No, Senator, Cold Kills More People Than Heat

Sen. Ghazala Hashmi (D-Chesterfield)

by Steve Haner

No more will Virginians have to suffer through hot summer days without the active intervention of Big Government.  Virginia’s Senate Democrats are proudly advancing legislation to demand state government develop a comprehensive statewide heat emergency response plan, and then seek to impose its leadership by “coordinating” with other state agencies and local governments.

“Extreme heat kills more Americans on average than any other weather-related hazard,” claimed Senator Ghazala Hashmi, D-Richmond, in a Tweet announcing the passage of her Senate Bill 936 on Thursday. The idea now goes to the House of Delegates.

First, the claim in demonstrably false, as plenty of solid data show that deaths from cold far exceed deaths from heat. More on that in a moment.

Second, the solution to the problem (not rocket science) is called air conditioning, and Hashmi is one of the more extreme of the climate warriors seeking to drive up the cost of the electricity that runs those air conditioners.  Her vision of a wind-solar-battery powered grid is already causing energy reliability problems during California heat waves. Continue reading

AG Miyares Takes Aim At Lawless Parole Board

Jason Miyares, Attorney General of Virginia

by Kerry Dougherty

Never was the left’s affection for criminals more apparent than in the spring of 2020 when Virginia’s Parole Board, under the leadership of self-confessed “bleeding heart” Adrianne Bennett went on a madcap freeing spree.

According to an exhaustive 66-page report released this week by Attorney General Jason Miyares, Bennett’s actions during just a two-month period — March and April of that year — endangered public safety over and over with the release of scores of violent predators.

Of the 134 offenders released between March 2020 and April 2020, 130 of them were convicted of violent crimes. Only four were non-violent.

These offenders were not released due to COVID-19 and the Parole Board was not given authority to release offenders due to the pandemic. Instead, they were released due to the traceable actions of one person: then Parole Board Chair Adrianne Bennett. Bennett is now a judge for the 2nd Judicial District Juvenile & Domestic Relations Court in Virginia Beach. Miyares launched the investigation into the Northam administration’s Parole Board on his first day in office due to an executive order signed by Gov. Glenn Youngkin. Continue reading

Fairfax County Officials Pay Big Bucks to Another Controversial Author

by Asra Q. Nomani

Fairfax County Public Library officials are paying controversial writer Nikole Hannah-Jones, author of The 1619 Project, $35,350 for a one-hour lecture on Feb. 19 at the McLean Community Center, with a price tag that amounts to $589 per minute, according to a copy of the contract obtained by the Fairfax County Times.

Fairfax County Public Library, a county government agency, is paying $29,350 of the  total fee and the McLean Community Center is paying $6,000, according to Jessica Hudson, library director.

Local taxpayers are raising issues with the expenditure, coupled with the $22,500 that the Fairfax County Library paid for divisive author Ibram X. Kendi for a 60-minute virtual discussion last month. The combined amount to both speakers comes to $57,850, or about the annual starting salary of $54,421 for a librarian in Fairfax County. This past August, library officials announced they were curtailing operating hours because of “ongoing staff recruitment challenges.”

“By my estimates, the Fairfax County Public Library is using over $60,000 in taxpayer funds to host Ibram Kendi and Nikole Hannah-Jones as speakers,” said William Denk, a local resident who first alerted the Fairfax County Times to the bill, after discovering the fee. “I would like to see the Board of Supervisors reach out to Kendi and Hannah-Jones to ask that they return these funds to Fairfax County to help our local homeless population.” Continue reading

Three Warnings? You’re Out of a Job.

by Kerry Dougherty

Unbelievable. If what Abby Zwerner’s lawyer said yesterday in her press conference is true, it wasn’t enough to sack only the superintendent of Newport News Public Schools over the near-fatal shooting of a first-grade teacher by an armed 6-year-old. A host of other indifferent school administrators need to join him in the unemployment ranks.

Oh, and they all need to buckle up for legal proceedings that could blow the roof off that dysfunctional school system.

Here, watch for yourself. I’ll wait:

Diane Toscano is not an ambulance-chasing lawyer. She’s a well-respected, experienced Virginia Beach attorney who once worked as a prosecutor. She just notified Newport News of her intention to sue on behalf of the wounded teacher, which may be part of the reason the school board decided yesterday to fire George Parker, the city’s school superintendent.

Toscano knows the law and seems confident that the chronic apathy that infected administrators at Richneck Elementary School will be enough to take this case out of the Workman’s Compensation meager coverage and open the schools to full liability for Zwerner’s injuries. Continue reading

Virginia Senate Committee Passes Second Look Bill

by Hans Bader

Do all inmates deserve a chance for release? Even a serial killer, or a serial rapist who has been locked up and released before?

They may soon have that chance in Virginia. In the state Senate, the Judiciary Committee has just approved the Second Look bill, SB 842. It would allow offenders of all kinds to file petitions for release or modification of their sentences after they’ve served 15 years. Judges wouldn’t have to grant the petitions, but they could if they think an inmate has mended his ways.

Under the bill, an inmate could be released despite any “combination of any convictions” such as being convicted of both murders and rapes. The bill was approved in an 8-to-6 vote largely along party lines, over conservative opposition.

Supporters of the bill argue that “everyone deserves a second chance.” But to critics, the bill goes beyond giving offenders a second chance, because it gives even the most persistent re-offenders the opportunity to seek release — people who already had and squandered a “second chance.” As an objector noted, “most inmates doing more than 15 years have already had their second, third, fourth, and fifth chances — the typical released state prison inmate has five prior convictions, according to Rafael Mangual, who studies the criminal-justice system at the Manhattan Institute.” Continue reading

Graduates. And Not.

by John Butcher

The U.S. Department of Education requires every state to annually report high school graduation rates. Those data, along with students’ performances on state assessments in subjects such as mathematics, English, and science, along with other measures, are also used to determine annual accreditation ratings.

The VDOE’s website includes the Superintendent’s Annual Report where one can find a wealth of information at the state, division, and school levels.

At first glance, the spreadsheet in Table 5, Diploma Graduates and Completers, looks to be a source of interesting graduation data. The 2022 report gives the diploma counts for 2022 and the fall memberships for 2019. However, calculating the federal diploma rates from those data shows a 203.6% rate for Radford and 151.8% for Hopewell.
Continue reading

Naming Commission is Stripping History

by Donald Smith

The week of January 16, 2023, was a big one for Virginia heritage issues in the Richmond area. Connor Williams, the chief historian for the Congressional Naming Commission (CNC) came to the American Civil War Museum to explain and defend the commission’s sweeping recommendations toward, and its disparagement of, Confederate memories on Department of Defense installations.

That week also saw the announcement that the Hunter Holmes McGuire Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Richmond would be renamed as part of a campaign to strip “racist history from military facilities,” according to a story in the military newspaper Stars and Stripes.

In the article, Sen. Mark Warner (D), a former governor of Virginia, praised the renaming. “Naming decisions should honor the patriotism of our veterans,” he said.

So, by highlighting that particular part of Warner’s statement, the Stars and Stripes apparently thinks that, in Mark Warner’s eyes, Dr. Hunter Holmes McGuire and the Virginia soldiers he treated during the Civil War were neither patriots nor veterans.

It is time for the General Assembly to act. The GA needs to convene a hearing to explore the CNC’s recommendations and let the CNC justify them. Continue reading

On the Unlawful Nature of ‘Equity’ in Virginia

by David Gordon

The Democrats wanted a fight over Critical Race Theory (CRT). The Virginia Project and our friends gave them the fight they were begging for — and spanked them so hard they’ll never forget it. When the facts were made known, the public was overwhelmingly against it, across every demographic. Fighting CRT was a clear winner and Virginia’s Republicans rode the issue to success across the state.

However, CRT is merely the root of a much broader structure, one that includes other concepts such as “equity, diversity and inclusion” and “antiracism.” While CRT itself has been purged, with leftist schools and school boards rushing to scrub it from their materials lest they get caught and become the next schools scandal, its products remain deeply embedded — not just in the schools, but all across the state, implemented at the local level.

Critical Race Theory is dead. It’s now time to kill off its hyper-racialist demon spawn, starting with “Equity.”

“Equity” is the new “Critical Race Theory,” and the war to defeat it is rapidly entering into full swing. Continue reading

Support Governor Youngkin’s RGGI Repeal 

by Colin M. Kelly

I can only laugh at the headlines and statements being made by the media and climate alarmists about Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s efforts to pull Virginia out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).

The headline “Returning Millions to Virginia” really grates: The state takes money out of the consumer’s pocket with the RGGI tax, divides it up among cronies and supporters by issuing contracts for various studies, and then somehow claims a victory for the consumer! I guess the politicians assume you and I don’t need the money.

In the two years since former Gov. Ralph Northam implemented this tax, the state has collected over $500 million from consumers via this back-door tax embedded in our electric bills. Can you imagine the outrage if Dominion Energy had over-collected that much!

Further, the claims of reducing health costs and helping to weatherize homes are simply ridiculous. “Come on man,” I’ve been hearing these claims since the oil embargoes of the 1970’s. I would bet my dog that if you added up all the deaths supposedly avoided thanks to proposed government regulations over the last 50 years, the average John/Jane Doe’s lifespan would be 110. But sadly we are the only Western country with a declining life expectancy.

If our elected officials believe the projects to be funded by the RGGI tax have merit, then they should be funded through the state’s General Fund. However, the 5% overhead charge by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to manage RGGI is clearly outrageous. Continue reading

Virginia Community Schools Redefined – Part 2 – Stop Trying to Provide Mental Health Services in School

by James C. Sherlock

In Part 1 of this series I described the current Virginia Community School Framework (the Framework) and found it not only lacking, but counter-productive.

Its basic flaw is that it assumes all services to school children will be provided in the schools by school employees, including mental health services.

When you start there, you get nowhere very expensively, less competently, and with considerably more danger in the case of mental health than if the schools were to partner with other government and non-profit services.

This part of the series will deal with child and adolescent mental health services exclusively.

Public mental health, intellectual disability and substance abuse services for children and adolescents are funded by governments at every level. For the federal view of the system of care, see here.

In Virginia, those services are organized, overseen and funded through a state and local agency system.

  • The state agency is the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS) in the Secretariat of Health and Human Resources. The Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS) (Medicaid) plays a funding and patient management role as well;
  • Local agencies funded and overseen by DBHDS are the Community Services Boards (CSB’s) throughout the state.

Some schools and school systems seem to operate on a different planet from their local CSB’s. Indeed, the Framework mentions them only reluctantly and in passing.

The ed school establishment clearly wants to handle child and adolescent mental health problems in-house, with tragic results. They need to stop it now.

There is absolutely no need to wait. Continue reading

Newport News School Chief About To Be Sacked

by Kerry Dougherty

As I wrote this I debated whether or not to put a question mark at the end of my headline. Newport News School Chief About To Be Sacked?

I decided against it.

News reports seem certain that the Newport News School Board will vote tonight to fire School Superintendent George Parker for his cumulative failure to prevent three shootings on school property in 18 months.

The latest and most horrific, of course, was the shooting of first grade teacher Abigail Zwerner by one of her 6-year-old students on January 6.

“The Newport News School Board will vote Wednesday evening on the firing of superintendent George Parker and appointing an interim in his place,” reports The Daily Press.

“The special board meeting was announced Tuesday, and follows a series of closed meeting discussions the board has held in the past two weeks…


“Parker has faced a barrage of criticism since the Jan. 6 shooting of first-grade teacher Abigail Zwerner. The shooting is the third on school property in 18 months, following the 2021 shootings at Heritage and Menchville high schools.
Teachers, parents and community members have blamed the administration for failing to properly handle “out of control” student behavior, and have called for Parker’s removal. Dozens of teachers and parents spoke at last week’s board meeting to express their anger, and others have sent letters to school board members.”

Complaints about the superintendent concentrate largely on a widespread lack of support for teachers by administrators as they try to deal with discipline problems in their classrooms. The Washington Post reported last weekend that the child accused of shooting his teacher had been the subject of numerous behavioral complaints. He allegedly terrorized his classmates by throwing furniture and had frightened another teacher by telling her he wanted to set her on fire and watch her die.

Yet there he was, still in class, in January.

What does it take to be booted from classrooms in Newport News? Continue reading

Is It One Hour Back or One Hour Forward?

Sen. Richard Stuart, R-King George. Photo credit: Richmond Times-Dispatch

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

The Virginia General Assembly debates a lot of important bills. Nevertheless, most residents of the Commonwealth probably do not feel most of these bills affect them personally and do not have an opinion one way or the other.

However, occasionally, the legislators will take up a bill that is simple, affects everyone, and about which nearly everyone has an opinion. On Tuesday, the Virginia Senate considered such a bill. It dealt with that foolish requirement to change our clocks by one hour twice a year.

Sen. Richard Stuart (R-King George) had SB 1017, which would have made daylight saving time in effect all year in the Commonwealth. It was contingent upon Congress authorizing states to do so. In explaining his motivation for introducing the bill, he said that, quite frankly, he is tired of having to change his clocks twice a year. He realized that there is a division among folks as to whether it should be standard time or daylight saving time. He said that he likes to have an extra hour of daylight when he gets home from work, so he chose that approach. He went on to point out that there is a consensus in the medical profession that changing the times twice a year has significant medical consequences. Continue reading

Virginia Community Schools Redefined – Hubs for Government and Not-for-Profit Services in Inner Cities – Part 1 – the Current Framework

by James C. Sherlock

I believe a major approach to address both education and health care in Virginia’s inner cities is available if we will define it right and use it right.

Community schools.

One issue. Virginia’s official version of community schools, the Virginia Community School Framework, (the Framework) is fatally flawed.

The approach successful elsewhere brings government professional healthcare and social services and not-for-profit healthcare assets simultaneously to the schools and to the surrounding communities at a location centered around existing schools.

That model is a government and private not-for-profit services hub centered around schools in communities that need a lot of both. Lots of other goals fall into place and efficiencies are realized for both the community and the service providers if that is the approach.

That is not what Virginia has done in its 2019 Framework.

The rest of government and the not-for-profit sector are ignored and Virginia public schools are designed there to be increasingly responsible for things that they are not competent to do.

To see why, we only need to review the lists of persons who made up both the Advisory Committee and the Additional Contributors. Full of Ed.Ds and Ph.D’s in education, there was not a single person on either list with a job or career outside the field of education. Continue reading

“Strong Words” In Bills Give SCC Power On Rates

From Energy Burden Coalition flyer mailed to legislators.

By Steve Haner

One sentence, if it is the right sentence, can upset the machinations of the powerful. Two bills pending in the 2023 Virginia General Assembly contain such a sentence, and it could upset the plans of Dominion Energy Virginia.

Here is the sentence at the heart of both bills:

…if the (State Corporation) Commission determines in its sole discretion that the utility’s existing base rates will, on a going-forward basis, produce unreasonable revenues in excess of the utility’s authorized rate of return, then, notwithstanding any provisions of subsection A 8 of § 56-585.1, the Commission may order any reductions to such base rates that it deems appropriate to ensure the resulting base rates (i) are just and reasonable and (ii) provide the utility an opportunity to recover its costs and earn a fair rate of return.

The House version of the bill, House Bill 1604, has bipartisan sponsorship. The Senate version, Senate Bill 1321 has three Democrats listed as sponsors. It is the Senate version which at least has been aired in an open Senate subcommittee meeting, and the leading Dominion lobbyist in the room was not coy about his concerns. So far, the House version slumbers and has not been heard.

During the Senate discussion, William Murray, the firm’s senior vice president for corporate affairs, noted the presence in the bill of “strong words,” which he said included “notwithstanding” and “any.” He warned the legislators in the meeting that “our concern would be if you just mooted everything you did in Senator Saslaw’s bill.” The Richard Saslaw-sponsored bill he referred to is Dominion’s main effort to recast its regulatory environment, which had just been discussed in the same meeting on January 18. It was first reported here. Continue reading

Democrats at a Town Hall: Earning a Merit Award ‘Doesn’t Matter That Much’

by Steve Spiker

The investigation into Northern Virginia schools withholding notification that some students earned Merit Recognition, based on scoring in the top 3% of the country, started with just one school, the prestigious Thomas Jefferson School for Science and Technology. Since this issue was first uncovered a few weeks ago, there has been a steady drip of new schools where recognition was delayed: first other high schools in Fairfax; then Loudoun;  then Prince William; and now even Stafford County has been impacted.

The response has been swift. Parents are outraged that notification of these awards was withheld, and for good reason: scoring in the top 3% of all national students can make a college application stand out, and can be the difference between receiving a scholarship or not, or in how much money they receive. For example, some universities like Liberty University offer a full scholarship to recipients.

For parents struggling with the high and rising costs of tuition, and students concerned about being saddled with crippling debt at the start of their careers, receiving a full or even partial scholarship can be a major, life-changing award. Yet systematically across Northern Virginia, some students didn’t receive notice of their Letter of Commendation until after deadlines for college applications passed.

Attorney General Jason Miyares has announced an investigation into the issue, supported by Governor Glenn Youngkin as well. This should be the minimum response: it is clear the excuse of an “administrative oversight” that has hurt hundreds of students across a dozen schools in multiple counties is not sufficient explanation.

Yet, Democrats are quick to dismiss parents’ concerns entirely.

At a Town Hall meeting with constituents, State Senator Scott Surovell (D) and Del. Mark Sickles (D) were asked about the issue, and their glib responses dismissing parents’ concerns echoes Terry McAuliffe’s infamous remarks that parents shouldn’t have a say in their kids’ education:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ckSzrgrDaU

Surovell said: “Bottom line, I don’t see it as something we ought to investigate.” He added that he suspects many high schools across the Commonwealth don’t provide recognition to students ahead of college application deadlines, which isn’t the case against investigating he thinks it is. Continue reading