SNOW JOB this fall hitting Tidewater as proponents mislead voters about 22% sales tax increase referendum



You are experiencing a truly unique event.  In Hampton Roads, this fall we are enduring a massive SNOW JOB.

The SNOW JOB is being brought to you by many of our elected officials, (state and cities) planning committees, business groups and the love-any-tax editorial staff of the Virginian-Pilot.  They are forced to go with a SNOW JOB because the projects cannot be justified on merit alone. (There are other phrases that can be applied, but this is for family reading.)

Those planning for the future are assuming that the last thirty years accurately predict the next twenty years. Some seem to have analyzed the growth of population and jobs and traffic and said, “Well, that’s the way things have always developed, therefore things will always develop the same way.”  Nuts!  Think again.  Think modern technology.

Oh woe is us!  Our fate shall be gridlock forever, with horrible air pollution, and our safety, economy and environment all threatened.  All manner of bad things will befall us if will fail to approve of another tax increase.  Another tax increase will prevent, like a magic potion, all those bad things from happening and all will live happily ever after.

There are two main reasons to vote a resounding NO. One, the six projects will do exactly nothing to relieve traffic congestion at the various busy roads and intersections in Virginia Beach; the six projects will do nothing to relieve the number of cars driving from Hampton and Newport News to Norfolk and the Navy base and back every day. This is especially true of the Third Crossing – hereafter called “The Big Lie.”
Two, and more importantly, there is a better alternative.

The Big Lie should be the correct name for the so-called “Third Crossing.” It is designed to move truck traffic from an expanded port facility and connect to the Monitor-Merimac Bridge. How many local citizens would use the Big Lie to drive to work?  How many tourists would use this route to/from the oceanfront? The Big Lie will do nothing to relieve commuter traffic congestion nor will it help move tourists through the area.

At the next forum, ask how the Big Lie (the Third Crossing) will help your traffic situation?

The proponents of the tax increase state that the projects will “reduce traffic congestion.”  WRONG.  Not one of the six projects will relieve traffic congestion on Kempsville Rd, Independence Blvd, the Rt 264, or on any roads in VB.  People currently driving on any of these and all other roads in VB need to know now, today, that the traffic on their way to work each day during the years to come will be exactly as it is today – and maybe a little worse. Not one of the six projects, when completed in many years to come, will relieve your miserable drive to work.  You who drive to Norfolk or the Navy base through that bleep, bleep tunnel will, in many years to come, continue to drive through that bleep, bleep tunnel. The six projects will help you not one little bit.   

At your first opportunity, during a question and answer session ask he who sprinkles the SNOW how any of the six projects will reduce traffic for you during the next ten to twenty years?

The tax increase proponents, attempting their scare tactics, declare that the six projects will provide an evacuation route in the event of a hurricane.  WRONG AGAIN.  When has there ever been a need to evacuate the entire population of Virginia Beach due to a hurricane.  The only residents who need to consider leaving are those near the oceanfront in Va Beach, Sandbridge and Croatan.  The tourists, as well as residents will have days of advance warning.  Anyone who should leave will have several days to move out.

National security.  What spurious nonsense is this?  Oceana people will go to Oceana, other Navy people will go to the Navy base and, if they deploy, will go by ship, not roads.  Where will the Fort Story people go; the Fort Eustis people?  Will the Big Lie help them go wherever they will go?

Tourism.  Should taxpayers pay an additional $8 billion to help bring more tourists to Virginia Beach? There is no economic justification for spending such an absurd amount of taxpayers’ dollars.  In Virginia Beach, we recently added 1% to the meal tax for tourism projects. Now you want another 1%.  One percent here, one percent there, pretty soon it all adds up to too much.  Will you tax increase proponents come back in a few years for another 1%.  

How much more of our money do you want?

Tourists will pay a significant part of the cost?  More baloney!  If a significant amount is half, that means there must be an additional net tax return to the cities of Hampton Roads over twenty years to add up to $4 billion.  An extra $200 million anybody?

Mass Transit.  We voted down the idiotic light rail system as proposed several years ago.  We should do that again.  Light rail, “mag lev” or not, will not solve our transportation problems.  The main purpose of light rail is succinctly stated in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement Executive Summary, page S-17 report, “The new rail system will be a defining symbol for the region and help strengthen Downtown Norfolk as the identified center of Hampton Roads.”  Why buy into that absurdity?

The Better Alternative.

Vexatious transportation problems can be resolved without the seemingly endless pumping of our tax dollars into more and wider highways or by throwing more money at light rail.  

Use modern technology to relieve our traffic congestion problems.  Modern technology means telecommuting. Telecommuting in the modern concept is simply this: move jobs closer to where people live by establishing satellite offices and by connecting those satellites with a main office as well as other satellites offices using computers and high speed electronic communications.

In year 2002, modern technology is available to connect a main office to several satellite offices. A satellite office is, in essence, a branch office that is connected to the main office and to other branch (satellite) offices of the same company using computers and high-speed electronic communications. The offices can communicate throughout the day (or night) to process information, enter data into a database, create reports, and all the normal functions of a business. Although each office operates independently, all offices can be in frequent  communication and can be connected into a single operational entity.

Benefits of telecommuting include: decrease in traffic congestion, decrease in air pollution, and more time with family. Telecommuting will increase the potential for new hi-tech firms that will increase average salary and spread the use of technology in Virginia Beach. It will open up the potential for career opportunities for the next generation. New high tech firms would stimulate a long-term potential for an increase in tourism and business conferences.


The tax increase proponents would bring you higher taxes, more roads, more cars, and eventually more pollution, and you would continue to drive long distances.

The better alternative uses telecommuting so you can drive much shorter distances and get home much sooner, and of course generate less pollution. No more bumper-to-bumper traffic and bleep-bleep tunnel!

Firms will be interested in a forward-thinking high-tech city ready to embrace 21st century growth. New growth as well as revitalized older areas can be designed to include telecommuting centers.

Don’t let ‘em snow you.  

VOTE NO tax increase in November!

Satellite offices can be placed in office parks anyplace in the city or into shopping malls. Shopping malls are everywhere and can be reached in a short time. The shopping mall could include a day care center, an HMO, or an emergency care center as well as the usual array of stores. The individual worker would be close to dependent children, have many options nearby for shopping needs and spend less time driving.

The City of Virginia Beach should move aggressively to plan and implement telecommuting in Virginia Beach. The advantages are significant and generally are in accord with The Virginia Beach Concept Plan.

Telecommuting advantages include:
O reduce traffic congestion
O change the ratio of residential real estate to commercial real estate
O increase average salary
O provide better paying jobs for the next generation (i.e. good career opportunities at     
O provide, over the long term, an increase in tourism and (high tech) conference business.

Telecommuting contributes directly to several of the six “Destination Points” as enumerated during the Council Retreat of August 2000.  The Destination Points are in turn based on the Virginia Beach Concept Plan. Telecommuting directly affects: (Point 1) economic vitality, (Point 4) quality of life and life-long learning, and (Point 6) family and youth opportunities.

To illustrate that telecommuting is not a brand new idea, we’ll review, briefly, several telecommuting activities currently in operation and mention a few research efforts. Then, also briefly, suggest how to apply the same process to Virginia Beach.

The Federal Government has, surprisingly, been active in telecommuting.
GSA has established 17 telecommuting centers around Washington, DC
There is a telework center in Oklahoma City
The Federal Computer Week of June, 1998 reports that GSA started six years ago funding Telecommuting Pilot Projects.
A multi-agency program of regional telecommuting centers has been established in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

The Washington Area Conference on Telecommuting (WACOT) was held in Washington during the summer of 2000.  The conference was supported by a number of large companies.

Also in Virginia:
Virginia Tech several years ago started a project called The Electronic Village in Blacksburg.  In September 1999 Governor Gilmore emphasized the use of modern technology and proposed a telecommuting incentive to help move jobs closer to people.

A firm in Northern Virginia, in September 1999, stated that 5 – 10% of their employees were telecommuting and that his goal was to increase that to 40% in “offices away from the main office.”

Research Centers: a report, already out of date, lists 16 organization studying telecommuting.  There are Think Tanks, research sponsored by corporations, and by Universities.

Another report estimates that by the year 2000 approximately 18 million people would be telecommuting.  Also, note that people in Europe have started into telecommuting

Unfortunately, as the above suggests, we in Virginia Beach are behind the curve.

We suggest two basic steps to start the process:
The first step: move jobs from downtown Norfolk and from the Naval Base into satellite offices in corporate parks or in shopping malls in Virginia Beach. The obvious benefits include: reduced commute time, improve quality of life, reduce current heavy traffic congestion, reduce demand for additional highways, and eliminate the need for expensive mass transit systems such as light rail.

The second step: market Virginia Beach to corporations in Northern Virginia. A main office can communicate effectively with satellite offices in VB. But don’t stop in Northern Va. Market NYC and beyond. How about our friends in Canada? And when we recognize that electronic communications knows no cull de sac we should invite the Brits. How about Germany, France, Italy, and on.  The advantages are straightforward: bring higher paying jobs to VB, increase the average wage, increase real estate taxes, and bring new business to our hotels and restaurants.

In summary, establishing satellite offices in Virginia Beach connected to firms anywhere in the world would vault Virginia Beach into the forefront of cities applying high technology.

We urge City Council to instruct city staff to begin as soon as possible to plan and implement telecommuting projects.

Finally, we suggest a motto for Virginia Beach for the 21st century and beyond –

“Compute don’t Commute.”

Robert O'Connor, president
Citizens Action Coalition Inc.