January 12, 2022
The annual legislative session begins today.
  • Commentary: Fox in the Chicken Coop
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Fox in the Chicken Coop
The General Assembly convenes at noon today, January 12, for its annual legislative session. There has been much speculation since the November election as to the direction the Commonwealth might be heading with the change in partisan control of the three statewide offices and the House of Delegates. The newly-elected lieutenant governor and attorney general were known quantities in state politics having served in the House of Delegates. The newly-elected governor who will take the oath of office at noon on Saturday, January 15, does not have any elective office experience and after having run a campaign of having to thread a needle among the various factions of his party has remained somewhat a mystery as to the direction he might pursue. That was especially true until he had to start taking action to organize his new government.

He set off a firestorm of opposition last week when he announced his pick to be the next Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources. Making up for any lack of experience that he may have in the environmental area, Governor-elect Youngkin announced that he would name former Trump Administration head of the Environmental Protection Agency Andrew Wheeler as Virginia’s chief protector of its rich natural heritage. The reaction from those who have worked in natural resource protection in Virginia was immediate. The Virginia League of Conservation Voters issued a press release stating that Wheeler had “presided over an unprecedented rollback of environmental safeguards intended to protect clean air and water across our country—damage that the agency is still working to repair.” The leader of the organization went further and described the Wheeler nomination as “hands down the most extreme nomination for an environmental post in Virginia’s history and the absolute worst pick the Governor-elect could make.”

I share the concerns expressed by the League of Conservation Voters with one exception. I believe the nomination of Becky Norton Dunlop to be the Secretary of Natural Resources in Virginia in 1993 by Governor George Allen to be the worst nomination to ever have been made to a Virginia cabinet post. Dunlop gained her experience in dismantling environmental protection agencies in President Ronald Reagan’s administration, and she wreaked havoc on the environmental protection agencies in the state. It was as many at the time expressed “like having a fox in the chicken coop.” 

Emerging evidence indicates that Wheeler will compete with or even exceed the damage done to environmental protection by Dunlop. In July 2019 the Union of Concerned Scientists issued a list in its blog of “10 Ways Andrew Wheeler Has Decimated EPA Protections in Just One Year.” (https://blog.ucsusa.org/elliott-negin/andrew-wheeler-decimated-epa/) Among the concerns was Wheeler’s gutting of the Obama-era coal ash rule after Wheeler had worked as a coal industry lobbyist. He rolled back Clean Water Act protections even as concerns have been raised about the quality of water in this country.

Environmentalists and activists are hard at work bringing the Wheeler record to the attention of the members of the General Assembly who must confirm his nomination. I oppose the nomination, but the history in Virginia is that the governor gets to pick the people in his administration even if it may mean another fox in the chicken coop!

Biden-Harris Administration Requires Insurance Companies and Group Health Plans to Cover the Cost of At-Home COVID-19 Tests, Increasing Access to Free Tests

Dress Appropriately for Cold Weather.
Learn the Signs and Symptoms of Hypothermia and Frostbite
Not dressing appropriately and staying outside too long in these cold temperatures could lead to serious cold related illness and injury such as Hypothermia or Frostbite. Learn more at Extreme Cold.
The Town of Vienna's Winter Program and Events Guide is Available
Farmers Market Vendors Sought for 2022 Season
The Fairfax County Park Authority operates 10 farmers markets across the county that are strictly producer-only, meaning that all farmers and producers may only sell what they raise on their farms or make from scratch. All farmers and producers must come from within a 125-mile radius of Fairfax County, with a few exceptions for hard-to-find products. Visit the Farmers Market website for more information.
Applications will be open on the farmspread website from January 21 to February 11.
A $50 application fee is required before vendors will be considered. If you have any questions, contact Farmers Market Coordinator Pam Smith at  Pamela.Smith2@fairfaxcounty.gov.
Follow the Daily Sessions Online
Wednesday, January 12, 1:00 to 2:00 p.m., FCPS Substitute Teaching and Substitute Instructional Assistants Information Session. Substitute Teacher and Substitute Instructional Assistant Information Sessions are for external candidates looking to learn more about becoming a substitute teacher or instructional assistant. A Google Meet link will be provided. Register here.

Wednesday, January 12, 2:00 p.m., When Abuse Goes Digital - Addressing Modern Gender-Based Violence, a virtual training to explore practical approaches that anyone working with victims can implement to recognize, address and prevent the ways people are harmed online and via their devices. Register here.

Wednesday, January 12, 6:45 p.m., South Lakes High School PTSA Meeting. It will be a hybrid meeting - in-person as well as virtual - with in-person option located in the Media Center in the SLHS Library. Heather Thomas, Director of Student Services, will present on Academic Advising.

Friday, January 14, 10:00 a.m., Gun Violence Awareness Vigil at National Rifle Association headquarters, 11250 Waples Mill Road, Fairfax. The vigil commemorates the anniversary of the day 26 children and educators were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Please DO NOT park in the NRA's parking lot. There is plenty of free parking in the office building lot on Fairfax Ridge Drive across Waples Mill Road. Signs and flags will be provided. Some protesters will drive past the NRA with signs taped to their car windows or doors; others will stand on the sidewalk.

Friday, January 14, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., School Bus Driver Job Fair, at Lorton Center (8101 Lorton Road, Lorton, VA), for FCPS In-Person School Bus Driver Job Fair. No pre-event registration is needed to attend. Learn more at Bus Driver Fair. Contact 571-423-3000 or driveforfcps@fcps.edu with questions. Learn more and apply.

Sunday, January 16 and Monday, January 17, Reston Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION, Reston Community Center. This year’s 37th Annual Reston Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Celebration is full of opportunities for everyone. It is an inspiring event that includes special performances by the Reston Community Orchestra, Baratunde Thurston and a Keynote Speech by Heather McGhee followed by a community luncheon. More is at MLK Celebration.

Saturday, January 29, 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., Reston Summer Camp Expo, Reston Community Center. Don’t miss your chance to learn about Reston-area summer camps and out-of-school activities – all in one place! Details are at Summer Camp Expo.