Author Archives: James A. Bacon

Racial Suspension Gap Not Due to Racism

Hans Bader

Black students are suspended from school at a higher rate than white students. To many people, this might seem unremarkable, given the higher black crime rate, and the fact that black kids are more likely to come from struggling single-parent households that fail to instill discipline. As even the liberal Brookings Institution has noted, “Black students are also more likely to come from family backgrounds associated with school behavior problems; for example, children ages 12–17 that come from single-parent families are at least twice as likely to be suspended as children from two-parent families.”(See Note 1)

The homicide rate is 10 times higher among black teens than white teens. And the Supreme Court rejected the “presumption that people of all races commit all types of crimes” at the same rate, as being “contradicted by” reality, in its decision in U.S. v. Armstrong.

But in February 17 column in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Richmond school superintendent Jason Kamras argued that the higher black suspension rate in Virginia is due to “institutional racism.” He cited the fact that in Virginia in 2015, “African-American students received 60 percent of all long-term suspensions but they made up only 23 percent of the commonwealth’s schools.” Continue reading

How the SJW Race Obsession Hurts Black Students

Source: Legal Aid Justice Center

Each day I wake up and tell myself, “I’m not going to write about race today. I’m tired about writing about race. I want to write about something else.” But each day I read the Richmond Times-Dispatch and Washington Post, and each day there are articles and op-ed columns about race, almost all of which perpetuate the narrative of endemic racism in America today. Of course racism still exists, and of course people of good will need to stand against it. But America is not a endemically racist society, and Virginia is not an endemically racist commonwealth. I have no choice but to counter a pernicious and destructive falsehood.

The latest offense comes from Kristen Amundson, a former member of Virginia’s House of Delegates and, scarily, a former chair of the Fairfax County School Board. Virginia has a lot to learn about race, she writes in the Times-Dispatch, and schools are a good place to start. She makes numerous assertions that warrant response, but I will focus on the most egregious and show how it harms the very kids she purports to care about. Continue reading

More Public Input Coming for College Tuition Hikes

VCU students protest tuition hikes and adjunct pay last year. Photo credit; WCVE.

Before voting on tuition increases, board members of Virginia universities will have to listen to public input from students and families, if Governor Ralph Northam signs a bill passed by the General Assembly.

SB 1118 sponsored by Sen. Chap Petersen, D-Fairfax, with a companion bill sponsored by Del. Jason Miyares, R-Virginia Beach, would “require governing board[s] of each public institution of higher education, prior to a vote on an increase in undergraduate tuition or mandatory fees, to permit public comment on the proposed increase at a meeting of the governing board.”

The prevailing practice is for tuition proposals to work their way through financial committees and then get voted on by the full board of trustees with relatively little discussion. Board of visitors members are wined and dined by university presidents, and they rarely rock the boat. Administrators spoon-feed them information, and conflicting views are rarely heard. Unlike corporate board members who own stock in the company they govern, university board members have no financial skin in the game. Many are alumni whose main concern is enhancing the prestige of the alma mater they love. Continue reading

The Wrong Way to Tackle Food Insecurity

Sen. Mark Warner in Salem yesterday.

According to U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Virginia, more than 1 million Virginians live in food deserts. To deal with the problem, he has sponsored legislation in Congress to incentivize businesses and nonprofits to provide healthy food in those areas. And he was in Salem yesterday visiting Feeding America Southwest Virginia to talk about food insecurity.

Reports the Roanoke Times:

His legislation would provide tax credits to companies that build new grocery stores or retrofit an existing store’s healthy food sections. It also would provide grants to food banks that build permanent structures or to temporary access merchants like mobile markets and farmers markets.

What is wrong with this picture? It assumes that the problem is a supply-side problem, not a demand-side problem. Continue reading

Being a Self-Righteous Pain is Not a Crime

Michelle Renay Sutherland, a New Yorker who traveled to Richmond to demonstrate in support of Virginia’s passage of the Equal Rights Amendment, is an annoying individual. Frankly, I find her sanctimonious posturing to be a pain in the ass. Maybe she violated the law for baring her breast when posing as the goddess Virtue in a reenactment of the Virginia state seal, maybe not. But her actions are hardly grounds for holding her in jail without bail for a month.

A magistrate set a bail of $700 for Sutherland, a Brooklyn artist with no criminal record. But General District Court Judge Lawrence B. Cann III ordered her held without bond until her trial, scheduled for March 21.

An article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch does not quote Cann as providing any justification for refusing to release Sutherland. Continue reading

Small Steps toward an Innovation-Driven Health System

Tertium Quids, a conservative advocacy organization, has been pushing three bills in the General Assembly designed to bring more “choice and accessibility” to Virginia’s healthcare system.

The goal of the “Virginia Healthcare Basket” Initiative, the group explains, is “to support the growth of innovative business models, insurance options, and technology with an eye toward creating an exciting new healthcare track which runs parallel to the overburdened and cost-prohibitive traditional health and insurance model.”

Conceptually, Democrats don’t have much to offer healthcare than more government involvement and more redistribution of wealth. Virginia Republicans have criticized the march to government-controlled medicine but they have not provided much of an alternative. The proposals touted by Tertium Quids won’t transform Virginia healthcare markets, but they would nudge the state in the direction of more innovative, entrepreneurial, market-driven healthcare. Continue reading

Progressives Perpetuating Poverty

Danny Cendejas, an organizer with La ColectiVa, addresses concerns about HQ2. Photo credit: Washington Business Journal

Amazon’s decision to scrap a $2.5 billion investment in New York City has emboldened far-left progressives in Northern Virginia to oppose the e-commerce giant’s plans for plans to build an East Coast headquarters in Arlington. Critics of HQ2 are targeting $23 million that Arlington County will contribute to the pot of incentives, reports the Washington Business Journal.

“The county should vote down the deal,” said Roshan Abraham, an organizer with Our Revolution Arlington in an anti-Amazon meeting Monday. One of the richest companies in the world does not need the county’s money, he said. “If Amazon chooses not to come to Arlington over $23 million, good riddance.”

A primary concern among leftist activists is rising rent. As 25,000 highly paid Amazon employees start working in Arlington, they will bid up housing prices. About 3,000 apartment units in Alexandria and Arlington between South Glebe and West Glebe roads could become unaffordable for the largely Latino community living there once Amazon moves in, say Amazon foes.

I sympathize to some degree with those who resent the incentives, including some $500 million in workforce grants from the state. Amazon is the world’s most valuable company, CEO Jeff Bezos is the world’s wealthiest man (at least until his divorce is settled), and the showering of massive tax breaks on Amazon is manifestly unfair. But the world is unfair, and the rational response is not to chase Amazon out of town but to craft a deal that is tax-flow positive for state and local government, and work to ameliorate negative impacts on housing and transportation. To do otherwise is to limit opportunity and perpetuate poverty. Continue reading

Should Northam Resign… or Just Submit?

William J. Barber II

It is fascinating to see how the demand that “Governor Ralph Northam must resign” mantra is morphing into “Northam must pay penance by adopting Leftist causes.” Specifically, he needs to shut down the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s proposed compressor station in Buckingham County.

Civil rights activist Rev. William J. Barber II, who is accompanying former Vice President Al Gore to the Union Hill community in Buckingham today, said Monday that Northam’s challenge is more about overcoming the blackface/Ku Klux Klan photo he displayed on his medical school yearbook page 35 years ago and more about changing public policy, reports the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

“The governor has turned his back on this community,” said Barber, former president of the North Carolina NAACP. “If he wants to do a reconciliation tour, he should first go to Union Hill.” Continue reading

Crazier and Crazier: America’s “Activist” Class

Outsiders. mostly of the leftist persuasion, seem to be taking an intense interest in Virginia these days. Some examples from today’s Richmond Times-Dispatch:

  • Michelle Renay Sutherland, a New York activist, was arrested for indecent exposure yesterday after she exposed her breast when recreating the state seal on the capitol grounds. Sutherland, who goes by “Sister Leona,” belongs to a group called Radical Matriarchy. She was demonstrating in support of Virginia’s ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.
  • A California man was charged with misdemeanor vandalism and littering Monday after police say he threw red dye into a fountain on the state Capitol grounds. Patrick E. Talamantes, of Sacramento, had joined activists marching to demand the resignation of Governor Ralph Northam.
  • Internet inventor and polar-bear advocate Al Gore and the Rev. William J. Barber II, a North Carolina civil rights leader, visited the Union Hill community in Buckingham County to protest Dominion Energy’s proposed compression station. (I’ll have more about them in a follow-up post.)

Continue reading

Kamras Feeds a False Narrative

Jason Kamras

In a Sunday op-ed in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Richmond city school Superintendent Jason Kamras opined on “institutional racism” in Virginia schools. In building his case for the existence of such injustice, he cited the supposed disparity in funding, writing:

According to the National Center on Education Statistics, Virginia’s highest poverty school divisions — which serve large percentages of children of color — receive 8.3 percent less in per pupil funding than the state’s wealthiest districts. Put plainly: the students who should be getting more are actually getting less. If all the children in our poorest school divisions were white, I am certain the commonwealth would have found a way to fix its convoluted and unjust funding policies so that our lower-income communities received more.

Really? Let’s look at the numbers. The following data come from the Superintendent’s Annual Report for Virginia based on FY 2016 budgets:

Per pupil spending
City of Richmond — $13,843
Hanover County — $9,772
Henrico County — $9,644
Chesterfield County — $9,592 Continue reading

SJWs, Cognitive Dissonance and the Fixation on Race

I know the Richmond Times-Dispatch has a lot to live down as inheritor of the Richmond News Leader, the infamous cheer leader of Massive Resistance in the 1960s, but I can’t help but wonder if it has gone overboard in making amends. The newspaper, it seems, has gone full Social Justice Warrior. Here are articles an op-eds in Sunday’s newspaper:

  • Front page: a tragic story of a 51-year-old African-American woman with diabetes who requires dialysis and is losing her eyesight. An accompanying sidebar makes the point that diabetes disproportionately affects African-Americans.
  • Front page: an article about the history of race and racism in Governor Ralph Northam’s hometown, Onancock, on the Eastern Shore.
  • Inside A section: a Virginia Commonwealth University arts museum exhibit reimagining Monument Avenue without its Civil War statues.
  • Inside A section: a reprint of a Washington Post story profiling Front Royal residents recounting de-segregation.
  •  Op-ed section: a profile of Jonathan M. Daniels, a white Virginia Military Institute graduate who became a freedom rider during the Civil Rights struggle.
  • Op-ed section: a column by Richmond schools Superintendent Jason Kamras decrying institutional racism in Richmond schools.
  • Op-ed section: a column by journalist Margaret Edds speculating how Virginia Civil Rights icon Oliver Hill would have responded to the Northam blackface scandal.
  • Op-ed section: a column by the Rev. Peter J. McCourt describing the new Cristo Rey private school as an educational alternative for black, inner-city Richmond children.

Continue reading

More Race Obsession: “Corks and Curls”

As the University of Virginia continues to fixate on its long-past history of racism, a new controversy is emerging: Is the name of the UVa yearbook, “Corks and Curls” racist? And should the name be changed?

Here is the explanation offered in the inaugural edition of the publication in 1888, as summarized by the Washington Post, quoting Kirt von Daake, a UVa history professor:

Editors note that the name, “this cabalistic phrase,” must be “almost meaningless to an outsider.” The editors then present an essay explaining the name, written by a fictitious student, von Daacke said. “Cork” was used to evoke “the real agony of the unprepared student,” who, when called on in class, “sitteth and openeth not his mouth, even as a bottle that is corked up.”

“Curls” was attributed to a legend about an ambitious student who, when praised by a visiting George Washington, seemed “as pleased as a dog when he is patted on his head” and curls his tail in delight.

… Starting in the 1860s, U-Va. publications, letters and diaries contain references to corking and curling as academic slang.

Continue reading

Inspiring Image of the Day…

Hat tip: John Butcher

Data Centers Spur Electricity Demand in Virginia, Says Greenpeace

Continued expansion of data centers in Virginia is driving demand for electricity, which gives Dominion Energy the justification for expanding its gas-fired generating fleet and building the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, according to a new report by Greenpeace, “Clicking Clean Virginia: The Dirty Energy Powering Data Center Alley.”

While several major providers of cloud services — Amazon, Facebook, and Microsoft most prominently — have committed to deriving their electricity from renewable energy sources, the boom in data centers has outpaced the ability of the data center industry, Amazon in particular, to line up renewable energy contracts.

“While electricity demand for utilities is flat or declining, electricity demand from data centers in Virginia has grown sharply, between 9 and 11 percent year year, offsetting declines elsewhere, with data center demand regularly touted by Dominion to its investors as a sign of continued growth,” states Greenpeace.

Ironically, although the Greenpeace opposes the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, information in the report undercuts an argument the environmental group’s Virginia allies use against the Atlantic Coast Pipeline: that Dominion forecasts have consistently overstated future electric load. While electricity load has plateaued or even declined in many states, demand from data centers continues to push demand incrementally higher in Virginia. Continue reading

What? You Want Us to Be Consistent?

The rule maker, Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment, gets to decide the exceptions to the rule.

by Richard Hall-Sizemore

In 2014, Sen. Philip Puckett, a Democrat from far Southwest Virginia, was in a quandary. His daughter was vying for a juvenile and domestic relations court judgeship, to which she had already been appointed as a substitute judge. However, Republicans in the Senate, led by Sen. Tommy Norment, R-James City, were holding up her election, not based on any objection to her qualifications, but because of a tradition of not supporting family members of sitting Senators for judgeships.

Fast forward to 2019. Until yesterday there was a vacancy pending on the Virginia Supreme Court. A Republican senator from far Southwest Virginia is, according to newspaper reports, lobbied his fellow senators to elect his sister, currently a member of the Virginia Court of Appeals, to the higher post.  Norment said that situation was different because the senator’s sister had already been elected to a judgeship before her brother had been elected to the Senate. Continue reading