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Meyer: Clarifying the ‘transition’ debate

English and grammar are tricky principles for some to understand.

Much has been made of some comments I made during an informal debate on the language for the vision statement for the upcoming Comprehensive Plan revision.

The debate was if the word transition should be added to the sentence, “Its well-deserved reputation for great places, natural and built as well as historic and new, in rural, suburban, and urban settings, will foster economic innovation, fiscal strength, and sustainability.” Supervisor Buffington made a motion to add “transition” as a setting.

My questions were simple: What is a “transition setting”? Would anyone who hasn’t studied Loudoun land use know what that means? Many Loudoun County citizens are not familiar with our policy areas, and I was hoping to clarify a big picture vision for the plan that all could understand.

This question has nothing to do with the preservation of the rural nature of the Transition Policy Area (TPA), which every Board member supports. The debate had to do with the English language.

“Transition” is not an adjective; to be proper English, one would say “transitional setting.” Further, without defining what setting is being transitioned, the phrase is meaningless. A transitional setting could mean transitioning from urban to suburban, or it could mean hundreds of other things as I inartfully pointed out—considering the word is not a nationally recognized specific land use term.

If the word “settings” was replaced with “policy area,” that would be a different discussion altogether. But even then, referring to specific policy areas in a broad vision statement seems out of place.

Supervisor Ron Meyer

(R-Broad Run)

Christman: The gap between words and intent

An old and oft-repeated saying is, “Actions speak louder than words.” Many of us would agree that, for integrity’s sake, our words should align closely with our actions.

U.S. Rep. Barbara Comstock’s statement regarding the firing of James Comey is the most recent example in which there is a gap between her words and her intent.  Rep. Comstock (R-10) issued a terse statement saying that she couldn’t “defend or explain” the firing or the timing. “The FBI investigation into the Russian impact on the 2016 election must continue. There must be an independent investigation that the American people can trust,” she said.

Based upon this statement, readers might assume that there has been a change in her position in light of the recent activities. However, her words lack specifics about who should conduct the investigation, or how it should be done. On follow-up questions to her office, there is, in fact, no change in her position. She trusts the existing Congressional committees and the ongoing FBI investigation. Contrast her ambiguous statement to that of Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), who stated, “My staff and I are reviewing legislation to establish an independent commission on Russia,” and called Trump’s firing of Comey “bizarre.”

Rep. Comstock has a history of conflicting statements, and at what point does the disparity between words and actions, or inaction, become too much? From the last weeks of her campaign, Ms. Comstock didn’t hold back in her scathing assessments of Mr. Trump, including telling the Loudoun-Times Mirror that Trump “doesn’t know anything about the economy,” and that she didn’t “think [Trump] believes in anything aside from himself.” (Loudoun-Times Mirror, April 12, 2016).

These words led, in part, to the Washington Post’s endorsement of her for re-election (“The Post’s Picks for Congress,” Oct. 22, 2016), and because, as the editorial board wrote, “The word ‘Republican is absent from her campaign website; the word ‘bipartisan’ appears throughout.” “Our endorsement is a calculated hope that after wrapping herself in a bipartisan banner, her actions will match her rhetoric,” they concluded.  Perhaps that is Rep. Comstock’s own “calculated hope.” It is a good one.

Since the election Rep. Comstock has avoided any further criticism of President Trump and has a voting record that is fully in support of President’s agenda with the one exception of her AHCA vote. 

Constituents are often left to grapple with this behavior; where her words were diametrically opposed to her voting record. In February, she was asked to explain why she voted for the Holman Rule, which was bundled into an early rules package in the House, which allows Congress to slash individual federal employee salaries to $1. “I voted for it, but I don’t support it. Hopefully it won’t be abused,” said Comstock, on a conference call to thousands of residents of her heavily-federal employee populated district. 

Representative Comstock makes it very difficult to determine what the core principles are that guide her legislative decisions. Since November, she has staunchly refused to hold a Town Hall for her district, despite numerous requests from her constituents that she do so.  Calls to her office are typically greeted with, “I have not had a chance to speak with the congresswoman on this matter.” Many other Members of Congress have held Town Halls since the elections, with events that have sustained reactions from cheers to jeers. Most recently in our state were Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.) and Rep. Thomas Garrett (R-Va.), who faced constituent anger this week at separate Town Halls after voting to repeal the ACA.

Whether you agree or not with Rep. Brat and Garrett, they leave little doubt regarding what they believe and how it informs their votes. 

Despite the jeers, these two representatives showed up to meet their constituents to try and answer people’s concerns. Showing up is an action we haven’t gotten from Rep. Comstock, despite her statement that “we must come together.” (How does that happen without a Town Hall, we wonder?)

Our district has weathered Comstock’s empty words on her support for federal salaries, and empty words on coming together to solve problems. Now, we may be hearing empty words from her on the Trump administration’s firing of FBI director, James Comey, who was in the midst of investigating Trump’s campaign advisors for possible collusion with Russian operatives.

Over the course of several months, we have petitioned Rep. Comstock to support H.R. 356, the “Protecting Our Democracy Act,” This bill was introduced in the House back in January and currently has almost 200 co-sponsors from both parties. The bill would establish a National Commission to “examine any attempts or activities by the Russian government … to use electronic means to influence, interfere with, or sow distrust in elections for public office held in the United States in 2016.”

Rep.  Comstock is not one of the co-sponsors of this bill. Nor has she indicated she has any plans or any ideas about what to do on the matter. Until we see her sign onto existing legislation, or submit something of her own, it is more empty words to her district.

Actions speak louder than words, especially when those words are never actually even spoken. The worst combination are few words and even less action. Unfortunately, that is what Representative Comstock has provided this session. The calculated hope placed in her by voters in the 10th District are yet unrealized.

Amanda Christman

Indivisible Virginia 10

Parrott: Restoring confidence in the FBI

It seems to me that Mr. McCabe (“Comey is out, Ashburn’s McCabe is in. But wait, the fallout is just beginning,” LTM, May 11, page 12) can go along way towards cleaning up the mess that Mr. Comey left and restoring American confidence in the FBI by taking immediate steps in the following areas:

(1) Investigate the person(s) who “leaked” (actually, stole) Top Secret material and gave it to unauthorized people in the “unmasking” scandal;

(2) Continue (?) the investigation into Huma Abedin’s receipt of Top Secret material on her home computer;

(3) Continue (?) the investigation into Anthony Weiner/Carlos Danger’s receipt of stolen Top Secret material into his personal home computer; and

(4) Continue (?) the investigation into the IT people who enabled the technical transfer of the nation’s most secret (actually, Top Secret) material into Hillary’s personal home computer―apparently without the markings that accompany such technical reports, sensitive CIA reporting and Department of Defense operational plans (otherwise dumbed down as “e-mails”). To most of us, it appears that Mr. Comey decided that these grave transgressions of the law were not worth pursuing. As things stand now, we look at Mr. Comey as giving Hillary a pass last July and confirming that some people in America are more equal than others under the law.

One more action by Mr. McCabe would help restore some level of confidence in the FBI: bring the investigation of “Russian influence” to a close as soon as possible. The whole allegation of “meddling” comes across as specious and manufactured―and only became an issue after the November 2016 election when the Democrats tried to explain why Hillary lost to Trump. Up until that time, the Democrats couldn’t be bothered. The investigation has been going on for months and has resulted in nothing substantive. Either recommend charges or close it down. 

If Mr. McCabe can do these things, he will have convinced us skeptics that he is not just another political hack who owes Mr. Comey for his elevation to deputy and will help restore confidence and integrity to an organization that used to have full confidence of the American people. As it stands now, the FBI appears to be totally corrupt and unworthy of continuing our trust. If Mr. McCabe drags out these investigations, he’ll just prolong the low esteem that many of us have about the premier law enforcement agency of the United States―and its leadership.

Evan H. Parrott


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