- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 25, 2002

A few political dim bulbs in Loudoun County are threatening to turn out the lights of their constituents.

They apparently believe that a bad idea is better than no idea at all.

To be fair, the bad idea is not theirs.

Light pollution is the obsession of something called the International Dark Sky Association, which is based in Tucson, Ariz.

The objective of the forces of darkness is "to preserve and protect the nighttime environment and our heritage of dark skies through quality outdoor lighting."

To put it another way, the forces of darkness know what is best for you, whether you like it or not.

So let's give a warm welcome to Mr. Prowler. Hi there, Mr. Prowler. No sense hanging out by the bushes. Come on inside the old homestead. Help yourself to whatever you like, so long as the bulb in your flashlight meets county regulations.

Prowlers are not the only ones afraid of the light.

David Crawford, a retired astronomer who heads the forces of darkness, is motivated by the news that more and more Americans are unable to view the Milky Way at night because of the increasing illumination.

"Mankind and everything else grew up with the cycle of day and night, and that tends to be disappearing," Mr. Crawford told CNN.com in March.

This is frightening stuff, no doubt, as the forces of darkness have made clear in their presentation to the county.

See the stars. Save Dracula.

The nine supervisors are laboring extra hard, attempting to consider all the ramifications of a lights policy, starting with what it might mean to their future political viability.

Two can play the "lights out" game with intrusive policy-makers.

It is funny how everyone's priorities have changed since September 11.

Authorities are accosting all blue-haired grandmothers from Minnesota, and the minions of D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams are installing cameras on every street corner in the city, and the politicos of Loudoun County are thinking of monitoring the public's light use.

What's next, bed checks?

While they are at it, the county supervisors might as well draft legislation that makes it a misdemeanor not to eat all the lima beans on your plate.

Supervisor Bill Bogard, Sugarland Run independent, has drafted a Rubik's Cube-like proposal. He is not kidding. It just seems that way.

His submission addresses the issue of wattage and residential vs. commercial lighting. He has different codes for different areas and different times for different properties.

He has a little bit of this and a little bit of that in his 15-page tome, possibly even an addendum on what it means if a property owner knows the secret password when the Light Police show up.

The whole thing is fatiguing.

You could tell by the residents who attended the public hearing last week. Most fell asleep before they reached the fifth page.

An appearance by Santa Claus complemented the goofy concept.

Maybe it beats the alternative.

The county supervisors usually spend their time pretending to grapple with highly complex land-use issues.

The grappling comes with a wink-wink, considering the eastern end of the county already has been ceded to Fairfax County. The county supervisors just have not had the good manners to inform residents.

Loudoun County has dissolved into a kind of Jekyll-and-Hyde place.

There is suburban sprawl on one end of the county and the horsy set on the other, with Leesburg serving as an unofficial demarcation line.

The county supervisors have allowed the commercial eyesore on Route 7 in Sterling to spring up, and they have neglected to tell eager developers that the last thing the overburdened roadways need is another community of homes with streets named after race horses.

But lights, they can do lights, and they will work through the night to resolve it and, if necessary, by candlelight.

Abraham Lincoln did all right by candlelight.


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