The results of today's Arlington County School Board Democratic caucus are in, and Reid Goldstein is the winner by a 2:1 margin -- congratulations! (note: I voted for Reid, as I thought he had the most experience for the job)
Reid Goldstein Wins Arlington County Democratic Committee Caucus for
Arlington County School Board
Arlington, VA - May 16, 2015 - The Arlington County Democratic Committee (ACDC) announces that Reid Goldstein won the ACDC School Board Caucus, earning the ACDC endorsement for this fall's election. Reid Goldstein received 1,252 votes; Sharon Dorsey received 648 votes.
Arlington County Democratic Chairman Kip Malinosky issued the following statement:
"We are proud to endorse Reid. He has demonstrated leadership on educational issues and in the larger community. Reid will not only be a great voice for balancing the needs of school facilities, but also for improving instruction for all of Arlington's students."
Reid Goldstein stated: "I am grateful for and humbled by the support of so many Arlingtonians, and I appreciate the work of the Arlington County Democratic Committee in making this possible. I want to thank my wife and daughters for their patience and support, as well as my campaign team for their outstanding hard work. I thank Sharon Dorsey for a positive, thoughtful and energetic campaign, and Abby Raphael for her years of service to Arlington families. Arlington has an outstanding public school system. We face the challenge of growing enrollment as families are drawn to Arlington by our tradition of excellent education. We must maintain that excellence going forward as we work to close the achievement gap, provide for growing enrollment, and ensure openness and respect for diversity. I look forward to working with Arlington Democrats in the November election campaign, and hope to earn election to the School Board to work for our schools for the next four years."
When it comes to endorsements, Julie Jakopic got out to an early lead in the 45th House of Delegates Democratic primary race, with current Del. Rob Krupicka announcing his support for her candidacy, along with State Senator Dave Marsden and Delegates Patrick Hope, Kaye Kory, and Eileen Filler-Corn, among others (e.g., Arlington Commissioner of the Revenue Ingrid Morroy). I checked Clarence Tong's, Mark Levine's and Larry Altenburg's websites and Facebook pages, and didn't see any endorsements by elected officials for them. As for the remaining candidate, Craig Fifer, I just received the following press release (see the "flip"), which indicates that he's at least caught up to Julie Jakopic in terms of the number endorsements by elected officials for each of them (I count six for Jakopic, seven for Fifer).
The question is, how much do endorsements by elected officials matter (and do certain ones, for instance ones in the district, outweigh others)? My guess is that in this race, the most important thing will be local ties, plus the strength of campaigns in terms of ability to reach voters and get them to the polls. Endorsements certainly won't hurt, though, in communicating with voters. Meanwhile, I'm a bit surprised at the lack of endorsements for the other three candidates not named Julie Jakopic or Craig Fifer; any ideas why that might be the case? Also, to what extent do these endorsements indicate which candidates are seen as most likely to win by elected officials?
First off, let me just say that I despise what Dzhokhar Tsarnaev did - the tremendous damage and pain he (and his evil brother) caused, the innocent lives he took and/or severely harmed, etc. There's no excuse for any of it whatsoever, and society is 100% correct to make sure he never harms anyone again. Having said that, I have serious problems with the death penalty, and also a bunch of questions about why people support it. Here are five that spring to mind.
1. Many on the political right say they are "pro life," yet they simultaneously support the death penalty. How, if at all, can they logically reconcile that? Got me, other than they are really against a woman's right to choose whether or not to carry a pregnancy to term, and that this has very little to do with being "pro life" in any blanket sense.
2. Many/most on the political right (including some "libertarians") say they don't trust the government to do much of anything, yet a lot of them appear to be fine with giving the government the ultimate power of life and death. Again: how, if at all, can they logically reconcile that? Again, got me.
3. What is worse, life in Supermax hell or a quick, painless (that is, if the execution drugs or electric chair works properly) death? Clearly, the former, by all accounts I've read or otherwise heard of. So then why wouldn't people interested in vengeance favor the former over the latter for the Tsarnaevs of the world? Seems like they'd suffer worse there, so wouldn't that be "better" from a vengeance standpoint? Just sayin'...
4. Most on the political right want the government to spend less, so then why do they support capital punishment, when it costsmore than life in prison? Hmmmm.
5. Given zero evidence that the death penalty is a deterrent to crime, plus the fact that it costs more, is applied inconsistently and in a racially biased manner, etc, etc., what's the public policy argument for using it? Got me.
This past Thursday evening, Virginia House of Delegates Minority Leader, Del. David Toscano spoke at the Sorensen Institute Gala. The speech is excellent, and well worth reading, so I've reprinted the text below. I've also taken the liberty of bolding parts that jumped out at me as particularly interesting. For instance, Toscano's thoughts on "how we got to the point in this country where we no longer trust our scientists" are timely, relevant and important. As Toscano notes, we need to figure out "how we can restore respect for how empirical data can inform political discourse and sound social policy," on issues such as climate change for example. I couldn't agree more. With that, check out Del. Toscano's speech below.
Honored guests...it's great to be here with you tonight to talk about everything from civility to what it is like to be in the minority. And let me tell you, after 10 years in the House of Delegates, I know a lot about what it feels like to be in the minority.
I believe, of course, that the primary role of the minority is to become the majority. But beyond that, minorities have a special role to play in how political discourse is conducted. In my view, just saying "no" is not enough. To be sure, we have a key role critiquing the majority-in-committee, on the floor, and in the public, and using the weaknesses in their positions to draw distinctions. But we are also aware that we have a key role in how political discourse will be conducted. If all the minority does is to constantly roll hand grenades into the middle of the room, we will miss a great opportunity. There are, of course, times when we must take the offensive and that surely irritates the majority. But the way that we do it is important, not only to making our points, but also setting the stage for how we handle debate when we resume majority, as we inevitably will.
When you are in the minority, you sometimes feel you are starving for attention. So you seize every opportunity and resort to gimmicks - anything that makes things more interesting. For example, props. The ability to use props and charts is unique to the house chamber, and frankly speaking, it makes the house a much more interesting place to debate than in the Senate where such props are prohibited. Well, tonight we are not on the House floor, but I brought some props.
So let's start with one that will get the attention of my friend, Kirk Cox. He is a Yankees fan, and all I need to get his attention is to wave this Red Sox cap in front of him. If we didn't do things like this, Kirk would simply fall asleep watching a succession of 67-33 votes. Hell, I would fall asleep too.
Interesting move by the Emily Francis for State Senate campaign, going after both Dan "political hero is Ronald Reagan" Gecker and Alex McMurtrie in the following paid mailer (click to "embiggen") she just sent out. The question is, in a three-way Democratic primary, how the dynamics will play out? Personally, I'm assuming that the other two candidates - Gecker and McMurtrie - will end up going after each other hard by the end of this campaign, especially given that they have gobs of money (which Francis certainly does not). If so, then a possible path to victory for the Francis campaign would be along the lines of what happened in the 2009 gubernatorial primary, where the well-funded McAuliffe and Moran campaigns pounded the crap out of each other, while the underfunded Deeds stayed "positive," and took advantage in the closing weeks. Anyway, we'll see how this one plays out...stay tuned!
P.S. On another note related to this campaign, HUGE media #FAIL with their utter lack of coverage of the 10th Senate district debate held earlier this week. Simply appalling on the part of the media, which is completely failing in its most basic job in this case.
So, what happpened to the hordes of people who showed up (and exhibited such tremendous, er, passion) for the Fairfax County School Board debate the other day over which bathrooms transgender students should use? The Fairfax County School Board budget isn't as interesting, or more to the point as important to their kids' futures? In fact, the latter is infinitely more important to their kids' futures than the former, yet there were probably 200 times the number of people present for the former than the latter. You think people's priorities are a bit skewed, or what?!?
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Friday, May 15. Also, click on that image to "embiggen" and to understand why no Democrat should support Dan Gecker in the State Senate primary (in District 10- Chesterfield, Richmond, Powhatan) on June 9.
@LVozzella - "Is this an admission of paternity or just Joe Morrissey playing dress up?"
@LVozzella - "And the woman in the portrait? Is she the spurned lover/hacker?"
@MarcusSimon - "there is a lot happening in that photo. Just when you thought that saga couldn't get any weirder"
@TravisFain - "I am without words, because they are unnecessary."
@slday29 - "That's a teaser to the next season of his reality show."
Feel free to add your comments/captions in the comments section. Personally, I'm kinda speechless at the moment.
Thanks to strong progressive, environmentalist and 10th State Senate District candidate Emily Francis for highlighting this op-ed in today's RTD by Stephanie McClellan, Ph.D., "director of Special Initiatives on Offshore Wind at the University of Delaware" and "former director of strategic initiatives and outreach for the Atlantic Wind Connection." Here's an excerpt:
On Earth Day last month, Gov. Terry McAuliffe praised offshore wind energy for its job-creation potential for Virginia. The governor likely had not been told by Dominion Power that 24 hours later the utility would decide to "take a step back" from the much-touted offshore wind demonstration project based on a single bid for the project's construction.
McAuliffe should feel validated, not discouraged, as the facts are on his side. Dominion's decision should be seen as the regulated monopoly utility's need for outside expertise from those with experience in competitive offshore wind markets, rather than an ominous bellwether of offshore wind's future here.
...Virginia has a federally designated zone to develop this new industry. Its estimated potential is two gigawatts of power, enough to power 500,000 homes and create thousands of jobs in the process. Yet, there is no clear development plan or timeline available to the public, a fact that hinders market participation from the field of companies that want to drive the industry forward.
Our research shows costs can be cut by 10 percent to 20 percent just by creating competition. In addition, there was only one complete bid for this demonstration project - a situation that is almost guaranteed to result in an uncompetitive price.
There's a viable path to seize the opportunity in front of us, and the governor is right to see it and push for it. The sooner Dominion can draw on experienced experts to chart a clear path forward, the sooner Virginians can reap the significant economic benefits that offshore wind energy offers.
The problem, as usual, is out-of-control, state-protected monopoly, Dominion Virginia Power, and its utter disrespect for both the environment and the people of Virginia. The question is, when will Virginia's legislators get the courage to tell Dominion where to shove its dirty money, and to pass legislation that forces this dirty energy dinosaur to get with the 21st century? And no, given that our entire govenrment is "captured" (aka, "corrupted") by companies like Dominion, I'm not holding my breath...
P.S. Emily Francis is absoulety right: "Virginia has a huge opportunity to create jobs in the renewable energy market. Let's not wait any longer...let's put people to work."
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Thursday, May 14. Also, check out the video of Sen. Elizabeth Warren on last night's NewsHour, talking about trade promotion authority, and making a strong case for her position. By the way, if you're an Arlington Democrat who cares about education, don't forget to vote in the school board caucus today or Saturday.
Below, check out the latest in our series of cartoons, which previously have illustrated how Dominion Power feeds at the taxpayer-funded corporate welfare trough and controls our political system, among other problems with this out-of-control behemoth. The latest cartoon refers to Dominion's April 23 announcement that it was "putting the brakes on a plan to erect two test wind turbines off the coast of Virginia Beach because the project, as it stands now, is too expensive, according to the company." Note that Dominion's announcement came, ironically (?), just a day after Gov. McAuliffe's Earth Day signing of several clean energy jobs bills. At that signing ceremony, McAuliffe spoke of "the emerging clean energy jobs sector provid[ing] a tremendous opportunity for economic growth and diversification" in Virginia. A great vision, but not one, sadly, that will be achieved if Dominion Power gets its way...
If you live in Virginia and would like to shrink your carbon footprint, here's what passes for good news: We're now officially free to ban fracking. For two years, Old Dominion communities weren't at liberty to prevent that kind of oil and gas drilling.
After the cities of Staunton, Lynchburg, and several other local governments expressed reservations over fracking or tried to prevent it, former Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said they lacked the authority to block Big Fossil. In early May, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring overrode his predecessor's position and asserted that these local policies adhere to state law.
Either way, Richmond-based Dominion Resources, which wields near-monopoly power over Virginia's electric grid, wants to boost demand for this environmentally hazardous drilling. It's partnering with other companies on a $5 billion pipeline that will funnel gas fracked in West Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania over a 550-mile route to Virginia and North Carolina.
Dominion's dirty-energy ambitions for its home state don't stop there. The company also intends to drop $10 billion on a third nuclear reactor at a site within 50 miles of Richmond, Charlottesville, and Fredericksburg.
The firm Clean Edge ranks big utilities according to how much power they draw from solar, wind, and other renewable options and their energy efficiency efforts. Dominion made the bottom of the list.
While it recently minted a plan to invest $700 million in solar projects in Virginia, that would barely chip away at the state's reliance on power derived from coal, natural gas, and nuclear. And the company just shelved an offshore wind pilot just as the first project of that kind is getting underway off the Rhode Island coast.
Why is Dominion getting away with paying lip service to green energy?
Thanks to Brian Devine for pointing me in the direction of this article ("To replace Columbia Pike streetcar, Vihstadt proposes Circulator bus") on the always-excellent "Greater Greater Washington" website. The two key points it highlights are as follows.
1. Arlington County Board member John Vihstadt (note: he disingenuously calls himself an "independent," but he's been a big-time Republican donor and activist for years) is now calling for "Circulator-type buses" on Columbia Pike, but there's a big problem with that suggestion: "Bus service on Columbia Pike is already better than DC Circulator." Even worse, "Circulator-type buses" on Columbia Pike "would do nothing to solve the chronic overcrowding and bus bunching that PikeRide buses already face," "wouldn't address Columbia Pike's actual problems," is "not a replacement for streetcar, and it's not the kind of streetcar-comparable BRT that Vihstadt promised in his campaign. It's even a step down from articulated buses."
In other words, #FAIL all around for Vihstadt, whose 2014 County Board campaign was a model of demagoguery, b.s. and frankly flat-out lies (e.g., that "BRT" was possible on the Pike; that money was "fungible" between the streetcar and what he hand-wavingly called "core services").
2. It calls out Vihstadt for having "promised communities along Columbia Pike a real solution" to their pressing transportation needs. Instead, what we're getting is "flippant comments proposing something that already exists" and that "is less than the bare minimum to meet that promise." So, so true. And so, so unacceptable.
I'd add that the Orwellian-named group, "Arlingtonians for Sensible Transit" (AST), of which Vihstadt was a leading member, is proving more every day/week/month that goes by, that it was really not FOR anything, but actually should simply have been called "Arlingtonians AGAINST the Streetcar." Period. Why do I say this? Because, quite simply, since AST/Vihstadt et al. managed to kill the streetcar (with a huge assist by long-time streetcar advocates Mary Hynes and Jay Fisette, for no good reason I've ever heard), and after months of claiming that they could do something much cheaper and faster with most of the benefits of a streetcar system, AST has basically gone dark, with essentially no updates on their social media pages, no proposals for the promised alternative to the streetcar, etc. What happened? Where's the faster/cheaper option to the streetcar? How about ANY alternative to provide badly-needed transportation options and economic development opportunities along this relatively neglected portion of Arlington? Uhhhhh.
By the way, about the only "counterargument" we ever get from anti-streetcar folks is some variant on the theme that we should all just "get over it," "move on," that we lost and Vihstadt won, etc, etc. Which, of course, is an utterly non-substantive non-"argument" that does nothing to answer our questions, let alone make progress in terms of transportation and economic development along the Columbia Pike corridor. Not that Vihstadt really cares; after all, he's on the County Board for another 3 years 8 months, during which time he can focus on...apparently killing anything that doesn't fit into his cramped, short-sighted, anti-progressive, "penny-wise/pound-foolish" Republican worldview of what government can and should be there to accomplish.
P.S. There are some excellent comments on Brian Devine's Facebook thread on the GGW article. For instance:
*GGW is "correctly calling out a transit proposal that's both redundant and lazy. That makes it worse than the streetcar project that he and his AST buddies torpedoed...AST's raison d'être was to torpedo the streetcar plan. And the county had been holding hearings on the streetcar for years before that...AST went into overdrive opposing the streetcar and whipping up opposition to it, and now that it's dead not only are they and their allies on the board not coming up with any new proposals, they're actively denying their role in killing off the old one."
*"John and Libby campaigned on the notion that they had alternatives and that the best alternative was some kind of BRT. They capitalized on everyone else's failure and drove the stake into the project. So now that they have effectively killed the streetcar, their silence is deafening. Be it on transportation, school and facility siting, or housing issues, Arlington government right now is simply not functioning. People want vision, they want plans, they want answers. And so it is absolutely right to ask the prime proponents of 'alternatives' where their alternatives are. And it is incumbent on those others who supported the streetcar to either do the same, or explain why we are not. And if there are no alternatives, then the task is to begin again considering whether the streetcar is indeed the best available solution."
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