Voter Suppression? Who? Us?

Click for more legible image.

Here’s what’s happening in Terry McAuliffe’s gubernatorial fund-raising fever dreams:

Republican candidate Pete [Snyder] announced his campaign is launching a Trump-style voter suppression operation. … And they’re hiring Trump-lackey Ken Cuccinelli to run it. … Pete Snyder is tapping Ken to run the same kind of racist, anti-democratic voter suppression operation Donald Trump ran.

And here’s what’s actually happening in the real world. From The Washington Free Beacon:

Virginia’s Department of Elections shut down its voter information portal for “scheduled maintenance” during the final day Republican voters in the commonwealth’s largest county were able to register for the party’s upcoming convention.

Continue reading

Woke Privilege at the University of Richmond

Thomas Hall, a UR dorm buildings upgraded five years ago for $7.9 million.

by James A. Bacon

Faculty and students are up in arms at the University of Richmond,  demanding the renaming of buildings that are named after a president and long-time rector the segregationist era. Faculty have voted to approve a statement of “no confidence” in Rector Paul Queally and have called for him to resign. Meanwhile, the Black Student Coalition organized a march across campus recently, chanting, “No justice, no peace, no racist trustees.”

Read the list of demands in this Richmond Times-Dispatch article. Decide for yourself how self-indulgent they are. Just remember, this is an institution that costs rich families $74,600 a year for tuition, room, board, and other charges but provides an average need-based aid package of $53,900 to 39% of the student body.

I have have zero sympathy for anyone at UR complaining about anything. By virtue of attending this cloistered academic oasis, they’re all “privileged.” And that especially includes people getting steep tuition discounts, whatever their race or ethnicity. Continue reading

The Roanoke Times Downsizes… Again

The Roanoke Times building went up for sale in January.

by James A. Bacon

The Roanoke Times is laying off nine newsroom employees, resulting in a 20% decrease in staffing, reports Virginia Business. Both Henri Gendreau, who covered the Virginia Tech beat, and Claire Mitzel, who covered K-12 schools, were informed that April 23 will be their last day. The two reporters broke the story about several racial episodes at Virginia Military Institute (and did a far more creditable job, incidentally, than The Washington Post.)

The newspaper also is laying off a digital editor, a copy editor, and three editorial assistants who contributed to local sports coverage. Including previous cuts, the Roanoke Times has lost more than 25% of its newsroom employees since early 2020 when the paper was purchased by Iowa-based Lee Enterprises. The newspaper is the dominant provider of news coverage in western Virginia.

I keep hoping that the long-term decline in newspaper readership and advertising revenue will bottom out, that newspaper publishers will find a sustainable business model based on paid subscriptions and digital advertising that strips out the costs associated with printing, newspaper distribution and print ads. No one seems to have found the formula yet. Continue reading

TCI Model Rule Ready for Study, Comment

by Steve Haner
First published this morning by the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy.  (Happy birthday, Mr. President.)

Read the governing document for the Transportation and Climate Initiative and it becomes clear there is more going on than just an effort to reduce motor fuel use with a combination of taxes and shrinking caps. That may really be a secondary goal.

How would TCI regulate and change the motor fuel business in Virginia, should the state decide to join in 2022? What are the initial carbon taxes likely to be? Some details can be found in a draft model rule published March 1 and now subject to an open comment period through May 7.

You can find the 153-page model rule here. There is an open portal for any public comments you wish to provide, and you can also find summaries of the comments filed to date. Certainly, all fuel wholesalers and retailers and businesses dependent on transportation need to study this document and the regulatory structure it creates.

The Rhode Island and Connecticut legislatures are currently considering legislation on TCI. Massachusetts intends to join with its governor claiming he already has authority to sign the interstate compact.  If Virginia joins in 2022, that is still in time for it to be in on the first carbon dioxide emissions allowance auction in 2023.  Continue reading

Two Police Officers Made Windsor Famous

by Kerry Dougherty

Looks like Windsor, Virginia, is finally on the map.

For all the wrong reasons.

The tiny incorporated town in Isle of Wight County, just west of Suffolk, is home to about 2,758 people.

It’s not a place that makes much news and the folks there probably like it that way.

But a traffic-stop-gone-bad catapulted the town into the national spotlight this weekend. From the Drudge Report to The New York Times, the media zeroed in on the behavior of two gun-pointing small-town police officers caught on body cam footage yelling at an African-American Army officer who was being detained over a missing license plate.

At the request of the Windsor Police Department, Gov. Ralph Northam called for a state police investigation into the incident. Continue reading

Good News for Virginia in Best-Places-to-Work Rankings

by James C. Sherlock

The new Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For has been released.

Good news

Four Virginia-headquartered companies made the list.

  • Hilton, McLean #3
  • Capital One Financial, McLean #9
  • CarMax, Richmond #36
  • Navy Federal Credit Union, Vienna #59

Other News

There are nine health systems on the list. Not only are none of them headquartered in Virginia; none of them have facilities in Virginia.

Ad Promoting Free-Speech Post Squelched

Screen grab from Facebook ad administration page

Thanks to the financial support of our generous readers, Bacon’s Rebellion has begun promoting popular posts on Facebook with the goal of driving traffic to the website. Faceless Facebook minions review each ad before it can be published. Not surprisingly, any text with “COVID” appears to be automatically rejected, even when we’re not opining on the efficacy of official state and federal guidelines. More surprising was the recent rejection of an ad promoting a recent post, When “Words Are Violence,” Only One Side Gets to Speak, about free speech and expression at the University of Virginia.

At the risk of provoking Facebook, our most promising marketing vehicle, I am posting an image of the rejection notice, which appeared with no explanation. I feel fortunate that Facebook has not nixed any of posts on the Bacon’s Rebellion Facebook page — only the ads. I’m hoping that doesn’t change. We’ll see. The situation is fluid. Continue reading

Richmond’s Rage of the Woke

The bronze equestrian statue (1890) of Robert E. Lee covered in graffiti, September 2020 (Photo courtesy of author)

by Catesby Leigh

Beautifully landscaped with ample medians and harmoniously lined with gracious houses in various historic styles, Richmond, Virginia’s block-paved Monument Avenue and its several statuary tributes to Confederate leaders were once recognized as a triumph of American urban design. The residential frontages served admirably as a variegated frame for the monuments, creating a superb urban tableau that it made no sense to eradicate—especially as the monuments lost ideological currency with the passage of time, as monuments often do.

But after the mayhem triggered by George Floyd’s fatal arrest in Minneapolis in May 2020, the 14 blocks of the avenue comprising a National Historic Landmark District present a sorry spectacle. Bare pedestals, with the vandals’ graffiti not entirely washed away, stand on the avenue’s median. Statues of General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, the cavalry commander J. E. B. Stuart, Confederate president Jefferson Davis, and the world-renowned oceanographer Matthew Fontaine Maury, who played an inconspicuous role in the Confederate war effort, are gone—victims of fanaticism fueled by Twitter slogans drawing, in turn, on national-guilt and systemic-racism narratives in which Americans have been increasingly indoctrinated. Continue reading

Where’s the Vaccine Outreach to Southwest Virginia?

by James A. Bacon

It turns out that blacks and Hispanics are not the only population sub-groups in Virginia who are resisting the idea of getting vaccinated against COVID-19. So are rural, non-college-educated whites in Appalachia, reports the Roanoke Times.

Hesitancy has dropped among blacks and Hispanics, but concerns among rural whites have increased that the vaccine was rushed to market and has widespread side effects. The problem has gotten so pronounced that a team of Virginia Tech researchers is working to determine if social media-driven misinformation fuels the resistance.

The Northam administration moved aggressively to address vaccine hesitancy among blacks and Hispanics by hiring marketing firms to push the pro-vaccine message in minority communities and setting up mobile and pop-up clinics in minority communities were vaccination rates were low. In Danville, the administration went so far as to ban out-of-towners from utilizing a pop-up clinic that was meant to serve local minorities even though it was administering only a fraction of the number of vaccines it had the capacity for.

So far, Southwest Virginia has seen no comparable demographically targeted initiatives from the Virginia Department of Health. Continue reading

Comrades of Convenience

by Kerry Dougherty

Opportunists? Or bosom buddies? You decide.

On Thursday morning, Gov. Ralph Northam and former Gov. Terry McAuliffe were palling around town — Norfolk — together.

Best of friends. Comrades, really.

Shoot, Northam passed up the historic opportunity to endorse one of the two black women — State Sen. Jennifer McClellan and former Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy — to support McAuliffe for the Democratic nomination for governor. You know, the guy who violated Virginia’s constitution by issuing blanket restoration of rights to 206,000 felons in a shameless attempt to get more criminals on the 2016 voter rolls in time to vote for his old crony, Hillary Clinton.

The Virginia Supreme Court slapped McAuliffe for his illegal acts and he was forced to restore rights the legal way: One at a time. Continue reading

A Cautionary Tale of Rural Healthcare and a Peek Inside a Health System Board Meeting

by James C. Sherlock

Revised 12 April at 1:34 PM

I ran across a fascinating story buried deep in a massive Centers for Medicare/Medicaid Services (CMS) database on Ambulatory Surgical Center (ASC) inspection reports.

The report I will share with you is a cautionary tale both of rural healthcare and of the way hospitals view and treat ASCs, even when they own them. The ASC in this case is in Virginia, the hospital that owns it is in West Virginia.

Nobody told the Virginia Department of Health or Medicare, which license and certify it respectively. This is the story of a VDH surprise inspection at the end of November 2020.  It was indeed a surprise – to the inspectors.  The ASC was closed, and had been closed a long time.

But it revealed a great deal about rural hospitals, ASCs and the business calculations of integrated health systems.

It also revealed that antitrust law is not always in the forefront of the decision trees of the boards of non-profit health systems.

Continue reading

Maybe VMI Needs to Close on Our Terms

A modest proposal

by Shaun Kenney

The Virginia Military Institute (VMI) is a hallowed institution to many. VMI men have a certain command presence that is rooted in realism yet rarely if ever accepts impossible as a status quo.

The things that make VMI such an institution are the intangibles. VMI’s storied Honor Code, her graduates such as General George S. Patton, the 1864 Battle of New Market, and the gallows humor that seems to prevail among most alumni. “They can’t kill you and they can’t send you back to the rat line” is a common refrain

This thicket of intangibles — honor and tradition — are what makes institutions such as VMI unique and truly Virginian. Continue reading

COPN Drives Richmond’s Tuckahoe Orthopedics to Be Acquired to Survive

Bon Secours’ St. Mary’s Hospital, in the same medical complex as Tuckahoe Orthopaedics.

by James C. Sherlock

This is pretty straightforward.

COPN is driving a physician shortage in Virginia because doctors are not granted the independence to practice the way they want to with the facilities and equipment they need and that in turn is depressing their incomes. Reversing Robin Hood, COPN takes from the physicians and gives to the hospitals.

I offer in this essay a direct example.

Pre-COVID projection physician shortages in Virginia

The Medical Society of Virginia is of the opinion that: 

“Virginia’s COPN has failed to improve access, control costs, and ensure quality. … COPN laws prevent private health care providers from competing with larger providers to bring patients the same service at a lower cost in a more convenient location.”

A story yesterday in the Richmond Times Dispatch announced that Richmond-based Tuckahoe Orthopedics is getting a new owner, Bon Secours. Bon Secours operates five hospitals in the Richmond area.

Continue reading

Driving While Black

Photo credit: Pope County Tribune

By Dick Hall-Sizemore

If anyone ever doubted there was a need for society to address the problem of police officers stopping Black drivers, a recent event in the town of Windsor should dispel those doubts.

The incident is reported in today’s on-line Virginian-Pilot. Like incidents at Virginia institutions of higher education that have been recently discussed on this blog, the narrative is based on side’s story. In this case, the description comes from a lawsuit filed in federal court by the Black driver. Unlike those other incidents, however, there is graphic police body camera footage that backs up the Black driver’s story.

For those who do not have access to the Virginian-Pilot with the accompanying body cam footage, I will summarize the incident: Continue reading

Kings Dominion Stays a Step Ahead of the Minimum Wage

Bridgett Bywater, the new GM at Kings Dominion.

by James A. Bacon

Virginia’s $9.50-per-hour minimum wage will go into effect May 1, but it won’t have much impact on King’s Dominion, which expects to hire more than 2,000 seasonal workers, mostly young people, this season. The Hanover County amusement park plans to boost its minimum wage to $13 per hour, reports Virginia Business. The enterprise also is hiring 80 new full-time positions with wages and benefits starting at $16 an hour in culinary and operations roles.

Hopefully, the flap over the minimum wage in Virginia will prove to be much ado about nothing, as market forces in a fast-recovering economy push up wages faster than the General Assembly can jack up the minimum. In 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70,000 of Virginia’s 1,978,000 workers were paid the $7.50 minimum wage. Presumably, a significant number more were paid less than $9.50 and will benefit from the wage increase. That’s the up-side of the mandated wage boost.

What we don’t know is how many workers will lose their jobs as employers decide they don’t add enough value to the enterprise to justify the higher wage, or, in the longer run, invest in automation. Bacon’s Rebellion will stay alert for signs of how the minimum is impacting “marginalized” employees, such as minorities, teenagers, and rural workers. Continue reading