Friday, September 23, 2005

Chairman Sean on the Warpath

I believe that this is an article from the Gainesville Times, forwarded to me on the Prince William Taxpayers' Alliance listserve. What's interesting is Chairman Sean's remark. It strikes me as a bold statement from a guy who tried to claim that he was a Conservative, after raising taxes on the average County taxpayer by about 50%, and after never requiring County 'crats to write a budget within existing revenue. Bitter much, Sean?

And one wonders whether the "fraud" is not a group which is headed by his former campaign manager. If Chairman Sean's definition of "what services ... citizens require" motivates the goals of AFP, then it is the "fraud." Most of the "services" to which Chairman Sean refers, and that he has refused to limit, are simply vote-buying welfare schemes.

New anti-tax group moves into county
By Tara Slate Donaldson

There's a new anti-tax group in Prince William County and while it's still a small organization, its organizers are promising big efforts in the drive for tax relief.

Americans for Prosperity, a national organization, launched its Prince William branch earlier this month as part of its expansion into Virginia.

The organization seeks to bring fiscally responsible government to Virginia, said state director Rob Whitney, who stressed that the non-profit group is bipartisan.

"Just because you're a Republican doesn't mean you're not going to spend money," he said, pointing to state Senate Finance Chairman John Chichester (R-28th), who conservative Republicans blame for recent tax increases. "Party does not necessarily link you to a certain fiscal ideology."

The primary goal of Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is to pass a Taxpayers Bill of Rights in Virginia. Such a law would require a voter approval for any tax increases. It would also limit the amount of revenue that the state government can spend each year and it would require voter approval for those limits to be increased.

Whitney said that such a bill had been introduced in Virginia before but had been voted down in the Senate Finance Committee. "Big shock," he added.

This year, he said, AFP plans to get identical bills introduced into both the House of Delegates and the state Senate. He said that Staunton Del. Chris Saxman (R-20th) is likely to carry the bill in the House. Saxman is the chairman of the state's Cost Cutting Caucus and an initial supporter of the Virginia branch of the AFP.

"There's never been a unified move in the legislature," Whitney said, explaining that the organized push for the Taxpayer Bill of Rights will likely meet with more success than the various contradictory bills usually introduced each year.

Whitney was joined in the Sept. 12 kickoff meeting by seven residents who stopped in to learn more about the new group. Several of those present are members of the county's existing anti-tax group, the Prince William Taxpayers Alliance. Bert Buscher, Gainesville District chairman for the Prince William County Republican Committee, pointed out that the two groups seem to duplicate each other's goals.

Rick Hendrix, chairman of the Taxpayers Alliance, was also at the meeting and he explained that the alliance is a PAC while the AFP is a nonprofit.

"AFP has more money," he joked.

He said it's important to have both organizations because there are many county residents who agree with anti-tax principals but, because of the rift between the Taxpayer Alliance and the county's mainstream Republican organization, won't join the alliance.

That point was underscored by Sean Connaughton (R), chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, who is constantly at odds with the Taxpayer Alliance.

Connaughton said he supports the AFP and may consider joining. In fact, he said, he encouraged his former campaign manager, Whitney, to take the job as state director for the group.

The difference between the two organizations, Connaughton said, is that "The Taxpayer Alliance is a fraud."

"It looks down the wrong end of the telescope," focusing only on the tax rate without regard to what services and infrastructure citizens require, he said, contrasting it with the AFP.

Americans for Prosperity, he said, wants to make sure "governments stay focused on delivering core services and that they do so without unduly increasing the tax burden."

Denny Daugherty of Gainesville, a member of the Prince William Taxpayer Alliance, said during the AFP meeting that the two groups have very similar goals but function on different levels.

The alliance, like its counterparts around the state, has a local focus while the AFP can reach voters and legislators on a statewide basis.

"What we haven't had in the past ... is a statewide organization," Daugherty said of the alliance. "We were effective in communicating with our local delegates but there were 95 other delegates."

The AFP is aiming to change all that. The group launched its Virginia chapter in the last days of August and followed up quickly by hosting small organizational meetings, like the one in Prince William, throughout the state. In addition to Prince William, groups are now being organized in Virginia Beach, Charlottesville, Harrisonburg and Roanoke.

For more information on Americans for Prosperity, or to join, visit or call Whitney at (703) 969-9302


Hirons said...

Wow - kind of have to agree with you on this one Jim. There seems to be some unnecessary bitterness there. C'mon Sean - it's politics. I'm as big of a Sean fan there is, but what's he mean by "fraud". I've always thought the Taxpayer Alliance, although I disagree with their tactics, does have credibility.

Is this heading towards a VYR v. YRFV type of battle/split?

James Young said...

Perhaps you're coming around, Scott.

I'm attracted to AFP's goal of a Taxpayer Bill of Rights, and would've been there but for other commitments. That having been said, though, if it turns out to be a method by which tax-and-spenders are attempting to coopt the fiscal conservative label --- much as I view some former and/or ideological Democrats trying to coopt the GOP label --- then it truly is a fraud.

However, while I have my problems with Chairman Sean, I have heretofore never attributed to him the level of personal dishonesty which caused the VYR/YRFV split. It was a different issue (integrity in the conduct of elections, though the initial cause --- which goes back 30 years --- was ideological), and those on the other side who tell you otherwise are, not surprisingly, lying.

NoVA Scout said...

I think a major way in which the Taxpayer Alliance groups have seriously lost credibility in Fairfax and PW is the way they diss Sean, the only Republican in the Commonewealth who has had any positive impact at all on taxes in recent times. Many of the TA people would rather be beguiled by Gilmore's nonsense the car tax tha deal with the minutiae of state and local fiscal discipline. It kind of reminds me of the way a lot of Dems really liked being fooled by Clinton. I know that with Sean it's just a lot of petty personal grudges, and can't be taken too seriously, but how much would it have hurt them to get behind someone who has made a difference? At some point fiscal conservatives have to show they can govern. AFP seems a lot more sophisticated and focussed on the spectrm of issues affecting state budgets, not just phony issues like "Tax Pledges" apparently drafted by third-graders. They offer a very attractive alternative for conservatives who are tired of the nasty personal stuff that has characterized the PW Taxpayers' Alliance. I hope they provide a cohesive statewide focus for eventually bringing back the Republican Party of Virginia to something resembling an adult approach to sound fiscal management.

James Young said...

NoVA Scout, if I or the PWTA has "lost credibility" with people who "diss" as though it were a word, then we're doing the right thing. And I suspect we'd never have -- and never want -- "credibility" with people who would call a 50% increase in property taxes and an effort to raise the sales tax (2002) a "positive impact at all on taxes in recent times."

Apologists for the liberal welfare state like yourself and Chairman Sean use "the minutiae of state and local fiscal discipline" as a club with which to beat true fiscal conservatives over the head, and ignore real, positive answers (you know, like suggesting that elected officials make bureaucrats write their budgets within existing revenue) because you don't like them. Ignoring policy suggestions you don't like is an old Liberal trick, and one reason that people like you despise people like me so much (and why the Conservative movement has enjoyed increasing success) is that we won't let you get away with it.

And, of course, ignoring solutions you don't like and can't answer but can't admit you don't like, and dismissing substantive criticisms of spendthrift Chairman Sean as "just a lot of petty personal grudges" is a whole lot easier than addressing the points. That might be a part of it, but Chairman Sean is certainly as "petty" as those you disparage.

BTW, what "nasty personal stuff... characterize[s] the PW Taxpayers' Alliance"? Be specific. 'Fact is, we've offered nothing but specific, substantive criticisms. It is critics like you who attempt to disparage us with such accusations, which is so much easier than responding to the fact that Chairman Sean is a tax-increasing spendthrift with no claim whatsoever to the title "fiscal conservative."

Rick H. said...

Jim's right. If the Taxpayer's Alliance has "petty personal grudges" against Sean, why did I (while chairman of the Alliance) make a point to tell Sean I endorsed him in his primary campaign for Board Chairman when opposed by someone who actually did take our pledge. I suggested that Sean post my personal endorsement on his web site, which he did. And I defy anyone to find any official statement of the PWTA that includes "nasty personal stuff" about Sean or anyone else. Why can't people understand that our position is simple ... our taxes are already high enough and the government should be able to come up with a budget with an INCREASE no greater than inflation and population growth. Note that I didn't say a CUT. Sounds like a pretty reasonable, mainstream conservative position to me.