Tag Archives: James Sherlock

Are Virginians Putting the State’s Economy on Their Credit Cards?

by James C. Sherlock

Royalty-free stock photo Courtesy Dreamstime.com

I wrote the other day about efforts to increase housing in Virginia. That story is very complicated at the levels of the federal, state and local governments.

But at the end of that pipeline is the economy.

We have read in many places that consumers are spending the savings they built up during COVID, keeping the economy out of recession.


But it turns out that consumers have been putting the economy on their credit cards as well. Continue reading

Profoundly Unethical: UVa Children’s Hospital Hides Child Gender Transition Information from Public Scrutiny

UVa Children’s Hospital courtesy UVa

by James C. Sherlock

I published a series of articles earlier this year that criticized the University of Virginia Children’s Hospital on its approach to gender transition in minors as young as 11.

As a result, the hospital made at least some movement towards change by announcing it was assigning pediatric clinical psychologists to join that program, previously dominated by endocrinologists.

I saw that move as an indication that the minors who came to the clinic would be treated first for anxiety, depression and ongoing emotional issues before being considered for insertion into the hormone-to-surgery pipeline.

That now may be the case, though there is no case flow diagram published. But nothing else has apparently changed except for the elimination of the public information on which I based my criticisms.

There is growing concern among many doctors and other healthcare professionals as to whether medical transition is the best way to proceed for those under aged 18. I have written extensively that several countries have pulled back from medical treatment and instead are emphasizing psychotherapy first.

UVa Children’s is a state hospital. Hiding information from the public to avoid scrutiny cannot be an option.

I call on the Board of Visitors to direct the hospital to improve transparency in the UVa Children’s Hospital web presentations on gender transitions in minors.

Without this, the hospital is guilty of misleading the public.  The removal of previously-available public information shows they are doing this on purpose. Continue reading

Housing in Virginia – Context for Debates

Courtesy Housing Forward Virginia

by James C. Sherlock

Dick Hall-Sizemore did a nice job earlier today describing the phenomenon in which people are specifically against in a particular iteration public policies that they support in the abstract.

The subject was middle income housing in Arlington County.

The problem with short articles by anyone (including me) about housing issues is they cannot begin to account for all of the government interventions in housing at the federal, state and local levels as well as forces like inflation in the general economy that disrupt the housing market before forces in that single market take effect.

We see this week articles and op-eds flood the press that take a stand on — mostly to criticize — Governor Youngkin’s announced goal to increase the housing stock.

They tend to be at best misleading — inflating his potential effect on housing in order to say he is not doing enough.

No governor, by design of the Code of Virginia and the vastness of the market, can have anything but a very minor effect on housing. Continue reading

The Progressive Left Has Only One Story. It is on Endless Loop in the Press

Norway lemming. Courtesy Wikipedia

by James C. Sherlock

It is called defining the terms of the debate.

Sort of like naming a climate bill the “Inflation Reduction Act.”

The war to define the ground in a headline debate in Virginia is between supporters of either:

  • Virginia DOE’s draft “2022 Model Policies on the Privacy, Dignity and Respect for All Students and Parents in Virginia’s Public Schools;”  or
  • the last administration’s “Model Policies for the Treatment of Transgender Students in Virginia’s Public Schools” that has been cancelled.

The draft VDOE document commits four secular sins at once:

  • It acknowledges the rights of parents;
  • It acknowledges that children are the responsibilities of their parents first and then the schools;
  • It provides measures to protect all students; and, most egregiously
  • It does not single out a victim class.  

Mortal sins against progressivism. Every one. The horror on the left is palpable.

Only one narrative is permitted in WokeWorld — Victims and Oppressors Sorted by Identity Group.

It is projected onto everything. Continue reading

Virginia Mental Health Services in Deep Trouble – A Survey

Eastern State Hospital. Courtesy Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Development

by James C. Sherlock

Nov. 29 updates in blue.

Supply cannot begin to keep up with demand.

In this case, the consequences involve personal welfare and public safety. And they can be terrible in both cases.

Governor Youngkin will propose to the 2023 General Assembly additional funding and policy prescriptions for the state’s mental health system.

The state offers inpatient services, community-based government services, and Medicaid-funded services.  Medicare offers payments to participating hospitals. Private insurances offer coverage.

I say “offer,” because much of what policy prescribes has proven difficult to fill in practice.

Virginia’s mental health system is in deep trouble because of shortages of personnel and facilities to absorb the very steep rates of increases in persons needing assistance.

The personnel problems are twofold and affect both government and private services.

  1. Key personnel positions require trained specialists, the shortages of whom are manifest across the country; and
  2. Working conditions in mental health care are very stressful, physically demanding and dangerous, driving away badly needed low skilled workers who can easily find jobs elsewhere.

Medicaid programs offer services that private facilities and practitioners, facing the same labor shortages, have proven in some combination unable or unwilling to provide at Medicaid reimbursement rates. State-contracted Medicaid Managed Care Organizations (MMCOs) have not solved those problems.

So part of the answer is money, but we really don’t know how much. And in this case, money alone may not provide sufficient services to satisfy demand. Continue reading

A Grand Compromise on Crime, Mental Health and Guns

by James C. Sherlock

Had enough?

People organize into governments first for their collective protection. Virginians are not sufficiently protected from violence.

The mass shootings of the past couple of weeks in Virginia offer an impetus to strike a grand bargain on public safety.

Staying in corners waiting for control of all three branches of government to turn favored changes into law is a forfeit by public officials of their obligations to society.

For public confidence in the deal and its long term survival, as many as possible of its provisions will need to be packaged as a single compromise with the support of the governor and the leadership of both parties in the General Assembly.

The concepts I offer attempt to mitigate:

  1. The mass killings that we continue to experience, crimes that are committed in significant number by the mentally ill;
  2. The possession or use of deadly weapons in the commission of crimes;
  3. Unacceptable numbers of deaths from fentanyl;
  4. The number of illegal guns and the numbers of legal guns bought illegally;
  5. Gun modifications to increase their rates of fire; and
  6. Transfers of firearms without background checks.

Continue reading

The Governor Asks Virginians to Support Food Banks

by James C. Sherlock


Homelessness in Petersburg – Part 2

Travel Inn was shut down by the ACE team in June. Courtesy Joyce Chu, Progress Index.

by James C. Sherlock

I wrote yesterday about the excellent investigative reporting by the Progress-Index about the knock-on effects of the renewal of fire and building code enforcement in Petersburg.

My position is that Petersburg must enforce its codes for public safety and the livability of the city.

But I also recognize the need to provide better solutions to homelessness in that city. I am pursuing a story on that subject.

But in the meanwhile, the Progress-Index’s Joyce Chu has posted her second article in that series.  I refer to

‘A fresh can of nowhere to go’: Health and stability stumble with fewer motel rooms for those on the edge”

It consists almost exclusively of the stories of those displaced with the closure of those motels.

It is powerful stuff.

Virginia Should Enforce Threat Assessment Laws. Noting Lack of Compliance Not Enough.

by James C. Sherlock

I have written about the Threat Assessment Teams (TAT’s) of two state universities, the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech.

I assessed Tech to be compliant with state law. I reported that UVa is not. That of course raises the issue of the rest of Virginia’s colleges and universities.

The Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) in 2014, with far more resources and access than I, found the state of the TAT’s serving the commonwealth’s fifteen four-year state institutions of higher learning (IHL), its community colleges and private IHLs to be as a group a hot mess (my term).

I will follow this article with an assessment of the compliance of the current policies of Virginia’s fifteen public IHLs.

The 2014 report did not have the intended effect of standardization and professionalization of threat assessment and intervention in Virginia. Preliminary reviews of the policies of each IHL show them still to be all over the map in terms of compliance.

I am reasonably sure that if DCJS redid its survey tomorrow, it would result in similar findings and recommendations. Perhaps at this point the government should actually enforce the law rather than just reporting on the lack of compliance.

One wishes that had occurred years earlier. Continue reading

Petersburg Resumes Important Actions Against City Code Violators — Homeless Needs Increase

Travel Inn was shut down by the ACE team in June. Courtesy Joyce Chu, Progress Index.

by James C. Sherlock

Sometimes absolutely necessary actions have more than one outcome.

Such is the case in Petersburg.

Joyce Chu of Petersburg’s indispensable Progress- Index last evening initiated a multi-part series on the impacts of the city’s closure due to safety violations of two motels used by otherwise homeless people.

Her first article makes a case for more government and charitable services for the people affected by the closures. Good for her. No one wants people living on the streets and everyone wants the kids in school.

She explains that the California Inn, OYO and Travel Inn motels, among a group of low cost motels right off of I-95, were

also hotbeds of crime, drug overdoses and prostitution mixed in with families with children, according to former residents and homeless advocates.

She points out that Petersburg has resumed (after a lengthy period when it did not) enforcing its zoning codes. A team called the ACE team — Abatement, Compliance, and Enforcement — is on task, run by the Fire Chief.

Code enforcement is an absolutely necessary step to revitalize the city.

So is helping those adversely affected.  -Hotel owners should be forced within the limits of the law to assist. Continue reading

UVa Policy on Threat Assessment So Flawed It Seems Intentional

by James C. Sherlock

I have reported in this space on the actions and inactions of the Threat Assessment Team (TAT) and its members at the University of Virginia in the case of the man now in jail for three murders and two woundings.

I refer readers to my previous posts for my take on the facts in that case as I know them.

In this article, I will compare

  • the state law that mandates each Virginia college and university to have a Violence Prevention Committee and a Threat Assessment Team
  • with the University of Virginia’s policy that purports to carry out the mandates of that law.

The comparison is not flattering to the University. It reveals serious flaws in the design of the violence prevention and assessment protocols that preceded the actions of that specific TAT and may have contributed to its failure in this case.

The University policy so obviously fails to meet the requirements of the governing state law to which the policy itself refers that the only conclusion I can draw is that the flaws were intentional. Incompetence cannot explain this one.

There are too many senior management sets of eyes on University policy process, including lawyers. They must have thought they had a better way.

Clearly not.

I suggest University leadership this week write and sign a policy that complies with state law. Continue reading

Alleged Shooter’s Dorm Room on UVa Property Exposed Him to University Actions Not Taken

Bice House – All photos and diagrams courtesy University of Virginia

by James C. Sherlock

Updated Nov. 19 at 8:50 AM. See details at end.

So, the University of Virginia conducted a formal threat investigation of allegations of student possession of firearms on the Grounds.

Except it really didn’t.

The accused was found after three murders and two woundings to have possessed in his dorm room a small arsenal.

The Threat Assessment Team (TAT) knew that the student had been accused of talking of possessing a gun. That was the reason the TAT was convened.

The TAT had access to State Police records including

  • his legal gun purchases;
  • his conviction in Chesterfield County on a concealed weapon charge, a misdemeanor;
  • his Petersburg conviction on a felony hit-and-run charge that was reduced to a misdemeanor; and
  • the fact that he was on suspended jail sentences for both of the crimes.

Let’s see who they sent to interview him. From the Charlottesville Daily Progress:

However, (Chief) Longo noted, neither the off-Grounds tipster nor Jones’s roommate ever saw a weapon, and Longo implied that the Office of Student Affairs unsuccessfully attempted to speak to Jones.

They sent someone from the Office of Student Affairs. On a gun-threat issue.  What could have gone wrong? It is perhaps a good thing the student refused to cooperate.

TAT members individually had all the authority and evidence they needed to inspect his room on university property, seize the weapons and, as a result, arrest and ban him from the grounds (possession of weapons on university property), expel him, and evict him from University housing.

They did none of that. They “meant” to refer him to the student-run Judiciary Committee. For a three-month wait for a trial and a stern warning or community service. The University actually announced that had happened. But that announcement was not true.

They later announced there was a “snafu.”

The student, the now-accused murderer, was treated with extreme and deadly deference by University security officials.

Three young men are dead. Continue reading

UVa’s Investigators Missed an Arsenal in Shooter’s On-Grounds Dorm Room

UVa President James Ryan. Courtesy of the University of Virginia

by James C. Sherlock

The Daily Progress just reported:

The student charged in the shooting deaths of three University of Virginia football players had a semi-automatic rifle, pistol, ammunition, magazines and a device used to make bullets fire faster in his on-Grounds dorm room, according to a search warrant inventory that the Daily Progress obtained.

What the State Police investigator “found in the room of accused triple murder Christopher Darnell Jones Jr. might have filled a duffel.” In an “on-Grounds dorm room.”

The TAT investigators interviewed his roommate. But the shooter refused to cooperate.  

So the University was helpless?

Anyone still want to talk about the thoroughness of the Threat Assessment Team (TAT) investigation and the actions of the members of that team after the investigation was over?

I have exposed those “efforts” in a series of articles to this point, culminating in tracing the bureaucratic structures that let this happen.

That bureaucracy will fight like trapped bobcats, looking for a mid-level scapegoat. They are having closed meetings as I write this.

They are likely to try to sacrifice the police chief. Because he has been the only one of them to man up. And he is not a direct report to President Ryan.

But three young men are dead.

I am not nearly done with that bureaucracy and its leader.

Who is an “Appropriate Disciplinary Authority” at UVa? Excellent Question, as it Turns Out

UVa President James Ryan. Courtesy of the University of Virginia

by James C. Sherlock

The University of Virginia, as required by state law, has a policy on Preventing and Addressing Threats of Acts of Violence.

It defines “unsanctioned possession of firearms, weapons, or other dangerous items.” as Violent or Threatening Behavior.

The policy currently states:

The (Threat Assessment Team) TAT does not serve as a disciplinary body; however, referrals will be made to the appropriate disciplinary authority regarding violent or threatening behavior per University policy.

We will find out who added that language and when, but it doesn’t matter to the outcome.  From the policy:

All University faculty, staff, students, and Medical Center employees are expected to cooperate fully with the TAT.

The shooter did not.

Some members of the TAT are appropriate disciplinary authorities.  They could have walked out of the meeting room and taken action immediately as it was their duty as security officials to do.

They did not.

They kicked it over to a student organization.

Three men died. Continue reading

President Ryan’s Ship Has Hit the Shoals

by James C. Sherlock

This is the Nov 16, 4:35 p.m. update to my highly controversial article on the failures of the University of Virginia to act against the alleged killer of three students before the crime.

I was too gentle with the leadership of the University, my alma mater, in that article. I wrote that the University had taken grossly inadequate and counterintuitive actions ahead of the shootings.

I gave them too much credit.

They took no action at all. Only claimed they did under the heat of questions.

According to a report in The Washington Post on the evening of Nov. 15, the statement that the University put out earlier that the Threat Assessment Team (TAT) had “escalated the case (of the shooter Mr. Jones) for disciplinary action” was not true. It blamed the oversight on an “inadvertent mixup.”

Seems they had meant to refer the case to the student-run judiciary committee. Which is used to assigning sanctions like the writing of essays.

It is Dr. Ryan’s ship.

He failed in his duty to lead. The members of the TAT failed in their statutory duties assigned under Virginia law after the Virginia Tech massacre.

He set the tone, assigned a DEI member to the TAT to oversee their actions, and they followed his path.

And a disturbed young man was free to kill those three other young men and grievously wound two others. Who were on a University bus. Returning from a play.

Victims as much of the culture wars and profound incompetence in the University leadership as they were of the shooter. Continue reading