Thursday, May 22, 2008
Since I cannot attend today's meeting, I would like to add my comments to the public record.
While immigration is a complex issue that must be addressed at the federal level, we must consider reasonable actions at the local level. By the local level, I mean the neighborhood level. We can do this in the following ways:
1. Education for assimilation: education can be in the form of live meetings to communicate what is acceptable behavior and what is not. Since many minorities (and others) are reticent to attend meetings, simple of understand written materials should also be available in several languages. This is one way to head off potential problems like over-crowding and petty crime. English classes should also be openly available for anyone who needs them. For this to happen, fear must be reduced.
2. Enforcement of fire and safety codes: this is essential to the health and well being of our communities. Fire and safety codes are objective measurements that prevent over-crowding. If families are living in crowded conditions, they need to be referred to housing assistance agencies that will help them relocate. This means we need to invest in personnel to check fire and safety hazards and in affordable housing and rental programs.
3. Community clean up days: we need as many people as possible to participate. In every community, there is trash. In every community, there are people who care. Further trash prevention measures can be implemented via #1 (general trash) and #2 (biohazards).
4. Friendly door-to-door visits from local public officials (not police, not HOA's or private group members): these should be designed to welcome all residents and provide information on services and contacts. Alleged "flop houses" should not be omitted from these visits.
5. Fair and humane treatment of all prisoners, illegal immigrants and otherwise: we can assume that all criminals should be incarcerated in some way but that every criminal has the right to humane treatment. Keep in mind that just violating current immigration law is a civil offense; it is not a criminal offense and should never be treated as one.
At the federal level, we need the following.
1. More than just enforcement: enforcement only breeds an atmosphere of fear and injustice. Without policy reform and implementation, including securing the borders and helping current residents work towards citizenship, we are wasting time and money.
2. Increased diplomacy with Mexico and other countries represented by large immigrant populations in the United States: without such diplomatic efforts, any policy reform is bound to lack support at the international levels which puts our country at risk.
3. Congress people demanding policy reform and truly working together to fix this problem which clearly has been neglected for too long.
If there is one thing the resolution in Prince William County has taught us it's that local policy "snuck" in with disregard for public opinion from every sector is disastrous to the economy, the harmony of the community, the reputation and perception of the area, and the safety of all.
Allowing any one group to dominate the discussion on immigration, bypassing democratic process, and preventing open government destroys a community faster than any recession can.
Please consider my thoughts and ideas carefully. I am always happy to answer questions.
Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
PWC should more actively support the Journey Through Hallowed Ground and implement "Context Sensitive Solutions" throughout the entire county.
According to the folks at Journey Through Hallowed Ground, the BOCS has endorsed the program, a strategy with an emphasis on Context Sensitive Solutions that preserve landscapes and historical sites. Context Sensitive Solutions include wise development that is carefully planned and contributes to the economy through increased tourism.
Please avoid further, ugly, thoughtless over-development. Maintain our history, and preserve the natural beauty we have as we continue to grow.
These goals need not be in opposition.
Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt
Governor of Virginia
1111 East Broad St. 3rd Fl.
Richmond, VA 23219
Dear Governor Kaine:
Please stop the execution of Kevin Green, a person with severe intellectual disabilities!
With the availability in Virginia of a life-without-parole sentence, executions are never needed to ensure that those convicted of murder do not repeat their offenses. Executions are unjustified and must be halted by any legitimate means available whenever there are ways to protect society that do not require more loss of life.
You have already made your personal opposition to the death penalty well known. You now have an opportunity to put your belief into practice by sparing Kevin Green's life. I urge you to choose life over death with the commutation power entrusted to you for the common good.
Mr. Green has the IQ of a mentally retarded individual, repeated three years of elementary school, and has never even learned to tie his shoes! We must err on the side of life instead of moving forward with an execution when a court could easily have concluded that such a punishment is unconstitutional in this case.
I thank you for considering my perspective as you contemplate this life-or-death matter.
Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt
Further note: In this case, life in prison or a mental hospital might be more appropriate and be a reminder of what happens when we do not intervene early enough (I am thinking of VA Tech again).
Apparently, Mr. Greene has had multiple arrests and charges. If VA knew his intellectual capacity before and didn't do something to prevent further incident after his first arrest, what does that mean about our system? What good will it do to murder again?
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Rescue Prince William County's Rt. 15 for The Journey Through Hallowed Ground
Development & History can coexist with "Context Sensitive Solutions"
Despite the Prince William County Board of Supervisors voted one year ago to be involved in The Journey Through Hallowed Ground, Rt. 15, also known as James Madison Highway in Prince William County which is being rapidly suburbanized with new,thoughtless growth.
The Journey is a National Heritage Area running the 175 miles along Rt. 15 from Gettysburg, PA to Thomas Jefferson's home "Monticello"near Charlottesville, VA. This area contains more American history than any other. This means money for PWC from Heritage Tourism. The Journey will also give us federal funds to beautify and protect the rural, historic viewshed, roadbed and roadside along Rt. 15.
At this time, those that organized The Journey are saying that without improvements, the Journey will bypass most of Prince William County. If this happens, Rt. 15 will continue with its ugly growth.
Most of us using Rt. 15 daily are appalled at the ugliness that is created. Prince William has much history to be proud of in its Rural Crescent and it is getting lost. There are ways of hiding the new development, such as with berms (earthen hills), set backs, landscaping, putting wires underground, having planted road mediums, etc. (all called Context Sensitive Solutions). If a road needs to be four lanes it can look like a parkway. People will be paid to leave their woods uncut.
Now the Board of Supervisors must put some bite into their declaration made one year ago that they want to be a part of The Journey, a decision that beautifies our county, increases the value of our homes and improves the quality of our lives.
My note: PWC should implement context sensitive solutions throughout the county. Help us avoid ugly, over-development, maintain our history, and preserve the natural beauty we have. These are gifts and we need to treat them as such.
Tell our County Supervisors and Departments YOU support the Journey Through Hallowed Ground!
Chairman, Corey Stewart, email@example.com 703-792-464o
Gainesville, John Stirrup, firstname.lastname@example.org 703-792-6195
Brentsville, Wally Covington, email@example.com 703-792-6190
Planning Commission 1 County Complex Court, Woodbridge, Virginia 22192-9201 (703) 792-6830 Metro 631-1703, Ext. 6830 FAX (703) 792-4758
Zoning Commission Public Works, Internet Comment Page http://www.pwcgov.org/default.aspx?topic=010064000250001823
PWC Parks and Recreation Prince William County Park Authority Headquarters Contact: 703-792-7060 George Hellwig Memorial Park Authority 14420 Bristow Road Manassas, VA 20112 TTY 703-791-4068 FAX: 703-792-4278 firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday, May 18, 2008
I want to thank everyone in our community who helped to stand against the hate being perpetrated by Greg Letiecq's Black Velvet Bruce Li blog.
I consider Mr. Letiecq a dangerous man and his blog and extremist nativist organization (according to the Southern Poverty Law Center) a serious threat to our community. First, he creates his hate-filled blog. Then he goes on to assassinate the character of some members of our community. Then he helps create an extremist nativist organization and becomes its president. Then he links up with the Immigration Reform Law Institute and asks Michael Hethmon (who worked for many years as a staff lawyer for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a hate group, according to the SPLC) to write the first draft of Prince William County's anti-illegal immigration resolution. Then he asks Supervisor John T. Stirrup Jr. (R-Gainesville) to sponsor the resolution, which he gladly does.
Mr. Letiecq has been the catalyst and perpetrator of this hateful and costly behavior from the beginning, and he enjoys bragging about much of this in his recent Front Line newsletter.
A few years ago, Prince William passed a resolution declaring it to be a hate-free zone. I endorse our supervisors for having the courage to stand against the hate being perpetrated in the Black Velvet Bruce Li blog.
Two weeks ago, supervisors voted to change the anti-illegal immigrant resolution. It was an important vote that opened the door for healing to begin in our community. Since then, at least one supervisor has received serious threats as a result of the changes to the resolution. Intimidation and hate are powerful forces that can be used to shape public policy if we stand by and let it happen.
I applaud our supervisors and county government officials for their courage to stand against this ugly behavior. I challenge other members of our community to do the same, especially our houses of worship and business community.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
MUSLIM ASSOCIATION OF VIRGINIA
IS OFFERING ISLAM 101 CLASSES FREE OF CHARGE
Starting Sunday May 4, 2008
Instructor: Br. Altaf Taufique
Where: Dar Alnoor
5404 Hoadly Road
Manassas, VA 20112
When: Every Sunday 4:00 PM
Classes are designed for new Muslims and non-Muslims
Feel free to ask any question.
No question will be considered offensive.
Books and other material provided at no cost.
Please register by E-mail
Call numbers listed below
Br. Mohammad Mehboob 571-220-2147
Br. Rafi Ahmed 571-334-3011
Virginia Commission on Immigration to hold public hearing at GMU
Fairfax, Va. – The Virginia Commission on Immigration will hold its first of five statewide public hearings on Thursday, May 22 in the Johnson Center Cinema on the campus of George Mason University. The Commission is seeking public input on how immigration issues are affecting Virginia.
The public is encouraged to focus their input to immigration issues affecting Northern Virginia, as the Commission will conduct additional hearings in other parts of the Commonwealth. Public comment will be limited to three minutes per person. Sign up for public comment will be onsite at 1:00 p.m. Written comments can also be submitted in advance for Commission review prior to the meeting via email at email@example.com, or by mail to:
Virginia Commission on Immigration
c/o Matt Gross
7 North Eight Street, 6th Floor
Richmond, VA 23219
The Virginia Commission on Immigration is charged with studying, reporting and making recommendations to address the costs and benefits of immigration on the Commonwealth related to education, health care, law enforcement, local demands for services, the economy and the effects of federal immigration and funding policies. The Commission is chaired by Senator John Watkins (R-Powhatan) and co-chaired by Delegate Jackson Miller (R-Manassas).
For more information, contact Matt Gross at (804) 726-7087, or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.hhr.virginia.gov/Initiatives/ImmigrationCommission/
Friday, May 16, 2008
John Stirrup: The chicken is joining the invasion of our county. This is the kind of behavior representative of all chickens.
Wally Covington: There's obviously something across the road that is worth crossing for. This could translate into millions of dollars in tax revenue. We need to explore the other side as soon as possible and maximize this opportunity as Prince William County, known for wisely using economic resources, has done for decades.
Mike May: I'm a conservative.
Marty Nohe: We need to look more closely at what the chicken needs in order to cross the road.
Frank Principi: Rescind the chicken.
Maureen Caddigan: If you promised that chicken something across the road, you better deliver it.
John Jenkins: The chicken voted for me last year.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
"The James-Hoyer Law Firm recently filed a Class Action Suit against Sallie Mae alleging its lending practices discriminate against minorities.
If you are African American or Hispanic and have a private student loan with Sallie Mae, we'd like to talk with you. If you are a former Sallie Mae employee please contact us below. We are continuing our investigation as we move forward.
Please contact us using the form below if you believe you have been charged unreasonably high interest rates or fees, have been given unfavorable loan terms, or that Sallie Mae has otherwise acted unfairly towards you on the basis of your race. One focus of our investigation concerns allegations that Sallie Mae's private student loan underwriting process discriminates against minorities attending schools with a high percentage of minority students.
In addition to the case we have already filed, we are also investigating the following issues on behalf of all Sallie Mae student loan borrowers:
--Unfair collection practices
--Failure to timely disclose terms of loans
--No choice in selecting your student loan lender
--High or excessive interest rates
--Unexplained increase in the balance of your student loans
--Improper fees assessed on your student loans
If you have experienced any of these problems with your Sallie Mae student loan, or if you are a former Sallie Mae employee and have information regarding these issues, please contact us using the form below. One of our attorneys or investigators will respond to your e-mail promptly. Our law firm, headquartered in Tampa, Florida, fights fraud on behalf of consumers across the country. Click here: http://www.jameshoyer.com/problem_Sallie_Mae.html"
Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt is not a lawyer, nor does she work for The James-Hoyer Law Firm. The information above was obtained via their website.See www.studentloanjustice.org for more information on students who have been hurt in the predatory market of student loans. Tell your story! Get help!
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Thank you for your automated response. : ) However, I am a prior-borrower who was ripped off by an unethical institution. Last week, your office sent me the same message I keep getting over and over again from other agencies: a copy of a 2004 statement from the Department of Education telling me there is nothing they can do about my loans even though they investigated the school (Union Institute), as did the accreditors, and were mandated to make changes in the program and in their financial aid distribution.
While the legislation you refer to below might be good news for some current students, it does nothing for people like me who have no consumer protection and no access to attorneys.
One reason the default rate is so high is that students who have had personal tragedies, have fallen victim to educational malpractice or made bad loans have no way of rectifying the problem; the government doesn't provide options at any level through any agency other than default, which is not really an option.
While your intentions are good, I'm still stuck, as are tens of thousands of other prior borrowers.
I can give you dozens of good reasons why my loan should be discharged and even more reasons why Union Institute should be sued for every penny they have. But that doesn't do me any good, since I'm not a lawyer, nor do I have help from the Department of Education or North Central (the accreditors).
Please consider this when continuing to work on student issues.
Thank you very much!
Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt
Bristow VA 20135
P. S. I voted for you.
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Tuesday, May 13, 2008 3:29 PM
Subject: Senator Jim Webb's response to your message
May 13, 2008
Mrs. Katherine Gotthardt
Bristow, Virginia 20136
Dear Mrs. Gotthardt:
Thank you for contacting my office regarding federal student loans. I appreciate your taking the time to share your views.
I share your concerns that students and their families are facing difficulties repaying student loans. You will be pleased to know Congress has been active in addressing the cost of higher education and federal student loans. On September 27, 2007, the College Cost Reduction and Access Act (P.L. 110-84), with my support, was signed into law. This law made significant changes to the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) program, the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (DL) program, the Pell Grant program, and the federal need analysis formula. Over the next five years, funding for Federal Pell Grants will increase by $11.4 billion, increasing the maximum Pell Grant from $4,310 in 2007 to $5,400 by 2012.
Furthermore, both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives have passed the Higher Education Authorization bill (S. 1642). This legislation is currently pending in a Conference Committee where members from both the House and Senate are working on the final language. Both this bill, and the College Cost Reduction and Access Act will increase need-based aid for students, simplify the financial aid process, and, among other things, provide loan forgiveness for students who work in public service.
You will be pleased to know that the Ensuring Continued Access to Student Loans Act (H.R. 5715) passed the Senate, with my support, on April 30, 2008, and was signed into law on May 7, 2008. This bill will increase loan amounts for unsubsidized Stafford Loans, increase the length of deferment for repayment for parent borrowers of PLUS loans, update procedures for lender of last resort loans, and authorize the Secretary of Education to purchase loans previously made under the Federal Family Education Loan Program until July 2009, to ensure the availability of loan capital to meet the demand of student loans.
Lastly, I cosigned a bipartisan letter on March 12, 2008 to the U.S. Secretaries of Treasury and Education requesting that they ensure continued access to student loans and liquidity in the market.
As the 110th Congress continues to address the rising costs of higher education and other important issues facing the United States, your views are very helpful to me. Please be assured my staff and I will closely monitor this issue and any pending legislation, with your specific views in mind. I hope that you will continue to share your thoughts with us in the years ahead.
I would also invite you to visit my website at www.webb.senate.gov for regular updates about my activities and positions on matters that are important to Virginia and our nation.
Thank you once again for contacting my office.
United States Senator
Please do not reply. This is not a working email address.
See www.studentloanjustice.org for more stories of students who have been hurt in this predatory system. Take action! Tell your story! It's time.
Monday, May 12, 2008
According to their website, “Bristow Commons is an upscale mixed-use lifestyle center that infuses up to 90k square feet of much needed retail and office in the vast expanse of residential developments in the Linton Hall corridor of Prince William County, Northern Virginia. Approximately 55-70ksf of retail & retail services and 15-20ksf of office space is envisioned”, ~ Bristowcommons.com
Do we really need another shopping center off Linton Hall and Devlin Road? Does traffic ring a bell to local commuters? Let’s face it one unique aspect of living in this side of Prince William County is the feeling of vastness and the open space. Regardless of what they say, Bristow Commons is another strip mall and potentially can be an eye sore to local residents, devalue homes because of the proximity to the future stores, and may adversely impact the surrounding neighborhood of Sheffield Manor, Bridle Wood Manor, Linton Hall Crest, and the Victory Lakes communities.
Did the developer(s) research the long termed impact or potential harm to the environment? Or better yet, do they even live in Bristow or Gainesville, Virginia? There is nothing wrong with any future business development expansion for communities in Bristow or Gainesville. The developers really need to sit down and think this through. The Linton Hall Road and the Devlin Road is not designed to take additional overflow traffic from Gainesville or Manassas, Virginia.
Bristow Common anticipates ground breaking in the spring of 2009. Local residents are encouraged to contact Wally Covington with regards to additional land use and commercial development off Linton Hall Road/Devlin Road. His address is:
8506 Wellington Rd. Manassas, VA 20109Office Phone: (703) 792-6190Office Fax: (703) 257-9792 email@example.com
Date Published: 2008-04-30 06:38:20
K.M.G. says: IMO, it's not too late to turn this around. We can ask the BOCS to have another hearing, especially given that full disclosure was not made to residents at the time the developer marketed this to the public, many of whom had not prior knowledge of this proposal.
Saturday, May 10, 2008
First, let me say, if you want to generate thoughts you can really gnaw on, try merging two ideas from completely different perspectives and contexts and have at it. It's the kind of creative synthesis poets and artists love. It's like scrap booking but with thoughts.
So a little about the original context of the ideas: my student elaborated on the word "compassion" for an essay using the "definition" rhetorical pattern. She explained that truly compassionate people don't look for rewards. They "do" because they understand and love people.
The blogger was commenting how my references to hate groups (which are, incidentally, grounded in research and labels from other groups and organizations and are not my own) didn't help "my cause." I suppose he/she meant I was detracting from the argument of the "side" he/she presumes I am on. This is interesting in itself, because I don't think of myself as being on a "side." My refusal to take "sides" is mixed in with what I gleaned from merging all this "stuff" last night. I suspect this is why I often wake up tired. My brain doesn't seem to respect the need for sleep.
So here's my own thesis: Causes are often superficial reasons for not-so-compassionate people to have something to do. Furthermore, truly compassionate people do expect to get something in return for their efforts: they expect to get the kind of world in which they wish to live. I don't work for causes, and I'm selfish. I want what I want, and that's to live in a peaceful world filled with beauty: a variety of people, nurtured nature, and art.
Don't get me wrong. Supporting a "cause" can work. Remember those little rice boxes you or your kids came home with for the purpose of collecting change to alleviate hunger? That's a cause. It's a good one. It helps kids learn the value of giving....sometimes. But too often, these "causes" just become competitions. Who can fill up the box the most and the fastest? Adults are no different. Who can give the most money and have the most pictures taken at ribbon cuttings?
You see these people all the time--politicians grinning over their latest good work that happens to enhance their public image as "the good guy." Too many of them care more about the image than anything else. The "cause" is just a vehicle for political motives. "Vote for me! I kiss babies!" You know, that kind of thing.
I've seen younger people take on causes as well not because they are particularly compassionate but because they are missing something. Causes become substitutes for having to make real-life decisions like, "What do I want to do when I grow up?" Jump on the "cause" bandwagon, and you have instant meaning to life. Or you might get the kind of family feeling you never had before. It could be saving the world or following the remains of The Grateful Dead, for all they care. They just need an identity and a group.
Please don't get me wrong. Causes can yield positive results and not everyone who "works for a cause" has such shallow motives. And young people who join causes out of need aren't bad people--they are just, well, needy. But I don't identify with such "causes" because.....I'm weird? I don't like the kind of unthinking "group behavior" that often erupts in cause-driven groups? I don't relate to people who are purely cause-driven? I already have an identity and a family and values? I guess it's all of these things.
People who join causes are presumed to be selfless, compassionate people. Well, I'm not that either. As I said before, I want what I want. When I get what I want, I'm happier. Fortunately, so are other people because my happiness entails their happiness and peace for all. I feel terrible when hatred and unbridled, counter-productive anger run amok. It's scary and uncomfortable.
People, animals and the world suffering under destructive forces makes me sad. I don't want to live in a world like this, and I don't want my children having to. If I don't help alleviate these problems, I feel like a lazy hypocrite who is not being true to self and family. So I do what I can do when I can do it. I can't over-do it, or I lose the very things I am fighting for. I have to pace myself.
I don't mind annoying people to get what I want if I think it will lead to positive change. I also don't mind telling people if I think they are wrong or they are doing something counter-productive. But I don't do it because I'm on a "cause" bandwagon. And I don't do it from selflessness. Yes, I am compassionate, but I do expect something in return---not political or social popularity or riches or fame but at least the knowledge I've tried to get what I want and what others want: the ability to work and live in an environment harassment and suffering-free.
It's never going to happen, of course. Life isn't like that. But most of us, I think, can feel better when at least 80% of the time we are left alone to live our lives the way we want to. I believe in this country we call that "freedom."
So, God Bless America.
"He" better because I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing, which is bound to irritate many along the way.
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
I think I'm in the wrong field.
I think I need to work in Government Accountability or some kind of public bitching center. Except I don't think people get paid for that. And I suspect they get spanked quite a bit. I don't feel like getting spanked in order to make a living. Somehow, that seems wrong.
However, right now I seem to be doing it for free. That's kind of a spanking in and of itself, isn't it? It's a double spanking--you get people mad and you don't get paid. But I can't help it. I'm sick of democracy and justice being undermined in this country and in out county. Besides that, it's down right nerve wracking. How can we continue to function if we keep screwing our own residents over?
You can see I'm reverting to potty-mouth this afternoon. I'm giving myself permission. Potty mouth is sometimes good for the soul. When you read as much crap as I do, potty mouth becomes a kind of garbage-in-garbage out. Unfortunately, most of the "garbage in" comes from official statements by selected politicians and local leaders--liars.
I don't like liars. You can say a lot of things to me without my getting seriously offended, but don't lie. Lying demeans both of us. And don't make up stupid excuses that your mother wouldn't even believe.
I'll listen to a lot of things. I'll listen to things I don't agree with and I can usually even find some common ground. I'll let people ramble when I have time to hear it, and I'll read things that don't interest me when asked to do so. But please don't ask me to read lies and accept them. I don't think that's an unreasonable request. When you lie, you demean both of us.
I could give several examples of the dishonesty I'm describing, but I really don't want to get into it right now. That's no lie. Talking about liars all the time gives me "hueva." If you don't know what "hueva" means, it's probably a good thing. It's Spanish potty mouth.
It was different growing up where I did. The "bad kids" were really easy to spot. They usually smelled like pot or were sitting in detention. You could avoid them without too much effort, especially if you were like me, a quiet female who didn't rock the boat. It's not like that now. It's harder to spot the "bad guys." Pot and detentions don't signify much in this new grown-up world I live in. And I'm no longer a quiet female who doesn't rock the boat.
I've discovered it's easy to rock the boat. All you have to do is start asking questions out of pure curiosity or concern, and before you know it, you've caused a title wave. What's up with that? I don't mind if people ask ME questions. I guess that's because I have nothing to hide or to lie about. The world isn't that simple, though, is it? Not everyone is forthcoming or honest. Granted, some people are just more private and that doesn't make them liars, but that makes it even harder to spot a liar sometimes.
It's easier to spot a political liar, though. They do themselves in all the time. All you have to do is compare two different articles or reports and all of a sudden, poof. The veil is lifted. It's harder in other sectors where people don't leave as many footprints or paper trails.
Well, enough boat rocking today. I've got some household messes to clean. I have to go scrub my bathroom. I'm sure the toilet especially needs it.
Saturday, May 03, 2008
Like home loans, student loans have become predatory because borrowers have no consumer protection from unethical lenders and/or schools that do not live up to their promises.
Furthermore, students who have endured tragedies in their lives have no options except default, which does more than just ruin credit: it ruins career choices and income potential because wages are attached.
I would appreciate if you would forward this to any consumer protection groups you might know of. We are looking for reform that will give students a chance to better themselves without risking their financial and personal futures.
We are also looking for attorneys who can help students (like yours truly) who have struggled through this system, one of the many broken ones in our nation.
Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt
----- Original Message -----
From: Student Loan Justice
To: Student Loan Justice
Sent: Saturday, May 03, 2008 1:49 PM
Subject: Checking in: May 1st, 2008
Hope all is well out there. Welcome to the new members. We have noticed an uptick in submissions over the past several weeks(particularly from people planing on leaving the country for some reason), and I expect this trend to continue for the foreseeable future. The downturn in the economy guarantees that student loan defaults will be increasing...possibly at an alarming rate depending on how bad it gets. Those of you who follow these updates will know that despite the rhetoric from the student loan industry that default rates for student loans are at historic lows, the opposite is true. Recent data suggests that about 20% of all student loans will end up in default, and this is probably closer to 25%.
Moreover, the amount of student loan debt out there is massive...about $500 billion. Compare this with the total amount of credit card debt ($900 billion), and you should agree that this problem is very large.
Now is the time for you all to take personal leadership for getting the word out about the uniquely predatory nature of student loan debt. The pressure that the industry is under due to recent legislation and the credit crunch have all but swept this under the rug, and Congress is cow-towing to the banks, predictably. The suffering that the astonishing absence of consumer protections for student loans is causing has been drown out by the cries (and lobbying) by the banks. This should concern you, and concern you greatly.
I do know of a few media pieces in the works that address this issue, but I have to say that with the exception of a few folks in California, I am not seeing much tangible evidence of action out there in the country to bring attention to this issue. Its not hard to pick up the phone and call a reporter. It's not hard print up some flyers and post them around the colleges. There are a million things that you could do. Just pick one.
Also, I want to make it clear that this site is not for the purpose of giving out personal advice to borrowers. This site is for galvanizing grassroots action to convince Congress to return the standard consumer protections to student loans. I would like, at some point, to be able to offer counseling services to individual borrowers, but we are not there yet.
Thanks, and please take some action.
Keep us posted-
Alan Collinge, StudentLoanJustice.Org
Please support the StudentLoanJustice.Org PAC
email to Lou Dobbs
Dear Mr. Dobbs:
I am writing because I am one of too many who have been injured in the student loan system. An "A" student who put herself through college, I wanted to pursue a Ph.D.
In the year 2000, I entered Union Institute and University’s Doctoral program, based in Cincinnati. UIU was running without licensure in Washington, D.C. UIU had unlicensed, Federally funded sites throughout the country. The school knew this for some time but never addressed it.When I brought up the licensure issue, I was involuntarily removed from my program. The Department of Education, the accreditation agency, and other agencies investigated the school and temporarily froze the school's funding. The school was made to make significant changes in their program, their administration, and in their delivery, including changing the way they structured their “semesters.”
The school no longer claims to have a D.C. "site." They got their money. But I was left with no credits to transfer, no degree, and now, after interest, more than $50,000.00 in debt.One attorney attempted to negotiate with the school so I could at least complete my program. The school responded that I would have to begin all over again and pay all over again. It was a clear case of retaliation.
I tried everything to resolve this issue at the school, agency, lender, and national levels. As a final attempt, I visited a bankruptcy lawyer who of course, wanted to be paid to bring the case to court. But really, he didn't think I would "win" and discouraged me from pursuing the case. I am thankful he was honest. Rather than put myself further in debt by trying to fight a case I could not win, I did not pursue bankruptcy. I am currently in forbearance, and the debt continues to grow.
Mr. Dobbs, I have disabilities and so do my two children. I work contract and have no way to afford an attorney to help. Mine is only one story.
Mr. Dobbs, the student loan industry has become as predatory as the mortgage industry. We have no consumer protection from unethical schools or lenders.
Please help. Do a story, contact the right people, whatever it is you can do.
We would appreciate your assistance as a highly recognized member of the media.
Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt
We can prevent businesses or homes being built on Devlin Road!
Since we are the home owners, we can go to the planning board and zoning. It doesn't have to be "homes or buildings." Developers like you to think there is no choice. We DO have a choice, especially in this economy when we already have so many empty buildings and struggling businesses.
The developers told me the land is still zoned "agricultural." We can prevent the re-zoning.
I told the developers if they lobby for a new park, then I will support them. Otherwise, I don't think we need new buildings or construction around here.
Do not support Bristow Commons or new housing in any of the areas on Devlin Road. Urge the Boards to get us a park instead.
Please contact the following people to get this turned around:
8506 Wellington Road
Suite 101Manassas, VA 20109
1 County Complex Court, Woodbridge, Virginia 22192-9201
Metro 631-1703, Ext. 6830
FAX (703) 792-4758
Public Works, Internet Comment Page
PWC Parks and Recreation
Prince William County Park Authority Headquarters
George Hellwig Memorial Park Authority
14420 Bristow Road Manassas, VA 20112
Thank you. WE DO HAVE A CHOICE, AND WE DO HAVE A VOICE!
Friday, May 02, 2008
We have community leaders and county supervisors who support hate groups but castigate the Police Chief.
We have people who demand the law be upheld but criticize our officers for following policy.
And we have people who care more about long grass in their neighborhoods than they do about the safety, reputations, and careers of our service men and women.
One of the newest complaints about Chief Deane is that he has not "not done anything about the illegal problem" when he could have prior to the passing of the "Immigration Resolution". He could have had people suspected of being illegal aliens picked up off the streets. But apparently, he didn't do enough of that to satisfy this crowd.
Why wouldn't he do it?
Well, now, I'm not a cop. Neither am I a lawyer. But it seems to me Chief Deane had some obvious reasons for doing what some people are calling "failing to uphold the law." Let's look at some of these, shall we?
1. Until recently, the police had little to no immigration training. Without training, interrogating people about citizen status could easily be construed as racial profiling unless everyone was being interrogated, which no one had time or personnel for.
2. The police force has never had cameras to document arrests and ensure proper procedures have been followed. This has been a long-standing problem that continues to jeopardize the force and our county.
3. All along, the police have been arresting criminals and if those criminals have been found to be undocumented, they reported them to ICE. However, until recently, ICE has never been so directly involved with the county police department.
Let's remember that Chief Deane has been the Chief since 1988. Prior to now, there has never been such an outcry to have him removed. Who are these people who are suddenly so interested in the Chief?
Well, we know the leaders of the pack are relatively new to Prince William County. We know there are socioeconomic differences between the new comers and the residents who have lived here longer, between these people and immigrants. We know there are factions and hate groups that have influenced our BOCS when there have not been before.
What could possibly justify this rebellion against authority (because that's what it is) when the Chief
1. has decades of experience that most of these people don't have and/or don't understand(myself included)?
2. was the only one in the county with the foresight to spot weaknesses in the resolution that would put our county and residents at risk?
3. was concerned with residents no longer reporting crimes because of fear?
4. ran dozens of community workshops and meetings to explain the policy (which is more than the BOCS ever did after dropping this mess on our collective laps)?
5. listened to (and took a bashing from) people who thought the police were doing too little and people who thought the police were doing too much when they are really just following orders?
6. has helped reduce the crime rate over the past five years?
If anyone should be removed, it is the people who have not supported the Chief or his department for upholding policy and law as it was written pre- and post-resolution.
But I guess I live in an odd region where the real outlaws take the stage.
In any event, I thank the Chief for being reasonable, for being intelligent, and for analyzing the situation before he shot his mouth off like some other people we can name.
In appreciation of Chief Deane......
Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
The Winery at LaGrange, Prince William's only winery!
Sunday, September 14th 2:00 to 6:00 PM
The Prince William Public Library System Foundation to benefit the American Diabetes Association
The Live Art Auction is sponsored by ArtSouth who provides a fabulous selection of framed artwork including prints, lithographs, etchings and oil paintings.
Among the artists represented Leroy Neiman, Marc Chagall, Norman Rockwell, David Dodsworth, Dan Partouche, Yaacov Agam, Victor Shvaiko and many more.
The Silent Auction sports memorabilia is sponsored by Grandstand Sports as seen on major television networks (Fox Network, CNN and CBS) for its expertise in the sports and celebrity collectibles market. http://www.grandstandsports.com/
15% of the proceeds from the auction will go to support the American Diabetes Association.
Library Foundation Board
Your activism has helped us make a huge impact on key economic issuesfacing students these days, including rising student loan debt andcostly credit card debt. This fall, the College Cost Reduction and Access Act will go intoeffect, so students will see lower student loan interest rates andrepayment options that enable graduates to take lower paying careerslike teaching. And right now, as a result of your work, many collegeadministrators and student governments are re-examining the marketingrules on campus to rein in aggressive credit card marketing by thebanks.
Despite these reforms, young adults are spending more on debt paymentsthan the previous generation. 25 year-olds spend nearly 25 cents outof each dollar on debt payments on average, which is double what babyboomers of the same age spent on debt payments in 1989.
Please join us at a major national conference on the economicchallenges facing young adults: "A Better Deal: Reclaiming EconomicSecurity for a New Generation." It's sponsored by Demos in partnershipwith the Student PIRGs and 20 youth and civic organizations. On May8-9, hundreds of young activists will meet in Washington, DC to learnabout the economic crisis facing our generation and start building amovement for a better deal. A better deal means new policies to helpyoung people afford to go to college, build careers and start familieswithout crippling debt.
For more information and to register, visit: http://www.abetterd ealconference. org. The conference is free andtravel scholarships are available.
Thanks for your participation, and I hope to see you at the conference!
Sarah Clader Student Debt Alert Campaign
Prince William political notes
From staff reportsPublished: April 28, 2008
Dumfries political forum is scheduled for Sunday Dumfries voters, along with any interested area residents, are invited to a Dumfries Town Council political forum on Sunday.
“This is open to the public and we hope to fill the council chambers,” said Dumfries Mayor Fred Yohey.
All six candidates have committed to the forum, which will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday in the Dumfries Town Council Chambers at the Dumfries Town Hall.
The League of Women Voters of Prince William County will host the forum.
Dumfries staggers the four-year terms of its six council members and its mayor.
The office of mayor is not up for a vote this year. However, the seats of incumbents Brenda L. Via, Stephanie M. Bradley and Rafael Lopez will be voted on during the election on May 6.
Via and Bradley are running for re-election.
Also running for one of the three open seats are: Dorothea D. Barr, Nancy H. West, Sean Robinson and Willie J. Toney.
Nichols, Barker meet with citizens Saturday Del. Paul Nichols and Sen. George Barker will be at the Chinn Library, 13065 Chinn Park Drive, on Saturday from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.
This will be the first of scheduled sessions giving the citizens the opportunity to meet with their elected officials.
Monday, April 28, 2008
Be patient, keep up your efforts, and wait for the economy to improve. That was the message from northern Virginia legislators to social justice advocates gathered at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Arlington on April 19. The annual Richmond Legislative Wrap-Up session—cosponsored by Social Action Linking Together (SALT), Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness (VCEH), Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants (CURE), and Virginia Coalition of Latino Organizations (V ACOLAO)—drew 10 state legislators and about 75 other participants.
Following an opening prayer by Rev. Gerry Creedon, St. Charles pastor and Chair of the diocesan Peace and Justice Commission, and remarks by Jeff Caruso, Director of the Virginia Catholic Conference, SALT Coordinator John Horejsi observed that none of SALT’s priorities for the 2008 legislative session was enacted. Among them were a pilot program proposed by SALT and VCEH to help working families move from homeless shelters to rental housing and a modest increase proposed by SALT in benefits to parents and children on Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF).
TANF recipients have had only one 10 percent increase in their benefits since 1985, Horejsi said, and their benefits are now less than a quarter of the federal poverty level. Yet the TANF caseload is down 58 percent since 1995, while federal TANF funding to Virginia has remained constant. As a result, the state should have ample federal money available to fund SALT’s priorities, Horejsi argued, even given the tight state budget. He asked the audience to imagine the public outcry if Social Security recipients had received but a single cost-of-living adjustment in their benefits since 1985; yet year after year on this issue, SALT’s advocacy on behalf of Virginia’s neediest families falls on deaf ears, he said. “What more can we do?” Horejsi asked the legislators.
VCEH’s Sue Capers asked the same question with respect to the pilot rental assistance proposal. She noted that thousands of poor and unemployed Virginians are turned away from homeless shelters every year, in part because the shelters are housing families with working parents whose income is insufficient to afford the high cost of rental housing.
In response, legislators praised SALT and the other organizations for their advocacy efforts and encouraged them to persevere. Del. David Englin, who had patroned the pilot rental assistance program in the House, noted that Catholic social teaching has much in common with the values of his Jewish faith. Advocacy is valuable in educating legislators to those values, he said, even if the current budget climate makes it difficult to fund worthwhile initiatives.
Del. Brian Moran agreed. Quoting John F. Kennedy as saying “a rising tide lifts all boats,” Moran encouraged advocates to continue lobbying for social justice issues so that, when the economy improves and additional state revenue is available, the legislators will be familiar with the issues.
Del. David Albo and Sen. George Barker both noted that the 2008 General Assembly did manage to approve increased funding for education, mental health, and Medicaid. Sen. Barker complimented SALT on its willingness to tackle difficult issues, the breadth of its bipartisan outreach, and its persistence.
Sen. Chap Petersen told the advocates that he takes personal inspiration from the passage in Luke 4:16-21, where Jesus says that the Lord has anointed him to bring glad tidings to the poor and to proclaim liberty to captives. Although he believes in appropriately punishing those who break the law, Petersen said, Virginia over-incarcerates its citizens, at great expense. The high cost of this approach diverts funding from basic human needs, he said.
Del. Vivian Watts described her efforts on behalf of a bill proposed by SALT and CURE to remove the lifetime ban on TANF benefits from persons convicted of a drug offense, once they have served their sentence and have been reunited with their children. Jean Auldridge from CURE noted that the ban ends up punishing the children for their parent’s mistake, even after the parent has paid her debt to society. Del. Watts attributed the bill’s failure both to its additional cost, although slight, and to the fear of some legislators of being accused of being “soft on crime.”
Delegates Al Eisenberg and Adam Ebbin appeared in support of our issues, though their remarks were brief. Delegate Margaret Vanderhye said that her own faith guides her on social justice including our rental assistance proposal, affordable housing and environmental issues.
Echoing earlier comments from VACOLAO’s Andres Tobar, Senate Majority Leader Richard Saslaw described efforts in the Senate this year to prevent the passage of harmful legislation directed at immigrants. Sen. Saslaw also explained legislative efforts to reform payday lending practices in Virginia.
Horejsi concluded the session by thanking the legislators for their participation and the advocates for their attendance. SALT and the other organizations will be back at work next year on the same issues, he said, with renewed emphasis. For example, he said, the desperate need for a TANF benefit increase has attracted the attention of AARP, many of whose members are struggling to raise grandchildren on limited, fixed incomes. If adequately funded, such “child-only” TANF benefits would enable more children to receive care from a loving relative at a lower cost to the state than foster care or group homes.
This is to share an article covering our RICHMOND WRAP-UP by Social Action Linking Together (SALT)--and it's co-Sponsors. The annual forum focused on what happened during the Richmond General Assembly Session. Ten legislators from Northern Virginia discussed how well the General Assembly responded to social justice and human services needs facing Virginia and to answer questions posed by participants. This was an excellent opportunity to learn first-hand what transpired in Richmond. For more information, contact SALT Coordinator, John Horejsi at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the SALT web site at www.S-A-L-T.org.
Social Action Linking Together---SALT is a network of advocates who are bringing the social and economic justice teachings of the Catholic Church to bear on public policy and legislation, especially at local and state levels. SALT’s active membership totals more than one thousand persons of faith.
We thank Pauline Wagner, SALT member, for this article and DeeDee Tosranoski, Bruce Neilson and Bob More for their collaboration.
Please e-mail John Horejsi at email@example.com if you have any questions about this event.
Vienna, VA 22181-3248 firstname.lastname@example.org
There's no substitute for solid, clean community action.
I'm glad the HOA gave me the opportunity to rest my brain for a bit while I did something healthy for my body and the planet.
But as you can see, the brain vacation is over for now.
Saturday, April 26, 2008
I am writing to ask you to send an email, or speak at Citizens Time, 2:00 p.m. April 29th and to recruit others to do the same. This is our last chance so please take this opportunity seriously.
The emails I'd like you to send are intended for our elected officials in Prince William County, VA. This coming Tuesday, April 29th, our Board of Supervisors will be voting on whether to continue funding a policy that spends nearly $26 million over 5 years to enlist local police in enforcing immigration law using a "probable cause" standard that is certain to lead to racial profiling.
We have a segment of the population including legal citizens that are living in fear of undue scrutiny by local law enforcement. We don't want our taxes raised and we can not afford to defend ourselves against additional lawsuits that are inevitably to follow. Additionally, the "Immigration Resolution" is ravaging our local economy as this video shows: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2oiwJ-_BipU
Public officials here are greatly influenced by emails. They are being inundated with emails from around the country, organized by two anti-immigrant lobbying organizations based in Washington DC, both categorized as "Hate Groups" by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pBbjrk0QWqw
We are asking you to counter the efforts of anti-immigrant lobbying groups like FAIR and NumbersUSA, and write emails to our Supervisors.
Please visit http://www.pwcaa.com/ to automatically send emails to all Supervisors.
Friday, April 25, 2008
So I get all excited because this nice lady who must appreciate nature (I assume, because she likes walking in the Battlefield) gives me a tip on a new place to walk.
To get to this place, you have to drive all the way through Lomond Drive in Manassas. Now, I drive through those areas a lot, I've lived near there, and I've subbed at Stonewall a few times. So I know what the neighborhoods look like. They're cute. But since I haven't been there in awhile in daylight, I think, hmmmm....now maybe I will actually see some rot that they talk about on BVBL.
No lie...all the way there, all the way up Lomond, I see ONE house with overgrown grass. This ONE house needs a paint job. The rest of the houses are middle class places, 20-40 years old with yards big enough to make ME drool and enough mature trees to make me whine. And many, many are up for sale, just as they are in my Bristow town home neighborhood.
So I accidentally drive by Sumner and onto Stonewall which means I have to turn around, but before I do, I see some more affordable looking apartments and town homes. I see a group of minorities (mixed) playing basketball in the parking lot of their development. I see people pushing baby carriages and I see blooming spring flowers.
I finally DO make it back to Sumner.
OH MY GOD.
My idea of TOTAL HELL.
McMansions everywhere shoved next to each other, yes, a fountain, but a fountain stuck in the middle of this hoity-toity subdivision that would give me hives if I had to live there. And this is what they've done to it. To boot.....loads of homes for sale.
It occurs to me that some of the people who live in subdivisions like these don't appreciate their neighbors because the tenured streets look, well, too working or middle class. Developers will often come into older neighborhoods and "gentrify." Unfortunately, many of the "gentry" don't appreciate the original charm of the area and would like to anaconda-out anyone who doesn't earn at least three times the median income of the state.
So, no offense to anyone who might live there, but it's apparent to me why there are social tensions in Manassas. It's not just about race. It's about class.
Now, even if you love the resolution, I'm assuming you also like to remain employed. I know I do.
So I suggest every county employee show up in front of McCoart on Tuesday the 29th to protest the cuts and the irresponsible spending of our tax dollars.
Go ahead. Take the day off and sign up to speak.
Or if you don't want to waste your gas driving out to McCoart, write to the BOCS and just take a vacation day. It could be YOUR job you are saving either now or in the next few years.
If Stewart wants a revolution over his resolution, that's exactly what he can get.
Use your power as "the people" and stand up for yourselves.
Many of us will be waving the banner for you.
On Tuesday, April 22nd, the Prince William Board of County Supervisors voted unanimously by straw poll to eliminate the Manassas Senior Day Program for special needs seniors from the Fiscal Year 2009 budget.
The final budget vote is scheduled for Tuesday, April 29th at 2 pm at the McCoart Building.
Please contact the county supervisors below to indicate your support for continuing the program.
Chairman, Corey Stewart, email@example.com 703-792-4640
Coles, Marty Nohe, firstname.lastname@example.org 703-792-4620
Brentsville, Wally Covington, email@example.com 703-792-6190
Gainesville, John Stirrup, firstname.lastname@example.org 703-792-6195
Occoquan, Mike May, email@example.com 703-792-4643
Dumfries, Maureen Caddigan, firstname.lastname@example.org 703-792-4645
Neabsco, John Jenkins, email@example.com 703-792-4668
Woodbridge, Frank Principi, firstname.lastname@example.org 703-792-4646
If possible, please also attend the meeting on April 29th at 2 pm at the McCoart building.
Please ask your family and friends to help us also.
courtesty, Friends of MSDP
YOU DEFENDED THEIR PROGRAM LAST YEAR. WE NEED YOU AGAIN!
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
I have always respected you. I covered much of your work on behalf of the citizen of Prince William County when I published the Community Voice Newspaper. I regret not having the newspaper being published at this time because my voice could have been joined by so many others who are very concerned about the path of those who we have elected. It is not without trepidation that I must say it, but I am very disillusioned with the path our elected officials in Prince William County have embarked. I very strongly reiterate the voice of the gentleman, Aracely, whose letter to you has been sent to me.
Supervisor Jenkins the repercussions of the present climate created by the Immigration task force issue in PWC has gone even beyond that voiced in the letter below. My grandaughter, who you have met many times, and who Supervisor Caddigan also knows well, has been one of the many victims of supervisor decisions and county actions. No, she is not born of illegal heritage, she is an American who has been raised here in Prince William County since she was 2 years old. She is a student in one of our county high schools, she has had a Virginia ID card since elementary school, she has her learners permit and is a good student who is also active in church, volunteering but since Chairman Stewart's efforts began against Hispanics she has become a victim - a victim for no reason except her last name - which happens to be Hispanic. The prejudice stems from the county BOS actions and goes beyond the schools - it has spread into every aspect of my grandchild's life - such as the 3 days it took for us to get her drivers permit - despite legal status, PWC Court custody papers signed by Judge Molinari, a Virginia ID, a state of Georgia (USA) birth certificate and my frustration as an American Citizen at the prejudice that has poisoned our entire community.
Supervisor Jenkins my neighborhood has over 400 vacant homes - homes that are vacant for various reasons, but primarily affected by the immigration issue. I have always known you to be a man of conscious and intellect. I have always respected Supervisor Caddigan and former Supervisor Barg who also knows me and my granddaughter well. I only ask that the path taken by the BOS, a path that is worsening the financial situation of all families in our community, not just Hispanics but everyone, in many ways.
Supervisor Jenkins, I ask that you reconsider the decision about where our tax dollars are being spent and choose to spend the thousands of dollars Chairman Stewart chooses to spend to police immigration - which laws have allowed us to do prior to these measures - to be denoted to better spending on needs like the education of our children - schools, our needs of our senior citizens, housing, hunger and the revitalization of the "community" as a whole. How many homes, businesses, jobs and families must be sacrificed for such lunacy?