Rebel With a Cause

Paul Goldman

Have They No Shame?
In the name of decency, the Dead Heads in the General Assembly should apologize for using the manicured lawns of the State Capitol as if it were an overflow parking lot for a Grateful Dead concert.


Have Speaker of the House William Howell, R-Fredericksburg, Senate Rules Chairman Malfourd "Bo" Trumbo, R-Fincastle, and their 138 legislative colleagues no respect for Virginia's heritage? On a daily basis, they have shown no concern for the State Capitol Square image of the Commonwealth they're projecting to the rest of the nation, the world, not to mention the citizens and school children of Virginia. To paraphrase a famous lament from another generation: At long last, have all of you no sense of decency, no sense of shame?

This is a fair, indeed, imperative to question to ask, given the disgusting -- yes, disgusting -- spectacle of the General Assembly, in full view of the Governor and his Cabinet, turning the grass grounds of Mr. Jefferson's Capitol into what resembles an overflow parking lot for some Grateful Dead rock concert.

By order of Mr. Howell and Mr. Trumbo, pursuant to their authority under Section 2.2-1172 (B) of the Code of Virginia, the Capitol Police are powerless to protect the lawns, the scenery, the very image of Virginia, from the ruts of car tires grinding into the Capitol grass turf as legislators hurriedly park so they don't have to walk an extra block or two to the General Assembly. It is as arrogant, as self-indulgent, as elitist, as disrespectful to the values of Virginia as anything the General Assembly and its leadership has done in recent years.

But the Capitol Police are controlled by the politicians, and so they are duty-bound to follow the order to park these cars on the grass. The taxpayers of Virginia have paid millions of dollars over the years to beautify this Square. Yet our elected officials in Richmond, despite claiming there is no money to meet the state's constitutional obligations to educate Virginia's school children and protect the poor from the harsh reality of the current economic downturn, have decided that they must quickly spend another tens of millions of our dollars - House Bill 2804 says it will cost Virginians up to $125 million - to fix up the very same Capitol complex that the politicians are now abusing.

But it will take more -- a lot more -- to fix up the State Capitol than money. So the politicians in Richmond can start by apologizing to the people of Virginia for their total disregard for the dignity, the majesty, the essential essence of not only the Capitol grounds, but the heritage of our land, our beauty, our self-respect that is uniquely Virginian and that is part of our character.

In the words of a famous song line that helped get the Virginia General Assembly to come to its collective senses several generations ago:

"How many times can a man turn his head, pretending he just doesn't see?"

Apparently, the number of times could soon equal several dozens as we can only expect more cars to be parked on the grass while the 2003 Legislative Session shifts into high gear.

Unless the people act. So, I have sent emails to both Speaker Howell and Senator Trumbo, with copies to the Majority and Minority leaders of each chamber, calling on them to stop turning the grass lawns of the Capitol into a parking lot for politicians who show so little appreciation for the state they claim to represent. I have copied below the e-mail sent to Mr. Trumbo; the one sent to Mr. Howell makes the same declarations.

Dear Senator Trumbo:

Given your authority under 2.2-1172 (B) of the Code of Virginia [it reads "During sessions of the General Assembly, parking in the Capitol Square shall be subject to rules and regulations adopted jointly by the Speaker of the House of Delegates and the chairman of the Senate Committee on Rules"], I am sending this to formally express, in writing, my disgust at the use of the grass of the Capitol grounds as a parking lot for the cars of members of the General Assembly.

There has seldom been so blatant and so self-evident a display of the General Assembly's lack of respect for Virginia's values, not to mention such an utter lack of caring or concern by them as regards the image Virginia presents to the rest of the citizens of the country who visit Mr. Jefferson's capitol for it's historic and other significance.

After checking, I was informed that this car-parking policy has been dictated to the Capitol Police; in other words, they are just following orders, as they should, and that you, as Chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, have the power to issue a new order, telling the Capitol Police not allow the parking of cars on the grass grounds of the Capitol. [I have sent Speaker Howell a nearly identical email, for I seriously doubt that if either of you wanted to stop the practice, the other would object.]

Mr. Chairman, right now, the General Assembly is using the Capitol grounds as if it were some overflow parking area for a rock concert.

I have had the good fortune of visiting a number of other state capitols, and those states would not permit such an ugly, disrespectful spectacle as is now permitted at our State Capitol.

If we want our children to respect our values, to respect the beauty of our land and our historic areas, then how can the political leaders of the Commonwealth set such a disgraceful, uncaring example?

In political life, you lead by your actions.

There are plenty of parking areas close by the General Assembly building and the State Capitol to accommodate all the legitimate needs of your membership, not to mention other options which are perfectly consistent with the job of a legislator.

The members of the General Assembly were not elected to create such an ugly, disrespectful spectacle, one that effectively holds-up the image of Virginia to public ridicule, not only among our citizens but visitors from across the nation and the globe.

Right now, the General Assembly and the Governor want tens of millions of dollars to fix up the Capitol grounds -- money that could go instead to repair school buildings, many of them built during the days of segregation -- in time for the Jamestown celebration in 2007. But you can clean up the biggest current eyesore by this Monday, January 27th, 2003 with just the stroke of the pen ordering the Capitol Police to keep the cars off the grass.


     Paul Goldman

-- January 27, 2002

(c) Copyright. All rights reserved. Paul Goldman. 2003.


Bring Home the Bacon

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View with Capitol Building

 in the background.

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Party time!

View with Virginia Supreme

 Court in the background.

Notice the green-tinted

"Party  Perfect" truck

snaking through the cars.

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View from the Capitol


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Paul Goldman, the Rebel With a Cause, was chief political strategist for the past two winning Democratic governors in Virginia and was credited with leading a "revolution in American politics" by The New York Times for his role in breaking America's 300-year-old color barrier in national politics.






Tell the mandarins in the General Assembly what you think about the abuse of the Capitol grounds. 


E-mail Sen. Malfourd W. "Bo" Trumbo, R-Fincast-

le, chairman of the Senate Rules committee.


E-mail Del. William J. Howell, R-Fredericks-

burg, House Majority Leader.


Find e-mail and other contact information for your elected representative.






Who Are They?


Readers, help Paul Goldman and Bacon's Rebellion identify the legislators using the Capitol lawn as a parking lot. We took down the following license plates Monday morning:


House of Delegates: