Our City, Our State, Our World

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 Election 2015 – Virginia House of Delegates, 25th District

I’ve lived in Albemarle County for about seventeen years and yet I have to admit an embarrassing lack of knowledge about local Virginia politics.  I know who is who on the national level – our two Democratic Senators are Mark Warner and Tim Kaine.  My one representative is Republican Robert Hurt.  What about the folks in Richmond, my state capitol?  Democrat Terry McAuliffe is the governor and… um, somebody is my representative in the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates.  Yikes!!!

Famous Virginian in politics
Famous Virginian in politics

Fortunately, I recently “got schooled” on who is my representative to the Virginia House of Delegates.    Talking to my friend Delna – we both live on the western side of  Albemarle County – I proudly announced that “David J. Toscano is my representative to the House of Delegates.”    I was sure I was right.  I hear about Representative Toscano all the time. I’m a huge fan of his work to preserve the environment and safeguard individual rights.   Hey, he’s even  a Facebook friend so he’s my main man in Richmond!

Delna shook her head, “No, sadly, we’re represented by Steve Landes.

“Who?”  I said.  “I’ve never heard of Steve Landes!”

It turns out my friend Delna was right.   I AM represented by Steve Landes!  But that just led to more questions, if in my 17 years living in Albemarle County I had never met or even heard of the man who represented me in the House of Delegates, does he REALLY represent me?  Does he care that I am an environmentalist?

The Virginia League of Conservation Voters gave Steve Landes a miserable  cumulative score of 46% , including a dismal 20% in 2014!   Compare that to the 100% David Toscano received and it was clear that I better start paying attention!

Once again, my friends came to my rescue.  Jean Wheeler invited me to meet the woman running against Representative Landes in the November, 2015 election:  Angela Lynn.  I found Angela to be interested in my and my issues so I invited Angela to my house for a meet and greet with neighbors and to answer our questions.

Here is part one of my interview of House of Delegates Candidate Angela Lynn.

Meeting Angela Lynn

“Tougher than she looks” could be Angela Lynn’s campaign slogan.   Seeing her from afar, Angela Lynn is a petite, blond, mother of five.  lynnforvirginia1-286x300 She doesn’t look ready to take on the big boys in Richmond.  But once you meet Angela, you quickly stop underestimating her.

Angela is an experienced leader in education and government.  She’s a strong advocate for fairness, ethics, and transparency in government.    As a graduate from the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership at UVA, Angela Lynn is very interested in representing ALL the people of the 25th District – democrats, republicans, and the disenfranchised.

Question:  Who are you?

Angela: “Well, I’m Angela Lynn and I’m married to Nick Lynn.  He was a fighter pilot.  We met at the Air Force Academy and have five kids.  My husband is now an airline pilot with American Airlines.  When he was in the military, we moved around a lot.  We finally settled in Virginia to raise our children and I went to William and Mary for  post-grad classes in education administration.   My undergraduate degree was from Northern Michigan University.   I was a teacher there when I was younger.    The best job for fighter pilot’s wife is to be a teacher or a nurse because you can pick up and go state to state.

I’ve always enjoyed volunteerism.   It’s one of my passions.  When I was a kid, the Peace Corps was popular, the Kennedy era, all of that grabbed me.  So I worked in the Student Volunteer Center and one of the things that we did was sending kids to work with FEMA.  [Federal Emergency Management Agency].

I wanted to see what we were sending them to so I joined FEMA.  I thought it would be temporary, but I ended up staying with FEMA for nine years.  I’ve served in most of the major disasters since Katrina.  I was there from the end part of Katrina all the way up to Sandy.  I was in training in Louisiana and then I started training vets returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.   Essentially, I trained myself out of a job.

So I can home and started working for the county [Albemarle County], but not in a paid position.  I volunteered for the Red Cross and I am now on two boards.  I’m on the Albemarle County Social Service Advisory Board and I’m on the Public Recreational Facilities Authority board.  That looks at conservation and easements.   Working with FEMA helped me prepare for these positions.  It gave me a good idea of how the tax structure works and how it could be better.

And as things progressed, I went to vote and noticed that no one was opposing Steve Landes during that Medicaid fiasco [Virginia denying Medicaid expansion.]  Women’s issues and a lot of important issues were coming down and there was no one on the ballot representing me.  I wondered why.  Then I found out why.  Steve Landes is so protected that it’s almost impossible for people to give him a good challenge.  But I thought it was worth doing, because if we don’t challenge him then it’s just going to stay like this.”

Question:  “Do you live in Albemarle County?”

Angela:  “I do!  I’ve lived at Beaver Creek for a long time.  I had four children graduate from Western Albemarle High School.  I often see teachers from those days.  They come up to me and ask ‘how are the kids?’  We had a great experience.  It was a very good public school.  My kids all did well.  All got good jobs.  So I want to keep public schools high quality, and I want to fund them because I enjoyed it and my children benefited from it.   Other people want the same thing.  I’m meeting with the Albemarle County Chair of the School Board on Tuesday because he is worried.  We’re suffering with loss of monies since 2008.  They [Virginia State Government] have gutted the education system and I was told that $600 to $700 per student has been lost and not regained.”

Read more about the November 2015 election next month including gerrymandering and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline controversy.

Clean the Bay Day in Charlottesville

Great News!!I  was one of the volunteers for Clean the Bay Day, sponsored by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the Nature Conservancy.   I volunteered at Meadow Creek in Charlottesville   It was a beautiful, sunny day but what I found was disturbing.  But first, where exactly is Meadow Creek?

 Here is a map of Meadow Creek.  It runs through Charlottesville, paralleling Route 29.   Meadow Creek

The section I worked on was at the end of Michie Drive, just off Hydraulic Road between the Rt. 250 stoplight and Whole Foods.  You wouldn’t know that a stream passed beside you.  A steam that gives life to fish and birds, and flows into the Rivanna River.   A stream that the City is trying to save.  Read more about The Meadow Creek Restoration Project  here.

2015-06-06 11.37.16
Notice the Styrofoam cups from Take Out and Wendys? How did they get in Meadow Creek?

 The problem is that this stream runs behind shopping centers, fast food restaurants, and far too many apartments and townhouses to count.   This means lots and lots of trash.  Styrofoam cups, Styrofoam plates, plastic soda bottles, and much more.   Are people just throwing this stuff out of their car window?  Perhaps, but just as likely is that  all of this spilled out of overflowing dumpsters.

 With that in mind, here is my request to my readers:  When you see an overflowing dumpster, please take a photo. Send me the photo along with the location of the dumpster (i.e. name of the restaurant or apartment complex) and I’ll alert the business to make changes, like putting in extra dumpsters.  If that doesn’t work, I’ll contact the city.  You can e-mail the photo and information to me at authorcarolynoneal@gmail.com

Zoey helping me clean up Meadow Creek for Clean the Bay Day!
Zoey helping me clean up Meadow Creek for Clean the Bay Day!


The Curse of Oil

       on Oil Producing Countries

And it’s not just the locals who suffer. Western oil companies pay a hefty price in the form of increased personnel costs and security measures, repudiated contracts, production stoppages, “corporate social responsibility” outlays, and, when all else fails, undesired divestiture. Meanwhile, international donors pour precious development funds down a seemingly bottomless hole. 

Nigeria is a textbook case of this syndrome. A once-vibrant economy that included manufacturing, long-distance trade, and agricultural production so abundant that it fed much of West Africa has given way to an oil monoculture. Attacks and kidnappings in the oil-producing south have declined, to be replaced by what officials call industrial “bunkering”—the theft of crude by the barge-load. Oil oozing from sabotaged pipes has poisoned precious marshland. On the other side of the country, the emergence of the Boko Haram insurgency can be partially ascribed to acute corruption and gross regional inequalities associated with Nigeria’s curse.   Read more here

Chayes, formerly special adviser to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is an expert in South Asia policy, kleptocracy and anticorruption, and civil-military relations.

Sarah Chayes

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