by Jon Baliles
Early voting has begin in Virginia and the Richmond casino advocates have gone all-in with the mayor and City Council to make sure the referendum got back on the ballot and now are betting the house with an absurd amount of money to make sure the referendum passes this time.
Jimmy Cloutier at Virginia Investigative Journalism has an interesting piece on the all out effort by the casino advocates to buy their way to a victory at the polls this time around. He points out that two out-of-state companies (Urban One, based in Maryland and Churchill Downs, based in Kentucky) have already raised $8.1 million which “dwarfs the amount of money raised in every Virginia legislative race and ballot initiative in state history, according to an analysis of campaign finance data by OpenSecrets.” Continue reading
by Kerry Dougherty
When Terry McAuliffe was governor he found a loyal Democrat lawyer to appoint to head Virginia’s parole board.
That was Adrianne Bennett, a failed candidate for the House of Delegates in 2011 and undoubtedly the most controversial parole board chair in Virginia history. She was a success if you believe, as McAuliffe apparently did, that the job of that board is to spring murderers and make Virginians less safe. Continue reading
by Kerry Dougherty
Stop the presses. It’s July 26th. And it’s hot. My trusty iPhone weather app says it will hit 91 today, 94 Thursday and 96 on Friday.
Who could have predicted such temperatures? Actually, all of us. It’s called JULY.
And yes, much of the country is in a record heat wave with far hotter weather. It’s not the first heat wave and it won’t be the last. But there is a new breed of “safetyist” afoot. Not the usual alarmists who feel it’s their duty to remind us every summer to wear light clothing, drink water — not tequila — and not to exercise at high noon, as if we are idiots.
This new bunch is raising the alarm on the dangers of temperatures — get this — above 90.
By James C. Sherlock
Those who read this blog know that Virginia has far more than its share of bad nursing homes. They just do not know what can or should be done about it.
This third in a current series on Virginia nursing homes will take on a problem that is self-inflicted – the state’s nursing home regulatory structure.
Virginia’s nursing home regulations, upon which Virginia licensing inspections are based, are promulgated by the Board of Health. They are at best redundant to federal requirements.
At worst they are different than federal standards, with no discernible gain in nursing home quality. Operators follow the federal rules anyway, because they are almost inevitably stricter than those of the state.
Virginia can improve its nursing home regulations by conforming them precisely to federal regulations. State law already requires them to be in “substantial conformity.”
This change, if accompanied by the combining of federal and state inspections which it would enable, would make everybody happy. It would also go a long way towards fixing the staffing problems at Virginia’s inspection agency by reducing significantly their required efforts.
by James C. Sherlock
CNBC reported today as breaking news a concern about hybrid and electric vehicle fires that professional firefighters have known about for some time.
Vehicles with lithium-ion batteries can be especially dangerous when they catch fire.
CNBC offers a video showing smoke billowing from three electric pickups parked tightly together.
Moments later, flames shoot several feet above the vehicles, which were unoccupied.
Fires involving EV batteries can burn hotter and longer and require new techniques to extinguish, posing a growing challenge to first responders.
Hybrid electrics, which have both a high voltage battery and an internal combustion engine, have a 3.4% likelihood of vehicle fires according to a study, far higher than either internal combustion or electric alone.
Spontaneous combustion of an EV battery is unlikely, but collisions are a concern. Continue reading
By James C. Sherlock
I have written often about the state of mental health support in Virginia. The Governor has a major initiative to improve it.
But it does not go far enough.
The state maximum security mental health facility at Central State Hospital needs to be disbanded and the duties dispersed across the state.
The legacy of that hospital is indefensible, and carries over to today.
The video published showing the death in Central State Hospital (CHS) of Irvo Otieno showed an almost entirely Black group of people — victim, sheriff’s deputies, and CHS staff.
It turns out not to be an anomaly.
Before integration, Central State was Virginia’s Black mental hospital.
Based on records provided by the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, Central State Hospital, the state’s only mental hospital built to maximum security standards, is today:
- a largely Black institution;
- with a largely Black staff. Of 930 current staffers at CHS, 649 are Black; 77 are “other” races and 204 are White;
- providing services to a largely Black patient population. Of 264 patients, 160 are Black, 80 white and 24 other races.
That arrangement is not working, even it you think it should, because in the current location it cannot.
And the victims of substandard treatment and their families, as in the death of Mr. Otieno, tend by the relative numbers of patients to be Black as well.
by Dr. Kathleen Smith
Earlier this week on Bacon’s Rebellion, James Bacon posted “The Fruit of School Disciplinary ‘Reform.’” Regarding the matter of bullying, I am adding a few additional statistics from the Youth and Juvenile Justice System 2022 National Report from the National Center for Juvenile Justice.
The abstract embedded in the report includes the following:
The report draws on reliable data and relevant research to provide a comprehensive and insightful view of youth victims and offending by youth, and what happens to them when they enter the juvenile justice system.
It offers empirically based answers to frequently asked questions about the nature of youth victimization and offending, and the justice system’s response.
by Joe Fitzgerald
Stop me if you’ve heard this one. The Hopewell chemical plant where Kepone was born and raised has been cited 66 times over the past eight years for releasing toxic chemicals into the air and into the James River.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch tells the story better than I do. What makes this latest stream of toxins so poignant is the release this week of the book Poison Powder: The Kepone Disaster in Virginia and its Legacy, by University of Akron history professor Gregory Wilson. (From the University of Georgia Press, or from Amazon.)
Wilson’s work is an excellent history that brings alive what so many of us remember from back then. People we knew, including my brother Tom, worked and suffered at the Kepone plant in Hopewell in the mid-1970s. The James River, the cradle of American settlement, was closed to fishing. People who couldn’t spell “ppm” could tell you how many parts per million of Kepone were in their blood.
Tom died last summer, age 67, of what some medical sites call a rare type of kidney tumor that had also attached itself to his stomach and bowel and maybe a couple of organs I’ve forgotten. Kepone? Nobody will ever know for sure. But Wilson’s book makes sure everybody who wants to will know what happened in Hopewell almost 50 years ago.
Sovah Health Danville Hospital
by James C. Sherlock
Beckers Hospital Review reports that Sovah Health hospitals in Danville and Martinsville have eliminated the Chief Operating Officer (COO) positions at both hospitals.
Sovah announced that the responsibilities of those two positions will now be absorbed by “other members of the existing team.” Whatever that may mean.
Management turmoil at Sovah is hardly a new issue. But those changes just never seem to work.
Not even a little.
The timing and structure of these current changes are especially unusual given Sovah’s plea agreement with the Food and Drug Administration that is still in force. Seems employees were dealing drugs from the hospital supply.
Similarly unusual, unfortunate actually, are the weak-to-non-existent oversight activities of the Virginia Department of Health and the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).
You read that right.
Sovah Danville is a teaching hospital. Continue reading
by Kristina Nohe
Go to almost any parking lot in Prince William County and invariably you will see discarded gloves and masks, littered reminders of the pandemic we all lived through.
Litter tells others what the people in a community think about where they live. If someone walked into your home and there were chip bags scattered on the floor, a week’s worth of fast food containers piled in the corner, ripped-up notebooks in the sink and a few tires sitting next to the couch, it would make an impression – and not a very good one. The same is true for our community.
Litter comes from a variety of sources. There is, of course, the irresponsible person who throws trash from a car window or drops a soda bottle along the sidewalk, but a lot of the garbage that we see strewn about comes from other sources. Unsecured items in cars and trucks easily find their way onto the side of the street; anyone who lives along Route 234 near the landfill has seen evidence of this phenomenon.
We’ve all seen overfilled trash cans and recycling bins lining neighborhood streets from which a stiff breeze can blow items out onto the road. And if it’s not the wind, it’s animals looking for food who leave a trail of wrappers in their wake. Continue reading
by James C. Sherlock
Crime, especially violent crime, is a constant topic in private conversations and in public politics, and thus here on Bacon’s Rebellion.
Comments on BR crime-related articles turn quickly to race, often without basis in fact.
I will offer below the actual crime statistics by race from 2021, the latest available year, in an attempt to cure that.
Then I will write about the causes.
I will almost certainly be called a racist. Continue reading
Posted in Budgets, Children and families, Civil Rights, Crime , corrections and law enforcement, Culture wars, Democracy and Western Civilization, Demographics, Education (K-12), Efficiency in government, General Assembly, Governance, Government Oversight, Health Care, Housing, Land use & development, Law enforcement, Mental illness and substance abuse, Parental Rights, Politics, Public corruption, Public safety & health, Race and race relations
Tagged James Sherlock
by Conor Norris and Edward Timmons
From pristine beaches to rolling hills and picturesque mountains, Virginia has a lot to attract residents. Combine that with a strong economy and Northern Virginia’s close ties with Washington, D.C., Virginia should be an attractive destination.
But surprisingly, that’s not the case. Despite strong economic performance and a high quality of life, more people are leaving Virginia than moving into the commonwealth. There may not be one silver bullet to reverse this trend, but the legislature just took an important step helping people move to Virginia by recognizing out-of-state professional licenses.
In 2021, Virginia experienced net out-migration. Many of us are puzzled by this trend, blaming some combination of housing prices, remote work, taxes, and weather for enticing people to leave Virginia. Unnecessary barriers for those considering a move into Virginia are also a contributing factor.
If you work in a licensed profession and wanted to move to Virginia in the past, it wasn’t easy to start working in your new home. First, you would have to reapply for a license, paying fees and waiting months for the application process. Sometimes, you would even have to go through training or education again and retake exams, no matter how long you’ve been working, adding time and money to an already expensive process.
The hassle created by the need to reapply for licensure had a real effect on people’s decision to move. Economists estimate that occupational licensing reduces migration by seven percent. Anyone who has moved knows it’s a costly and time-consuming process. Making it difficult to start working is enough to push some people over the edge and prevent them from moving entirely.
Posted in Business and Economy, Central planning, Economic development, General Assembly, Labor & workforce, Public safety & health, Regulation, Uncategorized, Unemployment, Virginia Law
Tagged Conor Norris, Edward Timmons
Courtesy Norfolk Southern
by James C. Sherlock
After the Ohio disaster, it is timely to review rail safety in Virginia.
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) of the U.S. Department of Transportation is the federal rail safety regulator in cooperation with state authorities.
FRA’s Office of Railroad Safety employs 400 railway inspectors. Federal safety management teams are organized by railroad or type of railroad.
The FRA summary of State rail safety participation states:
state programs emphasize planned, routine compliance inspections; however, States may undertake additional investigative and surveillance activities consistent with overall program needs and individual State capabilities.
FRA both conducts and pays for training of state inspectors.
Code of Federal Regulations 49 CFR Part 212 provides state rail safety participation regulations.
Railroad Regulation represents one of the original areas of responsibility assigned to the State Corporation Commission (SCC) when it was created by the Virginia Constitution of 1902.
Virginia statutory authority is found in Code of Virginia Title 56 Chapter 13.
Virginia today has two Class I (major) railroads (Norfolk Southern and CSXT), nine Class II (short line) railroads, and more than 6,700 miles of track. Continue reading