Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Case Against the "Peace Palace" And A Response to Rudy Butler

In response to an overwhelming public outcry opposing the building of the Maharishi's Peace Palace, District 4 Supervisor Rudy Butler has been in damage control mode, assuring Goochland residents that those of us organizing the resistance are overreacting and saying that we are "spreading false rumours."

Let me state personally that I do not wish to go to war with Mr. Butler. However, he was given extensive amounts of well documented information citing the reasons why Goochland County should be alarmed over the prospect of becoming home to the Maharashi's "Peace Palace."

Unfortunately, Mr. Butler chose to ignore that information, and dismissed our concerns as being intolerant. At a recent Republican Party meeting, he reportedly suggested that we are claiming the Maharishi's followers are dangerous criminals and perhaps terrorists. That is hyperbolic nonsense, but an objective review of their track record makes clear that they are a menace and have created problems for locals in many places where they practice their peculiar brand of "peace." On more than one occasion, Mr. Butler has referred to the Transcendental Meditation cult as "Muslims" and misidentified their world headquarters as being in "Illinois" as opposed to Iowa.

Mr. Butler is now congratulting himself by boasting that he has directed the state Attorney General's office to investigate the matter and that the investigation validates his lack of concern. Why didn't he bother reading any of the material himself? Mr. Butler never returned my phone calls after I provided information to him. Although the Maharishi is a fugitive from justice, we've never asked for a criminal investigation of his followers. Plenty of damning information is publicly available. I've personally spoken to four former residents of Fairfield, Iowa and all of them agree that this cult has ruined what was once a peaceful town of 10-thousand residents.

Please take a moment to review some of the information and decide for yourself whether we are overreacting:
- Washington Post article (read here) describing a bizarre news conference with the Maharishi himself where he lays out his global Peace Palace strategy. Note that this was actually a "tele-conference" with the Marharishi speaking from his monastery in the Netherlands. He doesn't get around much because he is wanted in the United States, India and Switzerland on charges of tax evasion!

"One recurring theme was his (the Maharishi) loathing of governments, particularly democracies. “This democratic system is so cruel, so cruel,” he said. “It divides the nation into many, many small, small groups and makes them fight. . . . Democracy — I call it ‘damn democracy.’ "

This article also describes how rich the Maharishi is getting off of selling "peace bonds" and using the money to buy "agricultural lands" of which Goochland is plainly included. The Global Country of World Peace won't stop with the small strip of land behind the bank. This website is loaded with dozens of articles describing this cult's pattern of targeting communities and expanding their influence.

- Associated Press article (read here) describing the group's attempt to seize farmland by eminent domain in Iowa:

"The meditating community has met with resistance and sometimes hostility from the farmers, residents and business owners of Fairfield, where Yogi and his TM organizations bought the defunct Parsons College campus in 1974. In 2001, a group of the meditators decided to establish their own city a few miles north of Fairfield. Since its inception, Maharishi Vedic City has generated local controversy."

- Article from the London-based Guardian Newspaper (read here) , describing a murder on the campus of Maharishi University in Iowa:

"The Maharishi himself is reported to have blamed the violence on US foreign policy. Dr Craig Pearson, executive vice-president of Maharishi University, said: 'Maharishi Mahesh Yogi has made one comment regarding this event. He said that this is an aspect of the violence we see throughout society, including the violence that our country is perpetrating in other countries."

"Critics of the Maharishi - including former students and staff and Fairfield residents - have been inundating the local newspaper with calls and emails. They allege that the movement strives to prevent negative publicity that might halt donations from its wealthy alumni."

It's worth mentioning that all three of the above articles are from either centrist (AP) or liberal (Washington Post & Guardian) media outlets. We do not object to the Maharishis followers simply because they are strange or eccentric. We do object to them because they are a well funded group of fanatics who have a political and social agenda that has resulted in serious conflict in other communities, especially Fairfield, Iowa.

Residents of Goochland should be advised that the construction of the Peace Palace is not a done deal! The lot behind the Bank of Goochland at the corner of Broad and Manakin Road falls within what is known as the "overlay district," or, within 500 feet of Broad Street. That means that the Peace Palace building design must be approved by the Design Review Committee. So far, building plans have not been submitted. However, at some point in the near future, a decision will have to made and that decision will likely rest with the five members of the Design Review Committe, all of whom are appointed by their respective Supervisor.

Learn the facts about this cult, and let your Supervisor know (click here to call your supervisor)that we will not allow these anti-democratic, anti-American people to come to Goochland without a fight!

(posted by Jim Hale)

Thursday, September 27, 2007


This posting is the first installment featuring Goochland County residents sharing their hopes and dreams for the future of the place we call home. All of those who share our committment to Keep Goochland Beautiful are encouraged to speak your mind as well. Send your story to Our first contributor is Sandra Randell, seen with her husband Mike.
Being residents in the locality of Centerville Village, my husband and I have nervously tracked recent news regarding the proposed strip mall adjacent to Satterwhite's, and the "Peace Palace" located behind the Goochland Bank. Being placed across from each other, both projects will have an immediate and tremendous impact on those of us using the intersection of 621 and Broad Street. Other Goochland residents will be affected by the long term ramifications should either (or both) be pushed through without proper thought and planning. Firstly, addressing the strip mall.

If the strip mall is granted a B1 commercial status, (meaning a very broad interpretation of the word "business"), our little "Village" of Centerville will be reduced to a glut of fast food merchants and small businesses already seen at the shops off Parham and Broad, as well as at the Short Pump intersection with Broad Street. A steady flow of traffic exiting from I-64 will turn the area into an offshoot of Midlothian Turnpike, as already published in correspondence to the editor of the "Goochland Gazette". My husband, a retired City of Richmond Detective Sgt, is only too well acquainted with the high crime rate associated with such traffic corridors and low rent industries. One only has to look back 30 years to the area of Midlothian Turnpike and Cloverleaf mall. Once a charming neighbourhood of upscale shops and modest homes, now a blight of violent crime and derelict malls. Not something we want to wish upon our future in Goochland.

Regarding the "Peace Palace". While living in the UK, we had first hand experience of what such an edifice and its followers would create. The very well funded, and close knit groups associated with the Maharishi will quietly and efficiently meet all requirements to become elected officials. It may take a while, but when a majority of his followers are in a position to make it so, laws will be changed to accommodate their own agenda. Those living in localities affected will either join the newly created majority, or leave. I hope current elected Goochland officials will take the time to thoroughly research all the long term ramifications created by their actions today. Also, I ask each Goochland County resident to use the privilege of their vote and be active citizens in this wonderful democracy we live in. My husband and I earned this privilege, and as Citizens of The United States we eagerly exercise our right to do so.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Make no mistake. Growth is the most urgent issue for the 20-thousand citizens of Goochland County as witnessed by the standing-room-only crowd that packed into the Goochland Library on Wednesday night. This outstanding event, organized by Concerned Citizens with Goochland's Growth, brought Board of Supervisor candidates in Districts 3,4 and 5 before the voters to address all issues pertaining to residential and commercial development. For more than three hours, candidates made appeals for votes, answered tough questions, and (best of all) had to listen to a comment period where those in attendance were allowed to speak out without a response from the candidates.

Undoubtedly the most heated, competitive and expensive race is in District 5, where incumbent Jim Eads is trying to fend off a strong challenge from Pat Turner. Looking relaxed and confident, Eads tried to assure the growth conscience crowd that his criteria for assessing development will be, "Does it enhance the health, safety and welfare of the county?" He said he "wanted to reflect the will of the people" and that he "absolutely" supports the comprehensive plan (see here), stating that the "comprehensive plan will be your plan" (referring to the updated version soon-to-be released). It was disappointing that Eads admitted he was not even aware of the planned development behind Satterwhites Restaurant. Eads said he believes that infrastructure should be in place before commercial development goes ahead in "Centerville Village." He agreed that traffic at Broad Street and Manakin Road is a safety hazard, but made no assurances that improvements would be made before the planned strip mall project moves forward. There's an obvious problem here and it's a big one. Traffic at the intersection of Broad and Manakin Road is already dangerous and will become a serious public safety problem when you add hundreds of more cars coming and going. So, how can the Board of Supervisors even consider giving the green light to such a project before a traffic light is installed and other improvements are made? VDOT says it won't get around to fixing things until 2009. Eads needs to shoot straight and let us know - does that "infrastructure" he says is so important include traffic? Will the roads be fixed and a light be in place before the Satterwhites development goes ahead?

Perhaps the most interesting candidate is Pat Turner, who began his professional career as the county real estate appraiser in Chesterfield some thirty years ago. Realizing he was speaking before a highly skeptical audience given his current occupation as a private real estate appraiser, Turner demonstrated considerable charm in making a case for his 35 years of experience being an advantage. "I know good development from bad development," said Turner. The challenger discussed the need to generate more tax revenue from business, estimating that Goochland's residents likely provide more than 90% of the tax base. Turner's campaign message seems to be that growth is both inevitable and needed, and he is the guy who will provide leadership to make sure that growth is done smartly. He bluntly stated that he believes the comprehensive plan has already been taken off the table, and suggested that the "village concept" is antiquated, based on his discussions with those who conceived it in the first place. It was a good performance by someone who's never run for public office and Turner comes across as refreshingly honest, but he's going to have an uphill battle convincing District 5 voters that he's not going to do the bidding of developers. If Mr. Turner wants to dump the whole village thing, he had better come up with a good alternative and spell it out - fast! Those blue water and sewage pipes are sitting in front of Food Lion right now.

The only real fireworks of the evening erupted when District 4 Supervisor Rudy Butler charged to the podium and came out swinging to defend himself against yours truly, for questioning his oft-quoted pledge to Keep Goochland Rural, and his inaction in responding to the building of the Peace Palace. Although he is the only candidate running unopposed, Rudy was fired up and feisty. He said that it was the duty of the citizens to check the comprehensive plan to see how the land surrounding them is zoned before they move in, therefore we shouldn't complain when the bulldozers get going if it's zoned commercial. Well......the comprehensive plan calls for something called "Centerville Village," which doesn't sound anything like the strip mall plans behind Satterwhites Restaurant that were unveiled last week!
These candidates all need to get a grip on the exact definition of exactly what a "village" is. The big question for now is, how can you develop an aesthically pleasing "village," complete with streetlights, sidewalks, outdoor dining (not fast-food!), and cleanliness, while rezoning property within "village" bounds down to B-1.
B-1 is the least restrictive of all commercial zoning and the list for approved businesses under B-1 is very long. We're talking everything from fast-food joints, Walgreen-type drug stores (so long Gunn's Pharmacy), office spaces (Karate anyone?)....a serious case of hodge-podge. Thrown in a big ole nasty black-top parking lot, and there you have it, a STRIP MALL!

These guys wince at the sound of strip mall, and well they should. Every candidate bent over backwards to reassure us how valuable and vital our input is. We will soon see if they are listening or just pandering before an election.
Our thanks to Citizens Concerned for Goochland Growth for staging this important event. Candidates in Districts 1 and 2 have their turn on October 3rd.
(posted by Jim Hale)

Thursday, September 20, 2007


Many Richmonders can remember a time not so long ago when Midlothian was a sleepy village, where residents enjoyed a laid-back, rural lifestyle, similar to the way of life that Goochland County residents are clinging to. But after years of reckless, unfettered commercial development, Midlothian Turnpike today is a disaster of endless fast-food restaurants, strip malls, traffic lights and, of course, terrible congestion. This once attractive community turned suburban nightmare should serve as a warning to everyone who is proud to call Goochland County home.

The saddest thing about these pictures is that the people who lived in Midlothian twenty five years ago never wanted this to happen! This was a lovely rural community, but the elected officials were more concerned about tax revenue than serving its citizens. Never mind the fact that Chesterfield County did not have the infrastructure to support the massive growth that continues today. Much of Chesterfield already resembles the horror of Northern Virginia.

This is where the battle lines have been drawn in Goochland County, at the corner of Broad Street and Manakin Road.

If developers have their way, this cornfield directly behind Satterwhites Restaurant will soon become a massive strip shopping center, twice the size of the Food Lion shopping center just down the road. But, the land must be rezoned and of course that means the proposal must come before the Goochland County Board of Supervisors. Developers want the property to be classified as B-1 which is the least restrictive of all commercial classifications. The list of businesses approved under B-1 includes fast-food restaurants, drug stores such as CVS and office space. This is the epitome of hodge-podge development and does not fit in with the county's plans to build "Centerville Village."

Access to the strip mall would be open to both Manakin Road and Broad Street. Locals know how challenging and dangerous it already is to turn left onto Broad Street from Manakin Road. Add hundreds of more cars into the mix and we're talking about a serious decline in our quality of life, not to mention our safety. No doubt many of those cars would come off of I-64 and 288 after seeing highways signs advertising the fast-food joints and gas stations.

This is why we choose to live in Goochland County, but we are going to have to fight to keep it. The time to act is now to prevent our elected officials from allowing Goochland to become another Chesterfield! The Citizens Committee To Keep Goochland Beautiful is a non-partisan group of Goochland residents who feel strongly that the time has come to draw the line on poorly conceived commercial development.

If we do not act, eastern Goochland County will be lost forever! You can start by clicking here and contacting your representative on the Board of Supervisors.

Please return to this website for updated information regarding an upcoming meeting open to all residents of Goochland. Your involvement is needed and wanted! We invite you to click on the "comments" section below to let your voice be heard.

(posted by Jim Hale)