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Op-Ed: Your RA Vote Matters

by RestonNow.com — March 6, 2015 at 1:00 pm 91 Comments

This is an op-ed by Lake Anne resident John Lovaas.

By the time you read this, your ballot for the 2015 Reston Association Board election has arrived. It’s easy to vote, with a maximum of three blocks to check.

Does it matter? I think it does. RA Board decisions affect us all. While staff generally is solid, there are questions about the leadership. Recently, questions have surfaced about transparency, internal communications, and ethics, for example.

In December 2013,  leadership and members of the Environmental Advisory Committee resigned to protest board leadership’s secretive and questionable handling of the Lake Anne “land swap.”

Later, I learned board members were filing incomplete financial disclosure forms — but, no one even bothered to review them until a homeowner made a FOIA request and saw them. It took months to get missing information partially completed.

The flow of information is so tightly controlled internally that Board members cannot answer constituent questions by simply picking up the phone and asking RA staff for needed information. Every communication must be channeled through the CEO, where bottlenecks occur and responses are delayed.

Change does not come easily. New blood may help.

Those in the South Lakes district get to select one director, and North Pointers will select a one-year director to complete a term. Unfortunately, there is no competition for the At-Large seats.

The two candidates are Michael Sanio, a sustainability consultant running for re-election, and Ray Wedell, a Reston realtor. To his credit, Mr. Sanio initially voted against the land giveaway; but, he then voted to block a new procedure to prevent a recurrence and voted no to an independent ethics panel. Mr. Wedell is new, says he wants to protect open space and “spruce up clusters,”  in part by creating a “Reston Infrastructure Bank” to offer interest-free loans to clusters for maintenance and repair.

In the North Point race, there are two candidates for a one-year vacancy. Dannielle La Rosa is an accountant and former PTA President. She has served eight months as an appointee. Hopefully, she would be an independent voice on the Board. Her opponent is Charles Dorfeuille, who is refreshingly young with a bundle of ideas for programs to serve teens and younger residents. Very slight edge here to Mr. Dorfeuille.

The South Lakes race, with three candidates, is where the action is.  Incumbent Richard Chew will have to overcome neighbors upset over a bocce ball court he pushed. And, he voted for the land swap. Andy Sigle, a former At-Large Board member defeated in a 2014 re-election bid, also voted for the land giveaway, and is hard to pin down on issue stances.

My pick in South Lakes is first-time candidate Julie Bitzer, a landscape designer and active outdoors person. She is articulate, a committed environmentalist, and ready to ask hard questions. She opposed the land swap; and supports transparency, a strong code of conduct, and a more rigorous budget review process.

As winter ends, I nominate the RA Snow Removal team for the Oscar.

February was the coldest, and nearly the snowiest I can remember. Yet, the RA staff again cleared pathways we so enjoy as part of Reston living almost before the snow stopped falling — every time! Thanks to these folks, we’ve been able to enjoy our winter wonderland. Hats off to all the men and women who made it possible!

  • Mike M

    “Reston Infrastructure Bank”
    The horror.
    The horror.

    • FULL TIME BOJANGLER

      Interest free loans for Clusters? HAHAHAHAHAHA Oh wait, is he serious? What a moron.

      • JCSuperstar

        Quick to judge people for thinking out of the box Jangler. I agree with you, RA offering loans is something that needs to be really, really vetted well. But why not hear the man out. Have you discussed this idea with him?
        I do like Mr. Wedell’s intentions of RA driving resources to those clusters as well as individual homeowners who need a hand.

        • FULL TIME BOJANGLER

          JC,

          That is so far out of the box that it is silly. No, I have not discussed the idea with him. RA wants to be all things to all people I’m sure. But a bank? Its ridiculous.

          • JCSuperstar

            Well, with no intention of irritating you again; why do you jump all over his idea, without even hearing him explain more about it.

          • FULL TIME BOJANGLER

            Because RA is not a bank. Period.

          • JCSuperstar

            Yea, and so are a lot of institutions that offer access to various forms of financing to their constituents. You focus on NO so much…

          • Ming the Merciless

            “Hey let’s put elected officials in charge of handing out money!”

            What could go wrong?

          • FULL TIME BOJANGLER

            ” Hello, RA? I’m calling because I need a new A/C unit and I can’t afford one”.

            “RA Staff”. Great. We have a program. Call this company called RELAC and mention RA. You will get a great deal!

          • Ray Wedell

            Bingo.

          • FULL TIME BOJANGLER

            Besides a bank or credit union, which institutions “offer access to various forms of financing to their constituents”? Please, name one.

          • Ming the Merciless

            Coming soon to the RA heaquarters…

          • FULL TIME BOJANGLER

            Hilarious!

          • JCSuperstar

            JANGLER, I can think of a few. An auto dealership offers customers access to financial institutions ready to do business with them through predetermined arrangements, Universities, City of Fairfax Assistance, City of Herndon, City of Vienna, Contractors, Washington Gas, Dominion Power, Hardware stores like Home Depot…I can go on.

            I personally think it is feasible for Reston Association to seek out all kinds of institutions willing to participate in a “Keep Up Reston” program where individuals (elderly, financially strapped, etc.) can qualify for services.

            Nobody at RA ever qualifies the individual, or hands out money. Yea, I wouldn’t trust a volunteer board member either.

            Rather, RA has pre-negotiated blanket agreements for financing, contracting, roofing, etc… These agreements represent much better than standard rates as RA can demonstrate its negotiating power, representing close to 21,000 households (and growing) and well over 60,000 people and growing.

            WTF is wrong with that — capitalism at it’s best. Before, just saying “NO” to everything, try listening and asking questions, collaborating. I just love to be entertained by people who thrive on a sense of self-importance. When will people learn the difference between opinion and fact.

            JC

          • FULL TIME BOJANGLER

            RA demonstrate negotiating power? Like all that negotiating power they used in making a deal to purchase Tetra? RA is paying full costs of lending on that purchase. Auto dealerships/universities/home depot credit/ and the like all lend money through BANKS, or in some cases the government. All of which is based on the credit worthiness of the individual. Some that you listed are charities. Utilities subsidize the poor through charitable donations of others. There is no such thing as free.

          • JCSuperstar

            Absolutely agree Laura. Sooo, either I articulated the premise poorly, or, you continue not to see things outside your own views. RA gets other entities (financial institutions, contactors, hardware stores, landscapers, etc.) to assist. Let me say that again as you may need to read it one more time. RA, through the power and size of it’s membership, directs outside entities to offer the assistance. Goodness me.

          • FULL TIME BOJANGLER

            RA DIRECTS BANKS and HOME DEPOT to lend. You are a cretin Look it up. I am done. It is hopeless.

          • JCSuperstar

            That’s cool, your choice.

        • Ming the Merciless

          This is a dangerously stupid idea and must be stopped.

          • JCSuperstar

            Ming…I wholeheartedly agree with you. Don’t let the RA Board, or Staff, make decisions on handing out money under such a plan.

            But what I see Reston Association doing, and I believe Mr. Wedell is sorta going there, is leverage RA’s buying power, and it’s status representing over 20,000 households, and god knows how many HOAs. That “power” allows for some interesting resources being brought bear. Perhaps a local Financial Institution (Contractors, Hardware Stores, etc.) would enter into blanket agreements to serve the Reston Members.

            In other words, let the outside experts do what needs to be done, directed by RA, which is really the Members.
            Food for thought…

            Or…One can just say “NO”… Glass half full or half empty… I prefer the former when listening to others with interesting (not necessarily feasible) ideas.

            JC

      • Ray Wedell

        I expected some cynicism and much skepticism over the idea; many years ago, I heard businessman T Boone Pickens say, “Pioneers get all the arrows.” So true.

        To JCSuperstar’s point: several Cluster Association members have asked for details and to provide input, and I plan to meet with them in the immediate future. The plan I am proposing is aspirational in nature at this point; I have zero intention of turning RA, or any part of RA, into a “bank.” There are dozens of issues to develop and work out, and I would recommend a pilot program to begin with, as glitches will doubtless surface once any program of this nature is implemented.

        Let’s work from this basic premise: Many clusters and Cluster Homeowners could use our assistance. If one is not in agreement on this basic point, and is quite satisfied with the status quo and does not want RA involved, then I will have difficulty engaging on the entire idea.

        However, if you do agree with the basic point, let’s get a solid discussion underway, which by necessity requires that someone put a plan on the table. So I have done so. It may not be the prescription we need, but it may generate other ideas and get our members stoked up a bit to help us figure out exactly what DOES work.

        Given that I quoted Mr. Pickens earlier, allow me to pilfer a famous quote from Robert Kennedy, “Some see things as they are and ask ‘why?’. I see things as they could be and ask, ‘Why not?’. I am more of a “why not” thinker than a “why” thinker. I have yet to hear anyone give me a logical reason why I should abandon my Infrastructure Bank plan. So……why not?

        • Mike M

          I am unimpressed with your name dropping to cover your unbelievably stupid idea.

          • Ray Wedell

            You don’t even know what the idea is.

          • Ray Wedell

            Hi John…. Thank you for your excellent commentary. I would like to get together with those providing similar feedback and see what we can come up with. I value your input.

          • Mike M

            Reston goes into the finance business. That’s so naive, I am embarrassed for you.

        • John Baker

          Ray- the Cluster’s can borrow against themselves which would be a much better model. They have property and they have income streams, they can also special assess themselves. It’s their responsibility as owners to maintain their property. RA can help but the “buying power” model is already available to them through ARCH. No need to duplicate that organization.

          • JCSuperstar

            ARCH..?? Does it still exist? Hell their website hasn’t worked for years. I believe Jerry Volloy is the only one still associated with it, correct?

        • Bah

          Robert Kennedy, “Some see things as they are and ask ‘why?’. I see things as they could be and ask, ‘Why not?’.

          Unless we’re planning on assassinating Castro or stealing an election, the quote lacks relevance.

      • Rational Reston

        I don’t know the specifics of Mr. Wedell’s idea, but at the very least he is someone willing to bring different ideas to the RA table. Something that the RA is desperately lacking, they’d much rather keep motoring on as if it’s the 70’s or 80’s.

  • RestonSouthie

    Pretty much if Lovaas is for it is a good reason to be against it,

    I’d put my money on Andy Seigle and Danielle La Rosa. Charles is great for honestly the board sometimes has to struggle with difficult issues. I think life experience, business experience should certainly edge out a kid.

    • JCSuperstar

      Have to agree Southie. The Lovaas diatribes continue. Sad. I do agree with him on one item however, if one wants to make a difference – vote.

    • John Farrell

      John and I disagree as often as we agree, if not more so. But these ad hominen attacks are really over the line.

      • NotSadforJL

        Lovaas dishes it deep, often launching out and out attacks on those he deems target worthy and often without regard for fact or truth. I’d say this is called balancing the scales.

    • Adrian Havill

      You spelled both candidates names wrong. And we should take you seriously?

      • EnglishTecher

        I don’t think in this case the spelling is critical.

    • I really hope that people see more than just my age…
      I have proposed over 25 new ways RA can interact with its members and do business. If you are gonna be against me I hope it will be for my positions, not for the fact I was born later than my opponent.

      If you have any questions about my positions though I would be happy to discuss and explain them wherever would be best for you! You can contact me at [email protected].

  • PlainTalker

    Lovaas is on record over and over again saying he’s in favor of the Lake Anne redevelopment design which obviously included the land swap. He’s always talking out of both sides of his head. His slick version of “truthiness.”

    • Robert Mowbray

      John opposed the land swap at several meetings before the RA board voted to approve it with no public discussion among board members. After some changes were made to the LADP plan John supported the overall redevelopment. I agree with John’s position on the land swap but not with his later support for the redevelopment – the changes were not enough to justify the swap.

      • GetOverItAlready

        That swap was the best decision that the prior board made. It will have long term positive impact on the community.

      • Ming the Merciless

        He was against it before he was for it!

        • JCSuperstar

          Well said Ming… LOL!

        • Robert Mowbray

          I believe he was against the land swap (and the secretive way it took place) but for Lake Anne development.

          • JCSuperstar

            Of course he was for the Lake Anne Redevelopment. As Market Master of the Reston Farmers Market, a position granted by Fairfax County Parks and Recreation, he would love, and hope it goes through. It’s to his benefit, so he can continue to be the “Grand Marshall,” and run roughshod over all those vendors. It’s good for him personally.

  • John Baker

    The Lovaas diatribe indeed. One long string of BS, peppered with self aggrandizement and lies. No body cares about the “view from over there.” Love that you think Reston will be better served by an 18 year old kid, (no matter how smart) than a grown up with actual experience!

    • JCSuperstar

      I feel sorry for Ms. Bitzer; an endorsement from John Lovaas is a campaign kiss of death. And she actually had some good ideas. Sigh.

      • LayDownWithDogs

        I don’t know Superstar- I hear she’s happy with this endorsement.

        “Associate yourself with people of good quality, for it is better to be alone than in bad company.”

        Booker T. Washington

        • JCSuperstar

          LayDown, I hear ya. One needs to respect her decision, it’s just unfortunate for her. Lovaas may have just created some speed bumps for her campaign.

      • Ming the Merciless

        Indeed, I automatically do the opposite of whatever Lovaas recommends.

        Now I know how to vote in this election! And the ballot is right in front of me!

    • with all due respect john, just because someone is young does not mean they are inexperienced novelties. I would point you to the office neighbor of the congressmen I interned for, Aaron Schock, that became a member of his districts school board at 19.

      Having a good vision for Reston does not only come from those that are older. I would point you to 2 things that I have seen thange by just be being in the arena:
      1. CEAC is already going with my idea to incorporate young people in the reston magazine, something that RA staff and the high school administrations have seen as a great opertunity for restons youth.
      2. After my recommendations to have the forum on TV, RCTV has agreed and will broadcast the full candidates forum this evening at 8pm.

      Now these are things that I have been at the forefront in having done, and I haven’t even been elected yet!
      I encourage you to look again at my 20 points plan, my letter to cluster leadership, and all my other documents where I lay out specific policies that I plan to pursue. I ask you to read them without thinking about my age, read them and think about if they are good ideas or not. This election is not about finding the oldest person for the job, it is about finding someone that will apply the most to the job. I think that person is me, and that is why I am running.

      As I mentioned before I would love to convince you on this. You can email me at [email protected].

      I hope you are also able to watch the candidate forum on the TV tonight as well.

      You can also see all of the documents I mentioned (and a whole lot more) here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/639726229489258/files/

      • John Baker

        Charles- with all due respect I would have to ask, how many RA Board Meetings have you attended? What experience do you bring to a complex dialogue about the inevitable trade offs and compromises that meeting the needs of a diverse community requires?

        I applaud your enthusiasm but Ms. La Rosa has an MBA and real life experience. Son, I’m sorry but you’ve been out gunned.

        • I have watched all of the board meetings for the past year (some difficult to hear since they did not have good mics)
          As i mentioned about experience, I am not running to be the CEO or CFO of RA. There is a reason that there is no age limit for this job because this is an ideas job. Compare my ideas with the ideas of my opponent without looking at our age or anything else, and tell me what you disagree on. I have no problem being told you won’t vote for me because of my position, but I do have a problem with judging me for my age alone. Please read my points and get back to me with something we can discuss, because I would be disappointed to know I lost a vote because someone assumed I was lacking in knowledge of the issues because of the year I was born…

          • FULL TIME BOJANGLER

            Charles,

            You should not be discouraged. I can think of another young community organizer who got elected twice to a much higher position than an RA Board seat. He had zero experience. I mean, HE did ruin our country, but RA is so effed up already I doubt you could do any real damage.

            All joking aside, best wishes to you. Its nice to see a young person get involved.

          • JCSuperstar

            WOW…

  • John Farrell

    Not voting might be the better idea this year.

    RA elections rarely get more than 15% participation and, if less than 10% vote, the election is invalid.

    After reading the postings on Reston Now and attending the candidates forum, not voting becomes the “none of the above” option. Especially after seeing all of the candidates support the Tetra give away.

    • JCSuperstar

      John, this isn’t your style. I’ve read enough of your comments to know you like the good fight. You even ran for the Reston board a while back. So, instead of the same 20 of us Restonians talking over each other, why not find a way to get the apathetic 90% to get interested. Yes, it’s a long haul, but that’s your fight.

      • Cluster Tycoon

        “I went on stage. As I was standing in front of that audience a word came to me that I was going to have wealth and success and that the audience was like a lion. I was a lion tamer. When I cracked the whip they would jump through the hoop, and they would do what I wanted them to do.”

        I think that pretty much explains Jeff Fenholt aka JCSUPERSTAR and his longstanding ties to Satanism. Well, I for one, strongly believe we can get by in Reston without the help of Satan and his little helpers. Just sane.

        • KeepingMyEyeOnYou

          uh– that’s just weird.

  • Greg

    None of my ballots have arrived…clearly the USPS has failed?

  • Constance (Connie) Hartke

    I am grateful to the people are willing to take on the responsibility and the hours of personal time to volunteer to be on our RA board. I disagree with various Board member’s votes (land swap!!) but I am also willing to look at what is done right. We
    need a strong, functional Reston Association.

    The Candidates’ Forum airs tonight on RCTV 28 and Verizon FIOS channel 1981 at 8:00 pm or watch anytime on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/user/RestonAssociation).

    • RestonWatcher

      Your sincerity is under whelming; but I do appreciate that without the RA Board RCA would have nothing but the County from which to form their completely lame conspiracy theories.

      • Reston Watcher

        Hey, get your own anonymous name.

  • FTB’sADope

    You are so pathetically predictable.

    • JCSuperstar

      FTB — you say EVERYTHING. Really, EVERYTHING?? So factual. You and Lovaas fascinate me. You both are on opposite ends of the political spectrum, but your behaviors are so much alike.

  • JCSuperstar

    Soooo, Laura. I take it you’re probably not very interested in the Selma March 50 Years Later today. Having been to your Twitter site I suspect not. 😕

    • FULL TIME BOJANGLER

      Why do the leftists always interject race into everything? It is the Left that uses RACE, GENDER & CLASS to divide. EFF YOU JC.

      • JCSuperstar

        I assume you don’t think I am a leftist; I aint. I just look at the pictures you post on Twitter and see a pattern. That’s all.

        • FULL TIME BOJANGLER

          No I think you are an idiot. The two are not mutually exclusive, however. The other day you said you were a Libertarian. Its clear you don’t even know what that means. I was talking about banks and lending and you bring up Selma? WTF? But yes, the left plays the race card when they have nothing else. I will not insult any other readers by “listing my black friends”. I will not dignify your assumptions in that manner. Obama is a failure because of his policies (or lack thereof), not because of his skin color.

          • JCSuperstar

            Laura, I think I’ve been a libertarian longer than you. I would welcome discussing Keynesian vs. Austrian economic policy with you all day. That 100% of sovereign bonds are being monetized by central banks; US Bond market liquidity drying up, Western banks downgraded to near junk, with dependence on the bond carry trade. Your starting to sound more like Lyndon LaRouche, than a true Libertarian. Of course, one of my favorite Libertarians is Howard Stern.

            I don’t believe an individual can ruin this country. That takes a whole lot of people.

            But, hey, we’re here to talk about Lovaas’ so-called OP-ED.
            JC

    • FULL TIME BOJANGLER

      And actually no I am not very interested in dwelling in the past. I know all about racial strife. I grew up in New Orleans. That’s my favorite thing about the Obama administration…..all the racial healing he promised. Hands up, don’t shoot!

  • FTB’sADope

    Spew baby, spew!

    • FULL TIME BOJANGLER

      And just for you and JC, I am watching the President speak at Selma. BTW, he is already late as usual. Can’t ever be prompt. But I am posting here to predict, when he does speak, the “negro dialect” will be heavy .

      • ASisterInReston

        So BJ- I didn’t hear any “negro-dialect” in the President’s Selma speech- I heard superior intellect, a rhetoric of reconciliation and eloquence.

        • Bah

          A cretin who stammers if he doesn’t have a teleprompter, and is nothing but platitudes if he has one. That’s what they call “eloquence” these days.

        • FULL TIME BOJANGLER

          Sister,
          BHO surely did alter his cadence for his audience. Always has, always will. Race relations have never been worse. Its sad. He is the most divisive President in history.

  • FULL TIME BOJANGLER

    To Connie, John Lovaas, and all candidates for RA Board,

    I remember reading last year sometime that Cate Fulkerson was awarded a 5K performance “bonus”. I recall that she had only been the official CEO for a short time when this occurred. In a time of rising assessments, do you think this was deserved or warranted in any way? What is your overall feeling about the salaries and benefits packages offered to RA employees? Should the CEO get another bonus this year? 5K, 10K, or how much if any, would be appropriate?

    • Greg

      Cate Fulkerson apparently made at least $166,232 last year on top of Milton’s $183,223. Data from 2013 IRS form 990.

      http://pdfs.citizenaudit.org/2014_11_EO/54-6060435_990O_201312.pdf

    • At this moment I personally think that giving bonuses or raises should be at a lower priority to finding efficiencies within the RA structure. I am sure staff do a great job, but with the rate of Assessment increases we should find ways to slow down the rate of yearly increases before handing out bigger checks.

      Thank you for your question! I expect you know already, but you can still email me at [email protected] if you want to ask me anymore questions about my specific plans.

      • FULL TIME BOJANGLER

        Charles,

        Thank you for replying.

    • JCSuperstar

      I believe the continuing acrimonious statements have scared Connie, et al, away… don’t blame them.

      • FULL TIME BOJANGLER

        Charles isn’t scared to reply. And if the others who are seeking a board seat are scared of the question, that should tell us all something. But, JC, if you would go away, that would be a good thing.

        • JCSuperstar

          I didn’t say they were afraid of your question. I said I believe they were scared away due to some of the acrimonious behavior on the thread.

  • Cluster Tycoon

    And the award goes to JC Superstar and FULL TIME BOJANGLER for spending their weekend hunched over the keyboard dishing it out. Well done, even the weather cooperated this time as most other people probably were outside – you had full bandwidth of the internet.

    Personally I would like to thank FTB for fighting the good fight, its not easy keeping the satanists contained but I think you did it! We all know about censorship and how slick Satan has become in pulling a fast one.

    Thanks big time.

    • JCSuperstar

      Thank you, thank you. I am honored for the recognition. First, I’d like to thank my first grade teacher who often told me… “just shut up, you little brat!!…” And to my parents who said “just be yourself.”

      • Cluster Tycoon

        Issue here, you being the false messiah, and having me censored. Disciple yes, but of Satan’s minions.

  • FULL TIME BOJANGLER

    Thanks Tycoon.

  • Does a RA board member have to own property in Reston or can a renter be a member of lthe board? Thanks.

    • JCSuperstar

      Nope, can be a renter.

  • Michael P. McHugh

    “Reston Infrastructure Bank”
    The horror.
    The horror.

  • Michael P. McHugh

    I am unimpressed with your name dropping to cover your unbelievably stupid idea.

  • Michael P. McHugh

    Reston goes into the finance business. That’s so naive, I am embarrassed for you.

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