Grip & grin: Bell awards citizen lawmakers


Delegate Rob Bell handed out plaques July 7 in front of the Albemarle Circuit Court to eight citizens who came up with some of the new laws that went into effect July 1. Pictured are a smattering of them.

From left, Judy Casteele picks up an award for Kris Hall for a bill that requires establishment of sexual assault response teams; former Albemarle prosecutor/now Orange County assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Rick Moore came up with a statute that makes it possible to prosecute child porn possession where it's found without knowing where it was manufactured; Fluvanna Commonwealth's Attorney Jeff Haislip's bill helps animal control officers by adding obstruction of justice clout, and Chris Winslow backed the special license plates for veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom, who don't have to come up with the usual 350-plate minimum.

"It's easy for someone to complain about a problem," says Bell. "These are the people who came up with a plan and formulated a solution."

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Why are true scholars unwilling to descend to opinion-mongering and party politics? In Plato's "Statesman" the Eleatic stranger describes party political leaders as "super-sophists. " In the "Gorgias" they are demos-loving demagogues, whose souls resemble the demos they love. Likewise in the "Republic" Socrates himself suggests a true philosopher would never condescend to dabble in politics because (as summarized by Leo Strauss) "being dominated by the need for knowledge. . . the philosophers have no leisure for looking down at human affairs, let alone for taking care of them. . . Hence only compulsion could induce them to take part in political life [even] in a just city . . . Having perceived the truly grand, the human things appear to the philosophers to be paltry." --from Strauss & Cropsey, "History of Political Philosophy" at 31; cites to Plato are my own translations from Loeb library editions. Oh-I forgot, the real James Ceaser doesn't read Greek. But he's a good guy. Just straying a bit from where he belongs.

Rob Bell has been doing this for several years. It demonstrates that be both listens to constituents and recognizes them for their participation. We need more elected officials like him.