Category Archives: Governance

Northam Administration Information Technology Failures Continue

Image by Mediamodifier from Pixabay

Help! WJLA is reporting that the State of Virginia is using a 35-year-old computer system to process unemployment checks. The system has buckled, leaving 70,000 Virginians without their unemployment benefits.  In a stunning admission, Bill Walker, Director of Unemployment Insurance with the Virginia Employment Commission says, “We are right at the first of July now” when asked how far behind the process stands.

It seems obvious that ineffective processing of unemployment claims disproportionately impacts less affluent and minority Virginians. Yet this issue has been missing from the Ralph Northam COVID-19 updates I have watched.  Those press conferences have included discussions of the presidential election and a description of court cases involving Confederate statues but nothing about the real pain that the ineptitude of the Northam Administration is visiting on 70,000 Virginians, including many people of color. Continue reading

Shortage of Health Facilities Inspectors Puts All Virginians at Risk

Regulatory wreck

by James C. Sherlock

I have been the single fiercest public critic of the Virginia Department of Health in general and its Office of Licensure and Certification (OLC) in particular. I have been particularly critical of OLC’s inspections of nursing homes.

We need them to do better, and they agree.

This essay will report what the OLC leadership in response to my FOIA request suggests is required to meet their critical responsibilities.

Their answer is additional staffing and technology, just as reported in an Office of State Inspector General (OSIG) report in 2017.  I dealt with that office more than a decade ago when it was under different leadership and the shortfalls were the same.

The FOIA response indicates to me that the 2017 OSIG report that criticized OSIG staffing and technology shortfalls was utterly ignored.  The OSIG might wish to report on that. Continue reading

Part III – Questions raised by Attorney General Herring’s Loudoun County Schools Determination

by James C. Sherlock

Still smiling?

The citizens of Loudoun and LCPS need to understand all the implications of the Attorney General’s determination.

This essay will offer questions that I sincerely recommend that LCPS pose to the Attorney General in order to get enough information to decide what to do. The AG’s office was given 60 days after the November 18 date on the determination to comply, so it should act immediately to get answers.

Immediately above Mr. Herring’s signature on the cover letter is the following statement:

Having found reasonable cause to believe that LCPS’s policies and practices resulted in a discriminatory impact on Black/African-American and Latin/Hispanic students, the Division of Human Rights request that the Charging Party (NAACP Loudoun) and Respondent (LCPS) engage in a post-determination conciliation process in an effort to resolve this matter. The final determination includes reforms and commitments that the Division believes are necessary to address the discriminatory disparate impact identified and help ensure equal opportunity for each student, as well as terms requested by the Charging Party in order to resolve this matter. (bold added)

Part II of this series listed those terms.

In the finding, there were two types of reforms required by the government. One type was things that need to be accomplished to ensure a statistically representative student body at Loudoun Academies. The other had to do with hiring, retention and promotion of minority employees, anti-discrimination policies, student discipline, and complaint systems.

I offer a series of questions that LCPS may wish to pose to the Attorney General to clarify the determination.

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Herring’s Academies of Loudoun Ruling – Part I – Only Cure for Disparate Impact is Fewer Asians

Why is this man smiling?

by James C. Sherlock

I just finished reading the 61-page “Final Determination of the Office of Attorney General Division of Human Rights in DHR Case No.: 19-2652, NAACP Loudoun Branch v. Loudoun County Public Schools.”

The first thing I discovered is that the Democrats in the last session created a kangaroo court within the Attorney General’s Office for civil rights cases. It is the new Division of Human Rights.

The second thing I noted was the state-sponsored extortion that was part of the “determination.” This essay will be about the new law that enabled this determination, the finding and its implications.

Part II will expose the state-sanctioned extortion that the “determination” endorses.

This case, while focused on public schools in Loudoun County, is a shot across the bow of every business in Virginia. Not only small businesses are in the crosshairs. Consider Boeing and Amazon, corporate nomads both. Good thing they established headquarters in Northern Virginia before this law. But then again, they are flexible with regards to the states in which they do business. Those two Goliaths used to call the states of Washington and then Illinois (Boeing) and Washington (Amazon) home. Continue reading

Belly Flops Make a Splash – Virginia Attacks on School Quality Gain National Attention

by James C. Sherlock

Why is this man smiling?

The Wall Street Journal featured an op-ed today, the first four words of which were “Attorney General Mark Herring.” No picture of the AG, so I offer one here, but they spelled his name right. so perhaps it will be Senator Herring or President Herring one day soon.

Unfortunately, the next words after his title and name were: 

“has fired the latest salvo in America’s assault on meritocracy: a 61-page opinion holding that the suburban Loudoun County school system discriminated against black and Hispanic youngsters because its selective-admission high school, the Academies of Loudon, hadn’t admitted enough of them. Never mind that—as Mr. Herring acknowledged—the school’s test-based admissions process is open to all and fairly managed. Because its results have a “disparate impact,” the school system must scrap it.”

The piece went on to describe for a national audience what Bacons Rebellion has been pointing out to Virginia readers. Selective admission schools are under attack for, well, being selective. Using tests to determine admissions does not result in student bodies that match the general demographics. It’s what the woke left calls the “Asian problem.” Asian students study too hard and have supportive parents. Continue reading

Mark Herring’s Worst Thanksgiving –  Conspiracy Against EVMS may lead to Federal Involvement

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. 

Continue reading

Governor Northam: Do You Believe in Miracles?

by DJ Rippert

Come out with your masks on, we’ve got you surrounded. COVID-19 new cases, hospitalizations and deaths continue to rise in Virginia. However, the situation is not as dire in Virginia as elsewhere in the United States (see graphic above). At 229 new cases per million people Virginia is well below all neighboring jurisdictions. Kentucky at 814 per million tops the list of sick neighbors while D.C. at 302 is the second most healthy in our immediate vicinity. The question for Virginia’s governor Ralph Northam is, “Do you believe in miracles?” Or, perhaps somewhat less charitably, “Are you feeling lucky, punk?” Whether one prefers the Hot Chocolate version or the Dirty Harry version, we are in an interesting situation. Do we dare hope that Virginia will miraculously avoid the surge that is consuming most other states? Or, do we assume it is inevitable that we end up in the same situation as Kentucky, et al and start serious COVID abatement efforts (e.g. lockdown and partial lockdowns) now?

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The Failure of University Governance

by James A. Bacon

In his new book co-authored with Richard J. Cebula, “Runaway College Costs,” James V. Koch goes beyond the usual lamentations about how out-of-control  costs are making colleges and universities increasingly unaffordable and inaccessible to millions of Americans. He describes how higher-ed governing boards have largely failed in their fiduciary duty to students to curtail the expensive ambitions of college administrators.

As alumni revolts gain momentum at the University of Virginia and Washington & Lee University, disgruntled graduates seeking to tame the politically correct enthusiasms of the current regimes would do well to read this book. It provides the best overview of higher-ed governance issues I have seen anywhere. If conservative alumni hope to exert influence on the direction their alma maters are going, they need to understand who holds power in the modern university and how they wield it.

Koch starts with the observation that the vast majority of college and university boards of visitors act as rubber stamps for spending and tuition proposals submitted by their institutions’ presidents. Dissenting voices are rare, and unanimous votes are the norm. Costs and tuition have increased relentlessly over the years because governing boards have allowed them to. Continue reading

U.S. Supreme Court Must Limit Virginia’s Gubernatorial Authority in Emergencies

by James C. Sherlock

Sic Semper Tyrannis

Kerry Daugherty, as is her want, posted a particularly compelling essay today. The most important thing Kerry wrote was: “Please let there be another lawsuit. And let it get to the Supreme Court…. Seems only the courts can save us from these tyrants.”

She is absolutely right.

Article IV of the United States Constitution

SECTION 4. The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government

From contemporaneous notes from James Madison:

“Resd. that a Republican government . . . ought to be guaranteed by the United States to each state.” 1 M. Farrand, The Records Of The Federal Convention Of 1787 22 (rev. ed. 1937).

In a letter in April, 1787, to Randolph, who formally presented the Virginia Plan to the Convention, Madison had suggested that “an article ought to be inserted expressly guaranteeing the tranquility of the states against internal as well as external danger. . . . Unless the Union be organized efficiently on republican principles innovations of a much more objectionable form may be obtruded.”

Edmund Jennings Randolph of Virginia, supporting Madison’s version pending then, said that

“a republican government must be the basis of our national union; and no state in it ought to have it in their power to change its government into a monarchy.”

Madison and Randolph were prescient.  Governors love kingly authority. Continue reading

Virginia’s Government – a Critique

by James C. Sherlock

At the age of 75 with a life of experience in and with government, I will offer here my assessment of the current structural problems in our state government that make that government significantly less efficient and effective than it should be.  

You will note that these comments generally do not point fingers at either party, but rather at the sum of their efforts or lack of same. 

I grew up the son of a federal worker. Most of the men in our Falls Church neighborhood were WW II veterans and after the war most of them were civilian employees of the federal government. I spent nearly 30 years in the Navy and ten more as a government contractor. I dealt with Congress a lot.

In retirement, I took up causes for improving my state. I have spent a lot of time over 15 years dealing with the General Assembly, the Governor and the state administration.

So those are the bases for my perspectives. You will note that my experience dealing with the federal government informs my critique of the government of Virginia. Continue reading

Higher Education and Economic Mobility

Virginia’s top public universities are largely stratified by socioeconomic status. Consider the following statistics that appear in the new book by James V. Koch and Richard J. Cebula, “Runaway College Costs: How College Governing Boards Fail to Protect their Students.”

  • At the College of William & Mary only 13.6% of the student body comes from families in the bottom 60% of the income distribution. (Only 1.5% comes from the lowest income quintile.)
  • At the University of Mary Washington only 15% comes from the bottom 60%.
  • At the University of Virginia only 15% comes from the bottom 60%.
  • At James Madison University, only 16% comes from the bottom 60%.

Those numbers compare to an average of 47% from the bottom three quintiles for all public four-year institutions nationally.

Is this a good thing or a bad thing? It depends upon your perspective. It is widely acknowledged that academic achievement is highly correlated with socioeconomic and educational status. Parents in higher socio-economic brackets expose their children to more spoken vocabulary, emphasize reading at an earlier age, send their children to better schools, and set higher expectations for academic achievement. From one perspective it is understandable that these children would be more likely to be admitted to elite academic institutions. Continue reading

Anti-Bias Training… or Government-Mandated Indoctrination?

by James A. Bacon

In September President Trump issued an executive order banning bias and diversity training in the federal government that inculcates divisive concepts such as the idea that some people, by virtue of their race or sex, are inherently racist, sexist or oppressive.

Three days ago, Virginia’s attorney general, Mark Herring, joined a coalition of attorneys general in urging the president to rescind the order on the grounds that it could be “misconstrued” to roll back implicit bias training for federal contractors and federal grantees.

“Government should expand and increase its commitment to training centered on understanding and combating racial injustice,” said Herring in a press release. “Now is the time for greater communication and support for diversity, equity and inclusion, not less.”

Looking ahead the 2021 General Assembly session, Herring says Virginia police should undergo training to eliminate “implicit bias” and “racial bias,” among other topics meant to further racial justice. Meanwhile, the Virginia Department of Education and local school boards across the state are implementing “implicit bias” seminars and training sessions for teachers, administrators and even students. Continue reading

Fairfax School Board Should Focus on Schools, Not Environmental Policy

Fairfax County Environmental, er, School Board

by Emilio Jaksetic

Not content with running the county’s public school system, the Fairfax County School Board now is involved with developing strategies and recommendations for county environmental policy. The results can be seen in the Final Report of the Oct. 1, 2020, Fairfax County Joint Environmental Task Force (JET).

In April 2019, the JET was established “to identify areas of collaboration between Fairfax County Government and [Fairfax County Public Schools] to further county efforts in energy efficiency and environmental sustainability, developing implementation strategies. and making recommendations to the [Board of Supervisors and School Board].” During the period April 2019-October 2020, five members of the board served as members of JET’s Executive Committee.

The JET was tasked to “provide a forum for informing, advising, collaborating and addressing Countywide issues and aligning institutional policies and practices pertaining to climate change and environmental sustainability through the lens of One Fairfax and to appointing bodies.” Continue reading

The University of Virginia Eastern Virginia Medical School

by James C. Sherlock

With additional information and thoughts generated by responses to my original posts on this matter, I offer this post as a final proposal before the November 15 release of the Sentara-funded “study” of what I call the Sentara Plan for Eastern Virginia Medical school.

The nation is short of doctors and shorter yet of good doctors. The nation has to produce more of both or the situation projects to worsen.

There is an opportunity here in Virginia to deal with both objectives.

But the Sentara Plan is not it.

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Voters, Consider the Fate of the Bill of Rights

by James C. Sherlock

Before voters go to the polls on Tuesday, I think it a useful exercise to consider the future of the Bill of Rights with a Supreme Court “expanded,” as promised by Democrats if they control the Presidency and the Senate, to provide a leftist majority.

To enable that reflection, it is useful to remember that the current Bill of Rights is composed of 10 amendments offered as constraints on the national government and, by extension of most of them, to state governments.

As a general observation, the left wing of the Democratic party opposes any restraints on federal power.

We will examine the controlling Supreme Court decisions that affect the enforcement of these freedoms and would be put in jeopardy by a court that embraced critical theory.

What follows are the musings of a citizen who is not an attorney, albeit a citizen who can and does read and recounts the common understandings of the Court decisions below.

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