• Fissures in the Education-Industrial Complex

    Cracks in the monolith

    by James A. Bacon

    Virginia’s public-school districts are fracturing along the same lines of the culture war as the rest of American society. Four school districts have pulled out of the Virginia School Board Association (VSBA) on the grounds that the training and advocacy supplied by the 118-year-old organization does not reflect their values. The board of a fifth school district, Hanover County, is considering doing the same.

    “They lobby for many things that I, on principle, stand against,” Orange County school board member Darlene Dawson told Radio IQ. “If you try to disagree with them, they will shut you down. I’ve seen it happen. I’ve listened to recordings where they mock our governor and anyone who holds a conservative viewpoint, which I’ve been very clear that I do.”

    The School Board Member Alliance of Virginia (SBMAV) has emerged as a potential competitor to the VSBA. According to The Virginia Mercury, the association represents one-tenth of Virginia’s school board members. Unlike the VSBA, whose members are school districts, the Alliance offers individual memberships.

    The mainstream media coverage is vague about the specific issues that school board members in smaller districts are upset about. As a generality, the VSBA is dominated by larger school districts that advocate liberal/left policies antithetical to the values of smaller districts with more conservative populations. Articles allude to parental rights, the teaching of “divisive concepts,” transgender policy, DEI, and other issues that Governor Glenn Youngkin has tackled. (more…)

  • Note to Readers: BR Website Upgrade

    Bacon’s Rebellion is in the midst of a website upgrade, and some issues are cropping up that didn’t appear on our test site. Please bear with us as we work through them.

    WordPress is no longer supporting the design/layout theme we were using, Coraline, with the result that functionality and security are expected to degrade over time. Additionally, years of accumulated dreck in the back end of WordPress have been slowing down page download times. I decided to kill two birds with one stone and upgrade to a new theme and clear out the dreck. The look and feel is similar to the old Bacon’s Rebellion. Hopefully, download speeds will improve. Comments, which reside on a Disqus platform, should not be affected.

    Let me know if you spot any issues.

    Thanks to modest advertising and a loyal corps of readers who contribute through the donation button, Bacon’s Rebellion covers its ongoing expenses for web hosting, registrations, security, and a variety of web-related subscriptions. However, the cost of making a major overhaul to the website comes out of my own pocket. I don’t make a dime from the blog, and neither do our regular contributors (Steve Haner and Dick Hall-Sizemore), proofreader (Janice Stewart), or comments monitor (Carol Bova). We all volunteer our time to bring the blog to you.

    I have rarely, if ever, asked readers to donate to the blog. Having nearly drained the Bacon’s Rebellion bank account dry, I’m making an exception this year. I would like to continue making upgrades to improve the reader experience. Advertisers offer to pay us to post content on Bacon’s Rebellion, but I refuse to lower our editorial standards. Unlike some Virginia news sites, we don’t tap into wealthy foundations for funding. We are beholden to no one but you. Please support independent journalism and commentary in Virginia by chipping in a few bucks. The donate button is in the upper left-hand corner of the blog.

    Many thanks. Jim Bacon

  • Defending Jon Baliles: An Answer to the Lost Cause of Dick Hall-Sizemore

    by Paul Goldman

    Does Bacon’s Rebellion recognize the validity of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States? I’m not sure and here’s why.

    Had Dick Hall-Sizemore written his response to Jon Baliles’ column, “Bonding With (or Against) the People,” prior to the Civil War, he would have caught Jon with his constitutional pants down. Indeed, the Sizemore doctrine regarding the various rights of cities and counties to issue bonds did have sway among the leaders of Virginia until the famed 1966 Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections poll tax decision of the U.S. Supreme Court. At long last the leaders of Virginia had to admit the entire 14th amendment was the law of the land. They had reluctantly accepted a few years before that the due process provision gave Virginia voters first amendment protection. But Harper demanded state government accept the equal protection clause as well.

    A bitter blow no doubt — 100 years after the lost cause lost — to lose again to a court dominated by liberals. To be sure, there were three dissenters who said Virginia should be allowed to promote monetary fees as a discrimination against equal voting rights. The poll tax at issue was just $1.50, a small price to pay said Virginia leaders for the right to vote. If someone couldn’t afford $1.50, then the segregationists said that person was not the kind of individual you want voting on important issues.

    With this background, it will hopefully be easier to understand my puzzlement as to how Mr. Sizemore could write an article justifying a clear discrimination in the right to vote based only on the state constitution, while never mentioning the federal constitution.

    His article is exceptionally well written and researched for a complicated issue. I learned a lot of historical stuff. But again: you can’t write an article about the right to vote in America without discussing the two main provisions of the 14th amendment and how they apply to the state of Virginia. (more…)

  • Keeping Up with Wokeness: “Indigiqueer”

    Credit: Bing Image Creator, mutating COVID virus

    by James A. Bacon

    In the thought bubble of intersectional oppression, language mutates faster than COVID-19. It’s almost impossible for us normies to keep up. I consider it a point of professional pride to stay up to speed, but even I find it astonishing at how rapidly the woke mind virus is evolving.

    Delving into the thinking of left-wing faculty at the University of Virginia introduced me to the idea of the United States as a product of “settler colonialism.” The ideology goes far beyond the assertion that European settlers in North America brought nothing but disease, war and dispossession of indigenous peoples. This strain of progressivism propagates a fairy-tale narrative that indigenous societies lived in concordance with progressives’ 21st-century fantasies.

    As the oppression narrative has evolved, progressives now aim to “decolonize gender,” as part of a larger project of taking back power from the colonizers. That entails celebrating the “indigiqueer” of North American peoples who didn’t conform to Westerners’ gender binary. (Islamic conquerors imposed their gender binary upon indigenous societies of Africa, but progressives don’t lose much sleep over that.) (more…)

  • Meteorologists Hype the Weather. It’s What They Do Best.

    by Kerry Dougherty

    There was a time when I was fluent in Celsius. Today I have to turn to Google to translate.

    But back in the summer of either 1982 or 1983 I remember a headline in The Irish Press that was something like this:

    “Dublin Sizzles In 22-Degree Heat.”

    I was living in Ireland’s capital city at the time and when the mercury climbed to 22 — that’s 72 Fahrenheit — I was finally able to venture outside without a jacket for the first time in two years.

    I thought the front page was so funny that I mailed it home to my parents who were cooking in temps near 100.

    My Irish friends and neighbors were truly perishing in the heat. Everywhere you looked, the natives were red-faced and panting. Dublin buses, which were already a fetid mess what with smoking allowed on the second deck, became unbearable with sweat added into the mix.

    At the time I lived in an old house south of the city center with three apartments. One afternoon during Dublin’s “historic heat wave” I spied one of my neighbors sitting in our front garden — in full view of the busy street — in just her panties and bra. She was fanning herself and listening to music. Continue reading.

  • An Answer for Jon Baliles: It’s the Constitution

    by Dick Hall-Sizemore

    Shame on Jon Baliles for not knowing why cities and counties are treated differently in the Code of Virginia regarding the issuance of general obligation debt. The answer is simple;  the state constitution requires the different treatment.

    Article VII, section 10, of the state constitution deals with the issuing of debt by local governments. After setting out the process for issuing local bonds or debt, the constitution stipulates that the issuance of general obligation debt by counties is contingent upon the “submission to the qualified voters of the county… for approval or rejection by a majority vote of the qualified voters voting in an election on the question of contracting such debt. Such approval shall be a prerequisite to contracting such debt.” Thus, the statutory distinction is rooted in the constitution; that distinction cannot be changed by the General Assembly passing legislation.  Furthermore, the statutory provision that, through a referendum, a county can choose to be treated as a city for the purposes of issuing bonds, is also a reflection of the language in the constitution.

    Baliles implies that there is no limitation on the issuance of debt by municipalities. That is not accurate. Cities and towns may not incur total general obligation bond indebtedness that exceeds ten percent of the assessed value of the real estate in the city or town subject to taxation. There is no such cap on counties. In summary, cities and towns are subject to an assessment cap on the amount of general obligation debt they can issue whereas counties are subject to the approval of voters on whether they can issue general obligation debt. (more…)

  • Bonding With (or Against) the People

    by Jon Baliles

    There has been a lot of activity across the region recently about bond ratings and localities issuing bonds. It is a timely comparison of priorities of local leaders, a glimpse of a possible future and what happens if you have people in charge who worry more about getting the big, shiny project than the people that end up paying for it.

    In May, Chesterfield County approved $90 million in general obligation bonds to fund voter-approved capital projects across the county that include new schools, police and fire stations, and transportation projects. They are part of a plan for $540 million of bonds that was put forth in a November 2022 bond referendum and approved by 76% of the voters.

    Before that 2022 referendum, the county published a plan to spend $375 million for expanding existing and building new schools and $165 million on country facilities — $81 million for public safety projects like police and fire stations (etc.), $38 million for libraries, and $45 million for park improvements.

    And just weeks later on June 6th, after issuing plans for those new bonds for county projects, all three of the nation’s leading bond rating agencies reaffirmed Chesterfield County’s AAA credit rating, which they have maintained since 1997 (about 1% of all U.S. localities have a AAA rating). (more…)

  • Jeanine’s Memes

    The Bull Elephant

  • Bacon Meme of the Week

  • EOCR: the Enforcement Arm of DEI

    by James A. Bacon

    How many Diversity, Equity & Inclusion employees work at the University of Virginia, and how much do they cost? Those are important questions, but they miss the big picture. Employees classified as “DEI” are only part of a large bureaucratic apparatus designed to transform the University in line with a social-justice vision that views the world through the prism of intersectional oppression. A critical piece of the DEI machinery is the office of Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights (EOCR).

    From a fiscal perspective, whether UVA spends $7.5 million yearly on the university’s office of DEI, as Chief Operating Officer J.J. Davis averred at the recent Board of Visitors meeting, or $20 million university-wide, as argued by fiscal watchdog Open the Books, the sum represents a tiny fraction of the enterprise’s $5.8 billion budget. But the budget numbers don’t come close to describing the far-reaching impact of DEI on the campus culture.

    For instance, UVA maintains an office of Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights (EOCR), which under federal law promotes “diversity and inclusion, provides equal opportunity and access, and eliminates unlawful discrimination.” By investigating complaints of discrimination and harassment, EOCR functions as the enforcement arm of the DEI bureaucracy.

    UVA has sent mixed messages about whether the office should be included in the count of DEI employees. EOCR is federally mandated, and it has existed for years, so it really shouldn’t count, UVA has said in its critique of the Open the Books methodology. But then, as Davis noted at the Board meeting, the EOCR office is part of the University’s DEI division and reports to the Vice President for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Community Partnerships.

    When asked to compare UVA’s DEI spending in the 2024-25 budget compared to the current year, Davis said the “only material enhancements” to DEI occurred in the EOCR office in response to a surge in its case load. (more…)

  • Careful There, Dems, These Are Your Voters

    by Kerry Dougherty

    I’m not in the habit of offering political advice to Democrats, but they might want to consider toning down the “convicted felon” rhetoric.

    Ever since Donald Trump was convicted of 34 felony charges in New York, the left has become a Greek chorus, chanting “convicted felon” every time they mention his name.

    As if that’s a bad thing in Democrat world.

    After all, this is a party that not only courts lawbreakers with its soft-on-crime policies, but it depends on the felon vote.

    There’s a reason Democrats consistently fight for automatic restoration of voting rights for convicted felons, often before they’ve finished serving their sentences. Shoot, in Vermont and Maine incarcerated felons are allowed to vote.

    Anyone else remember the stunt former Gov. Terry McAuliffe pulled to help his old pal Hillary in the months before the 2016 election? He violated the Virginia Constitution by offering blanket restoration of voting rights to more than 206,000 Virginia felons just months before Election Day. Continue reading.

  • The Buck Stops Where, Exactly?

    Richmond City Hall

    by Jon Baliles

    The city’s voter registrar is in the news again this week, and not because there is a primary election next week or huge elections both nationally and locally in November. This week, Graham Moomaw reported in the Virginia Mercury that the city’s Human Resource Department conducted a review of the Registrar’s Office polices and recommended an “immediate departmental restructuring” after its internal investigation following stories about alleged credit card misuse and nepotism in the office. Those findings were sent to state and local officials this week, and the Mercury obtained them through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

    Last month, Samuel Parker at the Times-Dispatch reported that Keith Balmer, the city’s voter registrar, had racked up almost $70,000 in charges on the city credit card for things like furniture, art, frequent lunches for the entire staff, and more. Some charges, like travel expenses for staff to a convention in Roanoke, seemed to be normal; but others, like nearly $10,000 spent at the fancy furniture store LaDiff seem a bit excessive for a city expense/office funded by taxpayers. In March, they had also reported there had been allegations of nepotism against the Registrar. (more…)

  • Maybe We Should Discuss the Political Determinants of Health

    by James A. Bacon

    As it takes up the issue of “social determinants of health,” the Joint Commission on Health Care is probing the social and economic origins of unequal health outcomes for different population groups in Virginia, according to Radio IQ.

    By defining the issue as social determinants of health, as opposed to social correlates of health, the political left has already won the battle. The inevitable result will be pressure to increase state spending on programs asserted (but never proven) to ameliorate social inequities.

    “There is a 20-year difference between the localities with the highest and lowest life expectancy rates in the state with Manassas Park at 89.3 years and Petersburg at 64.9 years,” said commission staffer Jen Piver-Renna yesterday when briefing the Commission.

    “These are lifelong challenges people are facing: housing, health access, food access, crime, education,” Commission Chair Rodney Willet, D-Henrico, told Radio IQ.

    Delegate Cia Price, D-Newport News drew the inevitable political conclusion: “If improving community conditions includes a healthy and safe place to live, we need to be thinking about that not just in this joint commission, but in general laws meetings too. There was redlining, underfunding, all of these things that have happened to communities which have caused these health issues.” (more…)

  • Ignore the Hype. Last Year Hardly “Hottest” Here.

    By Steve Haner

    This plows old ground for many Bacon’s Rebellion readers (here and here), but it was a new topic for the Thomas Jefferson Institute distribution list.  Some of you may be interested, and some of the NOAA screenshots are new ones. 

    One standard response when the Thomas Jefferson Institute challenges the wisdom of electricity carbon taxes or electric vehicle mandates is, are we not worried about the looming climate crisis?  The simple answer is no. Data that undercut the entire alarmist narrative are easy to find. 

    The premise for the 2020 Virginia Clean Economy Act, which the 2025 Virginia General Assembly may revisit, is the expressed concern over catastrophic climate change.  It is a constant refrain with many of our political leaders from the current president down to county supervisors.  But what if the entire premise is false or badly overblown? 

    A major and constant media drumbeat this year has been that 2023 was the hottest year on record and that 2024 will be hotter.  In Virginia, 2023 was unremarkable.  Even the summer months, the focus of the fear mongering about rising heat-related fatalities, showed no alarming trend.  For the data just go to a website managed by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).    (more…)

  • Is This What is Meant by Cult of Personality?

    by Dick Hall-Sizemore

    The primary race for Virginia’s Fifth Congressional District seat is a microcosm of what the modern Republican party has become. Both candidates, Bob Good, the incumbent, and John McGuire, a member of the Virginia Senate, are ultra-conservative. There is probably not any substantive difference between them on policy issues. Yet, they and their opponents are at each other’s throats. The issue:  who is more supportive of Donald Trump.

    The Virginia Political Newsletter has compiled a summary of the confrontations, including one in a church; the allegations, the cease-and-desist letter and the court suits. It is juicy reading.