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Two Meetings on the Risks of Fracking to Northern Virginia's Water Supply

by: lowkell

Fri Mar 28, 2014 at 14:26:16 PM EDT

I received this from Earthworks and thought it was well worth passing along. For my reports on the public meeting held in Arlington in late January, see here and here.

Fracking Risks to Drinking Water for Fairfax County & DC Metro Area

Join me Monday March 31 or Thursday April 3 at 7pm

Dear Lowell,

Join me to learn about the potential for fracking in the George Washington National Forest, the source of drinking water for Fairfax and much of the D.C. metropolitan area.

The U.S. Forest Service could decide soon whether to allow fracking and horizontal drilling for natural gas in the George Washington National Forest. Major D.C. area water providers, local governments, and conservation organizations have warned that fracking could threaten a range of resources--including the headwaters of the Potomac River, the D.C. area's major drinking source.

Burke, VA
Monday, March 31 at 7pm with refreshments
Burke Library
5935 Freds Oak Road

Oakton, VA
Thursday, April 3 at 7pm with pizza
Oakton Library
10304 Lynnhaven Place

At the Thursday event we will discuss strategy and write short letters to our elected officials. The letters will be easy to write--all you have to do is fill in the blanks. 

These events are hosted by the Sierra Club/Great Falls Group.

See you there,

Dusty Horwitt, Earthworks Senior Analyst

P.S. Read more about fracking in the George Washington National Forest here.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Former DPVA Political Director Clark Mercer: Time for "Dinosaur" Committee Meeting Format to Change

by: lowkell

Fri Mar 28, 2014 at 09:35:12 AM EDT

The following comment by former DPVA Political Director, former Alexandria Democratic Committee chair, and current Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam Chief of Staff Clark Mercer was originally posted on Tom Greeson's Facebook page, and is reprinted here with Clark's permission. It's in response to Tom Greeson's question, "Was there really a quorum call at the ‪#‎FCDC‬ meeting tonight to prevent ordinary business? Why was that? Praying for a peace treaty!" This prompted a lot of comments, including one by Ben Tribbett that Clark references ("No offense, but for most of us in the room, we were not interested in hearing more people make points. Virtually everyone there had decided how they were going to vote. I understand you wanted to speak, but the rest of us (and our time) have to be respected also. There were multiple speakers on both sides of the issue. The Chair does not have to allow every member to speak on every issue they want to speak on.").

I couldn't agree more with Clark (and Ben), and honestly wonder why anyone would want to attend Democratic committee meetings when this kind of stuff is what they get to sit there and watch for hour after hour. What a complete waste of time. Anyway, here's Clark's epic comment (formatting and bolding added by me for clarity and emphasis):

Tom Greeson's last comment is spot on as they say. Volunteer based organizations such as these are very tough to run, and if members want to cause meetings to run slow or get off track, then can. People pay a lot of money and go to really fancy schools to learn how to manage non profits- it's a very tough task. Given the size and scope of Fairfax, the budget of FCDC, and the competing interests and priorities of folks, it's remarkable the amount of work and production that comes out of the committee. FCDC is no different than many other Dem or Republican organizations, or for that matter service-related groups such as the Moose Lodge, NAACP, Masons, etc. that all thrived 20+ years ago with a monthly committee meeting format.

Things have changed across the board now with how people plug into their communities and give their time and treasure. The monthly committee format for all these groups is a dinosaur if not retooled to give members a tangible opportunity to "do stuff" (real technical term!). Members need to walk away feeling like they have moved the ball forward in electing Democrats and growing the party. Spending too much time on officer reports and things that can be communicated over email will drive people away- you have one chance to make an impression on a new, or potentially new, member. You have to ask yourself why a quorum isn't being attained- members should want to attend meetings. OFA and DFA are groups that put members to work.

Benjamin Tribbett's comment is also spot on- with respecting people's times. We just don't have so much spare time to waste going to unproductive meetings. How many calls could FCDC members crank through in 1/2 hour if there was a quorum, how many letters on Medicaid could be written, etc. Maybe 20 years ago you needed to go to a meeting in person to find out what was going on, who was running for office, how to donate, where to show up to a rally, etc. That's simply no longer the case and committees have to understand the seismic shift in how people engage if they are going to attract and keep new members and "get stuff done".

Now, why can't there be a whole bunch more Clark Mercers in the Democratic Party? If so, we'd be a lot more effective than we are now, win a lot more elections, and make this state and country a lot better place. But noooooo.... :(

P.S. This is not meant in any way to disparage the efforts of superb people like FCDC Chair Sue Langley, who from what I hear did an excellent job handling the situation Tuesday night (e.g., she followed the rules and did what she had to do).

Discuss :: (15 Comments)

Video: Rob Krupicka Says His Colleagues Can Shave Their "Growing Beards" Today...

by: lowkell

Thu Mar 27, 2014 at 18:39:45 PM EDT

...by simply voting for a budget that brings Virginia tax dollars back to Virginia, that funds education and healthcare in our state, and that does so without raising taxes on anyone. What is there not to like in that plan? Only a Republican, particularly one suffering from severe Obama Derangement Syndrome, could give you the answer to THAT question!

P.S. The "growing beards" reference was to the puerile, frat-boy Virginia House Republicans who are not shaving until we have a budget. Of course, the fact that it is THEIR PARTY that's preventing us from getting a budget seems to have escaped them. Also, why these guys not shaving would have any impact on anyone is beyond me. Just deeply weird people.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Virginia News Headlines: Friday Morning

by: lowkell

Fri Mar 28, 2014 at 06:50:12 AM EDT

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Friday, March 28.

*6 Million and Counting! (And that doesn't count the millions more covered under expanded Medicaid, or however many are covered under their parents' plans through age 26, or the rest of us who benefit from no preexisting conditions restrictions and the many, many other advantages under the Affordable Care Act.)
*Obamacare Fails to Fail ("The reality is quite different: enrollments have clearly surged in the final month.")
*Report Details Claim by Ally: Christie Knew of Bridge Lane Closings (If so, Christie's 2016 presidential hopes are almost certainly toast.)
*Putin is living in a fantasy world ("Obama pursues the right response to Russia's 19th-century behavior.")
*Tilting at windbags over Russia ("I had no idea so many Republicans were nostalgic for the Cold War. President Obama should dust off the zinger he used in a campaign debate against Mitt Romney: 'The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back.'")
*With Deadline Near, Health Signups Show Disparity ("With the first open enrollment period set to end Monday, the Affordable Care Act looks less like a sweeping federal overhaul than a collection of individual ventures playing out unevenly, state to state, in the laboratories of democracy.")
*New Data on Jet's Speed Shifts Search Area 700 Miles
*McAuliffe says he did not approve PAC solicitation
*Va. governor's PAC to tone down fundraising appeal (A very wise move; don't give Republicans any free/easy political ammo to attack you with!)
*Medicaid debate continues to stall Virginia budget (Not sure how it ever gets unstalled, given GOP "Obamacare Derangement Syndrome" and all.)
*Deeds report: Officials didn't act on mental-health reforms ("Recommendations on Virginia's emergency psychiatric care went unheeded for nearly two years.")
*McAuliffe vetoes National Guard prayer legislation
*Out-of-county anti-taxer prompts confrontation in Chesterfield (Totally not surprising that it involved the Koch-brothers-financed, Orwellian-named "Americans for Prosperity.")
*Warner sponsors bill to expand health care options ("Warner's Expanded Consumer Choice Act, co-sponsored by Sen. Mark Begich, a Democrat from Alaska, would provide for a new, lower-cost health coverage option for consumers, set up a process to allow coverage plans to be offered regionally and across state lines, and ease unnecessary reporting requirements for employers.")
*The damage of short-term loans ("Public records show that, over the past four years, five of the most generous short-term lending companies have combined to donate more than $1 million to the state Republican and Democratic parties, top state lawmakers - including House Speaker Bill Howell, Democratic Sen. Dick Saslaw and Republican Sen. Tommy Norment - and affiliated political action committees.")
*Chorus builds on Beach arena
*Virginia Beach to explore braking light rail at Town Center
*George Mason professor attacked with pepper spray during lecture
*Pursuing dual passions for environmental law - and Bach (Nice profile of Arlington Democratic activist and environmentalist Jason Rylander.)
*Another dose of rain, wind and chill before March makes a lamblike exit

Discuss :: (7 Comments)

Case Study: How An Attack Can Actually Turn Into a Positive in Politics

by: lowkell

Thu Mar 27, 2014 at 14:33:08 PM EDT

As a Virginia Democratic political blogger who lives in the 8th CD, I get pitched on stories by the various 8th CD Democratic candidates fairly frequently. Some of the pitches are good ones (e.g., newsworthy, interesting), some of them are "meh," and some are...well, let's just say, not worth blogging about.

One of those "definitely not worth blogging about" pitches came a couple weeks ago, when I was informed that - are you sitting down now? - a certain 8th CD Democratic candidate was against gay marriage back in 1997. I'm being snarky here not because this isn't a serious issue, but for several other reasons:

1) Back in the late 1990s, according to Gallup, support for same-sex marriage was very low, in the 27%-30% range (vs. opposition in the 60s).

2) Overwhelmingly, prominent Democratic politicians weren't out front of public opinion on this issue. For instance, in 1996, Bill Clinton said upon signing the deplorable "Defense of Marriage Act," "I have long opposed governmental recognition of same-gender marriages and this legislation is consistent with that position." Also in 1996, Clinton said to The Advocate, "I remain opposed to same-sex marriage. I believe marriage is an institution for the union of a man and a woman." That was pretty much the typical position of Democratic politicians back then, with very few exceptions. For instance, Al Gore said he agreed with George W. Bush's statement in a debate that "I'm not for gay marriage. I think marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman." Finally, a gay friend of mine notes that not even Howard Dean was for same-sex marriage in 2003 (let alone 1997), and that in the 2003-2004 Democratic presidential primaries, only Dennis Kucinich, Al Sharpton, and Carol Moseley Braun were for same-sex marriage. Nobody else in the 2003/2004 Democratic primary field had "evolved" that far, including eventual 2004 Democratic Presidential nominee John Kerry (he said that "for historical, cultural and religious reasons, most in American society regard marriage as a 'union between a man and a woman,'" and that he supported "civil unions"). (Also note that neither Hillary Clinton nor Barack Obama were for same-sex marriage in 2008)

3) As for Virginia Democrats, other than the courageous Chuck Robb, I'm not sure if any other prominent one supported same-sex marriage back in 1997. That's to Chuck Robb's credit, and everyone else's detriment I suppose, but again, support for same-sex marriage was clearly a minority position back in 1997, one that very few politicians were willing to adopt publicly. (Note: Jim Moran and Bobby Scott both voted against DOMA in 1996)

There's More... :: (4 Comments, 560 words in story)

Supporting the Individual Mandate: A Bipartisan Stance?

by: dpva

Thu Mar 27, 2014 at 14:56:24 PM EDT

( - promoted by lowkell)

RICHMOND, VA - This week, Ed Gillespie's campaign sent out a fundraising email stating that he was "a vocal opponent" of the Affordable Care Act "sounding the alarm about its mandates" even before it came into law. Yet in his memoir published in 2006, he recommended gaining compliance for the mandate through the U.S. tax code. He then went on CSPAN to reiterate that point. Ultimately, he was paid $300,000 to be the spokesman for a coalition that made the individual mandate the centerpiece of its health reform plan.

This made us wonder, who else supported the individual mandate during the debate about health reform?

We put together a new video to help jog Ed's memory.

"As a career partisan and Washington lobbyist, Ed may be comfortable abandoning his previous positions, but he's going have a hard time explaining his hypocrisy on the individual mandate to Virginians," said DPVA spokeswoman Ashley Bauman. "Gillespie cannot dodge questions about his purported beliefs forever."

Watch here:

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

New Study Demolishes Anti-Streetcar Arguments; Project Benefits Means It More than Pays for Itself

by: lowkell

Thu Mar 27, 2014 at 08:23:48 AM EDT

Great, albeit not surprising, news.
A Columbia Pike streetcar would spur $3.2 billion to $4.4 billion in development over the next 30 years in Arlington and Fairfax counties, triple the amount that would be triggered by improving bus transit, according to a consultant's study released Wednesday.

The report by HR&A Advisors said the benefits of building a streetcar line between Bailey's Crossroads and Pentagon City would far exceed the expected $310 million cost of the project - boosting property values, new construction and tax revenue.

Development encouraged by the streetcar project would result in as many as 6,600 new jobs...

If you're interested, I strongly recommend that you check out the study for yourself. Also, I've taken a few screen shots of highlights, which you can see below. The bottom lines are:

1. The economic benefits to Arlington and Fairfax Counties that would come from investing in a streetcar system rather than enhanced bus service are enormous. It's not even close. Heck, it's not even CLOSE to being close. Which really calls into question what the anti-streetcar folks - including Republican and anti-streetcar County Board candidate John Vihstadt - have been yammering about the past few months. It's never made any sense to me, and after this study, I am 100% certain that the anti-streetcar folks' arguments are just dead wrong.

2. Because of its enormous return on investment, the streetcar MORE THAN PAYS FOR ITSELF! Assuming a 3% discount rate, for instance, the streetcar brings in $895 million in additional tax revenues over 30 years, nearly THREE TIMES the $310 million cost of building the streetcar system. Enhanced bus service brings in far, far less tax revenue, in large part because it spurs far, far less economic development. The streetcar also carries more passengers than enhanced bus service. In short, there are NO economic or tax revenue advantages to enhanced bus service over a streetcar system along Columbia Pike. Z-E-R-O. Case closed. Build the darn streetcar already and let's start enjoying the (massive) benefits that will flow from it!

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 3 words in story)

Virginia News Headlines: Thursday Morning

by: lowkell

Thu Mar 27, 2014 at 06:52:02 AM EDT

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Thursday, March 27. Also, check out the frat boys...er, Republican House of Delegates members, acting like 7th graders and generally being idiots. Oh, and of course, right-wing nutjob David Ramadan just loves it.

*Barack Obama: US and EU will coordinate deeper sanctions against Russia
*Thai satellite finds 300 objects in plane search area
*Obama seeks papal blessing
*Obama Tells Pope Francis He Is a "Great Admirer"
*House GOP Weighs Next Move On The Contraceptive Mandate ("'We write the laws not the Supreme Court,' said Rep. Michele Bachmann." And that's a frightening thought!)
*Charting the years-long decline of local news reporting
*Va. poll: Hillary Clinton sweeps GOP field ("In more good news for Democrats in the purple state, the poll also showed Sen. Mark Warner...with a strong lead over his Republican challenger, Ed Gillespie, ahead 46 percent to 31 percent.")
*McDonnell calls wife's testimony key to his defense
*Check's in the mail: McAuliffe quietly donates 'tainted' funds ("Word of McAuliffe's previously unpublicized gift comes about two weeks after Jeffrey Thompson of Washington reportedly pled guilty to dispersing more than $2 million in illegal campaign donations over six years.")
*Experts say splitting McDonnells' cases could help ex-Va. governor, wife ("A request to sever the couple's legal proceedings might provide strategic advantages to both.")
*Virginia GOP is running low on cash
*Democratic governor's PAC receives $10K
*Va. Republicans need to end their excuses for not expanding medicaid ("The state routinely accepts federal dollars on less generous terms without similar hand-wringing, and the legislature would be able to roll back the program if the feds pulled back on the funding.")
*Deeds report done but being withheld from public (Why would it be withheld?)
*Rep. Connolly Introduces Bill to Give 3.3 Percent Raise to Federal Workers
*Filing Deadline for Dem Primary Arrives ("The end of the business day today, March 27, marks the filing deadline for the 11 candidates who've announced they'll seek the Democratic Party nomination to fill the seat being vacated after 23 years by Rep. Jim Moran.")
*U.Va. student sues state, ABC agents for $40 million
*8-year-old girl's appearance is beyond 'hairstyle and tomboy issue,' Christian school says (This is happening in America, 2014?!? Wow.)
*Va. senator wants McAuliffe to beef up ethics bills
*Consultants: Columbia Pike streetcar would bring more money, growth than bus transit ("The report by HR&A Advisors said the benefits of building a streetcar line between Bailey's Crossroads and Pentagon City would far exceed the expected $310 million cost of the project - boosting property values, new construction and tax revenue.")
*Sunshine before a soggy weekend ("The day starts off chilly, but sunshine should be strong enough to warm things up.")

Discuss :: (5 Comments)

House Republicans Treat Healthcare for 100s of 1000s of Virginians as Some Sort of Joke

by: lowkell

Wed Mar 26, 2014 at 20:22:33 PM EDT

Courtesy of Del. Ken Plum, this is the "mentality" level (using the word "mentality" very loosely) of House Republicans and their "fraternity house" behavior. I've asked this many times before, but I'll ask it again: why on earth does ANYONE vote Republican?
A Startling Display of Arrogance!
In a display of gross arrogance, the Republican leadership of the House of Delegates under the direction of the Speaker of the House marched across the Capitol with the House passed budget to the Senate Chamber that they knew would be dark as the Senate had adjourned in order to give the public an opportunity to testify on the Governor's proposed budget.

Amid laughter and clapping, this fraternity house gesture may have seemed to the participants as a sign of their legislative power. To others observing their shenanigans, however, the weakness of their position of refusing to provide medical care to the working poor and the pathetic lack of responsible leadership among the House senior membership were evident.

The rush down the hall to the Senate was symbolic of the House's insistence on passing a bill quickly and without a discussion of a program that absorbs more than 20% of the budget. Clearly they are in a panic with what happens when the general public becomes aware of the positive implications to the entire budget with an expansion of the Medicaid program.

As Governor McAuliffe's budget clearly shows, Medicaid expansion frees up a net of $225 million of current dollars that can be used to give a long-overdue two percent increase for state employees, K-12 teachers and support personnel, and college and university faculty; $17 million for the line of duty act for families of first responders lost in duty; an additional nearly $9 million for mental health; more than $7 million for pre-K funding and a like amount for land conservation; over $5 million restored to Northern Virginia schools; and others.

Most significantly the Governor's budget provides medical insurance coverage for up to 400,000 working poor Virginians and brings back to the state $5 million a day in federal taxes paid by Virginians.

When compared with the Governor's budget, the budget pushed through by the House Republican majority is woefully deficient. Though not their intent, it was fitting that the House Republican leaders delivered their budget to an empty Senate Chamber in the night.

P.S. For more idiotic, puerile behavior by Virginia House Republicans, check out the video they posted earlier today entitled, "Ken Plum Whines." Other than demonstrating that Virginia House Republicans have the emotional maturity of 7th grade boys, they manage to completely mangle the English language at the end of their video. Check it out:

"...maybe next time he will should read the bill he and his colleagues are presenting..."

What the heck does "will should read" mean?  

Discuss :: (6 Comments)

Video: Rep. Jim Moran Demands Vote on Comprehensive Immigration Reform

by: lowkell

Wed Mar 26, 2014 at 14:07:28 PM EDT

Great stuff from Rep. Jim Moran, who argues, "this is supposed to be a democracy." But not for House Republicans unfortunately. Also, see President Obama's statement below.
Statement by the President on Immigration Reform

Last year, Democrats and Republicans in the Senate came together to pass a commonsense bill to fix our broken immigration system - a bill that would grow our economy, shrink our deficits, and reward businesses and workers that play by the rules.  But so far, Republicans in the House have refused to allow meaningful immigration reform legislation to even come up for a vote.

That's why, today, I applaud the efforts of Democrats in the House to give immigration reform the yes-or-no vote it deserves.  Like the Senate bill, the House bill would strengthen our borders, modernize our legal immigration system, and keep more families together.  It would make sure everyone plays by the same rules by providing a pathway to earned citizenship for those who are living in the shadows.  And according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, it would grow our economy and reduce our deficits by $900 billion over the next 20 years.

Immigration reform is the right thing to do for our economy, our security, and our future.  A vast majority of the American people agree.  The only thing standing in the way is the unwillingness of Republicans in Congress to catch up with the rest of the country.  And I want to thank the leaders in Congress who are doing their part to move us forward.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

How "Absolutely" Turns Into Something Else in Our Screwed-Up Virginia Campaign Finance System

by: lowkell

Wed Mar 26, 2014 at 11:59:57 AM EDT

The following post is not meant to bash Patrick Hope, because frankly this could - and I'm sure has! - happened to any politician or elected official in Virginia. So here's what happened.

In 2009, when Patrick Hope was first running for the 47th House of Delegates district seat, I interviewed the candidates - including Hope. I asked, "will you pledge to take no money from Dominion Power or other companies that act in ways that harm workers, the environment, etc?" Hope's answer was one definitive word: "Absolutely." But can "absolutely" hold up in our screwed-up system here in Virginia for raising campaign finances? Here's another one-word answer: NO!

In Hope's case, VPAP shows that he has received $7,000 from Dominion Power since 2009, making Dominion his third largest donor. So, clearly, "absolutely" didn't turn out to be the case. Why not? I received a response to my email about this almost immediately from Hope, which of course is a positive reflection on Hope and his campaign. Here it is:

The only company I refuse to accept money from is Altria and other Big Tobacco.  I changed my mind about Dominion Power specifically because I've used these campaign events as opportunities to sit down with them to discuss the importance of investing more in renewable energy.  I've even had an executive from Dominion come to Arlington to meet with my constituents to talk about specific ideas to reduce our reliance on coal.  I've used their campaign contributions to help elect progressive candidates who share my view on protecting the environment and conserving energy.
That's a good and fair answer, totally reasonable. I also received another email from his campaign noting that "there was a lot of pressure inside the Democratic Caucus to accept those contributions so they could be directed to other Democratic candidates," and that "that's where Patrick has spent the bulk of the money raised in the House account." Again, fair and reasonable. So what's the problem, then?
There's More... :: (7 Comments, 422 words in story)

Speaker Bill "ALEC" Howell is the Hold Up on Medicaid Expansion

by: lowkell

Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 20:51:58 PM EDT

The following post is by Dr. Christopher Lillis of Fredericksburg: 

 

Unless you have been hiding under a rock, or have buried your head in the ideological sand, you should have noticed the newspaper editorials  calling for Medicaid Expansion in Virginia. You may not know that the majority of Virginians want to close the health insurance coverage gap.  Virginia hospitals, health insurance plans, physicians, consumer groups, Chambers of Commerce, and even Republicans and former appointees of Governor McDonnell SUPPORT closing the coverage gap.  It’s not very often when you see the Chamber of Commerce lobby for an issue alongside faith groups, nor is it common for the hospitals, doctors and health insurance companies to be playing well together. But expanding access to health insurance has brought together advocates for social justice and fiscal conservatives in this common cause.


Closing the coverage gap will extend health insurance to hundreds of thousands of our fellow Virginians, boost economic output for the entire state, make health insurance less expensive for those already insured, and return the taxpayer dollars already being paid by Virginians back to the Commonwealth.   


Seems a no brainer.  So what’s the hold up?


Speaker of the House of Delegates William “Bill” Howell is the hold up.  Rather than work with his fellow Republicans in the Virginia State Senate, he is going to local Boards of Supervisors and demanding they put forth resolutions to derail current negotiations over expansion.  With his almost 30 years in the General Assembly, he has amassed significant power in Richmond. He stacked the Medicaid Innovation Reform Commission (MIRC) with ideologues who have no intention of closing the coverage gap.

There's More... :: (1 Comments, 501 words in story)

Virginia News Headlines: Wednesday Morning

by: lowkell

Wed Mar 26, 2014 at 07:53:37 AM EDT

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Wednesday, March 26.

*Obama to give more health-care sign-up time
*Slippery slopes before the court ("Respecting the religious claims of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood threatens to diminish the rights of their workers.")
*Justice Kennedy Thinks Hobby Lobby Is An Abortion Case - That's Bad News For Birth Control (Huge reason why Dems need to keep winning the White House: the right-wingnut Supreme Court!)
*Silver Speaks. Democrats Despair. (Democrats really need to chill out on this one and stop acting like non-reality-based Teapublicans!)
*McDonnell attorneys ask judge to try former Va. governor, wife separately
*Poll: Va. voters 'cautiously optimistic' about McAuliffe
*House approves own budget plan, then recesses (Smooooth.)
*Virginia state lawmakers locked over budget, again
*Schapiro: "Two Years" sent shiver through House GOP
*Republican lawmakers criticize McAuliffe budget, Senate Democrats (Charming.)
*Compromise needed, not childhood tantrums
*Government withholds report on Deeds case
*Virginia AG defends use of solitary on death row (Not sure how solitary is ever defensible...)
*Key to downtown: Get out of the way
*Stamos to represent recall against Delgaudio
*Arlington residents ask for more spending at hearing (Gotta love it, people want more spending but don't want to pay for it. Ugh.)
*Virginia girl not feminine enough for Christian school (WTF?!?)
*Welcome to one last freezing day - the coldest one you'll see for a while

Discuss :: (5 Comments)

The New Poll Tax: Voter ID and Voter Intimidation

by: Dan Sullivan

Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 19:35:14 PM EDT

Registrar's sign photo 140325RegisterHere_zps202c0c36.jpgImplementation of the new Virginia Voter ID requirement, intentionally or unintentionally, has created a new poll tax. Unlike other forms produced by the state, this ID can only be obtained at the jurisdiction's Registrar's office(s). And there is an unnecessary threat of a felony penalty on the draft application.

The Virginia code change that implemented the new picture ID requirement was specified in SB 1256 during the 2013 General Assembly session. There is not a section in the code that specifies the statement that is on the draft application or a penalty for being guilty of possessing two photo identification cards. There is a section in the code with a statement about ID cards obtained at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). But as of this moment, the DMV will NOT issue these identification cards.

I swear/affirm, under federal penalty for making willfully false material statements or entries, that the information provided on this form is true, and that I do not have any acceptable form of identification required to vote in-person. I do not have:

  • An unexpired Virginia Driver's license or
  • DMV issued photo identification card or
  • United States passport or
  • Other government issued photo identification or
  • College or university student photo identification card (issuer must be institution of higher education located in Virginia) or
  • Employee photo dentification
  • The oath may have a chilling effect on persons who are unsure just what this statement means. What if the person has been arrested for traffic violations and the driver's license has been confiscated? Does the voter have an ID that prevents issuance of a Voter ID? Or is that voter not allowed to have the Voter ID even though they may not reacquire their driver's license prior to the election depending upon their court case? What about persons who are forgetful due to age or have had their rights restored following a felony conviction and have lost one of these forms of ID? Do they go away to return another day even though there is little hope they may find the lost ID? Though there are not any Voter ID police yet, there are circumstances where a person may not recall if they have an ID already or have misplaced and later discover it, or even subsequently obtained an ID, then through a routine or not-so-routine search be discovered with the two. What then? It's a potential felony (after all they took the unnecessary oath on the application so they may have perjured). If it is a police stop, is there an obligation to arrest? Or do we now allow law enforcement to make prosecutorial decisions on felonies? There are more issues.

    There's More... :: (3 Comments, 483 words in story)

    Video: Lavern Chatman Spoke Positively About, Donated to NC Gov. Pat McCrory (R)

    by: lowkell

    Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 19:07:21 PM EDT

    Earlier this afternoon, we were alerted to video of 8th CD Democratic candidate Lavern Chatman attending North Carolina (Republican) Governor-elect Pat McCrory's Inaugural Ball on January 17, 2013. On the video, Chatman says the following:
    I think Pat McCrory has shown that {when} he was Mayor of Charlotte that he is about the people. He wants to make this a better South. He wants to make this a better state.
    If only any of that were the case. In fact, McCrory has been an unmitigated disaster as Governor of North Carolina. Among other things, McCrory has signed draconian voter suppression legislation into effect, and generally helped send North Carolina lurching backwards from where it was before he took office in a wide variety of areas: civil rights, the environment (e.g., see NRDC's documentation on McCrory's ties to Duke Energy, now infamous for its coal ash pollution of the Dan River), you name it.

    For instance, McCrory signed legislation cutting unemployment benefits for North Carolinians in desperate need of them; refused to accept Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, thus depriving hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians access to life-saving health care coverage; signed a law repealing the state's Racial Justice Act of 2009 (yikes!); signed legislation requiring NC voters to present government-issued photo identification in order to vote, repealing same-day voter registration and limiting the number of days of early voting; signed legislation restricting women's reproductive rights and access to women's health clinics; etc, etc. In short, McCrory has been a disaster in every way - basically, what Ken Cuccinelli would have been if he'd been elected governor of Virginia. In fairness, McCrory seemed like a reasonable, moderate guy when he was Mayor of Charlotte, and it wasn't totally clear in his 2012 campaign for Governor that he'd turn out as horrendously as he has. In fact, it could be argued that he pulled the wool over North Carolinians' eyes, big time, in his 2012 campaign for Governor. For whatever reason(s), however, he's turned into a nightmare...

    The reaction to Gov. McCrory's heinous policies by North Carolinians who have suffered because of them is highly revealing. On that front, I STRONGLY recommend the Story of America video series by filmmakers Annabel Park and Eric Byler on efforts by civil rights leaders and others to fight back, in part via the "Moral Monday" movement ("{Rev. William J. Barber II}, who is president of the North Carolina NAACP and a Disciples of Christ pastor, launched the 2013 demonstrations to protest legislators' efforts to scale back unemployment benefits and decline Medicaid expansion through the new federal health law. Protesters also criticized voter ID laws, cuts to public schools and tax-reform proposals they said would reduce benefits for the poor."). It's an impressive counter-movement to the hard-right-wing turn North Carolina has experienced under Gov. Pat McCrory.

    It should be noted that, in addition to speaking positive about McCrory at his Inaugural Ball, Lavern Chatman also donated to his campaign (both individually as well as jointly with her husband). As for the video of her speaking at the inaugural, she links to it from her YouTube channel to this day, which is hard to explain given McCrory's horrible record since he was elected in November 2012 (I mean, I can understand reading McCrory incorrectly when he was running for Governor, but at this point it's been obvious since early 2013 just how awful he is). Perhaps Chatman forgot the video was up there? Or perhaps she knew it was up there but didn't feel the need to take it down? Got me.

    Finally, I reached out to Chatman's campaign for comment, and they responded almost immediately (for which I give them a great deal of credit), sending me the following statement:

    I will put my record of being in the trenches supporting Democrats and progressive change up against anyone.

    I have been one of President Obama's strongest and most active supporters in Northern Virginia bundling over $150,000 for the President. Plus, I have raised money for community and nonprofit organizations that went to mentoring programs, to give health care to young girls and women, and to help at-risk kids.

    Pat McCrory was a moderate mayor, but has now become a Tea Party governor. The Tea Party agenda that he has advanced is against everything that I stand for and would fight for in Congress.

    P.S. A politically astute Democratic friend of mine suggested I add that while McCrory didn't talk about his desire to suppress the vote,
    he DID run for governor on a platform of corporate tax cuts (and tax cuts for the wealthy), fossil fuel deregulation, and fighting against the federal government's regulation of healthcare. Ugh. In stark contrast, the Democratic candidate - Walter Dalton - was running on a platform of healthcare for all, environmental protection, and public education. In other words, this choice was an easy one: Dalton was infinitely better than McCrory, and one could see that during their campaign if one read their platforms at all.
    Discuss :: (6 Comments)
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