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OPINION: Michael Cohen is no John Dean

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There have been a slew of comments about the so-called “John Dean Moment” when Michael Cohen was set to testify in an open hearing before a House of Representatives Hearing last week. It never happened.

Michael Cohen has now appeared before the House Oversight Committee. It may have been the longest and closest view (via television) that people ever had of Mr. Cohen. This piece does not presume to say whether or not he was being truthful in the Hearing. It does presume to say that there is both a circumstantial and personal difference in the two events and the two people.

When John Dean spoke, the country was already in a crisis which included members of both parties. The very continuation of Richard Nixon’s Presidency began to unravel as a result of Mr. Dean’s appearance and testimony.

When Michael Cohen spoke, there was a strong feeling by one political party that the testimony would portend the end of the Presidency of the other party. This is still far from happening, and Mr. Cohen’s testimony did not affect both political parties – only one.

When Mr. Dean spoke, here was a dignified (although young) lawyer whose testimony was clear and convincing to both parties. There really was no question of whether or not what was said was truthful. Dean emerged as a hero of the Watergate era.

When Mr. Cohen spoke and continues to speak, there is a question about whether or not what is heard is truthful. One political side says “yes” and the other side says “no”. Mr. Cohen is a convicted liar (via his own plea). He is on his way to a 3 year prison term. He may very well be telling the truth, but he clearly does not carry the same presumption of honesty that Dean did.

The issue of a Presidential pardon is the latest twist to this convoluted puzzle. Did Mr. Cohen probe a possible pardon or not?

What will happen next in this Presidential drama we are living through is certainly not clear. What is clear is that there is a world of difference between John Dean and Michael Cohen.

In full disclosure, I am a fellow Georgetown Law graduate and have had occasional contact with John Dean over the years. I have had no contact with Mr. Cohen.


Charles “Chips” Lickson | JD, Ph.D.
Front Royal, Virginia

Former practicing lawyer, mediator, teacher and Associate Professor of Political Science at Shenandoah University. Lickson is the author of eight previous non-fiction books. He is currently finishing a fact-based novel, REFUGE FOR A SCOUNDREL, due out in Fall, 2019.

Opinion

OPINION: Warren County schools are facing a crisis that impacts everyone in our community

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Warren County schools are facing a crisis that impacts everyone in our community, whether you have children in the school system or not. The schools are not able to competitively compensate our experienced teachers, who are lured to higher paying opportunities by neighboring counties.

Since school year 2011-2012, WCPS instructional turnover has increased 140%, which correlates with a 162% increase in areas NOT at accreditation levels, over that same 7-year period. Teachers in Warren County who have less than 10 years’ experience have a 54% student pass rate compared to teachers with greater than 11 years of experience, who have an 85% overall student pass rate.

We are now entering the 7th straight year of increased teacher turnover. During their exit interviews, the number one reason cited by our experienced teachers for leaving Warren County Schools is compensation.

The consequences of this issue not only impact our schools, it has a systemic impact on our community. School performance measures have affected the ability to attract and retain entrepreneurs and employers to our community. Businesses strongly consider the pipeline of educated labor when making the decisions to locate or expand their businesses. When employers choose to locate or expand in Warren County, that lessons the tax burden for all citizens. School performance is a strong factor in that decision. Our property values are also negatively impacted by the perception of our school performance, as consumers compare homes in our county to those of surrounding areas with higher performing systems. Again, another lost opportunity to broaden the base for tax relief for our community.

The November 30, 2018, “Strategic Vision for the Future of Warren County” contains clear and compelling evidence to support our Board of Supervisors in funding this request. 85% of citizens responded that the biggest challenge facing our school system was “relatively low pay for teachers is incentivizing higher quality teachers to move to schools in surrounding counties”. The vision statement commits to “Support an excellent school environment that retains quality teachers and graduates the next generation of leaders”.

I call upon our Board of Supervisors to see that this vision is executed on behalf of the citizens of Warren County.


Jeanian Clark
Workforce Development Professional

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Opinion

OPINION: Malfeasance at Economic Development Authority

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I agree with Attorney John S, Bell in his article in the Examiner on March 20, 2019, that it is time for a Special Grand Jury to investigate the EDA and its operations, investments, relationship over the past years.

Note the following are from articles in the Northern Virginia Daily and the Royal Examiner.

  1. Way too much secrecy on audits, Board meetings, investment deals, auditor relationships over the last years;
  2. Missing/losses of funds on highly questionable real estate deals (EDA-ITFederal and the $500,000 missing for a “dream or scam” of a  Police Academy);
  3. No proof exists that either of these projects were legitimate and not fraudulent, because the documents were stolen in a “break-in” of the EDA office;
  4. Exceptional gambling winnings of an estimated $1.5 to $1.8 million dollars. in Ms. McDonald’s words – over three years $800,000 in 2017 and $500,000 in each of the prior two years. The winnings were from slot machines and “slot machines – have the lowest odds of winning”. (Best Bets at the Casino);
  5. A business partnership between Ms. McDonald, the Warren County Sheriff Daniel McEathron and Da Boyz (Ms. McDonald’s real estate business) purchasing and estimated $3 million dollars (including $1 million in cash) in real estate deals; Ms McDonald holds three Real Estate Board Licenses (2 as an individual and 1 as a real estate firm);
  6. A peculiar transaction in which McEathron and McDonald sold property from one of the real estate deals back to the original owners within a short time of purchase at a loss of $600,000-fraud/money laundering?;
  7. The real estate investments Ms. McDonald made in recent years under the banner of her personal real estate company “Da Boyz” would appear to be a serious conflict with her EDA responsibilities.

You might get the idea that something is very wrong with the operations of the EDA. I suggest that an outside investigative team and prosecutor be used because of the cross relationships between the parties in the above actions.


Robert Funk
Front Royal, Virginia

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Opinion

OPINION: Are you concerned about how the County budget is being handled?

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Fellow Citizens of Warren County,

Are you concerned about how the County budget is being handled? Enough to stand up and get involved? You may or may not be aware, that the County Administrator, Doug Stanley sends out budget requests to all county departments in November. All budgets are due back near the end of December. The Administrator then meets with department heads and Constitutional officers, usually during the second week of January. After this meeting, the Board of Supervisors begin work sessions for outside agencies, i.e., Lord Fairfax Community College, Middletown Fire Department, our local St. Luke’s Clinic, and others in our community who provide a service and seek some assistance to operate.

The budget process goes on through February and March with the Board holding work sessions with the Health Dept, EDA, Northwestern Community Services, SAAA, County departments, Constitutional officers and the School Board. We are now nearing the time when the BOS will adopt a budget for our fiscal year 2019-20, which runs July 1 –  June 30. They are considering a 6-cent tax hike! That means you and me will be paying .72 per $100 of our assessed properties! The Town folk will be paying even more!!!

The meeting to adopt the budget will take place on Tuesday, April 16 at 7:00 p.m. There is a Public Hearing prior to this on Tuesday, April 9 at 7:00 p.m., and I encourage each of you to attend and provide the BOS with facts regarding the impact their choices have had on you, others, and the county as a whole. If you are unable to be present at either of these meetings, please contact them prior via phone or email. You can find their contact information on www.warrencountyva.net/board-of-supervisors.

The County Administrator recently again informed us that there is yet another shortfall – a $5.6M to be exact in our 2019-20 budget. This is unbelievable! 6 years of increases and 2 assessments, and he still cannot operate this County properly as he is well-paid to do! He claims this is based on revenue projections, departmental increases of $1.4M and the School Board’s request of $2.3M from local funding. His idea on closing this large gap is through budget cuts, which he has proven doesn’t really exist. He proposes to cut $255K from the schools, but doesn’t mention anything about how the Sheriff’s Department can be cut to help with the budget (see my explanation following), bumps in revenue projections and another REAL ESTATE TAX INCREASE – same scenario for the past 5 years!

This is our 6th year of increases! Ironically, the BOS just approved a $5.6M for a new Rivermont “Volunteer” Fire Department. This station appears to be needed and should have come as a priority long before now, and before all the other spending that has taken place occurred. Along with this, the WCF&RS are hoping to gain 15 new full-time positions through a grant. If the grant is received, we must provide $234,679 towards their salaries and benefits for 2 years, $610,166 for the 3rd year, and $938,717 annually after that-considering no further increase. They also are seeking to build a training facility on ESA Road. This County has been struggling to obtain loans for the previous $10.SM debt that was supposed to have been funded through the New Market Tax credit but wasn’t.

If you do the figuring on what’s been given to us, this County is about $23.7M in debt, not counting the $10.2M for the new Front Royal police department, which brings us up to approximately $33.9M in debt. For a small area like Warren County – approximately 39K people total (this number includes our children) – that puts roughly $845K over each person’s head – this is an extreme amount of debt to be in, and the services received do not even compare!  It is obvious that the management of our county funds must be looked in to in a more in-depth manner. It is with utmost importance that while providing the services needed to the County, we also manage our ability to pay our debt back in the means the folks can handle. We must prioritize what’s most important and stop reaching for instant gratification of “new this” and “new that”.

The BOS, Administrator, Constitutional officers and Department heads must be held to a higher level of accountability regarding the use of County funds. I’m not sure about you, but I’m uncertain of where this money is going to continue to come from. My salary isn’t increasing at the speed of the tax rates and assessment values! I have great concern about these issues!

Last April, Tony Carter challenged the disgruntled citizens during the budget meeting, telling them that they needed to be more involved with the budget process all year long, and not just at the end. I took Mr. Carter up on his offer in April, and then again when I confronted the entire BOS at their meeting on June 5, about the continued increases, and my willingness to help with the budget. Other county citizens have voiced their concerns about this as well, but it is apparent our concerns fall on deaf ears, due to the position they’ve put us in again this year.

Mr. Carter offered me his 2017-18 budget books, and said he didn’t have the most recent budget for 2018-19 because he had turned them back in. I was able to obtain this information through the Finance Department, and then requested copies of the most recent 2019-20 budget submittals as they came in but was only able to receive a few of the departments, before it being stopped. I began to compare the Sheriff’s budget for the last 3 years and confronted the BOS via email on Feb. 18 with a letter regarding my concerns and reiterated my nearly $900 real estate increase since 2015, now it will be well over a $1K increase within 4 years. I was shocked when another citizen asked me if that was all – as theirs is even higher! I sent the BOS the attached 25 questions regarding the Sheriff Department’s budget – figuring they should know the answers since they approve it every year, but I only received a response from their Deputy Clerk, who informed me that my document had been forwarded to the Sheriff and I should reach out to him. She also included the County Attorney, and the County Administrator in her response to me, so they all are aware of my concerns.

The following are the questions asked by me and the answers provided by the Sheriff. Please take time to read and review, as nothing is mentioned by the BOS or the County Administrator regarding any budget cuts for this department, only steady increases since he took this position 16 years ago.

1. When was the last salary increase approved in the Department?

  • All eligible County employees received an increase January 1, 2019. To be eligible, hire date had to be prior to July 1, 2018, and employees had to score at least a “meets standards” on their evaluation.

2. Why is the county paying full salaries for 15 more patrol deputies when state allots for 22 for the population our size? – This amount is costing the county $638,619.22 -­not accounting the portion the county pays for health insurance and vehicles.

  • The “15 more patrol deputies” are not new or additional. positions for FY 2019- 2020. The number of deputies employed by Warren County is based upon the workload of the Sheriffs Office.

3. Why is a “Vacant/Patrol” position added to the budget in the amount of $45,892.61?

  • The patrol vacancy will be filled in the current 2018/2019 budget, prior to July 1st 2019. This is not a new position and we had to account for the funding in the next 2019/2020 budget.

4. Why is county paying full salaries for 3 more Administrative positions in the amount of $113,622.82? – not accounting the portion the county pays for health insurance.

  • The “3 more administrative positions” are not new or additional positions for FY 2019-2020.

5. Why doesn’t state cover any of the E-911 salaries – county is paying for 7 full-time positions in the amount of $224,818.87′? – not accounting the county’s portion for health insurance.

  • The state only reimburses for 4 E911 salaries as well as 1 E911 Supervisor Salary. The other 7 positions are county funded positions due to it being an E911 center.

6. Why does county pay full salaries in the amount of $304,514.87 for 6 Resource officers, when State allots for 3 at the present? – not accounting for the county’s portion for health insurance and vehicles.

  • The State Compensation Board does not fund SRO positions; they fund Deputy positions in general. I can use the personnel funding from the compensation board anywhere in my operation based on their certification to offset county personnel expense.

7. Why is a “Vacant” Resource Officer” position added to the budget in the amount of$41,576.43? This adds up to 10 – there are a total of 9 schools.

  • Same answer as #3 and yes, we have 9 schools and the Supervisory Lieutenant of SRO is the 10th that oversees that division and fills in where an SRO is absent, in court, etc.

8. What do these Resource officers do when school is not in session?

  • SRO’s are law enforcement-certified deputies (just like Patrol, Animal Control, etc.). There are still school-related duties that continue even when school is not in session, such as training for security upgrades, lockdown drills, summer school, etc. The Sheriffs Youth Camp also occurs in the summer, and SRO’s are typically very involved in that program. In addition, SRO’s perform other law enforcement duties and may be reassigned to other divisions such as Patrol and Animal Control during non-school hours.

9. Why is county paying full salaries for 3 more court security positions in the amount of $113,021.56 when the state allots for 7? – not accounting the county’s portion for health insurance and vehicles. (Shows a total of .10 in court house – 1 building).

  • The Court Services division has 10 full time deputies. This division is not just court security, which has 2 full time employees, but also court hold with 3 and civil process with 3. There is also a Lieutenant and Captain that oversee this division and communications. In total there are 13 part time employees in the Court Services division and 10 full time.

10. Why is a “Vacant court security” position added to the budget in the amount of $36,747.51?

  • There was a vacancy in the Court Services division because there was one position that was not filled at the time of budget preparation. That position is now filled.

11. Why is county paying full salaries for 2 more Animal control positions in the amount of $85,997.08, when state allots for 2?

  • The State Compensation Board does not fund Animal Control positions; they fund Deputy positions in general. I can use the personnel funding from the compensation board anywhere in my operation based on certification to offset county personnel expense.

12. Why is county still pursuing “Career Development” in the Sheriffs office when the county just paid for a complete review and was informed to back away from it for now and concentrate on other departments instead of just one? (Budget proposal shows $53,405 in the Sheriffs total budget for 2019-20).

  • The Career Development Program (CDP) was first proposed by the Sheriffs Office at a work session on October 3, 2017, with funding for the program approved as part of the FY 2018-2019 budget. An outside review of the program was included in the County’s RFP for the Compensation and Benefits study, with a request for the successful consultant candidate to make final recommendations for placement of the program into the County’s current compensation plan to coincide with the approved funding. The information presented by Paypoint HR in December 2018 to the Board of Supervisors was only a preliminary report, and the review of the CDP was subsequently completed. A final report on the Compensation and Benefits study will be forthcoming.

13. Why are cell phone stipends in the amount of $35,896 listed in the budget? Unnecessary – sheriff encrypted all radios.

  • The County utilizes a cell phone stipend plan for employees who request and are approved to use their personal devices in the transaction of public business. The stipends you’re referring to are used for 4 employees who are on call, 3 investigators and 1 E911 supervisor. The total stipend cost is $45 a month, per employee. Additionally, this line item is labeled “telephone” and it is utilized for expenditures to include Century Link (Office wide phone system) MCI (long distance), and Sprint (phones and MDT air card services). The new Motorola radio system already comes encrypted. I chose not to alter this feature and kept it encrypted.

14. How many deputies have a county vehicle assigned to them?

  • All deputies assigned to the Law Enforcement division have a vehicle assigned to them. The Sheriffs Office policy is that if the deputy lives in the county or has a position that requires it, they MAY be allowed to take their vehicle home. There are currently 36 deputies with take home vehicles. Some of these deputies are court services. Any deputy that has a take home vehicle starts work when they leave from home and may be directed to a call for service prior to coming to the office.

15. Why do deputies (court, patrol, animal, resource) drive vehicles to and from home and work?

  • (See answer to question 14) It is proactive to have sheriffs vehicles in and around the county parked at these locations, not to mention if an emergency arose they can respond directly from their residences.
  • A – To lease vehicles in this department alone cost the county$ 201,600
    • The lease program has been a benefit to my office to transition vehicles with high mileage or increased repairs out, keeping the maintenance budget down and ensuring the deputies patrolling are in safe and dependable vehicles while doing their job.
  • B – To insure these vehicles, it cost the county $44,885
    • Yes, that’s the budgeted amount.
  • C – To operate (repairs & fuel) it cost the county $205,397
    • Yes, that’s the budgeted amount. It is not necessarily what the year-end expense is.
  • D – Motor vehicle equipment cost the county $58,584
    • Yes, that’s the budgeted amount. This line item is for set up of the vehicles such as lights, radios, cages, striping, etc.
  • E – Total = $510,466 – total for deputy assigned vehicles per year
    • Yes, that’s the budgeted amount and that total is not just “deputy assigned vehicles.” It covers any vehicles the office has including non-take home vehicles and specialty service vehicles.

16. What company insures these vehicles?

  • VACORP

17. How did the sheriff’s budget get approved an increase of 9.27% for salary increases before budget process began without consideration to other Departments or the possible increase it may cost the citizens of the county?

  • The Sheriffs Office did not “get approved an increase of 9.27%” before the budget process began. As noted on the FY 2019-2020 request breakdown, the 9.27% is “due to previously approved budget salary increases/CDP implementation”. Both the 2.5% merit increase and Career Development Program were approved as part of the FY 2018-2019 budget and became effective January 1, 2019.

18. How was it determined to increase deputy salaries – as high as 21%?

  • When the Sheriffs Office developed our career development program, the career development programs of several other agencies were compared to insure that we were similar in structure and pay increases. The various percent increases are indicative of how underpaid that individual was based on CDP.

19. Why is county paying $313,609 to board dogs? – costing the county $26,134 per month.

  • The County has a three-year agreement with the Humane Society of Warren County, which was last approved in December 2016. Per the contract, “the County shall pay to the Society a yearly sum …in accordance with the following schedule:
    • Beginning July 1, 2017, for fiscal year 2017-2018, a total sum of $301,136.00 plus 2% or the CPI-U for the prior year, whichever is higher, not to exceed 3%. (Adopted budget of $302,129)
    • Beginning July 1, 2018, for fiscal year 2018-2019, the previous year’s sum plus 2%or the CPI-U for the prior year, whichever is higher not to exceed 3%. (Adopted budget of $308,106)
    • Beginning July 1, 2019, for fiscal year 2019-2020, the previous year’s sum plus 2% or the CPI-U for the prior year, whichever is higher not to exceed 3%.” (Budget request of$313,609)

20. How many dogs does the county board?

  • In 2018, the Humane Society of Warren County brought in 593 dogs among other animals.

21. Where does the county board the dogs?

  • The Humane Society of Warren County boards the dogs, per agreement.

22. Since Sheriff mentioned the Horse Mountain Patrol, I ask …when was the Horse Mountain Patrol created?

  • I established a “Mounted Horse Patrol” in 2005 that lasted until October 2007, due to two members leaving to go elsewhere to work. The mounted horse patrol had 3 members that provided their own horses, vet services, feed and boarding, all at the deputy’s personal expense. The Mounted patrol was utilized to assist in any search and rescue efforts, and to patrol large populated events like the WC Fair, occasionally ridden in parades, and patrolled Andy Guest State Park.

23. Why was the Horse Mountain Patrol created?

  • See answer to question 22.

24. Who were the deputies that made up the Horse Mountain Patrol’?

  • See answer to question 22.

25. When and why did the Horse Mountain Patrol subside?

  • See answer to question 22.

I am concerned about the budget County wide. The Sheriff’s department has been the cause to raise county taxes at least 3 times, and we are paying for 78 deputies when the state allots 41 for a county of our population. I can understand maybe a handful more, but this is 4 less of being totally ½ over the allotment.

Our BOS approved an SRO in each school last year, and in doing so raised our taxes, but you’ll see where the Sheriff added a 10th SRO this year, stating that this one oversees that division and fills in when another is absent. Unbelievable the attitude of how “I get what I want and then more” with no regard to how others continue to scrap up all they can to make ends meet!

Our teacher’s will receive a 5% increase from the State this year, in which we all pay taxes into, and our Superintendent is still proposing another 3% from us on the local level. I am all for our children’s education, our fire and rescue and our law enforcement, but if we don’t get the spending under control, there won’t be a need for any of this, because there won’t be any money to operate anything around here and then the EDA can truly advertise us as a “distressed area”!

There are still plenty of areas in the County budget that can be cut as I just proved through the Sheriff’s budget. We can save over $1M in this department alone if our BOS will get a backbone and just say NO! Our school system cries that we’re “in crisis” mode, all the while they spend money on buildings that aren’t even full, instead of putting our money into our children’s education!

We are paying a hefty salary to a County Administrator who is running us all in the ground! When will the BOS wake up? I hope it isn’t too late! Fellow Citizens, please plan to be present on April 9 & 16, 2019 at 7 p.m. in the Government Center Board Room – 220 N. Commerce Avenue, and if it is impossible, contact the BOS beforehand. They need to hear and heed to what we the people are saying!


Mrs. Leslie Mathews
Life-long & true citizen of Warren County

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Opinion

To a heartbroken minister

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This letter is a reader’s response to a March 16, 2019, Winchester Star front page article. That article presents the “heartbreaking dilemma” facing the United Methodist Church.

Sir, I am compelled, perhaps inspired, to offer you what Jesus so often offers to each of us: that is, an opportunity. I fear you, and many within the Methodist fold, have fallen victim to our cultural dilution of words and ideas. Our Lord must be in agony, as He so often has been when we, His people, follow our own will even when we know it is in opposition to His.

Our culture, if not Satan himself, has perverted words like inclusion, diversity, and progressive. This, in a misguided quest for political correctness, and, I might add, the relentless herding of disparate groups into a single political fold.

I fear, Jay, that your church may be on the brink of offending the very Lord God that you seek to please. And I love you enough to pray that you might come to see inclusion not as we humans have come to define it, but rather as I believe God might envision it. He offers and seeks for us salvation. Is that not His idea of inclusion? Eternal and loving unity with those who reciprocate His love?

Allow me to explain. I’ll start with inclusion. We should recall that when many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him, Jesus did not restrain them. Dwell upon that for a moment.

The kind of inclusion the Bible repeatedly reveals to us is that which leads to union with God. And that inclusion always rests upon the choices we, His people, make.

A second category of a Biblical rendering of inclusion is that we must at all times focus upon the inclusion of all parts of His revealed, inspired, word. This, so that we do not exclude or ignore that which He wants us to know. Dwell also, please, upon that. We must leave cherry-picking to the harvesting of fruit.

Before concluding with the words diversity and progressive, permit me to offer these relevant thoughts. Your article states that some Christians are not as “concerned with things like divorce and extramarital sex” as they are with “gay clergy and marriages.” This is where inclusion of the rest of the Bible comes in. Jesus adamantly condemns divorce and adultery (Mt 19). Yet, He condemned neither the woman at the well (Jn 4) nor the adulteress (Jn 8) to whom He said, “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.) Jesus forgives. But forgiveness is not the same as condoning. And just as He does not condone divorce and adultery, neither does He condone homosexual behavior.

Jay, may I draw your attention to something I recently wrote to a certain Professor Copenhaver:

Perhaps the most important thing Jesus says with respect to the topic of homosexuality is this: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” He added, “…not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.”

Now what “Law” do we suppose Jesus is speaking about? Well, that would be the first five books of the Bible, the Torah. One of these is Leviticus within which chapters 18 and 20 make clear what Jesus and His Father think of “practicing” homosexuality. And for those who think Leviticus is only for Levite priests, look again. The Apostle Paul – whom Jesus not so gently recruited – offers the same advice in Romans 1.

True, Jesus does not utter the words “homosexual, homosexuality, or orientation.” But He does clearly tell us that He neither abolishes nor changes the Law. And you as a Bible scholar surely know the “Law” he speaks of. And you know where to find this verse:

“‘Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.”

So, yes, Jesus does speak “of” homosexuality. This is not manipulation of the Bible, Professor. And, yes, those texts are relevant today, contrary to your statement otherwise. Do you believe Jesus errs when he says “…not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished”? Do you believe everything has been accomplished?

Finally, my article did not say Jesus abhors the homosexual person, or, for that matter, the adulterous person. You and I both know what He does abhor: actions which preclude our eternal union with Him. He wants us. He wants us to want Him. We must all want Him enough to sacrifice that which He abhors. For homosexuals that sacrifice is an act of love He will not forget.

So, Jay, I’ll now return to the words diversity, and progressive. In recent years these two words have become corrupted. They are buzzwords, the slogans, the planks of a political party which is relentlessly engaging in the destruction of Christian thought and practice. This party does so when it condones and promotes behaviors that are clearly in opposition to what my Bible and yours state so clearly.

So, you should thank your African Methodist delegates. They may be offering your final opportunity. They may be another of God’s messengers to whom He said, “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display My power in you.”

Yes, God wants inclusion and diversity. He wants all of His people to willfully respond, to reciprocate His love, to follow Jesus, to join the Father. Yet, we must remember:

When many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him, Jesus did not restrain them.

Jay, this letter is my prayer that you and all members of churches now facing division and destruction might not find the quest for inclusion resulting rather in self-selected exclusion.

I am Frank Tilton, a septuagenarian but neither priest nor minister. Just a neighbor and fellow Christian.

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Opinion

Disappointment with the Korea summit and the Cohen appearance

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Just a few days ago, it seems, I wrote about the irony of seeing Air Force One landing in Hanoi for a summit between President Trump and North Korea Leader Kim Jong-Un. Like many Americans, I was optimistic (perhaps overly so) that something concrete would come from their meeting. Wouldn’t it have been helpful in tamping down the negative rhetoric of both political extremes if we could have seen something positive emerge in Korea? Political critics and supporters alike would have had something they might agree upon – if that summit had been successful.

And at the same time as the summit, Michael Cohen appeared before the House Oversight Committee. It is most unfortunate for all that these two events coincided – tearing apart the media coverage. It turned out the Hearing was also unsuccessful. Did it get at the truth? One side thinks so; the other does not.

After over 50 years in law and conflict resolution, including having taught hundreds of people in the private sector and many government agencies the skills of mediation, and after having written an internationally well-read little book on “Ironing It Out”, I have learned the dynamics of push, pull or dis-engage.

Perhaps this hiatus, as short as it may be, is a good time to dis-engage and think about what has transpired in Hanoi and at the Hearing Table in Washington. Feelings are so strong on both sides of the political-presidential aisle, it is questionable that anyone can really think about what they are doing or saying on Twitter, the press or on television.

It seems we have no choice in the matter if we are going forward and hope to accomplish anything new in Korea, the rest of the world or here at home. Dis-engagement may be working on the China Tariff front. Let’s all see, if we pause and think first, if it can work for these deep divides here at home.


Charles “Chips” Lickson | JD, Ph.D.
Front Royal, Virginia

Former practicing lawyer, mediator, teacher and Associate Professor of Political Science at Shenandoah University. Lickson is currently finishing a fact-based novel, REFUGE FOR A SCOUNDREL, due out in Fall, 2019.

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Opinion

Air Force One in Hanoi, Vietnam

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A friend of mine said yesterday that he found it quite ironic when Air Force One bearing the President landed a few days ago in Hanoi, Vietnam. We are all following the “summit” between President Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un because it portends very good or very bad things in the future for the U.S. and North Korea – and probably the rest of the world.

Some of us are old enough to remember when there were other U.S. Air Force planes in the skies above Hanoi and many other locations in both North and South Vietnam. Some of us were in uniform when soldiers from the U.S. and from North Vietnam were engaged in horrible conflict.

The Vietnam location of talks between the President and North Korea’s “Dear Leader” is significant for many reasons – including the reconciliation between the U.S. and Vietnam. The horrors of war and the suffering of people on both sides in the Vietnam War are proof that no one really wins when it comes to the shooting and the killing. Unfortunately, even as I write, India and Pakistan are learning this lesson. Let’s hope they learn soon.

Let’s also hope that the U.S. President is successful; that something substantial and beneficial for all concerned can come of the meetings in Vietnam.

Another irony is that our President is out of the country at the time, and his own former lawyer is saying unkind things about him on television. Whether all that is said is true or not, he is the President and we should all wish him well.

Let’s also hope that the location of their talks also counts. If so, there will be good news coming out of Hanoi.


Charles “Chips” Lickson
Front Royal, Virginia

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