Vote Yes for Education

The betterment of Virginia's colleges and universities is a top priority in the commonwealth. This November, we will have the opportunity to vote on the higher education bond that will enable our state institutions to reach excellence in education.

The future of Virginia rests on the quality of our schools, and this $900 million bond will pay for upgrades, renovations, modernizations and new construction to state institutions of higher education. That means new libraries, better facilities and a better education for students.

In addition to benefiting students, the bond issue will benefit the state's economy as this plan will generate more than $1.5 billion in economic activity and create nearly 14,000 new jobs. Passing this bond issue will not increase taxes, and it will not affect Virginia's coveted AAA bond rating, which we share with only eight other states.

The passage of this bond comes at a critical time. The only way for Virginia and its citizens to compete in this changing economic system is through education and research. New skills need to be taught, and cutting-edge research needs to continue to keep Virginia's schools as some of the best in the country. In November, remember to give our colleges, universities and community colleges the attention they need and deserve. Vote yes for the higher education bond on Nov. 5.

Greg Merritt, president,

Virginia Tech Alumni Association,

Northern VA Chapter


A Convenient Scapegoat

Mr. Ed Jahn in the Oct. 10 issue of this paper ["Too Easy for Criminals to Get Guns," Letters, Loudoun Extra] accuses the National Rifle Association (NRA) of being responsible for the pain and death inflicted by the sniper. Yet, according to Washington Post staff writer Stephen Hunter in his Style article of Oct. 12, no one knows who the sniper or snipers are or what drives him/her or them to commit such cowardly crimes.

If the perpetrators are terrorists or criminals determined to kill innocent people, then a way will be found to obtain a firearm illegally to commit mayhem no matter how strong or weak the existing firearms laws are.

The sniper might also be a former law-abiding citizen who legally purchased the murder weapon when he or she was sane, then became mentally deranged. Stricter gun laws probably would not have averted this tragedy if that is the case.

In these difficult times, it is easy to look for a scapegoat, in Mr. Jahn's case, the NRA. Until the sniper is caught and the facts are obtained, all of us would be wise to avoid finger-pointing and speculation.

If we want to avoid this tragedy from happening again, we should push for stricter enforcement of existing gun laws and the maintenance of deterrents like Project Exile [a federal program in Virginia and other states that aims to deter gun crimes by imposing mandatory sentences on criminals who are caught carrying them].

Mary Ann Bowersock

Brandy Station, Va.

Thanks, but No Thanks

As I understand the latest proposal to raise the state sales tax to 5 percent, up a half-cent, it is necessary to pass this on Nov. 5 so we can get some transportation projects done. Presumably, this is to relieve some of the congestion on our Northern Virginia roads.

Unless I missed something along the way, our dear governor wants us to pay for these improvements because the state can't afford to build new roads, given the current budget crisis in Richmond.

In the 20 years I have been in this area, I have seen our roads go from moderately crowded to crowded to overburdened and to the current situation, "roads from hell."

During this time, I have seen our elected officials trek to Richmond every year, begging the legislature for some sort of relief to allow the counties, especially those in Northern Virginia, experiencing above-normal growth -- thanks to archaic zoning rules that allow builders and developers to put just about any type of building just about anywhere they wanted to without any regard to roads -- to serve this development.

Look at what is going on in Round Hill. Here is classic overdevelopment plopped down far from any mass transit station or even major road, unless you want to call Route 7 a major highway.

Local citizens were not able to stop this desecration of the land due to a "by right" zoning in place. Richmond was no help in giving Loudoun County officials any teeth to stop or at least scale down this development.

During the last few decades, the roads built or mass transit projects were not able to keep up with this ridiculous growth. Richmond's cold shoulder is a matter of record, and now our dear friends to the south want us to vote to tax ourselves so we can fix the roads that they should have addressed years ago? I don't think so!

They have let growth go on unabated for years, and they graciously are giving us the "opportunity" to fix the roads.

Don't be fooled. Even if every dollar of the "new money" coming from the passage of this referendum is sent only to Loudoun County, it would not fix the problem because Richmond is not addressing the root cause of the transportation morass, that is, to get a handle on what is being built, where and at what density.

This tax referendum would have had a better chance of passing if the governor demonstrated that Richmond was also working on pacing new growth and roads with some sort of plan. But there is no such plan, the new roads would only serve even more development in yet to be plowed acreage in more far-flung parts of the area, fueling sprawl and inappropriate growth even further out from established roads.

Ironically, passing this referendum would actually increase traffic in the area since the builder/developer community would jump on this chance to service their new projects near the new roads or improvements.

Gov. [Mark R.] Warner [D] and his cronies are counting on the fact that Northern Virginians will fall for their plan, that we will believe that it will actually make a difference. At the very moment you are in the voting booth voting for this referendum, yet another out-of-state builder will be busily at work pushing down yet more trees for a new "nestled" development with "breathtaking views of the mountains."

They are rushing ahead so these new roads that would be built can bring more traffic right to their doors.

Vote a resounding no on Nov. 5. Send a strong message to Richmond and tell them yes, we want better roads and more access to mass transit, but until you put a lid on reckless growth with no tools to contain it, you fix the problem you created.

If somehow the referendum passes, do what I am planning, to move all my shopping to Maryland and West Virginia or other counties in Virginia not covered by this pathetic attempt to let us do something the legislators in Richmond refuse to do. Get real. . . . vote no!

George A. Santulli