Hang That Shirt On The Wind Energy Drying Device, Will You, Honey?
RICHMOND--Never doubt that your elected representatives are trying to improve your life and our planet. Here in Virginia's capital in the waning hours of this year's legislative session, the forces of things good and green sought to make a basic change in the lives of millions: Free the people of northern Virginia to use wind energy drying devices.
Ah, finally, a movement for justice in our time.
For many northern Virginians who live in communities where homeowners associations are in charge, it has been against the rules to use wind energy drying devices, which violate the associations' sense of propriety.
But Sen. Toddy Puller (D-Fairfax) and Del. Mark Sickles (D-Fairfax) insisted that the imperative to conserve energy and save money required HOAs to be more flexible about the devices--All right, already, what the heck is a wind energy drying device?
On the floor of the House of Delegates this week, members wanted to know--what are we talking about?
"It's a clothesline, basically," said Del. William Janis (R-Henrico.)
Ah. And clotheslines, efficient and inexpensive as they may be, are somehow considered gauche or declasse nowadays, leading many homeowners associations to ban them.
As fast as you can say "NoVa versus RoVa," the debate over clotheslines descended into a matter of class. "I live out in the country and we have clotheslines all over the place," said Del. Robert Orrock (R-Caroline). If clotheslines are now good for the Washington suburbs, then they should be good for all of Virginia, he said.
But Orrock said trouble would loom if the bill passed. What would the state government do then "when someone from northern Virginia comes and says 'this looks like a West Virginia subdivision." The chamber broke into a cascade of faux-shocked howls at the slur against Virginia's neighbors. Orrock quickly added: "If I preface that with 'God bless them,' does that make it ok?"
Sickles, a beleaguered liberal in a House where Republicans still rule, learned that the clothesline bill would require a two-thirds majority to pass because it applies only to one region of the state. This meant Sickles had to switch tactics:
"This is a bill about freedom!" he announced to his Republican colleagues, "The freedom to dry your clothes at your house, and a chance to be conservative and be green at the same time!"
Dryers are among the biggest users of electricity, Sickles noted.
Many Republicans weren't buying. "Wouldn't it be freedom to have certain people create rules and not have the state government come down on them?" asked Del. Jackson Miller (R-Manassas.)
The freedom to use clotheslines will have to come some other time, in some other place: The bill died by a 60-40 vote.
Democracy, or perhaps "majority-based governing system," at work.
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