Republican GA Integrity Test

Have your Republican member of the General Assembly take this test.

1. Fill out this form for Hampton Roads.

Year $millions of taxes and fees Total Miles of Congestion Reduced (from 2007)

What is the url for this source of information?

2.The difference between a tax and a user fee to the taxpaying citizen is?
a. Taxes come from the left pocket and fees come from the right pocket.
b. Taxes soak the rich and fees just punish folks on fixed incomes.
c. Taxes are what politicians pledge not to raise and fees are what politicians increase.
d. Democrats raise Taxes. Some Republicans will raise taxes more than Democrats. Some Republicans will raise taxes, but not as much as Democrats. But, only Cong. Tom Davis calls a user fee – a tax.

3. The Republican Creed of Virginia principle of limiting government means?
a. Creating a new level of government at the Regional level without amending the Constitution (because the Voters will reject it again).
b. Creating an extra level of government where appointed officials are elected to other offices – and saying that is an ‘elected’ government with a straight face. Also, saying ‘no taxation without representation’ without being struck by lightening.
c. Creating a new level of government so as to not put bonds before the voters – as the Virginia Constitution requires – and hide the legal debt of the Commonwealt, cities or counties legally in a shell game.
d. Creating a new level of government without checks and balances, no separation of powers, no oversight – except a book balancing audit – as a jobs and cash program for friends of elected politicians.

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16 responses to “Republican GA Integrity Test”

  1. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    re: consistency of Governance concepts

    One of the tenets of Conservatism that I DO like is the idea that each of us should be responsible for our own costs and avoid the more liberal idea of collecting money from everyone for the “public good”.

    To me that is the difference between a fee and a tax.

    With a tax -you pay – period. With a fee – you decide if you want the service or not.

    Now – the question – that I don’t feel is truly addressed is what services should the government provide as tax-subsidized and which one’s should not and instead
    be rendered as quid-pro-quo fee for service.

    Further – if one believes that some services/costs would better be allocated on a per use basis – why would should the government be the provider?

    And the answer is, I believe, that the Government does this when health and welfare is an issue and it is not acceptable to have no service even if by choice. For instance, water/sewer or a K-12 education even for those who cannot afford one on their own.

    re: regional governance

    I feel that your argument lacks integrity and consistency.

    You seem to have no problem with an unelected Richmond VDOT receiving your regions fuel tax revenues and deciding how to spend them – yet you object to people from your own Region doing exactly the same thing. Why?

    You also seem to not have problems with countless other regional authorities for jails, libraries, etc which have been in existence for many, many years and operate virtually identically with regard to a Regional Transportation Authority.

    Why do you tolerate these other authorities but choose to object only to the Transportation version?

    Further – Regional Authorities conform to Republican ideals of smaller government and more efficiency and less redundancy.

    In order for your argument to have merit – I feel that it needs to be self-consistent – across the board.

    In other words – in you don’t want taxes collected and spent at the Regional level by “unelected” then you should also be opposed to the same thing done at the State Level AND for other purposes at the regional level also.

    What say YOU!

  2. Darrell -- Cheapeake Avatar
    Darrell — Cheapeake

    Don’t say tolerate. The people have no choice when it comes to regional authorities.

    By and large, these authorities have an executive director who has a job for life, a board of directors that don’t direct anything, and red ink from hell.

    The individual cities are starting to get the message though. Kick out the crap or get kicked out yourselves.

    Speaking of which, so long Leo. Another one bites the dust. Who’s next?

  3. Darrell -- Chesapeake Avatar
    Darrell — Chesapeake

    Stolen from Bearing Drift. (It’s ok, I wrote it.)

    Like so many of the true believers, you fail to understand what is going on here. The voters don’t care if there is an R or an I or a D beside a name. What is important is a simple word. Anyone with a * is going to be fighting an up hill battle to keep from getting RID of.

    The state’s politicians on both sides don’t even realize how bad they screwed up. While they have been wining and dining in their elite hillbilly hideaways getting their egos stroked by Yes Men, they should have been having a cup of coffee down at the local Waffle House. Their actions have sparked the flames of burning resentment, creating a firestorm that originated just down the street. At City Hall.

    You see the citizens are tired of taxes created for one purpose, which never go away when that purpose is accomplished. They are tired of taxes that are assessed on them, to be used to make others wealthy. And they are totally crazed when their hopes and dreams are taken away from them year after year to pay for a fill in the blanks budget. The cities provided the kindling. All that was needed was a match.

    The state was happy to obilge. There was smoke in 2002, but the state GOBs didn’t smell it. They were too busy in 2004 to see the first flames. In 2006 the fire began to erupt. Now it’s a raging inferno and the unfortunate GOBs are stuck on the hillside.

    You speak of alternatives, as if those of us who have long voted Republican have converted to Democrats overnight. But in this upcoming election it’s not the label that matters, it’s the candidate.

    We don’t want meaningless negative campaigns. We don’t want putting on airs, or those who are too good to listen to the masses. We don’t want insiders annointed by the party elite. And most of all we don’t want the same GOBs that are in office now. So you guys better get a hold of Ed, and tell him he better be finding some down to earth prospects, or the next we hear of the RPV will be in November’s obituary column.

    (Jim’s quiz should be the first screen, regardless of party.)

  4. Reid Greenmun Avatar
    Reid Greenmun

    Mr. Bowden – I LOVE this forum – right on point!

    Oh – I’m not being inconsistent about all-appointed regional government. I have advocated that DECISION-MAKING should be done by directly elected government representatives, not the all-appointed CTB and VDOT!

    Don’t even ATTEMPT to rationalize that the regional transportation funding authorities forced on citizens by HB 3202 are some form of “smaller government” !!! What a bold-faced distortion. On this very Blog I posted a white paper that detailed how to accomplish the goals of HB 3202 WITHOUT creating an all-appointed regional government, called an “authority”.

    Republican, Democrat, whatever – HB 3202 is a collaboration of the Democrat Governor and the GOP controlled General Assembly – BOTH parties caving into pressure from business/special interest lobbies – and sticking it to the citizens and taxpayers of Hampton Roads – which is really Tidewater.

    Reality Check: Folks, Tidewater has a whole lot of highways, roads, and bridge tunnels – and they were ALL build without an all-appointed regional transportation authority. This PROVES we don’t NEED one to get the job done.

    The REGIONAL AUTHORITY is a huge sham designed to provide political cover for politicians who can be thrown out of office by VOTERS.

  5. Ray Hyde Avatar
    Ray Hyde

    We don’t measure congestion by miles. Usually it is measured as the difference between the free-flow condition for a trip (measured at 2AM or some such) compared witht the time for the trip at other times.

    Since grid streets take more time to traverse anyway, the difference in a “normal” trip and a congested trip may appear to be smaller, without actually improving transportation or congestion.

    One of the problems noted in the study I previously posted excerpts from is that there is no good, and fully accepted, way to measure congestion.

    I don’t think anyone believes that the mesures we are about to apply will actually relieve congestion. That does not mean that they will not make more transportation available and therfore fill at least some of the increasing demand.

    There is no point in setting an artificial success criteria, just so you can claim failure when it isn’t met.

    If we really want to prevent congestion, then we need to move some of the sources that cause it, but, it is pretty hard to move a port, so HR may have to learn to live with congestion.

  6. Ray Hyde Avatar
    Ray Hyde

    “One of the tenets of Conservatism that I DO like is the idea that each of us should be responsible for our own costs and avoid the more liberal idea of collecting money from everyone for the “public good”.”

    I don’t see any reason why anyone should object to a general tax that provides a public good that is also truly general. I don’t see any reason why that should be labeled as conservative or liberal.

    I agree that once we identify something that really should be fee based, then we should ask ourselves why government is providing it. Schools, for example. But then you have to ask, if everyone needs schooling, why shouldn’t everyone pay for it: it becomes a temporal issue instead of a question of who has children and who doesn’t. Even so, there is a difference between making sure publicly funded schooling is available, and actually providing the schooling.

    Maybe if I only had to pay for current years schooling equivalent to what I once received, instead of paying for everyone’s schooling, then I might have stopped paying that “fee” years ago.

    Where I have a problem with fee based things is that it is far too easy to cynically design a fee and a service in such a way that it is really a wealth transfer, or a charge for something we simply dislike.

    Bacon, for example, proposes different fee structures for those that choose to live in different settlement patterns: “charging less for transportation-efficient development and more for scattered, disconnected, low-density development”.

    In such a case we would be charging those more for those who choose not to avail themselves of the higher level of, and more costly, services available in the urban development areas. We would do that by defining the non urban areas as less transportation efficient (and thus needing more service), even though the evidence we have suggests otherwise.

    If your plan worked as described, we would provide higher levels of services in some areas at higher cost, and then let people decide if they wanted to pay those fees, or not.

    So the problem with a fee based system is that it breaks down when either there is no “choice” in paying the fee, or when there are temporal issues at stake.

    Besides, if you really want to “sell” the idea of more fee based systems, then it wouldn’t seem like a good idea to promote this as a “conservative” agenda: you need a as wide a base as possible. You would want to promote it as being more for the general “public good”. :-).

  7. Jim Wamsley Avatar
    Jim Wamsley

    “We don’t measure congestion by miles. Usually it is measured as the difference between the free-flow condition for a trip (measured at 2AM or some such) compared witht the time for the trip at other times.”

    Congestion is usually measured in hours. Hours when there is more traffic on a road then it can handle. To get a number for congested trips, the cars moving during congested hours can be counted.

    There is no need to wring your hands about lack of metrics and other issues. If the politicians direct VDOT to reduce congestion instead of invest in pork, congestion will go down.

  8. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    “they were ALL build without an all-appointed regional transportation authority.”

    … but not by locally-elected reps spending locally-raised tax dollars – rather, instead by an unelected person in Richmond or Washington… allocating tax dollars raised at the state level…


    I agree on the potential evils of regional authorities.

    What I see locally – for say the Regional Jail or Library is that the budget and the locality share is brought back to the elected BOS who will vote yea or nay .. and not infrequently will allocate less than what is being asked for and always hold the option of opting out of a regional authority if it is deemed not in the best interests of the locality.

    But without a Regional Authority – you’re duplicating administrative and technical operations – very costly and most jurisdictions find it less expensive to belong to a Regional Authority than to do those services stand-alone.

    I’m willing to bet that TW/HR has Regional authorities for jails, libraries, water/sewer, etc – probably similiar to other jurisdictions.

    Are you folks in TW/HR opposed to ALL Regional Authorities and essentially want to revert back to each jurisdiction doing it’s own thing… for everything including roads?

  9. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    Ray and Jim: The inch plus notebook of analysis I got from Sen Marty Williams showed their analysis for the projects. They defined congested miles (as a measure of additional time per mile).

    So, the term the pro-concrete crowd gives is ‘congested miles’. If there is another metric, please post the url and the analysis for Hampton Roads.

  10. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    The problem of properly characterizing congestion pales in comparison to how to fix it, especially so on a regional basis.

    Say that it was also stipulated that a comprehensive approach to cost-effectiveness actually would produce a ranked and prioritized list that ..say.. included beyond new concrete, other measures such as real-time signs and traffic signal timing, congestion pricing, etc.

    I don’t think, I’ve even seen anything from VDOT or MPOs that comes even close to “scoring” projects according to their performance – relative to regional congestion.

    Even the Fed Transit agency has at least a rudimentary approach to cost-effectiveness.

  11. Jim Wamsley Avatar
    Jim Wamsley

    Google found this discussion from St. Louis. You will note the many definitions of congestion. I chose one, the pro-concrete crowd another.

    Pge 23

  12. Ray Hyde Avatar
    Ray Hyde

    “If the politicians direct VDOT to reduce congestion instead of invest in pork, congestion will go down.”

    I don’t think so. I don’t think that congestion is a problem VDOT has total control over. As long as we insist on, or allow, more jobs to occupy certain areas than can be handled by a reasonable amount of roads (and rail and buses), then we will continue to have congestion.

    VDOT can do better, roads can help, but it isn’t a total solution.


    You are right, congestion is measured in time, isn’t that what I said? It is the difference in free flow time versus congested hours time for a trip.

    You are right again, there are subjective and objective measures. Congestion is like pornography: you know it when you see it, even if you can’t define it.

    It seems to me that a road improvement is pork when the measure of improvement is subjective.

  13. Ray Hyde Avatar
    Ray Hyde

    “They defined congested miles (as a measure of additional time per mile).”

    OK. So we can measure the length of backup on I-95 every morning, average over a bunch of days and call that congested miles. I don’t have a problem with that and I understand it conceptually. I still don’t think it is a good measure.

    Think about some events you have attended. At some, the arrival for parking and exit after parking is a mess and the congestion lasts longer because of bad management. Other places with similar crowds seem to work OK.

    One reason I-95 is a mess is becaue of the bridges: there is no way to get off the road.

    But a large crowd can leave a funeral home and fall into an orderly procession in no time: they fairly zip out of the lot.

    It isn’t all just the roads: it is what happens getting on and off, what happens in between, and why we went in the first place.

    I still think we need better metrics. At least that way when congestion does not improve, we will be able to agree, based on actual numbers.

  14. Jim Wamsley Avatar
    Jim Wamsley

    We need to start with an understanding of the causes of congestion. There are three major causes.

    • Incidents that close part or all of the roadway at one point.
    • Bottlenecks where capacity is reduced either through lane drops or lane adds at intersections.
    • Excess volume.

    Each needs a separate metric and cure.

    Incidents need fast action to cure them. The miles of backup are not a metric regarding the cost of the cure. The number of cars and the delay time is a measure of the importance of the cure.

    Bottlenecks are recurring. They reflect on the designers who thought that the lane drop or additional traffic could be accommodated on a narrow section of road. The miles of backup are not a metric regarding the cure. The number of cars and the delay time is a measure of the importance of the cure. The extent of the increase in capacity needed to eliminate congestion is of prime importance. The practice of widening the road for 5 miles only to have a lane drop bottleneck at the next intersection should not be condoned.

    Excess volume is the only bottleneck where miles of congestion are a measure of the severity of the problem. Again, like bottlenecks, the practice of widening the road for 5 miles only to have a lane drop bottleneck at the next intersection should not be condoned.

    My suggested metric of the number of cars involved and the hours of congestion apply to all three types. The number of congested miles only applies to the excess volume part of the problem.

  15. Jim Bacon Avatar
    Jim Bacon

    Jim W., You’ve convinced me of the value of distinguishing between traffic incidents, capacity bottlenecks (chokepoints) and excess volume, and of applying a distinct metric to each category.

    Perhaps you had the info in a previous post… but could you elaborate what each of those metrics should be?

  16. Jim Wamsley Avatar
    Jim Wamsley

    The incident management metric should be the time to clear the incident. The availability of Fire-EMT and tow trucks is extremely important because half the incidents happen in previous incident backups. If you need to distinguish between incidents you can include a factor for the number of drivers delayed by the incident.

    The bottleneck metric is the number of hours a day traffic is backed up at the bottleneck. If you need to distinguish between bottlenecks you can include a factor for the number of drivers delayed by the bottleneck. Discussions of the miles of traffic backed up by the bottleneck just encourage VDOT to build a bigger bottle. Some bottlenecks can only be corrected by providing transportation alternatives. Widening the Roosevelt Bridge just moves the bottleneck to Constitution Avenue.

    The traffic volume metric is ADT or peak hour demand. The solution of widening a road to more then six lanes seldom works because of bottlenecks at the exits. Adding roads to the network is a better solution when the demand is interstate cars. Adding rail capacity is a better solution when the demand is for freight trips over 500 miles.

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