Pass the Coppertone

Virginia Beach, 2016. Photo credit: Kerry Dougherty

by Kerry Dougherty

Virginia Beach is back.

Well, sort of.

At his press conference yesterday Gov. Ralph Northam bent to pressure from irate local politicians, desperate resort businesses and an increasingly disgruntled public by announcing that city beaches could reopen in time for Memorial Day.

“This is the tonic people need right now,” an ebullient Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer told me last evening. “People have been confined for months. Beaches to the north and south of us are open. This had to happen.”

Northam had promised a decision on beach openings on Monday. But Dyer became worried Saturday night when he saw a newspaper photo that seemed to show throngs of people shoulder-to-shoulder on the beach.

“I was down there from 2 to 4 on Saturday and it wasn’t like that,” Dyer said, explaining that when shot with a long camera lens, perspective on crowd size can be distorted.No kidding.

Anyone else remember the images that claimed to show crammed Jacksonville beaches last month – photos that sent the lockdown-forever crowd into orbit – when in reality people were giving each other plenty of room?

Fortunately, Beach police sent out drones Saturday afternoon to monitor crowds. Dyer told me that aerial footage taken at the same time as the news photo showed scattered crowds and lots of social distancing.

“People were lying out, safely spaced,” Dyer said, “They weren’t hurting anyone.”

The mayor recalled a similar long-lens news photos of the Boardwalk in March that angered the governor and caused him to close the beaches. Dyer didn’t want that to happen again so he sent the drone images to Northam on Sunday.

Quick thinking. And it worked.

On Monday morning at about 8, the governor invited the mayor to his afternoon press conference and allowed Dyer to make the announcement.

Dyer’s been engaged in a delicate political balancing act for the past month, lobbying the governor to open the beaches, while resisting calls from impatient residents to engage in civil disobedience to force Northam’s hand.

In the end, it appears Dyer’s conciliatory approach worked, just in time for one of summer’s biggest weekends.

“I truly wish restaurants were open,” Dyer said wistfully, “but the bottom line is the beaches are open and outdoor dining is happening.

“We’ve got to play by the rules while we wait for the next phases of reopening.”

For reasons that are not completely clear, Norfolk’s beaches will remain closed to sunbathers.

Virginia Beach will be reopening with more of Northam’s iron-fisted rules.

For instance, parking lots can only be at half capacity and beachgoers can’t play “group sports” because apparently volleyball means DEATH. Umbrellas can’t be grouped together, so look for skin cancer rates to soar as beachgoers forego those colorful sunblocks.

Oh, and no music speakers allowed on the beach.

Apparently the virus gets excited by tunes.

Naturally, the governor’s ruling also came with an authoritarian threat to remind the proles of who’s in charge: “If people swarm these beaches and ignore social distancing rules or the regulations the city has put into place, I will not hesitate to reinstate Phase I restrictions or even close the beach outright if necessary.”

With that, Northam demonstrated once again the need for the legislature to strip Virginia governors of most of their vast emergency powers, or at least limit the length of time they can exercise them. No governor should have limitless one-person authority for months or even years that’s not subject to legislative oversight.

While Northam is concerned about the behavior of beachgoers, many of us are far more worried about the governor’s dictatorial impulses.

This column was published originally at www.kerrydougherty.com.

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27 responses to “Pass the Coppertone

  1. I get a kick out of folks who think we’d be in a better place if the full General Assembly was being regularly consulted. I really don’t want to see them around until January, but I guess we get at least one special session out of this mess. Odds are an effort by disgruntled legislators to force a special session (2/3 in each chamber) would fail, but that failure in itself would be basically an endorsement of what has been going on. Like they say, be careful what you ask for…..

    • It would at least force Legislators to go on record either for or again their constituents opinions.

      Which is the cover that most even at the Federal Level take, if you pass the buck you can’t be held accountable.

    • What was the famous quote about air conditioning the Capitol Buildings? Something about the bastards ruining everything all year long.

      • The best remains this one attributed to a New York judge: No man’s life, liberty or property are safe while the legislature is in session. I had that under the glass on my desk at the paper.

        • That’s good. I suppose there were a lot. It’s the last sentence I remember of David Brinkley, “And so, in 1938, the United States Congress made a fateful decision that a few of the more cantankerous members said foretold the collapse of the Republic. It installed air conditioning. With its chambers and offices cool and pleasant, some predicted, Congress would stay in session all year and pass the additional time making even longer and more tiresome speeches, enacting more laws, spending more money and running the national debt higher. Longer sessions they said, would mean more government and more taxes, more forms for the people to fill out and more bureaucrats hired to read and file them.”

  2. re: “… Odds are an effort by disgruntled legislators to force a special session (2/3 in each chamber) would fail, but that failure in itself would be basically an endorsement of what has been going on. Like they say, be careful what you ask for…..”

    it’s apparently what some folks are pining away for ……….

    I can just imagine something that requires a vote to move forward and how long it would take a divided legislature to decide or just pass it by for the year…

    Like it or not, someone has to be the final decision and they have to be able to do it in a timely manner… that’s just reality….

  3. Anybody see the irony in complaining about Northam’s “authoritarian threat” but being happy that the Virginia Beach police are using drones to monitor the beach?

    • As a Nation we’ve been programmed since 9-11 that Security requires the relinquishing of rights.

      • No. We have NOT been “programmed”. This is an example of one persons viewpoint which does not represent the reality.

        In truth and reality – a large segment of the population is split on that issue. It’s not predominately what you are saying.

        And it’s why – we are still arguing about it but there are no points for how vociferously one argues if in reality a lot of people don’t agree with you.

        In order for this to get resolved, it WILL TAKE some order of compromise – like we have in the past with so many things that some say are inviolate rights – that simply are not.

        Every single “right” in the Constitution has been defines as not absolute, every one of them has limits.

        • You’ve not disproved my statement, but offered generality backed up by your own opinion (not facts in evidence).

          https://foreignpolicy.com/2013/06/11/america-choosing-security-over-liberty-since-1798/

          “Every single “right” in the Constitution has been defines as not absolute, every one of them has limits.”

          Our rights aren’t drawn from the Constitution, they are from the Creator and they are inalienable.

          Also, that’s also a false statement. I wasn’t ware that the 4th Amendment had a limit? Do you even research the stuff that comes out your Big Bloated Government, pension drawings 4th Point?

          • re: ” Our rights aren’t drawn from the Constitution, they are from the Creator and they are inalienable”

            in some folks minds, yes.. in the real world, no.

            re: 4th amendment – who sets the terms of those searches specifically what “unlawful” is or is not and “reasonable” is or is not?

        • “re: ” Our rights aren’t drawn from the Constitution, they are from the Creator and they are inalienable”

          in some folks minds, yes.. in the real world, no.”

          Bahahha yes in the real world, that is in fact what the founding document of our Nation stipulates.

          “re: 4th amendment – who sets the terms of those searches specifically what “unlawful” is or is not and “reasonable” is or is not?”

          Judges, Larry. Did you miss Civics class altogether?

          • It’s what you believe. Others do not agree with you.

            How do you fix that?

            By telling others they have poor grammar or don’t understand civics the way you do?

            😉

            good grief!

            The world is not defined by what you believe. Grow up.

          • You keep speaking about these others, yet haven’t provided one ounce of evidence outside of that mouse in your pocket (I presume).

            “By telling others they have poor grammar or don’t understand civics the way you do?” I’ve never once commented on your grammar, sentence structures or typos.

            I should grow up because you’re poorly educated? I’m not making outlandish claims, I’m making statements backed by Law.

          • Reed Fawell 3rd

            ““re: ” Our rights aren’t drawn from the Constitution, they are from the Creator and they are inalienable”

            This is the most important political insight and principal in world history.

            This idea, its teachings, and its belief, is the rock on which all of our rights as human beings have been built and depend: all our freedoms, our sovereignty as individuals, and our unquestioned right to liberal, representative government. Without this idea and its rigorous practice in civil society, we descend into the law of the jungle, misery and barbarity.

          • You do live in a world that does not function the way you say it should.

            correct?

            One presumes that there must be a reason why if there are, in fact, “others” , who apparently do not agree with you or your world work be more like what you say it should be.

            The basic problem is that “your” inalienable rights stop where others rights begin. That’s where the limits are.

            God did not grant you dominion over others… nor should he have.

          • I live in a world where those are still facts, as do you. The difference is that I know no amount of security can be attained by erasing those rights, that’s not your opinion.

            You keep talking about others who don’t agree with me, but never seem to source anything outside of what you say.

            The only applies if my using my rights interferes with yours.

            “God did not grant you dominion over others… nor should he have.”

            Strawman, much? I’ve never claimed he did, in fact I don’t think I’ve ever invoked God at all. I said creator which is the text of the document, Religion doesn’t and shouldn’t play in politics, it violates the 1st Amendment.

        • re:

          ” I live in a world where those are still facts, as do you. The difference is that I know no amount of security can be attained by erasing those rights, that’s not your opinion.”

          well you clearly don’t because you believe in things that are not the reality and insist they are true.

          “You keep talking about others who don’t agree with me, but never seem to source anything outside of what you say.”

          I point out that you are not the same as many others and if you actually were the same as many others, you’d actually be in the majority and the laws would reflect what you believe. They don’t.

          “The only applies if my using my rights interferes with yours.

          “God did not grant you dominion over others… nor should he have.”

          Strawman, much? I’ve never claimed he did, in fact I don’t think I’ve ever invoked God at all. I said creator which is the text of the document, Religion doesn’t and shouldn’t play in politics, it violates the 1st Amendment.”

          okay – creator… have it your way. Most folks when they say “creator” – they do mean God. I realize you are not most folks so you may have to explain how that works.

          • Oh but they are true, much to you lack of education on the matter and chagrin.

            Again, you’re making a claim without evidence. The Laws still back up what I say, you just appear to have a difficult time understanding them (lord I hope that you weren’t in the DOJ, because if you lack this much knowledge I don’t see how you were ever qualified for the job).

            My way? You mean how it has been written in our Constitutions for the last 231 years. The idea that you believed that the Founders were referring to a singular God when they were deist, is in fact hilarious.

            Perhaps, to paraphrase Mark Twain maybe you shouldn’t remove your foot.

    • Well… as long as it’s not Northam apparently…

      I do notice and think it’s not an accident that at the State level there has been virtually no talk of utilizing the State Police nor the National Guard, so far, to enforce restrictions.

      It sounds like that Northam has struck a deal and/or caved in to VB setting up their own rules and enforcement and Northam is saying if it does not work – he will come back…..

      In terms of technology – my bet is that such technology exists to count how many can be on the beach at any one time… and police could enforce capacity limitation much like we are now seeing with Walmarts and Home improvement stores.

      Funny, that no one has challenged Walmart on their “rules”…..

      • Walmart just reported fantastic quarterly results, with all the attendant taxes it remits. Plenty of sales taxes will be generated at the beach….

        One point being missed: Yes, VB is the big one, but it is hardly the only public beach in Virginia and the others are left out of this. Could it be that tax revenue? What’s going on with the national seashore parks, for example? Northam doesn’t control them.

    • Only those who thought Snowden was right.

      • Snowden was right, the manner in which he did it was wrong.

        • What personal risk would you be willing to take to warn your countrymen of a such an encroachment?

          He lost it all so you can have real evidence of your deep State bogeyman. That should be worth something to you.

          • “He lost it all so you can have real evidence of your deep State bogeyman. That should be worth something to you.”

            Strawman, much.

            Man, you and Larry can’t seem to formulate and argument outside of strawman and unwarranted snark.

            Well considering I served in the Army, I’ve got that selfless service ethos going for me.

            There is an IG for a reason, if they failed to act. Going to the media and then accepting the punishment.

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