Grousing on a Grey and Wet Friday

Source: Blue Virginia

“It’s the end of the world as we know it.” 

More than 30 years ago I told Jim Gilmore that his election as Henrico County Commonwealth’s Attorney was the most important Republican victory on the ballot that year, so it’s only fair to recognize that the real bell weather Tuesday was the election of a Democrat to the same job in Chesterfield County.

Chesterfield.

The folks at Blue Virginia have a simple set of charts displaying the harsh reality Republicans face in 21st Century Virginia, now the southernmost Northern state due to several demographic waves and several GOP tactical mistakes.  Perhaps it’s not quite time to find that old phone booth a previous generation of Virginia Republicans used as a meeting place, but a coming federal court revision to the legislative map may pull forward the final chapter to the Great Fall from Power to 2019 instead of 2021.

It’s news when the Chamber is handing out a bunch of F’s

Here’s a new twist in the on-going saga of which stories on electronic media “news” outlets win the brass ring of inclusion in the daily VPAP summary.  The office of Speaker Kirk Cox issued a press release about some pro-business rankings for members of his caucus, which was dutifully printed (with no additional reporting content) on the party organ The Republican Standard.

That partisan news release shows up in today’s VPAP summary, which as loyal readers of Bacon’s Rebellion know is no longer happening with the writings of James Bacon or yours truly.  We were (are) producing many stories with actual reporting and great fairness, digging deeper than the ideological or party line, but aging curmudgeons that we are we also engage in biting commentary in other posts.

Apparently, the difference is that the GOP organ has an obvious bias, which is also the case with the Virginia Mercury coming from the left, but we at Bacon’s Rebellion can be unpredictable (well, I can).  Yes, the reporting at Virginia Mercury ranges from fine to excellent, but so does mine and Jim’s, and given encouragement I could do it more. Something else is going on here, I must suspect.

Ironically, my commentary pieces are just fine for VPAP if I get them published first in The Washington Post or the Richmond Times-Dispatch, but my news writing on Bacon’s site is tainted. I swear, you need a map to follow this logic.

And while we’re addressing that Chamber ranking

You will search in vain for any indication of which specific roll call votes were used to separate sheep and goats on this ranking produced by the Virginia Chamber of Commerce. Absent that minor element of transparency, it must be taken with a handful of salt. That may explain why no news outlet wrote about it (but Speaker Cox got it out to everybody, understandably).

I once was the Chamber’s chief lobbyist and such a partisan outcome would have made me very nervous, very concerned that it would burn bridges with an entire political party. The “grades” are going to be used heavily in campaign mailings and ads, perhaps providing counterweight to similar rankings with a different tilt. But any of them which do not reveal the underlying roll calls are suspect.

At the same time as that conversation with Gilmore mentioned above, there existed an annual poll on effectiveness in state government. Norfolk’s Virginian-Pilot sent out a survey to legislators, gubernatorial appointees and lobbyists asking who was and who wasn’t “effective” in Richmond. The results were predictable, given Democratic dominance of Richmond at the time, and proved an annoying problem in each campaign against an incumbent Democrat.

After a couple of years of our beating on the Pilot, they stopped doing it. It was truly bogus – of course a committee chairman with 20 year of experience is going to be ranked higher, and of course the partisan imbalance in the sample would skew the outcome. The difference with this is……impossible to judge without full disclosure.

And yes, in part I’m pushing this because I am sure that Senate Bill 966 which did so much damage to Virginia’s electricity consumers (including business consumers) was included as a pro-business vote at the behest of one of the Chamber’s largest members. Let’s see how the other bills match the Chamber membership list. I was on the committee for Virginia FREE years ago, and time after time a Virginia FREE donor demanded that its sponsored legislation make the scorecard as a pro-business vote.

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22 responses to “Grousing on a Grey and Wet Friday

  1. So why do other businesses remain in the Chamber when the Dominion legislation was harmful to the average Virginia business? If I were a member of the Chamber, I’d be hammering on the Chamber’s CEO for selling out businesses in favor of Dominion. And I know my questions could not be answered.

    It’s like the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce f/k/a the Fairfax County Chamber. It’s a whore for developers, even as the cost of development in Fairfax County is passed along to other businesses including higher taxes and crushing traffic.

    North Carolina keeps looking better and better.

    • TooManyTaxes says:

      “It’s like the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce f/k/a the Fairfax County Chamber. It’s a whore for developers, even as the cost of development in Fairfax County is passed along to other businesses including higher taxes and crushing traffic.”

      How true this statement is. The business community of Northern Virginia, through its own plans and actions, and the inaction of many others, brought today’s debacle of traffic gridlock, sky high tolls, and civil, commercial and residential dysfunction generally, down upon themselves, and everyone around them. And those who controlled the levers of power, like at Dulles Airport, for example, often openly advertised and promoted the plans for anyone to see if only one attended their dog and pony shows put on regularly by public private groups run by the power brokers, such as the Dulles Task Force, and their ilk. And those who did not attend often could follow their progress through regular postings over the internet. The outline of the schemes were all there, pointing to where caches of otherwise hidden information and signals could be found and synthesized. This was, for example, a guide to articles I wrote in the summer of 2013, such as this one below.

      https://www.baconsrebellion.com/wp/dulles-grand-plan/

      The problem is all this can get very complicated, and time consuming and ugly to unravel. But the flip side is that when one group gets overbearing control of the public (and other citizens) business, no matter who that group might be, more and more matters begin to stink. And that stench leads to target rich environments. But one must be willing to wallow through the stink, pulling up ugly and highly unpleasant goings on that will only grow worse and fester if not exposed to the light of day. It’s a long slog, never ending. And its not the popular thing to do.

      • I remember that fiasco – Dulles as a world-class shipping center.

        Back then, the McLean Citizens Association’s Transportation invited the man who was running the “Committee for a Dulles Shipping Center” or whatever it was called. I attended. I cannot recall the gentleman’s name. Heck of a nice guy. But he couldn’t answer any probing questions. Ever answer ended with the economic growth would benefit everyone or if taxes were higher and the roads could be built, wouldn’t things be great.

        If I were cynical, I’d say Til Hazel wrote the man’s script. Need that Outer Beltway. In 2015, VDOT did a study showing that only 6-8% of drivers (measured from a few locations) who crossed the Beltway, headed north on I-270 to north Montgomery County or points beyond.

        Thank goodness the mega-shipping center is dead for a while.

      • TooManyTaxes –

        One of the most infuriating aspects to the Dulles Task Force Dog and Pony Show was its blatant in your face dishonesty.

        For example –

        The show would always be kicked off and conclude with a gorgeous scene of the bucolic George Washington Parkway. The slide photograph showed two cars, each headed in opposite direction, on a wide open 4 lane stretch of that parkway through the woodlands high above the historic Potomac Gorge. It was a iconic shot, a photo worthy of a 1950’s ad for “See the USA in your Chevrolet.” Here recall the family on holiday, touring happily through a National Park on summer vacation.

        In fact, the real plan of the Dulles Task Force, the real driver behind its wicked campaign, was the complete reverse of its announced intention.

        Instead, the plan of the Dulles Task Force was to generate vast amounts money taken out of the pockets of frustrated commuters forced through tolls imposed on them for their use of a vast array of new public roads, a network built out across the Virginia countryside. This was the modern version of medieval Robber Barons along the Rhine River in Europe.

        In this modern version of highway thief, the highwayman was disguised as Virginia Gentlemen working in the public interests, while he designed and operated those new toll regimes to create the highest revenues possible out of congestion that he created himself, namely, man-made congestion that ratcheted up and down to always hit and keep constant the sweet spot of revenue by constantly inflicting the maximum amount of pain that the commuter was willing to endure while trying to get to work to feed his family, without leaving the toll road by going around the congestion for free, using a far longer and more time consumer route for free, while taking far more time away from his or her family to get to work. Hence this toll regime was designed to inflict the “optimal” amount of punishment and inconvenience on fellow citizens trying to earn a living, so as to generate maximum revenues off the backs of commuters in order for the robber barons to build “for free” even more congested roads that would open up more of Virginia’s bucolic countryside to chronic congestion, which the Robber Barrons would then “flip” for huge profits.

        So, this plan of course was designed of one central reason, namely to make the individual sponsors of the Dulles Task Force rich as they were madly speculating on land they had earlier purchased, or optioned, along the country roads they hoped to bust open, or if not for profit made that way, then other sponsored, like engineers, lawyers, road builders, asphalt layers, etc., planned to line their own pocketing by tapping into the costs paid by the public to build these roads. And, of course, in pursuing their selfish and self serving goals, these special interests were willing and happy to feed on other people’s lives, families and savings, while always they claimed to be working hard to serve the public interests of everyone else.

        • correction to last paragraph in above comment:

          So, this plan of course was designed of one central reason: namely to make the individual sponsors of the Dulles Task Force rich as they were madly speculating on land they had earlier purchased, or optioned, along the country roads they hoped to bust open. And, if not for profits made from rampant land speculation, then other sponsors of the Dulles Task Force, like engineers, lawyers, road builders, asphalt layers, and toll builders, planned to line their own pockets by tapping into the costs paid by the public to build these roads.

          Of course, in pursuing their selfish and self serving goals, all of these special interests in all their grand variety were willing and happy to feed on the lives of other less advantaged people within their community, like people with more limited incomes who had to commute to work to make a living, whether they be plumbers or lower income office workers, and to drain their families of their parents time and savings accounts.

          And, all the while, in so doing, these Robber Barons in Northern Virginia claimed to be working in the public interests of the very people their projects were designed to fleece, drain of funds, and otherwise take advantage of.

    • The Chamber is just an interest group – and it’s positions reflect the current folks running it for the most part.

      But it is curious that all across rural Virginia there are those who would like to see their own local economies also benefit from the availability of natural gas to lure new businesses and the Virginia Chamber seems to be oblivious to those folks who are largely also represented by Republicans who go to Richmond and apparently forget the places that elected them.

  2. Although you occasionally see things differently and draw different conclusions, I have greatly appreciated your postings here which are thoughtful, documented, and informative and FYI have had friends forward your articles from RTD. You have a following and are appreciated.

  3. No question about it – Steve has enriched BR and is much appreciated by more than a few folks.

    My take on the exclusion of BR from VPAP is that it’s not clear sometimes what is reporting and what is commentary … PLUS if VPAP included BR, I’d bet that other commentary type blogs would argue that special treatment for BR and excluding them is not fair.

    I thought it interesting that Spanburger won by 10,000 votes in Chesterfield and 10,000 in Henrico – and lost in all the other 7th district counties, sometimes by fairly large margins and she still ended up winning by 7,000 or so.

    So basically, the 7th has gone purple and trending blue in Henrico/Chesterfield though I suspect a less partisan true fiscal conservative who had honest thoughts about health care and pre-existing conditions could still win the 7th.

    There is no question that despite all the talk of a “free market” solution for health care – people are onto the pre-existing condition thing which is totally the opposite of free market. So folks say “free market” but that’s not how they think. That “free market” is for all those other folks … who get “free and reduced” health insurance or some such

  4. I agree with musingsfromjanus’s comment.

    Regarding the Blue Virginia graphic, I see the trend, but have to also say the quality and type of candidates are not the best.

    • As to the chart, I think Bob McDonnel win margin is instructive, like Larry Hogan’s win is instructive, overturning the Democratic apple cart in Md. And Hogan a Republican has done it twice now for only the second time in history. This time in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans two to one. Nothing is cast in stone with the right candidates for the times.

  5. Has Hogan’s success led to a growing GOP base in the legislature or in local offices, or is it just him?

    • I don’t think Hogan is a standard GOP. He’s definitely got a whiff of RINO!

    • Hogan has picked his battles carefully.

    • Steve –

      I need to get better informed on your question. Here, however, copied in below is a highly informed article on Hogan, his tenure to date, his win, and the job in front of his next term. It is found here:

      https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/11/larry-hogan-wins-deep-blue-maryland/

      There is little doubt that Larry Hogan is a Republican to watch and learn from, with high import for where his party’s best future lies. He’s a very, very good governor operating successfully and productively for all Marylanders, in a deep blue state.

      • Steve – Earlier you asked: “Has Hogan’s success led to a growing GOP base in the legislature or in local offices, or is it just him?”

        Here is my sense of answer. Hogan’s success did not translate to legislative seat pickups, but as pointed out in the national review article that is partly because Democrats have used redistricting to manipulate state legislative districts to their advantage. Also several promising, competent GOP county executives lost re-election Tuesday showing Hogan did not really have coattails. Voter turnout analysis shows there was record turnout among Democrat voters in Maryland due likely to anti-trump fervor and they took out most republicans in swing districts but still voted for Hogan. The ills afflicting GOP candidates in Maryland’s affluent suburbs (Howard County, Anne Arundel County) are the exact same ills afflicting GOP candidates in other affluent suburbs all around the country including Northern Virginia, like Barbara Comstock and Dave Bratt, whose district is growing more suburbs and more college educated. It might be harder for a Virginia audience to appreciate this because I suspect rural voters are a much higher share of their population than they are in Maryland. In short, a big part of this was national environment, and Hogan’s ability to inoculate himself against it.

        • If there isn’t another formulation for the Republican Party starting to take root and grow somewhere, I think the current President could be the last one. The Trump formulation isn’t going to expand its base like Reagan did, and the midterms already showed the swing states that provided the difference in 2016 (Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania) are tipping back to blue. If it reformulates, I think it will have to be more inclusive and I hope more fiscally responsible. I think Hogan is viewed as having these characteristics.

          • Reed Fawell 3rd

            I agree. The Republican effort needs flexibility and moderation in all but deeply red states. Hogan shows why and the way. His lack of coattails is a reflection on Trump, not Hogan. Few recognize how deeply blue Maryland is top to bottom, all of which is magnified in the most gerrymandered state in the nation.

            In short, Trump needs to moderate. Otherwise he is playing a loosing hand that destroys his party. Just as Obama destroyed his. Party must trump individuals. Otherwise we got Cuba and El Salvador for a nation.

  6. The CEO of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce just told the Virginia Air Board that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline would save everyone money and promote economic development.

    I know this is just one issue and groups across the spectrum are laying waste to facts these days to push their agenda. But I expected more from the CEO of the state chamber. What will he tell the local chambers and businesses throughout the state if the ACP gets built and provides delivered gas at nearly twice the price available from other sources? (that’s factoring in the latest 40% price hike for the pipeline – and existing pipelines are expanding by more than offered by the ACP). Information provided by Dominion and FERC back this up. The notion of savings is a fiction created by a corporate PR machine swallowed whole by business, political and labor leaders statewide. It is difficult to make good decisions when the initial assumptions are so greatly flawed.

    How are the economic developers in SE Virginia going to succeed by saying “Come to Hampton Roads and pay more for energy”? Or will they perpetuate the fabrication?

    I just spoke with a representative from Columbia Gas who admitted how expensive gas delivered by the ACP will be. Those willing to search for the truth can still find it. For others, ignorance is bliss.

    • Tom – Re Columbia Gas. Write an op-ed for the Richmond paper that contradicts the Chamber’s CEO. Embarrass him/her. Get some Chamber members thinking about why are they paying their dues.

      • TMT,

        I have submitted Op-Eds to RTD before. They seldom publish anything that disputes Dominion’s party line. Sometimes they shunt the article to their sister paper, the Roanoke Times.

        If anyone has a good idea about how to open a dialogue with the Chamber, I would be interested to hear it. I think they are sincere in supporting lower-cost energy and economic development. But they are not aware that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is unable to provide that. Dominion has done effective campaigns, including social media, to spread the message of widespread savings but they didn’t tell anyone that their studies showing lower costs failed to include the cost of using the pipeline.

  7. Have to agree on needing BR in the mix. Gives another dimension to Mercury that I don’t get on there. The commenting here gives me food for thought. I don’t get that on Mercury.

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