Category Archives: Governance

Virginia Legislative Black Caucus Sits Idle While Constituents Suffer and Die

by James C. Sherlock

I have been attempting to improve healthcare access, affordability and competition, which improves both access and affordability, in Virginia for 15 years, especially for the benefit of the poor.

I have seen the Governor’s office and members of the Virginia General Assembly (especially Democrats on health care issues) continue to bow to the wishes of big healthcare industry contributors and repeatedly hurt the cause of improving healthcare for poor people.

Who are disproportionately black.

Today I am going to call out some of the worst offenders I have seen in action over those years, members of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus. Continue reading

All You Need to Know

by James C. Sherlock

Three consecutive stories in today’s VPAP VaNews:

Matt Jones in the Daily Press.

“75% of Virginia parents fear their children are falling behind in the pandemic, new poll says”

Kenya Hunter in the Richmond Times Dispatch.

“Virginia Education Association calls for classrooms to close across the state”

Gregory Schneider in the Washington Post.

“Northam proposes major effort to reimagine public space around Robert E. Lee statue in Richmond”

Sometimes, things are exactly as they seem.

 

NoPlan Northam Readies Random Restrictions

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

By DJ Rippert

Here we go again. The Richmond Times Dispatch is reporting that Governor Ralph “NoPlan” Northam signaled a possible increase in COVID-19 restrictions during an interview with CNBC yesterday (Dec 7). Northam is quoted as saying, “We’re actively discussing on how to mitigate the numbers, and we’ll take further measures if we need to this week.”

The actual interview was even more embarrassing than the RTD article would have you believe. At about the 1:50 point in this video David Faber does something Virginia’s gutless media has so far refused to do. He asks NoPlan Northam to describe his plan. “What are the numbers that are going to trigger you, governor, to take further measures” is the specific question asked by Faber.  The same question I have been asking on this blog here, here and here.

Northam declares it to be a “great question,” insists he is “data driven,” and reminds everybody that he is a physician. He then proceeds to evade and avoid the question in a stumbling, bumbling soliloquy to nowhere. He explains that the spread is happening where people are gathering, sometimes in homes and sometimes in places of worship. He keenly cuts through the fog by declaring that places of worship will be advised to take things seriously. He concludes by insisting that “the decisions we make will be data driven in Virginia.” NoPlan Northam skates a simple question he should answer. His obviously cavalier attitude toward the people of Virginia is disgraceful. Continue reading

Remote Learning Takes Predictably Highest Toll on Virginia’s Most Vulnerable – There are Villains

by James C. Sherlock

The most predictable (and predicted) crisis in the history of the nation’s public schools has come to pass. The education and thus future prospects of millions of poor children have been destroyed by weak governors and mayors, aggressive teachers unions and feckless boards of education who not only should have known better, but did know better.  

The Facts

I wrote in June in this space:

Every study has found that in the past few months K-12 schools have had very little success in teaching large groups of children remotely. Remote learning is much harder, inherently much less successful, and exacerbates the differences in outcomes between those with a lot of support at home and those with less.

Ignoring for a moment the daunting challenges at the teacher end, remote learning in K-12 generally works only for children whose families provide a stable and supportive learning environment, are motivated to learn, undistracted and have access to the tools necessary to do the work.

If school boards require remote learning, they will do so knowing it won’t be effective. 

Continue reading

Individual Virginians have Political Power If They Will Use It

by James C. Sherlock

We discuss here every day issues such as Virginia’s dangerous shortage of health facilities inspectors that have great consequence to the people of the Commonwealth regardless of their political affiliation.

The Director of the Office of Licensure and Certification in VDH was brave to provide an unvarnished reply to my FOIA request.  Every reader bemoaned this situation.  It screams for redress.

Yet the vast majority of Virginians have never contacted their Virginia Delegate or Senator, much less the Governor.  Most don’t do it either because they don’t know how or don’t think it will have an effect.

I know from my personal experience that it can have an effect.  Rules for effectiveness: Be respectful in your communications and clear on both the issue you are addressing and what you want from your elected officials.

If you know the name of your legislators;

  • for your senate member contact information go to https://apps.senate.virginia.gov/Senator/index.php ,
  • for your House member https://virginiageneralassembly.gov/house/members/members.php
  • and then click on the name.

If you don’t know your members,  https://whosmy.virginiageneralassembly.gov

If you don’t know the member personally, an email to his or her office works best because you can be more specific and the legislative assistant who reads it has a record. Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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?

Continue reading

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