Hospital Is Crying Wolf
It is not shocking news that Loudoun County is the fastest-growing county in the United States. All one has to do is to take note of the number of schools built in the last decade and the gridlocked traffic we face all over the county.
What is even more shocking is that our Board of Supervisors would attempt to block a desperately needed and approved hospital from being built.
There is a critical need for another full-service hospital in the county. Our population has doubled, and yet we have fewer hospital beds in Loudoun today than we had in 1991. Loudoun Hospital claims that if a new hospital is built, they will be forced out of business. How can a facility that was built to serve a much smaller population not succeed in the fastest-growing county in the nation?
Experience tells us that competition breeds higher quality in every business, even in hospitals. Being forced out of business is unfeasible, unless Loudoun Hospital is not willing to provide competitive quality health care.
Loudoun Hospital will not be put out of business, unless it does it to itself -- through poor service, poor management or misused assets. For example, if hospital management spent its energy and resources on improving health care at the facility, it would not be losing doctors. In fact, there are fewer surgeons at Loudoun Hospital today than a decade ago. Seven orthopedic doctors have left Loudoun Hospital, choosing to have privileges at facilities outside Loudoun.
[Meanwhile,] Loudoun Hospital management is pursuing the bond market for more construction money and telling lenders that the hospital will be viable and successful in the future, no matter what competition comes to Loudoun. How hypocritical. Hospital management cannot have it both ways.
Why is hospital management purposefully trying to mislead our community? It is simple. Hospital officials do not want the residents of this county to have a choice. They are not willing to compete through improving management and quality of their health care delivery program. If hospital management ceased wasting money on negative ad campaigns designed to keep competition away and spent resources on quality health care, imagine how much better a facility Loudoun Hospital could be.
Virginia public health officials have duly granted HCA Inc. authorization to build a critically needed, second full-service hospital in Loudoun County. After unsuccessfully blocking HCA's state approval process, Loudoun Hospital (a nonprofit, tax-exempt enterprise) is now aggressively lobbying the Board of Supervisors to deny HCA's pending request for zoning approval. Several members of the current board were recently elected on a pro-business, pro-economic development platform but are now showing signs to the contrary by succumbing to a well-organized lobby for denial by Loudoun Hospital management.
HCA is a for-profit enterprise that will add badly needed millions to the county's tax base, plus hundreds of new jobs. HCA is representative of the kind of new business enterprise the supervisors allege to support and advocate.
Kenneth W. Robinson
Take a Closer Look
The U.S. Constitution is a purely secular document. This fact will no doubt surprise many readers, considering the misrepresentations regarding this document found in recent letters to the editor ["Religion Has a Major Role," Loudoun Extra, April 15; "No Mixed Message," April 18; "From the Other Side," April 29]. Let's set the record straight.
The U.S. Constitution is purely secular because it contains no mention of God or Christianity. Its two references to religion are exclusionary: "No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust" (Article VI) and "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" (First Amendment).
The presidential oath of office (the only one in the Constitution) does not contain the phrase "So help me, God" or any requirement to swear on a Bible (Article II, Section 1). A minority faction did try to insert some recognition of Christianity in the Constitution, but its efforts failed because of our founding fathers' commitment to the concept of separation of church and state.
One letter writer points out that the exact term "church/state separation" is not found in the Constitution. This is true. But neither are other widely accepted constitutional principles, such as "fair trial," "separation of powers" and "religious freedom." However, the concept of church/state separation is embedded in the First Amendment, as the writings of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison make abundantly clear.
The same writer then asserts that the First Amendment's only purpose was to prevent the establishment of a state church. This is not so. Its authors considered, and rejected as too weak, other versions that prohibited only the establishment of a state church. Instead, they chose the more far-reaching language to create a clear-cut "wall" of separation between church and state.
This is not a one-way wall. It does more than protect churches from government interference. Just as important, it prohibits churches from co-opting government influence, which makes religious school vouchers, faith-based initiatives and religious material in public buildings so controversial. In fact, the impetus behind the First Amendment was the desire to prevent a recurrence of the religious persecution carried on in the colonies by their politically powerful state churches.
Church/state separation is not anti-religious. On the contrary, it protects private religious beliefs and institutions by ensuring that all citizens -- especially those of minority faiths -- are free to practice their religious beliefs. At the same time, it also ensures that no citizens are forced, through taxes or otherwise, to support or participate in religious activities with which they may disagree.
Misrepresentations of our Constitution are often promulgated by those who want to make the United States a Christian nation, with our government promoting Christian theology. Those folks need to read our Constitution.
Don't Limit Water, Sewer
The Washington Post editorial "Loudoun Wreckers" [April 23] attacks the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors for reversing the previous board's policy, which forbid water and sewer connections in the western "transition zone" solely as a means of limiting housing.
I believe that the residents of this region are better off when our communities are served by public water and sewer. The alternative is to build a well for every house and to install a private sewer system on every lot. There are many examples in this region where old septic sewer systems are failing, creating serious health and environmental problems. Given a choice, the best thing for our environment and our welfare is to allow individuals the choice of paying for public water and sewer connections.
The previous Board of Supervisors thought it prudent to require private wells and individual septic fields for two-thirds of the county. Their sole purpose was to stop new housing, and I believe it was wrong for those politicians to use water and sewer health regulations for their political agenda. The new Board of Supervisors did the correct thing by allowing residents of a portion of Loudoun to have the right to pay for public water and sewer service.
No one wants untrammeled growth. We need new housing, especially workforce housing, and we must decide not if but where it should be built. Fortunately, the law in Virginia requires each county to create and maintain a comprehensive plan for future development. For those in favor of limiting housing, the proper forum is to petition the Board of Supervisors to amend the plan.
We are in the midst of the worst housing shortage in my lifetime, and it is important for citizens to become engaged in debating solutions. Let's not jeopardize the health or welfare of Loudoun's residents by limiting public water and calling it growth control.
Steven B. Alloy
Northern Virginia Building Industry Association
High Time for a Recall
I am writing in response to an editorial that appeared in The Washington Post on April 23 ["Loudoun Wreckers"] and applaud you for writing this piece.
However, the Board of Supervisors in Loudoun County is not "out of control," as you wrote; rather, the Republican majority is in "complete control." Its modus operandi is "do it my way or take the highway."
As you noted in your editorial, the Republican majority was swept into office by millions of dollars from real estate and construction interests. So, despite utterances to the contrary, the majority is now repaying the debt to real estate and construction interests by covering every square inch of land with houses and not asking the builders to pay one cent of the infrastructure needed to support these extra houses. Guess who gets to pay for this? The taxpayers of Loudoun County, that's who.
These supervisors were unable to defeat board Chairman Scott K. York (I-At Large) in November, so they stripped him of most of his duties and put their own guy in his place. Machiavelli would be proud.
Facts are not allowed at regular board meetings, and citizens who disagree are called un-American or made to feel stupid.
It is time to recall the Republican majority, the Loudoun Wreckers. We can't wait for the next election. Recall them now.
Anthony V. Fasolo
If Jim Rocks was upset by the "tongue lashing" that Supervisor Stephen J. Snow (R-Dulles) gave to a county employee ["Managing Growth," Letters, Loudoun Extra, May 9], then he must have been livid about the verbal abuse heaped upon citizens by Chairman Scott K. York (I-At Large) as he bullied his way through the public comment sessions during the last board's tenure.
Be that as it may, what Snow expressed concern about (and rightly so) was the tendency of some county employees to bias or color their reports to the board in favor of their personal opinions or beliefs.
Rocks states that "our county staff is entirely qualified to specify what is required legally and technically for such a massive change in land use, a process well beyond the duties of a supervisor."
That is not the issue Snow was challenging. He was questioning whether the board was being provided with just the facts (which is the duty of the county staff) or whether factors that did not fit into the designs and desires of the "Save the Western County" group were being omitted from the reports. This is a valid and important question.
The ultimate use of land in this county is indeed the responsibility and obligation of the Board of Supervisors, based upon reports and analysis provided by its staff. How can supervisors meet these obligations to their fullest if the information they are being provided with is tainted?
Now to the claim that "in 165 years, there will be one person per square foot." Has Rocks been peaking at the Piedmont Environmental Council's data records again (the ones where they claimed 60,000 new homes were going to be built in the transition area)? Rocks's bias finally came to the surface when he started to deliver the PEC mantra about no growth in western Loudoun.
It was echoed in a second letter to the editor by Kathy Koditek ["Alarmed by Snow"] in the same issue.
You guys feel that :
* You got yours, so now everything should come to a halt.
* You have the right to tell others what they can and can't do with their property.
* Only the western end of the county is inhabited by people worthy of saving, so pack everything new into the eastern end, but keep providing the disproportionate level of services to the western area while paying for them off the taxes levied on the backs of those in the eastern end.
* You should be able to continue playing the role of "gentleman farmers" so you can continue to milk the county for tax breaks and land welfare programs (Purchase of Development Rights) designed to let you enjoy the land value boom now without losing control of your property for future use or profit.
There is a far better way that you seemed to have missed in your solution to the problem (and, I might add, a more reliable way) for those of you in western Loudoun County to preserve your views and open spaces. Buy the views and spaces you want to keep open.
Kudos to Jim Rocks of Leesburg for explaining everything so honestly in his letter of May 9 ["Managing Growth," Loudoun Extra].
How nice to know that "the best way to manage Loudoun's growth is to pack people as tightly as they will accept in the east." He claims that this is because the necessary infrastructure is already in place to manage growth and that roads can "be replaced by rails."
First, the necessary infrastructure is not in place, because of years of special interest pandering to deny services to those thousands who moved to the "wrong" place. You can't "replace" what doesn't exist.
Second, if Rocks and other rural advocates see eastern residents as "quite insensitive" to the problems of sprawl, may I ask why any perceived suburban encroachment on his personal dream should be remedied by urbanizing the suburbs? I wish to live in Rosslyn no more than a rural resident wishes to live in my neighborhood.
Rocks quotes solutions based on the geographic divide of Goose Creek. Check the population first: Seventy percent reside east of that boundary. Should those residents be forced into patterns they do not choose for the sake of a minority that wishes for the empty buffer of "open space" to be paid for with primarily suburban taxes?
The campaign to keep humans out of the enormous fragile back yard of the west has inevitably resulted in the balance of power shifting to the more populated east, with a concurrent emphasis on solving the problems created by four years of hoping that if we just ignored it, maybe it would all go away.
This same determinedly wishful thinking is echoed in the sad cries from Blue Ridge and Catoctin residents calling for the recall of eastern supervisors. Do your homework, as has been said, because to recall an elected official, you have to be able to vote for them in the first place.
I'm glad we now have a board prepared to face reality, instead of pretending that how some people wish things were is how they are. I'm very glad we now have the bond rating that proves it.
Two Routes Needed
This is in reference to comments by Leesburg Town Council member Robert J. "Bob" Zoldos about the "techway" ["Leesburg Insists on Md. Link for WTC," Loudoun Extra, May 16].
Zoldos is right on the mark when he says a techway wouldn't replace the need for a Western Transportation Corridor.
As Zoldos points out, these are different travel patterns that require different solutions. Trucks and other traffic out of Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York and Canada wouldn't want to go down Interstate 270 to get to the techway because after they get there, there is no way for them to get back on Route 15 to go to points such as Fredericksburg, Richmond and Florida.
Also, as I understand it, trucks would not be permitted to use the techway. The bottom line is we need the techway, and we also need the WTC for traffic currently using Route 15.
Andrew F. Pitas