duo was unable to find any, so they went with a top
list of “Lowlights.”
The “trial” of Newport News judge Verbena
Askew in the General Assembly and GOP candidate Paul
Jost’s declaration that Sen. Ken Stolle of
Virginia Beach was a “Nazi” made the list.
Did we have to be reminded, though?
Schapiro of the Richmond
Times-Dispatch handled the traditional
“Christmas Gifts” column.
He bestowed mostly snide and snarky presents
for state “movers and shakers,” including an
“accomplishment” for Gov. Mark R. Warner, an
“idea or issue” for Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine, and a
“remedial course in legal ethics” for Attorney
General Jerry Kilgore.
A few of his gifts seemed to be tokens of
affection for his best sources, such as a
“low-maintenance” boss for Ellen Qualls, the
governor’s press secretary, and “smile
lessons” for Shawn Smith from Laura Bland.
Smith is spokesperson for the Republicans;
Bland for the Democratic Party.
Barton Hinkle of the Times-Dispatch
to be named Poet Laureate of Virginia anytime soon.
Hinkle attempted to capture the essence of
2003 in verse, at least gaining points for degree of
Shareef of the Roanoke
Times reviewed his own 2003 columns.
Not surprisingly, Shareef found only unerring
good judgment — not a second thought to be had.
Someone who should have had second thoughts
before he filed his “New Year’s resolutions”
column was James
Young of the Potomac
continued his annoying practice of describing Mark
Warner as “Virginia’s Boyish Governor.”
Virginia Pundit Watch resolution for all
commentators: no end-of-year columns in 2004.
over an issue with real-world implications for
thousands of Virginia families simmered under the
radar screen during the holidays.
Virginia’s Child Day Care Council
recommended a number of regulatory changes, but it
was an increase in the amount of “activity
space” that drew the most fire.
Within five years, each child must have 35
square feet of space.
The current requirement is 25 feet.
In a Roanoke
Times op-ed, Maurice
Jones and Gail Johnson, explained and defended
the changes. Jones
is Commissioner of Social Services and Johnson is
chair of the Child Care Council.
to the Tax Man
L. Douglas Wilder, writing in the Richmond
Times-Dispatch, may not support Gov. Warner’s
plan to raise the sales tax, but he carefully
couched his opinion: “I have taken no position on
these matters, as I have not been privy to those
discussions. But I have expressed concern about the
raising of taxes to reduce taxes.”
Power of Prerogatives
Bryant, R-Lynchburg, Roanoke
Times columnist, offered useful insight into the
different processes used by the Virginia House of
Delegates and Senate to collect and spend tax
dollars. The house
splits revenue and appropriation; the senate
considers them together.
Gov. Warner’s budget takes the senate
approach, leading the House to balk, feeling its
prerogatives are being challenged.
Their Own Way
Tech President Charles
Steger described what he termed the “slow
erosion of the capacity of our colleges and
universities” in Roanoke
Times op-ed. This piece appears to be the
opening of a campaign to allow some Virginia
universities more autonomy. Bob
Gibson of the Progress
described initial talks between state legislators
and Virginia Tech, the University of Virginia, and
William and Mary regarding
“charter” bills that would allow the
schools “increased authority to operate
independently in the areas of procurement,
personnel, health insurance and retirement.”
That authority might also include tuition
hikes, since increased funding from the General
Assembly seems unlikely.
Scarborough of the Washington
Post would likely sign on to the charter plan.
She asked, “Is it really necessary to take
more money from struggling Virginians so that
college presidents can expand their empires?”
Bowl Games Have They Played In?
lament about the ravages of decreased funding
for Virginia universities reminded him of the fate
suffered by — get this -- Oxford and Cambridge in
Britain. Those two “powerhouses” saw a decline
in the number of Nobel Prize winners over the course
of a funding drought. And Oxford and Cambridge
didn’t expend any effort to get into the Atlantic
Coast Conference, either.
Gibson of the Daily
Progress caught up with Virginia’s most
celebrated pundit, University of Virginia Professor
Larry Sabato, and described his adjustment to living
on the celebrated UVA lawn for the first time since
he was an undergraduate 30 years ago.
One of the “perks” of lawn living that
Sabato enjoys are student streakers, dependably
appearing three nights a week.
January 5, 2004