Don't Forget Safety
Another milestone has been passed by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles for the renewal of vehicle registrations and soon for driver's license and license plate renewals as well.
Or has it? Although at this time you can now renew your vehicle registration via the Internet, all is not safe.
It appears that the DMV has issued a disclaimer on its Web site saying that it's not responsible for the subsequent use of information provided by you, the consumer. That means unscrupulous people can gain access to your credit card numbers and your addresses.
With all the high-tech gurus working on our computer technology in this state, they've failed to provide this new DMV site with the ever so easy encrypted technology to protect the consumers from credit card fraud. I wonder how much money was paid out to create this wonderful site while the brilliant creators forgot to protect it.
Most Internet commerce businesses online use encrypted technology to protect their customers, but not so with Virginia's DMV. Along with the use of this unsafe DMV site, they've also decided to charge $1.50 more to renew registrations via online as opposed to mail. You can pay $25 for mail and be safe or pay $26.50 by the Internet with absolutely no protection at all.
Something is very wrong with this scenario, and it appears to be coming from Richmond. I wonder if all the state's Internet sites are left as an open field of exposure with no encryption protection practices in place at all? And with the automated computer system requiring less paperwork and manpower, why are they charging $1.50 more to process our vehicle registrations? This should certainly cost us much less, especially because the site is unprotected.
A Troubling Situation
As the former vice chairman of the Prince William County Park Authority Board from 1995-97, I continue to be embarrassed that the supervisor, who represents all of us, seems to have as his mode of operation a lack of integrity and an ethical conflict of interest.
First, we discovered he became a practicing developer in his own district. Then, there was the questionable septic field decision involving the country health department on land that he owned. Now, we learn that one of his top campaign contributors is co-owner of land that the Park Authority plans to purchase for recreational space. What a great way to reward your campaign contributors!
It has been reported that neither Supervisor Edgar S. Wilbourn nor his appointed Park Board representative know of or asked questions as to who owned the parcels up for consideration for purchase by the Park Authority. As county officials, they owe it to the taxpayers to know whom they are dealing with in any transaction that involves taxpayers' money.
Mr. Wilbourn has asked that any vote by the park board on the purchase of this property be delayed until after the June 8 primary because this purchase has been "politicized." Basically, the reason is that Mr. Wilbourn has been caught. Caught at what he does best -- working for his friends and special interests, instead of working for all of us in the Gainesville District.
I also find it troubling that Mr. Wilbourn said he actually favored a different location for the park purchase but never shared that opinion with the Park Authority. This is extraordinary because at one of the earlier campaign forums I attended, Mr. Wilbourn presented himself as a team player. What kind of a team player does not express what he feels is in the best interest of the district to the appropriate agency and staff? Maybe Mr. Wilbourn wants to appear as something that he isn't.
RICHARD R. BERRY
Another Character Attack
I would like to address the most recent attempt to smear the reputation of Gainesville Supervisor Ed Wilbourn. Recent newspaper articles have reported that Ed Wilbourn has given preferential treatment to one of his financial supporters, directing the Prince William Park Authority to purchase land owned by Bobby and Lois Surface, supporters of Mr. Wilbourn.
It is true that the Surface property is a proposed site for a new park and that Mr. Wilbourn was one of the people involved in the choice of the site. However the Park Authority corporate services director stated that Mr. Wilbourn did not in any way push for any specific site. This particular site simply met all of the size, price and availability qualifications needed. In addition, Mr. Wilbourn has requested that the Board of County Supervisors' final decision on the purchase of the land for badly needed soccer and baseball fields be put on hold until after the primary election because of the accusations of his opponents.
Mr. Wilbourn has gone through nearly four years of repeated attacks on his motives and character, and in every situation he has been proven to be above reproach. Yes, Mr. Wilbourn has the support of developers, because he has the education, experience and common sense to realize that every proposed development project must have individual attention and requirements. Proffers should be negotiated with the total, long-term good of all of the citizens of the Gainesville District in mind.
A supervisor cannot apply the same inflexible, myopic requirements to every new project. New business will not even consider locating in Prince William County if there is no room for negotiation in county requirements. Each situation is different and must be considered individually.
A Questionable Site
It is with mixed feelings that I note that the Board of County Supervisors has postponed a decision on the purchase for a soccer field park, the land on Sudley Road owned by Mr. Bobby Surface.
On one hand, it is a wise decision because of the many unanswered questions concerning the suitability of this site. On the other hand, it sets aside this controversy, giving Supervisor Edgar S. Wilbourn a reprieve from the fallout that his political actions have generated.
Suitability of this site is surely questionable. Somehow it was selected in ignorance of the fact that it is under the power lines, that there is a large gas pipeline under it and that is well within the corridor favored for the Western Transportation Corridor.
Mr. Wilbourn favors a different and even less suitable location for the corridor. Could selection of the present site for the park put such a barrier in the path of the favored Western Transportation Corridor location that Mr. Wilbourn's location would become the only remaining choice?
Another concern is the problem of the traffic increase that will occur on Sudley Road and Sanders Lane, the two bordering roads.
Furthermore, the Park Authority was looking for a site near Interstate 66 that could accommodate at least 12 fields so tournaments could be held there. This site can accommodate at most nine fields and is not near I-66. It meets neither of these most important criteria.
On April 19, a Park Authority individual said that there were three sites under consideration but would not divulge specifics. That was the proper response because the studies had not been completed. But at the opening of Little League, April 17, Mr. Wilbourn announced to a large audience that the new park would be on Sudley Road. Apparently he knew the outcome well before the decision was made.
When queried about the ownership of the property, Mr. Wilbourn professed ignorance. Yet this property is part of the same tract of land that is now home to the Alvey Mall, a controversial project that generated considerable rancor in the Catharpin community and which Mr. Wilbourn tirelessly promoted on behalf of Mr. Surface, who is now one of his largest supporters. It strains credulity to the breaking point that Mr. Wilbourn could be unaware of the ownership of this property.
If the selection of a park site has become politicized, it is Mr. Wilbourn's actions, far more than those of the local citizens, that have made it so. His own statements and actions do not engender confidence in his claims of impartiality and lack of influence on the process.
ROBERT B. MOLER
Taxpayers Are the Losers
Political opponents of Supervisor Wilbourn have just jeopardized almost $1 million of donated contributions to construct soccer, softball, baseball and football fields in our district within the year rather than have to wait five more years for taxpayer dollars.
Now because of The Post's article and its twisting of the facts, our community is in jeopardy of losing all the donations. Who would want to donate to a community that appears to give bad publicity about a needed park for children and smear people's good names? Once again the Gainesville District taxpayers may lose because of a vocal, selfish minority.
ELLEN M. PENAR
A Shameful Situation
Shame on the opponents of Supervisor Wilbourn who continue to tarnish the image of Prince William County and hurt the taxpayers of the Gainesville District. Washington Post reporter Dan Eggen, in his article about the purchase of land for a much-needed park in the Gainesville District (a park that will provide much-needed ballfields now), implies that there is something wrong with someone willing to sell his land for less than fair value. Eggen goes on to imply that there is something wrong when Supervisor Wilbourn obtains the promise of $1 million in voluntary in-kind contributions to build the park now, rather than at public cost four years or more from now.
What is wrong is that Ed Wilbourn's opponents have effectively stopped the citizens of the Gainesville District from getting a park for another four years. By then, the cost of land will be higher. And, the million dollars in improvements will not be free.
Shame on you! You cost the taxpayers over $1 million in your miserable attempt to smear Ed Wilbourn. Shame! Shame on you for hurting our citizens, again.
Extra Wants Your Opinions
To comment, you must include your name, address and daytime phone number. Letters should be exclusive to The Post and may be edited. You can send responses to our Manassas bureau at 9254 Center St., Manassas, Va. 20110; fax us at 703-392-1406; or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.