Tom Perriello listens to an IUE-CWA Local 162 union member asking about automation.
Tom Perriello’s last stop in his listening tour through Roanoke was at the IUE-CWA Local 162 Roanoke headquarters where about 10 union rank and file members and union shop stewards from Verizon, ITT now the Harris Corporation, GE and Virginia Transformer peppered him with questions. Union members are not shy about asking questions.
Before Perriello arrived Jack Roland Chief Steward with Local 82162 at Harris Corporation said he wanted to know how Perriello views the future of the working class. Where does he see unions place in the future.
Jeff Moran, who works for Harris Corporation (again formerly ITT
Explorer Park, the multi-generation center, and the library were part of the debate held Thursday evening at the Bent Mountain Fire and Rescue station. Ed Elswick is challenging Joe McNamara in the June 9 primary.
McNamara was the only supervisor to vote against the multi-generation center emphasizing that he was only one vote. Elswick claimed the library across from Penn Forest Elementary was extravagant, in a flood plane, should be designed in a more cost-effective manner and located on 419.
Take home cars for police and department heads was one point of contention. Elswick contends it is a waste of taxpayer money while McNamara disputed Elswick’s number of vehicles that were part of the program.
The question of closing Bent Mountain Elementary school evoked a comparison between Roanoke City and Roanoke County. McNamara said that the county does not tell its school board what to do as the “political side of Roanoke City tries to tell the School Board how their going to run their schools – it doesn’t work real well” [ouch]. McNamara said that “if Bent Mountain closes it will be because professional educators” have made the determination. Elswick claimed that since the school board gets its money from the county there is interaction between them.
Elswick accused McNamara of not returning constituent emails or phone calls while holding up an email returned to him saying “rejected by recipient.” [EDITORS NOTE: These return messages are a result of server rejection and not a recipient rejection]
If the county required referenda on issuing bonds for every county project it would result in “bond packages with all sorts of crap … then you’ve brought government to a crawl” said McNamara pointing to Cleveland, Ohio as an example. Elswick disagreed and wanted the voters to approve general obligation bonds as well as capital improvement bonds.
Elswick praised the county’s new administrator, Clay Goodman, on controlling costs. The supervisors should scrutinize the “grandiose proposals” that come out of county administration. Look at every dollar and why it is being spent and not someone trying to create a “monument to his ego.”
An aging population and need for more fire and rescue personnel was McNamara’s answer to future challenges that the county faces. Volunteer personnel are decreasing and the number of fire and rescue calls is going up dramatically explained McNamara.
Elswick said “we don’t need more fire, rescue and police officers and he thinks most of us behave fairly well.” In comparing Roanoke with Montgomery County the safety costs per capita are much less. McNamara’s rebuttal to that was “what level of service do you all want” – Montgomery County may have more volunteers with a lower service level requirement.
McNamara agreed that private business incentives should be curtailed and gave an example of where he voted against $75,000 to Fink’s jewelers for infrastructure improvements. Incentives for job creation are a “different story” said McNamara. Elswick was in agreement and confirmed that the $75,000 was “stupid.”
Real estate assessments going up in the county was a hot topic with Elswick saying the reason they are going up is because of the extravagant projects that need funding. McNamara was not so sure of the realtor’s figure that the market price for county housing had fallen 18%.