Category Archives: Correction

The Return of the “Cooch”

By Peter Galuszka

Early this past Wednesday morning, Mark Pettibone and Connor O’Shead were walking on their way home after a peaceful protest in Portland, Ore.

Suddenly an unmarked van pulled in front of them. Men wearing green uniforms, tactical gear and generic signs reading “POLICE” hustled them into the vehicle. They were not told why they were being detained. After 90 minutes, the badly shaken men were released without being charged.

The episode might sound like the activities of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his “little green men” who have shown up in places like Crimea and Eastern Ukraine to intimidate and detain people.

But this was Portland, a progressive city that has seen protests for weeks. President Donald Trump has urged federal authorities to move in on cities to restore his sense of order even though city officials in Portland do not want his help and are investigating what is going on.

And, guess who is playing a role in what could be a growing national trend of federal law enforcement performing “snatch and grabs” of innocent protestors?

That would be Kenneth Cuccinelli, the former hard right, state attorney general and failed gubernatorial candidate. He is now acting deputy secretary of the Trump’s Department of Homeland Security. Continue reading

Beware Fake Tweets

The Internet Research Agency in St. Petersburg, Russia

By Peter Galuszka

Around midnight Monday, reporters in downtown Washington D.C., stood by ready to cover the next round of protests about the slaying of African Americans by police.

They started getting tweets marked #dcblackout suggesting that internet service was being interrupted because of a secret program presumably run by the government that would cut them off.

The curious thing, NBC News reported, is that the reporters’ cell phones worked just fine. Later Twitter was contacted and began to investigate. It was curious that the questionable tweet seemed to be coming from the left-wing ANTIFA group that is said to have helped organize protests around the country.

A tweet labeled as been sourced with ANTIFA proclaimed “Tonight’s the night, comrades. Tonight we say F&*^The city and we move into the residential areas, the white hoods and we take what’s ours.”

Twitter quickly uncovered the problem. The tweets were fakes put out by a far-right white nationalist group called Identity Evropa. Twitter took down the sites because they violated the company’s policy against using social media to incite violence, NBC reported. Continue reading

The Real Danger with ANTIFA

By Peter Galuszka

Get ready. The names of all kinds of leftist organizations are going to be kicked around as the masterminds behind violent, cop-beating looters, especially the so-called ANTIFA movement in Virginia and across the country..

But what is reality? I don’t have clear answers but I have some ideas to share since I have been dealing with activist groups since I was in high school in the late 1960s. I hope they help this blog’s discussion.

First, there’s plenty of research available about ANTIFA and there are already plenty of reports about it. It is not a single group but a very loose collection of autonomous activist groups, most of which do not advocate violence. For reference, see yesterday’s Daily Beast piece with the blunt headline, “Trump’s ‘ANTIFA Threat Is Total Bullshit – And Totally Dangerous.”

That article and plenty of others note that ANTIFA, or whatever it is, has no clear chain of command and uses ultra-fast social media to alert other activists about rallies and protests but has no control over them. If you are thinking about the tightly-controlled and secretive Communist cells of the past century, you are not getting it. Continue reading

Getting Out of Prison Early

By Dick Hall-Sizemore

As part of the response to the novel coronavirus crisis, the General Assembly accepted amendments to the budget bills for the current year and the upcoming biennium, proposed by the Governor, authorizing the Department of Corrections (DOC) to release early from incarceration offenders with less than a year to serve on their sentences. This authorization will be effective as soon as the Governor signs the caboose bill.

DOC has released its early release plan. The plan is fairly detailed, laying out the criteria for eligibility for release and the internal procedures to be followed by DOC in implementing the plan. This post will summarize those elements of the plan that are most relevant to the general public. (The full plan can be found here.) Continue reading

COVID-19 in Prison

Deerfield Correctional Center

By Dick Hall-Sizemore

The latest DOC report shows an increase in the number of offenders testing positive for the novel coronavirus. There were a total of 147 incarcerated with a positive test, with nine of those in a hospital, compared to 116 and 8, respective, in the prior day’s report. Central Virginia Correctional Unit, the women’s minimum security unit in Chesterfield, showed the most increase, 23. The cumulative total of positive reports has increased from 139 to 170.  Fifty-three staff have tested positive.

The most worrisome aspect of this latest report is the occurrence of a positive test of an offender in the Deerfield complex for the first time. Deerfield Correctional Center is the facility in which DOC houses its geriatric and assisted living offender populations. It is not clear from the report whether this was an offender housed in the main facility or in the work center, which is a minimum security facility for female offenders and is a separate building from the main prison. Continue reading

Juvenile Center New COVID-19 Hotspot

Bon Air Juvenile Correctional Center

By Dick Hall-Sizemore

The Department of Juvenile Justice has announced that 25 juvenile offenders have tested positive for COVID-19.  That is 12.5% of the population of 200 housed at the Bon Air Juvenile Correctional Center in Chesterfield County.

The announcement was made only after advocates for juveniles cited reports of numerous offenders in the facility as having tested positive.

The agency announced last week that one juvenile had announced positive. That announcement was obviously misleading, if not downright false. The medical director of the facility stated that 13 of those who had tested positive “have already been released from medical isolation per Virginia Department of Health (VDH) guidelines.” Those guidelines recommend a two-week quarantine. Obviously, at least those 13 had tested positive more than two weeks ago, but the agency neglected to include them in its earlier report. Continue reading

Early Prisoner Release Will Not Help Much

Virginia Correctional Center for Women

By Dick Hall-Sizemore

Governor Ralph Northam has announced that he will ask the General Assembly for authority to release from prison those offenders with a year or less to serve on their sentences in order to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus in prisons. He stressed that only those who have demonstrated good behavior and would not pose a threat to society would be eligible.

The vehicle for the request would be an amendment to the budget bill for the current fiscal, the “caboose” bill. That bill would take effect as soon as the Governor signs it.

In its latest release, DOC reported 26 offenders testing positive, with 6 of those being hospitalized. That is an increase of one in the total number, as well as one more in the hospital, from the previous day. The agency also reported 25 staff members testing positive, an increase of three from the previous day. Continue reading

Conformity Article Errata, Semi-Mea Culpa

I got enough of importance wrong in yesterday’s post on state income tax policy that a real correction is required, not just a tweak to the existing previous post.  Herewith what I know I got wrong:

  • As Dick Hall-Sizemore pointed out, correcting me in a comment, the 2019 provision creating a new Taxpayer Relief Fund did not include the additional corporate income tax revenue generated by conforming to federal changes. If I understood that back when I last looked at the language, it certainly had flown my memory by the time I sat down to write Thursday evening.  Only excess “windfall” revenue from individual taxpayers was to provide the top line in calculating the new fund balance.
  • And in looking at the bottom line, I made a math error on the fiscal impact of two corporate income tax amendments mentioned on that Senate Finance Committee chart. The four-year impact of the GILTI and net interest deduction provisions is about $85 million over four years, not $210 million.

Continue reading