Tag Archives: Carol J. Bova

Dominion Energy Scholarships Define “Communities” by Race

By Carol J. Bova

Dominion Energy is offering 60 undergraduate Equitable Education Scholarships totaling $500,000 for “students from historically underrepresented communities.”

The rules exclude White students (unless they identify as Hispanic), no matter what “community” they’re from, because to be eligible, applicants must:

— Self-identify as Black or African American; Hispanic or Latino; American Indian or Alaska Native; Asian; or Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander with higher education expenses;

— Be high school seniors or graduates or current college undergraduates residing in Connecticut, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Idaho, Wyoming, or Utah, with plans to enroll full-time at an accredited two- or four-year college, university or vocational-technical school for the entire upcoming academic year.

The press release quotes Robert M. Blue, Dominion Energy’s president and chief executive officer, who said: “We have already seen a tremendous return on investment supporting students obtaining higher education. Dominion Energy remains committed to investing in students’ access to higher education, strengthening our communities and future generations, and building a sustainable workforce.”

Scholarship America, a nonprofit specializing in managing scholarship and tuition assistance programs, says it “will support Dominion Energy in the selection of finalists.” Scholarship America says: Continue reading

Dealing with Trolls

by Carol J. Bova

In March 2022, The Atlantic published an article, “Trolls Aren’t Like the Rest of Us,” by Arthur Brooks, a contributing writer at The Atlantic and the host of The Atlantic podcast “How to Build a Happy Life.

Brooks wrote:

If you use the internet, the odds are about even that you’ll be mistreated there. A 2021 Pew Research report found that 41 percent of U.S. adults have personally experienced some form of online harassment. Fifty-five percent think it is a “major problem.” Seventy-five percent of the targets of online abuse say their most recent experience was on social media. I can’t think of any other area of voluntary interaction—with the possible exception of driving in rush-hour traffic—where people so frequently expose themselves to regular abuse.

But we are not helpless in the face of either online abusers or the ones flipping us off on the highway. In fact, they are mostly one and the same: bullies with personality disorders. And you can protect your happiness by dealing with them both in some tangible, practical ways.

He points out that “people try to reason with trolls or appeal to their better nature” and shares this link to research that explains why those approaches don’t work. Why? Because trolls usually want “to attract attention, exercise control, and manipulate others.” Continue reading

Don’t Forget the Dismal History SOL Pass Rates

by Carol J. Bova

As the battle rages over the History and Social Science (HSS) Standards of Learning criteria — the State Board of Education decided earlier this month to delay its review of Youngkin administration revisions — it is worth noting how poorly Virginia students mastered the old standards. More than one-third of Virginia students failed the 2021-2022 HSS tests.

Of all the HSS tests administered in every grade, according to Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) data, only three had a pass rate of 70% or higher.

Grade 6 Civics & Economics — 71.5%
Grade 8 Civics & Economics — 70.5%
Grade 8 Geography — 73.4%

The highest pass rate for the twelve History and Social Science SOL tests for 10th, 11th and 12th grades was 50.8% for 10th-grade Geography. The other eleven pass rates ranged from 24.5% to 46.6%.

Considering the 2021-2022 test scores, why would anyone object to a different approach?

It’s a Memorial, Not a Racist Ideology

by Carol J. Bova

Accounts from lawyers, reporters, pundits and other outsiders have severely distorted the debate over the Confederate memorial in Mathews County.

To The Washington Post, the controversy is about the ”enduring power of the Civil War’s legacy.”

To the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights & Urban Affairs and Wilkie, Farr & Gallagher, LLP, writing on behalf of the local NAACP, it’s an endorsement of white supremacy. “Confederate monuments were intended to assert that white supremacy would remain a dominant force of social control.”

To Mathews families whose ancestors never came home from the war, the monument in front of the county courthouse provides an enduring connection to their ancestors – a love and commemoration of family. The monument is not a political statement. 

The controversy originated with a proposal before the Mathews Board of Supervisors to deed the land underneath the statue to a private preservation group. The County neither commissioned nor paid for the memorial. It did allow its placement on the corner of the Courthouse Green in 1912 because, at that time, there were no paved roads in the County, and many were impassable in bad weather. The business district was centered near the Courthouse Green, so when families came to shop, the location of the memorial was accessible to pay respect to the Mathews war dead. Continue reading

SOLs: Disentangling Race, Socioeconomic Status, and English Learning

by Carol J. Bova

Many politicians, activists and media commentators persist in the conviction that Virginia’s schools are systemically racist. The main evidence to support such a proposition is the reality of disparities of educational outcomes between racial/ethnic groups, like those summarized in the chart at right. If Blacks and Hispanics pass their Standard of Learning exams at lower rates than Asians, Whites and others, that in itself is deemed to be proof that the system is biased against non-Whites.

However, that logic fails to take into account that racial/ethnic groups vary by at least three factors known to affect educational outcomes: socioeconomic status, English as the primary language, and chronic absenteeism.

The table tells an incomplete story. True, the average pass rate for 4th-grade English SOLs is 14% and 11% lower for Blacks and Hispanics, respectively. But Asians pass at a 12% higher rate than the statewide average — more than Whites. Also, multiracial students, who also are classified as “people of color” supposedly subject to discrimination, pass  at a 5% higher rate than the overall average. Clearly, there are other factors than skin color at play. Continue reading

A Mature Dialogue: Mathews Board Discusses War Memorial

by Carol J. Bova

In Mathews County’s November 2021 referendum, 3,782 (80.06%) voted against relocating the Confederate Memorial that has stood next to the Historic Courthouse since 1912. At the April 26, 2022 Board of Supervisors meeting, there was a motion to authorize a survey to delineate the land under the Memorial to be transferred to the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

The local paper, the Gloucester Mathews Gazette Journal, mistakenly printed a headline that read, “Mathews board approves ownership transfer of monument.” To their credit, unlike larger papers that don’t acknowledge errors, the Gazette Journal reprinted the edition to say, “Mathews board approves survey of Court Green, intends to convey ownership of land under monument.”

Unfortunately, whether due to lack of time or space, the newspaper omitted the details of a bigger story — the Board’s openness to hearing and responding to the perspective of the African-American community expressed by Supervisor Melissa Mason, as well as their intent to offer a second plot of land for an African American memorial.

Before acting on a motion to authorize the survey, Chairman Paul Hudgins suggested that while they were “doing the deeding” of the piece of land that’s under the monument, that the Board also should consider another spot on the Courthouse Green, if Supervisor Melissa Mason could find a group interested in putting up an African-American monument or memorial as he had discussed with her. Continue reading

Too Bad RTD Didn’t Read “Lies, Damn Lies and Race-Obsessed Statistics”

by Carol J. Bova

Almost a year ago, I wrote about a March 3, 2021 Virginia Department of Health blog post, in which VDH claimed in an article about COVID-19:

In Virginia, Hispanic and Black age-specific death rates are much higher than White age-specific death rates. The age group with the largest disparity was 35-44 year olds, with the Hispanic death rate 10.9 times higher and the Black rate 6.3 times higher than the White death rate. After this age group the size of the disparity steadily decreases. Among persons 85 years and older, the Hispanic rate is similar to the White rate, and the Black rate is 1.1 times higher than the White rate.

It’s too bad Richmond Times-Dispatch reporters don’t read Bacon’s Rebellion (or, if they do, they don’t pay any attention). The RTD could have saved itself a lot of embarrassment for its use of outdated and blatantly misleading statistics in a recent article in which it asserted that, three months into the COVID epidemic, Latinos in Richmond were 38 times more likely to be infected than white residents and 17 times more likely to be hospitalized. Continue reading

Don’t Know, or Won’t Say, How Many Omicron Hospitalizations?

by Carol J. Bova

The most recent Virginia Department of Health (VDH) information on the number of COVID-19 infections in vaccinated people dates from December 25, 2021. Statewide weekly total case numbers go through January 1, 2022.

The Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association (VHHA) gives total hospitalizations and ICU numbers for confirmed and pending tests as of January 9, but doesn’t differentiate between Omicron and other forms of Covid.

Bret Baier, on Fox News Sunday, January 9th, interviewed several people about the Supreme Court session on Covid vaccine mandates and Covid information. He included an audio clip of an incorrect statement by Justice Sonia Sotomayor: “We have over 100,000 children, which we’ve never had before, in serious condition and many on ventilators.”

He then asked Centers for Disease Control Director Rochelle Walensky if it were true that “there are fewer than 3,500 current pediatric hospitalizations from COVID-19.” Continue reading

Dodging a Bullet

Virginia voters have swept Terry McAuliffe into the dustbin of political history, so one might reasonably ask if there is any point in re-hashing more of the GreenTech Automotive story than Bacon’s Rebellion has already detailed in a recent five-part series. The answer is yes. One part of the tale is still worth retelling — how employees of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) acquitted themselves when confronted by the GreenTech Puffery machine. — JAB

by Carol J. Bova

Terry McAuliffe’s proposal in 2009 to build an electric-vehicle manufacturing facility in Virginia did not come through normal economic-development channels. The idea landed first in Governor Tim Kaine’s policy shop, which forwarded it to the state’s economic-development professionals at VEDP.

McAuliffe was spinning his plan to build hybrid and electric vehicles as a potentially multibillion-dollar economic-development opportunity. While approaching Virginia, however, GreenTech officials also were engaged in talks with Mississippi about locating an electric-vehicle manufacturing plant in the Magnolia state. The apparent goal was to get the two states into a bidding war over incentives. Continue reading

Masters of Hype and Puffery

Former President Clinton at the GreenTech “pilot plant” in July 2012.

This is the fifth in a series of articles about Terry McAuliffe and GreenTech.

by James A. Bacon and Carol J. Bova

On July 6, 2012, GreenTech Automotive launched the rollout of the “all-American” MyCar electric vehicle at a ceremony attended by former President Bill Clinton, the governor of Mississippi, the assistant secretary of Homeland Security and, as described by local media, “an overflow crowd.”

It was a festive occasion. Clinton lauded company chairman Terry McAuliffe and former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, a Republican, who was also in attendance, for overcoming their political rivalries and delivering a tremendous manufacturing project for the state of Mississippi. 

McAuliffe, too, was upbeat. “For too long, America has been inventing products here and sending the production jobs overseas,” he said. “But … we’re proud to bring manufacturing jobs back and prove that the U.S. is still the world leader in technological innovation and manufacturing.”

The day before, McAuliffe had told the New York Times that he thought the company could produce 10,000 cars in 2013. He quoted an $18,000 price tag for a top-of-the-line MyCar, with less capable versions selling for less, implying potential revenues in the realm of $150 million. During the ceremony itself, he announced big news: Domino’s Pizza Inc. would exclusively use the MyCar to deliver pizzas in 10,000 locations across the U.S.

Photographers snapped pictures of a grinning Clinton toodling around the cement floor of the pilot plant in a MyCar decked out with the Domino’s Pizza logo. Other photographs showed GreenTech employees industriously working on an assembly line of MyCars. Continue reading

Shearing the Sheep

This is the fourth in a series of posts about Terry McAuliffe and GreenTech Automotive.

by James A. Bacon and Carol J. Bova

The Chinese citizens who lost $500,000 each from investing in GreenTech Automotive were not happy with their setback. While they had ponied up their money as part of a scheme to get a U.S. visa under the EB-5 program, many thought they would get their money back. When they didn’t, they felt cheated. Twenty-seven of them banded together and filed suit against Xiaolin “Charles” Wang, Anthony Rodham and Terry McAuliffe, the principals of GreenTech and its allied fund-raising arm Gulf Coast Management.

The outcome of the case, Xia Bi vs. McAuliffe, hinged on matters of law. Boasting, exaggeration and hype regarding future events, referred to as “puffery,” which the defendants indisputably engaged in, do not constitute fraud. Although some of the Chinese plaintiffs’ allegations did describe misstatements of fact, said federal appeals court judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III in a 2009 ruling, they failed to show that they had based their investment decisions upon those misstatements. Accordingly, he upheld a lower court order to dismiss the case.

Nevertheless, Xia Bi vs. McAuliffe provides insight into how the GreenTech fund-raising operation worked. It is abundantly clear why the Chinese investors felt cheated, even if they could not win their case in court. As Wilkinson wrote, “There are no laurels in this case, no accolades to be bestowed.” Continue reading

Dreams from the Opium Den

This is the third article in a series about Terry McAuliffe and GreenTech.

by James A. Bacon and Carol J. Bova

When partners Xiaolin “Charlie” Wang, Anthony Rodham, and Terry McAuliffe banded together in 2009 to finance and build an electric vehicle enterprise known as GreenTech Automotive, they thought big. Very big. In a 2009 offering memorandum pitched to Chinese investors, they stated they aimed to grow their flimsily financed start-up into an automotive behemoth eventually capable of generating up to $33 billion in revenue.

“If full production of one million vehicles is realized,” elaborated the document, GreenTech’s manufacturing facility in Tunica County, Miss., would be “one of the largest automobile manufacturing plants in the world.”

In retrospect — after GreenTech went bankrupt having produced only a handful of cars, burned through more than $140 million, and left barely $6 million behind for investors and creditors in the bankruptcy settlement — such aspirations seem wildly disconnected from reality. Whether McAuliffe and his partners believed such targets were remotely realistic is a question only they can answer.

Looking at GreenTech from the outside, some described the business as a scheme to snooker millions of dollars from naive Chinese investors. A more charitable explanation is that the GreenTech partners genuinely believed their own hype, hoping they could bootstrap one fund-raising effort into enough progress in building the enterprise that they could make it to the next fund-raising round with a better story, raise some more money, make more progress, and hook the next round of investors. In other words, in such a view, their business plan was fake until you make it.

Whatever the thought process, it was an abject failure. Chinese investors lost almost everything, they felt cheated, and the three principals opened themselves to accusations of fraud. Continue reading

A Handshake Deal Gone Bad

This is the second in a series of articles about Terry McAuliffe and Greentech.

by James A. Bacon and Carol J. Bova

Fourteen  years ago, Benjamin Yeung was a Chinese entrepreneur whose companies manufactured and sold minibuses, passenger cars and business vehicles in China. In 2007 he launched a venture with the idea of building small hybrid cars in the United States. What made the plan unusual was the source of financing: Chinese investors willing to invest $500,000 in the U.S. in order to get a green card under a new U.S. initiative, the EB-5 Investor Pilot Program.

Although he needed an interpreter, Yeung was comfortable doing business in the United States. His wife, Rhea, was an American citizen, and he owned a residence in California. According to the account he gave in a court affidavit, he set up a holding company, Hybrid Kinetic Automotive Holdings, Inc. (HK Holdings), and an operating subsidiary, Hybrid Kinetic Automotive Corporation (HKAC).

Yeung said he made wife Rhea the sole shareholder of HK Automotive Holdings. But to run the venture in its start-up phase, he brought on a young Chinese man living in Northern Virginia, Xia0lin “Charlie” Wang. Wang was highly credentialed. He had earned an undergraduate law degree from Xiangtan University, an M.A. degree in development studies from Ohio University, and a degree in international law from Duke University. On his resume, he listed experience as a capital markets partner in the Washington, D.C., office of a prominent New York law firm. Continue reading

Where Did $140 Million in GreenTech Money Go?

This is the first in a series of articles about Terry McAuliffe and GreenTech Automotive.

by James A. Bacon and Carol J. Bova

In September 2016, the Office of the State Auditor (OSA) of the state of Mississippi began undertaking a review of the contracts signed by the state’s economic development authority. The goal was to see if the corporations benefiting from state incentive money had made good on the capital investment and job creation they had promised. Several companies were targeted for a closer look.

One of those was Greentech Automotive Inc., a Virginia company whose chairman in 2011 when the Memorandum of Understanding was signed was Terry McAuliffe.

GreenTech had announced ambitious plans for a multibillion-dollar business by designing and manufacturing hybrid and electric vehicles. Between 2009 and 2013 the company raised a total of $141.5 million from Chinese investors under the EB-5 program, which gave foreigners a U.S. green card in exchange for a $500,000 investment in the United States. Incentive financing from the state of Mississippi and Tunica County, Miss., amounted to another $6 million. All told, GreenTech raised at least $147.5 million in funding.

Despite a GreenTech commitment to invest $60 million in the manufacturing plant, very few cars ever rolled off the assembly line… assuming there even was an assembly line. The Mississippi auditor’s report could find documentation for only $3.4 million spent on automotive assembly equipment and parts. Further, despite promises to create 350 full-time jobs, the auditors determined that the company had never supported more than 94 active, full-time jobs in Mississippi at a time. GreenTech made only a single $150,000 payment to the state.

Despite having scrimped on manufacturing expenditures, the company listed minimal assets when it filed for bankruptcy in 2017. In a final settlement, agreed to last year, investors and creditors recovered only $6.6 million. Mississippi and Tunica County recovered only $575,000.

What happened to the other $140 million? Continue reading

Changing Culture with the Other CRT

by Carol J. Bova

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) document, “Navigating EdEquityVa — Virginia’s Road Map to Equity” lays out a back-door strategy for changing traditional American values and culture.

“The mission of the Virginia Department of Education,” says the Road Map, “is to advance equitable and innovative learning.” The document acknowledges senior staff, four departments and ten “organizations and thought leaders” for their research and scholarship contributions to EdEquityVA for Culturally Relevant/Responsive Teaching (CRT) — not to be confused with Critical Race Theory (also referred to as CRT).

While educators deny they teach Critical Race Theory in schools, they are up front about their commitment to Culturally Relevant/Responsive Teaching. What they seem unwilling to admit is that culturally relevant teaching is an outgrowth of Critical Race Theory. Continue reading