Author Archives: Dick Hall-Sizemore

Another Perspective on Evictions

A more realistic depiction of an eviction

By Dick Hall-Sizemore

As has been reported on this blog, the Virginia Supreme Court granted Governor Northam’s request to extend the moratorium on evictions related to non-payment of rent.

The court was closely divided, 4-3. The dissenting opinions are quite convincing. It is obvious that the majority, cognizant of the dilemma caused by thousands of tenants out of jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic and facing eviction from their homes, decided to give the Governor, General Assembly, and (implicitly) Congress one more chance to come up with a solution.

Evictions generally

Rather than debate the merits of the Court’s decision,  I am largely responding to, and following up on, Jim Bacon’s recent post regarding evictions and what happened to the federal CARES funding that has been provided. Continue reading

Take a Seat, the Doctor Will See You Shortly

By Dick Hall-Sizemore

The latest action by Virginia hospitals is sheer chutzpah.

The 2020 General Assembly adopted actions aimed to reduce state Medicaid payments for emergency room services later deemed to be unnecessary. As described by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the aim was to discourage Medicaid recipients from unnecessary use of emergency departments instead of seeking care from their doctors or urgent care centers. “They should talk to their primary care physician,” said Del. Mark Sickles (D., Fairfax), chairman of the House Health, Welfare, and Institutions Committee and vice-chair of the House Appropriations Committee. Continue reading

Clueless

City dump truck set on fire outside Richmond Police Department headquarters, July 25 Photo Credit: Richmond Time-Dispatch

By Dick Hall-Sizemore

As noted recently on this blog, Virginia’s capital city experienced some semi-organized violent activity last weekend. This was not a peaceful Black Lives Matter demonstration that escalated. Rather, it was a mob, with some members armed, seemingly bent on confrontation, violence, and general mayhem.

This event brought about a rare confluence: Bacon’s Rebellion and the Richmond Times-Dispatch editorial page both agreeing on something: the lack of leadership from city and state officials.

Beyond the lack of leadership, I was struck by the cluelessness of city officials regarding the origin or, more likely, origins of this event, which was well advertised on social media in advance. At first Mayor Levar Stoney said that white supremacists had infiltrated the ranks of Black Lives Matter demonstrators in order to undermine the cause. The Chief of Police, Gerald Smith, said that Antifa was also involved, an assessment Stoney later agreed with. In other words, they had no idea who instigated the violence. Continue reading

Democrats Stack the Deck

By Dick Hall-Sizemore

The Virginia State Crime Commission is a legislative body established in 1966 and set out in the Code of Virginia (Sec. 30-156 et al.). Its purpose is “to study, report and make recommendations on all areas of public safety and protection.” Following is a sampling of its recent topics of study:

  • Sex trafficking
  • Pre-trial programs
  • Fingerprinting of defendants
  • Decriminalization of simple marijuana possession
  • Asset forfeiture

Virginia law establishes the composition of the Crime Commission as follows:

  • Six members of the House of Delegates to be appointed by the Speaker of the House of Delegates in accordance with the principles of proportional representation contained in the Rules of the House of Delegates
  • Three members of the Senate to be appointed by the Senate Committee on Rules
  • Three nonlegislative citizen members to be appointed by the Governor
  • The Attorney General or his designee

In recent years, there have been four Republican delegates and two Democrats.  The Senate representatives included two Republicans and one Democrat. Continue reading

A Different Approach to Opening Schools

By Dick Hall-Sizemore

I am struck by the contradictions of some people on this blog. On the one hand, they are terribly troubled, even outraged, by what they see as liberal indoctrination happening in our schools (here and here, for examples). On the other hand, they are outraged at the prospect that the schools may be closed due to the pandemic (here and here, among many others). I suppose these contradictory positions can be rationalized with the idea that liberal indoctrination is better than no education.

But I digress. It seems to me that rational thought is not being brought to this confusion over the opening of the schools. I would like to pose a solution that I have not seen considered. Continue reading

Praise for DOC COVID-19 Response

Sussex II State Prison, housing units and interior fencing

By Dick Hall-Sizemore

The Department of Corrections has received praise for its response to inmates with COVID-19 from an unlikely source — an inmate who survived a serious bout with the disease. A story in today’s Richmond-Times Dispatch provides the details.

The inmate, who is serving two life terms, was housed in Sussex II State Prison, a high-security facility, when he came down with the disease. After he tested positive and began to have serious symptoms, he said, “I was only in the quarantine pod for maybe half a day. When I told them I couldn’t breathe, [the nurse] knew what to do. She went down, got me oxygen, they called in an ambulance and I was gone” to the intensive care unit at Southside Regional Medical Center in Petersburg. Continue reading

Virginia Hospitals Rank High Nationally (They Are Not the Ones You Would Assume!)

Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital, South Boston

By Dick Hall-Sizemore

In a new national ranking of hospitals, two Virginia hospitals are included in the Top 20 Hospitals in the country. Furthermore, the Commonwealth’s two major teaching hospitals are in the list of the 50 best teaching hospitals. Finally, one Virginia hospital was one of the 100 best safety net hospitals.

The two Virginia hospitals in the top 20 (which included teaching hospitals) probably would come as a surprise to most readers. They are Norton Community Hospital in Wise County (ranked 11) and Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital in South Boston (ranked 14). In the teaching hospital category, UVa Medical Center was ranked 18 and Medical College of Virginia Hospitals was ranked 39. The Virginia hospital recognized as being among the top safety net hospitals in the country was the Lonesome Pine Hospital in Big Stone Gap (ranked 29). Continue reading

What It Is, Is Not Journalism

Photo credit: Bob Brown, Richmond Times-Dispatch

By Dick Hall-Sizemore

I never thought that I would agree with Jim Bacon on the slant of the RTD’s news coverage, but an article on evictions today just really irritated me.

It was the usual article about activists demonstrating at the Richmond courthouse and protesting evictions. (At least the demonstration on Thursday was peaceful; no smashed windows, no pepper spray, no arrests.)  The article was a cut and paste job, recounting the familiar history of the how many evictions are pending and how a moratorium on evictions has been lifted. It concluded with several quotes from college-age demonstrators talking about the corrupt capitalist society. (I had another flashback to the 1960s). Continue reading

Conservative Budgeting–Still the Virginia Way

Aubrey Layne, Secretary of Finance

By Dick Hall-Sizemore

Secretary of Finance Aubrey Layne is following in the classic conservative tradition established by his predecessors: under project your revenues and then look good when they come in higher than projected. In his case, he gets to bask, not in a bigger surplus than projected, but in a much lower shortfall than he had projected and much lower than others had expected.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch is reporting that the preliminary data for FY 2020 show a general fund revenue shortfall of $236.5 million, rather than the $1 billion that had earlier been projected due to the effects of the economic shutdown in response to the coronavirus. Although the final numbers will not be available until July 24, it appears that the FY 2020 revenue will be about 1.1% lower than projected. That gap is just above the minimum deficit of 1.0% that legally triggers a re-forecast of 2020-2022 revenues. Continue reading

Conservatism’s Foundation Showing Some Cracks

Sitter & Barfoot Veterans Care Center, Richmond

By Dick Hall-Sizemore

The pandemic has presented a challenge to at least a couple of the basic tenets of conservatism.

The first of these challenges is to the basic negative attitude toward regulations. Conservatives abhor regulations. In anticipation of objections from Jim Bacon and Steve Haner, among others, that such a statement is too broad and that conservatives object to only “bad” or “unnecessary” regulations, let me say that I agree there are some regulations that are bad. However,  the conservative rhetoric has not differentiated between “good” and “bad” regulations. Over the past 40 years or so, whenever conservatives talked about regulations, the phrase “job-killing” was almost always used. “Regulation” has become synonymous with “job-killing”. Continue reading

Our Cell Phones Are Still Off-Limits to Robocalls

By Dick Hall-Sizemore

Here is a follow-up on a previous post.  The Supreme Court handed down a decision today that will probably be lost in the coverage of its other decision released today, the one about “faithless” Presidential electors. Nevertheless, the decision in that other case, Barr v. American Association of Political Consultants, inc., saves us all some aggravation.

Current federal law prohibits robocalls to cell phones, except calls made exclusively to collect a federal debt. The association representing political consultants sued, arguing that the prohibition violated the First Amendment right of its members. In its ruling, the Supreme Court agreed that the law violated the First Amendment, but the political consultants did not get what they wanted. The Court’s ultimate decision was unanimous, but the Justices were remarkably split all over the place about the reasons for the outcome. There were four separate opinions filed. Continue reading

A List of the Police Reform Proposals So Far

By Dick Hall-Sizemore

As we have discussed on this blog over the past few days, the Democrats in the General Assembly  have put together extensive and far-reaching packages on police reform. Steve Haner was considerate enough to provide a list of the Senate Democrats’ proposals, as well as a link to the package released by the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus.

Several of the proposals of the Black Caucus are what I have called broad, “aspirational” goals. They describe the ultimate goal, but do not provide the details on how to reach the goal. On the other hand, the Senate Democratic Caucus put forth more specific proposals

For your ease in following the action, I have consolidated them into a side-by-side comparison. (It can be found here.) I took the liberty of organizing them a little bit differently than the two organizations did and of providing some comments of my own on some of the proposals. Continue reading

Second Amendment is Not for Everyone

Persons charged with various offenses in Shenandoah County

By Dick Hall-Sizemore

For anyone who doubts that black people are harassed in everyday actions by other citizens and law enforcement, there is the recent incident in Shenandoah County to consider.

A black pastor was on the property of some apartments he owns when he saw a man and a woman, not his tenants, dragging a refrigerator toward the dumpster he maintains for the apartments. He stopped them and asked them to leave.

Shortly thereafter, three or four other men showed up. They began harassing him and using racial slurs. They told him that black lives don’t matter in Shenandoah County. They threatened to kill him.

The black man did what any good American would—he pulled out the gun for which he has a permit and then called 911.

The sheriff’s deputies showed up and did what was obviously needed to be done—they arrested the black man and charged him for brandishing a firearm. The gang at the black man’s property laughed and jeered as the deputies hauled the black man away to jail.

The story has a better ending this time. The sheriff has publicly apologized and asked that the criminal charge against the black man be dropped. The thugs who were threatening the man have been arrested and charged with abduction and other offenses, including hate crimes, and are being held in jail without bond. But the black people of Shenandoah County now have a graphic illustration of what some of their neighbors and law enforcement think of them.

Virginia Democrats Gearing Up for Police Reforms

By Dick Hall-Sizemore

The upcoming special session of the General Assembly will be about budget cuts and police reform.   Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn announced last week that actions on police reform would be allowed to be taken up at the special session to be held on a to-be-announced date.

Whenever it is held, it apparently will not be soon enough for the Democrats. “There is an urgency to provide relief from what many have seen as a racist criminal justice system and its application,“ said Charniele Herring, the majority leader.

None of the proposals being talked about are radical and none will constitute an immediate fix. Some of the proposals will cost money. Furthermore, one limitation that seems to have been overlooked is that most policing is under the jurisdiction of localities, which means that there is just so much that the state can do. Finally, the General Assembly has grappled with some of these issues in the past and has not resolved some of their complexities, making it improbable that it will be able to do in a short special session. Continue reading

The Revenue Picture is Bad, But Not as Bad as Expected

By Dick Hall-Sizemore

The state’s May revenue report has been released today.   As one would have expected, the May 2020 general fund (GF) revenues were down significantly from May 2019 and the year-to-date GF revenues are running behind the annual forecast.

However, on the somewhat bright side, the administration is now saying that it expects the decline in GF revenue for the fiscal year to be less than previously predicted.  In last month’s report, Secretary of Finance Aubrey Layne predicted that the shortfall in FY 2020 GF revenue would be $1 billion.  Now, he anticipates that “fiscal year 2020 revenue collections will be less than $ 1 billion below the official forecast.”   Layne told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that total GF revenues for the year were down about $800 million and he expected that the state would make some of that up in June.  He summarized by saying, “We’re going to end the fiscal year in a better position than being $1 billion down. I don’t know how much it’s going to be, but the good news is what we have projected and told people — we’re going to be well within that.” Continue reading