- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 26, 2004

A few thousand friends and constituents of a Virginia state delegate had a “A Cosgrove Christmas.”

Delegate John A. Cosgrove, Chesapeake Republican, sent out 3,500 CDs of himself singing Christmas carols and other Christian songs accompanied by piano.

Singing is “a gift God gave me, and it’s something I’ve tried to use,” Mr. Cosgrove told the Virginian-Pilot newspaper of Norfolk. “It’s something I’ve felt I have to share.”

Mr. Cosgrove, 50, who studied voice at the Shenandoah Conservatory in Winchester, tests his mellow tenor on 10 songs in the CD, titled “A Cosgrove Christmas.”

Produced with a mix of campaign and personal money, the songs were recorded in 2003 but put on a shelf until this year. The company that manufactured the CD didn’t get it back to the legislator in time to send it out for Christmas last year.

Mr. Cosgrove left Shenandoah after a few years, going on to earn degrees in electrical engineering from Tidewater Community College and Old Dominion University.

Singing, however, has continued to be a part of his life. He’s sung at everything from Veterans Day events and charity fund-raisers in Chesapeake to a Founders’ Day dinner at ODU.

The CD reflects his Christian beliefs, he said.

“I feel, being a Christian, that Christmas is the time to recognize the birth of Jesus,” he said.

Noticeably missing from the CD are secular standards like “White Christmas” and “The Christmas Song.” He looked into putting one or two on the CD, but he didn’t have the kind of money needed to pay the royalties for recording them.

“The cost would have been roughly $8,000 for both songs just to record them.”

So he stuck with some of his free, personal favorites like ” Ave Maria” and ” Amazing Grace.”

• Civility? Right …

Gov. Mark Warner’s call to a return to civility in politics was received by a Republican Party official with criticism of Mr. Warner as a “high-tax, liberal Democrat” who broke a campaign promise.

Mr. Warner offered his counsel recently to winter graduates at Old Dominion University.

“If you remember nothing else of what I say to you today, remember this: No one in politics has a monopoly on virtue, patriotism or, most importantly, the truth,” Mr. Warner said.

Mr. Warner complained that “increasingly shrill” debates and “personal and partisan attacks” had fostered cynicism toward government.

The blame, he said, “should be applied equally to the right and to the left, to Democrats and Republicans.”

Mr. Warner told the graduates, “We can, for example, disagree about the war in Iraq or about our nation’s foreign policy without questioning each other’s patriotism or love of country.”

But in an interview with the Virginian-Pilot newspaper of Norfolk, a state Republican leader mocked Mr. Warner’s attempt to stake out the political center.

“Mark Warner is just another high-tax, liberal Democrat hoping to mask his legacy by spouting perceived centrist rhetoric,” said Shawn M. Smith, the executive director of the Republican Party of Virginia. “Mark Warner ran for governor promising unequivocally not to raise taxes, but he jumped at the first chance he had to ram through a massive tax increase.”

Mr. Smith said: “If Mark Warner truly wants to change the lack of civil discourse within his own party, he needs to demand that the national Democrats abandon their steady rhetoric of pessimism and hate.”

• In the red

An auditor’s review shows that Baltimore County’s first Waterfront Festival cost about $16,000 more than it took in through donations.

The finding contradicts projections by county officials, who said the event would net $25,000 for victims of Tropical Storm Isabel.

County Auditor Brian Rowe wrote that the discrepancies came largely from omissions in the official accounting.

Mr. Rowe said the budget didn’t include overtime or $17,000 in grant money from the county. With those and other expenses added, the festival cost about $69,000. The festival took in $53,000 in donations.

The county’s recreation and parks department director says no matter what, the disagreement over cost isn’t expected to affect how much money ultimately goes to Isabel victims.

• You build, you pay

The Salisbury City Council has given final approval to a new impact fee. The $4,800 fee will be charged to developers for each new unit.

The ordinance, however, allows an exemption for developers who have already submitted a preliminary site plan. Developers eligible for an exemption must file an appeal with the mayor’s office within 30 days.

City officials say eight out of 92 pending projects appear to be far enough along in the approval process to qualify for the exemption.

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