Bacon Bits: Why-Virginians-Are-Losing-Faith-in-Government Edition

The state ends at Roanoke. It’s a long way from Clintwood, county seat of Dickenson County on the Kentucky border, to Richmond. Seven other state capitals are closer. As an old saying goes, “The people in Richmond think the state ends at Roanoke.” There has been nothing in recent events to dissuade them from that sentiment. An election to replace state Sen. Ben Chafin, who died of COVID-related illness, won’t take place until after the 2021 General Assembly session, effectively depriving tens of thousands of voters in the coalfield county and neighboring jurisdictions of representation during what is shaping up to be a consequential session. What was it that Thomas Jefferson said in his bill of complaints about the tyrannical King George? Ah, yes, “He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected.” Meanwhile, fearing potential violence, state officials are closing Capitol Square in Richmond to the public Monday, a day when constituents customarily lobby lawmakers. Gun-rights activists not welcome.

Your public servants at work. Bruce Biondo, manager of the Virginia Rider Training Program in the Department of Motor Vehicles, has been sentenced to two years and four months in prison. Bondo admitted to receiving $89,000 and the use of a Ford F-450 pickup truck in exchange for helping one company win a motorcycle-rider training contract worth $4.1 million and another a $135,000 contract, reports the Richmond Times-Dispatch. I suspect there’s a whole lot more skullduggery in DMV contracts. An all-day driver-safety program I attended to avoid getting a speeding ticket was a joke, and I experienced endless frustration dealing with a state-approved driver-training program that enrolled my son. I have long suspected that the administration of contracts and licensure is rife with cronyism. The Bondo sentencing confirms my suspicions.

We want you back, but mostly we want your money. Virginia Tech students will return to the Blacksburg campus for the spring semester, but only 6% of classes will be held in-person, reports the Roanoke Times. Meanwhile, Virginia Commonwealth University will commence the spring semester with all classes taught remotely, says the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
It’s not clear from the articles if students will be allowed to take courses from home. Whether they are or aren’t, it seems clear that universities are encouraging students to return to campus despite widespread fears that, young people being young people, they will put themselves at greater risk for spreading the virus. Let me hazard a guess as to ulterior motive: Administrators need to pack students in dorms because they are worried about losing revenues needed to pay off dormitory debt financing. They also might be worried that students taking courses online at home might object to paying hefty student activity fees. Who knows, some students might even agitate for a reduction in tuition.

The COVID-19 vaccine rollout... Don’t even get me started.

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31 responses to “Bacon Bits: Why-Virginians-Are-Losing-Faith-in-Government Edition

  1. Excuse my ignorance, but can Dickinson County sue the state? My understanding is that the Governor “shall” call elections to fill vacancies, and the GA has the ability to fill the vacancy as well, once they’re in session. Could a judge produce an injunction preventing the GA from conducting business until elections are held, since the vacancy still exists due solely to the Governor’s negligence?

    • No, a judge could not grant any such injunction. First, of all, no judge would interfere with the operations of the legislative branch like that. Second, the law does not specify a time frame in which the Governor must call an election. The Governor has complied with the law and set an election for March. 23.

      All this fulminating is nonsense. Sen. Chafin died on January 1. The GA convened today, Sept. 13, for a 30-day session, scheduled to end on Feb. 13. Allowing for only a month for parties to choose candidates and those candidates to campaign would have meant an election in the early part of February, at the earliest, too late for anyone elected to substantively participated in the session.

      • So why did Northam act so quickly on the Foy vacancy? It’s the kind of hypocrisy and inconsistency that only the Washington Post could support. Keep in mind that the national media outlet that “missed” Northam’s blackface antics when he ran for both Lt. Governor and Governor. And then, spent tons of money and time digging into Roy Moore in Alabama.

        • He had already issued a writ of election for Jan. 6 (Lindsey). By using that date for Foy, both seats could be filled before the GA session. With Chafin’s death on January 1, it would not have been possible to fill the seat with much time left in the session unless there was to be a very abbreviated period for candidates to be selected by each party (I see that 3 Republicans are running) and then for those candidates to campaign in the general election.

  2. As for DMV, one bad apple does not prove corruption in the whole agency.

    I am coming to the defense of the much-maligned DMV. Recently, I got a notice for the renewal of my driver’s license, which expires in early February. Because I wanted to get my Real Id, I needed to go into an office, rather than renew online. To do that, I needed to make an appointment. The offices in central Richmond and Henrico did not have any appointments available before my birthday, but one in Chesterfield did. In fact, there were several slots open on Dec. 30. I made my appointment, went to the office, encountered no lines, waited for a few minutes while seated in a chair (with a lot of distance between chairs), and renewed my permit with no problem. I got the actual permit in the mail a few days later.

    • Agree.. but even in normal times there are long lines and waits and that needs to get better…

      On Real ID, I did that also and I had to do it twice because they are very particular about your name and variants and your addresses if you have both a street address and PO box.

      Did they take your original license and give you a temp until your new one arrives? They took mine, sent back with the new one but the old one had VOID imprinted on it (punch through).

      • No, they did not take my original license (it was still good through Feb. 4). They did give me a temporary license, but I got my permanent RealId license shortly later in the mail.

    • What you experienced was because of COVID-19 precautious Mr. Hall-Sizemore. My trip to the DMV to get my “real ID” took 4 hours last December.

    • You can be sure that there is more than one “bad apple” in the DMV.

      This just happens to be the one “bad apple” that got caught.

  3. A comment on the gratuitous poke at the administration for closing Capitol Square. The FBI has warned all states about the possibility of violence at state capitols in the days leading up to the inauguration. Do you propose that the administration ignore those warnings?

    Furthermore, as for “a day when constituents customarily lobby lawmakers,” the lawmakers are not going to be in the Capitol for the constituents to lobby. The Delegates will be at home and the Senators will be at the Science Museum, which will be closed. Offices have been set up in which constituents can meet with their legislators. https://richmond.com/news/state-and-regional/govt-and-politics/virginia-prepares-for-potential-armed-protests-at-state-capitol-northam-urges-virginians-not-to-attend/article_4dd60edc-1626-554c-a0c3-c11da2979e19.html

    Furthermore, the Delegates are probably more accessible to constituents in their home districts than they would be if they were in Richmond.

    • “A comment on the gratuitous poke at the administration for closing Capitol Square. The FBI has warned all states about the possibility of violence at state capitols in the days leading up to the inauguration. Do you propose that the administration ignore those warnings?”

      Gun rights activists were “banned” from the Capitol square well before the events which unfolded last week. I have know for several months that the VCDL was not going to be allowed to have a “Lobby Day” rally this year. The gist of the issue is that after last January, the administration enacted new “permitting” rules, notified pretty much everybody who regularly attends Lobby Day except VCDL, and then proceeded to shut VCDL out for not meeting the new requirements.

      Now it looks like everybody else has been “banned” as well.

    • I should have been clearer that I don’t necessarily share the perceptions of people in the far Southwest. Call me agnostic. My point was to point out how they perceive the situation. They have always felt marginalized — a point I was making about The State Ends at Roanoke, which I heard endlessly when I was a Roanoke Times reporter covering the coalfields 40 years ago.

      A large majority are Trump voters, and they’re already inclined to believe they are being marginalized and disenfranchised nationally. (Twitter, Facebook, Parler, “stolen” elections, etc.) The decision to delay the election until after the General Assembly — whether justified or not — will only feed their sense of alienation. Same thing for the decision to close off Capitol Square.

      The decision to close Capitol Square may be entirely justified, given the intelligence reports that have been coming in. I’m not second-guessing that. But I feel comfortable in saying the decision will be perceived very negatively by gun-rights advocates, all the more so by gun rights advocates living in Chafin’s district.

      To elaborate: Many will recall how many (not all) Democrats defended the BLM and Antifa protesters on the grounds that their rallies were “mostly peaceful,” and that it was unfair to tar the entire movement with the actions of a few. Well, the rally in Washington was “mostly peaceful.” Most rally attendees did NOT storm the Capitol. But much of the rhetoric we hear blames all Trump supporters. Look, I’ve had it with Trump. I want him to be gone. But I’m worried by the tone of much of what I hear. The cycle of action, reaction, and reaction to the reaction is getting worse.

      • Oh, I agree with the notion that the state ends at Roanoke. When I was working at the Division of Legislative Sessions, one of my duties was to schedule meetings and public hearings of study committees. Most of such events were set for Richmond or the eastern part of the state and the members of the group from Southwest Virginia attended without complaint. However, whenever I scheduled an event for a location beyond Roanoke, invariably there were complaints from the non-Southwest Virginia members about having to travel so far.

  4. Better than only 6% being taught face-to-face [it was 7.4% in the fall] is how VT is doing ‘spring break’.
    Pres. Sands is concerned that allowing a full week off in March will cause Hokies to travel far and wide and bring C-19 back to campus. But…..

    Rather than end the semester a week early, Sands has decided to offer five single ‘spring break’ days off during the semester to help with the stress of sitting in front of a computer screen on ZOOM classes: Feb 5 & 25, Mar 17, Apr 6 & 26.

    Result — no refund for one less week of housing and meals and lectures…. hmmmmmmm

    Not that I’m implying that the VT bureaucracy is a money-hungry machine or anything like that….

  5. You are now dealing with some of the things and reasons why I feel BR is sometimes just over-the-top partisan, “anti”.

    Why do stuff like that to start with? There are plenty of substantiative issues worthy of real note and discussion. These things are just plain petty and pedestrian.

  6. As always, it’s the naked dishonesty that bothers me the most:

    “Meanwhile, fearing potential violence, state officials are closing Capitol Square in Richmond to the public Monday, a day when constituents customarily lobby lawmakers. Gun-rights activists not welcome.”

    Yeah, that’s because no one is welcome. Animal rights activists aren’t welcome. Women’s rights activists aren’t welcome. Home school activists aren’t welcome. Gun control activists aren’t welcome. That’s what closed means.

    “I have long suspected that the administration of contracts and licensure is rife with cronyism. The Bondo sentencing confirms my suspicions.”

    *Decades and reams of research point to humans causing climate change*

    Jim Bacon: Yes, but what about the temperature on Mars?

    *One guy goes to jail*

    Jim Bacon: I was right, the system is rife with cronyism.

  7. Imagine! An official taking money and loans, use of a Ferrari, and a lake house… oh, wait, wrong guy.

  8. “An all-day driver-safety program I attended to avoid getting a speeding ticket was a joke…”

    I attended one such course during my undergrad speed demon days in 2016. During the exam, the instructor put up a projector sheet with the answers while she went for a smoke (vape?) break. I wanted to applaud.

    • I will give you the advice I gave my daughter, and that your father clearly should have given you. When behind the wheel, your job is to be the 2nd fastest car on the road!

  9. When driving through Lynchburg, I like to take a bathroom break. The joke in Lynchburg / Madison Heights area, being upstream from Richmond and still dealing with antiqued sewer systems, is to say “Send it to the Governor” then flush. Quite certain the folks around there feel the state line is just south of Harlottesville.

    If you want to experience legalized racketeering involving motor vehicles, get a speeding ticket in North Carolina.

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