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?
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
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
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:
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
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
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.
January 27, 2002
(c) Copyright. All rights reserved. Paul Goldman.