Bluebell Festival in Nokesville!

Hey everyone, if you really want to enjoy Mother Nature’s splendor, don’t miss this opportunity at Merrimac Farm! See the info below from the Prince William Conservation Alliance:

Bluebell Festival at Merrimac Farm Wildlife Management Area
15014 Deepwood Lane, Nokesville, Virginia

Saturday, April 11, 009 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Free of charge, no reservation required.

More information: 703-499-4954,,

Bring your family and friends to Merrimac Farm on Saturday, April 11, to welcome spring and view the spectacular display of Virginia Bluebells that carpet the floodplain along Cedar Run for nearly a mile.

Event includes a nature art show and naturalist-led tours to Cedar Run, where everyone can learn more about the birds, butterflies, frogs and other wildlife at Merrimac Farm.

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New Dog Park Opens in Gainesville

Residents of Prince William County have been clamoring for a dog park for years. Finally one has arrived, thanks to Merrifield Garden Center. The park, the first of its kind, has been open for about 6 weeks. Merrifield has had a presence in the county for about a year and a half. However, up until recently, they only had a satellite shop. The new center which looks like a huge sports arena from Wellington Road is not completely finished but open to the public. If it is anything like the parent company in Fairfax, it will be a wonderful garden experience. According the Manassas News and Messenger:

And it’s something Merrifield president and co-owner Bob Warhurst said he’s wanted to create for a long time.

Merrifield has had a presence in Prince William for about a year and a half, but its present facility has been open only since mid-November.

The chain’s other two locations, in Fairfax County, don’t have enough room for a doggie den. But when Warhurst realized he could transform an overflow parking area, he went for it.
He said he felt sorry for canines who rarely got a chance to run around.

“I’ve had several people come here since we’ve had this dog park and say, ‘Oh my goodness, this is the first time I’ve had my dog off-leash for two years,’” Warhurst said.

The setup was fairly simple: The Merrifield folks put down a couple inches of mulch and fenced off two areas.

“We have one that’s 40-by-40 for little dogs, and we have one that’s 50-by-80 for larger dogs,” Warhurst said. “I think the real winner here is the dog.”

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A New National Conservative Blog Rears Its Head

Today a new blog was born:
I just checked out Fox Nation. I almost had the proverbial ‘BIG ONE’ of Sanford and Son fame. Here is their stated purpose:

Our Purpose

The FOX Nation Statement of Purpose

The Fox Nation was created for people who believe in the United States of America and its ideals, as expressed in the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Emancipation Proclamation.
It is a community that believes in the American Dream: Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. One that believes being an American is an honor, as well as a great responsibility—and a wonderful adventure.

This is a place for people who believe we live in a great country, a welcoming refuge for legal immigrants who want to contribute their talent and abilities to make our way of life even greater. We believe we should enjoy the company and support of each other, delighting in the creativity, ingenuity, and work ethic of one and all, while observing the basic rules of civility and mutual respect and, most importantly, strengthening our diverse society by striving for unity.

The Fox Nation is for those committed to the core principles of tolerance, open debate, civil discourse–and fair and balanced coverage of the news. It is for those opposed to intolerance, excessive government control of our lives, and attempts to monopolize opinion or suppress freedom of thought, expression, and worship.

We invite all Americans who share these values to join us here at Fox Nation.

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Weekend Discussion

Let’s take another break from structure. What do you, the readers and contributors, want to discuss? How about March Madness? The weather? The cherry blossoms/parade? Court-ordered psychological exams? Gardening? Spring Break plans? A new recipe? Reporting in from Committee of 100 or the health care symposium?

Have a go at it. Inquring minds want to know.

Health Care Forum at GMU-PW on April 3

March 23, 2009
Coping with the Cost of Health Care

George Mason University Prince William Campus Convenes National Issues Forum on April 3

MANASSAS, VA–George Mason University is convening a National Issues Forum on health care policy called “Coping with the Cost of Health Care,” on Friday April 3 from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm in Room 130 of Bull Run Hall at the University’s Prince William Campus.

The public is invited to participate in the dialogue, which will break out into small moderated groups of 12 or less to consider each of three approaches on how Americans should pay for the health care we need: 1) reduce the threat of financial ruin, 2) restrain out-of-control costs and 3) provide coverage as a right. Participants will each receive a National Issues Forum guide.

“A National Issues Forum is more than just talk,” explains Charvis Campbell, Assistant Dean of University Life at the Prince William Campus of George Mason. “This is a face-to-face dialogue to hash out the trade-offs among the various approaches, and take a first step towards finding common ground. George Mason is pleased to be part of the process.”

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Maryland is for Crabs– But Maybe Not This Year

Crab season begins April 1. However, the crab processing plants in Dorchester County, Maryland might not be opening, thus contributing even more to the recession. There simply are not enough workers to staff the crab plants. Chesapeake Bay area watermen are pleading with Congressman Frank Kratovil to do something about the situation.

For the past 10 years or so, the workers have come from Mexico and Central America on special visa for seasonal work. Now government red tape is causing so much of a delay that the entire industry might be affected.

So why don’t local folks take these jobs? Kids are working elsewhere. Crab processing is dangerous work and it used to be generational work. Kids would go with parents and other family members and learn to process crab. Nowadays, you have to be at least 16 years old with parent permission to even go in the plants. Most of the American crab pickers are now senior citizens.

At first, there were enough temporary worker visas — not just for crab picking, but for landscaping, construction and other seasonal businesses. But as Americans became concerned about immigrants taking residents’ jobs, Congress began limiting the number of H2B visas and creating other obstacles for businesses that depend on temporary workers.

This year, the H2B program was limited at 66,000 temporary visas. None of those went to the people who had been working in Dorchester County’s crab processing plants.

According to, a Baltimore TV station, the crab industry out of the Bay is on the verge of collapse while Maryland congresspersons scramble to save the day.

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ERICKSON COLUMN: The myth of special treatment for illegals

Mr. Howler is famous for bellowing at me from another room. Today he hollered out from the kitchen, “Moon, do you know Jerry Erickson?” I said yes. Then I couldn’t remember where I knew him from. Then the normal spousal questions fired back and forth…who is he…I can’t remember…..why do you want to know…those kinds of things.


Finally, he told me why he asked.  There was a column in the paper by Jerry Erickson, who  is a Woodbridge attorney. We used him many years ago when our daughter was in a serious automobile accident. What I did NOT know is that he has a column in the News and Messenger and that he now specializes in immigration law.

Mr. Howler and I do not see eye to eye on the immimgration issue. However, he did call my attention to this opinion piece by Mr. Erickson. He puts forth some interesting facts that often are not discussed. I am posting it in its entirety. There is no way to consolidate and summarize.

Jerry Erickson
Published: March 25, 2009

In order to have a meaningful debate on the topic of comprehensive immigration reform, it’s important to discuss the issues using understood terms and definitions. First, we need to have a common understanding of the term at the center of the immigration debate, “illegal alien”. Ironically, this term, which is thrown about by nearly everyone involved in the immigration debate, is not used in immigration regulations or formally defined by the federal government. For debate purposes, an illegal alien can be considered a person who is in the U.S. without any legal paperwork or immigration status. This would include an individual who enters the U.S. without proper documentation or permission as well as an individual who enters with proper documentation or permission but does not abide by the terms of his or her stay in the U.S. Of the approximately 12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S., it’s estimated that almost half entered the U.S. on a visa that allowed them to visit the U.S.  temporarily, but then stayed beyond the time permitted in their visa.

MYTH: Illegal aliens shouldn’t receive special treatment for being here illegally.

FACT: For the vast majority of illegal aliens, there is no legal way under the current immigration law to obtain legal status while in the United States.

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Ring Ring…..”Hello”….”Hi Elena, its Corey, lets talk Land Use”

So that was how my weekend began on Friday, a surprise phone call from Corey Stewart. Corey pitched an idea to me about creating a new citizen land use committee to help formulate a better land use chapter for the county. Although initially I was excited, upon some deeper introspection, I realized, the very idea of another land use committee was actually a poor idea. Calling Corey back the next day, I shared my trepidation and ultimate decision not to participate on such a committee. You see, Corey shared his frustration with the land use process not having enough citizen input. I agreed, wholeheartedly, with his analysis.  But, forming a new citizen committee,  beyond the scope of the formal public process, in my opinion,  could be interpreted as another, behind the scenes, ” business as usual”,  closed government strategy. 

The real underlying problem is that our process in this county is broken. The Land Use Advisory Committee (LUAC) had members who had CLEAR, actually BLINDING, conflicts of interest. In fact, one of the glaring issues with Robert Duecaster, beyond his immigration rhetoric, was the very fact that he had NO Human Services experience. Who are the people that are appointed to these committees? Should there be a level of knowledge on the specific subject in order to participate? 

Apparently Wally Covington reached out to Katherine Gotthardt(click here to read more) to be on a land use committee also. Is it the same land use committee as Corey? I don’t know? But the reality is that the public process is well on its way, and has been for two years. The Planning Commission, having two plans to choose from as Charlie Grymes so eloquently points out in his commentary, will make their decision on April 15th.

Land use decisions effect each and every one of us, and the “business as usual” paradigm in Prince William County must be resolved. If it is not, if we continue down this same path, we can only expect to see our taxes increase, our infrastructure become even more burdened, and ultimately, our quality of life diminished irreparably. 

FAIR Issues Code Orange “Amnesty Watch”

The stars appear to be aligning for another opportunity for Comprehensive Immigration Reform. Apparently, Federation for American Immigration Reform(FAIR) connects the dots and reads the writing on the wall. Here’s what they report:

  1. A “placeholder bill” S-9 has been reserved by the Democratic Senate leadership. The lower the number, the higher the priority. Known as “A bill to strengthen the United States economy, provide for more effective border and employment enforcement, and for other purposes” it is, in fact, the legislative reservation where illegal alien amnesty will ultimately be debated.
  2. Amnesty advocacy groups, purporting to represent Hispanic voters, are seeking to leverage those votes to gain amnesty for illegal aliens.
  3. President Obama has appointed a disturbing volume of administration officials who are on record as opposing enforcement and/or supporting amnesty. Among them include Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano whose immigration enforcement record as Governor of Arizona is mixed, at best. Others include Cecilia Munoz as Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, formerly a Vice President of La Raza, Hilda Solis, Secretary of Labor who has supported in-state tuition for illegals and opposed REAL ID, and Rep. Gutierrez (D-IL) who continues his 16-city National Amnesty Tour condemning immigration enforcement and encouraging grassroots organizing to pressure lawmakers.
  4. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently told a group of both legal and illegal immigrants that enforcement of existing immigration laws, as currently practiced, is “un-American.” The speaker, condemning worksite enforcement efforts by ICE agents, referred to the immigrants she was addressing as “very, very patriotic.”
  5. In response to an ICE worksite enforcement effort at a Bellingham, WA plant employing illegal aliens, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano revealed her true opinion of worksite enforcement by saying she had “grave concerns” about the enforcement, and promised to “get to the bottom” of it.
  6. Widespread efforts are underway to roll back or entirely dismantle ICE worksite enforcement and the 287g program. This administration appears to be pushing for immigration enforcement only against convicted violent criminal felons and terrorists. While these individuals must be identified, detained, and/or deported, only targeting this population constitutes a hands-off policy for the vast majority of the illegal alien population.
  7. E-Verify is still waiting for its permanent reauthorization. It is being held hostage to be used as leverage in a broad amnesty battle. Keeping E-Verify’s existence sputtering along six months at a time with the help of Senator Reid and others maximizes the advantage for the amnesty advocates and their agenda. The expiration of each six-month term represents a new opportunity to use their ace in the hole. “We’ll think about approving E-Verify; you give us amnesty” is the game strategy.
  8. Groups like America’s Voice, Center for American Progress, MALDEF, LaRaza, and scores of others have shifted their arguments for amnesty to conveniently fit the current economic turmoil and are now claiming that providing a “path to citizenship” for 12 million illegal aliens will actually improve the economy and increase wages. In a more subtle shift, the opposition is now using three tactics in their efforts and arguments to push for legalization: Ignoring the Facts, Appealing to Emotion, and Intimidating and Attacking their Opposition.
  9. Last, but not least, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (R-NV) was quoted in the Hispanic press as saying, “I expect to achieve it (amnesty) before September, and I feel extremely confident that we can pass it. We are 59 Democrats and we need 60 votes, then we are going to need a little help and we are going to need them (the Republicans).” [Ponen fecha para reforma migratoria, El Informador, January 28, 2009]

Re-introduction of Dream Act

What is the Dream Act?

The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act (also called “The DREAM Act”) was a piece of proposed federal legislation in the United States that would provide certain immigrant students who graduate from an American High School, are of good moral character, arrived in the US as children, and have been in the country continuously for at least five years prior to the bill’s enactment, the opportunity to earn conditional permanent residency. The students will obtain temporary residency for a lapse of six years. Within the six year period, a qualified student must attend college, and earn a two year degree, or serve in the military for two years in order to earn citizenship after the six years period. If student does not comply with either his/her college requirement or military service requirement, temporary residency will be taken away and student will be subjected to deportation.

Getting word that the Dream Act will be reintroduced shortly. The passage of this legislation never looked as promising as it does now. Please consider offering your support.

More information –

Local Multi-Racial Students to be Categorized Differently

Since the advent of NO Child Left Behind (NCLB), education in general has become more data-driven. Now students in the Washington, DC area will be able to select a more specific racial destinction. The Washington Post today reports that a new way of classifying students will give parents more options and will give educators and bureacrats at the Dept. of Education more detailed information.

For decades, students have been counted in one of five racial and ethnic groups: American Indian or Alaska native; Asian or Pacific Islander; Hispanic; non-Hispanic black; or non-Hispanic white. The categories date to the 1960s and were standardized in 1977 to promote affirmative action and monitor discrimination in housing, employment, voting rights and education.

Starting in 2010, under Education Department rules approved two years ago to comply with a government-wide policy shift, parents will be able to check all boxes that apply in a two-step questionnaire with reshaped categories. First, they will indicate whether a student is of Hispanic or Latino origin, or not. (The two terms will encompass one group.) Then they will identify a student as one or more of the following: American Indian or Alaska native; Asian; black or African American; native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander; or white.

The new rules will allow students and parents to recognize bi-racial students and not force students to disregard part of their culture. Since so many components of NCLB involve data, it will supposedly be more difficult for certain groups of kids fall between the cracks.

During the 2000 census, approximately 6.8 people were identified as multi-racial. Civil Rights groups feel that reclassifying is needed.

Many civil rights advocates agree that it’s necessary to document the growing number of multiracial students, but they say these categories will mask valuable information about race that could be used to analyze educational challenges some groups face. They say it would be more accurate to report the data in detail, with racial and ethnic combinations.

“If we don’t know that some multiracial, Hispanic and black students are doing worse,” said Melissa Herman, a sociologist at Dartmouth College, “we can conveniently ignore that they are doing worse.”

Not all schools will be using the new categories right away. For now, 15 states plan to use the new system of categorizing.

Does NCLB invade privacy? Should we know if a child is economically deprived? Do we need to track race so closely? When is too much information too much?

A Slippery Place in the US Work Force

Part 2 of the NY Times series, Remade in America continues looking at the plight of the newest immigrants. According to the NY Times:

The United States has experienced the greatest surge in immigration since the early 20th century, with one in five residents a recent immigrant or a close relative of one.

The series moves from Prince William County to Morristown, Tennessee where the source of income comes from the furniture industry and the poultry industry. The industrial city in eastern Tennessee has seen a huge increase in immigration the since around 2000. The population is now about 10% Latino, some legal and some illegal. It is estimated that about half of the Latino population is here illegally.

The recession has hit this area very hard. The resources available to citizens and legal residents do not exist for the undocumented immigrants who must fend for themselves. Most help comes from local churches. Remarkably, most do not want to leave. Most do not want to return to their country of origin (most in Morristown are from Mexico) because they feel their country holds nothing for them.

Instead, as the recession deepens, illegal immigrants who have settled into American towns are receding from community life. They are clinging to low-wage jobs, often working more hours for less money, and taking whatever work they can find, no matter the conditions.

Despite the mounting pressures, many of the illegal immigrants are resisting leaving the country. After years of working here, they say, they have homes and education for their children, while many no longer have a stake to return to in their home countries.

“Most of the things I got are right here,” Mr. López said in English, which he taught himself to speak. “I got my family, my wife, my kids. Everything is here.”

This area has a 2-tiered blue collar system.

Hispanic immigrants — many hired through temporary staffing agencies that offered no vacation pay or health coverage — were on the bottom, in jobs where they faced little competition from Americans.

The audio slide show summarizes the plight of several different immigrants. Strange how things change when we put a face on a situation.

‘Maria Full of Grace’ at GMU-PW

The Immigration & Human Rights Cinema continues tomorrow evening, Saturday March 21 at 7:30 pm, with a screening of  “Maria Full of Grace” in the Verizon Auditorium on the George Mason University, Prince William Campus.  After the film is a facilitated discussion.  The film is rated “R” and raises economic and social issues related to drug trafficking, immigration and human exploitation.  The film is in Spanish with English sub-titles.  Admission is free.