CACAGNY celebrating Chinese New Year in a Flushing, N.Y., parade in 2018.
by Asra Q. Nomani
This past weekend, I spoke at an online conference of CAPA-Fairfax County, a local chapter of Chinese-American parent groups mobilizing to defend merit-based education in the United States.
As some participants spoke in Chinese, I could make out some key phrases: “‘moral courage,” “public service,” and “Cultural Revolution.”
When it came my turn to speak, I told the Chinese-American parents: They can save America. After surviving the Cultural Revolution, they uniquely recognize the dangers to an ideology like critical race theory, the race-based philosophy that dismantles core principles in our society, such as the idea of the American Dream, replacing the idea of equality with the disingenuous notion of “equity,” and punishing Asian-American children for their advanced academics.
They cheered their potential role in the country that they love.
And now we see just that kind of moral leadership by another association, CACAGNY (紐約同源會), the Chinese American Citizens Alliance Greater, based in New York, which published a letter yesterday denouncing critical race theory as “a hateful, divisive, manipulative fraud.” A member @queens_parents published the letter on Twitter, and it can be found here online at their website www.cacagny.org. Continue reading
by James A. Bacon
It is deemed a great honor to be one of the 47 fourth-year students at the University of Virginia awarded a residence on the Lawn, Thomas Jefferson’s architectural masterpiece and World Heritage site. A committee of 60 students selects the residents from a pool of applicants, in theory based on their record of “unselfish service and achievement in their respective fields of activity and academics.”
But when the Cavalier Daily published an article yesterday providing the racial/ethnic background of the individuals who were offered a spot on the Lawn next year, it didn’t emphasize their accomplishments. Rather, drawing from data provided by Dean of Students Allen Groves, the article focused on the increased demographic “diversity” of the Lawn residents.
“Students of Color” received nearly 60% of the offers this year, compared to only 30% last year, reported the student-run newspaper.
The dramatic one-year shift in the racial/ethnic composition of Lawn residents raises the question of whether race and ethnicity has become an explicit but not-stated-publicly criteria for selection. Continue reading
There has been a lively discussion in the comments threads of recent Bacon’s Rebellion posts about what lessons Virginia can learn from the near-collapse of Texas’ electric grid. A key difference between the two states is that Texas maintains its own reliability council, ERCOT, while Virginia belongs to an interstate compact, PJM. Both organizations administer auctions to sell electricity in near-real time. Unlike Texas, PJM maintains a market for future electricity “capacity.” The role of capacity markets is hard for most people (including me) to wrap their heads around. But reader Allen Barringer (Acbar), a retired utility regulatory lawyer, gives it a shot. — JAB
The concept of reliability in electricity grids is probabilistic. There is no such thing as absolute certainty of reliability. In general, the acceptable risk of an outage is defined by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), a standards-setting organization regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which sits atop around a dozen regional reliability councils whose members are the utilities and Independent System Operators (ISOs) that run the electric grid. The reliability criterion is that consumers should not lose electric service as the result of problems on the “bulk power” electric grid more often than one day in 10 years.
State regulatory authorities such as Virginia’s State Corporation Commission (SCC) don’t regulate the bulk power grid; they focus on local reliability issues like distribution line outages. But the states also regulate retail electric rates and, in Virginia, the SCC reviews the “integrated resource plans” (IRPs) of the retail electric companies. Continue reading
by Kerry Dougherty
In these hyper-partisan pandemic times it often seems we will never come together as a country.
We are too far apart politically. We spend too much time insulting each other. We can’t agree on the simplest things. We’re sick of the pandemic, divided about restrictions and gloomy about the future.
Even the vaccine isn’t bringing us the joy it should because know-it-all doctors on TV warn that nothing must change — masks, distancing, gatherings — once we’re fully vaccinated.
Some of us thought the point of a vaccine was a return to normalcy.
But then Saturday happened and once again, I was buoyed by the basic kindness and generosity of Americans. Especially my neighbors in Virginia Beach. Continue reading
by James C. Sherlock
As we suspected, Virginia did not exercise its Pandemic Emergency Plan from the time it was published in 2012 until COVID-19 struck.
I received the following response today to a FOIA request I sent to the Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Emergency Management:
The Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) received your February 13, 2021, email regarding a document request. In that request, you seek:
“Existing VDEM records of Virginia state, regional, and local participation in the National Exercise Program since 2012 at every level of training and exercises that addressed Infectious Disease and Biological Incidents.”
VDEM does not have any documentation that meets the requirements of your request. As a result, pursuant to Va. Code § 2.2-3704.B.3, VDEM notes that no records or data exists in response to your request.
Is “oops” a good enough response for the Governor? It appears so.
by James C. Sherlock
Updated Feb. 23 at 2:15 pm
In an ongoing series of reports, Ray Locker, enterprise and investigative editor of the Checks and Balances Project, has exposed a story with far-reaching implications.
Norfolk Circuit Court Chief Judge Mary Jane Hall sat in judgment on a case, Chesapeake Hosp. Auth. v. State Health Comm’r, in which Sentara was an included defendant.
It appears from that reporting that she could have recused herself for two reasons:
- prior to her appointment to the bench Judge Hall not only had represented Sentara for years in another COPN case; but also
- the judge’s co-attorney on that previous COPN case, Jamie B. Martin of Williams Mullin, was Sentara’s attorney in Chesapeake Hosp. Auth. v. State Health Comm’r.
From Mr. Locker’s first article:
The Virginia Canons of Judicial Conduct says this about judicial impartiality:
“(1) A judge shall disqualify himself or herself in a proceeding in which the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned”
Further under Canon 2,
“The test for appearance of impropriety is whether the conduct would create in reasonable minds a perception that the judge’s ability to carry out judicial responsibilities with integrity and impartiality is impaired.”
My own additional research into published Norfolk Circuit Court opinions shows that Judge Hall sat in judgment on cases in that court involving Sentara as well as on Chesapeake Hosp. Auth. v. State Health Comm’r. This case was filed in Chesapeake Circuit Court.
The Chief Justice of the Virginia Supreme Court, who is charged with overseeing judicial conduct, assigned the case to Judge Hall
Chief Justice Lemons of the Virginia Supreme Court asked Judge Hall to sit by designation in Chesapeake in place of the judges of the First Judicial Circuit (Chesapeake) and hear the case. She accepted. He made the appointment on July 31, 2018.
There would be three possible reasons to import a judge:
- Chief Justice Lemons assessed that there were no judges on the Chesapeake Circuit with the experience to hear a COPN case; or
- he assessed that the Chesapeake Circuit judges were conflicted or could have been considered so; or
- The Chesapeake Circuit had more cases than judges at that point.
There is no indication in the record of why Judge Hall was imported in this case.
By Dick Hall-Sizemore
I owe the Dept. of Small Business and Supply Diversity (DSBSD) an apology. In an earlier post, I questioned whether the agency would be able to quickly distribute $120 million in grant funds. It turns out that its first checks went out in mid-August and it had to stop accepting applications on Dec. 9 because the amount of money designated for the program had been exhausted.
The program is called Rebuild VA. Approved applicants received awards of three times their average monthly recurring eligible operating expenses plus COVID-related expenses, up to a maximum grant of $100,000. To be eligible for an award, an applicant could be a corporation, pass-through entity, nonprofit organization, recognized tribe, sole proprietor, or individual contractor who met the following criteria:
- Principal place of business in Virginia
- 250 or fewer full-time employees
- Operating prior to 3/12/2020
- Currently in good standing with State Corporation Commission (if applicable), and
- Engaged in legal activity.
by James A. Bacon
Last week the University of Virginia Board of Visitors held a workshop to discuss next year’s increase in tuition, fees, and other charges and to hear input from the public — mostly students begging the board for relief from the ever-escalating cost of attendance.
A PowerPoint presentation released at the meeting essentially made the case for hiking tuition again, although the exact percentage will depend upon the level of financial support provided by the Commonwealth. The estimated increase for undergraduate, in-state tuition will range between 0% and 3.1%. Additional fees are set at $114.
The presentation reflects the Ryan administration’s spin on the numbers. It’s the job of the Board of Visitors to probe deeper. In this post, I will first summarize the administration’s stats, and then I will provide some numbers that the board should consider as it ponders the tuition increases.
“Tuition is last resort,” states a slide expressing UVa’s tuition philosophy. “[We first] look to other revenues and savings.”
We’ll see about that. Continue reading
Photo Credit: Richmond Times Dispatch
By Dick Hall-Sizemore
There are often cries of anguish or outrage on this blog and elsewhere over the increases in spending proposed in budget proposals and then authorized by the General Assembly. Some of this criticism of increased spending is justified, but, sometimes, the increase is the result of circumstances beyond an agency’s control. Sometimes, stuff just costs more.
Replacing State Police cruisers is a good example of this quandary. For many years, the State Police used the Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor. When Ford stopped production of that model in 2011, the State Police began using the Ford Taurus Police Interceptor. (It took me a little while to get used to seeing the State Police in those smaller cars.) Next, Ford discontinued production of the Taurus in 2019. After testing Dodge and Chevrolet vehicles as potential replacements, the State Police selected the Ford Police Interceptor Utility. (This is a modified SUV and it explains why I have been seeing local police driving SUVs, which was a little disconcerting.) Continue reading
by James C. Sherlock
Sometimes I think we don’t personalize the effects of Virginia’s Certificate of Public Need (COPN) program on individual Virginians in ways that are relatable. Nor do many understand the power of the hospital monopolies.
Many readers here have followed the progress of our reporting of the increasing and relentless suppression of competition in healthcare by COPN. I will offer in this essay a single example that may personalize it.
In 2009, the regulation, not the law, that defined the radius from your home of facilities that would be considered when seeing whether you are adequately served by existing open heart surgery facilities was changed as follows:
Title 12. Health » Agency 5. Department Of Health » Chapter 230. State Medical Facilities Plan » Part IV. Cardiac Services
Criteria and Standards for Open Heart Surgery
12VAC5-230-440. Accessibility Travel time.
A. Open heart surgery services should be within
30 60 minutes driving time one way, under normal conditions, of 95% of the population of a the [ health ] planning district [ using mapping software as determined by the commissioner ].
Simple change. Thirty minutes was changed to 60 minutes. You surely did not notice. You were meant not to notice. And your elected representatives were not asked to vote on it. Continue reading
By Peter Galuszka
This is a shameless advertisement. Jim has written an excellent book and you should buy it and review it.
While some of Jim’s focus is at odds with a similar book I wrote eight years ago, “Maverick Miner” is a really well put together effort at research and writing.
In my reporting, I asked many people, mostly miners, what they thought about E. Morgan Massey. The response: tough on unions but good guy. I heard this over and over. I was told that if rank and file miners had a serious problem, they could call Morgan and he’d come to the mountains to work things out. I heard this a lot and it gives credence to Jim’s book.
You should buy the book, read it, and like it or not, post something on Amazon. Here’s something I did:
“In this book, Jim Bacon, a Richmond journalist, tells a fascinating story about 94-year-old E. Morgan Massey, the former head of coal company that would become highly controversial. Massey paid Bacon to write a private narrative about the Massey family and agreed to let Bacon write his own unabridged account. Taken as a biography and while understanding that this is from Massey’s viewpoint, the result works very well. Massey explains why he hired Donald L. Blankenship, who achieved remarkable notoriety as the boss of Massey Energy, a company spinoff. He ended up in federal prison. The book underestimates the human and environmental cost of coal mining in the Central Appalachians. It also takes Massey’s side in dissecting what caused the April 5, 2010 explosion that killed 29 miners – the worst such U.S. coal disaster in 40 years. Even so, Bacon’s access to internal sources and records is a welcome contribution to understanding a great story.
Peter Galuszka is author of “Thunder on the Mountain: Death At Massey and the Dirty Secrets Behind Big Coal.” (St. Martin’s Press, 2012)
Posted in Business and Economy, Culture wars, Disaster planning, Energy, Environment, Labor & workforce, Money in politics, Political Influence, Politics, Regulation, Unions
by Peter Galuszka
The Texas freeze and ensuing energy disaster has clear lessons for Virginia as it sorts out its energy future.
Yet much of the media coverage in Virginia and certainly on Bacon’s Rebellion conveniently leaves out pertinent observations.
The statewide freeze in Texas completely fouled up the entire energy infrastructure as natural gas pipelines and oil wells stopped working, coal at generating plants iced over and wind turbines stopped working.
Making matters much worse, Texas opted not to have power links with other states. Its “free market” system of purchasing power meant utilities skimped on maintenance and adding weather-relative preventive measures such as making sure key generation components were weatherproof.
The result? Scores dead and millions without electricity. Here are more points worth considering in Virginia:
Climate Change is For Real
It is a shame that so much comment in Bacon’s Rebellion is propaganda from people who are or were paid, either directly or indirectly, by the fossil fuel industry. Thus, the blog diminishes the importance of dealing with climate change in a progressive way. Continue reading
Posted in Blogs and blog administration, Budgets, Business and Economy, Consumer protection, Culture wars, Disaster planning, Economic development, Energy, Environment, Insurance, Labor & workforce, Land use & development, Money in politics, Political Influence, Politics, Property rights, Public corruption, Public safety & health, Regulation, Science & Technology
by Steve Haner
Tax on Paycheck Protection Program Grants
The General Assembly session deadlines require final decisions on various revenue bills before the final budget bill is adopted, in theory keeping the two issues separate. What is good tax policy should not be driven by the need or greed of the appropriators.
But the conference committee overseeing the final decision on how much of the Paycheck Protection Program Grants will be taxed is dominated by appropriators, including the chairs of the both the House and Senate budget panels. The Senate’s proposal to allow $100,000 of PPP grants to be tax free produces less revenue, so the House’s position of allowing only $25,000 to be tax free meant the House budget includes another $70 million in spending.
The announcement that the state’s economy continues to hum and produce additional revenue, adding $730 million more in the General Fund, would allow for the Senate position to prevail without the need to cut the existing House budget. But the pressure remains to tax more and spend more, with Governor Ralph Northam raising expectations even higher with a late proposal for fatter employee raises. Continue reading
by James A. Bacon
Last November 5, the Commonwealth of Virginia issued an RFP for a contract to investigate racism at the Virginia Military Institute. The document set an ambitious deadline. Responses were due November 17 — giving vendors less than two weeks to prepare submissions. Moreover, the document wanted the successful bidder to provide preliminary findings and recommendations by Dec. 31 and final recommendations by June 2021.
That made no sense to Carter Melton, VMI class of ’67, two-term VMI board member, and retired president of Rockingham Memorial Hospital. During his 30 years with the hospital, he had developed dozens of RFPs. He had never seen such ambitious deadlines for such a complex project. When he read the document, he was astonished — so astonished that he took out a full-page ad in the Sunday Richmond Times-Dispatch to get his views in front of Governor Ralph Northam.
First, he wrote, the scope of this project was vast and boundless. The RFP called for extensive document review, focus groups, anonymous questionnaires, a cross mapping of relevant VMI policies with those of every other college and university in the Commonwealth, and numerous legal opinions. “This is a huge piece of work; it asks for everything but the kitchen sink.” Continue reading