Nation Steps Left, Virginia Goes Far Right

According to the Inside Nova, Rep. Thomas M. Davis III, R-11th, who once hoped to be the Republican nominee for Senate, will not attend this weekends nominating convention in Richmond. From the chatter on the local conservative blogs it appears that Marshall has a lock on the nomination. Apparently, Gilmore’s more centrist stance which would actually help win him the election has been shunned. Of course, this approach will backfire in November and Mark Warner will win the Senate seat but the Republican Party will maintain their ‘principles.’

So anyways, it will be interesting to see what transpires today at the Convention.

McCain – “Immigration Reform Should be Top Priority”

From the New York Times blogsite – The Caucus

McCain Says Immigration Reform Should Be Top Priority
By Michael Luo

SAN JOSE—In yet another sign of his pivoting toward the general election, Senator John McCain said at a roundtable with business leaders here today that comprehensive immigration reform should be a top priority for the next president.

Mr. McCain’s willingness to address the issue was striking given how the topic became something of a third-rail for Republican presidential candidates during the primary.

When Mr. McCain’s presidential bid stalled last summer, many blamed his advocacy for the immigration reform bill in the Senate, which included a pathway to citizenship for the illegal immigrants already here in the country.

The measure failed last spring after a firestorm of grassroots opposition. The issue became an important touchstone in the Republican primary, as the candidates scrambled to one-up each other in their tough talk on immigration as they sought to appeal to primary voters.

Mr. McCain largely stopped talking about the issue and repeatedly invoked a mantra that he had gotten the message from voters that the borders needed to be secured first, before any solution for the illegal immigrants already here is addressed.

Since he became the presumptive Republican nominee, Mr. McCain has given major speeches on a broad range of issues but has not given one on immigration.

He found a friendly audience, however, here today at a business roundtable held at a Silicon Valley technology firm that included Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, Meg Whitman, the former chief executive officer of eBay who was a leading supporter of Mitt Romney’s but has since begun raising money for Mr. McCain, and a host of executives from Silicon Valley firms.

After several of the business leaders complained about the difficulty in obtaining temporary H1B visas for scientists and engineers, something the Senate immigration bill was supposed to address, Mr. McCain expressed regret the measure did not pass, calling it a personal “failure,” as well as one by the federal government.

“Senator Kennedy and I tried very hard to get immigration reform, a comprehensive plan, through the Congress of the United States,” he said. “It is a federal responsibility and because of our failure as a federal obligation, we’re seeing all these various conflicts and problems throughout our nation as different towns, cities, counties, whatever they are, implement different policies and different programs which makes things even worse and even more confusing.”

He added: “I believe we have to secure our borders, and I think most Americans agree with that, because it’s a matter of national security. But we must enact comprehensive immigration reform. We must make it a top agenda item if we don’t do it before, and we probably won’t, a little straight talk, as of January 2009.”

Mr. McCain asked others on the panels for suggestions about how to “better mobilize American public opinion” behind the notion of comprehensive immigration reform.

Mr. Schwarzenegger, a strong supporter of immigration reform, chimed in, saying the effort could not be accomplished “piecemeal” and called for lawmakers to summon the “courage to go forward.”
“I think all of us have to keep that pressure on Congress,” he said.

Later, Mr. McCain took up the topic again, saying the problem of what to do with illegal immigrants already here needs to be solved, saying “they are also God’s children, and we have to do it in a human and compassionate fashion,” which drew applause from his audience.

PWC Foreclosure Meeting Update

Thanks to Cindy B. for attending the County’s foreclosure meeting and reporting back to us! Here is what her report:

There were only about 13 people there, most had only heard about it from the newspaper article. It was supposed to have been a meeting in their series of Neighborhood Leader Training sessions and the subject was supposed to be vehicles and parking, but because of the tall grass crisis, they changed the topic and got the word out as best they could. This information is also the same as what Michelle Casciato presented to the BOCS meeting last week (you can listen to the audio on the county website). She also showed a map of the county as part of her presentation that showed dots where the worst clusters of vacant houses are. There are almost 7000 “distressed properties” – or vacant houses in the county (doesn’t include occupied houses that are for sale). The county has, to date this year, received 400 tall grass complaints and 400 graffiti complaints. Because of the problem the county has suspended the popsicle sign program to put all inspectors’ time on the vacant house/tall grass issue. In fact, the TOP 5 priority code enforcement issues (putting health, safety and welfare first) are:

1. Unsafe/unfit properties (open to criminal activity)
2. Unsecured pools
3. Unsecured buildings (hazardous conditions)
4. Tall grass/weeds
5. Building maintenance (serious/extremely run down)

The county is looking into training volunteers to pull up popsicle signs

Legal action the county is pursuing:
1. Write ordinance to allow county agents to enter private property to abate graffiti
2. Amend Chapter 22 to allow public works to issue emergency notices for trash/debris at vacant properties and recover costs through tax lien
3. Pursue major property owners/lenders in court for noncompliance with county ordinance

Technically it is trespassing to remove trash on a property or mow the lawn. Call the agent/owner and ask permission.

County can’t afford to paint over all graffiti on private property. City of San Jose spends $2 million a year to clean up graffiti. PWC Clean Community Council uses a special formula to get rid of graffiti, but even they can’t go on private property without permission. County would like to get rid of graffiti within 3 days, but still dealing with obstacles.

County is working to streamline the process of an inspector going out to confirm tall grass, getting a contractor to do an estimate to mow, then mowing, then inspector following up.

If you see a lawn is mowed, call and let Neighborhood Services know.

County is disseminating this information to Neighborhood Watches, HOAs, etc.:

Neighborhood Network Activation

  • Vacant house check list for health, safety and welfare issues
  • Disseminate to groups such as established neighborhood groups, neighborhood watches, and other concerned citizen groups upon request
  • Solicit neighborhood volunteers to monitor vacant houses in neighborhoods to report unsafe conditions
  • Neighborhood Services to address reported unsafe conditions from volunteers
  • Go ahead and ask the realtor if you can mow the grass. Someone in audience (about 13 people attended) admitted to just mowing a vacant property. She said when she did, the neighbors came up and asked if she was moving in, and then once they saw It was okay for her to do it, they helped out.

    County calls realtors to explain to them how much it costs the county to mow a lawn and how that will go on a lien against the property and that may drive a buyer away.

    If you get together as a group to take care of a vacant house (and get permission from the owner/real estate agent/bank), remember to greet the new neighbor when they move in and make sure they feel welcome, but also explain what the standards are for living in the neighborhood, such as regularly mowed lawns, etc.

    County wants you to do this:
    Citizen Action

    • Call police if you observe any illegal activity at a vacant property
    • Consider starting or joining a Neighborhood Watch
    • Volunteer to watch a home for a realtor. Establish a relationship, notify them when the grass is tall and notify them when the house has a structural problem (siding down, broken shutter or window, open doors, etc.)
    • Volunteer to mow (avoid trespassing – obtain permission from the owner or call the realtor on the For Sale sign. Use the county “Mapper” on the county website to ID who the owner is.
    • Report property code violations to Neighborhood Services (and call if the grass gets mowed)
    • Complete the “Eyes and Ears” Checklist (this is on the county website)


    This is too good not to share. Now I’ve been told that I need to get out more because this game(20Q) has been on the market for many years but it’s the first that I’ve seen of it. If you’d like to get an idea how it works, visit –, select ‘Think in American’ then ‘Classic 20q’ on the bottom left-hand row; it’s unnecessary to fill the stuff in at the top of the page. The computer game and the hand-held version are very similar but I have to admit there’s something freaky about the handheld one.

    There is help for neighborhoods, learn how!

    Thanks Cindy B for posting the link to this Manassas Journal article in an earlier thread! Being that much of what people have concerns about involve their neighborhoods, this seems like a proactive approach to dealing with issues that arise!

    Citizen action is what’s needed to combat Prince William’s growing trend of housing vacancies, said the county’s Neighborhood Services Division, and the hows, whys and whats of a new plan to compel just such is scheduled for presentation tonight.

    “Vacant homes tend to progress from tall grass to broken windows, which must be boarded,” according to a county press release on the issue. “Graffiti, criminal activity, structure deterioration and blight often follow.”

    Concerned residents can report homes that have fallen into this state to the county via a form posted on the division’s Web site, called “A Neighborhood Eyes and Ears Checklist for Vacant Houses.” Staff will then follow up the report with a visit to the property, the county reports.

    It’s this resident reporting initiative that will be presented to the public tonight at 7 p.m. at the McCoart Building, in the Potomac Conference Room. Called “Vacant Houses, County Resources and Citizen Actions,” the presentation is aimed at reversing the trend of abandoned and emptied homes that has left the county with about 7,000, according to recent Neighborhood Services statistics.

    The complaint system is anonymous for those who opt.

    Right now, the menu of reportable code violations is extensive. Aside from tall grass—the county has an ordinance that limits grass height to 12 inches—and broken windows, complaints can target vehicles that are parked on grass and gravel as well as vehicles that do not display current state registration tags and county stickers.

    Furthermore, anonymous complainers can also report when neighbors erect fences or build decks, garages and housing additions without proper zoning approvals; alter housing systems like cooling and electrical without build-ing permits; operate home-based businesses, to include child day care, without the necessary occupation and special use permits; leave trash and furniture outside; and exceed occupancy limits for their particular homes.

    The meeting is open to the public, but registration is requested by calling 703-792-7018.

    More Ticks, Mosquitoes, and Rats; Another Consequence of Empty Homes

    The time has come for our elected officials to address this impending health crisis in Prince William County. Not only are the sheer number of foreclosures a fiscal crisis, but there is a rising health concern as well. Now we must all band together and start creating some innovative solutions to deal with the foreclosure crisis. This issue affects us all!

    No county in the region has been hit harder by the foreclosure wave than Prince William, where there are nearly 7,000 empty houses, said neighborhood services coordinator Michelle Casciato. Given recent census estimates, that means about one in 20 houses in the county are unoccupied.

    The county has had only a few cases of West Nile virus in recent years, he said, but it’s more of a concern this summer. “The risk is increasing with these vacant and unmaintained homes,” Meehan said.

    And new residents aren’t filling up the empty houses fast enough. Although home sales in the county increased 14 percent from January through April compared with the same period last year, foreclosures in the county have gone up 211 percent in that time. There were 645 foreclosures last month in Prince William, Manassas and Manassas Park, court records show.

    Frustration and impatience have turned some residents into lawn-care vigilantes, who attack the blighted yards with their own mowers and implements. Technically, it’s trespassing, but health and safety matters come first.

    PWC cannot thrive without a strong small business component

    What amazes me, is that there is a segment in the community of PWC that would rather see these small latino businesses go under, than acknowledge that ALL businesses play a role in the fiscal health of our community.  I have said this for several years, we cannot thrive if our revenue is based solely on real estate revenue.  Each one of us is experiencing first hand what happens to a community that depends on real estate taxes to “pay the bills”.  Even though our real estate assessments are plummeting, our taxes are increasing.  There is nothing wrong with catering to different ethnicity’s!  Has anyone ever visited New York City, been to Washington D.C. ?  These communities THRIVE on their diversity!  How about “Chinatown” or “little Italy”, clearly they too cater to a specific ethnic group, this a part of what makes America awesome!

    How Many Illegal Aliens Are Serving in Iraq and Afghanistan Today?

    Despite the mounting evidence of these recruitment practices, the Pentagon denies that illegal immigrants are in the military. “If there are any,” says Pentagon spokesman Joseph Burlas, “then they have fraudulently enlisted, and when they’re caught, they are discharged.”

    That is what happened to Army Pvt Juan Escalante, whose illegal status was discovered while he was serving in Iraq. He was discharged and shipped home, and ICE began deportation proceedings against him and his parents, who had smuggled him into the United States from Mexico when he was four years old. However, Escalante’s unit commander wrote a letter on his behalf, saying he had served with distinction, so ICE reversed its decision and accepted his citizenship application. The deportation case against his parents, who also have two U.S.-born children, is still pending.

    What recruiters do not tell their targets, however, is that the military itself has no authority to grant citizenship. It forwards their citizenship applications to ICE, which will then scrutinize them and their entire families for up to a year. Created under the Homeland Security Act of 2002 as the successor to the law enforcement arms of both the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and the U.S. Customs Service, ICE has been tasked “to more effectively enforce our immigration and customs laws and protect the United States against terrorist attacks.” ICE does this, as its website explains, “by targeting illegal immigrants: the people, money and materials that support terrorism and other criminal activities.”

    Recruiters also do not tell their targets that citizenship can be denied for the very same past criminal offenses that the military may have overlooked when admitting them—such as being in the country illegally.

    As the war in Iraq drags on and recruiters step up their efforts to enlist high school students—even demanding the right to come into classrooms—teachers, parents, and students themselves are doing what they can to slow the rate of enlistment of young immigrants who believe that military service is their path to citizenship. But as long as American citizenship remains a kind of salvation myth for the Latino community, military recruiters will be able to exploit their longing for it.

    The Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill (S 1639), which failed to pass the Senate in June, proposed to give legal permanent residency to any “alien who has served in the uniformed services for at least 2 years and, if discharged, has received an honorable discharge.” In other words, illegal immigrants have been in the military all along, and the government was getting ready to admit it. Now, with the bill’s defeat, they will be forced to remain hidden, and the sacrifices they have made for this country will continue to go unacknowledged.

    Happy & Safe Memorial Day Weekend to All

    Great start to a wonderful weekend with the celebration of our 3rd ‘Support the PWC Economy Party.’ It was great to see everybody again. I wish everyone a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend. And, as we go about our activities this weekend let’s remember those who have served in our armed forces and especially those who have died in their service to our country.

    Where are the Rules?

    If there’s rules then I’d like to see them changed so that the next time a citizen makes a racist comment they get called out. In my opinion, Bob’s talk was uncomfortable and made me cringe a couple times, but in comparison to some of the other things that I’ve heard from people standing at that podium, I’m not quite sure it rises to the standard of a public reprimand. As far as I know, this is the third instance of this happening since October.

    1. The Hispanic lady that tells the board to kiss her a$$ to which John wants her deleted from future broadcasts.
    2. Maureen Caddigan says ‘Can someone stop that woman from coming here?’ in response to Donna Widawski’s.
    3. And now Bob Wills

    Again, none of these incidents bother me more than these incidents which stand out in my mind.

    1. The woman who said she doesn’t like it when a Hispanic can own homes and she can’t.[I mean what is that about? Let’s do an exercise, re-read the previous sentence and substitute Black for Hispanic. Obviously offensive. Do people not get it?
    2. Mattes’ statement – It is scary, and she wouldn’t be surprised, if these guys [daylaborers] came across the road & jumped a car and hijacked it.[Okay, worse case scenario, you have a group of men(Hispanic) loitering, looking for work, most likely in a state of mixed immigration status.]
    3. Another lady who said she felt uncomfortable when the daylaborers nodded their heads at her.[Reminds me of Obama’s grandmother admitting she felt uncomfortable with Black men.]

    Echoing others at the forum, he said he was “embarrassed by the treatment of immigrants in Prince William County.”

    From what I understand, having been told by attendees at the forum yesterday, the overall tone was very warm towards the dilema of illegal immigrants.  Little of the Help Save Manassas rhetoric, except for a few “regulars” we all know from PWC, were there to speak.  We have to remember to keep what is happening in PWC in persective, it is easily to lose sight that there are plenty of people, like many of us who post here, that want to find long term positive solutions to a broken immigration system. Our “collective voice” just needs to be heard! There are ways to some up with solutions that will not tear our community apart. We can empathize with people dealing with neighborhood issues while not allowing misinformation, fear, anger, and propoganda to set the agenda for creating new solutions to our outdated immigration policy.

    A state commission studying the costs and benefits of immigration to Virginia heard mainly about benefits yesterday at its first public hearing, where most speakers exhorted panelists to pursue efforts to integrate immigrants and shun policies intended to drive out illegal immigrants.

    “In a nation that can afford to be generous to the least of these, too many people live in fear of a knock on the door because they are of Latino descent,” Front Royal resident Tom Howarth told the 20-member panel. Echoing others at the forum, he said he was “embarrassed by the treatment of immigrants in Prince William County.”