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Statement from Former Delegate David Ramadan Regarding the Virginia Supreme Court’s Decision to Uphold Excessive Greenway Tolls

posted September 9th, 2016

Today, the Virginia Supreme Court upheld the State Corporation Commission’s (SCC) rejection of my challenges to the Dulles Greenway’s excessive tolls. In December of 2012, I filed these challenges on behalf of my Loudoun constituents who are forced to either pay exorbitant tolls or sit in ever-growing traffic to drive around the Greenway. I was joined in this effort by the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors.

I would like to thank the Loudoun Board, particularly former Chairman Scott York and Dulles District Supervisor Matt Letourneau, for their work to join my effort, contribute resources, and direct the Loudoun County Attorney to argue the case, which he did admirably.

In the course of this challenge, I believe we built a strong case that the Greenway was violating the law and contributing to the severe congestion in eastern Loudoun County. Unfortunately, the deck was stacked against us at the SCC, and the Supreme Court elected to defer to the SCC’s authority.

In 2015, I filed legislation (HB2344) (http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?151+sum+HB2344) that would have alleviated this problem by lowering the current rates, applied distance-based pricing to the Greenway, and limited yearly increases. Unfortunately, the Greenway’s extensive network of special interests which included high paid lobbyists, lawyers and former officials ensured that my bill never saw the light of day.

The rejection of our appeal by the Supreme Court demonstrates that the only way to fix this problem is through legislation. I call on Governor McAuliffe, Attorney General Herring, and the entire House and Senate to do what is right and work together to provide relief to Loudoun commuters.

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Trump’s shrinking swing state map – POLITICO

posted September 8th, 2016

By KYLE CHENEY and KATIE GLUECK

Two months from Election Day, Donald Trump’s swing state map is shrinking.

Interviews with more than two dozen Republican operatives, state party officials and elected leaders suggest three of the 11 battleground states identified by POLITICO — Colorado, New Hampshire and Virginia — are tilting so heavily toward Hillary Clinton that they’re close to unwinnable for the GOP presidential nominee. But Trump remains within striking distance in the remaining eight states, including electoral giants Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

The increasing likelihood that Colorado, New Hampshire and Virginia are out of reach heightens the urgency for the Republican nominee to win those still-competitive states — and to recapture steam in Pennsylvania, where he once looked formidable but now trails by 10 points, according to POLITICO’s Battleground States polling average. …

URL: http://www.politico.com/story/2016/09/donald-trump-swing-state-227869

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Letter to the Editor: Ramadan: Has Bennett lived in the 10th District? | LoudounTimes.com

posted August 24th, 2016

Thursday, Aug. 18

Luann Bennett, the Democrat candidate for Congress in the 10th district, has claimed that she has lived in the 10th district for 32 of the past 35 years. But public statements she herself made, as well as public records, indicate otherwise.

Ms. Bennett purchased a home in Arlington County that she and her then husband, former 8th District Rep. Jim Moran, said was their residence around 2004 when they married. In a 2010 Northern Virginia Magazine interview with her then husband, Jim Moran, the author wrote: “At the Arlington County home that Moran shares with LuAnn Bennett, president and owner of Bennett Group real estate company and his wife of six years, the setting seems suitable enough for a legislator whose biggest fans include conservation groups and the U.S. Humane Society.”

In a 2008 interview, she also claimed to live in that same Arlington home: “Waking up in the master bedroom of U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D-8) and wife LuAnn Bennett’s home can feel a bit like waking up outdoors. When Bennett opens her eyes, all she can see is trees through the large glass windows. ‘You feel like you are in a tree house. … It does bring the outdoors in,’ said Bennett of her contemporary home overlooking the Potomac River ….”

While Bennett divorced Moran sometime in 2011, she did not sell this Arlington County home until September 2012. Therefore, for over eight years from 2004-2012 the facts indicate that she lived in Arlington County which is in the 8th district of Virginia.

Then, on April 1, 2014, Bennett posted on her own personal Facebook page, “moved to Washington, District of Columbia” – in other words, she personally and publicly stated that she moved to Washington, D.C.

The home in which she lived was a Ritz Carlton condo in Washington, D.C. purchased in January 2014. She left that statement on her Facebook page until about the time in late 2015 when she decided to run in the 10th district for Congress.

While it is true that several months ago Bennett rented a townhouse in McLean, she has not been living in the 10th district for most of the past 10-12 years. Why is Bennett misrepresenting where she has lived for the past decade or so?

David Ramadan

Loudoun

URL: http://www.loudountimes.com/letters/article/ramadan_has_bennett_lived_in_the_10th_district

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CON: U.Va. leadership needs a thorough housecleaning

posted August 12th, 2016

By David Ramadan | Posted Yesterday

Two years ago, the head of the University of Virginia’s Board of Visitors was the face of a policy designed to punish those board members who might dare to express an opinion that dissented from the carefully crafted public relations image of exceptionalism and tranquility in Charlottesville.

As someone who came to America with little money but an overwhelming desire for freedom and the chance to live the American dream, this immigrant hit the roof. As a member of Virginia’s General Assembly, I told George Martin I would be watching carefully. Since then, I have, and now I’m completely certain we need a fresh start.
Surely, we can and should have differing opinions, but when the press releases and finely-tuned commentaries don’t match the facts, plenty has gone wrong.

For example, last year U.Va. did everything it could to undermine and rewrite an Office of Civil Rights report about sexual abuse and rapes. And it would have succeeded were it not for a pesky little thing called the free press that unearthed the un-sanitized, original findings showing a university administration more interested in image than integrity.

Based on that and more, I said it was time for a change at the top. Unfortunately for the citizens of Virginia, nothing has changed.

You would hope administrators would learn — after all, education is their business — but once again the Office of Civil Rights is investigating the university’s handling of more charges of sexual abuse.

On top of that, now we know that even as it almost doubled tuition charges, U.Va. was sitting on $2.3 billion (yes with a “B”) it had squirrelled away without real public knowledge.

That money could have made it easier for Virginia’s children to get an affordable education at one of the state’s best public schools.

But, no.

Instead, we’ve been schooled on plans for a $50 million yoga and meditation program. Seriously!?

Would a better investment have been a tuition rollback? Absolutely, but U.Va. disagrees.

Instead, it has put rankings above the reality that for many middle-class parents, the hope of a college education for their children is turning into a pipe dream. As if — with a $2.3 billion nest egg and hundreds of Ph.D.s — the school couldn’t find a way to do both?

Legislators of both parties are asking tough questions. Responsibly, they want to know where this huge stash of cash came from, why it was kept from them and the public and why it isn’t being spent to make high-quality education for Virginians actually affordable.

Instead, answers from current and former leaders have been spit in the face of lawmakers representing the folks who own the University of Virginia — that’s us and it’s our money.

My questions are more direct: What did University President Terry Sullivan know, and when did she know it?

And if she didn’t know, then as the head of a university with a multi-billion annual budget and a $7.5 billion of invested funds, why not?

Enough is enough. I want action. But by the looks of things, that won’t happen any day soon.

Next week the Board of Visitors will gather at a luxury retreat called the Boar’s Head Inn. Instead of voting to roll back tuition, new members will receive insider training. And instead of someone explaining in public session why they hid behind closed doors in June to keep $2.3 billion secret, there will be another closed-door session to deal with “personnel matters.”

In any other place and at any other time, that would be fine. But that’s what they said the topic was the last time.

As documents produced to legislators show — and state Sen. Bill DeSteph has confirmed through conversations with people in the room — now we know that isn’t at all what happened. And I have no reason to believe anything will change.

For the sake of the university and those paying the bills, we need change, and we need it now.

Virginia’s governors appoint members of the boards of our public universities and rely on them to effectively govern and manage each school.

U.Va.’s board members think they represent the institution and not the people. They are misguided. They have broken the public’s trust with illegal closed session discussions and unnecessary tuition increases. The governor should replace them with a group of Virginians who are willing to govern transparently and for the benefit of the citizens of our commonwealth.

Then, the new board should immediately fire Teresa Sullivan — period!

David Ramadan is a former member of the House of Delegates. Contact him at davidramadan@ramaint.com.

URL: http://m.richmond.com/zzstyling/view-oped-sig/article_ed6bc56f-5393-557d-a30d-ccd5a42110ab.html?mode=jqm

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