Letter: Randy Ihara, South Riding

Editor: On Sept. 4, a number of us spoke before the Board of Supervisors about ERA. Ralph Buona, the board’s retiring vice chair, stated his objection to the issue coming before the board. Buona stated that he did “not want this to become the issue in the Loudoun newspapers for the next 9 to 12 months.”

Apart from its underlying arrogance, it was a house-keeping rationale solely to keep “partisan resolutions” out of the local newspapers. He had determined that this is one of those resolutions that have “nothing to do with Loudoun County.” The sole priority is “to spend our time focusing on county issues.” In short, he removed ERA from Loudoun’s official legislative package, because he could. It was an exercise of the authority provided by the board’s rules of order. Clearly, there is an urgent need to reconsider the wisdom of a rule that sanctions the arbitrary exercise of the individual discretion solely limited to the chair and vice chair. If I remember my American history accurately, the royal prerogative to exercise his discretion to over-rule any limit to his authority—for ”light and transient causes”—the Founders’ term for arbitrary and capricious rule—was the principled objection that inspired the Declaration of Independence.

Other than keeping ERA out of the local newspapers, I hope Mr. Buona takes this occasion to identify the substantive principle—Constitutional or otherwise—by which he justifies this imposition of his personal view of Loudoun’s legitimate legislative priorities.

During the Sept. 4 board meeting, he made the inexplicably gratuitous statement that most of those appearing before the board to promote the ERA were Democrats, as if advocating a foundational constitutionally sanctioned principle is some sort of morally suspect act of narrow partisanship. Unfortunately, it’s another example of the hyper-partisan rancor that diminishes our capacity as Americans to engage in substantive discourse about our priorities as a community. Are all acts of citizenship to be suspected of selfish or ulterior motives?

The imposition of one man’s desire to keep an issue out of “the Loudoun newspapers” is objectionable on so many grounds. The claim that Constitutional issues are not—or should not—be of concern to Loudoun’s residents has no legitimate foundation. Nor is the claim that our concerns are—or should be—limited to issues of local fiscal probity. This view is redolent of a Virginia past that has long since been decisively repudiated.

His voters may have been well-served during his long tenure, but this is a sour note in his public swan song.

Randy Ihara, South Riding

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