Supervisor John Foust and Ed Martin Spar Over Ordinance Regarding Cooperation With ICE

IMG_1749The Fairfax County Republican Party and its candidates have been trying to villainize immigrants throughout this year’s campaign in a desperate attempt to score political points and win a few votes. On Tuesday, for instance, Elizabeth Schultz said immigrants were creating “a health crisis” by bringing diseases into Fairfax County Public Schools. Now Ed Martin is joining the crusade against immigrants by claiming they bring gangs and crime into Fairfax County.

During a forum on Wednesday evening hosted by the McLean Citizens Association for candidates running for the Dranesville seat on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, candidates were asked if they’d support an ordinance that would limit the amount of interaction local law enforcement has with ICE.

Martin not only said he’d oppose the ordinance, but almost immediately brought up gangs such as MS13 — a common tactic Republicans use to scare people into thinking immigrants are bad. It’s such a commonly used tactic that Linda Sperling actually had to call out Pat Herrity a few weeks ago when he tried to use the line of attack during a forum hosted by the Springfield District Council.

“We have gangs in Fairfax — MS13. We have a problem with illegal immigration and crime,” Martin said. “Not illegal immigration among people that we know or want to respect or whatever, but crime. And we have a problem.”

It’s very noticeable that he didn’t want you to think we have immigrants in Fairfax County who are providing positive contributions to our community. He specifically said that immigrants coming aren’t bringing “people that we know or want to respect or whatever, but crime.” In other words, he was pulling a page straight from President Trump’s playbook by channeling the president’s remarks about Mexico only sending over rapists and murders.

He went on to claim Montgomery County, which is right across the border in Maryland, is experimenting with “lawlessness.” The statement was an obvious attempt to imply Montgomery’s an extremely unsafe place to live even though it’s one of the wealthiest counties in the country, has a low crime rate for a jurisdiction its size, and is home to a diverse and successful group of residents.

“We have to keep ourselves safe,” Martin claimed. “Let Montgomery County and other counties experiment with allowing lawlessness. In our county, let’s put no one above the law and lets enforce all the laws.”

Of course, he couldn’t just stop with implying our neighboring jurisdiction is overflowing with crime. Martin went on to say enormous amounts of these imaginary criminals were going to invade our community if liberals have their way and Fairfax continues welcoming the immigrant community.

“If you don’t think the crime will come to your neighborhood, and that’s sometimes how people feel,” Martin added, “you just have to have one conversation with law enforcement about what’s happening in our schools, and what’s happening with gangs, and realize that this doesn’t stay on the border of x district or y district. It comes across really quickly.”

Thankfully, Supervisor John Foust was on top of the issue and reminded the audience about Fairfax being one of the safest jurisdictions of its size in the entire country. Since we don’t live in the fantasy land of a 1960’s style TV show, there’s obviously going to be some crime in every community. It’s unfortunate, but it’s the truth of the matter. That being said, Fairfax has proven to be one of the safest communities in the country and John highlighted how we have a dedicated police force that is helping ensure that continues.

“I respect the job that our police force is doing,” Supervisor Foust said. “They are not exposing us to some horrendous criminal element that has been fabricated in Mr. Martin’s mind. We have a very safe jurisdiction.”

Fairfax is safe in part due to most members of the community trusting law enforcement and believing police officers truly work to serve the best interests of all Fairfax residents. As many folks have highlighted, however, forcing local law enforcement to implement President Trump’s extreme immigration policies and take on ICE’s job duties could harm an officer’s ability to build strong relationships with the communities they’re supposed to serve and protect. John hinted at this as he mentioned it’s our county’s diversity that plays a role in keeping Fairfax safe.

“One of the reasons we have very little crime in Fairfax County is because we are open to immigrants. We are open to diversity,” John said while showing some passion. “We welcome people in and incorporate and include them into our communities. We don’t demonize them. We don’t try to focus on them and point to them and make them a problem that we all gather around to solve. Because they’re not a problem. We have an amazing immigrant community in Fairfax County.”

All in all, it was very obvious that the candidates had distinctly different positions regarding an ordinance limiting local law enforcement’s interaction with ICE. Supervisor Foust supported it and believe law enforcement should be focused in on serving the community and embracing diversity. Ed Martin, however, opposed the ordinance and tried to use gangs and crime to scare people into supporting his candidacy.

A Tale of Two Opening Statements in the 34th House of Delegates District

IMG_1728The McLean Community Association held a forum last night for the candidates running for the House of Delegates from the 34th District, which stretches from the McLean area all the way out to some portions of Loudoun county. Delegate Kathleen Murphy has represented the district ever since she won a special election when Barbara Comstock vacated the seat after first being elected to Congress back in 2014. Before Comstock held the seat, it was represented by Democrat Margi Vanderhye for one term after Republican Vince Callahan held the seat for forty years (1968 to 2008).

Since the School Board and Board of Supervisors from the Dranesville District were also participating in the forum and folks were anxious to get home to watch Game 7 of the World Series, the candidates didn’t have time to answer a whole lot of questions. That being said, it’s definitely worth taking a look at how Kathleen and her challenger Gary Pan approached the debate.

During the half hour or so they were on stage, Pan often spoke in vague generalities while discussing his own vision and spent a lot of time launching attacks against Kathleen. Delegate Murphy, on the other hand, rarely even mentioned her opponent and usually answered questions by laying out some of the work she’s already done and providing a glimpse into ways she believes the General Assembly can move forward on the issue.

This difference in approach can be seen clearly in the opening state both candidates delivered. During his opening statement, Gary Pan claimed that even though nobody knows Del. Murphy’s name, she’s a “life long political operative who has consistently voted with her party” who promotes an “extreme socialist agenda.” Perhaps thinking he needed even more attacks to actually fill a three minute statement, he talked about how she supposedly “voted against tolls, but she didn’t fight them.” In other words, he’s so desperate to launch attacks that he had to make up a reason to complain even when she voted the way he liked.

In contrast to Pan, Delegate Murphy used her opening statement as an opportunity to lay out her record. She highlighted things like giving teachers a five percent pay raise, her history of working with VDOT to make progress on transportation projects in the district, providing almost 400,000 Virginians access to affordable health care through Medicaid expansion, her efforts to help address gun violence, and her endorsements from both labor unions and local Chambers of Commerce.

While the Fairfax County Republican Party and its candidates have been trying to bring Trump style politics into our state and local government, most Virginians want leaders who will work on issues that actually matter instead of bringing divisiveness into our communities. It’s clear Kathleen Murphy has a record and temperament that proves she’s the better candidate in this race.

Andi Bayer Says Teachers Using “Anti-American” Materials

I’m not sure what Andi Bayer thinks our teachers are doing in Fairfax County Public Schools, but she’s now claiming students are taught “anti-American” and “pro-socialism” material.

“I tutor these kids, I see what they’re learning,” Bayer said at a closed door Republican fundraiser. “It is anti-American, it is anti-capitalism, it is pro-socialism, and it is pro pro pro pro activism. All you have to do is look at the books and we are in for a long ride to you know where if we turn things around.”

Of course, this is coming from the same woman who claimed we’re wasting money on teacher training and creating a “child centered utopia,” so it shouldn’t come as a shock that Bayer’s demeaning teachers by suggesting they’re a part of some “anti-American” agenda and promoting subversive materials. This type of disrespect she’s showing for teachers is also a prime example of why the Fairfax Education Association has endorsed Karl Frisch.

In addition to suggesting teachers are using “anti-American” materials in our schools, it also jumps out that she’s drawing on her experience as a tutor in these remarks. This is noteworthy because Bayer has often suggested it’s horrible that students receive tutoring.

“The one thing this board was innovative about this year, I don’t agree with. And that was putting tutoring facilities in elementary schools,” Bayer said in just one of several statements she made demeaning the use of tutoring at a forum at Mantua Elementary School. “Isn’t it the job of seven to seven and half hours a day for your child to come out of a school and not need tutoring?”

Considering how she’s made other negative remarks about tutoring, it seems as though she wants to using the issue to launch attacks against others but doesn’t mind the use of tutoring when she personally profits from it.. This is simply not the type of leadership we need on the Fairfax County School Board.

For those who are interested, here’s the full remarks that Andi Bayer gave. Her “anti-American” remarks start at the 1:24 mark.

Laura Jane Cohen: “I’m used to talking over nonsense”

IMG_1637During last night’s Springfield District Council forum for candidates hoping to represent Springfield on the Fairfax County School Board, Laura Jane Cohen highlighted how Elizabeth Schultz has a horrible attendance record when it comes to school board meetings, but has somehow found the time to appear on white nationalist Sebastian Gorka’s radio show and host events with staff members of designated hate groups.

“Mrs. Schultz spends a lot of time talking about family values,” Cohen said. “In fact, she likes to talk about family values on white nationalist Sebastion Gorka’s radio show. She likes to talk about it with a recognized hate group — the Family Research Council, even as recently as two days ago.”

When Laura Jane mentioned this, her opponent’s supporters apparently thought it was rather hilarious and started laughing. As you can see in the video below, however, Elizabeth Schultz quickly gave the signal that it was time for them to stop laughing. Schultz also visibly reacted to comments about her record, like when she skipped the vote on the annual budget and has recommended that we arm teachers in order to keep schools safe.

It should be noted that in addition to highlighting how Schultz was over two hours late to a school board meeting on Monday, I have pointed out that she’s skipped events at schools in her district in order to host events with designated hate groups and also missed an entire presentation from experts, administrators, teachers, students, and parents at another school board meeting on October 14th.

While never disputing any of the material presented, Shultz took the time to single me out in a message to supporters on Facebook and declared me the “designated attack dog” and “glorified hall monitor” who’s a “petty, sniping, mean girl, bully.” In other words, she really doesn’t like it when people document her record.

So perhaps knowing the overreaction that Schultz and her supporters tend to have, Laura Jane simply kept going on and highlighted how Springfield district residents don’t support “the dangerous, hate filled, fear mongering values of our current school board member.”

During her closing statement, Laura Jane once again highlighted how we need school board members who are willing to sit down and make difficult decisions that will truly benefit students. She stressed that it shouldn’t be about politics — especially the type of politics that’s supported by hate groups and white nationalists.

“Being a school board member is about finding solutions and in eight years, Mrs. Schultz has failed,” Laura Jane said. “School board members must make decisions because they are the right decisions to make for our kids, not because they are politically expedient and not because they get you an invitation to speak at hate groups or garner you appearances on white nationalists radio shows.”

This really set Schultz’s supporters off as they now started shouting out and trying to talk over Laura Jane. In what was perhaps the best way to respond, however, Laura Jane simply said “I was a preschool teacher, I’m used to speaking over nonsense.” She then immediately went on with the rest of her statement.

This whole interaction might not seem like that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things, but it highlights how Elizabeth Schultz has been running her campaign. Even though it was her supporters trying to shout down Laura Jane when she highlighted basic facts (the appearances with hate groups and white nationalists have been documented), she likes to claim she’s the one being “bullied mercilessly.”

Of course, you also can’t ignore that Shultz was caught blatantly lying at the forum hosted by the League of Women Voters earlier this month in a desperate attempt to make Laura Jane look bad. When you combine this with how she frequently refuses to vote on important issues (like the school system’s budgetand often votes the wrong way when she can be bothered to vote, it’s become clear the Springfield district needs a new school board member.

Schultz and the Fairfax County Republican Party might be committed to spreading misinformation and portraying themselves as victims, but the facts and their own behavior prove they’re simply promoting a false narrative.

Elizabeth Schultz Says Immigrants are Bringing Diseases Into Fairfax County Public Schools

IMG_1704The Springfield District Council hosted a forum for candidates running for the Springfield seat on the Fairfax County School Board last night at Washington Irving Middle School. While many of the questions were topics like school boundaries and gun violence in our schools that have been covered at other forums, one of the questions asked if candidates thought students should be required to have all of their vaccinations before attending school in Fairfax County.

Not too surprisingly, all of the candidates said they thought students should be required to have vaccinations. After saying she believes parents whose stance on vaccinations doesn’t “fit within the norm of the public school process” should find an alternative place to educate their children, however, Elizabeth Schultz claimed immigrants are creating a public health crisis when they come into Fairfax County Public Schools

“The biggest problem is that we’re accepting students from around the world and they are entering into our schools without vaccinations right now and we’re having to pay for catching them up,” Schultz said. “So I think there’s a public health crisis and we’ve had a number of them.”

“Unfortunately, you all don’t know about that publicly when that happens,” Schultz added, “but we deal with it in closed session a lot. And it’s a frightening prospect when we have these and we have to do outreach to communities to resolve some very very serious problems about health exposure to students who are already in schools.”

For someone who claims to be “bullied mercilessly” by her fellow board members and others, Schultz was fairly quick to jump at an opportunity to use a page from Trump’s playbook and attack immigrants while answering a completely unrelated question. It’s truly unfortunate that she’s brought this level of vitriol to the school board.

As Laura Jane Cohen pointed out during her answer to the question, though, you can “ask military families if you can walk in an enroll your kid without your vaccination form.” Students are required to prove they’ve had their required vaccinations and it’s simply irresponsible to suggest otherwise.

On top of that, it was very noticeable that Schultz claimed the public doesn’t know about the alleged “public health crisis” because it supposedly all went down during a closed session. This is very convenient for her as there’s no way to dispute her version of events because the information’s legally not supposed to be on the public record or discussed by school board members in a public setting.

With that being said, Schultz’s decision to publicly discuss what she wants folks to believe happened during a closed session could potentially create some issues for her since it’s a clear violation of school board policy. I imagine no action would be taken until after the election, but it’ll still be worth paying attention to whether or not she’s held accountable for discussing alleged conversations from closed sessions.

All in all, this is a prime example of Elizabeth Schultz’s time on the school board. She’s so eager to attack other people that she’s willing to blatantly break policy in a desperate attempt to score political points and cast an entire group of people as harmful to the community. It’s simply unacceptable behavior and has no place in our political discourse — especially when it comes to our schools.

For those who are interested, here’s a recording of her answer.

Conservative Candidate Caught Stealing Campaign Literature

Anybody who’s been involved in politics knows that political signs get stolen. It’s illegal, unethical, and immature behavior when campaign staff or volunteers do it, but it’s unfortunately almost become part of the process nowadays. That’s why I wrote a post a couple weeks ago wondering why the Fairfax County Republican Party was taking something that impacts candidates from both major parties and claiming sign theft was somehow part of “the leftist agenda.”

Perhaps the most coordinated discussion about yard signs being stolen can be found in the aftermath of someone stealing signs from Andi Bayer’s yards. Bayer is running for school board from the Providence District and has apparently had so many signs taken from her yard that she installed a video camera in an attempt to catch whoever’s responsible. It’s truly unfortunate it got to that point, but they’ve now being using the situation as a way to smear other candidates.

This is especially the case in the Sully District, where the Sully Republicans highlighted one of my blog posts by claiming it was part of “a leftist agenda” before adding “and please, whoever it is, stop stealing Andi Bayer’s signs. You’re on video now.” Why would they bring this up in response to someone living outside Bayer’s district unless they wanted to imply that individual stole the signs as part of their “leftist agenda.”

It should be noted that while Andi Bayer and the Fairfax County Republican Party have been complaining about her yard signs, she’s the same candidate who claimed LGBT students are “the loudest special interest group” and aren’t bullied, said we waste money on mental health and teacher training, claimed “we’re victimizing our children” when we talk about discrimination, and said there can’t actually be discrimination in Fairfax County because we have a lot of ethnic restaurants.

But just in case you’re think the Republicans are justified in their claim that they’re the only ones having campaign materials stolen, we have an update from Creigh Deeds down in Albemarble County. After plenty of Democrats all across Virginia have spoken about their campaign materials being stolen or destroyed (presumably by people who oppose Democrats), we now have direct video evidence of a candidate stealing campaign literature of a Democratic candidate.

Elliot Harding is running against incumbent state Senator Creigh Deeds, served as an aid to Rep. Tom Garrett, and has been active with the Albemarle Republican Party. It’s therefore reasonable to assume he knows it’s not kosher (and is actually illegal) to steal your opponent’s campaign lit while you’re out canvassing. Nonetheless, he was caught red handed doing just that.

While it’s never acceptable for people to destroy or steal campaign material, it should also be noted that this isn’t some young hooligan trying to be funny or a volunteer who wants to limit the visibility of the other party’s candidate. This is the candidate himself and he’s been involved in the political process for a long time.

One of the reasons I bring this up is because the Republicans in Fairfax County and throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia have been using a misinformation campaign throughout this election cycle to claim they’re being bullied and Democrats are lying to you. Tom Wilson, who represents the Sully District on the Fairfax County School Board, even tried to connect his opponent to some of his campaign literature being scattered throughout a neighborhood. Despite all those claims, this is yet another example of how it’s actually conservative candidates who have been dishonest and using petty campaign tactics.

Now that there’s video evidence of the pettiness conservative candidates are involved in when they think nobody’s looking, they’re getting directly called out on it.

“Our opponent’s campaign has been grounded in dishonesty from its inception while capitalizing on personal, cruel attacks including old pictures of Sen. Deeds’ son,” Cassie Ardern, Deeds’ campaign manager, said in a statement. “Our volunteers give up their free time to work long, hard hours for the causes and people they are passionate about. Mr. Harding owes them, the homeowner, and the Albemarle Democratic Party and apology for his actions.”

Since there’s a history of literature and signs for Democratic candidates magically disappearing, Ardern added “we would also ask that he return any remaining literature he has, since this does not appear to be a singular incident.”

When it comes down to it, stealing campaign literature and yard signs is simply immature and folks on both sides of the aisle should have enough common decency to avoid doing it. But with the Republicans trying to use this as an example of some sort of vast left wing conspiracy and portray Democratic candidates as unethical, they have to be held accountable when there’s direct video evidence of conservative candidates stealing their opponent’s campaign literature.

(h/t to Lowell Feld over at Blue Virginia)

Andi Bayer Says People of Color Don’t Face Discrimination in Fairfax Because There Are Plenty of Ethnic Restaurants

IMG_1216When it comes to the Fairfax County School Board, the Republican candidates have made some extremely inappropriate comments throughout this year’s campaign.  That’s why the Washington Post took the time to emphasize the “vitriolic” and “poisonous tone” resulting from the Republicans running for school board taking “a page from President Trump’s playbook of trafficking in fear, misinformation and demonization” when it made its endorsements.

For just a flavor of some of their remarks, Vinson Palathingal said we’re giving too much attention for students with disabilities such as “silly things like ADD” and Elizabeth Schultz made controversial remarks about how the Holocaust is being taught and then said wealthy Jewish people are bullying her through “hard left advocacy organizations” that use methods promoted by a Jewish community organizer. And those are just a few of the tamer remarks they’ve been making and don’t even highlight the lies they’ve been spreading about One Fairfax.

Of course, we also have Andi Bayer, who’s said we’re wasting money on mental health and teacher training while creating a “child centered utopia,” claimed LGBT students are the “loudest special interest group” and the school board shouldn’t pay attention to the bullying they face, and told the audience at an Arab American Candidates Night Dinner that she sees “social emotional weakness” and “a lot of victimization” when people speak about diversity.

It appears as though Andi Bayer wasn’t done proving how out of touch she is because she came up with a new way of doing so at the Congregation Olam Tikvah synagogue in Fairfax. During a candidate forum there, she said the large number of ethnic restaurants in Fairfax County was an example of how people of color can’t really be facing systemic issues like less discipline disparities in our school system.

“I beg you to read the Daily Caller article,” Bayer said in reference to a website that has ties to the alt-right and featured the writings of the white nationalist who organized the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. “This is manufactured into the community, infusion of huge donor based money, to fix problems that nobody ever complained about.”

“We celebrate our diversity. Look at the restaurants,” Bayer added. “When I go out to eat, I don’t want to eat American food.”

She then went on to continue the misinformation campaign the Republicans have been running by evoking the rhetoric used by people who opposed school integration by suggesting One Fairfax was going to result in students being bused all over the county based on their race. This is simply untrue and is an attempt to scare voters into voting for Republicans.

She continued the scare tactics when, much like Elizabeth Schultz has done in right wing radio interviews, Bayer tried to scare people into thinking this was a huge conspiracy funded by wealthy liberals (and Schultz always highlights the wealthy Jewish people who apparently support her opponents) that would eventually impact home values and make traffic in the region worse.

When it came to his opportunity to respond, Karl Frisch made it clear he actually understood how we can work to embrace diversity and make sure communities who haven’t traditionally had their voices heard in government proceedings will have an opportunity to become further engaged in how our schools are run.

“If your idea of whether there people from our diverse communities who have complaints about how things are, if your answer to that question is where you go eat dinner,” Karl said, “you are having the wrong conversation.”

“You cannot celebrate our diversity by victim blaming. You cannot celebrate our diversity by ignoring problems that are systemic,” Karl added. “The answer to looking at the achievement gap or discipline disparities that students of color face in our schools is not to ignore it and just say pull yourself up by your bootstraps.”

As Election Day is rapidly approaching and people from a wide variety of backgrounds are expressing concern about the rhetoric and misinformation campaign the Republicans are using, most reasonable folks thought they might dial back the rhetoric. But it actually seems like it’s getting worse the closer we get to the election. It’s almost as if the Fairfax County Republican Party and its candidates realize they’ve been outed as extremists who are spreading misinformation, so they feel as though they minus well embrace it and be open about it.

For those who are interested, you can see the footage of the remarks by both Andi Bayer and Karl Frisch by following this link.

Washington Post Announces School Board Endorsements

The Fairfax County School Board is technically a non-partisan body and was designed that way in hopes of helping members set aside politics to ensure our students receive the best education possible.  As the Washington Post editorial board wrote while announcing their school board endorsements, however, “that’s a fiction this year” as the “vitriolic” and “poisonous tone” resulting from the Republicans taking “a page from President Trump’s playbook of trafficking in fear, misinformation and demonization” has destroyed any chance of have a civil debate.

With that in mind, they ended up endorsing all three Democrats running for the school board’s three at large seats. They also endorsed Megan McLaughlin for the Braddock District seat, Elaine Tholen for Dranesville, Melanie Meren in Hunter Mill, Ricardy Anderson in Mason, and Karen Corbett Sanders in Mt. Vernon. While I have been following these races as every race on the school board is absolutely critical, here are the endorsements in the districts where I’ve been paying especially close attention.

In the Providence district, the Post endorsed Karl Frisch. Given that the announcements were made right before Game 4 of the World Series and Karl’s a big baseball fan, he apparently found out about the endorsement when another local candidate texted him about it while he was at Nationals Park waiting for the game to start. While highlighting why voters should support his candidacy, the Post mentioned how he “promises to use his skills as public policy advocate and communicator to address overcrowded classes and access to advanced academic programs.”

While Karl has been running on commonsense ideas, his opponent has claimed we’re wasting money on mental health and teacher training, says the LGBT community is “loudest special interest group” and we shouldn’t be focused on stopping bullying and discrimination against them, and claimed those concerned about diversity and ending bullying simply have “social emotional weakness” and are “out to victimize our children.”

When it comes to Sully, which is the magisterial district I live in, the Post endorsed “challenger Stella Pekarsky, a former teacher and parent of six public school students, would provide more energetic representation than incumbent Thomas Wilson.” Since several of the Republicans running for school board have been saying there needs to be more parents on the school board, it’s probably hard for them to argue that Stella doesn’t meet those qualifications (plus, she’s a teacher who’s bringing forth some solid ideas).

While it doesn’t specifically say this, the endorsement also gets to the heart of one of the major criticisms many people have of Wilson. He simply has a horrible attendance record and when he does bother to show up, he frequently arrives late, leaves early, and abstains on votes that might have required even a small amount of research. Despite his struggles to attend school board meetings, however, Wilson did find the time to attend an event outside of his district to express support for Elizabeth Schultz as she hosted a discussion with senior staffers from a designated hate group.

The endorsement in the Springfield district is where I partially disagree with the Post’s conclusions. While I agree that “either candidate challenging the strident and ineffective incumbent Elizabeth Schultz would be an improvement,” I disagree that Kyle McDaniel would be the better choice and strongly support Laura Jane Cohen for the seat.

That being said, there has been some interesting reactions to the endorsement online. Many people believe the Post was looking for a non-Democrat to endorse and McDaniel was essentially the only person who fit the bill and was even remotely qualified to be on the school board. With his history of working with Pat Herrity and leaving the Republican Party because it simply became too extreme, he makes for an interesting conservative to endorse and is still an upgrade from Elizabeth Schultz.

Other folks have been talking about how McDaniels might end up essentially splitting the vote of people who are feed up with the extremism that Schultz is promoting on the board. In typical “Not Larry Sabato” fashion that includes a little bit of sarcasm, for instance, Ben Tribbett took to twitter to express his concern.

“Kyle McDaniel was on track to get ONE vote (not sure he even had his wife on board) before tonight for his clown candidacy,” Ben tweeted. “Now there is real danger he could split the vote and allow Elizabeth Schultz to win again. If he is what he claims, he should immediately withdraw.”

It’s also worth noting that while the Post did call out the “vitriolic” and “poisonous tone” that’s “been set by the Republican-backed candidates” in the beginning of the article, Elizabeth Schultz was the only candidate they specifically said something negative about. As I’ve been laying out in post, after post, after post here, Schultz does take things to the extreme fairly often and has been caught trying to spread misinformation during forums in desperate attempts to make her opponents look bad. It’s therefore somewhat understandable how they took the anybody’s better than Schultz approach.

Besides picking McDaniel over Laura Jane Cohen, the Washington Post hit it spot on with the endorsements. Perhaps more important than who the supported, however, was their decision to call out the Republicans for the ugliness they’ve brought to the campaign. The rhetoric and misinformation they’ve been using has no place in our political discourse, but that’s especially the case when it comes to the school board.

Elizabeth Schultz Hosts Event With Senior Staff of Designated Hate Group

IMG_1367On Tuesday of this week (October 22, 2019), Fairfax County Public Schools hosted a meeting for the community at Centreville High School entitled “Community Event on how to Support our Students in a Digital World.” Considering how Elizabeth Schultz showed up almost two hours late to a recent school board meeting and therefore missed an entire presentation from experts, teachers, administrators, parents, and students about FCPSOn (a program that deals with technology in our schools), one would think she’d want to show up to an important event in her own district that was part of Digital Citizenship Week.

Schultz couldn’t be bothered to attend the event at Centreville High School, however, because she was too busy attending an event with Cathy Ruse of the Family Research Council. The event focused in on attacking the transgender community and argued that the Democrats on the school board are using “sex politics” to completely change the purpose of sex ed and destroy our community.

For those who don’t know, the Family Research Council is so extreme that it’s been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Also in attendance at the event was Ruse’s husband Austin Ruse, who has bragged about his connections to the Proud Boys — another designated hate group that’s known for promoting a white nationalist and misogynistic agenda. They’re also notorious for using physical violence to impose its views. Proud Boys members, for instance, played a roll in organizing the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville where Heather Hayer was murdered by a white nationalist.

Of course, these associations are nothing new when it comes to Elizabeth Schultz as she’s frequently promoted articles from the Daily Caller (a website that has connections to the alt-right and featured writings from the Unite the Right rally’s primary organizer) and has said wealthy Jews and “hard left advocacy organizations” using methods promoted by Jewish community organizers are coming into Fairfax from outside the community to attack her campaign and “really change the entire structure of Fairfax County.”

With all that being said, it was still a surreal experience to see how much hatred and bigotry they could jam into a two hour session.

ACCUSATIONS AGAINST THE SCHOOL BOARD

IMG_1364Cathy Ruse started her portion of the event by saying the “board is playing sex politics” with children and pushing a transgender ideology. According to Ruse, this could be a revolution that’s as bad as the 1960s. She also suggested this was part of a larger radical social agenda and the left was treating children as “lab rats” in social experiments.

She then went on to chastise individual school board members who refused to sit idly by as anti-LGBT organizations tried to instill hatred and bigotry in Fairfax County Public Schools.

“You see Ryan McElveen, the sponsor, scolding parents from the dais and telling them they’re on the wrong side of history,” Ruse clearly said mockingly while describing the scene when anti-LGBT hoards tried to take over a school board meeting. She added that the one exception on the board at the time was Schultz, who she said is “the bravest woman I know.”

Much like how Schultz has been claiming there’s some sort of national conspiracy out to get her while they’re promoting things like making sure everybody has an opportunity to thrive, Ruse went on to suggest Fairfax is just one of the school systems that’s part of a nationwide effort to demand transgender equality.

“First they claim students are being harassed, so policies must be changed the prevent discrimination,” Ruse told the audience. “Then they demand that the only way to have safe schools is to adopt the total transgender agenda” that includes things like “opening up private spaces” and the “forced use of pronouns.”

“It’s not about anti-bullying, it’s about power and politics,” Ruse added in a statement clearly meant to imply transgender students weren’t being bullied and the school board shouldn’t really be concerned with the issue.

DISCUSSION ON SUICIDE IN THE TRANS COMMUNITY

Much like how Elizabeth Schultz has claimed she’s bullied despite having a reputation for constantly demeaning the school system’s staff and her fellow school board members, Ruse said supporters of basic equality for the transgender community are “bullying parents into harming their children.”

In other words, Ruse was saying trans kids aren’t being bullied, but it’s trans people and their allies who are actually the bullies. She wasn’t content to simply say the transgender community was bullying opponents of equality as she continued by saying “the bullies ultimate trump card is suicide.”

“Parents are told they must do this or they’ll lose their child to suicide,” the “senior fellow” for a designated hate group said. “Better to have a trans daughter than a dead son.”

She said “there’s no evidence to support this claim” that transgender people are susceptible to suicide if they’re not accepted by their community. In order to reinforce this claim, she highlighted a study that supposedly said even trans people who’ve had gender confirmation surgery are “twenty times [more likely] than non-trans people” to commit suicide. In other words, the study she decided to highlight shows suicide is an issue in the transgender community and should probably be addressed. People are therefore right to bring up the issue with parents who are trying to figure out how to respond to their child’s issues relating to gender identity.

Interestingly, Republican school board candidate Andi Bayer included mental health services as an area where the school system’s currently wasting money while discussing the budget at a recent forum. Between Bayer’s comments and Ruse’s suggestion that the risk of suicide is only being used to promote acceptance of the transgender community, it’s quite obvious Republicans do not value efforts to provide mental health services that could help students thrive and potentially save lives.

But Ruse didn’t stop there. In addition to claiming parents are being bullied into accepting transgender children, she claimed it’s actually child abuse to be accepting of the transgender community. This rhetoric is not only dangerous for transgender people, but harms students who are actually being abused. Muddying the water like this only makes it harder for students who need assistance when they’re being abused.

“TRANS THEORY IS A FRAUD” BECAUSE “GOD DOESN’T MAKE MISTAKES”

As part of Ruse’s argument for why “trans theory is a fraud,” she claimed “God doesn’t make mistakes” and “every person was born in exactly the right body.”

The belief that “God doesn’t make mistakes” is why Ruse claims it’s against Christian beliefs to use a transgender person’s correct pronouns. She highlighted how former teacher Peter Vlaming was fired after he refused to he/him/his pronouns for a transgender male in one of his classes.

Ruse claimed Vlaming’s religious beliefs were being violated because he was “refusing to use a false pronoun.” In the version of the story she told, there was nothing about the bigotry the teacher was reinforcing, but an insistence  that “he explained to the school that as a Christian he believes that God made humans male and female and that to use false pronouns would deny God’s purposeful design and he just couldn’t do it. And so they fired him, for insubordination, by unanimous vote.”

“Two weeks ago he filed suit against the school for $1 million,” Ruse snidely added, “and I hope he gets every penny.”

In case people weren’t buying her religious argument, Ruse also proclaimed that “biology is not bigotry” and said science proves there are only two genders and DNA confirms this. Even if you’re willing to ignore the science that shows the brains of transgender people are more closely aligned with the gender they identify with, her argument clearly ignores the fact that there are intersex people. Previously referred to as hermaphrodites, the UN Commissioner on Human Rights defines intersex people as those “who are born with sex characteristics (including genitals, gonads and chromosome patterns) that do not fit typical binary notions of male or female bodies.”

CRITICISM OF FCPS’s FLE PROGRAM

Ruse then transitioned into bashing the school system’s Family Life Education (FLE) program and had a lot to say about the language the curriculum used. Like many of the Republican candidates for school board, she appeared to be extremely frustrated that the material was no longer referred to as sex ed. She suggested calling it FLE was simply a way to disguise the true agenda the board and transgender community were supposedly trying to promote.

She was also absolutely furious that the term “sex assigned at birth” was included and suggested it’s a “propaganda term pushed used by transgender advocates to promote their agenda.” She claimed this meant school board was removing “the concept that human beings have a biologically decided sex of male or female” in order to suggest “you don’t have a real sex, just a placeholder that someone assigns to you.” In her opinion, this meant students would just randomly decide to change their gender on a whim.

Elizabeth Schultz later picked up on the same messaging as she said one of her big questions about protections for the transgender community included wanting to know how many times students were allowed to change their gender on school documents. Furthermore, she wondered if the school system had anyway of rejecting requests for changing a student’s recognized gender.

Ruse also complained that the abstinence portion of the FLE curriculum no longer said the word marriage, but instead suggested students should wait until they’re in long term, committed “monogamous relationship.” This apparently was unacceptable to her as it was taking marriage, which she believes has religious and moral standards, out of the discussion.

It was Ruse’s belief that FLE should also be turned into a special after school program that students could stay after school hours to attend. Perhaps realizing that Sex Ed has been a part of the education process for generations and therefore wasn’t going anywhere, she also encouraged parents to simply opt their children out of the program. This would of course not only deny them information about safe sex and reproductive health, but also single them out for ridicule from them peers.

When the taunting aspect was asked about by a member of the audience during the Q&A portion of the event, Schultz responded by saying “they’re gonna be ridiculed for the rest of their life, so they minus well get used to it now.”

This not only seemed like a rather harsh response, but it also raised a lot of questions about her response to earlier controversies she’s been involved in. After she received criticism for remarks that suggested she thought “both sides” of the Holocaust needed to be taught, for example, she claimed her remarks were really just about standing up to bullies. Oddly, she also suggested that attempts to say otherwise were really just coming from wealthy Jewish people funding the efforts of people who oppose her campaign.

SCHULTZ JOINS IN CRITIQUES OF FLE AND PROTECTIONS FOR TRANS STUDENTS

In addition to her comments referenced above, Schultz also spent a lot of her speech complaining about the FLE curriculum while making sure it was clear she didn’t support basic equality for the transgender community.

It was noteworthy that Schultz complained about the student member of the school board got to appoint four members of the FLE commission (one student per high school grade level), which she claims was unfair because her conservative voice was supposedly automatically outnumbered at least four to one.

Not only is this argument ludicrous, but it’s also very odd considering she recently spoke about how highly qualified the student school board member is and said the student will bring a valuable perspective to crucial issues. Based upon her view that the student shouldn’t be able to make appointments to the commission, however, it appears as though her remarks were only designed to make herself look good during an official school board meeting that was being televised.

SCHULTZ ON TRANSGENDER STUDENTS IN LOCKER ROOMS

As the conversation moved forward, the locker room situation got brought up. This is often where anti-LGBT folks try to cast transgender people as monsters who are always out to sexually abuse women. Schultz sent out this dog whistle while claiming “we were the experimental playground” on issues surrounding “privacy in intimate spaces.”

“This doesn’t fundamentally make sense,” Schultz claimed. “It doesn’t make sense that we can say that in a locker room, where people are changing, particularly for sports, that you should have people who have physiological characteristics of opposite sexes in the same space.”

“This is not bigotry, this is commonsense,” Schultz added. “I said ‘are we going to provide single stall changing areas because there were test cases in other states where they fought event that.’ No, that’s discrimination if you create a separate space because that’s treating them differently.”

While a conservative member of the audience exclaimed “what” at this point, the whole argument for separate but equal has been accepted as unconstitutional for generations. In a unanimous decision back in 1954, the Supreme Court ruled in Brown vs Board of Education that separate facilities are “inherently unequal” and are therefore unconstitutional. While this is an extremely famous case that started the desegregation of American schools, Schultz didn’t appear to under the basic concept that there is no such thing as “separate but equal.”

Of course, this didn’t stop Schultz from continuing on a tirade about transgender students in “intimate spaces.” And like she’s done on so many occasions, she claimed this was simply the rest of the school board trying to ram through some sort of “radical agenda.”

“There is no barrier right now that they do not want to knock down,” Schultz claimed. “Because it’s not even providing for the common decency of the privacy of the students that are involved.”

“All barriers must be knocked down and it will only be on their terms,” Schultz added trying to continue the claim that basic equality was some sort of radical agenda. “It will never on terms that respect decency for people” who share religious values.

SUMMARY AND AUDIO

While there was more in depth conversation about how horrible Ruse and Schultz thought transgender people are, the aforementioned highlights illustrate the gist of what they had to say. Essentially, they believe nobody’s actually transgender because “God doesn’t make mistakes” and anybody promoting the idea of basic equality for trans people is pushing some sort of “radical agenda” that will result in the violation of women’s privacy and religious freedom.

Especially when you consider that Elizabeth Schultz had already missed an entire presentation on technology and digital education tools earlier this month because she couldn’t be bothered to show up on time for a school board meeting, it’s truly a shame she decided to spend her Tuesday evening with a hate group spewing anti-trans bigotry instead of attending the school system’s presentation held in her district on how to “support students in a digital world.”

It does, however, give the public a prime example of what Elizabeth Schultz has decided to prioritize during her time on the Fairfax County School Board.

For those who are interested, here’s the full audio of Cathy Ruse’s remarks:

And here’s the full audio of Elizabeth Schultz’s remarks:

Helmer Highlights Tim Hugo’s Use of Campaign Funds for Personal Expenses

During last night’s League of Women Voters forum for candidates in the 40th House of Delegates district, candidates were asked where they stood on the issue of non-partisan redistricting and both candidates expressed support of the idea. Tim Hugo even used this as part of his failed efforts to appear as though he’s above “the nastiness of politics.”

During his response, however, Dan Helmer said we need to go beyond simply having non-partisan redistricting to help ensure we have a fair system that politicians aren’t using the political process simply to benefit themselves personally. He said we also need to address Virginia’s campaign finance laws and highlighted how the Washington Post has even criticized Hugo for using large amounts of campaign funds to help cover personal expenses.

Helmer is absolutely correct here as even as far back as August of 2013, the Post published an editorial lambasting Hugo for charging his campaign for travel expenses “wildly in excess of that charged by other lawmakers” and “$9,400 in cellphone charges, tops in the legislature.” He also charged the campaign for thousands of dollars worth of meals and snacks, many of which he had by himself.

In case folks were wondering if these were legitimate expenses, the Post noted that this came despite “a daily allowance of $170 for food and lodging when they are on official business in Richmond” and “a $15,000 annual allotment to cover office expenses (excluding staff, which is covered separately), as well as a gas-mileage reimbursement for weekly trips home during legislative sessions.”

Considering all this, Helmer was definitely right to say residents of the 40th District deserve to have campaign finance laws in place that will help prevent their elected officials from profiting off of public service. Here’s audio of Helmer’s remarks, including him highlighting how Hugo spent campaign funds to purchase “the violent video game Call of Duty” back on election night in 2017.

While I couldn’t find an expenditure reported on VPAP.org, a website that tracks campaign finance here in Virginia, that explicitly said Hugo spent money on Call of Duty, there was an expenditure on the day of the 2017 election for $84 at Walmart. This was listed in the category of “misc. campaigning” and the listing claims the money was spent on “campaign supplies.” While it a quick google search suggests Call of Duty currently runs about $60 from Walmart online, it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that this could be the purchase Helmer was highlighting.

All in all, Dan Helmer’s statement here highlighted just how out of touch with the community Tim Hugo has become. While Hugo might want the public to believe he’s above “the nastiness of politics” and has earned the nickname “Delegate Pothole,” his actions suggest otherwise. Not only is he preventing meaningful legislation from being considered by the General Assembly, but it appears as though he’s doing it while lining his pockets with campaign funds.