Two weeks ago, four million small business owners and organizations found a postcard in their mailbox informing them that they could be eligible for a health care tax cut this year – a tax cut potentially worth tens of thousands of dollars; a tax cut that will help millions provide coverage to their employees.
Starting in June, businesses will get even more relief for providing coverage to retirees who are not yet eligible for Medicare. And a little over a month from now, on June 15th, senior citizens who fall into the prescription drug coverage gap known as the “donut hole” will start receiving a $250 rebate to help them afford their medication.
He chose to respond to my post describing his statements (on video) at this rally by leaving a comment on this blog. It contained so many accusations and, what I believed to be, false information that I decided to do a little fact checking on it, prior to posting it. He focused most of his attacks on our school system and presented certain data as fact, which couldn’t be further from the truth. This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone by now.
Here’s the comments addressed directly to me:
Had you but asked, I would speak to your group as well.
Nothing Shed. I am, and have always been a fiscal conservative. I believe that one’s books, and budgets, should be balanced. I believe debts should be paid and not passed on to the next generation. I believe in providing the maximum service at the lowest cost to the taxpayers.
I would seriously call into question Sterling’s claim of being a “fiscal conservative.” We will explore this momentarily.
Regarding healthcare package–Sen. Schumer and I disagree. I think the previous practice of “until graduation” was appropriate. I believe strongly in personal responsibility. Now, taxpayers at all levels (federal, state, and local) will have to pay for health care for adults dependents (who are no longer dependents by any other definition).
So, is Sterling now distancing himself from the story that he told the crowd? If he wanted to voice his opposition to health care reform that’s fine, but to makeup a story about Sen. Schumer to fire up the crowd against this common-sense reform is outrageous.
Sterling says that he agrees with “the previous practice of ‘until graduation’ [in allowing parents to cover their children].” In order to compete in the global economy, many children are staying in school to attain advanced degrees. This new law will allow parents to continue covering their children, if they choose. If parents like Sterling want to throw their children off of their health insurance, he is still free to do so. The many health care reforms present in this bill will actually be a net positive for taxpayers (helping to save money) and will ultimately decrease the deficit by over $1 trillion, according to the Congressional Budget Office. That seems like a bill that a responsible “fiscal conservative” would support.
Regarding the courts–I believe that the priorities of the voters who pay the taxes should come before the interests of others. That is why I will continue to support the parks and rec bond package and the transportation bond package approved by the voters and will not support additions to the courts complex. By the way, there are two new courts planned, not just the J&DR.
How can Sterling claim to be a “fiscal conservative” and support borrowing money for transportation and parks and recreation? One of the ways that this was going to be paid back was via revenue collected from the business tax, which Sterling and his fellow Republicans nixed at the beginning of the year. Voters approved this bond with the notion that this revenue stream would be there. Homeowners will now bear the brunt of this bait and switch by the Republican-led board through higher taxes, in the years to come.
What makes this worse is that Sterling spent a county surplus to pay for repealing the business tax – this, at a time, when our county was already facing significant budget shortfalls for FY ’11 and ’12. This only further compounds the problem. This is the height of hypocrisy and, worse, fiscally irresponsible.
Regarding the school budget–I sat down with them and they were unable to answer the questions. Before the session, when questiosn were asked of the Superintendent, he dismissed the questions and told me the budget was passed and i could find the information there. I did and that is where the facts you say i distorted come from. Here is the text of an email i sent the school board chair and her colleagues after our joint budget work session. My frustration is with the school central office staff though i recognize it did not come across as clearly when i spoke as to whom i was referring. And yes, there are central office administrators i am in favor of replacing.
Listen, Sterling could have easily chosen to meet with school central office staff to get whatever questions he needed answered on any number of occasions. This is like a child waiting the night before to do his homework and then wondering why they didn’t have enough time to understand it. He simply could care less about the school system budget and only began to care when he thought that he could make political hay out of it.
How Sterling can also claim that he is simply stating facts about the budget and not distorting it is comical. What’s clear is that he is making statements and assertions about things that are simply not true, even after he has been proven wrong.
Also, Sterling claims that he was calling for school central office staff to be fired; however, that claim is ridiculous. All one has to do is watch the video. He was clearly calling on folks to fire the school board – not the way I would choose to work with another elected body. So what central office administrators would Sterling like fired? And, for what reasons? It sounds to me that Sterling is simply putting
his political agenda above our children.
As for the letter that Sterling mentions, containing his made up “facts,” it was broken apart and answered by the school system here.
In the letter, I particularly love when Sterling says, “I agree that our teachers should have salaries competitive with the other school systems. I can also see from the budget that those funds were there, but the schools system administration diverted them.” I love the disingenuous sentiment from Sterling and his total lack of understanding of the budget.
The School system responded by noting, “In order for our teachers to have salaries competitive with the other school systems, increases in the magnitude of triple to quadruple what has been requested are necessary.” They went on to say that these funds (SFSF) were not diverted and that they are still being used for instruction. As they also noted in their response, “A more complete understanding of both the FY2010 and FY2011 budget will make this quite evident.” If these funds were used to provide raises to our teachers, the school system would require an additional $11 million to meet the projected recurring costs of them. Is Sterling offering additional funds to provide these much deserved raises? I think not. Stafford schools is pretty much playing defense, doing everything they can to protect against laying off teachers.
Perhaps most disturbing of all, Sterling’s letter clearly shows someone that is trying to twist the facts and cast aspersions on folks’ characters and motivations. For him, this is just a political game.
Those details are from the Superintendents budget request, not mine. The budget request he sent me to when I asked questions. I recognize that we may disagree on these and other items. I accept that. I do hope we can keep that disagreement civil.
It should be clear by now that Sterling does not understand anything about budgeting and has not done his homework well enough to understand the school budget; however, he has no problem presenting certain information as “fact” to further his political agenda.
I too agree that we must keep our disagreements civil. Attacking our school board and central office staff, based on a political agenda, is not what I call being civil. Nor is distorting certain data as “fact” to score political points.
I wrote on Monday about comments that Corey Stewart, chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, made comparing the Obama administration to that of the Nazi’s.
Today, Stewart responded to his deeply offensive remarks by claiming that he didn’t “intend” to compare the Obama administration to the Nazi’s. Stewart went on to say, “Oh, that’s ridiculous. That’s ridiculous. Absolutely not.” He then said that he would continue to offer similar remarks.
Of course, he said all of this is a “typical liberal reaction.”
I don’t know what’s worse: the fact that he claims that he didn’t draw the comparison or that he defiantly insists that he will continue to use this sort of language.
I thought that Stewart would try to claim that he was taken out of context, so that is why I posted the entire video. Stewart was clearly trying to fan the passions of the crowd with this comparison. This was a common theme throughout the program. There is no doubt in my mind that he knew what he was saying. No doubt.
Besides stoking violent tendencies, this also trivializes and diminishes the crimes perpetrated by the Nazi’s against 6 million Jews and countless others. As the Prince William Democratic Committee noted,
It is the height of insensitivity to both the survivors of the 6 million Jewish people slaughtered by Nazis, their families and to the millions of Americans who fought in World War II to end these atrocities for Stewart to make these comments.
Stewart’s dismissiveness on the subject reminds me of the recent controversy involving the omission of slavery from a Confederate History Month proclamation by Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-VA); and, the subsequent comment by Gov. Haley Barbour (R-MS) that this whole controversy “doesn’t amount to diddly.”
Eugene Robinson rightfully noted in an Op/Ed on the subject that “they — and the rest of us, too – should know the extent to which the history of this country was shaped by what was euphemistically called the ‘peculiar institution,’ he went on to say, “McDonnell’s original proclamation, before he amended it, seemed designed to appeal to a fringe group for whom the Civil War is still an open question.”
History matters. Words matter. Folks need to understand this when addressing these time periods. Trivializing the role slavery played in history or the atrocities perpetrated by the Nazi’s, to appeal to a fringe group, only serves to diminish the horror of these time periods.
Corey Stewart needs to understand that history and words do matter! To use the terrible atrocities perpetrated by the Nazi’s, to appeal to a fringe group, is not only in poor taste, but is also deeply offensive. Stewart needs to apologize and stop using these sort of incendiary comparisons.
If all of these comments weren’t enough for you, Stewart’s assertion that he will use taxpayer dollars to break the law is crazy. Stewart plans on introducing a resolution to order county staff to refuse to administer the new Medicaid benefits, under the new health care reform law.
He claims that the current cost to administer Medicaid in Prince William County is $10 million, which will rise to $15 under the changes in the current law. He argues that monies will be diverted from teachers, fire and rescue and police to pay for it (see video).
Let’s look at the facts, based on how things stand now in Prince William County. I talked to a source in Prince William County who provided the following information:
As of now, Prince William County only has 2 staff administering Medicaid – and half of their cost is picked up by a non-profit foundation. If the county determines that it would need to add some staff in 2014, that staff cost would be offset by the great gain to the county of most residents finally getting health coverage, and no longer passing their emergency room care on to other county residents in the form of higher taxes and higher health premiums. But the fact is, the county doesn’t know yet what the impact will be, based on how the state will handle both Medicaid and health care exchanges – which will make coverage affordable for more than 1 million Virginians.
How Stewart can make such outrageous claims is beyond me, especially when the state hasn’t even determined how they plan on handling things. The staff cost to administer Medicaid, thus far, seems far from onerous – not to mention that half of the cost is currently picked up by a non-profit organization. Stewart’s fears are completely unfounded and ludicrous. This has more to do with furthering a political agenda then doing what’s best for Prince William County residents.
He seems to be welcoming a lawsuit by blatantly breaking the law, which will undoubtedly cost Prince William taxpayer’s money. That’s a fact!
What’s worse is that he is emboldened by the fact that Virginia’s Attorney General (AG) Ken Cuccinelli won’t sue him, if he breaks the law. Cuccinelli’s statements and actions are setting a dangerous precedent in the Commonwealth, which will encourage other folks to break the law too. I thought the AG was supposed to enforce the law and not his political agenda!
On April 10, 2010, Supervisor Cord Sterling (R-Rock Hill) addressed his fellow tea baggers at a Tea Party rally in Stafford, VA.
Sterling is the worst type of politician: one who will say or do anything to further his political ambitions by distorting the truth. He loves to portray himself as a moderate Republican, but pretty much shattered this self-created myth when he came out of the closet as a tea bagger this past weekend.
Sterling railed against the recently signed health care reform law. In trying to get the crowd pumped up against this, he described how Sen. Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) daughter was so happy that she didn’t need to work and could now be added to his health care plan. He claimed that this epitomized everything that was wrong with this bill. Only one problem for Sterling, this couldn’t be further from the TRUTH!
Here are Sterling’s exact words:
[Sen. Chuck Schumer’s] daughter had just called him, she was graduating or graduated from college, she said, “Good news dad, I don’t have to get a job now I can be on your health care bill.” He thought that was great, she gets health care I get the bill.
If you’re up to 26 years old you can stay on your parents’ health coverage. My daughter is graduating from law school. We told her the day after she graduates she’s on her own. She has a job in September, but she was fretting what does she do for the four months? Does she buy health insurance for $1200 a month? Well, she called me up at midnight after the bill passed and said, “Dad, I’m covered.”
I love how Sterling just makes shit up. This has become a disturbing pattern with him.
Sterling then pivoted from health care to judicial activism. Sterling rallied his fellow tea baggers, when he alleged that judges were displaying judicial activism by advocating the need for additional courtrooms within Stafford County, Virginia. Nothing fires up tea baggers more than evil judges.
Here’s what Sterling actually said:
The judges that occupy this building, they want to tell us that we need to spend an additional $30 million to build them a new courthouse…we have six judges, seven courtrooms and they think we need more courtrooms…it is essentially a 7 or 8 percent tax increase that they want to force upon us.
This is a convenient argument for Sterling. Only problem, if you’ve already guessed it, it isn’t completely true. I’m sure that you’re shocked by now.
The need for additional courtroom space has been many years in the making. In fact, Stafford Supervisor Paul Milde (R-Aquia) was on the original committee, I believe back in 2006 or so, that was tasked with the responsibility of coming up with cost-effective designs for new courtrooms. The total cost of their proposal was around $36 or $37 million.
The Board of Supervisors actually decided that this was too costly and voted to defer it until a later date. They decided to eventually revisit this issue and setup a citizens committee that they hoped would develop a more cost-effective proposal. They ended up proposing to refurbish the existing courthouse to the tune of between $23 and $25 million, which would have added two additional courtrooms.
I’ve spoken to several folks associated with Stafford County. They all noted that the current facilities are incredibly crowded and more space is needed. The courts are facing significant caseloads and are becoming overwhelmed, due to the facility constraints.
I know someone who recently served on a jury who said that the current facilities were a mess. Folks were strongly complaining about the overcrowding and the incredibly high temperature, due to so many people packing themselves into the facility. The Board of Supervisors have clearly identified the need for additional courtrooms; otherwise, they wouldn’t have been trying to find a cost-effective solution all of these years. The reality is the problem has only gotten worse.
The judges have simply identified a need and haven’t dictated a $30 million solution. It is folks like Milde and a citizens committee that have come up with these estimates.
There is no doubt in my mind that a real need exists. Sterling can ignore a county need, which he is really good at doing, or directly address it by coming up with a cost-effective solution. It’s clear to me that he would rather use this for political theater versus directly addressing it. If I were him, I wouldn’t get pulled over in Stafford County for any speeding tickets.
After his judicial activism bit, he wasn’t done with misleading his fellow tea baggers.
He praised himself for ridding the county of its Department of Transportation (DOT). He did rightfully note, in my opinion, that this department was completely unnecessary. I noted this in a prior blog post. However, his claim that he got rid of this department and saved money is a bit of a stretch. Stafford’s DOT employees were simply moved to another department. I’m by no means advocating that they should have fired these employees. What I am saying is that his claim that he is shrinking the size of government is a complete stretch. Plus this was the first time I’ve ever heard him speak out about this issue, so it’s interesting that he is claiming credit for it now.
Sterling wasn’t done with his distortions and attacks. He saved the best for last. He launched into a blistering attack of the school board. He claimed that the school system was asking for a $7.5 million increase in their school budget from last year, of which only $126 thousand would be used for education and the rest would go towards school administration. This is another flat out distortion of the facts by Sterling.
I’ve written quite a bit about our schools, so I won’t reiterate everything I’ve said before here (you can check out posts here, here and here). The short of it is that the school board requested the same level of funding that they received last year, which is actually a decrease when you take into account rising costs and cuts by the state.
I’ve spoken to folks associated with the school board and it appears that Sterling is simply adding up increases to various line items in the school budget without taking into account all of the line items that have been cut. He is simply cherry picking numbers that further his political agenda, which is defunding and crippling our public school system. This was a popular theme throughout the Tea Party rally.
Sterling’s additional assertions on how money is being spent couldn’t be further from the truth. He simply doesn’t understand the school budget.
If he were so concerned about how money was being spent, you would think that he would sit down with school administrators or school board members to ask questions and work with them? You see that would make too much sense. He would rather scream, yell and distort the facts for his own political gain. His re-election slogan next year should be, “Putting Politics Ahead of Our Children.”
I also especially love Sterling’s call for the school to find efficiencies, which I think they have done an admirable job of thus far. This from the Board of Supervisors who haven’t had a clean audit in years! In the name of saving money, the school board refinanced some debt that saved the school system and county around $3.6 million. Sterling rewarded the school board by robbing them of this savings and using it to fund some of his other priorities. After all, getting re-elected is paramount.
I especially love the tea baggers from the crowd that screamed, “Fire them.” Referring to the school board, which Sterling responded, “I’m all for it, that’s in your hands. It’s in my hands too as a voter. I can’t fire them as a Supervisor.” Naturally, for Sterling, publicly insulting the school board and calling for their firing is a great way to build a strong working relationship.
I have a message for Sterling. The only person getting fired next year is you!
My favorite quote from him was, “There’s no hide the ball with Ken Cuccinelli. What you see is what you get.” So Ken, if you’re so open, why don’t you level with taxpayers on how much these frivolous lawsuits are costing us? If you have nothing to hide, why don’t you turn over the information requested in a second FOIA request by the Democratic Party of Virginia? They recently requested the following information:
The schedules of Ken Cuccinelli, Solicitor General Duncan Getchell and Deputy Attorney General Wesley Russell for the month of March; a log of communication between Cuccinelli and national Republican political organizations about the lawsuit; a log of communication between Cuccinelli and 13 other state attorneys general who filed suit; communication between Cuccinelli and Governor Bob McDonnell regarding the health care legislation; a list of current Office of Attorney General staff and their salaries.
What’s clear is that Cuccinelli is using the Attorney General’s office to further his political agenda.
Of course, Cuccinelli continues to claim that this lawsuit has only cost $350; and, he has continued to hide the true costs of this lawsuit. If anyone out there actually believes that this lawsuit has only cost $350, I have a bridge to sell you in Alaska.
In case you missed it (and boy I wish I did), the Tea Party folks held a rally in front of Stafford County’s courthouse on Saturday. One of their featured speakers was Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart. This is the same person that recently sent a letter to Ken Cuccinelli thanking him for his frivolous health care reform lawsuit.
With all the crazy things that Stewart has said or done in the past, nothing prepared me for what I witnessed this past Saturday from him. There were many things he said that were non-factual and completely offensive, but his comparison of the Obama administration to that of the Nazi regime was outrageous (fast forward to the 5:25 mark or view it here):
You might remember the story of Sophie Scholl during the Nazi Administration in Germany. She was a student and she spoke out. And she and her brother and other students were beheaded by the Nazi regime for speaking out. It’s up to each and every one of us when we see wrong to standup and say no not only no but hell now we’re not going to do it we’re not going to go there.
For Stewart to even suggest that this administration is anything like that of the Nazi’s is way over-the-line, irresponsible and deeply offensive. How the chairman of the second largest county in the Commonwealth of Virginia could make this despicable statement is beyond me?!
You can also audibly hear the tea baggers applauding at the end of Stewart’s Nazi remarks. This is totally pathetic and in poor taste, not that I have come to expect anything more from them.
One side of my entire family was virtually wiped off the face of this earth, at the hands of the Nazi’s, during the Holocaust. Up until my grandfather’s death, just talking about it was, at times, too much for him to take and opened up old wounds that never completely healed.
This comparison by Stewart has the effect of diminishing and trivializing the crimes of the Nazi’s against six million Jews (including my family), heroes such as Sophie Scholl and countless others.
His comments also came on the heals of Holocaust Remembrance Day (“Yom Hashoah”), which took place on Sunday and the Days of Remembrance, which is a week long commemoration of the victims of the Holocaust that was established by the U.S. Congress – it takes place from April 11 – 18 this year.
Stewart, like all Americans, has every right to voice his opinion on issues, but has no right to diminish the severity of the crimes perpetrated by the Nazi’s by comparing them to Democratic policies. This sort of irresponsible propaganda is not only offensive, but also serves to portray policy disagreements in an evil way that is meant to provide an excuse for people to act out violently. These sorts of comparisons have no place in our politics or society!
On a separate note, Stewart also continued to distort the facts on the recently signed health care reform law and promised to keep causing trouble.
I intend on May 4, 2010 at 2 pm in Prince William County to pass a resolution, which will direct our county staff to refuse to administer the new Medicaid benefits. This, some will argue, will be unlawful. The only ones who can determine whether or not it is illegal is the court; and, the only one who can sue Prince William County or any other jurisdiction that refuses to administer these benefits is the Commonwealth of Virginia. And in that responsibility lies with the Attorney General of Virginia, Mr. Ken Cuccinelli.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I don’t know where this is going to end, I don’t know what the end game is. All I know is that this is going to shake things up, cause a little trouble. But, I kind of like that frankly. And I do know that we all have a responsibility to do something.
Stewart and Cuccinelli are two peas in a pod, they would both rather waste precious government reasons on trying or defending unnecessary lawsuits then use our limited resources to support our schools, fix our transportation mess or to fund a litany of other areas that effect our quality of life within the Commonwealth. They are both intent on using their offices to push their political agendas, using taxpayer dollars to do so. Enough is enough.