Louisiana Shows How Flood Control Can Work at Massive Scale

by James C. Sherlock

Louisiana has half the population of Virginia. Virginia is ranked the 18th richest state in per capita income, Louisiana 48th.

So, why has Louisiana been so phenomenally successful in flood control efforts since Katrina while Virginia writes its own framework for action that it is too expensive here?

Primarily because Louisiana figured out after Katrina that:

  1. the feds simultaneously have all the flood control resources — money, expertise, experience, scale — that states do not have, and both write the regulations and regulate flood control.
  2. the state had to organize both the state and local governments to deal with the federal government with a single voice.

The new agency charged with that monumental and immediate task, while quickly and iteratively creating itself, was the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) of Louisiana.

There is much for Virginians to know about and learn from Louisiana’s success. You will see that the Bayou State has way bigger flooding problems to solve than does Virginia.

Their success must be a model for us.

Yet the Commonwealth seems hell bent on ignoring the methods that enabled that success. Our leaders also deny that engineered defenses, “castles,” are even affordable as part of the solution set in Virginia. Each idea is both ill considered and dangerous.

I will describe briefly how Louisiana has done its part in this. Continue reading

9/11 Flags Vandalized

In commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attack, Young America’s Foundation, a conservative student group, planted 2,977 flags in the University of Virginia’s Amphitheater. Vandals knocked down the flags and flipped a table with a banner. Expressing solidarity with the perpetrators, Twitter users equated the memorial service to the white supremacist torch march of the infamous United the Right rally and said falsely that YAF has “ties to the neo-Nazi movement.” See the full story here. — JAB

Forced Unionism Is Back on the Menu

by Shaun Kenney

First things first. Republican challenger Glenn Youngkin’s internal polling has him showing a slight lead against Democratic former governor Terry McAuliffe 48-46.

What Afghanistan giveth Texas shall taketh away…

Yet with the 2022 Generic Ballot showing the environment at D+0.3 at present? Those numbers can only improve Republican hopes moving forward, as new polls indicate that both Winsome Sears and Jason Miyares are building on their existing leads.

Even National Review is getting in on the game as Virginia Democrats are debating whether or not to double-down on defunding the police:

Vulnerable Democrats in the House of Delegates seem to share Youngkin’s intuition about crime and the political consequences of their party’s record on the issue, and are feverishly working to reverse themselves as a result. Continue reading

A Closer Look at Those “Driving While Black” Statistics

by James A. Bacon

When the Commonwealth published its Virginia Community Policing Act traffic-stop database last week, the Richmond Times-Dispatch spun the data this way:

Black drivers are disproportionately stopped and arrested, and they have their cars searched at higher rates than any other race statewide.

Here’s what the RTD could have written:

Black drivers stopped for traffic violations were disproportionately likely to be let go with warnings — or subject to no law enforcement actions at all.

Any fair-minded story would have provided both conclusions and conveyed the complexities and uncertainties in analyzing the data. Instead, the newspaper settled for cherry picking data that supports its ongoing Oppression Narrative. The reporters did not come right out and say that the statistical disparities are attributable to “racism” or “discrimination,” but the implication is clear enough. In contemporary society, statistical disparities are widely deemed to constitute proof. Continue reading

I’m Baaaack!

Many thanks to Dick Hall-Sizemore, Jim Sherlock and DJ Rippert for filling Bacon’s Rebellion with lively, informative content during my vacation absence. — JAB

Redistricting: Let the Lawsuits Begin!

Sen. Travis Hackworth (R-Tazewell) Photo crecit: Steve Helber/AP

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

The first draft maps had not been drawn when the first lawsuit challenging Virginia’s redistricting process was filed.

Sen. Travis Hackworth. R-Tazewell, along with several other plaintiffs, is challenging 2020 Virginia legislation that required, for redistricting purposes, prison and jail inmates to be allocated to the population counts of the locality of their last known address, rather than to the localities in which the prisons and jails in which they were incarcerated, as had been the practice in past years. (That legislation was the subject of an earlier BR post.)

Because most prisons are located in rural areas, by shifting their populations to other areas of the state for purposes of the population totals used in redistricting, the lawsuit claims that the change will politically weaken rural areas.

The basis for the suit is unusual. The defendant is the newly constituted Virginia Redistricting Commission. The Commission was established through voter approval of a constitutional amendment approved in a 2020 referendum. The court petition claims that, because the legislation dealing with how the Commission should treat prison populations during its redistricting efforts was passed by the legislature and not approved by voters in the referendum, the legislation is invalid. Continue reading

Federal Contracting in Northern Virginia Reaches $60 Billion Annually

Northern Virginia

by James C. Sherlock

The Washington Business Journal (WBJ) reported today that annual federal contracting in Northern Virginia has reached $60 billion. That compares to federal contracting there of $33.7 billion in 2000 (2020 dollars).

As a reference points, I consulted St. Louis Fed data for Virginia GDP in those same years and converted the 2000 data to 2020 dollars.

The GDP of Virginia in 2020 was $551.8 billion. In 2000 the GDP of the state was $412.1 billion in 202o dollars.

So, the percentage of Virginia GDP attributable to federal contracting in Northern Virginia increased from 8.1% in 2000 to 10.9% in 2020.

No comment, just observation.

Development and Sea-Level Rise in the Tarheel State

by James A. Bacon

People love living on the water. They just can’t get enough of it. If they can’t afford to live on the waterfront, they will pay a premium just to live near it. Signs of the human proclivity for water views are evident all around Beaufort, N.C. (pronounced Bow-fort, not Bew-fort), a waterfront town of 4,000 to 5,000. The heart of Beaufort is a charming hamlet dating back to the 1700s. The walkable small-town core with restaurants, boutiques, marinas and quaint historical buildings is the nucleus from which development radiates in all directions.

Coastal North Carolina in these parts, just south of the Outer Banks, is as low-lying and vulnerable to flooding and hurricanes as Tidewater Virginia. I know nothing of what preparations the Tarheel state might be taking in anticipation of the kind of extreme weather events that Jim Sherlock has described in recent posts. I will simply observe that whatever restrictions exist, they don’t seem to be slowing the pace of development on the state’s barrier islands and along its sounds, channels and estuaries. Continue reading

Conference Explores VA Rush to Copy CA Energy

by Steve Haner

Californians were again this week under an electricity “flex alert,” a conservation order required because of its reliance on unreliable solar and wind energy. They often cannot keep up with demand on the hotter days. Is this Virginia’s future? The government is telling Californians:

  • Set your thermostat at 78° or higher
  • Avoid using major appliances
  • Turn off unnecessary lights
  • Use fans for cooling
  • Unplug unused items.

The return of this power shortfall comes just days before Governor Gavin Newsom faces a recall vote, with this growing crisis being cited by some of his opponents. It is also a distant cloud on Virginia’s horizon as early voting begins here next week in the elections for statewide offices and the House of Delegates.

Virginia has rushed to copy California’s climate-fear and rent-seeking driven solar and wind energy scheme.

Of all the ways Virginia’s new Democratic majority has remade the state, the move to unreliable energy sources will have the greatest impact on business and family budgets over coming decades. Once completed the transformation’s costs will likely exceed that of all the various tax increases imposed. Two of the new energy taxes, one a carbon tax and the other to fund a subsidy for low-income electricity users, begin to raise energy prices this month.

The consumer impact (cost and lifestyle) of the various energy transformation measures will be the topic of Thursday’s Virginia Energy Consumer Conference, with another proposed carbon tax – the Transportation and Climate Initiative – the topic of my planned presentation. The various presentations can be streamed live if you pre-register here. Continue reading

The Costliest Floods in Interior Virginia Since 1969

Car in tree in Nelson County after Camille

by James C. Sherlock

I offer this survey of Virginia’s biggest interior floods since 1969, mostly courtesy of the National Weather Service, as equal time for my reporting on coastal flooding in Virginia.

The interior is where the most deaths have occurred in Virginia floods, not the coast.

The deaths reach those levels in interior Virginia through a combination of:

  • topography, especially where rain runs off the mountains,
  • sometimes relatively short notice alerts compared to coastal weather forecasting, and
  • the historic practice of building in hollars in the mountains and bottom lands adjacent to rivers.

Rainwater surging down mountains into rivers can be catastrophic at every point in its flow.

This will provide both a photo remembrance and a brief written record of each of those four storms. Continue reading

Virginia’s Coast and Flood Control – The Past Is Prologue

by James C. Sherlock

Granby Street Norfolk after Great Hurricane of 1933

So how do we picture how bad a hurricane or Nor’easter could be along Virginia’s coast? What might it look like?

Won’t the Outer Banks catch the worst of any hurricane and break it up?

Well, no.

Consider some stunning historical examples. Continue reading

What We Want the Future to Know About 2020

Janice Underwood and First Lady Pam Northern place items in new time capsule Photo credit: Bob Brown/Richmond Times Dispatch

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

Several  commenters to the previous post on the removal of the Lee Monument expressed interest in the items that were placed in the new time capsule that was to be placed in the base of the former Lee Monument.

According to a news release from the Governor’s office, these are the items: Continue reading

Flood Control — Fatal flaws in Virginia’s Approach

Hampton Roads Federal Installations

by James C. Sherlock

It is hurricane season, if you had not noticed.

This is the first of a multi-part series of articles on flood control in Virginia.

This first one will provide a brief overview of where we stand in flood control planning and construction in the Commonwealth with an emphasis on Hampton Roads.

The next three will discuss the federal role, the Commonwealth role and the regional/local roles in more depth.

The development of a Virginia Coastal Resilience Master Plan is the responsibility of the Commonwealth’s Chief Resilience Officer, the Secretary of Natural Resources. So far, it looks like it.

The current path the Commonwealth has chosen has fatal flaws.  A discussion of those flaws follows.

First some background. Continue reading

Lee Monument Removed

Photo Credit: Bob Brown/Times Dispatch

Yesterday morning the Lee Monument, the last major and most prominent celebration of the Lost Cause, was removed. Virginia and Richmond have now truly embraced the 21st Century.

Democratic Lawmakers Threaten Spending Bill Over SALT Cap Repeal

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

Tax that man behind the tree. As Congress works to pass a $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package a group of “moderate” Democrats are threatening to block the spending bill unless the State and Local Tax (SALT) caps are repealed. Prior to Donald Trump’s 2017 tax law, state and local taxes were fully deductible on federal income tax returns (for itemized filers). The 2017 tax law, passed at the urging of Donald Trump, limited the SALT deduction to $10,000. This cap has long rankled Democrats elected to office in high-tax, high-spending locales such as the New York metropolitan area and San Francisco. Closer to home the cap also impacts people living in Virginia’s high-cost, high-tax areas like Northern Virginia. Continue reading