Chichester Launches Transportation Task Force

As usual, The Washington Post misses the important story while focusing on the effluvia of the gubernatorial campaign. In today’s article, “Chichester Faults Road Funding Idea,” Michael D. Shear focuses on Senate Finance Chair John Chichester’s implicit criticism of Jerry Kilgore’s transportation plan, while burying in the last three paragraphs the fact that Chichester launched a senate study commission that will “spend the next several months developing an action plan to improve the state’s transportation system.”

Forget the drivel coming out of the Kaine and Kilgore campaigns regarding transportation. John Chichester, backed by his senate allies and a well-funded business lobby, is driving the agenda on transportation policy in Virginia. Chichester, not Kaine or Kilgore, will develop the transportation proposals that get considered in the 2006 General Assembly session, at least on the senate side. While Kaine and Kilgore spend the next six months just trying to get elected, Chichester will be laying the groundwork for his transportation solution. Chichester is the man to watch.

The commission, which Chichester announced Thursday, is called START (Statewide Transportation Analysis and Recommendation Task Force). It will meet four times before the General Assembly session begins next year. The deliberations of this group, consisting of 10 state senators and 15 citizen members, are far more important than anything Kaine and Kilgore have to say about transportation during the gubernatorial campaign.

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  1. Barnie Day Avatar
    Barnie Day

    Jim: spot, dead on, bull’s eye accurate. When all is said and done, Chichester’s views on transportation are the only ones in Virginia that really matter.

  2. Ray Hyde Avatar
    Ray Hyde

    This kind of argument makes me crazy. All the money the sate gets comes from citizens and businesses that might otherwise have used the money for something else: it is a very general fund.

    In the past we have elected to earmark the part of the sales tax which applies to gasoline as a means of paying for the roads that gasoline requires. This part of the general fund we call the transportation fund, as a means of setting a general budgetary priority, but all of it is still our money to spend as we see most necessary.

    We are arguing over which pocket to take our own money out of. If the START committe does nothing more than conduct some real analysis and make recommendations about what is MOST necessary in transportation, they will have done their job.

    If, having done so, the state is then struck by the bubonic plague, we may decide roads are not so important, after all.

    So ee still have to decide if the START recommendations are more or less important than other needs, and which use of funds will most likely generate new funds in the future.

    We might even decide there are so many needs that affect all of us that we should not spend so much on our selves and our businesses and actually raise taxes in order to meet those needs. I sure hope not, but we are growing so fast that our previous infrastructure is not up to standard in many areas.

    Arguing about which dollar is in the general fund and which is in the transportation fund is non-productive: let’s skip it and get on to the analysis and recommendations.

  3. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it for the 10th time:

    John Chichester will pull Jerry Kilgore into his office, and tell him how he’s going to fix the transportation mess.

    Jerry Kilgore will leave Chichester’s office with fresh tears in his eyes and his tail between his legs.

    Figuratively speaking, of course.

    Chichester’s definitely a “pave Virginia over” guy. God bless him. With some new land planning (much of which is taking hold in NOVA and other places) and some new roads, we’ll be on our way to marginal improvement and maybe some localized improvement. Pave away.

  4. Will Vehrs Avatar
    Will Vehrs

    Well, Paul, if what Barnie says is true, I guess if Kaine is elected he’ll go into Chichester’s office and come out smiling, ready to happily advocate for the tax increases and paving plans directed by the good Senator.

    I prefer the take of One Man’s Trash:

    BTW, isn’t it funny that if we agree with somebody, we’re all for them being the only voice that matters, but if we disagree, democracy is being stifled, the minority is being railroaded, etc. etc.

  5. Ha. It’s no secret that with a Democratic Governor, Chichester has a big hand in running the state…

    It’s interesting that Norm refers to Chichester’s “charade”. Chichester is being honest. It’s refreshing, in a non-wacky Russ Potts type way. You may disagree with his approach (raising taxes) but at least he says it.

    Both Kaine and Kilgore have been halfway honest. Kaine said he’d think about a gas tax increase (in truth, it’s probably in the plans). Kilgore is excitedly pushing a plan for regional tax increases to pay for transportation projects – even though he knows they have no chance of passing.

    I’d take Chichester’s candor any day.

    I’m not sure I understand the reference in your last point (although I agree with the sentiment).

  6. Anonymous Avatar

    Jim: You should get the list of the citizen members Chichester named from the Senate Finance web page. Interesting group. President of the Virginia Chamber, a past chairman (a Salem beer distributor) and the 2006 chairman (Ben Davenport). Two former R Senators with rail backgrounds — Mitchell and Calhoun. Tim Robertson of Virginia Beach. Somebody from the shipyard. If the group can reach some consensus, it is a group that can have some political weight to put behind it. He also included Frank Wagner on the panel, who voted no on taxes in 2004 but has a very good eye for the problems faced by the HR business community. While the candidates posture, the work will be getting done.

  7. Jim Bacon Avatar
    Jim Bacon

    Hi, Unknown, So, you’ve seen the list. I’d be most interested to see it as well. I’ve never covered the “General Assembly” beat, so I’m not sure where to start. The Senate Clerk’s office?

  8. Jeremy Hinton Avatar
    Jeremy Hinton

    Revised URL of the citizen list:

    Citizen memebrs of START

  9. Anonymous Avatar

    Chichester does it again. His so=called transportation task force includes only 2 people from N. Va, one of whom being the presidetn of a community college, and I never heard of him. Margaret Vanderhye is on the task force. Note she’s not listed as representing the N. Va. Transportation AUthority, which has no money or power to do anything, and was set up to administer the half-cent sales tax, had it passed . While I think the world of Pierce Homer (from Prince William), I never heard of anyone else on this task force. Where’s Bob Chase or Bill Daugherity of VARTBA — the folks who spend day and night trying to get more money for transportation? Where’s Til Hazel, or Bill Lecos? Where are the real lions? I now have a 2nd euphemism for Chichester — Cheatchester. Can you all think of the other one?

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