Tag Archives: Guest contributors

Virginia Law Leaves Public Unions Unbound

by F. Vincent Vernuccio

First published this morning by the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy, where Vernuccio is Visiting Fellow. 

Twenty-eight years after Governor Doug Wilder signed it into law, the Virginia General Assembly lifted the ban on public sector collective bargaining. As of May 1, localities in Virginian could give government unions a monopoly to represent all employees at a particular worksite.

However, the law passed in Richmond is unique from other states as it sets virtually no guidelines on what government unions can bargain over and how they can be formed. Thankfully, it also does not mandate public sector collective bargaining, allowing localities to keep the status quo that the Commonwealth has had for decades.

First and foremost, it should be pointed out that localities can reject public sector collective bargaining. There is good reason to do so, as simply administering the process is expensive. In fact, localities that are considering allowing bargaining are estimating hundreds of thousands or even seven figures for ongoing costs for negotiations and compliance. This spending will not go for better wages or benefits for current public employees or better services for citizens —it is simply to hire more employees to administer the infrastructure of bargaining.

The costs alone could be a large reason that, while the state law allows public employees to petition their local elected officials to vote on allowing bargaining, those representatives will vote no and keep the process that has worked in the Commonwealth for generations. Continue reading

Yes, Virginia, There May Be Alien UFOs — Off Your Coast!

Image captured by Virginia Beach naval aviators. Image credit: 60 Minutes

by Bruce Majors

If you spend any time on the internet, you will almost daily see geographical rankings: the best colleges, the best small towns, the best places to retire, the cities with the worst drivers, the states with the worst tippers or the rudest residents.

Apparently whoever or whatever is behind the UAPs (the acronym for the new bureaucratese “unidentified aerial phenomena,” what we used to call UFOs) that the Senate Intelligence Committee will soon tell us about also seem to have a list of where they prefer to visit. Former national intelligence director John Ratcliffe hinted that the report will be surprising, telling FOX News anchor Maria Bartiroma, “We are talking about objects that have been seen by Navy or Air Force pilots, or have been picked up by satellite imagery, that frankly engage in actions that are difficult to explain, movements that are hard to replicate, that we don’t have the technology for or are traveling at speeds that exceed the sound barrier without a sonic boom.”

The National UFO Reporting Center maintains a database of reports of UFO sightings and it organizes them by state, as well as by shape of the UFO and other categories. Virginia is 35th on the list. Continue reading

Critical Race Theory in Virginia Beach Schools

The Virginia Beach School Board. Photo credit: The Virginian-Pilot

by Victoria Manning

Critical Race Theorists reject colorblindness and equality and they center their goals on equal outcomes (equity) rather than equal opportunity. Merit-based individualism is replaced with group-think collectivism and the dominant white culture is a privileged oppressor.

What the public doesn’t understand is that CRT is already here in Virginia Beach.

Teachers won’t speak on the record but I have spoken to them about what is really happening in their professional development meetings.

In February, more than 50 elementary school teachers in Virginia Beach participated in a mandatory meeting entitled “Advancing Equity Through Continuous Reflection.” In the meeting, a video told the teachers that “One of the most freeing things that white people can do or any human being on the planet can do right now is to say ‘of course I’m racist’. Our society speaks racism. It has spoken racism since we were born. OF COURSE YOU ARE RACIST.” Continue reading

The Case Against Structural Racism at VMI

Alternatively headlined: There Will Be Heat Death in the Universe Before You Read These Quotes in a Washington Post news article.

Carmen Villani, Virginia Military Institute class of 1976, recently compiled a list of perspectives given by African-American alumni as well as actions taken by staff and professors that illuminate the military academy’s record on race. The narrative is far different from the one articulated by former Governor Ralph Northam, himself a VMI alumnus, who declared in October that VMI was guilty of “systemic racism” and then ordered an investigation to prove his point. He submitted the list to members of the VMI Board of Visitors and Superintendent Cedric Wins last week.

In introducing the comments, Villani recounts the words of David McCullough in a 1994 speech at in Charlottesville. Thomas Jefferson, said the noted author, “was an exceedingly gifted and very great man, but like the others of that exceptional handful of politicians we call the Founding Fathers, he could also be inconsistent, contradictory, human.”

We are all “human,” Villani says, and that makes all of us flawed but we strive to be better. That is what should be recognized about VMI. Flawed, yes, BUT it has been a great contribution to society.” The Institute does not deserve the slanders it has endured in recent months.

— JAB


Messrs. Randolph And Gore, VMI Class Of 1972

“’We had bigger fish to fry in our minds,’ Randolph said. ‘We were dealing with something that everybody has trouble dealing with — not black people, not white people, everybody — and that was being a rat at VMI.’  ‘I just kind of had it,’ he said. ‘VMI’s a great school — it’s just not for everybody.’” Continue reading

The Great Scattering

Richmonder Doug Monroe is the founder of The Praxis Circle. an organization that explores philosophical and theological world views, primarily though not exclusively from conservative and Christian perspectives. Doug has interviewed dozens of literary and philosophical giants in the United States and United Kingdom and distilled key insights into short, digestible video clips. He also publishes a blog highlighting the work of his contributors. In his most recent post, Doug discusses the work of Mary Eberstadt, the Washington, D.C.-area author of “Primal Scream: How the Sexual Revolution Created Identity Politics,” which could not be more timely. — JAB

by Doug Monroe

A few weeks ago Mary appeared on a British program, Triggernometry (see the YouTube clip above) to explain how her theory in Primal Screams helps explain the violence we saw last year in America and Europe. It’s a fascinating interview that clearly had the favor of her religiously agnostic, engaging, and off-beat British hosts, Konstin Kisin and Francis Foster. Mary summarized her argument in the introduction she gave to our Praxis Circle class linked here. 

What we can say is that the events of last summer involving over 10,000 incidents of violence nationwide and over 500 incidents of serious damage or injury were unprecedented since the 1960’s, and that they made Mary look like a prophet with Primal Screams clearly on record in 2018. Continue reading

A Jewish Community Heartbroken and Distraught

by Ellen Renee Adams and Daniel Staffenberg

Richmond’s Jewish Community has watched the developments in Israel and Gaza with sadness, empathy and trepidation. The suffering of innocent Israelis and Palestinians is unacceptable. We are pained by the ways in which this conflict is being misunderstood and mischaracterized by some members of the media and our communities. They cling to a mistaken belief that the Israelis are the aggressors in this situation and that blame for the current hostilities can be laid squarely on Israel. This has led to an increasing sense that conflict abroad is contributing to increased hatred and attacks on Jews here at home – to an
unprecedented degree.

In the recent op-ed “We Can’t Breathe” in the pages of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Michael Paul Williams repeats falsehoods and longstanding canards that don’t reflect the realities on the ground and diminish the plight of both Palestinians and Israelis. Additionally, he works to undo decades of strong, collaborative connections between the Jewish and Black communities in Richmond. Continue reading

Three Card Media

by William Moore

Three Card Monte is a classic short con. The Dealer places three cards face down and the Shill, who is in on the con, attempts to pick the money card. They play boisterously, hoping to catch the attention of some poor sap, the Mark. Thinking himself quite good at following the money card, the Mark puts his money down. Using sleight of hand and misdirection, the Dealer makes sure the Mark never finds it.

A similar game is being played in the media’s coverage of the Virginia Military Institute racism investigation. Call it Three Card Media.

Like its street-hustling counterpart, Three Card Media has three actors in the con: the media (the Dealer), politicians (the Shills), and the public (the Mark). Here’s how it works: In reporting news, the media picks the facts and quotes that fit its narrative. Politicians comment upon the “news,” adding their own spin and distorting the picture even more. The politicians’ quotes become news, and the distortions are amplified. Unable to follow the sleight of hand, the public is gulled into believing a story starkly at odds with reality.

To see how the scam works in the political world, readers should read the Barnes & Thornburg interim report dated March 8, 2021, on the investigation. Then read The Washington Post’s (“WaPo”) March 9th summation of the B&T report, “Racial slurs at VMI a common occurrence for Black cadets, investigators told.Continue reading

Youngkin: Liberal Wolf or Reaganesque Happy Warrior?

Glenn Youngkin — Reagan-like optimist?

Virginia Republicans embark today upon their bizarre, COVID-safe, convention-like proceedings to select candidates for statewide office. Bruce Majors, an active Republican, writes how he has experienced the run-up to this unorthodox event. — JAB

by Bruce Majors

Back in March, I listened to Virginia conservative talk radio from John Reid’s excellent morning show in Richmond to Larry O’Connor’s afternoon show in northern Virginia and D.C., and I got the impression that this Glenn Youngkin fellow was a left-“liberal” wolf in GOP sheepskin.

Coverage focused in particular on Youngkin’s donations to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which, beyond its far left politics, is charged with being a con game to enrich its founders while (paradoxically) discriminating against some of its African-American employees.

Right-of-center folk also were not so happy with Youngkin’s long career with the Carlyle Group, an investment firm usually described as a Beltway Bandit, a cog in the political class, and even as an arms merchant or a funder of arms merchants.

Back then I hoped these exposures had done in Mr. Glenn Youngkin. Continue reading

The Proper Role of Virginia’s Attorney General

by Jack White

By now, Virginia voters have heard from many candidates running for Attorney General making sweeping promises about policy changes they will implement as AG or talking about being the chief prosecutor for Virginia. With due respect to the other candidates in the race, I feel compelled to reiterate what is and what is not the role of the Virginia Attorney General.

The Office of the Attorney General is established in the Virginia Constitution with a clearly defined role. That is to defend the state in criminal appeals and suits against the state, provide legal advice and representations in court for the state and the Governor, provide legal counsel and official opinions to the General Assembly, and defend the constitutionality of state laws. This Attorney General is intended to be the Chief Advocate for the state of Virginia.

This is not a policy-making role. I have heard my fellow candidates talk about everything from their vision for health care to policing reform – all of which are functions of the legislature, not the Office of the Attorney General. One candidate also seems to be under the impression the Attorney General is a prosecutorial role, when in reality it is not. Continue reading

Alexandria Stands with Government Unions, Not Workers

by F. Vincent Vernuccio

In mid-April, the City of Alexandria passed an ordinance allowing government unions to bargain with the city. Unfortunately, many of the ordinance’s provisions are lopsided: they grant special advantages for government unions to easily organize public employees and trap workers into paying dues.

Alexandria’s lopsided ordinance. Alexandria’s ordinance makes it is easy for a union to petition for an election, which the ordinance says may happen in several ways, “including, without limitation, electronic authorizations and voice authorizations.” Once there is a determination by a labor relations administrator or the city manager that a majority of employees have given authorization, no one can challenge the petition.

In a sense, if a union were to use ambiguous language to trick an employee over the phone, and that employee were to respond with “yes,” the union may show that the employee wants the union to represent them – even though that may not really be the case if the employee is not informed of both their rights and of all the facts. Once the LRA makes a determination, the employee would have no recourse to say that verbal “yes” was not what they meant, or to rescind their indication of approval. Continue reading

About Those Face Masks for Kids…

Letter from Sen. Bill DeSteph, R-Virginia Beach, to Governor Ralph Northam, dated May 5, 2021:

With the onset of warm weather and summer quickly approaching, we request clarification of your mask protocol for children participating in required school activities.

I heard from multiple constituents regarding yesterday’s high temperature and the dangerous effect it had on our school age children, who are still being required to wear masks when participating in PE and recess. Here in Virginia Beach, temperatures reached a high of 92 degrees, and numerous children suffered heat-related complications and injury as a result of wearing a mask.

Governor, the CDC has already announced that masks are not necessary when outdoors. In addition, with school staff being vaccinated, the risk of COVID-19 transmission to students is minimal. There is no health benefit to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by having our children wear masks outside. If your mask protocol is an attempt to protect our children, I would submit that requiring masks outdoors and inside during PE accomplishes quite the opposite of
protecting—it is, in fact, harmful. Continue reading

An Achievable Dream Is an Asset to Henrico County

Achievable Dream Academy in Highland Springs. Photo credit: Richmondmag.com.

by Aubrey L. Layne Jr.

My first experience with An Achievable Dream Academy is one that I never will forget. I remember shaking hands with Newport News elementary school children and seeing the excitement in their eyes.

Every encounter since further solidifies my belief in the value of this program for our community, and for the future. Its presence in Henrico County is a sign of the community’s dedication to some of our most vulnerable children.

My wife, Peggy, and I have been supporters of the program for almost 20 years — beginning with my serving on the board of directors for An Achievable Dream’s (AAD) Endowment. My commitment to this program only strengthened when I served as president and CEO of AAD in 2013, just prior to my appointment as secretary of transportation for the commonwealth of Virginia.

While leading AAD, I was fortunate enough to spearhead the expansion of the program to Virginia Beach — in partnership with Virginia Beach City Public Schools. I am so proud of how it has flourished.

Continue reading

Virginia’s Math Path Could Erode Equity

Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane

by Andy Rotherham

Years ago Fairfax County Public Schools superintendent Bud Spillane had a plan to collapse early grades K-2 into an ability group approach. He went around the county explaining the approach to parents. They generally liked it because it offered customization and a more individualized experience.

Then, at some point parents starting asking, “but how will I know when my kid is in the first grade?” And pretty soon the idea fell apart. What Tyack and Cuban call the “grammar of schooling” is indeed potent. People like conceptual approaches; they like knowing when their kid is in first grade more.

I suspect the same fate will befall this idea in Virginia to change the sequence and scope of middle and high school math in the name of “equity.” It sort of already is. As soon as the idea made contact with parents and media the state superintendent submarined it and the Department of Education overhauled its website.

The Washington Post wrote a somewhat credulous story about the whole thing largely blaming the confusion on conservative media, that’s the lede. They changed the website! (Democracy updates the html in darkness?) This Virginia Mercury story has more texture. If you have no hobbies, here and here are some video discussions of the issues you can watch. Weirdly, an idea floated to do away with the state’s advanced studies diploma hasn’t set off the same firestorm. Continue reading

Open Letter to the Sentara Community

Sentara RMH Medical Center

by Dr. Robert H. Sease

As a lifelong resident of Harrisonburg, a retired physician and  a volunteer hospital chaplain, I feel compelled to write about the current and ongoing situation at our local hospital. My father, my two uncles, my brother and myself have a combined 180 years of medical service to this community, so I have a genuine vested interest in the welfare of our local hospital and the community it was designed to serve.

Historically, for a small community hospital, we have been blessed to have phenomenal medical care. It’s a well recognized fact that the Shenandoah Valley has some of the lowest insurance reimbursement rates in the entire state, so it’s vitally important to attract and then retain talented hospital personnel. So, it disturbs me profoundly when I hear and see what is becoming of our community hospital.

There’s always been a healthy tension between hospital administration and staff physicians and that’s been a good thing. In the past that has led to dialogue, compromise, and in the long run, improvement in healthcare delivery. There was a shared, mutual respect. Not so any longer! Healthcare locally and nationally was already on the road to becoming big business in 2011 when RMH became part of Sentara, but with that partnership really, really big business came to town with a corporate mentality that unilaterally decides and blatantly disregards input from the very people who make this hospital great. Continue reading

The Honor Code: A Reason to Be Proud of VMI

by Brady Biller

Leadership is made, not born.

I have almost completed my cadetship at The Virginia Military Institute. In 22 days, I will be graduating with a Civil Engineering degree. I’m currently on my last ever guard shift as the Night Officer of the Guard while typing this thought. Its 03:41 on a Saturday morning and my shift ends at 07:00. All my hometown best friends at other universities just got done partying or going out to the local bars. After 4 years of being in barracks we’ve gotten used to “missing out” on a normal college experience.

Yet, every now and then I still have the thought on why I came to VMI, even 22 days until I graduate. I just ponder how badly I want to get out of here. I’m thinking on why the hell I’m walking around Barracks in the middle of the night with a flashlight while everyone is sleeping? I just want my life after VMI to start so I can finally have that freedom I’m craving so badly. With all these negative thoughts about this place and wishing time away, you would think I made a wrong decision signing the matriculation book on August 19, 2017.

Shortly after feeling sorry for myself, a cadet walks into the guard room with a one-hundred-dollar bill and tells me that he found it by a stairwell. Its pitch-black outside with no one around him and he had every chance just to walk away a little bit richer. I couldn’t help but smile, I’m not sure who was listening inside my head, but this was a moment where I was able to look past all the annoying aspects of being a VMI cadet and appreciate the bigger picture of what this Institution upholds. I’m sure that cadet was raised with good intentions, but I know for a 100% fact that any other person at another school in the world would’ve ran off with that hundred-dollar bill.

This is the reason why I became a VMI cadet. Continue reading