Loudoun Times-Mirror blogger/reporter Nicholas Graham took note of a rather embarrassing faux pax out in the Golden State where Meg Whitman is angling to become the GOP nominee for Governor. Graham noted that Whitman’s asking people to get out to the polls on her behalf but she, herself, has never done so for anyone else. She apparently hasn’t bothered to get to the polls herself in years past and that’s caused her campaign some stress trying to explain that away.
Graham thought it might be an interesting exercise to apply that inspection to our local scene here in Loudoun and I agree with him. It’s a pertinent bit of information as to whether or not our intended elected officials have actually participated in the elections process. His findings? We’re in pretty good shape with our incumbents and candidates. There was one example, however, that proved glaring for me:
In the 2009 session, the Official Minutes show Poisson missed two days. What’s noteworthy is that on the two days Poisson was absent, a total of about 250 roll-call votes were taken. That’s a lot of legislative business.
So I asked Poisson about it. Like most lawmakers, Poisson has a separate, full-time job – and needs it (Delegates make a scant $17,000). On those two days, he had a vital work requirement to fulfill. His role at work “could not be substituted”, and said his vote those days “would not have made a difference”. In reviewing the vote tallies, he’s right. Still, almost 250 votes on some heady issues were taken without a Poisson “Yea” or “Nay”. Yet, Poisson notes, that’s just “two days out of four years” in Richmond.
There are a number of issues that arise from this little gem and we’ll start with one that Graham himself noted just a few paragraphs previous to those I’ve quoted. Legislative sessions for the General Assembly do not last all year, they last 50-60 days. Poisson’s comment, there, about this only being “two days out of four years” is misleading, something Mr. Poisson apparently has a penchant for. It’s not 2 days out of 4 years, it’s 2 days out of 8 months (60 days each out of 4 years, 60 x 4 = 240 days / 30 = 8 months).
Now while you might be thinking that’s still no big deal, you cannot deny that blowing it on 250 job-related tasks is most certainly significant. Think about that: on 250 separate matters of sufficient importance to warrant a separate, roll-call vote the citizens of the 32nd District went unheard-from. We had no say in those matters whatsoever. Poisson dismisses this concern saying his votes “would not have made a difference” but there’s no way he could have known that ahead of the vote. This is the same lame, sorry excuse people who don’t bother to show up to the polls on election day give: that their vote wouldn’t matter, anyway. In this case, Poisson’s actions denied us all a vote. He’s saying our vote doesn’t matter. This is the attitude we want in our representative to the House in the General Assembly? I think not.
Dave Poisson knew the obligation he was getting into when he ran for office and told us he’d be there for us. If he didn’t adequately explain that to his private job’s management then that’s his fault. We should not be denied our representation in state government because Dave Poisson’s law firm feels that our representation is less important than whatever project they had assigned to him. They don’t get to make that call. We do, and we did when the 32nd District elected a man who assured us he’d represent us ably in Richmond. To now say that he’ll do that so long as nothing’s going on at work that he considers more important is a dereliction of the duty he voluntarily accepted. It’s the kind of representation we can’t count on.
Perhaps it’s time to release Mr. Poisson from any possible conflict of duties and allow him to put his full-time attention to his private job. Let’s send Tag Greason to the House and get the kind of focus our representation deserves.