Stephen D. Haner has
observed, written about and participated in
Virginia public affairs for three decades. He has
done it from an unusual combination of
perspectives: newspaper reporter, Republican
political operative, state agency manager and
He is now
building a practice as an independent government
affairs and public relations consultant, doing
business as North Chase Communications.
time positions have included:
- Vice President
for Public Policy of the Virginia Chamber of
Commerce (2002-2005), serving as the chief
lobbyist for Virginia’s premier statewide
business advocacy group.
- Director of
Administration, Office of Attorney General
(1998-2002), the only non-attorney on the
senior management team of what was then
Virginia’s third largest law firm. As head
of the administration division Steve was
responsible for personnel, budget, payroll,
the physical plant, information systems, the
law library and the regional offices. He
was appointed by Mark Earley.
Director of the Joint Republican Caucus
(1988-1992). After 18 months as state party
press secretary, Steve became the first (and
next to last) full-time executive of the
former joint caucus. On his watch the Caucus
membership increased 14 seats, despite the
Democratic House gerrymander of 1991. With 18
seats in the Senate, Republicans were poised
to cooperate with conservative Democrats and
begin to enjoy real influence in that body. The
majorities Republicans enjoy today were within
- Roanoke Times
(1976-1986), serving as the paper’s
political writer the final two years.
Steve covered his first legislative elections
in 1977, and helped cover the 1981 and 1985
gubernatorial elections. He won both of the
paper’s internal writing awards, one for
feature writing and the other for news
writing. It was at the Roanoke Times
that fate brought Steve and Jim Bacon
After the licking
delivered to Democrats in the 1991 election, a
leaked internal Democratic Party memo about how to
reorganize their political operation delivered
quite a compliment to Steve. Seeking to
imitate his activities, the Democrats sought to
hire up to five regional consultants. (They had
gone through three of or four individual directors
during Steve’s tenure.)
The July 22, 1992
Times Dispatch Editorial Page
– long before the Austin Powers movies –
dubbed the proposed regional activists
“Mini-Haners” and continued:
“Steve Haner packs more punch lines than Henny
Youngman, but he knows that politics is no
laughing matter… For generations,
Virginia’s legislative races were quiescent
affairs. Steve Haner injected some welcome
wit. Even his targets shared a chuckle or
two. When the 1991 results turned their
laughter into tears, the Democrats decided to get
in on the act. Aggressive competition
benefits both parties – and the voters they
pursue. And if humor spices the proceedings,
then so much the better.”
Easy Way Out.
improvements can do only so much to get trucks off the
road. Fiddling with the state road funding formula isn't
on the table. And the federal government isn't riding to
the rescue. What's left?
New House. With
up to 17 newcomers it will be a very different
House of Delegates in January. Most of the
rookies have had careers in government, and few
have any real business experience.
Design for Science. If
evolution is only a "theory," so is the
"theory" that the earth revolves around the
sun. Must we we teach pre-Copernican astronomy in our
for the AG Candidates.
are two kinds of questions to ask candidates for
Attorney General: Those that voters care about --
and those that actually pertain to the AG's job.
Candidates. Contenders for House of
Delegates this year offer loads of solutions for
solving Virginia's road woes. The ideas have
little in common except promising to get someone
else to pay for the improvements.
Budget's So Big... How big was
Virginia's 2005 budget surplus? It was so big that
2006 revenues could shrink and the state still
would run a surplus.
Transportation SOLs. Virginians
for Better Transportation will be a success if
candidates in 2005 face an electorate that at
least knows the facts and asks the good questions.
Campaign brochures will claim
that the 2005 General Assembly raised $850 million
for transportation. That's pure spin. Look
closely, and you'll find that as little as $23
million is new, ongoing spending.
the "Trust" Back in Trust Fund. The
General Assembly is giving serious thought to
protecting the Transportation Trust Fund from
fiscal raids during hard times.
Pick your own state
budget surplus figure: $677 million, $324 million
or $0. All three can be valid depending on what
you are trying to prove -- or obfuscate.
23: No More
The truth isn't
popular, but here it is: We cannot improve our
transportation system without raising taxes.
Anyone who says otherwise is peddling poppycock.
1: All This for
The proposed House
budget spends almost as much money as the
"pro-tax" Warner plan but resorts to a
jumbled mix of new "fees", closed
"loopholes" and accounting gimmicks.
Flash your high beams when
lawmakers invoke patriotism and parenthood.
There's a good chance they're trying to slip
something by you.
"Somewhere Else" Tax.
proposal to close the alleged "nowhere
income" loophole will likely move the income
-- and jobs of many Virginians -- somewhere else.