who still underestimates the Kilgore brothers has
been playing football without a helmet for too long.
These mountain boys, as Spike Lee might say, have
got game. Take, for example,
how Del. Terry Kilgore, R-Gate City, voted against
the controversial $118 million financing package for
renovating the buildings around Capitol Square -- a
suspected boondoggle, as reporter Jeff Schapiro has
noted, for the insiders in the state's political
Given the alleged lack of resources in the state
budget to adequately fund core state needs, spending
tens of millions to fix up the Old Finance Building
rather than, say, renovating old school buildings
will be hard to explain to the electorate. Some of
these millions is going to give the politicians and
bureaucrats new office space, and many more millions
will go to politically connected law firms, lobbying
organizations and financial houses at a time when
kids are forced to go to school in leaky trailers or
sit in outmoded buildings erected during the height
Kilgore country, in far Southwest Virginia,
gold-plating the Capitol complex is sure to be a
political issue on the road toward 2005. Terry
Kilgore is smart, as were the other 13 members of
the House of Delegates to vote against it, including
House Democratic leader Frank Hall. They see what is
coming, and they want to protect themselves.
bet: Attorney General Kilgore is keeping his powder
dry here, waiting to see how much money some key GOP
insiders make on this deal, as the contracts are
slated to be awarded by a new procedure, one that
has already been questioned by Schapiro in his
weekly column. If politically connected Republicans
don't share sufficiently in the spoils, then don't
be surprised to see Attorney General Kilgore make an
issue of these tens of millions.
I read Del. Kilgore's vote as a shrewd move. It
gives the Kilgore boys leverage over Warner and
Democratic insiders, and could win big friends on
the GOP side of the equation.
are 24/7 when it comes to getting the Kilgore's
moved into the Governor's Mansion.
let me propose a better approach for the Democrats:
one that does the right thing in the current fiscal
crisis, will prove politically popular across
Virginia, and will make the Kilgore brothers sing
our tune for a change.
take that money and build schools for our children,
not marble edifices for our politicians. Admittedly,
Jefferson's Capitol, home to the oldest legislature
in the New World, needs some maintenance among other
improvements. But the immediate needs can be handled
without leading Schapiro down the yellow brick road
to the mother lode.
Second, erect another statue. All these new $118
million in construction materials will not hide the
obvious: There is not a single statute on the
Capitol Square featuring an African-American or a
female Virginian. The last new statute erected on
the grounds was the likeness of former Governor and
Senator Harry F. Byrd, the foremost segregationist
in Virginia's political history.
was, the Byrd Machine tried to keep Virginia for
"their kind," and those of us who know our
history also know this never included most
Virginians. Harry and his henchman ruled with an
iron grip for half a century.
got his statute. Let it stand, for it serves as a
reminder of many things, all which we need to
remember, not forget. But now, it seems to me, the
time has come to put some balance in the scales of
political justice. We can no longer turn our heads
and pretend that we don't see.
Imagine: Four centuries since Jamestown, the whole
world watching and not a single statute on our
Capitol Grounds showing we get it. There is no
reason for our elected officials to allow us to be
held up to such international ridicule.
me, the idea of finally erecting a statute in
Capitol Square to honor the women and
African-American heroes who built Virginia hardly
seems controversial at all. But here we are, and
nothing has yet been done, at least as best as the
average citizen can determine. Given the normal
governmental process required to change this
unacceptable condition by 2007, there isn't time to
Green stuff alone will not restore our state capitol
square to it's proper glory. The tourists and media
due to arrive in 2007 are coming to see how far we
have come since the first harsh winter at Jamestown.
is not measured in bricks and mortar and the
convenience of a new parking garage. The New World
gave birth to an individual freedom which
electrified the minds of people everywhere.
It started in Virginia. It is our revolution. Let's
make sure the whole world knows how much pride we
take in it.
March 10, 2003
(c) Copyright. All rights reserved. Paul Goldman.