Bacon Bits: A.P. Hill R.I.P., Tax Cuts, Bike Lanes

General Hill holds his ground and blocks driver’s views at Laburnum and Hermitage. Source: WTVR Richmond

This statue does have to go

The tomb of Confederate General A.P. Hill in Northside Richmond is the latest to be vandalized by red paint or some similar substance, but in this case the argument to move the statute and the grave beneath it should focus on its status as a major traffic hazard.

The vehicles in the intersection at Laburnum Avenue and Hermitage Road look very different than when the body was interred in 1891, and the plants around the base are seldom properly trimmed.  Richmond loves traffic circles and intersections with monuments but Richmond drivers simply cannot seem to negotiate them, even with clear visibility (which this location lacks.)

This apparently is the only such statute in a public location that doubles as the honoree’s tomb. Hill’s remains belong in Hollywood Cemetery, with so many other of victims of that tragic war, and the statute can go there or to Fort A.P. Hill (although how much longer active military bases will be named for dead Confederates is also an open question.)  Sadly, a debate over safety once started will take on a whole different tenor very quickly.

The Showstopper? Northam Administration’s own data demonstrates federal tax benefits

Tax Cuts and Jobs Act impact on federal taxes paid by Virginia individuals. Source: Chainbridge Software LLC, Virginia Secretary of Finance

Defenders of the recent federal tax changes, a kept campaign promise by President Donald Trump and the GOP Congress that remains controversial, need look no farther than a chart distributed on August 17 by Democratic Governor Ralph Northam.  It should be particularly useful against Democratic complaints about the tax bill, given the source.

Chainbridge Software LLC, the financial consulting firm selected by the administration to evaluate the impact of the federal tax cuts on Virginia, seems to work mostly in states where Democrats are in control, and the tone of its report is about “revenue lost” or “revenue gained” – in other words, the point of view of the tax collector and not the taxpayer.

Yet its chart shows 1) federal tax reductions across the board starting with the lowest-income workers, 2) double-digit tax cuts on average for taxpayers with $150,000 in taxable income or less (certainly middle class in many parts of Virginia, and 3) tax cuts averaging less than 5 percent for the richest taxpayers.

At the individual level the situation is complicated and uneven, and Chainbridge also concludes (correctly) many people will not see much if any tax cut and some will pay more.  But in general, it concludes Virginia residents’ federal bite goes down almost $4 billion, or 9 percent, and in some income brackets drops 17 percent.  Can a White House tweet be far behind?

Back to Richmond traffic:  The Brook Road bike lanes

Richmond City Council President Chris Hilbert and Councilor Kimberly Gray have assembled a four-page list of questions (Brook Road Bike Lane Concerns)for the city’s Department of Public Works and are asking they be answered in time for a September 11 community meeting on a proposed dedicated bicycle lane along Brook Road.   They are also demanding an updated formal traffic study, arguing new development coming in the area has made the one used in the earlier bike lane decision obsolete.

The plan – previously approved by City Council – remains to take Brook Road down to one lane for motor vehicles in both directions with an entire lane for bikes on both sides. The questions focus on how that will work for homeowners who have delivery trucks coming to their houses, driveways where they back out, or need their trash picked up. They ask what the impact will be on days of heavy activity around Virginia Union University.  When the city cuts grass in the median now it temporarily blocks one lane for safety, but that won’t be possible if there is only one lane.

Hilbert and Gray are taking a huge amount of heat from the bike enthusiasts, and the debate started by posts on Bacon’s Rebellion is raging.  Whatever the outcome now it won’t be a decision made without some visibility (although the Richmond Times-Dispatch remains oblivious.)

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19 responses to “Bacon Bits: A.P. Hill R.I.P., Tax Cuts, Bike Lanes

  1. Bike enthusiasts have been quite loud in Norfolk as well, but the bike lanes that required closing a lane of traffic to be installed have caused two and three light cycle delays at key intersections during rush hour, and caused speeding on alternative cross city neighborhood streets. Additionally, after months of warm weather opportunity, the lanes are simply not being used.

    Our family enjoys biking and were hopeful for bike lanes that would provide safety in addition to connecting our neighborhood to other safe biking areas. Unfortunately neither of those goals are met with the haphazard way the lanes were installed. Sadly, to speak up with any degree of analysis puts the biking community on notice and reason on holiday. The inability to assess the lanes lack of success logically and civilly (as witnessed on Nextdoor app) simply hardens opinion against the lanes rather than open discussion to improve them.

  2. I think the bike lane issue is not unlike the sidewalk issue where you have to start somewhere to put them – knowing that you cannot initially get full connectivity… it happens over time a sidewalks are gradually added…

    so the approach is to essentially capitalize on things you can do and wait for things you can’t – until you can…

    I agree – from a pure common sense point of view – it’s not but then if you never start at some point -you never get it at all..

  3. Your comments about A. P. Hill’s burial place bring to mind a few facts about the man. He was from Culpeper, and one of many on both sides of the C. W. who had graduated from the U. S. Military Academy at West Point, NY, and remained a friend of military leaders on both sides. Hill was killed on the last day of the siege of Petersburg while investigating the beginning of the final breakthrough of Union troops on April 2, 1965. Fort A. P. Hill, established during WWII, was named after him by the Army out of respect for his military reputation. As for his burial:

    “His family had hoped to take Hill to Richmond for burial, but the city’s capture by Union forces caused him to be buried in Chesterfield County. In February 1867, his remains were re-interred in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond. During the late 1880s, several former comrades raised funds for a monument to Hill in Richmond. Hill’s remains were transferred to the base of the monument when it was dedicated on May 30, 1892.” Wikipedia – “A. P. Hill”

    I’m sure that Hollywood Cemetary has accurate records from the 1890s that could pinpoint Gen. Hill’s first Richmond burial location. Wouldn’t it be appropriate to return him to where his family originally wanted him to be? That 1892 relocation of his coffin to the middle of a busy intersection was an unfortunate outgrowth of the Lost Cause sentimentality of the late 19th century and should be reversed without shame.

    But what to do with the statue itself? It would be a nice political compromise to place it at the intersection of Monument Avenue and (what is now) Davis Streets in place of the Davis/Confederate States monument that has caused such a fuss. A. P. Hill was a worthy peer of Stuart and Jackson and Lee, the other generals memorialized on The Avenue, and this would place them together again in memoriam. In contrast, as we’ve discussed here before, there is much less of a nexus between Davis and Richmond than the Davis Monument suggests. Davis was a Mississippian, an engineer and a politician, not a military man, although he had been Secretary of the Army before the War; his memorial is (and was intended to be) to the Confederacy not to the man. And now, memorials glorifying the Confederacy have other connotations.

  4. Not all Confederate leaders were memorialized.. Longstreet is one…

    • Yeah, but he post-war was a #&%* Republican!! Politics was a huge part of all this a century or more ago. And the placement of A.P. Hill in Northside and all those statues along Monument Avenue were also intended to spark real estate investments, and did. All very complicated, which gets forgotten now.

      • The placement of statues throughout the South including in Richmond was not about real estate values.. but rather White Supremacy…. judging from many of the speeches made when they were put up.

        “Like UNC, VCU has its own Confederate memorial dedicated with explicitly white supremacist speech”

        https://www.virginiamercury.com/2018/08/23/like-unc-vcu-has-its-own-confederate-memorial-dedicated-with-explicitly-white-supremacist-speech/

        we “forget” that also… and if one reads those speeches including the one lauded in the Dec 14, 1902 edition of the Richmond Dispatch .. it’s pretty clear and unambiguous… ; the “complications” came later in how folks “remember” how the statues got erected…

        The reasons why Longstreet got no statue on Monument Ave even when folks like Maury did … you can learn why by googling the following article:
        ” Where are the monuments to Confederate Gen. James Longstreet?”

        At the end of the day – the truth about why the Confederate statues were erected in Richmond and across the south is really not that complicated.

        What’s complicated is how – as a society – we have not been able to acknowledge the actual historical record as to the purpose of the movement to erect the statues …….when many say they represent “history”.

      • Interesting that you should bring up Longstreet. Yes, he became a Republican after the C.W. and was maligned for it. So did quite a few other southerners, who figured that was the best way forward for economic recovery and to keep a seat at the table: “if you can’t lick ’em, join ’em.” A relative of mine was one such. But then these southern Republicans were left stranded by the course of events nationally, when the elections of 1874 and 1876 turned against Reconstruction, while the “Lost Cause” Democrats took control across the South. So, today you have A. P. Hill (statue erected in 1892), and the Monument Avenue group [Lee (1890), Stuart and Davis (1907), Jackson (1919), Maury (1929)], but no memorial to Longstreet from the Lost Cause era.

  5. The “Governor’s Confidential Technical Appendix” authored by Chainbridge Software, LLCFairfax, VA that Steve posted is an impressive work product and it’s also impressive that Northam and Lane commissioned it from Chainbridge rather than have it done in-house or at – just relying on an in-house analysis.

    It’s a complex document – I still do not fully understand all of it.

    Northam claims that the impact of the new Federal Tax Law on Virginia taxpayers is more disparate on lower income… I’ve not yet been able to find that in the document.

    I also do not understand the how and why behind how the Federal Tax law adversely impacts business taxes in Virginia… and it appears to me that it’s even more imperative that Virginia address that quickly if they want to keep from losing businesses impacted.. unless it’s primarily retail which just as with the sales tax – those businesses essentially become tax collectors because they’re going to be here selling stuff, no matter what – as long as there are customers willing to buy it and those taxes apply across the board so that no one retail business ends up with a competitive advantage because of the tax not applied across the board equally.

    Finally – it’s interesting to me about the timing of the release of the report, done AFTER Northam and Company worked to get the Medicaid Expansion passed…. If the two items had been reverse on when they were brought up – it would have given the GOP even more ammunition to argue against expansion, no?

  6. An excellent point, Larry – it was obvious to tax policy wonks that Virginia faced major decisions about the conformity immediately upon passage of the 2017 federal bill, and also obvious that it would probably lead to an infusion of higher tax collections at the state level if nothing was done. But there was almost NO discussion of the issue during the long, delayed General Assembly session as Medicaid expansion was decided. Legislation was passed to make it clear VA was NOT going to act yet, and to some extent the hiring of Chainbridge was used as an excuse for delay. As I noted in my first piece on this, the bipartisan silence on the coming “windfall” was markedly different than 30 years ago, when we in the GOP started to publicly pressure a Democratic governor immediately.

    • well geeze… Steve.. can’t blame that on the Dems!!! The GOP .. KNEW in 2017 – no? Were they asleep at the switch or were they COLLUDING with the Dems?

  7. Another mystery. The thing that hurts Va taxpayers is the lack of the ability to take advantage of itemized deductions.

    What income group does that really impact?

    Not the low income – they usually don’t itemize. And really – not the high income – they usually have expert help in figuring out the most advantageous path.

    It’s people that normally do their own taxes or have them done for cheap – straight-forward deductions like medical, mortgage, local taxes, etc… nothing really exotic … and no real way to evade the hit.

    In that regard – the GOP’s drum beating may be on target …

    • Yes, the big tax increases at the state level will hit individuals who used to itemize but choose to switch to the federal standard deduction, and are then stuck with the low state standard deduction. (Ahem, like me.) Many high income taxpayers will just continue to itemize on both state and federal. Some of the business tax provisions will bleed over onto the individual side, as well, because many business are not incorporated. They don’t want to admit it, but the money for any EITC expansion comes straight out of the pockets of the middle class ($50-150K Virginia AGI).

  8. ” They don’t want to admit it, but the money for any EITC expansion comes straight out of the pockets of the middle class ($50-150K Virginia AGI).”

    Those who work are punished for it in Virginia. They should be the ones rioting in the streets. Under our culture today it pays off.

  9. re: those who work.

    just to remind – you can’t get EITC if you don’t work… EITC actually
    stands for Earned Income… Tax Credit…

    it’s people who work but don’t earn “enough” to pay for their “keep” and end up getting taxpayer subsidies…

  10. Here’s the essential dilemma:

    If we ARE going to subsidize people who do not earn enough pay for their food and housing – how should we do it – and how can we minimize how much we pay?

    That’s the premise behind the EITC AND the reason why even the GOP says they like it better than straight-up hand-outs…

    The MedicAid Expansion falls into that area and is bass-ackwards in that basic MedicAid is a handout for people who don’t work and the expansion is for people who do work…

  11. Everyone should pay income taxes, no exceptions.

  12. Well, even people who have no income? I disagree, I don’t think income taxes should kick in until a certain threshold has been reached – and that is now the case. Plenty of other taxes are paid by low income persons – sales and use, excise taxes, property taxes, too numerous to list.

    • Steve, yes, of course, your opinion is reasonable on its face, and the prevailing opinion.

      But I disagree.

      I think we need to break this culture of belief among the poor and middle class that their Government in America is their SUGAR DADDY. In fact, our Government is, and has been, since the 1960s, busily at work destroying the culture of the poor and middle class, doing both groups enormous and incalculable harm. The sooner the poor and middle class realize all the harm that their Government, in cahoots with the elites, are doing to them every day, the better off they and all of us will be.

      I do agree with your point about the horrible regressive nature of “sales and use, excise taxes, property taxes, too numerous to list.” And would put “tolls” near the top of that list that expands everyday, given the explosion the administrative regulative state.

      This too proves my point about the destructive nature of today’s Progressive Leviathan State that now uses taxation to build ever more kinds of new and more crowded plantations for all our citizens, plantations that imprison their minds, spirits, and energies, in our Government’s headlong rush to pit Americans one against the other, creating ever more aggrieved groups to troll for votes, thus tearing our country ever father apart on every election cycle, in order to stay in power.

  13. Let’s put some meat on the bones of the above comment. Since the imposition of LBJ’s Great Society legislation on the American people in the 196o’s, consider how that legislation has destroyed much of the culture of people it was meant to serve.

    For example, the black scholar and writer Thomas Sowell reports:

    “Nowhere was the effect of the white liberalism of the 1960’s on the social evolution of black culture more devastating than the disintegration of the black family.

    The raw facts are theses: As of 1960, 51% of black females between the ages of 15 and 44 were married and living with their husbands, another 20% were divorced, widowed, or separated, and only 28% had never been married.

    Twenty years later (1980), only 31% of black women in these age brackets were married and living with their husbands, while 48% had never married.

    Fourteen years later (by 1994), an absolute majority – 56%- of black women in these age brackets were never married and only 25% were married and living with their husbands.

    Accordingly, while two-thirds of black children were living with both parents in 1960, only one third (of black children) were (living with both parents) by 1994. While only 22 percent of black children were born to unmarried women in 1960, 70 percent (of black children) were (born to unmarried women) by 1994.”

    See: Black Rednecks and White Liberals, by Thomas Sowell, 2005

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