Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Is Tim Hugo Allergic To Democrats Who Produce Results?

During my time organizing in Rochester last year, one of the perks was getting away from the horrible traffic in Northern Virginia. It was nice to be able to go places – even if it did mean I’d be on the road around 5:30 or 6pm. Now that I’m back in Virginia, however, I’m not surprised that I’m constantly receiving emails from various politicians about what they’re doing to fix our transportation woes. Today is no exception as I received emails from several elected officials about the ribbon cutting ceremony marking the opening of the westbound ramps off I-66 at Monument Drive and Stringfellow Road to off-peak hours.

Since I live in the Centreville area, I use these ramps essentially every time that I go to downtown DC and have closely followed the discussion about opening them up to more commuters. I was therefore very interesting in seeing what some of our elected officials had to say now that the ramps now officially have expanded hours. While all of the statements highlighted some of the benefits of easing long commutes, the really interesting aspect of this was seeing who the various elected officials recognized in their statements.

Del. Tim Hugo, for instance, only recognized Republican officials when he said “Major credit goes to Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez, Governor Bob McDonnell, Congressman Frank Wolf, Secretary of Transportation Sean Connaughton and Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity." This very clearly was an effort to make sure he only credited members of his own party, even though it was a bipartisan affair. Beyond sending out a photo of him at the ribbon cutting ceremony and mentioning that he’s on the transportation committee in the House of Delegates, however, he didn’t offer any information on what he did to help make sure these ramps were opened up to more users.

Chairman Sharon Bulova recognized Gov. Bob McDonnell and the staff that worked on the project. In fact, she applauded them for getting “this project off the shelf and completed." She then went on to say that "without their efforts, we would not be here today." She also described how the Board of Supervisors had taken some actions in order to help expand access to these ramps. In other words, she’s not trying to limit credit to herself or members of her own party just to win a few more votes. She’s actually giving credit to those who deserve it, which actually wins a lot more points in my book because it shows integrity.

Congressman Gerry Connolly’s office also sent out a statement about the ceremony and explained how this was something that Gerry began working on back in 2007 while he was still Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. In addition to recognizing the work that the Board of Supervisors has done recently, his statement described how he interacted with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Federal Highway Administrator Victor Menendez while trying to get to where we are today.

So looking at the statements that I received, both Democrats demonstrated the work that they had done on the project but also highlighted how they couldn’t take all the credit. Hugo, however, didn’t explain why he deserved credit and obviously tried to make it look like only Republicans were concerned about transportation. Unfortunately, this blatant partisanship from Hugo is something that isn’t too surprising because he only faced nominal opposition in the 2009 election and is now serving as the head of the Republican caucus. Hopefully that will change in 2011 and we’ll see a Delegate who represents the interests of the 40th HoD District instead of just the GOP’s leadership.

UPDATE: I just got off the phone with Tim Hugo and he wanted to point out that he believes in giving credit where credit is due. In fact, he highlighted how he gave credit to Victor Menendez from the Federal Highway Administration who is a Democrat. He also said that Julie from his office had done some work on this issue back in 2007.

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