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Monday, April 03, 2006

Lynchburg Virginia EXCLUSIVE: Jason Campbell Online Interview


I recently had the opportunity to ask Jason Campbell some hard hitting questions that is of concern to all Lynchburg Virginia Residents. He was kind enough to reply and I am going to show you the entirety of his responses here. Jason Campbell is currently running in the May 2nd run for Lynchburg City Council.

Crime:

What real effort can Lynchburg council make in fighting crime other than passing pooper scooper laws?

I’ve heard City Hall’s report on Lynchburg crime statistics. Statistical manipulation is not a substitute for a strategy in attacking crime at its roots and insuring that police wages are at least the national minimum. It is further insulting for the City to reduce overtime pay for its police officers by $232,000 and then praise their sacrifices on the alter of political rhetoric.

In the 2007 Proposed Budget, no where in the page listing City Council’s Priorities does it mention funding more police officers or mention crime control. They do list “A dynamic economic development center with emphasis on downtown and increased real estate value.” We can plunge millions in revitalizing downtown, but without a police presence downtown that money is only dust in the wind.

Currently downtown Lynchburg has been plagued with graffiti. Would you consider implementing a graffiti abatement program?

Anything that would get downtown cleaner and safer I would support. True revitalization is going to start there. Community efforts such as these Graffiti Abatement Programs are overwhelming effective. I would wholeheartedly vote in favor of volunteer programs that support the police in reporting graffiti and clean-up efforts in all areas of Lynchburg. Believe it or not, I’ve seen graffiti on Wards Road.

Richmond has a current crime statistic base that is accessible by Google maps isolating neighborhood crime, by type, etc. Would you be in favor of promoting the same for Lynchburg?

Consider that their crime statistics could be 60% correct but up to 82% of the time. That was an example of statistical gobbledygook. You can’t always trust statistics. I would be against it. Judging some neighborhoods and risking property values by statistical gobbledygook is bad policy. To increase the victim list just because people live in a particular neighborhood or community is unfair. HUD has strict guidelines in the information realtors can give someone concerning a neighborhood and they do this to protect the property owners.

City Business:

The Lynchburg Planning Council relies on outside consultants at a great price to Lynchburg tax payers, should this practice be stopped? And should they not have the expertise to this work themselves?

Yes!, In the year 2005, City Council charged the tax payers $587,815 in outside contractual services. That is over $465,836 more than two years ago for outside contractors helping the city. I don’t think the blame falls on the Planning Council but on the City Council - they just like to spend money. Another example, in 2003 our City spent $1,297 on Moving & Relocation Expenses for employees, in 2005 our City spent $58,448.

The city government recently salvaged Bluff Walk. Previously, they claimed that they are on a tight bone bare budget, if so why was the money so accessible?

As for the City finding money or discovering new ways to tax for more money, I refer to the last two years when the City increased taxes on meals, amusement, hotel, cable, utility, probate, business, etc….

The proposed Bluff Walk is a great idea for downtown Lynchburg if it was funded by private money. Most hotel owners build their facilities using their own funds. Not the Walk Bluff. Owners with an economically sound project can raise the funds necessary for the capital investment of a new restaurant or hotel. The Bluff Walk project is being built on public funds. Your money!

Project proponents argue that the Bluff Walk will contribute to economic growth in downtown through restaurant sales, hotel accommodations, and the spillover economic activity downtown thus providing a public good. This hotel does not constitute growth for the Lynchburg economy; rather it is totally diverting economic growth and profits from other existing hotels and restaurants that pay full taxes. Losing profits means losing existing jobs. Again, your tax dollars is building this hotel and sorry, but you will not get a free meal once it is completed.

I was always taught, the market functions when entrepreneurs either risk their own money or convince investors to risk their own money on their business idea. If the owners of the ‘Walk Bluff’ think they have a better way to service travelers in Lynchburg or provide a better meal, they should be willing to risk their own money in the venture and build without tax dollars. They are in a win, win situation, they will earn the profits if successful and tax payers will bear the losses if it fails.

Education:

If you ever turn on channel 2 of your cable list, you will see the Lynchburg School System is ready to tell you EC Glass was ranked 412 in the top 1,000 schools. Looks impressive, but looks can be deceiving.

Now, let me tell you why. Only 1,036 High Schools were rated in the Newsweek poll. And in this universe of making numbers show what you want to see, you can easily be misled. EC Glass's performance was only mediocre, when looked at another way. On a percentage scale they ranked a touch below 40 percent of all the schools evaluated.

What would you do to truly improve the school system in Lynchburg?

No amount of playing with the figures will persuade the majority of parents that city schools need more support. The propaganda government and school officials make about our schools often leaves the parents out of the loop and lethargic to voicing ideas and suggesting improvements.

First, we need to hold our educational leaders accountable by votes. If elected, I will work to have the School Board members elected and not appointed. There is something about campaigning door-to-door and talking with people in Lynchburg. It is enlightening and extremely informative beyond any media outlet in the Burg. The School Board should make their decisions based on information first from the parents and second from the school administrators. Currently, the School Board is not accountable to the tax payers.

Second, teachers in Lynchburg are being paid below the national average. In the 2007 Proposed Budget, city schools will be receiving $1.5 million less than expected in funding. Funding education is not a priority of this City Government. Every department in the city got an increase in their budget, except Public Education. Even Parks and Recreation is getting a proposed $1.2 Million increase than last year. Go Figure… And I don’t want to hear about the $7 Million from the state. It’s insulting to every 1,100 city school employee and to every parent and student to cut their budget because the state had a surplus.

Thank you very much for providing this opportunity for the voters in Lynchburg to see your responses to these hard questions. We wish you luck in you campaign.

Thank you for the opportunity. What you are doing on that website is awesome! Jason Campbell

3 Comments:

At 4:40 PM, Blogger Rebecca said...

I can't help wondering if this is the same Jason Campbell that attended LCA with me, many moons ago. Sure looks like him. Is he a native of the area? He was a pretty likable guy back then, so he would probably be a good choice. But then I am not voting (dont' live in burg limits)

 
At 5:54 PM, Blogger Larry Bassett said...

This is great. Of course, the questions are a bit leading and biased and do seem more like friends who agree talking. But enjoyable to read. It does help me to hear more words from Jason.

As I have said elsewhere, government sometimes has to put in money to prime the pump when private capital stays away. Private money is entering more and more into the mix downtown these days. But the City had to prime the pump evidently.

How can we spread the word about all the places on the web where Lynchburg citizens can learn about the election? How many people are really seeing this material? How can we make the numbers increase?

 
At 8:58 PM, Blogger B O B said...

Hi Larry, believe it or not I have never personally met Jason Campbell. These questions were developed several months ago, previous to when Jason ever entered the race. They were sent to another candidate also, while he said he answer them, he hasn't yet.

As far as the questions go these were questions that are important to me, which I feel will be important to others.

You can help spread the word about website, and I would encourage you to do so. Actually, many in Lynchburg visit regularly. And so does the local media.

 

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