Your Way, My Way and the “Virginia” Way

mcdonnell-1By Peter Galuszka

As usual, I am constantly amazed at “the Virginia Way” which means a kind of parallel universe of political reality that keeps the stay back in the 18th century, at least when it comes to political thinking.

This morning, the editorial section of the ever-other- worldly Richmond Times-Dispatch has a front-page piece by outgoing Gov. Robert F. McDonnell. He, and the RTD editors, presume to tell us that we are all very gentlemanly in the Old Dominion, unlike those heathens across the Potomac in Washington and they should use US as a moral guiding light for how to get along.

It’s his version of “The Virginia Way.” He writes:

“The good news is that there’s an alternative means of governing. And it’s found right here in the commonwealth. It’s called ‘the Virginia Way.’ It’s a tradition of consistent advocacy of principle combined with civility in the pursuit of doing what’s best for the people. When campaigns are over, it’s time to govern effectively.”

Well, that’s his “Virginia Way.” I have my own version which was printed on the front page of The Washington Post’s Outlook section one week ago. Odd McDonnell (or the TD editors) chose their own ‘Virginia Way.’ My version has to do with the haughty sense of superiority that leads to Virginia having among the most lax ethics laws in the country and getting  flunking grades in government accountability.

Here I am:

“It’s known as the Virginia Way.

Richmond political culture clings to a quaint notion that its elected representatives are gentlemen and ladies who are above the petty venality that afflicts lesser states.”

“Too many Old Domninion politicians buy into Virginia’s moral exceptionalism. Or they realize that the lax rules and limited oversight that are justified by it make it easier to win and stay in office.”

I go on with my discussion about this parallel universe kind of thinking. I do remind readers exactly how the governor fits in on ethics:

“One loophole highlighted by the McDonnell story: The disclosure requirement doesn’t extend to officials’ immediate family members or companies the officials may own. So McDonnell didn’t report that the chief executive of Henrico County-based Star Scientific gave $70,000 in loans to MoBo Real Estate Partners, owned by the governor and his sister; or that the CEO paid for a $15,000 New York shopping trip for the first lady and later wrote her a check for $50,000; or that he picked up a $15,000 catering bill for the wedding of one McDonnell daughter and gave a $10,000 engagement gift to another.”

Remember all of this? And also that McDonnell is the only sitting Virginia governor to be investigated for corruption while in office? And that the federal probe is still on going? Or (new twist), Jonnie R. Williams is out at Star Scientific which is changing its name to the far less explosive name of “Rock Creek Pharmaceuticals.”

All of this is down the memory hole over at the RTD editorial offices on Richmond’s E. Franklin Street.

And while we’re talking about some real howlers, let’s skip over to the Post’s Local Opinions section this morning which offers several post-mortems on the Terry McAuliffe victory this past week.

corey-a-stewartCorey A. Stewart, chairman of the Board of Supervisors of Prince William County, writes that  “Rather, Republicans win the county by building relationships with minority voters ….”

Now that, dear readers, is whopper and a half. Just a few years ago, Stewart spearheaded the most stringent anti-minority, specifically, anti-Hispanic, county law in the country. It required police to check the citizenship of anyone they stopped (read brown-skinned and Spanish-speaking). His proposals drew national outcries and were linked to similar racist efforts in Arizona and Alabama. Hispanics fled Prince William in droves.

Critics can dice over what happened in last week’s election all they want, but the biggest problem is that there is a major issue, almost a psychotic one, with the psyche of the Old Dominion. There is no clear understanding of what the reality truly is here. Should a moment of clarity pop up, it is immediately placed in denial mode.

So, we end up with a disgraced governor giving us advice about how not to be like those unwashed hordes in Washington and Corey Stewart lecturing us on making sure we have a big tent that is open to minorities.

It’s almost laughable if it weren’t so sad and infuriating.

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39 responses to “Your Way, My Way and the “Virginia” Way”

  1. Timing is everything. Had Mr. Failure’s health care reform law been operating longer, Old Cooch might have won. Our dirt bag President has been caught lying about something rather important. “If you like your existing health insurance plan, you can keep it. NOT.” Add in the people who have lost hours and wages to avoid insurance mandates, and Mr. Savior isn’t. His health care reform will continue to pay dividends for the next few years.

    The VA GOP’s problem is it uses conventions and not a primary.

  2. well a couple of things…

    if the GOP cannot beat a dirt bag POTUS, they’re in pretty sad shape!

    but how many people actually knew about the law besides the POTUS?

    we act like it was a secret that only the POTUS knew about.

    the situation with the existing policies was well known by most lawmakers, long before the POTUS was “caught” lying.

    Are you telling me that Bill O’Reilly/Hannity/Limbaugh did not know this – 12 months ago?

    and the GOP was/is dumb as a stump because 40 times they voted to repeal without ONCE saying “you will lose your insurance under ObamaCare but under GOPcare – you get to keep your insurance”.

    The GOP cannot agree among themselves – on hardly anything these days, whether it’s immigration, gay rights, govt debt, the sequester, and healthcare.

    there is no “one” GOP – it’s now a loose federation of disparate factions, heavily infested with far right wackos who threaten their own fellow GOP with repercussions if they don’t fold to the tea party demands.

    you can’t win – even against a “dirtbag” POTUS when you are this messed up.

    The Dems own the Senate right now today – because the Tea Party insisted on running people with Cucinelli-like politics in other states.

    right now, if the GOP and the Tea Party had remained united and run reasonable center-right candidates, there would be a GOP Congress who could really pass a repeal and if not override a veto – force compromises.

    But the GOP and Tea Party insist a death struggle between themselves to decide how to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, so be it.

    Any party that dumb deserves to be the minority.

  3. re: “the Virginia Way”

    Virginia is still infested with the mindset that the well-educated “gentry” should guide the state and not ignorant heathens through an absurd US Constitutional quirk – have a vote.

    Other states – free of this nasty royalty-related mindset not only give their citizens the right to vote and never fettered it as Va has – but citizens are allowed to initiate referenda.

    I do not think this is a panacea and there are pitfalls and such citizen rights should require a high bar to get on the ballot but can you imagine how Va
    would change if citizens could initiate referenda?

    The Virginia elite do not trust it’s citizens to really participate in government. That’s why you see a almost impossible-to-dislodge two party control of state government.

    Want Home Rule? get it on the ballot… oops.. no can do. Dillon knows best, right?

    I could go on but I really just wanted to beat DJ to this rant.

  4. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    I naturally respect yours views on obamaCare but that isn’t really the point of my blog posting. I am talking about Governor McDonnell and his article bragging about the “Virginia Way.” I also raise questions, peculiar to Virginia, about ethics.
    Would you care to comment on these matters and leave ACA for another time?

    1. Peter,

      I believe Virginia has a culture of corruption that equals Chicago, New Jersey or Louisiana. We are just more sophisticated. The corruption extends to both Parties. The 1985 gas tax increase was instituted at the behest of developers. Terry McAuliffe is of the same cut as McDonnell. Left unchecked, he is likely to siphon tax dollars for contributors.

  5. well .. one of the interesting things is that what exactly “the Virginia Way” is , is subject to different interpretations.

    and of course, another perspective might be to ask (if we could or deduce from writings) what Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry’s view of what the “Virginia Way” is.

    Of course – a 3rd and perhaps more troubling perspective for some would be to ask if the Virginia Way is what resulted in the choice of Cucinelli over Bowling and if Bowling had run and won – would that have been more of the Virginia Way than if Cucinelli had won?

    My personal view is that, good, bad or ugly, the Tea Party does not view “the Virginia Way” as something that forefathers of Liberty would have had much truck with.

    In the cauldron of today’s politics – I ask this question:

    Are Ken Cucinelli, Rand Paul or Ted Cruz modern day versions of Virginians -Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry?

    Careful now.

  6. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    my man!

  7. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    Where is dj anyway? Long weekend?

    1. DJRippert Avatar

      Yep. Shooting and fishing in rural Maryland. TMT is right – Virginia is as corrupt as anywhere in America.

      As for McDonnell – Holy Cow! Somebody needs to perform a concussion test on Ole Bob. Has he been playing football without a helmet again?

      “It’s a tradition of consistent advocacy of principle combined with civility in the pursuit of doing what’s best for the people.”.


      Did Bobby pay ANY attention to the governor’s race? It couldn’t have been less civil.

      1. I’m a little flummoxed by the expanded use of the word “corrupt” to include beyond graft and corruption, increasing taxes or passing legislation.

        I’m quite sure, for instance, that most of us in our own county/jurisdiction would not call our elected “corrupt” just for …saying passing property tax increase or meals tax, etc…

        “corrupt” to me – would me like raiding the pension fund to pay for something else as opposed to having a pension fund that is underfunded and needs to be fixed. That happens in other states but as far as I
        know not in Virginia.

        “corrupt” is not refusing to grant home rule… or restricting abortion rights or felon rights…

        1. DJRippert Avatar

          It is corrupt for elected officials to take gifts from anybody outside their immediate family. Period. It was corrupt for Cuccinelli to take gifts from CONSOL Energy and then look away when one of the lawyers in his own office provided advice to CONSOL in a case against Virginia citizens. Phil Hamilton was corrupt. John W Forbes is corrupt. They’re both in jail. It is corrupt for the Imperial Clown Show in Richmond to grant company-specific tax breaks for organizations that offer jobs to the GA members. It was corrupt for Cuccinelli to fail to disclose his Star Scientific holdings. It was corrupt for McDonnell to take unreported gifts through his family. It is corrupt for the state’s regulated monopoly electricity company to be the biggest corporate contributor to Virginia politicians. It is corrupt for practicing lawyers in the General Assembly to elect the judges in front of whom they will argue cases.

          Knock, knock …. McFly …. anybody home?

  8. Geeze TMT – none other than Harry Byrd advocated an increase in the gas tax!

    how come a tax increase is a sign of a corrupt govt?

    remember – again – no govt can increase taxes.

    it takes a majority of both houses of the legislator to do that.

    I just can’t fathom how any tax increase that is the result of majority votes of the legislature can be blame on the Governor catering to developers.

    1. Larry,

      Governor Baliles sold the 1985 gas tax as a means to decrease traffic congestion — which it did not. Rather, the tax increase was intended to construct more roads to enable more development. I don’t have a problem paying taxes when I benefit from the results. I do have a problem creating a slush fund to enrich connected investors. Who was the chief lobbyist for the 1985 tax increase? Til Hazel’s law partner, Bill Thomas. See any connection? I know Bill. He’s a good guy. But let’s be clear who he was working for.

      Public funds must be treated as such. Projects should be funded only when they provide a public benefit. Taxpayers should have a right to go to court to stop public funding of projects that don’t produce a suitable return on investment for the public money. Landowners who get rezoning should be forced to make significant contributions to the infrastructure enabling the rezoning. When a governor lobbies for a tax increase, he’s responsible for it.

      1. Okay TMT, I “get it” but no tax increase gets approved by the Gov alone.

        this is sort of like a conspiracy theory that the whole GA is in on it OR they are too stupid to know that they are passing special legislation for developers, etc.

        but you can make a case similar to this for about any tax or “benefit” legislation in the GA – regardless of who is Gov.

        Are we saying that Baliles “sold” his plan to a bunch of clueless morons are a bunch of developer-friendly corrupt politicians or what?

        You’ve also been critical of Kaine and Warner on similar grounds.

        are there ANY Govs of Va that you’d cite as not doing what these guys did and ergo – the majority of Governors are corrupt?

  9. Breckinridge Avatar

    From the stink of the diaper to the stench of the shroud — wasn’t that the phrase from All the King’s Men? I really don’t know why anyone would expect human behavior to be any different in Virginia, better or worse. If you are shocked and appalled that politicians are responsive to voters, pressure groups, donors, then I suggest you just stay under the covers all day. Shouldn’t they be responsive to somebody? Virginia’s major problem today is a depleted and almost pathetic excuse of a capitol press corps (further weakened by the departure of Lewis) and a culture of SECRECY and non-disclosure. Rip the covers off, let the sunshine in, and the situation will improve.

    But I agree that a lecture on inclusiveness from Corey Stewart is like a lecture on sexual hygiene from John Holmes……

    1. actually Breckinridge and I are in some level of pragmatic agreement here.

      Most politicians, by the very nature of politics are in the business of “representing” ….. “interests” and that’s a far larger group than just a small group of citizens with very narrow ideas of what govt should be taxing and spending on.

      There is a prevailing view these days that govt that does more than you, as an individual or even a member of a specific agenda group, want them to do – is wrong, corrupt, irresponsible, etc and the “cure” is to “starve the beast”, “roll it back”, make it smaller and less intrusive, make it like it was under the founding fathers, etc or just dismantle it wherever you can do it..

  10. Breckinridge Avatar

    Oh horse hockey! Governor Baliles sold the 1986 transportation package as a way to bolster the economy, which it very much did. Nobody promised Northern Virginia a rose garden of traffic bliss — and everybody in the Capitol understood that the developers expected to benefit. Evil developers! Building all those houses, warehouses, retail outlets, creation all those middle class jobs and investor dividends! The money benefitted every corner of the state, provided major investments in the ports and in rail, and in general was the best decision made in Richmond since the creation of the community colleges. All hail Baliles, probably the best governor in my lifetime, although I think McDonnell would be up there but for his self-inflicted wounds.

    1. question: – what is your and TMT’s opinion of Allen and Gilmore?

    2. DJRippert Avatar

      Right you are!

      From my now defunct blog (I abandoned it when I started writing on BaconsRebellion):

  11. You left out Doug Wilder, who I think was one of the best Governors I’ve seen in four states. He PO’d the WaPo editorial board regularly with his refusal to seek tax increases. He just managed the ship of state efficiently and effectively for four years.

    I thought Allen and Gilmore each did a good job. Gilmore until he refused to freeze the car tax phase-out. There, he over reached. But then, anybody who sticks their fingers in Fred Hiatt’s eyes wins points with me.

    Breckinridge – the sales pitch for the sales tax increase in NoVA was a reduction in traffic congestion. Putting people to work on road construction won’t sell in Fairfax, Arlington and Alexandria. We didn’t see the reduction in traffic congestion. I don’t like it when elected officials lie.

    I don’t mind developers making money. But I resent the hell out of subsidizing those profits. Studies show that a lot of the costs for proffers and impact fees are passed along to the landowner in the form of lower sales prices. How am I benefited from more overcrowding and higher taxes? And if development is so beneficial, why have residential real estate taxes in Fairfax continued to increase at or above the increases personal income?

    1. DJRippert Avatar

      The idea that the funds from the gas tax did not decrease traffic congestion in NoVa is humorous. How do you think the traffic would look today without the monies from the gas tax?

      I also like the “evil developer” schtick. Developers can’t make people buy houses. They can’t make people move to an area. At best, they provide a spike in employment – usually in good economic times when the peak is unnecessary.

      People moved into Northern Virginia for the jobs. Full stop. Period. They didn’t move here because developers tricked them into coming with clever taxpayer-subsidized housing. The state of Michigan and the City of Detroit would happily subsidize development in Detroit but it isn’t happening.

      Gerry Baliles raised taxes and built new roads for the same reason developers built more houses – because people were moving here. All the gibberish about this evil developer and that evil developer ignores the fact that people have been moving to Northern Virginia for decades in reaction to economic opportunity.

      Fairfax County had 275,000 people in 1960. Now it has just under 1.2M. The US population didn’t quite double from 1960 – 2013. Fairfax County more than quadrupled. Of course developers made money. Where were all these new people going to live – in hollowed out trees? Of course roads had to be built. How were these people going to get from home to work and back – slip lines?

      The Washington, DC Metropolitan area is the most educated large city in the United States. Virginia is a major beneficiary of that fact. And what did Virginia have to do in order to be a beneficiary? Let developers build houses and tax gas to build roads?

      1. It is possible to build roads that provide traffic relief and safety improvements. It’s possible to build roads that don’t improve traffic flow or safety. State law provides that revisions to the Comp Plan and rezoning applications need not be made/granted when the public facilities are inadequate. Also, when such is the case, local government has the authority to insist the developer address such inadequacies. That is all I am seeking. Follow the fricking law.

        Fairfax County officials will tell that, before Tysons in 2010, the County regularly approved new development in the face of inadequate public facilities. The County kicked the can to VDOT. The result is miserable traffic congestion and overpriced land.

        I love the car tax relief plan since it is one of the few state income transfer plans that benefits Fairfax County. If the money to reimburse Fairfax County for the car tax revenues was not so used, darn little of it would be coming back to the County or its residents. Anyone who lives here and doesn’t get that doesn’t understand how the Commonwealth works.

        1. localities are not mandated to require anything of developers in terms of roads.

          In fact, both local elected and developers will tell you that that is VDOT’s job and we pay taxes for that purpose. Not saying I agree – but that’s a typical attitude with elected. And I’m not sure land prices gain in value relative to a county’s land-development policies other than restrictive ones will tend to make it more expensive to develop.
          again.. not my advocacy.. just trying to keep the facts straight.

          in terms of the car tax – it’s a disservice to all taxpayers because it’s done in a non-transparent way for things not well explained. It’s a smoke and mirrors type operation.

          but more than that- it’s a classic shell game – the state “gives” car owners “tax relief” sure enough – but where does the money come from to give that tax relief? Aren’t the people in Fairfax paying higher income and sales taxes so that some of it can be “refunded” as car tax relief?

          TMT – of all the folks who rant on about dishonest taxes and a lack of transparency – you of all people defend this?

          so a BAD tax scheme is okay as long you benefit from it?

          geeze…guy thats worse than corrupt politicos….

        2. DJRippert Avatar

          Things could certainly be improved. However, I see NoVa as pretty typical of a fast growing urban / suburban / ex-urban area. The biggest differences are:

          1. A 26 year gas tax freeze.
          2. The separation of roads and development plans between the state and the localities.

          There is no doubt that Fairfax County approved new development in the face of inadequate public facilities. Thank God they did. What do you think the cost of living would have been in Fairfax County would have been if the county waited for the asshats in Richmond to act? In the end, Fairfax County won. A tax hike for transportation was approved, projects are being planned and executed and the guy who epitomized opposition to the new taxes (Cuccinelli) just lost a race to a candidate who never held elected office.

          Meanwhile, citizens have up-ended the original plans for Tysons and dramatically improved those plans. Funny what happens when local people and local government officials get together.

          The game is over. The urban crescent has won. “Everywhere else” has lost. All that’s left is to mop up the small pockets of conservatism that still exist within the urban crescent (parts of Prince William, Western Henrico, etc), flip the House of Delegates and move the state forward. If the “real Virginia” doesn’t like it they can join the counties in Maryland, California, etc and petition to become their own state.

  12. I’d be hard put to name the top 3 accomplishments for Doug Wilder.

    on Gilmore – every time I get my property tax, I’m reminded that the locality escapes accountability for the car tax because the state essentially subsidizes it with the income and sales taxes it collects from us – and “returns” instead of being able to spend it on schools and transportation.

    localities escape accountability for what are, in my view, huge rip-offs on taxes on cars.

    total up how much you truly pay in taxes for your vehicle – not just what you pay the locality – but the part the state “pays” for ( you are paying for).

    I’ve paid $3800 for a 2003 Tundra over the last 10 years. that’s about $380 a year. I have to pay my county a dollar a day for a truck that has 50,000 miles on it. When we total up our car taxes they are a LOT AND
    not a penny of those car taxes go to pay for roads.

    I’m still trying to understand exactly what Gilmore was trying to achieve other than a peculiar back-door idea that the state would give car-relief
    for a few years then roll it back and the localities would then be forced to
    live with what they were left with or face voters to try to increase the tax.

    what exactly was Gilmore trying to achieve in the first place and in terms of transparency or “lying” – how did he represent what he was doing – for what purpose?

  13. reed fawell III Avatar
    reed fawell III

    Breckenridge hits the nail on the head with this comment: “Shouldn’t they be responsive to somebody? Virginia’s major problem today is a depleted and almost pathetic excuse of a capitol press corps (further weakened by the departure of Lewis) and a culture of SECRECY and non-disclosure. Rip the covers off, let the sunshine in, and the situation will improve.”

    The culture of SECRECY is woven deep into the fabric of Virginia culture. It combines the worst aspects (word play, spin, obfuscation) of Virginia’s deep legal culture and its patrician culture that doubly compound the problem.

    These long traditions that are woven deep into Virginia’s power structure and its ruling elite make for a highly unresponsive government. One that maintains itself and profits greatly from its systemic deceptive practices.

    These deep rooted causes explain a lot. For example, this culture goes a long way towards explaining our failure to know what is happening with: the Million Dollar Bus Stops that goes unexplained, and the $300,000,000 + C’ville By-pass that also goes unexplained. And it is also why there are so few real investigations to public actions or malfeasance in Virginia.

    Even the few investigations are suspect, if only because they likely conceal far more than they reveal. Take for example the FBI’s report on WMAA that limited its investigation charged up hotel, travel and wine bottles abuses. When the real questions are where did billions of dollars go?

    Every dollar of public money that is “wasted” goes somewhere. Why will nobody in Virginia say where the money goes and why? The political class of Virginia just stiff arms the public instead, playing their secret games.

    I have little doubt that where such public money goes in Virginia and why would be scandalous if it were fully known. It’s already scandalous. Why? The answer is simple. It’s happening again and again and politicians let it happen without accounting for it, much less being held accountable for it.

    Secrecy, obfuscation and polite but ruthless arrogance in the exercise of power is the way things have always been done in the Commonwealth.

  14. RE: secrecy, et all..

    I highly recommend this site:

    many other states do not have such a thing or if they do, it is much slimmer than this one.

    This one, for instance, generates all manner of financial reports for virtually every agency in Va including MWAA as well as every single county and city/town in the state (required by law to submit standardized audit info to the Virginia Auditor).

    We also have JLAR – another excellent investigator of Va agencies.

    I’m agog that in addition to govt – we blame the PRESS!

    jesus H. keeerist… the Press are private companies who get to decide what
    they want to report on or not – and there is a ton of financial information
    about Va agencies at JLARC and APA.

    It’s kind of hard to make the ” the politicians are hiding the money” argument when we have such a comprehensive state auditor function.

    there are several reports on MWAA there and at JLARC.

    methinks we are – as citizens – sometimes a bit lazy …we want someone else to go through these voluminous reports and get the “good stuff” and the only one we can logically task with that duty is the Press….

    I’m not excusing or justifying the less than transparent processes that go on in Va… I just don’t see the type of “corruption” that most typically think of – say when a union has been caught spending pension funds, etc…

    I think Virginia’s finances are pretty well known and fairly easy to drill down at the Va Auditor site.

    1. reed fawell III Avatar
      reed fawell III

      I have been through many of those reports, Larry, and many in great and laborious detail. They are helpful. In fact they inform my above statement. And that is what in substantial part gives rise to my opinions and suspicions.

  15. but Reed.. if you lived in many other states, you’d get none of that.

    .. Va is among the better states on providing financial data and JLARC-type reports….

    just saying..

  16. I separate myself a bit on the “Virgnia Way” idea in that decisions in Va are not really vested in citizens as much as elected.

    The “Virginia Way” has an almost autocratic theme to it that I find to be
    dismissive of citizen involvement beyond voting and giving “input”.

    Make no mistake – when something requires a public hearing – it can play a potent role in the elected ascertaining citizen sentiment.

    but just imagine, for instance, if each “hearing” was not only those who were willing to invest an entire evening in a meeting but those who wanted to make comments – and all would go into one archive where anyone could read through the comments.

    OR – the locality – or even a citizen could put up a survey monkey poll to sample voter sentiment.

    there are ways to get to a proxy version of citizen-initiated referenda and frankly I’m surprised that very few citizen web sites for specific jurisdictions get built and maintained on a sustainable basis rather than just for one hot-topic issue like the meals tax.

    It used to be that elected could hold a “hearing” and it was a limited ability of citizens to impact issues – a specific night at a specific place then the hearing is “closed” but in this day and time there are ample ways for the public to make their voice more “heard”.

  17. reed fawell III Avatar
    reed fawell III

    I understate that in other states I likely might get none of that. I am also sure that corruption is rampant in many states. But here my focus is on Virginia. What I see going on here includes matters where I have spend many hours researching official documents as well as current and very old new reports. Hence, I am able to write on this website on the issues I have.

    But this can be a very arduous game. Remember, as I’ve pointed out many times, official published reports in my opinion are often intentionally designed to cover-up, mislead, or obfuscate facts and overall truth. What I have found is that I have to wade hip deep through many official reports and news stories to begin to get at truth by cross-checking, comparing, and connecting the dots, to dig out things ranging from hints to smoking guns to discern what is happening, or to at least glean a big picture view of what is going on or likely going on.

    Of course much of what is done is never reported. For example, the VA. Dept. of Transportation commissioned a study to determine what existing I-81 truck traffic would generate in tolls if tolls were imposed so as to predict what truck traffic on the Bi-County Parkway would generate in truck toll should it be built to serve Dulles Air Cargo hub. Things like this pop out in off hand comments or footnotes if one wades thought endless details.

    So reality is often hidden and intentionally so, and has to be dug out and put together by inductive analysis to begin to get at the truth. On the other hand, I’m sure that many official reports are clear, straight and truthful. Such as, for example, that recent report put out the GA auditors on higher education expenditures.

    In short data and reports can be use to hide things while posing as truth.

    1. Reed – do you distrust what the Va Auditor and JLaRC do?

      1. reed fawell III Avatar
        reed fawell III

        Reagan said: Trust but verify.

        Reagan was wrong.

        One must verify and only then trust.

        1. same church, differen pew…

          but many no longer trust govt. hell they no longer trust non-govt institutions – like the Press or Public Schools or Universities or toll road operators!

          1. reed fawell III Avatar
            reed fawell III

            Precisely! You got it!

            It’s the central tenet of good government. The foundation stone from which the Founders designed the US Constitution.

  18. Virginia had its roots in slavery, a concept that demands a belief that classes of humans have very different values and, hence, rights. I don’t think this culture has totally disappeared. For example, there is a fundamental belief that rights in dirt are more valuable that rights to intangible personal property. If you own dirt and want to develop it, your property rights are more valuable than your neighbor’s right to his bank account. I don’t see the logic of this. DJR buys dirt. Larry buys common stocks. Why aren’t rights equal?

  19. I’m as ashamed of Va’s history on slavery as anyone, and likely much more critical of it – I note that there is a slave block in Arlington where some kidnapped blacks from the North were sold into slavery.. that’s in NoVa not RoVa.

    item #2 – Colonial Virginia before the hey days of black slavery but included de-facto slaves and apprentices view indentured servants – which you can see – replicas of in Williamsburg.

    People like Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry were not common men. there were, in fact, common men and women but it was the belief that only the educated gentry were truly capable of governance.

    that’s the “Virginia Way” that I visualize but perhaps others have a different, perhaps more factual view.

    My perception is that Va has a long history of smart elities deciding what is best for common folks who are uneducated and somewhat ignorant of governance issues that require the ability to read… and comprehend concepts ….

    Governance west of Va was often NOT done by elite entry but by common men and their form of governance is – in some respects much more respectful of non-elite viewpoints.

    #3 rights and dirt.. is this a Virginia-specific idea or a colonial idea?

    I know out west – it was about the property you owned – and if you did not own property – you were a drifter… or someone lacking real roots.

    but perhaps I’m ignorant of the differences between Virginia and other states.

  20. Larry, I don’t know why Virginia would treat rights in dirt as superior to rights in other property, including cash, but it seems to do so. I can see how a person should be able to develop to the existing Comp Plan and zoning classification so long as the development complies with all applicable laws and regulations. I also can see how a landowner should have the right to request a change in the Comp Plan or zoning classification. But there is no right to have such changes made, especially when the changes impose burdens on infrastructure. There should be no right to force taxpayers to fund the infrastructure costs.

  21. re: “rights in dirt” –

    I think most conservatives – beyond Va, probably see property and the use of it as a “right”.

    you may recall commenter “Hydra” here who often stated that land owners had a “bundle of rights” and development of their property was paramount.

    I used to argue with him about the “right to pollute”, i.e. activities on your property that lead to impacts to others and whether or not property rights guaranteed you access to public infrastructure.

    he was especially reactive to the idea that govt could tell a property owner how many lots could be subdivided .. what was “by-right” and why the property owner did not have the right to subdivide as he wished.

    I’m not sure we ever reached a middle ground but clearly what you do on your own property – ends at your property line.

    that goes for pollution as well as access to public water/sewer, public roads, etc.

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