Sunday, April 08, 2007

Quality of Life Issues

Perhaps the most observant quip among the Loudoun rags this past week (which we read, so you don't have to) actually comes from WAPO, where Corey A. Stewart (Prince William County BOS chairman) said GOP candidates in this year's election "will stay focused on discussing quality-of-life issues, such as traffic and education...instead of things like putting the Ten Commandments in schools". This is precisely what's been missing up to this year in General Assembly attention, but was driven into the limelight via the past 8 months worth of growing, grass-roots constituent blogging, BOS hearing involvement and creation of many citizen-centric groups and consortiums. Most, like this particular blog and its sister site at Dulles South Online focus on quality-of-life topics, in the face of overwhelming growth, transportation and education issues. We're all better off for it, or will be, once funding gets rolling for things like the new $400 Million annual funding for NOVA transportation likely now to be approved by the Governor and General Assembly supporters. Hopefully we all can keep the right input and pressure on this particular funding for Loudoun County and the Dulles South region's particular benefit, although the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (tasked with approving taxes for new NOVA transportation projects) has only 1 representative focused on this area (unless you count the 2 Manassas representatives), in Scott York (Loudoun County BOS chairman).

Now we can get back to our quality-of-life pursuits, such as the new "cabbage-patch" style kid's addiction called "Webkinz". This is a little stuffed animal sold mostly in Hallmark stores, that comes with a secret code used online to register and then essentially manage and play with your animal as an online avatar. Ask around, you'll find just about every kid wants one, or has one - it's still a bit "underground", but Millions (!) of budding "pet" owners have registered.

For adults, we can look forward to an increased tax rate ($.89 to $.96 per $100 of assessed valuation) to finance our quality-of-life in Loudoun County, driven largely by the increases necessary to fund new school construction and expenses (including storage for all the confiscated Webkinz!). Public Schools spend about 70% of the county's overall budget. One certainly learns quick to "pay to play" - or "pay to live", in this case - and our future voters (i.e. 6 year olds) are living it now with their advertising-infused, $12 Webkins eye-candy. But whether they end up as centrist Democrats or moderate Republicans probably depends on whether the Webkins world can merge with Second Life, and which party establishes themselves quickest in the Internet's virtual world so well-known to most under 20 and over 3.

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