Article VII, Section 10, of the Constitution of Virginia requires local governments to obtain voter approval to issue bonds. Voters in Loudoun County, Virginia, will be asked to consider four bond referendums on this year’s ballot.

Bonds are debt. When they are sold, the issuing government receives an influx of cash from the purchasers. But, like a bank loan, that money must be repaid over time with interest.

Like any other loan, bonds should only be used when necessary. Most projects should be funded directly from the general fund (i.e., from the “money in the bank”). Only when some specific project is very important, but too large to fund directly, should we turn to using bonds for financing.

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The report of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of President Donald Trump (R), his 2016 campaign, and Russian interference in the election, gave us the answers to many questions. Read the report here (PDF link).

We know, for example, that the Russians attempted to interfere in our election. At first, they attempted to sow general discord and advance the campaigns most likely to create chaos—Trump’s on the Republican side, and Senator Bernie Sanders’s (I-VT) on the Democratic side. Later, after Sanders had lost the Democratic Party primary, they threw their weight more exclusively behind Trump.

We also know that there were no collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government or its proxies. There were some isolated meetings and other contacts—typical of those in any high-level political campaign—but there was no direct coordination. The Trump campaign did not knowingly seek or accept Russian support.

All of this is laid-out plainly in the first volume of the Mueller report, and, thankfully, the press seems to have let most of these issues drop (although a lack of evidence didn’t stop them from harping on “Trump and the Russians” for the preceding two years). The ongoing controversy has been related to the second volume of the report, where Mueller was much more equivocal in his conclusions. Well, actually, he didn’t bother making any conclusions at all.

This was a dereliction of duty.

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For many years I have been a member of the National Rifle Association (NRA). I am currently a permanent “Patron Member” of the organization.

The NRA is a venerable civil rights association that supports marksmanship skills, shooting sports, self defense rights, and firearm safety. In addition, it has lobbying and political action arms that advocate for candidates and legislation that support the individual human right to keep and bear arms. It has typically been quite effective, and I have been happy to support its efforts. I have made numerous donations to its gun safety programs, as well as to its political action committee.

Unfortunately, the NRA is now embroiled in a major internal crisis. There are claims of malfeasance, self-dealing, and other violations of the members’ trust. The association has failed to credibly respond to these claims. Until it cleans house, I cannot in good conscience continue to support the organization.

I will maintain my “Patron Member” status, which allows me the right to vote in NRA board elections, but I am suspending all other support until I am satisfied that the corrupt leaders have been removed and the other controversies have been resolved. Funds in support of the right to keep and bear arms will be directed to other organizations, including the Second Amendment Foundation and Gun Owners of America.

Primary elections for the Democratic and Republican parties will be held on June 11, 2019. Off on a Tangent is making recommendations to party primary voters in each contested state- and federal-level primary race in Virginia, as well as those for Loudoun County local offices.

Political parties are private organizations that should not have any official standing in our political system, but Democratic and Republican primaries are held by the Virginia Department of Elections and are funded by Virginia taxpayers. The purpose of a party primary should be for members of that party to choose who will represent them on the general election ballot. Virginia, however, has an “open primary” system where any registered voter may vote in any one (but not more than one) primary each year.

This series of recommendations only applies to taxpayer-funded primaries. Both the Republican and Democratic parties are making some of their nominations at party conventions. The Libertarian Party, which currently qualifies as a major party under the Tangent style guide (section 10.70), nominates its candidates in party conventions and is not holding primaries.

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South Riding Proprietary
South Riding Proprietary

The South Riding Proprietary is a homeowners’ association (HOA) that acts as a defacto local government for the South Riding community in Loudoun County, Virginia. At the proprietary’s annual meeting on May 21, 2019, two seats on the Board of Directors are up for election. Members of the board serve three year terms. South Riding property owners may cast votes for these two board seats either by attending the annual meeting in person, or by submitting a proxy vote ahead of time. Proxy votes may be cast using paper ballots that were mailed to property owners, or electronically on the South Riding Proprietary web site.

The annual meeting must achieve a quorum (combining in-person attendance and proxy ballots) of at least ten percent of all South Riding property owners. If a quorum is not achieved, the meeting will be recessed for a period of less than thirty days. At the resumption of the meeting, a quorum of only five percent is required. The meeting may then be repeatedly recessed and resumed until the five percent quorum is achieved. The South Riding Board of Directors cannot seat members or perform any official work without a quorum.

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