Dean takes message against taxpayer raping public/private partnerships into the den of special interests
Unflinching in his criticism of taxpayer rape by the city council to benefit special interests, Mayoral candidate Robert Dean took his message to the Central Business District - the den of special interests - candidates' forum this week.
While the bureaucracy of the CBD is openly hostile to Dean and his message because of their lobbying for increased special interest funding at taxpayer expense, Dean picked up support from individual members who met him and heard his message for the first time.
The CBD, a self-serving bureaucracy established to use taxpayer funding to build a 'downtown' for Virginia Beach, thrives on the existence of public/private partnerships (PPPs) to build Towne Center. And one of their main questions to candidates was how they viewed PPPs.
Incumbent Oberndorf unabashedly gushed that she wholeheartedly supports PPPs. "I'm very proud to have supported" the PPPs saying how Towne Center had 'helped' Pembroke Mall revitalize. "I offer no apologies even for the Sportsplex," she said.
Dean has called the failed Sportsplex an $11 MILLION taxpayer rip-off 'Field of Weeds."
Al Wallace, the other candidate in the race, said, PPPs "are a very important tool to stimulate the economy...' and pandered that he supports the PPP-built Towne Center.
Dean told the story of a Chinese immigrant who founded a well-know restaurant, working 7-days a week, all day long with his family, in an obscure small location, and he didn't get a penny in city in clawing his way to success with a larger and now well known Peking Duck Chinese Restaurant. In fact, Dean said, he doesn't want any city money, he just wants to be left alone to succeed on his own.
He also told the story of how the Virginia Beach taxpayers were duped by city council in establishing Towne Center in its effort to prevent 'Big Box' retailer Target from locating in the Pembroke area. "Guess what," he said, "two weeks ago the city's consultant said the one thing that is needed to development the town center is a 'Big Box' retailer. And you know which 'Big Box' retailer was recommended?" Members of the audience shouted out, "Target!" "That's right," said Dean.
At large candidate Rick Kowalewitch said PPPs have a place, but 'not if they compete with the private sector and I won't support them if they do."
Candidate John Moss told the group, "When does the government become the driver of the economy?" He said that such ventures often cannibalize other areas of the city's business community to succeed. He noted that the $20 MILLION PPP, the Amphitheater, another public private partnership. was built by a company that build a similar facility in Northern Virginia without a 'penny of tax money.'
Kowalewitch and Moss' incumbent opponent Rosemary Wilson, pandered to the 'big bucks' special interest crowd saying, "My record speaks for itself. I have supported the Towne Center since going on the council."
Other questions included whether the candidates supported higher taxes (from higher assessments). Incumbents did, challengers didn't. Kempsville Borough candidate Bobby Dyer, challenging Margaret Eure, said, "Roll back the taxes. People don't mind paying taxes if they can see a return on their investment."
Eure dodged the question: "I'm not going to make any radical decision. We have cut the city budget as far as we could."
Oberndorf said, "I wish I could say I could tell you I could reduce the tax rate, but government growth is a reality." She then listed a litany of costs for which the council failed to plan when approving them.