Mark J. Fitzgibbons
Delegate Michael Webert and Fauquier County BoS Chairman Holder Trumbo recently gave their reflections on last year’s Boneta Bill in the January 8 Fauquier Times (“‘Boneta Bill’ memories linger from last year”).
The Fauquier Times neglected to interview the bill’s namesake, Martha Boneta, for its story – again.
Chairman Trumbo is quoted saying that the Boneta Bill “was based on things that were just not true,” and that “we really need to have a good honest conversation about what we want our community to be.”
Referring to national news accounts that Martha Boneta was fined $5,000, Mr. Trumbo is quoted as saying, “We never fined anyone for selling their own tomatoes.”
That’s correct, but akin to what some slick politicians may think the meaning of “is, is.”
Martha Boneta was cited by Fauquier County for selling tomatoes, with threats of $5,000 per-day fines and potential criminal penalties if she did not cease.
Martha Boneta was also cited for hosting a birthday party for eight ten-year-old girls, with threats of $5,000 per-day fines. Chairman Trumbo refused to fire the county bureaucrat who cited Boneta for these so-called violations.
By the bye, Mr. Trumbo sent a statement to the Senate Agricultural Committee before its vote on the Boneta Bill in 2013 denying that Mrs. Boneta was cited for the birthday party.
Delegate Webert is a bit more cerebral, asking, “At what point [does a wheat farmer go from selling] value-added product such as bread, to being a deli?”
Mrs. Boneta, however, was not cited and threatened with fines for running a deli. Instead, the list of “illegal” goods she was selling included homemade pies and alpaca fibers.
That ain’t the Carnegie Deli.
Delegate Webert ran in 2011 for his first term in a ‘teapartyish’ way claiming, “Our country was born in a revolt against taxes and tyranny. I’m running for delegate because it’s time for Virginia to stand up against Obamacare and all of Washington’s unconstitutional mandates.”
Delegate Webert told me last year he was concerned about the “unintended consequences” of the Boneta Bill. But, Delegate Webert never issued a public statement reprimading Fauquier County, or saying we needed legislation to provide remedies against such abuse by local government.
Delegate Webert never publicly addressed the ‘intended’ consequences of the county’s shutting down Boneta’s Liberty Farm store over a birthday party, apple pie and other harmless farm culture and commerce. His silence was deafening, as the saying goes.
He also did not address how the Virginia Code is structured to allow counties to use zoning laws to discriminate and violate constitutional rights, which is a holdover from 1962, five years before the United States Supreme Court struck down Virginia’s ban on interracial marriage.
Delegate Webert, who touts his activism with a small business caucus in the General Assembly, wonders when an agricultural operation becomes a commercial one.
The better question is, at what point may the county tell a farmer what or what not to sell, and why? And, since when may a farmer not host birthday parties?
Fauquier County government falsely touts that it is business-friendly. It engages in tactics and behavior that a the United States Supreme Court opinion in Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District called “extortive.”
Mediocre elected officials and overzealous bureaucrats in Washington, Richmond and even places like Warrenton have created a record 92 million Americans out of the work force.
Many wonder when or whether Delegate Webert, who marketed himself as pro-liberty to get elected, will get more cerebral about placing limits on government, which would be the best small-business program.
The Boneta Bill was a first blast at exposing the flawed and discriminatory land use system that is in place in Virginia, and exposed those who claim to be pro-farmer but are really operating against the best interests of independent small family farmers.
Yes, we do need an honest conversation, which is why I extend this offer to Chairman Trumbo and Delegate Webert: The three of us should have a public debate about land use law and farming, and filmed so that Fauquier residents can watch it at their convenience.
People in Fauquier County want to maintain its agricultural nature. Farms generating revenue are the best way to preserve farm land.