Photo credit Verizon
by Dick Hall-Sizemore
There has long been a consensus that America needs to pay more attention to its infrastructure. Last week, the House of Representatives passed President Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure package and sent it to the President for his signature. Of the total amount, $550 billion was new money; the remainder was funding normally allocated each year for highways and other infrastructure projects.
The bill had passed the Senate earlier in the year on a bipartisan vote, 69-30. Even Mitch McConnell voted for it. However, in the House, only 13 Republicans voted for the bill. The rest of the House Republicans were angry over the support given the bill by some of their fellow Republicans. Probably the most galling aspect was that the 13 Republican votes were needed to pass the bill after six far-left Democrats, who refuse to, and do not understand the need for, compromise, voted against the legislation. Continue reading
by James C. Sherlock
The Washington Business Journal (WBJ) reported today that annual federal contracting in Northern Virginia has reached $60 billion. That compares to federal contracting there of $33.7 billion in 2000 (2020 dollars).
As a reference points, I consulted St. Louis Fed data for Virginia GDP in those same years and converted the 2000 data to 2020 dollars.
The GDP of Virginia in 2020 was $551.8 billion. In 2000 the GDP of the state was $412.1 billion in 202o dollars.
So, the percentage of Virginia GDP attributable to federal contracting in Northern Virginia increased from 8.1% in 2000 to 10.9% in 2020.
No comment, just observation.
U.S. Senator Mark Warner
by Emilio Jaksetic
On August 1, 2021, a bipartisan group of senators, including Senator Mark Warner, D-Va, issued a brief: “Senators’ Statement on the Finalized Bipartisan Infrastructure Agreement Legislative Text.” The statement contains a hypertext link to a draft bill that is 2,702 pages long.
As a matter of common sense, it is not plausible to believe that Warner has been able to read and understand all 2,702 pages. And it is improbable that Warner could give Virginians a reasonable and understandable explanation of the meaning, implications, and consequences of the mind-numbing multitude of provisions in the legislative monstrosity.
Warner has abandoned his responsibility as a Senator to represent Virginians in a reasonable manner. Instead, he has embraced the role of an arrogant, inside wheeler-dealer who (1) relies on secret negotiations by small, self-selected groups of senators, and (2) seeks to get legislation advanced without hearings, without a meaningful opportunity for public comment, and without reasonable legislative deliberation. Instead of being proud, Warner should be ashamed of himself. Continue reading
by Hans Bader
After the murder conviction of the policeman who killed George Floyd, Virginia’s progressive politicians are calling for passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which would allow police departments to be sued when police stops aren’t racially and sexually balanced.
Congressman Bobby Scott (VA-03) said, “This verdict is a start, but it does not absolve Congress and the federal government of our responsibility to reform policing across the country, and it is a reminder of the need for the Senate to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.”
Virginia’s senior Senator, Mark Warner, called on his Senate colleagues to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act: “George Floyd’s life mattered. Justice has been served…we owe it to Mr. Floyd, his family, and far too many others like him to take meaningful action to reform our policing system. We can start by passing the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.”
Joe Biden also backs this bill. But it has a downside: it could lead to more racial and sexual profiling, such as gender-based stops of female motorists, or racial or gender quotas for police stops. Continue reading
U.S. Senator Mark Warner, savior of Virginia’s Right To Work Law?
by Steve Haner
First published this morning by the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy.
One key goal for many of Virginia’s new progressive Democrats has been repeal of Virginia’s venerable Right To Work Law, and in 2020 they crossed one milestone by passing repeal in a key committee. But the Democratic leadership, perhaps wary of losing the bill in the Senate or angering too many moderate voters, ended the effort there and snuffed that bill. Continue reading
by Steve Haner
Per the Centers for Disease Control’s tracking, more than 4 million death certificates have been recorded in the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic. Only 520,000 of them (those recorded so far) listed COVID as primary or contributing cause of death. The survivors of those individuals are eligible for 100% compensation for funeral expenses under the new round of federal COVID spending. Continue reading
by James C. Sherlock
We have discussed here the failures of the City of Richmond Public Schools (RPS) in educating its economically disadvantaged children, as well as the abysmal performance of Black children in its schools.
I intend to help readers understand how it manages to fail repeatedly even with major federal funding as guardrails and state oversight officially in place.
Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) provides financial assistance to local educational agencies (LEAs) such as RPS and its schools with high numbers or high percentages of children from low-income families to help ensure that all children meet state academic standards.
It is useful to drill down into the details of that program so that readers can understand how every school district in Virginia is supposed to plan and execute the education of poor kids to improve their chances of success.
The question that will remain when I finish will be accountability.
How does a system like the Richmond Public Schools continue to submit similar paperwork every year and every year fail to meet its stated goals? Where is the accountability? Why do the people of Richmond put up with it? Continue reading
Posted in Children and families, Consumer protection, Education (K-12), Entitlements, Federal, General Assembly, Governance, Government Oversight, Open Government, Poverty & income gap, Race and race relations, Scandals
Tagged James Sherlock
by James C. Sherlock
Half of Black 4th graders in Richmond public schools couldn’t read in 2019. That is not OK.
It is way past time to demand both better performance and accountability. Clearly neither the city of Richmond nor the Commonwealth has done that effectively.
So I have filed formal complaints with the federal government to see if the Departments that provide federal money to the Richmond City Public School District can establish accountability for how all of that money has been spent.
Jason Kamras currently serves as the Superintendent of Richmond Public Schools (RPS). He has first-rate credentials — National Teacher of the Year in 2005, undergraduate Princeton, masters in education from Harvard. Worked in leadership positions in D.C. Public Schools before coming to Richmond.
He is the highest-paid superintendent in Richmond history at $250,000 annually. His initial three-year contract was slated to expire this summer. He just received a 4-year extension on a split 6-3 vote by the Richmond School Board.
The performance of Mr. Kamras’ Richmond School District is cataclysmically bad. Continue reading
By Peter Galuszka
With excellent timing, the former head of the history department at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point has come out with a book about the mythology of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and much of the White “Southern” culture.
Retired U.S. Army Gen. Ty Seidule, a former paratrooper, has deep Virginia roots and his analysis goes right to the heart of the problems plaguing Virginia, Civil War memorabilia, Richmond, Charlottesville, the Virginia Military Institute and more.
He grew up in Alexandria and had ties to the Episcopal prep school where he expanded his desire to be a “Southern” gentleman while worshipping the likes of Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.
Here’s a link to my review of his book in Richmond’s Style Weekly. The Post also reviewed the book this past Sunday.
Chaos at the Capitol Building. Credit: Fox News
I’m breaking a cardinal rule of Bacon’s Rebellion that restricts commentary to Virginia public policy. The events occurring at the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C., right now are so unprecedented and so indicative of the political polarization in this country that I’m opening up this post to general commentary. — JAB
by James C. Sherlock
Sentara CEO Howard Kern
Scandals are sometimes overrated. Not this one.
I have reported here before on the strange case of the EVMS-ODU merger. I posted here on Nov 1, Nov 2 and Nov 3 with my own concerns on the subject. Many of my assessments came to fruition.
On November 13 and 20, the Checks and Balances Project picked up the story and took it to the next level. The quotations below are from the November 20 story.
I am not an attorney, but I will project today the significant legal jeopardy into which the process may have put the group that got together to coordinate and plan that merger without EVMS participation.
Not to mention the legal and personnel mess that it puts on the desk of Virginia’s Attorney General and the Governor.
Corey A. Stewart, a conservative firebrand from Prince William County, is getting a last-minute going-away present from President Donald Trump.
As Trump’s administration comes to an end, Trump has created a position on trade at the U.S. Commerce Department that is just for him. In 2016, Stewart headed Trump’s Virginia election campaign before being fired. Stewart said that he was Trump before Trump was Trump.
Stewart is an international trade lawyer and is expected to strong arm Trump’s tough and confusing trade policies.
A special target is China, which Trump has castigated, with some justification, for cheating on business deals, fiddling with its currency exchange rates, growing its armed forces and trampling on human rights.
Stewart will toughen enforcement of Trump’s hostile trade relations, according to news reports.
Some trade experts wonder what the Stewart story is all about. According to Reuters, William Reinsch, a former Commerce undersecretary, said he viewed hiring as “peculiar” since he is filling a position that does not exist. Continue reading
Posted in Business and Economy, Culture wars, Defense, Economic development, Education (higher ed), Education (K-12), Federal, Finance (government), Government Oversight, Immigration, Individual liberties, Infrastructure, Labor & workforce
by Emilio Jaksetic
On June 26, 2020, the House of Representatives passed the Washington D.C. Admission Act (H.R. 51), which would admit the District of Columbia (D.C.) as the 51st State. The House vote was essentially along party lines, with all Democrats (except one) voting yes, and all Republicans (and one Independent) voting no.
Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine support that legislation. (See July 21, 2020 Warner Press Release, “Senate Democrats Hold Hearing on D.C. Statehood.”) They are wrong to support that legislation because it is barred by the unique status D.C. has under the U.S. Constitution and because Congress has no authority to amend or override the Constitution by statute.
Under Article I, Section 8, Clause 17 of the Constitution, Congress has exclusive authority over D.C. Nothing in that clause authorizes Congress to change the status of D.C. by legislation. Continue reading
by Emilio Jaksetic
As co-chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Mark Warner, D-VA, was vociferous about the need to investigate allegations of Russian collusion by President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign. But Virginia’s senior senator was silent in 2019 when the Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General identified serious defects and failings with FBI and DOJ handling of the investigation of those allegations. He was silent when a former FBI attorney pleaded guilty in August 2020 to criminally altering a document used to support a request for a FISA warrant in the Russian collusion investigation. And he has been silent about the subsequent discrediting of the Steele dossier.
Now Warner seems reticent about the need to investigate allegations of foreign payoffs to Hunter Biden or question if former Vice President Joseph Biden knew about those foreign payoffs.
Multiple sources of information support the allegations against Hunter Biden:
- Peter Schweizer’s books, “Secret Empires” (Harper, 2019) and “Profiles in Corruption” (Harper, 2020);
- Various emails reported by the New York Post (October 2020);
- A Senate report issued October 11 (“Hunter Biden, Burisma, and Corruption: The Impact on U.S. Government Policy and Related Concerns”) available here.
by Emilio Jaksetic
On February 11, 2020, the Virginia House of Delegates passed House Bill 177. If enacted into law, the legislation would have made Virginia a participant in the National Popular Vote Compact (NPV Compact), and would assign Virginia’s Electoral College votes to the presidential candidate who receives a majority of the popular vote in the United States. On February 25, 2020, the Virginia Senate Privileges and Elections Committee voted to defer consideration of the bill to the 2021 legislative session. The General Assembly should not pass legislation to make Virginia participate in the NPV Compact.
Passage of legislation to make Virginia part of the NPV Compact would nullify the will of a majority of Virginia voters and replace it with the will of a majority of voters in 49 other States and the District of Columbia. Continue reading