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.