By Peter Galuszka

It’s so-called halftime at the Virginia General Assembly, and with conservative Republicans holding sway and many serious problems facing the Commonwealth, here’s what we’ve come up with so far:

  • Women exercising their constitutional right to have an abortion now will be forced to undergo and pay for an ultrasound before the procedure. There’s no medical reason for this, just to shame the woman into reconsidering so that right-to-lifers can feel good about themselves. Conservative Republicans, mind you, want to keep the government out of our private lives.
  • After years of supplying a lot of the East Coast with handguns, Virginia limited purchases to once a month. No longer. Now gun fanatics can exercise their Second Amendment Rights as many times a month as they want and blast away. Rock on!
  • If you have been laid off or were born into a low income family and need public housing, the state wants to check into your urine to see if you abuse drugs. If you are poor, you are suspect. If you are rich, congratulations, sir!
  • If you look foreign and sound like Cheech and Chong, the cops have to check to see if you are in this country legally if they happen to stop you for running a red light. How they do this quickly, no one knows exactly, since drivers licenses can be issued to anyone regardless of nationality. The police community is screaming that they don’t have the resources to handle this and even the Richmond Times-Dispatch says it is a bad idea. No matter, hard-right-wingers have to keep up with Alabama and Arizona.
  • In a move that is certain to save Virginia’s economy from the horrid onslaught of labor unionism, state money can’t be used to fund public works projects that have agreements that require that some of the work go to firms represented by unions. It has to do with Dulles Rail, a big transit project up DC way. It is important to let them Yankees and DCists know that this here’s the South and we don’t cotton to no unions.

Meanwhile, more pressing matters await, such as a budget. It seems that Gov. Robert F. McDonnell’s plan to put the screws to education and use part of its General Fund payments to boost transportation isn’t getting very far.

Ditto the conservative schemes to stick it to our lazy and inept public school teachers. They want to upend the status quo with new plans to subject teachers with tougher new performance appraisals. Mind you, there has been no solid evidence or public outcry that this is needed. Rather some of the right-wing think tanks decided it should be an issue. One reason could be that some teachers are organized into, God forbid, labor unions. It also has racist overtones since it seems aimed at minority teachers in minority and low-income areas.

The anti-teacher movement seems to have been orchestrated months before the legislative session. Read six months of some of the postings on this blog and you will see that somewhere, someone has decided that public school teachers are a major, major problem. Maybe you didn’t notice yourself, but you read it here first!

The big irony is that McDonnell has worked so hard to recast himself from social to moderate conservative so he can more easily pursue national political ambitions. As much as he spins the GA session as progress, it clearly ain’t. The agenda is being controlled by the likes of Bob Marshall and other wingnuts.

As for me, I blame the Democrats, especially national party boss and former governor Tim Kaine. They let the hard righters get a slender majority in the last election and now there’s hell to pay. Ironically, however, the one who might end up paying the most will be Bob McDonnell.

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20 responses to “A Pathetic Half-Time”

  1. I am not much into social issues, but opposing PLAs is hardly hard right. The problem is the Democratic appointed residents of Virginia who are Quislings. Today’s Washington Examiner has an article informing that there are more Maryland workers than Virginia workers on Dulles Rail, Phase I. Maybe, we should start calling her “Axis Mamie” Reilly. It just goes to show that liberals don’t care about the middle class. This is a disgrace.

    1. I’m not sure that liberals are the disgrace here. You do know what a “Quisling” is? And what the Axis was? What kind of extremist groups are you a part of? Disgraceful rhetoric.

  2. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    Having worked in Virginia and in many other states and overseas and having been a union member in Virginia, I tend to see anti-unionism as a benefit for a certain type of greedy management that wants to keep wages and benefits low and fire at will without cause. I do not see the connection between employing middle class Virginians versus Marylanders as a union issue as you apparently do. You seem to be saying that unions should be renounced or made illegal at Dulles Rail and somehow more rank and file Virginians will be hired. Don’t think so. And, setting quotas for Virginians vs non-Virginians would be sort of like, well affirmative action, and not many conservatives I know would go for that.
    You and I differ. You see unions as job preventers. I see unions as a way to keep management honest. The problem seems to be that Dulles Rail lies at the cusp of the two cultures.

  3. Part of the problem here is that Peter has one very important fact wrong. He says, “State money can’t be used to fund public works projects that have agreements to try and use union labor. ”

    No, the bill says that state money can’t be used to fund public works projects that mandate> Project Labor Agreements. Absolutely nothing prevents companies like Dulles Transit Partners from voluntarily using PLAs, which it currently does and very likely will do again if it submits the low bid for Phase 2 of the Rail-to-Dulles project.

    The fact that Peter would make such a mistake causes me to question how carefully he pays attention to what people on the other side actually say and believe.

  4. On some of Peter’s other points, I have to agree. The Republicans went overboard with socially conservative legislation this session. The political center in Virginia is libertarian, not social conservative. I suspect that the Rs will pay at the polls in the next election. Then we’ll end up with Democrats back in power pursuing their own woolly headed agenda…. like paying off labor unions with mandated PLAs and protecting the VEA and the public school monopoly that has done such a stellar job of educating Virginia’s youth.

  5. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    Point taken on mincing words on PLAs, Jim, but the overall point remains. Regarding education, what evidence do you have showing that public education is in such a quagmire? Are you just repeating the party line until we all believe it? Please show us some evidence, if you have it. I also fail to see how Virginia is overrun with labor run amok. If anything, the opposite is true. I never could understand why Dulles Rail is suddenly the icon for all of Virginia’s economy. Can you explain this, too?

  6. The fact of the matter remains that the Democrats on MWAA have put in place a PLA that is having the impact of using money from Virginia drivers (most of them) to pay more residents of Maryland than residents of Virginia. Labor unions provide massive amounts of campaign contributions to Democrats. The Democrats on the MWAA board have put paying back unions over the interest of employing Virginians. I see this as economic Fifth Column work. Once again, Virginia’s Democrats prove they don’t care about the average working person.

  7. Peter, I support the right of private sector workers to organize and bargain collectively. Like FDR, I oppose extending this right to public sector workers. I support the right of a business to oppose unionization of its work force. I support the rights to strike and to lock out workers. I’ve known and worked with a number of union officials. I grew up in a pro-union family. My maternal grandfather was a business agent for a labor union for a couple of years. My father-in-law from my first marriage was a long-time business agent for a different union.
    I don’t like labor unions because I got screwed financially by being a union member. In Minnesota, one had to join the union or pay union dues to work if a union had organized a business. I worked at Wards and was a teamster. I had to pay full union dues even though I worked part-time. Inventory was in February, and right after that job was completed, most of the part-timers were laid off for about 6 weeks or so. When I got called back to work, I had to pay back union dues, unless I wanted to pay $75 to the union to withdraw and be reinstated. That was when I was earning less than $2 an hour. My first few paychecks went to Social Security and union dues. I was in college and needed the money. The labor union caused me financial harm. My views of unions changed quickly.
    Most Virginia workers are non-union. I’d rather see Virginia workers on the payroll than workers from other states. MWAA doesn’t seem to care.

  8. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    I can appreciate your real-life experience with unions . For what it’s worth, my first job was at a small daily newspaper in North Carolina. We were paid very little and worked six days a week. We might be up at midnight but we might have to be back six hours later. Forget any federal labor laws. The owner was rapidly anti-union.

  9. take out the culture ware stuff including the PLA and tell me what the GA has accomplished.

  10. DJRippert Avatar

    1. The requirement for an ultrasound before an abortion is idiotic. I oppose abortion but support the Constitution. Roe v. Wade is a fact. Until it is overturned our state legislature should not attempt to overturn it in pieces. McDonnell should veto the law on both constitutional and economic grounds. The last thing anybody needs is more necessary medical expenses. Clown show: -1.

    2. The one handgun a month law seemed to be reasonable regulation under Heller. Therefore, the restriction seems constitutional to me. However, is it good public policy? I think so. One can debate whether the limit should be two or four handguns a month. However, some limit is appropriate. Clown show: -2.

    3. Drug testing in order to receive benefits is legitimate. The rich vs poor angle on this is a total fraud. Endless private companies mandate pre-employment drug screening for every single employee hired. Many companies won’t allow contractors on site unless the contracting company has mandatory drug screening. Even VDOT used drug testing as a factor in determining the safety rating of its contractors. Of course, they don’t test their own employees. Gosh, I wonder why private contractors build roads faster and cheaper than VDOT? If it passes, the Clown Show has this one right. Clown show: -1.

    4. Enforcing America’s immigration law is a legitimate function of government. Everybody who gets stopped ought to have their immigration status checked. Everybody. However, passing a well intended law that can’t be enforced is just more Clown Show buffoonery. Clown show: -2.

    5. The vote against mandatory PLAs is legitimate. A right to work state should not fund contracts that mandate unions. However, it should be remembered that it is primarily Virginia’s own appointees to the MWAA who are pushing for these PLAs. As always, the Clown Show is more to blame than anybody else. Clown show -3 (for causing the problem in the first place).

  11. DJRippert Avatar

    The anti-teacher rhetoric is a hoax. There is no anti-teacher sentiment. Eliminating the absurd notion of tenure and demanding that employment and pay be tied to results are two good ideas.

    As one of the few people on this blog who attended Virginia public schools I can say from experience that my teachers were great. The same seems to be true for the people who have taught my children. Those men and women do not need to be protected by tenure. They would thrive under any fair rating system. I have no anti-teacher bias.

    However, there are bad teachers and there is no effective choice in Virginia public education. Establishing rules where parents are forced to send their children to schools where bad teachers are mollycoddled is just bad policy.

  12. DJRippert Avatar

    I have a hard time blaming Bob McDonnell. He doesn’t vote in the General Assembly and he doesn’t break the ties in the Senate. He seems genuinely frustrated with Ken Cuccinelli and has reversed a number of his fellow Republican’s more questionable decisions. Meanwhile, he’s forced through more transportation progress than 10 Tim Kaines.

    He could have vetoed the absurd gerrymandering done by the Democrats in the last redistricting but he signed it in order to keep the state moving forward – if only in a misshapen set of districts.

    He should veto the ultrasound bill.

  13. ” I can say from experience that my teachers were great.
    …… However, there are bad teachers ”

    but you won’t get them this way. All this is going to do is allow principles to make teachers toe the line on a wide variety of issues that have nothing to do with educating kids.

    in fact, really bad teachers, can keep their jobs by kissing principle butt and good teachers who refuse to cowtow to principles will get the axe.

    it’s a really bad idea.

    in a non-public school work environment – there is no tenure – that’s true but there also is no real level-field evaluation system either. good people get fired for refusing to do unethical things and those who are willing to engage in unethical behavior will get raises.

    is this what you really want in the school system? Do you really want teachers competing against each other on a wide variety of things that have little or nothing to do with the business of educating kids?

    where is the evaluation system that applies equally to all teachers and cannot be perverted by a principle or administration that wants to get rid of someone even if they are an excellent teacher?

    this is really bad policy.

    if you want this to work – you have to have an evaluation system that applies equally and fairly no matter the school, no matter the school system that prevents abuses by unprincipled actors.

    And I do not know what you do with mentoring which is the only way that most new teachers learn the ropes. And I do not know what you do with team teaching where a group of teachers are functioning much like a team of specialists to get a kid who is behind back up on grade level.

    If you leave that kid in a regular class room and the pressure is on the teacher to get 90% to pass.. how do you insure that kid does not get abandoned – collateral damage?

    this is a really, really bad idea and the folks that don’t know me – let me tell you that I would de-fund schools by about a 1/3 for the things they do that are not core-academic. I believe that we abandon the harder-to-teach kids in favor of providing a “richer” experience for other, more capable, more parental advocated kids.

    I think it is DUMB to abandon kids who are perfectly innocent but unfortunate enough to have draw bad parents in the lottery.. and it’s doubly DUMB to knowingly abandon them when their classmates are going to grow up to pay for these kids entitlements.

    rating teachers with no standard and fair method will ultimately harm kids and that’s dumb. you’ll get rid of some bad ones maybe but you’ll turn the rest of the teachers into educational equivalents of doctors who practice protective medicine.

  14. DJRippert Avatar

    It’s backwards day in Larryville. Holding people accountable is a bad idea while granting teachers tenure protects them from principals.

    McDonnell’s proposal also held principals accountable as I recall. So, I am not sure where this “us” vs “them” mentality between teachers and principals arises.

    Yes, creating a fair assessment system is hard work. Ask any boss who ever implemented a bonus system at his or her company. But the answer is not to simply give up and implement the Medieval system of tenure. The answer is to design a good assessment system. When I hear teachers and their unions manufacturing anti-assessment excuses at full scale I begin to lose faith in those teachers and their unions. And when I begin to lose faith in the monopolists of public education I begin to think that public education should no remain a monopoly.

    Maybe Bacon is right. Maybe Fairfax parents ought to be able to direct the $13,400 per year in tax spend per pupil on any educational system they choose – including home schooling. I wonder how many unionized teaching jobs there will be if that happened?

  15. DJRippert Avatar

    In any regard, the evaluation system should be a balance between individual contribution and school-wide achievement. The school-wide system should categorize the students by existing academic performance and hold teachers and principals accountable for improvement at each level of academic performance. It should focus on year-over-year improvement by school rather than trying to rate one school against another.

  16. Richard, Merriam Webster defines “Quisling” as a collaborator or traitor. I think the term “collaborator” fits the Democrats on the MWAA board. They have worked with organized labor for the detriment of the countless non-union businesses and workers in Virginia in an attempt to drive Dulles Rail work away from those businesses. Some might even go further and call that traitorous conduct. I think that I might if I were a Virginia business or worker that lost out to a union shop in Maryland.
    Mildred Gillars, a/k/a Axis Sally, was a U.S. citizen who broadcast German propoganda and attempted to affect U.S. morale in a negative manner. She was a collaborator, or Quisling, if you will. Maime Reilly, who is a Virginia resident, has been a leader in the effort to steer Dulles Rail business away from Virginia businesses and workers towards union operations most likely to obtain future campaign contributions for Democratic candidates. She is not representing the interests of the people she is supposed to represent – Virginians. I think that, in debate about public figures, which she is, the term fits.

  17. here’s “backwards”. Giving VDOT more money on a promise that they’ll fix their process.

    here’s “backwards” giving carte blanche to an evaluation system that surely will be designed Ad Hoc by principles and administrators.

    you’ve got a proposal to fire teachers with zero definition of process.

    that’s classic Clown show … that’s as bad as forcing women to get vaginal ultra-sounds …..for no good reason…

    the problem with the right wing and the culture war is that they are long on complaints and short on solutions… vandalizing is their solution.

  18. Thad Hunter Avatar
    Thad Hunter

    Good topics. I like the results of our new Republican legislature and am looking forward to the second half:

    -Valuing innocent life and trying to minimize abortions within the restrictions of Roe v. Wade, which most claim they to want to do

    -Pushing back on the years of incremental loss of the right to defend oneself without having to justify it to the state (anything that overturns a Tim Kaine veto is good for Virginia)

    -Holding people accountable and perhaps helping to break their dependency on the state

    -Upholding the rule of law

    -Realizing a better return on tax payer dollars and helping build some actual roads

  19. DJRippert Avatar


    If you really believed in upholding the rule of law you would uphold Roe v Wade. Whether you agree with that US Supreme Court decision or not it was the decision of the court. Why should Virginia’s state legislature take it upon themselves to use a steady stream of trickery in an effort to undo the rule of law as defined in Roe v Wade? How about a state abortion tax? Say, $1M per abortion?

    The same mentality of tearing down Roe v Wade with loophole laws will also be used by those who want to tear down the 2nd amendment and the Heller decision. They will tax bullets or restrict the number of rounds in a clip or demand muzzle loading weapons only.

    What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Roe v Wade is legitimate law and it should not be trifled with. The 2nd amendment is law and it should not be trifled with either.

    As for drug testing for benefits, building actual roads and undoing anything Tim Kaine did – I agree completely.

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