OK, now this is absurd

Apparently, the Board of Visitors at the University of Virginia is considering a “censorship” policy for its dissenting members.

Those who violate it by speaking against Board decisions with the media or other outsiders  could be “sanctioned or removed” from the Board.  (Of course, that’s illegal on its face — the Board has no authority to remove its own members)

This proposal is apparently based on the mistaken notion that UVA is a “quasi-private” institution that is not accountable to anyone except its own administration.

Wrong.  The institution, its assets and goodwill, is owned 100% by the taxpayers of the Commonwealth.  No other person has any ownership interest.

The policies and decisions of a publicly-owned university are, and should be, freely available to the general public.  That is the whole purpose of having a Board of Visitors, which represents the Commonwealth’s ownership interest.   There can be no restrictions upon this information, except in strictly defined circumstances (e.g. an executive session for personnel matters).

Having “dissenting” voices in a legislative body is actually what you do want — we need more dissent!

Please reject this measure.

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In Memory of Frankie Boa-Durgammah

I’m writing a brief post to commemorate my friend, Frank (“Frankie”) Boa-Durgammah who departed this earth on July 15th. He was nineteen years old and a recent graduate of W.T. Woodson High School.

There was a memorial service for Frankie today at the American Legion, Post 177, in Fairfax City.  I was lucky to say a few words.

The service was packed with family and friends, namely those who went to Woodson with Frankie, where he was captain of the wrestling team, or grew up with him in Boy Scout Troop 1887, where he reached Eagle Scout.

I’ve been to countless events at the Legion in my lifetime.  I’ve never attended one, where the parked cars filled up the lot and then extended  all the way down Oak Street.  That was the type of young man that Frankie was.

All the adult speakers noted that Frankie was “somebody they considered a son.”  The younger speakers considered him a brother.  He was honest, respectful and hard-working. He never had an unkind word.

I knew Frankie through my friendship with his older sister and mother.  I considered him a role model for my son in the way he approached work, school, Scouts and sports.  In fact, he starred at the “Order of the Arrow” ceremony for our Cub Scout Pack in which he donned an ornate Indian headdress, recited the Order challenge, and invited the young Cubs to join the Boy Scouts.  My son was awestruck

A year ago, Frankie approached us to do odd jobs to make money for school.  I gave him the chance to clean out my garage (look up “Aegean stables” in Greek mythology).  After a day’s work in the summer heat, I had to literally pull him out of there.  He would have worked for 24 hours straight.  He was the type of young person I’d hire in a heartbeat.

I don’t know why some people leave this life too early. It’s more than I can comprehend.

I’m only consoled by the words of John 11:25 (“I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.”) Frankie’s family has great faith.  They use every ounce of it.

We will miss you, Frankie.

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Silver Line Opens Today

Today, the Silver Line rolled into action, sending the first trains from stops in McLean, Tysons Corner and extending out to Wiehle Avenue (Reston).

I wasn’t able to make the first ride.  According to radio reports, about 10,000 passengers did ride the Silver Line today.  We’ll see how many return on Monday.  Regardless, it’s a big day for METRO.

It’s also a big day for Fairfax County.  For the first time, the County’s downtown (Tysons Corner) is connected with downtown Arlington and downtown D.C.  From Tysons’ epicenter at Greensboro Drive, it’s now a 30 minute train ride to Metro Center in the District.  Congestion be damned.

Of course, there are a lot of wrinkles with this new service.  First of all, the Silver Line still does not connect Dulles Airport.  That will take several more years.  Secondly, it’s overhead design is not really conducive to pedestrians  Third, it will put a tremendous stress on the Potomac River tunnel which already accommodates the Orange Line trains.   Those trains — which serve my constituents — will now be pinched by the limited capacity.

(note:  Prior to 2011, I represented a half-dozen precincts along the Dulles Corridor.  No longer.  Now the 34th Senate district goes straight west along I-66, which is a whole separate transportation dilemma.  And more on that later …)

Regardless, the opening of the Silver Line is a triumph.  A lot of politicians particularly deserve kudos for leadership in having the vision and obtaining the funds, particularly Gerry Connolly who was promoting this rail over fifteen years ago as Providence District Supervisor.   And, of course, the local property owners, taxpayers (and Toll Road drivers) actually wrote the check.   So they get the most credit

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