Rahm SHOULD be allowed to run

By Dan McDermott
Warren County Report

The Illinois Court of Appeals is wrong.

Today’s decision denying Rahm Emanuel’s residency requirement to run for Mayor of Chicago is anti-American and anti-democratic. (That’s a small ‘d’ but I suppose you could substitute either.)

This issue hits home to me.

I was born in Okinawa, Japan in 1968 because my dad was stationed there. At the time, the entire island was a U.S. military base and a U.S. territory.

As I was growing up my dad (who fought communism for the United States for over thirty years) always said it bothered him that I could never become president because I wasn’t a ‘natural born citizen.’

I am very proud of my dad’s service but I assured him there would be plenty of other reasons why I could never become president. (My freshman year of college comes to mind…)

Then John McCain announced his bid for the White House and we discovered that he had been born under similar circumstances. McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone because his dad was a US Naval officer at the time and was stationed there.

So McCain was a natural born US citizen from birth even though he wasn’t born in the 50 states.

Clearly when Rahm Emanual moved from Chicago to temporarily work in the White House it was because (like most Americans) when the President of the United States asks for you to work for him it is hard to say no.

I don’t think that going on the equivalent of a political deployment should prevent you from being a resident back home.

George W. Bush maintained his Texas residency and paid taxes there the whole time he was president. Many presidents have done the same thing.

I have no problem with that at all.

The White House wasn’t ‘his’ house any more than it was Rahm’s.

They just worked there.

Chicagoans should choose their mayor. Not two out of three judges.

Dan McDermott publishes three Virginia newspapers: Warren County Report, The Lynchburg Times and The Sherando Times. Email: dan@lynchburgtimes.com

Published in: on January 24, 2011 at 5:11 pm  Comments (1)  

Emanuel can NOT run for Chicago mayor – Court [Decision attached]

By Dan McDermott
Warren County Report

In a 2-4 decision, the Illinois Court of Appeals has ruled that former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel cannot run for mayor of Chicago.

The decision (attached) was released this morning.

The case stems from the question of whether Emanuel met the residency requirement when he moved to Washington.

The Chicago Board of Elections had previously ruled that Emanual did meet the requirement. Today’s ruling overturns that decision.

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Published in: on January 24, 2011 at 1:34 pm  Leave a Comment  

Va. gov. eager to ‘punish’ tuition-hike happy VCU board with 50% funding cut

[Watch the video and comment on MyFrontRoyal.com]

By Tracy Kennedy
Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Gov. Bob McDonnell wants to punish Virginia Commonwealth University for what he calls an “unacceptable” tuition hike by the school’s Board of Visitors last spring.

The governor stated his intentions last month when he addressed the General Assembly’s budget-writing committees.

“The VCU board approved a 24 percent rate increase for the kids at VCU last year. That’s unacceptable,” McDonnell told the Senate Finance, House Appropriations and House Finance committees on Dec. 17.

“And I’ve made a challenge in the budget, and I’ve only appropriated half of that general fund revenue back to the university.” He said this is something for the board to think about “this spring, when they consider future tuition increases.”

McDonnell’s proposed budget amendment would cut state funding to VCU by $17 million. That’s equal to half of what VCU’s tuition increase raised.

VCU had the largest in-state tuition increase in Virginia last year after it raised tuition and fees by $1,700. As a result, VCU’s in-state undergraduate students now pay $8,717 in tuition and mandatory fees.

Even so, that’s slightly below the average for four-year institutions in Virginia. By comparison, in-state tuition and fees total $12,188 at the College of William and Mary and $10,628 at the University of Virginia.

VCU has more than 32,000 students – just behind George Mason University. George Mason’s tuition this year is $8,484.

When they raised tuition last year, VCU officials said they did so reluctantly. They noted that the school’s tuition rates historically have been among the lowest in the state.

“VCU has cut costs to the bone over the past several years, so much so that the reductions undermined the quality of instruction,” VCU President Michael Rao said in a press release responding to McDonnell’s action.

Rao said VCU needed the tuition increase to make up for a $42 million budget gap created by the end of federal stimulus funding and inadequate state support. VCU received $12 million less in 2009 than it did in 2000, while enrollment has increased 35 percent.

“We will work tirelessly with the Governor’s team and General Assembly members during the session to resolve this budget issue in the best interests of our students, their families and the future of the Commonwealth,” Rao stated in the press release.

At the same time that McDonnell is seeking to withhold money from VCU, the governor is seeking an additional $50 million for higher education funding overall.

McDonnell is proposing a legislative package called the Virginia Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2011. His goal is to grant an additional 100,000 college degrees in Virginia by 2025. McDonnell is also seeking to revive a program to help offset some of the tuition that in-state students pay to private, nonprofit colleges in Virginia.

The governor reiterated those goals in his State of the Commonwealth Address on the opening day of the General Assembly’s 2011 session.

“College tuition has doubled for Virginia students over the past decade. That is unconscionable,” McDonnell said. He called on legislators to “implement major reforms and more accountability in higher education to make college more affordable and accessible for our students.”

“The new dollars will be targeted to undergraduate financial aid and funding incentives for efficiency and economic development, technology, increased four-year graduation rates, year round use of facilities and degree attainment,” McDonnell said.

“These actions will make college more affordable and accessible and create a better educated workforce and more jobs.”

[Watch the video and comment on MyFrontRoyal.com]

Published in: on January 21, 2011 at 7:31 pm  Comments (3)  

The Late January edition of Warren County Report

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Published in: on January 21, 2011 at 4:33 am  Leave a Comment  

UPDATE: Salahi vs. Radaronline.com exec trial date set

By Dan McDermott, The Lynchburg Times
and Roger Bianchini, Warren County Report

Front Royal, Va. — A bench trial has been scheduled for March 18 at 2:30pm in Warren County General District Court to hear a $5,000 civil claim by reality TV husband and alleged White House gate crasher Tareq Salahi against Radaronline.com editor Dylan Howard.

On September 3rd in the same court Salahi received a default judgment of $5,000 against Howard. That judgement has been thrown out because Howard was never served.

Salahi claims Howard never paid him an agreed upon $5,000 fee for photographs taken of Salahi and his wife Michaele the weekend of February 20th at the Salahi’s private residence in Warren County.

Boston said today that a lower fee had been agreed upon and that all funds had already been paid.

According to attorneys, both parties are expected to appear in March unless a settlement is reached before then. Howard attorney Eryk Gabhran Boston told Warren County Report he did not expect to reach a settlement and is preparing for trial.


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Published in: on January 7, 2011 at 4:29 pm  Comments (3)  

Robinett to be named defendant in solar lawsuit

Town attorney cited for intentional misrepresentation of ‘bribe’ info

By Roger Bianchini
Warren County Report

Front Royal, Va. — Warren County Report has received information that Front Royal Town Attorney Tom Robinett will soon be added as a fourth individual defendant in a $30-million lawsuit filed by local representatives of the company that brought the initial solar power proposal to the town government in mid 2009. At the time the SolAVerde lawsuit was filed in July, three “John Does” were listed as potential defendants yet to be identified by the plaintiffs.

If so named, Robinett will join sitting town Councilmen Tom Sayre, Carson Lauder and Vice Mayor Chris Holloway as individually named defendants in the defamation of character and illegal interference in a business contract lawsuit brought by SolAVerde principals and local businessmen Greg Horton (Arctic Air) and Donnie Poe (Poe Construction).

The Town of Front Royal is also named as a defendant in the suit which seeks $30 million in actual damages, responsibility for which would be split equally among all defendants, as well as an additional $350,000 per defendant in punitive damages. As of September all 26th Judicial Circuit judges recused themselves from the case due to Sayre’s presence as a defendant who also practices law in the 26th Judicial District.

As recounted in our 2010 Year in Review section, the lawsuit was served to the town and councilmen during a break between a July 19 work session and closed meeting. If served individually, it will be Robinett’s second receipt of the lawsuit. Robinett accepted the initial serving on behalf of the town in his role as town attorney.

And it is other actions alleged to Robinett as town attorney that have resulted in his pending addition as a defendant in the case according to a draft of the amended complaint sent anonymously to this newspaper the first week of January.

According to that amended complaint, Robinett is cited for “intentional” and “malicious” providing of incomplete information to the Richmond law firm of Troutman Sanders in seeking an answer to questions first raised to him by Holloway and Lauder on March 30. Those questions were whether jobs and an estimated $1.2 million in direct economic benefit to the town cited by then Town Manager Michael Graham in a March 29 closed session could be construed as bribes offered by solar principals to the town manager.

The draft motion acquired by this paper states Robinett is being added “as a defendant in his personal capacity as town attorney for actions in not providing Troutman Sanders with all the facts necessary to make an informed legal opinion. That it was intentional … and that it was malicious and intended to harm the plaintiffs … and that [Robinett] was well aware that SolAVerde was not a bidder in the RFP process … and he did not take steps to protect the plaintiffs when the information became public.”

Silek unsuccessfully sought a public apology and settlement from the town in the wake of the “solar bribe” issue going public last April 13. At the time the lawsuit was served Silek said, “They chose to publicly defame my clients and they chose this process.

We publicly asked for a retraction on several occasions and that a settlement be offered. I have repeatedly asked that the source of the leak [of the Troutman Sanders opinion and associated Robinett memos] man up and come forward. To me, the only reason that person or persons haven’t yet come forward is self interest. They have put their individual self interest above that of the Town of Front Royal and exposed all of the town to liability – that’s how selfish that person is.”

Ben Orcutt, the author of the series of front page NVD stories about the solar bribe inquiry and Troutman Sanders opinion, has identified the source of those confidential town documents leaked to his paper as a then-sitting member of the Front Royal Town Council. Questioned by this reporter in the past, all six councilmen at the time, Holloway, Lauder, Sayre, Conkey, Parker and Hrbek, as well as then Mayor Tewalt, have denied being that source.

Secret incentives?

In her memorandum on Robinett’s questions to her firm, Troutman Sanders staff attorney Megan Rahman wrote that yes, such economic incentives Graham was seeking direction from council on dealing with on March 29th could be construed as bribes under the conditions as outlined by the Front Royal town attorney.

And Troutman Sanders attorney Carter Glass, with whom Robinett initially discussed the bribe concerns by phone, writes in introduction to Rahman’s opinion, “These ‘incentives’ were not solicited by the Town in its RFP (Request for Proposals) and were not included in the written proposal of the company. Instead, they were apparently made secretly, and one can easily infer that they were intended to influence the procurement decision … Further, such secret incentives likely provide a basis for another company to challenge the entire procurement process.”

In prefacing her opinion, Rahman references the town’s solar RFP (issued in December 2009), adding, “It has come to the Town Attorney’s attention that, during the procurement process, one of the top three companies secretly offered incentives to the Town Manager that were not contained in its written response to the RFP.” Rahman goes on to identify those “secretly offered” incentives as 200 jobs and a $1.2 million payment to the town.

“In sum, so long as the Town Manager has not accepted or agreed to accept the offer, there does not appear to have been any violation of either the criminal statures or the VPPA (Virginia Public Procurement Act). But, the actual offer itself does constitute the type of benefit that would be considered a bribe under either § 18.2-447 or the VPPA,” Rahman concludes.

And Robinett concludes his cover letter to council and the mayor prefacing the Rahman opinion by stating, “While ‘secret incentives’ may be a normal part of private business, they are clearly not acceptable in a public business setting.”

Au contraire

However, the SolAVerde lawsuit dates that company’s discussion of the referenced incentives to open town work sessions beginning in August 2009 and notes that Standard Energy picked up those discussions in October 2009 prior to the town issuing the RFP in December of that year. It adds that similar benefits to the community are discussed in the Standard Energy January 2010 RFP response on pages 16 and 17. It further notes that Horton and Poe were never principals of Standard Energy and so were never involved in the Standard RFP response.

Since the leaked “bribe opinion” info surfaced last April, one citizen activist and Graham supporter, retired U.S. Energy Department official Tina Hobson, has repeatedly asserted to council, with documentation submitted at meetings, that the job and economic benefits Robinett, Holloway and Lauder all expressed ignorance of prior to March 29, 2010 were documented at a series of public council work sessions and other meetings between June and December 2009.

At issue for both plaintiffs and at least one pending defendant now is whether the information Robinett provided to Troutman Sanders was complete, accurate and reflected the town attorney’s full knowledge of the circumstance of the solar negotiating process and Standard Energy RFP response.

Robinett could not be reached for comment on his potential inclusion as an additional defendant in the case.

On Jan. 4, Mayor Tim Darr said he was unaware of any pending move to add Robinett to the list of defendants in the case. Darr also noted that the town’s legal defense was already in the hands of a Virginia Municipal League attorney (Julia Judkins), so questioned any level of impact on how a defense of the town and its accused officials would be prepared or presented.


Published in: on January 7, 2011 at 8:31 am  Leave a Comment  

Fatal accident apparent result of intended night safety warning

By Roger Bianchini
Warren County Report

Front Royal, Va. — According to the daughter of a man killed when he was struck by a car while walking to work along Fairgrounds Road the evening of Dec. 28, the sequence of events leading to the fatal accident may have been initiated by a well intentioned Warren County Sheriff’s Office deputy.

Virginia State Police Press Officer Sgt. F. L. Tyler reports that 59 year old James Alfred Oldfield died as a result of injuries sustained when he was struck at 10:25 p.m. by a 2002 Chevy Avalon driven by Joshua William Stanley, 27, of Martinsburg, West Virginia. The accident occurred three tenths of a mile east of Route 522 on Fairgrounds Road as Oldfield was walking west.

Oldfield was flown by medical helicopter to Winchester Medical Center where he was pronounced dead at 12:40 a.m. on Dec. 29.

“Our understanding is that the deputy was turning around to tell him he needed to wear a reflector and the other driver was coming out of Ferguson’s and looked in his rear view mirror when the deputy turned their lights on and didn’t see dad,” Oldfield’s daughter Joanna Morgan told us. She said she believes the driver exiting Ferguson’s believed he was being pulled over by the deputy, possibly for expired tags, when he began to pull to the side of the road and struck her father.

Sgt. Tyler later confirmed this outline of the incident and said that Stanley was eventually charged with an expired registration.

Joanna said her dad, who lived off Fairgrounds Road, was walking to Family Dollar for the third shift which began at 11 p.m. She added that her dad lost his car to a finance company she had less than kind words for recently and had just decided to continue walking to work as a cost saving measure in the tight economy.

The accident was investigated by VSP Trooper P. M. Neff, who was assisted at the scene by the Warren County Sheriff’s Office and county fire and rescue.

“He was a professional painter. He loved art, loved to draw and go fishing with the kids. He was just a general, good person and there aren’t many of those around. And he was a devout Christian – and that’s made it easier on us because we know he’s gone to heaven.

“I don’t know what else to tell you about Daddy other than we love him and miss him,” Joanna concluded.

The family sent us this statement to accompany this story:

James “Jimmy” Oldfield, born November 26, 1951, went unexpectedly to be with the Lord on December 29, 2010. He was a friend to many and loved by those who knew him. When people met Jimmy they met a friend.

We will all miss you, Jimmy. Love, your daughters, Joanna Morgan, Nancy and Jamie Oldfield, and your grandchildren, Ashlan and Jessica Morgan, Brennan Paul Dalton and the rest of our family. May you rest in the Lord’s arms.

Published in: on January 7, 2011 at 7:51 am  Leave a Comment  

The Mid January edition of Warren County Report

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Published in: on January 7, 2011 at 4:05 am  Comments (1)  

Salahi’s civil litigation dance back in court Friday

This story has been updated.

Unpaid $5k fee for Feb. 2010 photographs, at issue in district court

By Roger Bianchini, Warren County Report
and Dan McDermott, The Lynchburg Times and MyLynchburg.net

[This story was first reported in The Lynchburg Times.]

[CLARIFICATION: Dylan Howard attorney Eryk Gabhran Boston told Roger Bianchini Friday that they are not contending that the apartment number was purposefully left off the summons but rather was due to a clerical error.]

On Friday, Jan 7, one half of Warren County’s most famous alleged White House gatecrasher and Reality TV couple is due back in a Warren County Courtroom on an appeal of a $5,000 civil claim he won against an executive at a national celebrity gossip website.

On September 3rd in Warren County General District Court Tareq Salahi received a default judgment of $5,000 against Dylan Howard. Salahi claims Howard never paid him an agreed upon $5,000 fee for photographs taken of Salahi and his wife Michaele the weekend of February 20th at the Salahi’s private residence in Warren County.

Howard is Senior Executive Editor for RadarOnline.com. Radar Online was bought by American Media several years ago. American Media owns national tabloids The Star, The Globe and National Enquirer. According to Wikipedia Howard has appeared on a wide range of television and radio programs as a news expert. Included on that list are Entertainment Tonight, The Insider, CNN, Fox News, HLN, CBS News, ABC’s Nightline, Good Morning America, MSNBC, Inside Edition, the BBC, Britain’s Sky News and HLN’s prime-time program “Issues With Jane Valez Mitchell”

Howard, whose address in court documents is listed as 55 Wall Street in New York City, is seeking to have the judgment against him voided and money taken as a result of a subsequent garnishment issued Sept. 27th returned. Court records indicate Howard claims Tareq Salahi knew his apartment number but withheld it from the affidavit so that he could not be successfully served. The result was that Howard says he was unaware of the claim or court date and did not appear or have representation in Warren County General District Court in September to tell his side of the story. The defendant’s New York City address is described in his appeal of the judgment as a huge apartment complex with hundreds of units.

A $5,000 invoice from Tareq Salahi for “Celebrity Photography for 3 hours” in the case file contains the notation “Originally sent: April 30, 2010” and “Resent: May 20, June 21 & June 29, 2010.” That invoice is addressed to: Dylan Howard, 55 Wall Street, Apt. 824, New York, NY 10005-2826.

At stake in the Jan. 7 hearing scheduled before Judge W. Dale Houff is a total of $5,451 in allegedly unpaid fees, interest and court costs. Tareq Salahi is represented in the matter by Manassas-based, local attorney David Silek.

The case file includes an alleged e-mail exchange between Salahi and Howard dated Feb. 16-18-19 indicating the Salahis’ agreement to do the photo shoot the coming weekend.

“Michaele and Tareq, How is everything looking for the photo shoot I want to do? My offer of $5,000.00 is firm and hope we can do more after this. How is your schedule the next two weeks?” Howard e-mailed the Salahis on Feb. 16 according to court records.

“Dylan, my wife & I have agreed. Please confirm. We are free this weekend,” Tareq Salahi replied on Feb. 18.

On Friday, Feb. 19, again according to court records, Howard e-mailed the couple to confirm, stating he would take photos of the couple together and separately, adding, “I will pay you $5,000 for the photos. In addition, if you allow me to take video of you two, Radar Online may also be interested in purchasing that for an additional $5,000 or $10,000 …”

Howard allegedly concludes this final “pre-shoot” e-mail by alerting Tareq that he “will also need to ask some questions of you about playing polo with Prince Charles & Prince Harry. You had some interesting anecdotes, from memory, about Harry.” The references are to Charles, Queen Elizabeth’s son and heir to the British throne and his and the late Princess Diana’s youngest son Harry.

Reached late Wed., a spokesperson for Wide Eye Communications provided The Lynchburg Times with the following statement:

“In a publicity stunt aimed solely at garnering media attention, the Salahis, whose notorious history speaks for itself, recently named WIDE EYE and its principal Dylan Howard as defendants in a frivolous lawsuit.

“There is absolutely no merit to the Salahi’s claims.

“We look forward to vigorously defending ourselves in a court of law and speaking with the Commonwealth of Virginia and law enforcement to expose yet another fraudulent act perpetrated by these individuals, in this instance, the creation of fictitious e-mails.”

Responding just prior to press run, Salahi attorney David Silek said the following:

“The Salahis are once again the subject of a baseless attack. First, Wide Eye’s assertion that it is a defendant in this matter is simply false. So inquiry must begin with that false assertion. Second, if service did not get to Mr. Howard, fine. So be it. His attorney failed to enter a special appearance and rather entered what is known as a general appearance in this matter and has given our Court jurisdiction over Mr. Howard. Now that Mr. Salahi has counsel in this matter, any procedural difficulties will be corrected. We look forward to setting this case down for hearing and a trial on the merits. We are certainly glad that Mr. Howard elected to make a general appearance and give our court in personum jurisdiction over him, which was lacking as he was served by the secretary of the Commonwealth.

“Third, Mr. Howard came to VA to take pictures of the Salahi’s and then I assume sold the pictures to someone. It is a shame that he now refuses to honor his obligations.”

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Published in: on January 6, 2011 at 1:17 pm  Comments (5)  
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