Tuesday, July 29, 2008
It was a good and cordial meeting with the former Governor of Virginia, a man I have met on several occasions now and I've come away from each meeting with an even greater admiration for the guy. Jim Gilmore has a great message for the citizen of Virginia, but he also has an uphill battle in his efforts to dislodge the myths surrounding Gov. Warner.
His honesty and trustworthiness is refreshing, coming from a political animal. I firmly believe that if Jim Gilmore says he's going to do something, then that something will get done. One way or another.
Watch this space for the interview.
The man who ran Senator Jim Webb's Senate office in southwest Virginia is dead.I didn't know Mr. Hutchins, but Senator Webb's description makes him sound like someone I would have liked. Condolences go out to his family from us here at I'm Not Emeril.
Botetourt County authorities are investigating the gunshot death of a 26-year-old Fred Hutchins of Roanoke. His body was found shortly after seven o'clock this morning by a deputy sheriff who stopped to check on a vehicle parked on the shoulder of the southbound lanes of US 220 north of Fincastle.
Sheriff Sprinkle identified the man as Frederick Wayne Hutchins, Jr., of Roanoke.
Hutchins had a single gunshot wound to the head and was found outside the vehicle on a small embankment beside the road. A gun was found beneath the body.
Botetourt authorities believe the death occurred between 4:30 a.m., when an officer passed the scene and no vehicle was present, and 7:08 a.m., when another officer stopped to check on the parked vehicle.
Press release from Senator Jim Webb's office:
Statement of Senator Jim Webb on the Death of Fred Hutchins
Washington, DC-Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) today issued the following statement:
"I am terribly saddened by the tragic and sudden death of Fred Hutchins, who diligently managed our Roanoke Senate office. Freddie was one of the most honorable and friendly individuals I have had the pleasure of knowing. He was a mainstay in the Roanoke community and a friend to all who knew him. My condolences go out to his mother, Karen, and the rest of his family and friends. He will be greatly missed."
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
I intended to ignore the terribly confusing "editor's note" that was placed at the end of Del. Marshall's Op-Ed. I even held my tongue when the same confusing note was placed after Del. Merrick's piece.
But now that the confusing editor's note has been further blurred by Del. Armstrong's letter and the Bulletin has allowed Roy Carter to call both Delegates Marshall and Merricks liars in a public arena, I must respond.
Let me set the record straight, in language we can all understand. No political doublespeak, no blindly following the lead of a favored politician. No party slant.
The Bill introduced by Del. Armstrong as a favor to the Governor can be found online here; http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-
His bill was introduced onto the floor of the House on July 9. Under the Rules of the House, a Bill must be on the floor for 3 days before a vote can be taken. A motion was offered to suspend that rule and proceed to a vote. That motion died on a Party line vote. All Republicans voted to proceed with a vote on the Governor's Plan. All Democrats (Including Del. Armstrong) voted against proceeding to a vote. The Bill then went back to the Rules Committee.
Later, after loud public complaints from Del. Armstrong that the Governor's plan would not be voted on, Del. Clifford "Clay" Athey re-introduced the Governor's plan as a substitute for Sen. Saslaw's SB 6009. Del. Athey's substitute was identical, word for word, to Del. Armstrong's HB6026. You can view his substitute here; http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-
Del. Armstrong wants you to read his letter, (and that little "editor's note" at the end of the letters from Marshall and Merricks) and assume that Del. Athey introduced something else entirely. He did not. He simply placed Ward Armstrong's original words back before the House for a vote. That vote failed, 98-0. In summary, the Governor's plan was offered to the floor twice, each time every Democrat in the House voted against it.
Monday, July 14, 2008
Transportation Update: What Just Happened ??
By Delegate Danny Marshall
Your Virginia General Assembly is, by the design of our founding fathers, a “part-time” legislature. Our legislative sessions in Richmond are usually handled in 45 or 60 days. The rest of the year we live and work among the citizens of our district. The idea is efficiency and less state government interference in your lives.
We have just completed a “special” transportation session called by Governor Tim Kaine, who declared a transportation “crisis.” This session cost the Virginia taxpayers more than $100,000. It is interesting that there was no transportation “crisis” recognized during January and February when we were putting together the state budget. Actually, during the 2008 regular session we restored $180 million for key transportation projects that the Governor had diverted to other projects.
When we reconvened this week, the Governor’s proposals of tax and fee increases that he had presented at more than a dozen town hall meetings across the state were not even agreed to by his own party. When his original bill was brought to a floor vote in the House of Delegates, the vote was 0 yes and 98 no. This was the bill that Martinsville Delegate Ward Armstrong carried for the Governor.
What just happened? Why were we called to Richmond when preliminary work had not been properly completed? The Governor called the session. It is his responsibility to request that bipartisan committees work on viable solutions before the whole body was called in to vote, if indeed he was expecting a workable solution. I have never been very tolerant of wasting time and money, especially for political grandstanding.
I will be straightforward. All proposals introduced by the Governor and the Democrats were to raise taxes: higher gas taxes during a time of record high gas prices, higher taxes on auto sales during an auto industry recession, higher taxes on home purchases when the housing market is already down, and a higher sales and use tax when consumers are already cutting their family budgets to make ends meet.
If legislators do not vote to raise taxes, we are summoned back to Richmond to “take responsibility, to make the hard choices.” Raising taxes seems to be the first and only answer in some minds for solving all problems. Is that really the hard choice? Actually, it is relatively easy for a legislature to do-- just press the voting buttons and declare that taxpayers must reach in their pockets and give the state more money. How innovative is that? The hard choice and responsible position during difficult economic times is taking the money you have and spending it carefully and wisely, while looking for all possible solutions to problems. Many Southside citizens seem to agree, since that was the overwhelming theme in the responses sent to me on my district survey.
While we were in Richmond we did try to make progress without raising statewide taxes. There were bills introduced that were geared toward responsible spending and laying solid groundwork for use of transportation money. The results are below. You will see a pattern of those who refused to lock up transportation dollars for transportation use only and who voted against accountability and alternative solutions. Note the House has a Republican majority and the Senate has a Democrat majority.
- Transportation Trust Fund Constitutional Amendment – HJ 6005 (Danny Marshall-R) combined with/rolled into HJ 6001 (Oder-R)
- Provides a guarantee to the citizens of Virginia that money dedicated to transportation will be spent on transportation.
- Passed House 94-0, Senate Adjourned Before Taking Action
- Provides more realistic assessment of maintenance needs and revenues that will be available, as well as thorough audit of VDOT to identify waste and inefficiencies. Based on successful Washington state model.
- HB 6023 Passed House 95-0, Left in Senate Rules
- HB 6046 Passed House 90-0, Killed in Senate Finance
- Transportation Accountability Commission Enhancement – HB 6051 (May-R)
- Clarifies that Commission has a direct role in overseeing the PPTA process as practiced by VDOT or the other agencies within the Transportation Secretariat. Helps ensure that needed projects are delivered more quickly – thus speeding congestion relief and saving taxpayers money.
- Passed House 98-0, Left in Senate Rules
- PPTA Expedited Schedule – HB 6044 (Hamilton-R)
- Provides specific timeline for acting on critical PPTA projects so VDOT will be forced to act on these proposals in a timely manner.
- Passed House 67-28, Killed in Senate Transportation
- Bridge Maintenance Contracts – HB 6047 (Lingamfelter-R)
- Provides means to maximize allocated resources to address bridge maintenance and improve safety. Based on successful Missouri model.
- Passed House 86-6, Killed in Senate Transportation
- PPTA Concessions for Hampton Roads – HB 6019 (Hamilton-R)
- Directs VDOT to impose tolls or issue an RFP for a transportation concession on three major Hampton Roads transportation “choke” points and on all Hampton Roads HOV lanes that are converted to tolled HOT lanes.
- Passed House 51-44, Killed in Senate Transportation
- Offshore Drilling Royalties –HB 6006 (Saxman-R)
- Dedicates future royalties from offshore drilling of natural gas and oil in Virginia to transportation funding, Chesapeake Bay clean-up and energy research and development.
- Passed House 56-39, Killed in Senate 16-18
- Transportation Funding for Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads – HB 6055 (Hamilton-R)
- Provides up to $600 million in Northern Virginia and $300 million in Hampton Roads for transportation funding through dedication of 30% of future growth of certain revenue sources derived from economic activity relating to Dulles and Reagan National airports and the Hampton Roads Ports respectively.
- Passed House 51-45, Killed in Senate Finance
Each year we have addressed transportation issues and increased the funding. Here are some seldom-publicized facts:
- In 2005, invested $850 million to reduce congestion (HB 1500)
- In 2006, built upon that progress by directing $568 million in surplus dollars and ongoing funding (HB 5002)
- In 2007, financed largest investment in two decades, $3 billion for road, rail & transit projects. (HB 3202)
- In 2008, restored $180 million in funding for key projects diverted by Governor Kaine. (HB 30)
I still believe that this was NOT the right time to raise taxes statewide, but it WAS the right time to pass common sense legislation that would secure the transportation fund and explore alternative ways to alleviate transportation problems. What just happened….we missed an opportunity.
Delegate Danny Marshall represents the 14th House District which includes:
City of Danville: all precincts
Henry County precincts: Ridgeway, Irisburg, Mt. Olivet, Fontaine, Hillcrest
Pittsylvania County precincts: Ringgold, Ferry Road, Brosville, Bachelors Hall
District office: 434-797-5861
Postal mail: P.O. Box 439, Danville, VA 24543Website: www.dannymarshall.com
NOTE: The above Op-Ed was previously contributed to the Martinsville Bulletin, prior to the publication of Sunday's biased editorial. It remains to be seen whether the Bulletin publishes the other side of the debate or not.
(I'm taking bets via e-mail, right now the odds are long against it.)
Sunday, July 06, 2008
One of my dream jobs would be to write for a newspaper, but an editor would insist that I actually do it—write, that is—all the time.
In a way I do, though. I write at least one article a day for this site. In my head. While I'm thinking, or maybe pondering is a better word, about the state of our Union and Virginia. Or our local community. But what I write up there seldom reaches the level of competency that I place on myself. Perhaps, if I made myself sit down at a keyboard and work the roughness off the words I've head-composed, I could put up an article a day. I'll work on that. At least an article a week. I promise.
In the meantime, as Rocky used to say to Bullwinkle, "Here's something you'll really like."
Barnie Day, former Delegate, former SCC judge candidate, and current farm-pond fisherman and banker from Meadows of Dan, has managed to sum up the upcoming Presidential race. Those of us who think politics all day, everyday, have known this all along. It takes the writing skills of one much more disciplined than I to put it so succinctly.
Bubba Believes In Religion
(and other true facts)
B. K. Day
Bubba doesn’t write checks, or use ATMs. Bubba’s ol’ lady keeps up with the money. Bubba prefers folding, front pocket whip-out.
Bubba doesn’t send emails. He owns a cell phone, but he only uses it during deer season. He doesn’t own a Blackberry. Bubba likes blackberry cobbler.
Bubba doesn’t wear Crocs, or cook with olive oil. Or balsamic vinegar. Bubba doesn’t peel his tomatoes.
Bubba doesn’t think men ought to marry men, or women women. He’s got a cousin who’s a little bit light in the loafers, but everybody knows that’s ‘cause his mama let him put on lipstick and play dress-up when he was little.
Bubba might call his mother-in-law by her first name, and he might not. It depends on whether or not she’s still alive. When he’s just thinking about her, the b-word rises in his mind.
Bubba thought a lot of Jesse Helms. He wouldn’t vote for Hillary if she was the last man on earth—and not just because of the fat ankles. Bubba never had trouble with fat ankles. His mama and his sister and his wife have them. Too bad about ol’ Jesse.
Bubba doesn’t shop. His ol’ lady buys his clothes for him—she knows what to get—he likes logos and decals. Anything else he needs, his sister orders it from Cabella’s on her credit card and Bubba gives her the money from his whip-out.
Bubba knows some good minorities. He works with a few of them. The ones he knows are alright. He don’t trust the rest of them—and he don’t like it when they marry Americans. Bubba thinks folks ought to marry their own kind.
Bubba will lie to a pollster. It’s none of their damn business. He don’t like McCain, or Obama, neither, but he’ll probably vote. He just ain’t decided how yet. Not for certain. McCain’s ol’ lady’s just got too much money. He wishes Dale, Jr. would run.
Bubba don’t like banks or insurance companies. He thinks they’re all sonsofbitches. He don’t like preachers, neither. He thinks most of them are sonsofibtches, too—except the ones he knows.
Bubba believes in religion. He thinks everybody ought to believe in something, but he don’t get too tangled up in the details. Bubba thinks religions are all about the same when it comes right down to it—except for the Jews and the Catholics and the Muslims, the Lutherans, the Episcowhatyoucallems, and them high and mighty Presbyterians. And a ‘nother thang—he don’t trust them churches that run off good preachers every four years. Or them you have to go to on Saturdays. Or them that call the head man anything besides ‘preacher.’
Bubba thinks we ought to bomb the hell out of whoever is making gas go to four dollars a gallon.
Bubba doesn’t have a garden. Bubba’s got a garden-spot. He puts out beans, and taters and such.
Bubba doesn’t play golf. He sights in his blackpowder on the weekends. He’ll go to Myrtle Beach for a day or two, just to shut his ol’ lady up, but he prefers Buggs Island.
Bubba has never paid someone to change his oil. Bubba doesn’t have a job that pays mileage reimbursement.
Bubba drinks—a little—on the weekends—mostly beer. If he’s got a bottle of Old Crow—and he does—it’s in the tool box in the back of his truck. He’d drink water out of a mudhole before he would a glass of wine.
Bubba used to smoke—and he still does when his ol’ lady ain’t around—too much chin music now—but not in the house—out in his shop where he keeps his stuff.
Bubba ain’t had a physical in years—if he had insurance, they wouldn’t cover it, the sonsofbitches. Besides that, Bubba don’t like rubber gloves.
Bubba don’t worry about physicals. Bubba knows none of us get out of this alive—we all got to go sometime.
Bubba doesn’t know what “empowered” means. Bubba doesn’t know what “empowered” feels like, and hasn’t thought about it. Bubba doesn’t know his time has come.
Bubba doesn’t know what a “swing” voter is. He doesn’t know that’s what he is.
Bubba doesn’t know he’s going to elect the next President.
Barnie doesn't mention it, but there are two Bubbas in this land. Each alike as Barnie describes them, yet totally opposite in a more important way.
Bubba One is a Demmycrat. Daddy was a Demmycrat, Granddaddy was a Demmycrat, Great-Granddaddy was a Demmycrat, and by-cracky he'll always vote Demmycrat for their sake if no other.
Bubba Two claims no political affiliation. He votes for the candidate that best fits his conservative ideals, which means he most often votes Republican. Oh, sure, he voted for Virgil "back then" and still does, because he can count on Virgil to stand on those conservative principles. He did "back then", he does so now.
Here's where the problem comes in;
Bubba One, the Demmycrat for tradition's sake, will have a real hard time voting for "that-black-muslim-guy-with-the-funny-name"*. After all, southern Democrats fought civil rights tooth and nail for years. His Daddy did. His Granddaddy did, his Great-Granddaddy did. In short, he's conflicted.
Bubba Two, on the other hand, has always had a real hard line conservative to choose from. A conservative who has shown a real belief in smaller government, less intrusion into his private life, and the ideal that all men are created equal. He will have a hard time with the guy who has consistently tweaked the Republican party's nose, fought for and passed needless intrusion into Bubba's right to contribute his whip-out to the candidate of his choice, and has expressed a desire to immunize those who are currently in the country illegally.
With Obama scrambling toward the right, even loosening his stance on keeping troops in Iraq, Bubba One is starting to wonder...
With McCain lurching leftward, even denouncing oil exploration in areas previously deemed OK for drilling, Bubba Two is starting to wonder...
* I know he's not really Muslim, but he is perceived to be by many Bubbas.