Friday, March 30, 2007

Online Resident Businesses as a voter bloc

It appears a new breed of voter has emerged very quickly from the tumult engulfing Loudoun County's development and transportation morass. Leaving aside the party faithful and religious right, many residents can be neatly partitioned into smart-growth or anti-growth categories (thereby trending Democratic), or dyed-in-the-wool by-right (i.e. larger landowners, businesses unto themselves, and therefore trending Republican). Most local businesses and business owners tend to stray pro-growth or by-right, and therefore support the Snow agenda (in this area, at least). But what about those voters who are both residents AND business owners, primarily home-based with no large physical infrastructure investments? Mom-inventors, Real Estate agents, home-based Internet businesses and Ebayers, etc. There's a lot of this going on in the Dulles Region; most have an online presence that's locally-oriented, though nationally or globally extended.

I'll call this voter class "ORBs" - Online Resident Businesses. On the one hand, as residents who work from home, uncontrolled or ill-planned growth severely impacts the ability to schedule and meet overlapping family and business demands, including visiting suppliers, receiving inventory and collaborating with local partners. On the other hand (non-local Internet clientele notwithstanding), more business and residential growth means potentially more business, affiliates, partners, suppliers and others participating in the virtual business network (on and offline).

Metaphorically-speaking, an ORB absorbs and reflects equivalently in all directions, as a sphere. That's the foundation of the ORB vote, where the sum of the issues and opportunities is not necessarily greater than the whole - it's the actual sum that matters, corresponding directly to business success and family harmony (or not). So, come November, the sum of all the issues, partisan platforms, on and offline news, economic climate, and all other vectors will likely point the ORB towards a compromise vote regardless of candidate personality, political affiliation or past record.

So, how many ORBs make up the approximately 40,000 persons living in the Dulles South area?

(reprinted in full from an earlier but somewhat old and buried bbs post on Dulles South Online).

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Dulles South represents!

It's always good to see the Dulles South community flex its muscles into the surrounding region, even if the muscles come on U9 Girl's Soccer players! Congratulations to 2 teams from the local Chantilly Soccer Club, FCV-97 Rockets and Chantilly Revolution 97, for their 1-2 finish (respectively) in last weekend's Prince William County Icebreaker soccer tournament! Most of the FCV girls are from South Riding, many of the Revolution are from Virginia Run and Chantilly.

Go Rockets!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Gateway to Loudoun Editorials

Leafing through the Loudoun mailrags, my previous assertion (that there's probably one too many printed publications in this area covering a finite set of interesting information) was proven outright. Seems as though the papers, starving for decently-written and cloaked but highly-suggestive accusations from readers, jump at the opportunity to publish such a missive when it arrives in the editorial inbox. We've seen this from a few delegates or officials, publishing the same letter to multiple papers, but this is the first time I've seen (recently) an apparent resident (a Mr. Rees) offering the exact same counsel (regarding appropriate taxation in next year's budget) in at least 3 different papers (Independent, Connection and Easterner). I read it once, then a second time, and by the third time had to flip over to the Middleburg Eccentric for a soak in the parochial good life (and therefore vicariously exist for 15 minutes entirely out of touch with the rest of the county, and possibly the entire world).

Would that this editorial had come our way; we could have given it the appropriate Web 2.0/SEM sendoff - spinning into all the direct and syndicated online content outlets you could think of, starting with the most obvious online aggregation point for this kind of material (at least this side of Leesburg), Dulles South Online.

So here's our offer, as a win-win-win-win to budding editors, content-starved newspapers, the local blogosphere and those that soak up the output. An online editorial market!

You, the cub reporter, create the wonderful prose fragment, infused with all sorts of juicy political or social innuendo. We, the marketplace liaison, accumulate, sort, edit, redact, catalogue, tag, package, judge, price and promote the material for consumption by on- or off-line readers. Or maybe just post it here. (We get this role because we know how, plus we thought of it first.) For a ridiculously insignificant fee (to the newspapers, but not to us nascent bloggers of course), we manage a bidding process among registered supplicants (the newspapers) for the best material. The winners include the newspaper that snags the best "exclusive" material, the readers who don't waste their time with repetitive drivel among the weekly 3 lbs of print, and the cub reporter, who not only gets a cut of the bid payment (we get the other and more aromatic cut, of course), but also gets to submit their content into an online aggregation/syndication machine that (for free!) elevates their online reputation and noteworthiness to the heights of wikipediadom.

Note the blogosphere benefits as well; more content coming into the network(s) from latent writers previously "off the grid", for us all to comment on, mash, repackage and find ways of leveraging (for personal gain) without outright copyright infringement.

Loudoun newspaper readers: send all your editorial submissions to us, not them! College costs are increasing, and the state's not fully funding higher education as it should!

In other news, even South Riding 5th graders can spell "cuneiform", defined as "that from which the Loudoun rags apparently eminated". Go Little River!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Wednesdays just got better here in South Riding

Normally, Wednesday and Thursday tend to bring with them the excitement of finding our petite Loudoun rags in mailbox - the Connection, Independent, the Easterner, the WAPO Loudoun section, Leesburg Today, sometimes the Middleburg Eccentric and once in a while a glossy Loudoun magazine or two. (How many times can we cover the same stories, exactly? This dilution of advertising dollars, along with growing impact on online media, must eventually add up to consolidation of the paper businesses.) Just recently the Times-Mirror began gracing our driveway at this time also, competing for attention by our official newspaper retriever (the dog, Emily). Why is this? Previously we've had to find this paper in stores or government centers, suddenly it's showing up. I guess South Riding is matured fully into a NOVA destination, i.e. a 2 newspaper (vs. "rag") town.

On the other hand, the promise of an actual newspaper hasn't quite been delivered; this week's Times-Mirror was very big, very heavy, and contained very little actual news - loads of advertising and a big, fat "homes" section.

Speaking of advertising, you might notice Curry's Loudoun and Chantilly Automobile Repair Service featured at the left. Just siphoning off some material from the rags, so my reading will go quicker!

Monday, March 19, 2007

One paper fits all this week

All we needed to read this week were Erika Jacobson's reports in the Loudoun Connection - she covered it all. Supervisor Snow proposed a $1.2 Billion amendment to the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) to cover infrastructure that would be needed now that it looks like all development moving forward in area will do so "by right", with no proffers for road improvement, parks, schools etc. Greenvest's withdrawal of its Broad Run Village, Arcola and Lenah rezoning applications for Transition Policy Area properties also removes the potential of the developer providing a 200 acre regional park, six public school sites, a 123-acre site for George Mason University, and road improvements to Rt. 50, Rt. 659, Braddock Road and Evergreen Mills Road as part of the proffers.

Last Wednesday's BOS work session focusing on the Ridgewater Project CPAM amendment saw Landsdowne Development Group revising its application, moving down from 2000 residential units to 1800, with 219 affordable units (to 2.2 units per acre, as opposed to guidelinse of 1 per 3 in a "village-style" design). Concerns still abound with the potential impact to the Goose Creek reservoir system.

The County is considering 13 proposals for a new government center, most clustered in eastern Loudoun around the "population centers" of Dulles North. Robert Dupree is keeping supervisors focused on full funding of the education components of the proposed county budget, his presentation can be found here.

We did see an interesting dichotomy on opposite pages within the Loudoun Indpendent; on one side, Poisson started campaigning, announcing a kickoff to his re-election campaign March 31st. On the other side, Lynn Chapman of Ashburn has filed documents to run for this 32nd District seat in the House of Delegates. See the full Election 2007 list at Dulles South Politics.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

It's a special place....

...recounted Lt. Governor Bill Bolling about the Commonwealth at today's Dulles South Business Alliance meeting, with delegates Caputo, Marshall, Rust and Supervisor Snow plus 50 or so Dulles South businesses (including Dulles South Online) in attendance. Noted as the "most pro-business" General Assembly member by Snow, Bolling delivered an overview of Virginia issues he's battling, from education to healthcare and natural resources.

Treading the line between "wanting Tim Kaine to be the best Governor ever, meeting Virginia's challenges" and "would not have done it that way, were I Governor (setting the stage?)", Bolling summarized the recent transportation bill this way; "something is better than nothing". Leaning a bit more partisan, he went on to explain that the problem isn't lack of money in Richmond, but lack of fiscal discipline, plus Kaine made a bad communications decision in immediately threatening to veto. Altogether, "at least something got passed", though there's a "fragility to the existing compromise" that may not survive extensive amendments by the Governor.

His most urgent message concerned education, noting that public education in Virginia is "pretty good", but the rest of the world is kicking our tails in critical areas like math and science. Kids simply aren't challenged to high enough academic standards. Furthermore, Virginia colleges and universities need to be fully funded in order to provide enough opportunity to in-state students, vs. attracting more out-of-state students they need to boost tuition income. Gangs are everywhere, Medicaid is broken, and the Bay will only be cleaned through extensive public education, incentives and public/private cooperation (vs. taxes).

Altogether a fairly typical middle-of-the-tenure speech to a non-partisan interest group. He did note a new initiative, his "100 ideas for the future of Virginia" request of constituents, to be rolled out on April 1st. No foolin' around, here, it's all business.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

All focus on Rt. 50 - we read (and go) so you don't have to...

"Time to Speak Up" reads the Connection's front page, referring to last week's public discussion regarding the "mixed-used" Rt. 50 business district project (Pleasant Valley Methodist Church this past Monday). Charles Yudd (assistant county administrator) and Mark Stultz (assistant zoning administrator) together with AKRF Inc. consultants held the relatively brief meeting outlining the status of the new zoning ordinance. No existing properties will actually be rezoned, but rezoning is available as landowners and businesses individually or jointly seek to leverage. Most comments were directed towards the rezoning process and how complex or lengthy it might be...attendees were assured many steps were being taken to keep costs and processes in line with the theme of public-private efficiency and cooperation.

The Connection's coverage continued this past week with coverage of public reaction to the proposed budget, including funding for the proposed school budget - seems most supervisors, educators and parents are will to step up to the plate (from a taxes perspective) to fully fund school needs. Robert Dupree, Chairman an Dulles representative to the Loudoun County School Board, delivered his perspective to the BOS this past Thursday; needless to say Dulles will be overwhelmed with trailers without full funding (only by "tearing the gavel out of my hands, as Steve Snow put it). Loudoun county school enrollment increased 75% in the past seven years, and projection show this only increasing, as younger siblings continue to move into the system. Additional support in the budget hearing came for full funding of the Gum Spring Library project - it appears the budget calls only for funding of the first floor, and not to the size necessary to accommodate Dulles needs.

Finally, a very good piece about the Richmond Transportation "state of disarray" - Loudoun County is in the majority in expressing the opinion that the General Assembly package, as sent to the Governor, does not provide nearly enough money to satisfy regional transportation issues and mass transit projects, and furthermore places undue and unwanted burden upon the counties and local jurisdictions to raise additional local taxes. On the other hand, it is a plan with bi-partisan agreement to some degree (vs. last year), and represents some progress without new statewide taxes ("Take what we can get", says the Easterner's editors). The controversy will continue for the next month until Governor Kaine announces his amendments or intention to veto.

The other eastern Loudoun-covering rags included much the same themes as the Connection, with some notable additions. The Easterner's front page notice on the Old Dominion Brewery begin sold is more news than most people realize, that is those persons who appreciate "craft" beers - Annheiser-Busch is now in the mix, distributing the Old Dominion label and quite possibly diluting an otherwise excellent product in the long run. (Note the Easterner's advertising staff is very busy - we reached page 13 of the news, and then suffered through over 30 pages of ads to get to community items!) Most notably among the community snippets, the South Riding Scoop informs us of Community Cleanup Day scheduled for Saturday, April 21, 10AM.

L2D gives us a few very good reads - most importantly a long interview with new Potomac District School Board representative John Stevens, who was recently appointed following John Andrews' departure to run for State Senate. A fascinating roundup of the General Assembly Session is provided "sponsored" by members of Loudoun's delegation (May, Poisson, Caputo, Rust, Marshall, Potts, Herring). What's fascinating, is the overwhelming number of introduced Bills that weren't actually finalized or passed, but were "tabled", "left in Committee", "killed", "effectively killed", "eventually killed", "passed in the House but killed, tabled or left in the Senate", "passed by", "remains in committee", "left without action", "stricken from the docket", etc. Sounds like a lot of roadkill to us; the tally appears to be about 14 passes to 50 proposed bills (!). May seems to have the best Pass/Fail percentage, at about 65% (5 of 8)

And finally, WAPO itself can take credit for excellent initiative, and fully joining the Web version 2.0, by introducing its new blog "Living in Loco" (shouldn't probably be interpreted literally). Living in Loudoun County is a local resident's view of all things Loudoun County, and we welcome it to the growing blogroll.