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Posts Tagged ‘Helen Shibut’

Harrisonburg City CouncilOn Tuesday evening, the Harrisonburg City Council held their annual public hearing on next year’s fiscal budget.  Their proposals included several tax increases, including raising the property tax rate, the water rate, and the sewer rate.

During the public hearing section of the meeting, about a dozen city residents spoke.  The majority of these citizens voiced their support for greater energy efficiency in city buildings, some urging the creation of new position to study and improve this issue.

Fellow blogger Helen Shibut and I focused on a different topic, the city golf course.  Certainly a hot button topic for a number of years since its creation, unfortunately, the matter of the golf course has received scant attention as of late.

As I see it, there are two main problems with Heritage Oaks.

First, to the best of my knowledge, the golf course has lost money every year that it has been in operation.  In this most recent fiscal year, the course had a net loss of $514,951.  It is estimated that next year the course will cost taxpayers $377,666, certainly an improvement, but still a considerable net drain on city resources that could be used on other, more important projects, or, better yet, if eliminated, could lessen the need for these proposed tax hikes.

Second, is it the proper role of the city government to operate a golf course?  If public demand for a golf course were so great, wouldn’t the private sector have met this desire on its own accord?  Given that the course hemorrhages money year after year, does that fact mean that the course is run inefficiently, or simply unneeded?  And, as an added penalty, doesn’t the city-subsidized course hurt the privately owned golf facilities in the area?

For these reasons, I told the council that I believed that the city would be better off if it simply sold the course as soon as possible.

 

Afterward, Roger Baker, the former city manager and 2012 candidate for city council, spoke.  As part of his talk, he argued in favor of the course.

Although the Daily News Record, the local paper, covered the city council meeting in yesterday’s edition, they curiously made no mention of any discussion on the golf course issue.  One does have to wonder why.

Helen & The Council

Helen Shibut addresses the Harrisonburg City Council

During the brief break in the proceedings, several of the council members came over to Helen and me to speak on the matter.  Interestingly, it sounded as if some members of the council would be receptive to selling off the golf course provided they received a suitable offer.

Tuesday’s council meeting left me a bit more optimistic about the future of Harrisonburg and our city council members.

If you or anyone you know is interested in purchasing the Heritage Oaks Golf Course, please let city council know as soon as possible.  It is past time to sell off the golf course, not only for the financial burden it imposes on the taxpayers, but to finally return this pastime to the free market where it belongs.

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Wednesday night proved to be another spirited and informative political debate at JMU.  About fifty people sat in the audience in the lecture hall that evening.  A few were from the Harrisonburg/Rockingham County community while most were enrolled at James Madison University.  Six students, two from each of the College Democrats, Madison Liberty, and the College Republicans spoke about their political beliefs and the positions of their party.  Katie Pillis and Mitch Weissman voiced the Democratic platform, Luke Wachob and Helen Shibut represented Madison Liberty, and Nicole Clarke and Cole Trower stood for the Republicans.

In the first round, each group had the opportunity to pose a question, while the remainder of the debate centered around queries fielded from the audience.  Topics discussed included: drone strikes and U.S. foreign policy, the drug war, Obamacare, and government subsidies.  The entire event lasted about an hour and a half.

For those who were unable to attend the debate, below is a video from the first hour.  Please note that there are two minor gaps in the video, first due to a small mechanical mishap and second as a result of a request from one of the debaters to delete a comment.  Nevertheless, the video should prove useful to assess the philosophy and prowess of each group and the student representatives who participated in this discussion.

A special thanks to Rick Showalter for the images for this piece.

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Picture by the JMU College Republicans

Picture by the JMU College Republicans of the April 22nd, 2012 debate

Tomorrow, April 3rd, three student groups on the campus of James Madison University will be participating in a spirited political debate.  Katie Pillis and Mitch Weissman will be representing the College Democrats, Cole Trower and Nicole Clark will speak for the College Republicans, and Helen Shibut and Luke Wachob will offer their perspective from Madison Liberty.

For the past several semesters, these organizations have come together to enhance dialogue at JMU.  For those who have not attended previously, here is a short write-up and video from their April 22nd, 2012 debate.

The debate will be taking place starting at 7:00 PM on April 3rd, at Miller Hall in Room 1101.  As with previous gatherings, it should prove to be both an enjoyable and informative time and so I hope to see you there tomorrow!

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On February 15th, 16th, and 17th, Students for Liberty hosted the 6th Annual International Students for Liberty Conference, also known as the ISFLC.  I attended this event along with three students from Madison Liberty: fellow blogger Helen Shibut, Nick Farrar, and Reid Walker.

Rather than list every single event, person, and organization associated with this conference, which could take about as long as the conference itself, this article will highlight some of the more interesting and unusual aspects.

Party Milk
Dorian Electra

Friday kicked off with a rather bizarre performance called Party Milk by Dorian Electra.  Apparently, Students for Liberty awarded Ms. Electra a fellowship several years ago, but it was difficult to discern what connection, if any, the song has with the promotion of liberty.

John Mackey, the CEO of Whole Foods, was the featured speaker that evening.  He spoke about the morality and history of the free market, and his new book on the topic, Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business.

Saturday was easily the most jammed packed of the three days.  It featured six informational sessions where attendees could choose to learn about a wide variety of topics from a considerable range of speakers and organizations.

I first selected “The Teachings of Chairman Jim: The ‘Nuts and Bolts’ of Building a Libertarian Campus Organization” which was presented by Dr. Jim Lark, a professor at the University of Virginia and Chairman of the Libertarian Party from 2000 to 2002.  In this talk, Dr. Lark discussed, as indicated from the title, many of the challenges associated with both the creation and maintenance of a liberty group on college campuses.  Given that this topic would be vitally helpful to just about every student at ISFLC, it was a bit disappointing to find that more of them did not take advantage of this discussion.

IMG_1718
Jack Hunter

Second on the docket was “Why Conservatism is Worthless Without Libertarianism” by Jack Hunter.  Readers of this blog may recall that I first met Mr. Hunter while I worked for the 2007/08 Ron Paul campaign in South Carolina.  For those who don’t know, his work, first written under the moniker The Southern Avenger, was exceedingly inspirational to me and was one of the key factors that ultimately led to the creation of this blog in mid 2008.  He spoke at some length regarding the ideals and importance of constitutional conservatism as well as the damage done to both the Republican Party and the conservative movement by faux conservatives like Rick Santorum and Senator Lindsey Graham.

From there, I attended a taping of the Stossel Show.  Below is a short, introductory clip of this soon-to-be aired episode.

After lunch, I took considerable time to wander among the tables of the various libertarian organizations, speaking to a whole host of folks including: The American Conservative, Americans for Self Government, the Free State Project, and the Libertarian Party.  During this exploration, a man at one of the tables offered me a chance to drink raw milk.  Given that I had never had such an opportunity before, I accepted.  Worry not skeptics, so far I have not suffered any ill effects from this adventure.

Representative Justin Amash
Representative Justin Amash

Later, Representative Justin Amash (MI-3) chatted about “The Future of Liberty”.  The room where he spoke was filled well beyond capacity and some attendees had to listen from the hallway.  Although the representative did not spend too much time contemplating on the future, he did offer a number of unique insights of his service in Congress, such as his adherence to a political ideology when most of his colleagues simply bowed to the will of the party leadership.

After dinner, the Stossel Show filmed another episode, this one tailored for a much larger studio audience.  Over a period of a little more than an hour and a half, Stossel featured guests such as Gary Johnson, Dennis Kucinich, and Ann Coulter.

Ann Coulter & John Stossel
Ann Coulter & John Stossel

When he brought up his last interviewee, former U.S. United Nations ambassador John Bolton, a good portion of the crowd left in protest.  Mr. Bolton then spoke of his support of drone strikes, a position adamantly opposed by a vast majority of libertarians.

Jackie Bodner & Julie Borowski
Jackie Bodner & Julie Borowski

Sunday began at 10 AM with “How Libertarians Can Combat the Mainstream Media” with Jackie Bodner and Julie Borowski, also known as the Token Libertarian Girl.  They offered advice on ways to make an impact with local and college news sources, tips on the creation of a successful blog, and ways to connect with other like-minded thinkers.

Although I could write additional pages about ISFLC, I believe that I’ve offered you some of the more interesting tidbits.  It was surprising that Campaign for Liberty was absent and a bit disappointing that no Republican group was present, especially the Republican Liberty Caucus.  Nevertheless, given that Students for Liberty brought together over a thousand students and activists from across the globe to network, hear from dozens of knowledgeable speakers, and learn about a multitude of important topics, I would rate the event as highly worthwhile. 

Schedule permitting, I look forward to seeing you at ISFLC 2014!

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IMG_1630Last night, former Representative Ron Paul spoke to a packed room in Lee Chapel at Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Virginia.  The building held about 500 while another location was set up nearby to provide live video feed for those unable to fit inside.  The Contact Committee, the W&L Politics Department, and the W&L College Republicans sponsored the event.

Starting at 9 AM the day before, Contact began giving out tickets to Tuesday’s event.  However, in a mere forty minutes, all 350 tickets allotted for early seating were claimed, leaving the multitude with the hope of snagging one of the remaining 150 seats prior to the event on a first come first serve basis.

Given Dr. Paul’s numerous contributions to the rise of the liberty movement, along with the work I did on his campaign staff in 2007/08, and the fact that this event marked his first visit to the Shenandoah Valley, I knew that I had to make every effort to attend.  As I arrived slightly too late to secure one of the early tickets on Monday morning, I left Harrisonburg at about 3:30 PM on Tuesday along with fellow activist and blogger Helen Shibut of the Madison Liberty blog.

Outside the chapel at 4:30 PM

Outside the chapel at 4:30 PM

A light rain marked our departure and it continued to be our constant companion as we traveled along Interstate 81 and into Lexington.  Surprisingly, the parking lot closest to the chapel still had a couple of spots open and so we were able to avoid a lengthy walk.  More shocking still had to be the number of people standing outside the chapel when we arrived.  Given how quickly the tickets were exhausted, I envisioned a lengthy line of people waiting until they could enter the building at 6 PM.  However, due, in part, to the poor weather, we were the 7th and 8th to enter.  Even though not in line at that time, there were others who were already there.  For example, Karen Kwiatkowski and a contingent of like-minded folks were lingering inside a nearby building until the time drew closer.

Helen Shibut, Karen Kwiatkowski, and Cole Trower

Helen Shibut, Karen Kwiatkowski, and Cole Trower

The weather continued to degrade, but the line grew steadily and by the time that the doors opened, one could not see from one end of the crowd to the other.  Although the announcement indicated that attendees would be unable to come in the building without semi-formal attire, several people in line wore casual clothing such as blue jeans; it is uncertain whether these folks were allowed admittance.

Dr. Paul’s entered the main floor of the chapel to thunderous applause shortly after 7 PM.  He spoke on a wide variety of topics important to the liberty movement including, but not limited to: a non-interventionist foreign policy, the need for a sound currency and the impending financial collapse, the importance of sticking to political principles, the proper role of government, and the constant erosion of our civil liberties.  After his speech, he fielded a number of questions from the audience regarding what political party best embodied his principles, the issue of abortion, religious freedom, and concerns regarding the investigation into 9/11.  The entire event lasted for a little less than an hour and a half.

IMG_1637All in all, I would rate Dr. Paul’s visit to Lexington as a success.  The only change that I would suggest would be a larger venue.  According to the various event notices posted on Facebook, W&L could have easily filled a space that was two, three, or even four times larger.  So then, why did they choose the chapel?  Well, there is no question that the location is picturesque and is steeped in history.  The basement formally served as the office for Robert E. Lee and presently holds his remains. In addition, I was told that when Washington & Lee hosted Rudi Giuliani some time earlier, they had considerable difficulty reaching the 500-person threshold.  But, such concerns were not necessary that night.  After all, as Ron Paul reminds us, freedom, much like Dr. Paul himself, is popular.

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Paul Ryan in Rockingham County
Photo by Helen Shibut

Paul Ryan, the Republican Representative for Wisconsin’s First Congressional District and Mitt Romney’s running mate, made a campaign stop at the Rockingham County Fair Grounds on Friday.  His visit marks the first of any presidential or vice presidential candidate to the central Shenandoah Valley.

Besides Representative Ryan, speakers also included: Delegate Tony Wilt of Rockingham County, Delegate Steve Landes of Augusta County, State Senator Mark Obenshain of Harrisonburg, and Representative Bob Goodlatte of Roanoke.

The event itself was quite well attended.  Most estimates I’ve read peg the audience about 3,000.  Like the recent Obama rally in Charlottesville, each person had to pass through “airport style security” overseen by both the Secret Service and the TSA.

Reaction to the gathering was mixed.  Although most of the people that I spoke with enjoyed Ryan’s speech, the event was plagued with a number of shortfalls.

First, no one could bring in liquids, which was expected.  However, the fact that one could not even get a cup of water without paying for it seemed completed absurd.  Would a person have to suffer through their thirst if he or she could not pay $2.00 for a beverage?

A view of a portion of the crowd and the fence that segregated attendees.

Second, the venue did not allow for a majority of the spectators to see Paul Ryan.  The organizers set up a ring of fences around the platform and only a portion could enter this circle.  Although raised, the platform was not nearly high enough for many people to even catch a glimpse of the man who could very well be our next vice president.

However, one positive aspect, as compared to the Obama event, was that the police did not close down traffic in a highly central location for the better part of an hour, which would have wasted the time of countless residents.

Overall, I would rate Ryan’s event a success even though, as mentioned, there were several aspects that could have been and should have been handled in a better manner.

So the next question is will any of the five presidential candidates: Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Gary Johnson, Virgil Goode, or Jill Stein, make a stop in the Shenandoah Valley between now and the election?  If you will recall, four years ago Barack Obama won the city of Harrisonburg after making a speech at JMU while John McCain merely sent a relative to the local GOP headquarters.  After all, personal campaigning is an important element to electoral success and Ryan’s visit on Friday should serve to bolster the local Republican effort.  Now how will the other candidates respond?  Our first answer comes tomorrow when Libertarian Party candidate Judge Jim Gray speaks at JMU.

As a final note, I want to shout out a special thanks to Helen Shibut of Madison Liberty for the picture of Paul Ryan.  As mentioned, I happened to be one of the countless spectators who could not get close enough to get a usable shot.

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Maybe due to geography or conflicting obligations you ended up missing the Shenandoah Valley Tea Party’s U.S. Senate debate on October 20th.  Well, for those who did, I’m pleased to report that you can now watch the entire event from the comfort of your home computer.  Special thanks for this effort should go to the Tea Party, Sandy Garst, Dave Mason, and the Shenandoah Area Working Group.

To whet your appetite, here is the first segment:

You’ve already read my thoughts on the debate.  You’ve also heard from Helen Shibut, Karen Kwiatkowski, Luke Wachob, and Sarah Prescott.   But why not listen to the whole presentation and decide for yourself?  You can view the rest of the videos here.

There is a lot going on the Shenandoah Valley these days.  Besides reading local blogs such as mine, I highly recommend signing up for the Shenandoah Valley Tea Party’s newsletter.  You can do so by simply sending an email request to shenvalleyteaparty@hotmail.com.

Watch these videos, visit the candidates’ websites, and attend their gatherings when they come into town.  As voters, we have an obligation to select the candidate who will best represent our principles in Washington.  Do you know who that person is for you?

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