical of Mayor Printz's activities, I soon realized that the "Elkton beast" was way too much for me to understand. I freely admited that I essentially mimicked the postion - on Mayor Printz - that was reported in the DNR. Mistake? Maybe?

Well, if you picked up the DNR Wednesday morning you will see that Printz put a royal butt whippin (bad pun!) on his opponent, and received somthing like 75 % of the total vote.

Also, it's no secret that Printz is at odds with the current Town Manager, Dennis Donachy. You might recall that Donachy even jumped into the fray and posted several Anti Printz messages on this blog. Now please remember, anyone can post under a "name" in the comment section of a blog. But I do suspect that indeed Donachy did post these comments.

When the current Town Manager did this I immediatley thought to myself "can you say loose cannon"! I don't know him, but for god sake putting your name to a blog entry concerning your professional duties is, well, unprofessional in my opinion!

I don't have a problem with Mr. Donachy or the members of Elkton's Town Council who were ousted. Afterall I don't even live in Elkton! But I'm sure the reason behind Mr. Pritz's victory goes well beyond his dislike of the current Town Manager - who has maybe been with the Town for 2 years? It appears that Elkton had plenty of troubles before the arrival of Mr. Donachy. But as an outsider it appeared to me that Mr. Donachy made a fatal mistake by appearing to be willing to enter the realm of poltics, versus that of a professional manager. But I guess it could be argued that it's hard to divorce the two, especially in an environment as hostile as Elkton? I guess we'll never know...

Therfore, for better or worse the immediate future of the Town of Elkton lies with Mr. Printz and the new Town Council. It is clear that this is what the people of Elkton wanted, and I wish them the best of luck! One thing is for sure, there's no shortage of poltical excitement in Elkton! I can hardly wait for the next chapter to begin!

As always use the comment section, and If you have something you want to post please e-mail it to me ( and I'll be happy to post it (I will site you, but I don't have to include your name if you wish), but as always keep your tone civil and your points well-reasoned.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Thoughts on Local Elections

Blackstone's New Mayor/Editor In Chief

Policy Maker or Watchdog for Public Interest?

Readers of the Iconoclast are probably aware that I have perhaps a little more than passing interests in politics.

I wouldn’t say that I love politics but I do think politics at every level of government, national, state and local, are important. Politics, especially the American brand of politics guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, is what makes America work as well as it does. Not perfect, but far better than most other options we see around the world.

So, while some may not have been too fired up about yesterday’s elections, I found them interesting and comforting that American political process is still working even in years and at times when there are no big contests…no race for the Presidency, no fight for the control of Congress, no pick for Governor… just a lot of municipal elections involving some local folks who want to work on making their own communities better places to live for their neighbors. Indeed this is honorable work...hard work and usually with little reward.

In perusing the election results this morning, I noticed little earth shaking news. Yes, there will be some new faces in municipal leadership across the great Commonwealth. But, lots of incumbents were returned to office for another term of service. So, there will be a healthy blend of old experience and new energy. That is probably a good thing.

I did, however, notice with interest that the small Town of Blackstone, in Nottoway County, down in Southside Virginia, for the first time in 55 years had a contested race for the office of Mayor. In this historic contest, candidates Ortho Fraher, a former member of the Nottoway County Board of Supervisors faced off with political new-comer Billy Coleburn, who happens to also be the editor of the Blackstone Courier-Record, the local newspaper.

According to news accounts there was little to distinguish either candidate from the other on the basic issues, other than the special "conflict of interest" issue that Fraher seemed to frame around candidate Coleburn’s role as editor of the Blackstone Courier-Record. Frahar argued that Coleburn’s job as editor of the local newspaper should be reason enough to keep him out of local politics. The voters apparently did not agree, electing political new-comer Billy Coleburn as Mayor with 403 votes to Fraher’s 311 votes.

Having grown up as a kid in Nottoway County, I know how the politics in Southside Virginia can be. It is a very small world and there are lots of examples of unseemly, close relationships between local politicians and special interests. It is not unusual to see overly cozy relationships between local politicians and the local news rags. In fact in several well known instances, local elected officials in Southside Virginia who are connected to the local press, by employment or ownership relationships, seem unabashedly open and unconcerned about the potential of conflict.

Sources report that Mayor-elect Coleburn seems open and comfortable with the idea of wearing two hats in the future… one as the new Mayor of Blackstone and the other as the seasoned Editor of the Blackstone Courier-Record. In one role, Mayor Coleburn will preside over the development and administration of public policy for the Blackstone community. In the other role, Editor Coleburn will serve as the media "watch dog" evaluating with a critical eye the effectiveness and appropriateness of the same public policy.

While Mayor-elect Coleburn and the voters seem comfortable with this arrangement for now, it does seem to present some risks of compromising media objectivity and fairness on matters of local public policy.

The American form of democracy only works as well as it does because of the Bill of Rights that guarantees under Amendment I both freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Freedom of press presumes also independence of press.

For these basic freedoms to really work…indeed for American democracy to work… it is best to keep government and politics well separated from those who would hold themselves out to be the protectors of truth and fairness in reporting the news and critically evaluating public policy.

For now, the voters have spoken. Only time will tell how well Mayor-elect/Editor Coleburn juggles the conflicting responsibilities of being both the source of public policy and the watch-dog for the public interest.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Daily News-Record runs story about Blogs!

Somehow I missed this, but on Saturday (April 29th) the Daily News-Record in Harrisonburg ran a short piece on blogs and the influence that blogs are having on local politics. Unfortunately I can't find a electronic archive of the story, but I did get my hands on a hard copy this morning. (If I can find an electronic link to the story I will post it)

Jenny Jones, a reporter from the DNR, contacted me last week and wanted a few quotes concerning a piece I did a few months ago concerning Elkton which promted a spirited reaction. Actually Ms. Jones unintentionally leads readers of the piece to believe that the Iconoclast is exclusively about Elkton. Geez, just thinking about Elkton politics makes my head hurt!

Anyhow, it feels nice to be quoted in the DNR! Surely something I never thought would be possible when I started this blog almost a year ago. Unfortunately a fellow Valley blogger - who seemed to miss the point of the article - doesn't appear to be too happy about being snubbed by the DNR. Fortunately this individual chose to take the high road and showed his pacificist side and begged for his legions of loyal supporters not to take vengence on Ms. Jones or the DNR for somehow forgetting to mention their Supreme Leader in the story. Wew, Ms. Jones will probably be lucky if she still has a job today!