Against a backdrop of election-year politics, the Manassas City Council moved this week to enact new hurdles for hospitals, outpatient surgery centers and women’s health clinics that want to expand or open new facilities within the city limits.

Residents on both sides of the abortion debate packed the Manassas City Hall chambers April 27 to watch the council update its 69-year-old zoning ordinance to include new rules for “medical care facilities,” which will likely require special use permits to locate anywhere in the city.

Introducing the measure, Mayor Harry J. “Hal” Parrish II sought to frame the issue as “reasonable land-use regulations” intended to allow the council to consider things like parking lot size, hours of operation and access for emergency vehicles before approving the permits, which are also subject to public hearings.

Parrish, who is the GOP nominee in the hotly contested race to replace retiring Sen. Charles J. Colgan, cast the tie-breaking vote on the issue, joining fellow Republicans Marc Aveni, Vice Mayor Jonathan Way and Councilman Ian Lovejoy in supporting the changes.

Republican Council Members Mark Wolfe and Sheryl Bass joined the panel’s only Democrat, Ken Elston, in opposing the measure. A second reading and vote on the zoning ordinance is scheduled for May 11.

All three of the Democrats competing in the upcoming June 9 primary to run against Parrish in November – Del. Michael Futrell, 2nd, Atif Qarni and Jeremy McPike — were present for the vote and quick to criticize Parrish’s decision.

“He’s created this façade that he’s moderate and he really isn’t,” Qarni said. “And this vote is just an example of that.”

Hal Parrish needs to understand that he just lost himself a lot of votes in the 29th Senate District.  He needs to understand that he aided and abetted people who are pushing their own religious agenda down the throats of others.  Parrish needs to understand that his gentlemanly ways that have made people like him will not sweet talk voters out of making him pay at the ballot box.   I cannot vote for him now.

The same people get up every council meeting whining about the abortion clinic and about their religious beliefs.  Most people I know can’t stand to watch the meetings because of the inordinate amount of time spent on this one issue.  Some members on the council have  encouraged this constant droning, meeting after meeting.    Councilman Marc  Aveni has a long  trail of anti abortion behavior including a continual cross-over between church and chamber rooms, according to some contributors.  He is misusing land use and zoning issues to advance his own religious agenda.  Aveni apparently feels that the women of Virginia are not capable of making their own morally appropriate decisions.  His two anti women side-kicks, Way and Lovejoy apparently agree with him.   Now he is joined by Hal Parrish.  Does Parrish also believe that deeply personal decisions involving reproduction should be made by the government rather than the woman?

The 29th senate district  is being carefully watched by the pro-choice groups because of the many mis-fires from the Colgan camp on the subject of reproductive rights.  What Colgan was able to get away with  is one thing–he was a champion for many other issues Virginians deem important.  Hal Parrish will not be afforded the same luxury.  Parrish won’t get a pass for anti choice legislation from the City of Manassas.  In fact, he just signed the race over to one of  the 3 democrats who are vying for their party’s nod because of his anti-choice position.

It is totally disingenuous to pretend that land use and zoning are the issue here.  The entire debate is about stripping away reproductive rights using subterfuge and emotion covered by a thin veneer of  “city planning.”   Actually, what has happened is poor planning and poor process.  The Council went against what was recommended by their own people and should have been voted on, in the open, during a regular session, as reported by Jill Palermo with Inside Nova:

That review led to several staff recommendations, including that the city adopt the medical care facility designation for medical uses that fall between full-fledged hospitals and traditional doctor’s offices in terms of land-use impacts such as parking and traffic.

But the city’s zoning staff and planning commission also recommended that such facilities be allowed “by right” in three of the city’s six commercial zoning districts.

During a work session April 20, however, the council voted 4 to 3 – with Parrish breaking the tie – to instead require medical care facilities obtain special use permits in all areas of the city.

Bass, the council’s only female member, said in an interview Tuesday she was satisfied with the staff’s initial recommendations and was “surprised” by the new proposal, which she called “unnecessary.”

Bass said she was also disappointed that the change was voted on during a work session and not a regular council meeting.

“I don’t consider that transparent,” she said. “It had to with politics … and personal agendas. And unfortunately, that’s not what’s good for the city of Manassas.”

Seriously guys,  you should be listening to Councilwoman Bass.  She is right and she called out a sneaky Pete move.

Hal Parrish better get used to that seat as mayor of Manassas.  He is not going anywhere.  He is acting like he is Mayor of Mayberry with that “tie-breaker.”   The Mayor of Mayberry just sealed the deal for the Democrats running in the 29th Senate District.

Speaking of those Democrats, they are running hard and fast.  We get calls from them daily.  I don’t really have a favorite.  I did ask each of the campaigns  if their candidate was pro-choice.  The caller didn’t know in 2 out of the 3 candidates.  Ha!  Looks like they had better find out real fast because Hal Parrish just made the issue of reproductive rights a real issue in this race.

Atif Qarni is right.  Hal Parrish is no moderate, regardless of how he tries to present himself.  Moderates don’t vote for anti-choice referendums riding the land use and zoning ticket across the finish line.  That moderate faltered at the gate and will remain the Mayor of Mayberry.

37 Thoughts to “Manassas City: Parrish joins the anti-reproductive rights crew”

  1. ElGuapo

    He just lost my vote.

  2. Mine too, ElGuapo.

    Before anyone even mentions it, pro-choice people are people who believe they are more capable of making deeply personal decisions for themselves than the government.

    I am tired of the pro-government decision making crew trying to define me. No, I am not pro-abortion. I just don’t think it is any of the government’s business.

  3. Scout

    Local politicians have found that it pays (at least in certain locations) to jump on national issue bandwagons even though the local pols have little or no official impact on these issues. Mr. Parrish knows that he will lose votes from MH and ElGuapo and others of similar outlook. However, the calculation is that more votes (and campaign contributions – which can come from anywhere) will be gained than lost with this approach.

  4. ElGuapo

    Looks like we will have another Democratic Senator. Parish failed to account for the changing demographic of Prince William County. Emulating Bob Marshall isn’t a good plan.

  5. Six Pack

    Publicly criticizing a popular Republican Mayor and supporting Planned Parenthood and NARAL out-of-towners is not a wise move for Ms. Bass. It only furthers the thinking among many that she is really a Democrat.

  6. Is being a Democrat like being a communist? Is it a dirty word? I know lots of Republicans who are pro-choice. I was pro-choice when I was a Republican.

    I don’t think Ms. Bass SUPPORTED or didn’t support NARAL and Planned Parenthood. She supported doing things the right way, not sneaking in a vote during a work session. Both of those organizations are but one collective voice and I am glad they were there.

    Interesting that Ms. Bass was a very popular candidate. I don’t believe she has changed her point of view. She is a smart lady and doesn’t need government to tell her how to make personal decisions.

    @6 Pack, I understand you are anti choice. This local issue should have no impact on your right to have your own beliefs. It isn’t about what people believe. If you think abortion is wrong, you can still keep thinking that. What you do not have the right to do is think for someone else.

  7. City Girl

    If memory serves me, Mrs. Bass was the top vote getter in last years Council elections. Before this recent zoning vote, Mayor Parrish had a legacy of decades of service to the City. Now, however, that legacy has changed; not because it is best for the City and it’s citizens but because of political ambitions.

  8. Lyssa

    I’m a registered Democrat but don’t support abortion and I vote republican or democrat if I like the person. I’ve learned to simply skip those that can only generalize or limit their thinking to (D) or (R). In the end they have very little to say because they can’t think. Skip ’em.

    1. I believe this stunt was the misuse of zoning laws. TRAP laws are disingenuous.

  9. Frequency

    Sheryl’s right to call that tactic out. I’ve been surprised at the stuff that ends up being added at the last minute to work session agendas. Hell, I’ve even seen a closed meeting be added to a work session after the meeting started. She’s right, it isn’t transparent and it is not getting any better. The budget process this year has been a complete black box to the citizens.

    It’s all about politics. I don’t think that vote will cost Hal the seat but I also don’t think it made him the darling of the far right as he seems to have concluded.

    The real losers are the citizens who watch their leaders ignore the real issues and instead play games with federal issues. At some point the citizens of Manassas will get tired of pouring money into the city lawyers pocket in pursuit of the Gang of Three’s agenda and elect some people who are ready to get real.

    1. I don’t think Hal can count on that seat regardless. Check out the demographics on the 29th. Lots of changes.

  10. City Girl


    Amen brother.

    I would also add that the majority of the district Parrish is running for is located in the eastern end of the county. This is a strongly D area. In order to offset this disadvantage, he will have to carry a large percentage of the City votes. Many D’s and moderate R’s who have long supported Colgan are now totally turned off by Parrish’s zoning vote and will not support him.

  11. Moderate R

    The mayor has lost my vote, and may have lost the vote of any district moderate that valued his prior reluctance to jump into these contentious national issues. While we may not be fans of abortion, we are fans of the right for women to choose for themselves. My belief that Hal will do what’s best for Manassas while serving in Richmond is rapidly fading into a belief that he will do what’s best for Hal.

    Once upon a time, the city council of Manassas worked together to meet the needs of the whole city and its residents. It’s mayors didn’t have to break ties in council over social issues that have no business being decided on Center Street, and its council members actually provided direction, planning, and compromise. I wonder if we’ll ever see that type of governance again, or whether we are stuck with a divided council willing only to govern by process, and a mayor led by those who would coronate a councilman or two for tilting at as yet unseen new women’s health clinics

    1. Welcome Moderate R. Very well put. I think you speak for many others.

  12. Many of us are not necessarily “fans of abortion” but we want to make our own choices. I don’t want the Manassas City Council or any other politicians to make deeply personal decisions for me.

  13. ElGuapo

    Another man deciding what decisions a woman should make, and making certain choices harder to find. Typical Right Wing Republican. Already too many of those in Richmond. This may have cost him the election.

  14. Steve Thomas

    ElGuapo :
    Looks like we will have another Democratic Senator. Parish failed to account for the changing demographic of Prince William County. Emulating Bob Marshall isn’t a good plan.

    I don’t know. Seems as if Senator Colgan known to have been pro-life, and I’m pretty sure he supported the TRAP bill. I know several of his votes on this issue went against his party’s position and it didn’t seem to have hurt his electoral record.

    While this may be a deal breaker for many here, it’s a deal maker for the GOP base, and won’t really matter to many more.

    1. Steve, Stenator Colgan had a track record for taking care of Prince William County. He got by with it because both Democrats and Republicans supported him. I have great respect for Senator Colgan but I would have only voted for him if someone worse was running against him. He had seniority in the state which did a lot for PWC.

      Parrish can’t walk into that job and expect the same support that Senator Colgan had. Colgan’s support of TRAP laws was fairly recent. In fact, he tipped the vote over to the other side of the aisle. I felt he hung up his Democratic credentials when that happened. If there is a flip side of RINO (which I hate) then he is one.

  15. ElGuapo

    @Steve Thomas

    Senator Colgan represents a different generation. While I appreciate his long service, his replacement will hopefully represent what his District looks like now.

    As the Firehouse Primary so aptly demonstrated, even Republicans in Prince William County appear to have tacked to the center. A younger man or woman who represents the entire District has a better chance of actually winning the race. That man or woman hopefully will represent what Prince William County looks like today.

    It will be an interesting election.

  16. Steve Thomas

    A vote on a zoning ordinance modeled after a similar ordinance in neighboring Fairfax hardly demonstrates a swing to the far right, and the results of the party canvass hardly represent a referendum on national wedge issues, or shifting demographics. There are many issues that will be considered in the coming months that will impact the general election, and determine what the electorate looks like. More riots in democratic controlled urban areas. The fact that there aren’t any statewide races upticket. So many variables. Too many to write the political obituary of any candidate. Money and name ID…Mayor Parrish has both. Longstanding ties to the community and a record of service….Mayor Parrish has both. An endorsement from the retiring Democrat Senator, definitely a possibility. This zoning issue will be just a blip on the timeline.

    1. I doubt if it will allowed to be a blip on the radar. His race has been targeted by groups that value personal choice in reproductive matters. Those of us who are aware of Manassas politics also have been watching.

      I don’t plan on being quiet about it because Parrish wants to go represent me in Richmond. He has tipped his hand to how he will vote on issues that are very important to me and my family.

  17. Steve Thomas

    Lyssa :
    I’m a registered Democrat but don’t support abortion and I vote republican or democrat if I like the person. I’ve learned to simply skip those that can only generalize or limit their thinking to (D) or (R). In the end they have very little to say because they can’t think. Skip ’em.

    You are a registered Democrat? What state?

  18. Steve Thomas

    Moon, while I have little doubt that this may be an issue for those who’ve expressed their disapproval, I believe those same people overestimate both their efficacy and the importance this issue has to the general electorate. Much has been said here about demographic shifts, which may or may not impact the election. It did in 2012, was pretty much a wash in 2013, and was a non-factor in 2014. You all are just popping off over an issue tangential to the abortion issue, assuming that because it’s important to you, that it is to everyone else, and this will cost Mayor Parrish the election against some as yet to be determined candidate. Quite presumptuous IMHO.

    1. Maybe, maybe not. People who might have supported him might not now. Me, for example.

      You are right. Many folks don’t really worry about reproductive rights until it is they who might need services. Then they do whatever it is that is needed, in their minds, and they fade back into the woodwork. I have known that for a good 25 years. As annoying as I find that, it’s their legal right to be that way. I try to not let it bug me.

      I no longer do the heavy lifting on this issue. It got too dangerous for me. However, I will continue to address the issue. I don’t know why the City is bringing a federal issue up disguised as a zoning issue. Oh, yes I do. That is Mr. Aveni’s pet project.

      Changing demographics means Parrish needs all the people like me voting for him. I won’t now. He needs to reach a lot more people than the pitchforks and torches crowd.

  19. So far, NARAL Virginia, Planned Parenthood, and the ACLU are in this fight.

    They aren’t going anywhere. I expect the national organizations are footing some of the state bills.

    These organizations have lots of money also. Hal had better have LOTS and LOTS of money.

    Hal has always been a gentleman and has made the City look good because of his good manners. I can’t really think of anything specific he has done or has tried to advance.

  20. Steve Thomas

    “So far, NARAL Virginia, Planned Parenthood, and the ACLU are in this fight.”

    Not trying to be confrontational, just observational: They were “in the fight” when the same zoning ordinance was adopted in Fairfax. Didn’t change a thing. I saw the same 4 reps from this group at the public hearing, as I saw at the polls last November, trying to take out a certain City Councilman. Didn’t change a thing.

    I get it. This is your “die on THIS hill” issue, just like the 2nd Amendment is for me. In 1973 Roe v. Wade legalized un-restricted abortion in all 50 states, and the pro-choice crowd has been losing ground ever since. Since the firearms control acts of the 1930’s, 1960’s, and 1990’s, the R2KABA’s crowd has been gaining ground, nationally. You want to argue Demographics? Recent Pew polls are quite telling: A majority of Americans, across all ages and demo’s support regulating abortions after the first trimester. Those same Americans also support the individual right to own and carry firearms.

    What do I think will shape the November electorate? National events that are being sensationalized by the media. Riots. Civil unrest. Economic uncertainty. The fact that the media has turned on the presumptive democrat nominee in 2016, and is shaping a narrative that she is corrupt. The last time this happened was the 2009 VA governor’s race, and this ended up being a “Thumpin'”. May just happen again on a smaller scale. Or, maybe not.

    1. The thumpin didn’t work out so well in the end. Of course, I am the one who sorta kinda defended him.

      I would have to disagree that abortion was unrestricted. Roe v. Wade outlines what is acceptable and what isn’t. I believe a more accurate statement would be that abortion is unrestricted in the first trimester.

      Abortion is a flag ship issue. If I know how a politician is going to vote on abortion, I can generally tell about 100 other things.

      You might want to remain vigilant on those A2 rights. Once Americans have gotten enough of senseless killings like Sandy Hook, the tide will turn. Right now, Officer Moore was killed using an illegally purchased gun from “the south.” It’s all about who is in office and what the issue is.

      I realize that reproductive rights hang in the balance. If they didn’t, do you think I would even bother? It isn’t a critical issue to me.

      It is critical that people like Bob Marshall don’t get control in Richmond. IN the first place, he would end up costing the people of Virginia a small fortune on some constitutional issue.

      Finally, I am so tired of men thinking they can make choices for women. Hal needs to take care of his business and the women of Virginia will take care of their business.

  21. Ivan

    I guess we’ll have to let the voters decide.

  22. Shadow Warrior

    Steve- In Fairfax the pro-choice groups (NARAL Virginia, Planned Parenthood, and the ACLU) don’t have a possible plaintiff to support because the clinic their lost their lease. In Manassas the action of the City has created a potential plaintiff for those groups to get behind. It may be about choice or rights but it is also a business. Somone will see the $’s from a law suit as a tempting opportunity. Memory serves me that Manassas went down this road with the definition of a family suit.

  23. Steve Thomas

    Moon, regarding 2A, the trend is toward Constitutional Carry. More states have passed it this session, and more will come. You talk about Sandy Hook? What happened after Sandy Hook? Also, the fastest growing segment of gun owners/concealed carriers is women. Why? Because more and more people are looking around (helped by 24 hour news), and conclude that they, themselves are their own best protectors. I would also speculate that the gun this criminal illegally possessed was either stolen, or straw purchased, neither could be prevented with expanded background checks, magazine capacity limits, or banning classes of firearm.

    As for Bob Marshall taking over in Richmond…won’t happen. For better or worse, He’s picked too many fights within the GOP, but the left will continue to use him as the penultimate boogeyman.

    1. re Marshall–he brought it on himself and stands a good chance of staying in office. Why? He does a lot to help local citizens. People forget about his bizarre positions or just dismiss and excuse them. He and Elena worked together on an initiative. In whose universe would that happen?

      Sandy Hook, VA Tech, etc make people think. The NRA is so outrageous that people rise up. It hasn’t happened yet. It might.

      As for the stolen gun….the way to control that is to limit mass sales. I know people want to be able to buy 12 at once rather than once a year. I see no point. But that’s not my sword to fall on.

  24. Steve Thomas

    @Shadow Warrior
    A potential plaintiff must first have standing. Then they must have been denied a SUP, and then must prove it was the principle activity that was the reason for the denial, and this denial was unconstitutional. They must prove that they should have been granted a permit “by right”, and the zoning ordinance was onerous, as well as the SUP process. Until someone is denied, there isn’t a case. The City might have learned a few things since the definition of family case, or have you forgotten the whole adult business ordinance evolution?

    I didn’t speak for or against the ordinance, but I do support the rights of localities to zone their jurisdictions. As long as they don’t try to outright ban something legal, or otherwise preempted by the state, then zoning is zoning. As I’ve said, this isn’t my go-to-the-mat issue. I just don’t believe this will be the defining issue of this race, and if it is, then heaven help us.

    1. It very well could take on greater importance than it should because of the parade that appears every Council meeting. I don’t think it is a local issue. Zoning is being misused. I also think that they are counting on the TRAP laws which are in the process of being overturned.

      Anyone who thinks for one minute that this zoning change isn’t to control and stamp out abortion has their head in the sand.

      This particular (specific) case isn’t my go-to-the-mat issue either. I have told you why. But I can’t ignore the topic in general.

  25. Confused

    Moon-howler :
    re Marshall–he brought it on himself and stands a good chance of staying in office. Why? He does a lot to help local citizens. People forget about his bizarre positions or just dismiss and excuse them. He and Elena worked together on an initiative. In whose universe would that happen?

    Marshall is doing the same thing he does every election season, he feigns interest in the constituency. While he’s “present” with the power lines issue, he’s ineffective. His bill was DOA in the house because he’s alienated even his own party to the point they won’t allow any bill of his that benefits the 13th to pass. Need more proof? The NVTA is pouring $$ into Route 28 in Fairfax, but not where it’s needed most: PWC, Manassas Park, and Manassas. Send the clown home.

    1. Thanks for expounding, Confused. I don’t disagree at all.

      Some people like to make Bob Marshall out to be the reproductive rights boogie man. He is just Side Show Bob. Seriously, he just is more entertaining than most while he is working to take our rights away. The others are every bit as bad but would hold themselves up as non-extremists while finger pointing at him. [Isn’t that right, Jackson????]

      Seriously, losing your rights is losing your rights. The details are rather unimportant.

  26. A must read article in the post: A journey to end a pregnancy.

    While I might not agree with her decision, it was HER decision.

    While abortion is legal, access to abortion is often difficult Imagine driving 400 miles for a procedure when you have little or no money. Imagine having to wait 3 days from first appointment to procedure. Something is really effed up when women have to deal with these conditions.

  27. Ray Beverage

    All the fight over only ONE of the services provided by the Women’s Health Clinic. They also provide services such as treatment of cervical cancer, STD, and the list goes on and on. If anyone bothered to also look, the number of elective abortions is down, as so reported to VA Department of Health and the CDC, from that clinic. Again, elective abortion is only ONE of the services provided…considered by the Staff and the Planning Commmission; ignored by the Mayor and three Council Members.

    The only valid, true land use issues came out of the Planning Commission and they were ignored. Funny though – at the CoM Annual Volunteer Recognition, three members of that Commission were honored as Volunteers of the Year specifically four their work on the Zoning Ordinance Review Committee.

Comments are closed.