Video: Gov. McAuliffe Promises to Pass Medicaid Expansion; Says "Major Announcement" Coming Monday

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Video by Catherine S. Read (note: I re-recorded it, hence the degradation in video quality). "Gov. Terry McAuliffe sat down at Alexandria Neighborhood Health Services, Inc. to hear from patients, doctors and clinic administrators about the importance of healthcare coverage."

Chatman for Congress Campaign Issues Statement on "Fraudulent Conveyance" Appeal She Lost in 2003

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Earlier today, I reached out to the Lavern Chatman for Congress campaign for comment on something troubling that's been floating around. "Floating around out there" includes chatter among multiple 8th CD political operatives, as well as forwarded emails about a court case and at least one Facebook posting on the subject. Personally, I hadn't known anything about this until very recently. What is "this" exactly? See below for excerpts from the court ruling, in which "Appellant, Lavern Chatman, seeks reversal of the trial court's decision to hold her jointly and severally liable for $1.4 million in punitive damages because of her involvement in a fraudulent conveyance." In the end, the judge affirmed a previous "finding of liability, based on sufficient evidence of malice, and...sustain{ed} the court's decision to award punitive damages in some amount" against Chatman.In sum, the court found that Chatman helped Roy Littlejohn, "a longtime friend and associate" with "a friendship and business relationship spanning fifteen years," to avoid paying his 297 employees (of J.B. Johnson Nursing Home) $1,447,651.99 in wages. In addition, Chatman was found by the court to have allowed Littlejohn to "transfer" his assets to her in a manner the court found to be illegal and malicious, the aim of which was to help Littlejohn evade the court judgment that he pay the back wages.
Here's an excerpt from the D.C. Court of Appeals' ruling on September 4, 2003:
After a three-day non-jury trial, the court found appellant and Roy Littlejohn liable on all three counts of the complaint, but also found that "the evidence was not sufficient to show that Mrs. Littlejohn was involved in the fraudulent transfer ...." The court explicitly rejected appellant's testimony, finding it to be "patently incredible." It further found that "the papers drawn up by the parties were entirely bogus, and that anyone with Ms. Chatman's background and sophistication knew it." The court was therefore satisfied that "the plaintiffs have demonstrated by the preponderance of the evidence that the two were engaged in a civil conspiracy to defraud."The court also found appellant and Littlejohn jointly and severally liable for $1.4 million in punitive damages, ruling that there was "clear and convincing evidence that Mr. Littlejohn and Ms. Chatman acted with evil motive, actual malice and with willful disregard for the rights of the plaintiffs." The court characterized their behavior as "outrageous and grossly fraudulent," especially considering the disparity in wealth between appellant and Littlejohn and the "people whom they scammed." The court also described the transaction as a "deliberate scheme to get around a lawful judgment," and stated that in its opinion "each defendant needs to be punished for their conduct [and] each defendant needs to serve as an example to prevent others from acting in a similar way."

Video: Don Beyer Wins Gerry Connolly's St. Patrick's Day Straw Poll

Monday, March 17, 2014

Here's video of Rep. Gerry Connolly announcing the results from tonight's St. Patrick's Day "fete" and straw poll. With about 400 ballots cast, Don Beyer won with 35%, Charniele Herring finished 2nd with 13%, Lavern Chatman was 3rd with 12%, Adam Ebbin was 4th with 11%, Bill Euille and Alfonso Lopez tied for 5th at 7%, Mark Levine was 7th at 6%, and Bruce Shuttleworth and Satish Korpe were tied for 8th at 1%. Since they weren't mentioned in the vote total, Patrick Hope, Nancy Najarian and Derek Hyra presumably didn't get any votes. More video to follow in the comments section of this post... P.S. I just realized that if you add up the percentages, you only get 93%, leaving 7% unaccounted for. Hmmmmm...mystery! UPDATE Tuesday morning: I got the full results of the straw poll. With 364 ballots cast, it was Beyer 127 (34%), Herring 46 (13%), Chatman 44 (12%), Ebbin 41 (11%), Euille/Lopez/Hope with 25 each (7% each), Levine 22 (6%), Shuttleworth 4 (1%) and Korpe 4 (1%). Nancy Najarian got 1 vote (0%) and Derek Hyra got zero votes (0%).

Video: Don Beyer Endorses Carbon Tax; Opposes Fracking the GW National Forest

Saturday, March 15, 2014

A bit earlier today, I watched Don Beyer speak at beautiful Belle Haven, on the Potomac River in Alexandria, about - appropriately - his stances on environmental issues. Here's some video, and also see the Beyer campaign press release on the "flip." A short analysis of what he had to say follows. 1. I strongly concur with Don Beyer that the "most effective way of reducing carbon emissions is to put a tax on carbon pollution." As I've written for years, although other options like "cap and trade" or "cap and dividend" get at the same problem, they're overly complicated, too easy for industry to "game" (as we saw with Waxman-Markey), and WAY too easy for Republicans to demonize (e.g., with Frank Luntz-style attack language like "cap and TAX", even though "cap and trade" was initially a conservative, Republican idea). Also, I'm a big believer in harnessing the power of capitalism to positive ends, such as reducing pollution. Finally, as an economist, my bias is strongly in the direction of taxing "bads" (e.g., pollution) and rewarding "goods" (e.g., productive and societally beneficial investment of all kinds). That's exactly what a carbon tax - assuming it's high enough and covers enough of the economy to make a difference - would do. Put a significant price on carbon, and carbon-intensive fuels like tar sands and coal fade away, while clean energy sources - solar, wind, energy efficiency, etc. - skyrocket. Since a rapid phaseout of carbon-based fuels is the only way, realistically speaking, that humanity is going to save itself from climate disaster, a carbon tax makes enormous sense. It's also much simpler than overly convoluted, Ruby Goldberg-esque cap-and-trade schemes, and can be easily tweaked so that (as Beyer points out) the regressivity of the tax can be mitigated. 2. I also strongly agree with Don Beyer in his opposition to fracking the George Washington National Forest. Several weeks ago, I covered a presentation by Dusty Horwitt of EarthWorks (as well as by Nicole Condon of DC Water and Sister Mary Fiedler of Interfaith Voices and the Sisters of Loretto )on that subject. This one's an absolute no-brainer, and I hope to hear from EVERY one of the 8th CD candidates (note that Patrick Hope's been a leader on this issue) - as well as the Arlington and Fairfax County Boards - in strong opposition to fracking the GW National Forest. 3. Continuing the restoration of Dyke Marsh is also a no-brainer. As Rep. Jim Moran said last October: "Dyke Marsh is the largest freshwater tidal wetlands in this area – its 485 acres offer us a truly unique window to an earlier time...Decimated by years of commercial dredging and naturally occurring storm surges, this federal investment will return the marsh to its former beauty and provide some resiliency to an area prone to flooding.” Excellent! 4. Finally, with regard to Beyer's opposition to expanding the Lorton landfill, I'm going to mostly withhold judgment, as I haven't been following this issue. I DID read this morning's Washington Post story on the subject. I was intrigued that Enviro Solutions is offering "to build a solar-panel farm, install wind turbines and lay down geothermal piping that could provide energy to surrounding buildings, including the Workhouse Arts Center, a struggling artists' colony that was created on the grounds of the old prison." In addition, "EnviroSolutions...offered $18.2 million to the county for recreation and other services in place of the park it had agreed to build on the site once the landfill closed." That all sounds great, but I'm sure there must be significant downsides as well, so I'm not sure where, on balance, I come out on this one. 5. Finally, one issue I was surprised Don Beyer did NOT mention in his talk today was the Keystone XL pipeline. I was surprised for a few reasons. First, it's been in the news BIG TIME recently. Second, Sen. Tim Kaine has been very vocal against the pipeline, particularly in recent days. And finally, if you care about the future of our planet's environment, fully exploiting the Canadian tar sands would pretty much put the final nail in the coffin - "game over" for the climate, as former NASA climate scientist Jim Hansen has stated (Hansen adds that "coal emissions must be phased out by 2030 and unconventional fossil fuels, such as tar sands, must be left in the ground"). Given all that, I'd hope to hear an unequivocal from Don Beyer - and every other 8th CD candidate - against the Keystone XL pipeline. Clearly, NOW is the time to speak out, as President Obama considers whether to approve or deny a permit for this pipeline. Waiting until Obama makes his decision would be too late; so speak out now, or forever hold your peace on this one! Overall, what I'm looking for in the 8th CD's next U.S. Representative is someone as strong on protecting the environment as Rep. Moran has been. I also want someone who will make this their top priority, and also be a strong, proactive leader. The fact is, without a livable climate, all the other important issues we face - from the economy to health care to education to equal rights for all Americans - become essentially irrelevant. That's not to diminish those issues, it's simply to state the obvious; the first, necessary condition to dealing with any other issue is to safeguard our home for ourselves, for future generations, and for the entire web of life. Fail in that regard, and we fail in everything. Succeed in that regard, and we have a CHANCE to succeed in all the rest.
March 15, 2014 (Belle Haven, Virginia) – Flanked by local and national environmental leaders, former Lieutenant Governor Don Beyer today announced his support for a progressive carbon tax in order to fight climate change, spur green energy, and heighten consumer consciousness on this critical issue. “The most effective way of reducing carbon emissions is to put a tax on carbon pollution,” Beyer said. “This is the single most important issue of our time and we need to act. We owe it to our children and grandchildren.” Beyer, who was a member of Governor Tim Kaine’s Climate Change Commission, stressed that a carbon tax policy must include investments in clean energy and in energy efficiency, as well as protections for low-income households, who will otherwise bear a disproportionate burden of a carbon tax. Beyer said that recent proposals include tax credits and other mechanisms to ensure protection for poor and working-class Americans. Beyer was introduced by environmental leaders Chris Miller and Larry Schweiger, who praised Beyer’s environmental record and dedication. “I saw Don’s commitment to the environment firsthand when I visited him overseas while he was President Obama’s ambassador to Switzerland,” Schweiger said. “At Don’s direction, the embassy’s carbon footprint was assessed – a first for a U.S. embassy. Then he and his staff worked to reduce that footprint by 40 percent through many efforts, including the use of hydropower. This educated, environmentally astute district deserves a congressman with Don’s environmental credentials.” Beyer also spoke today about local environmental concerns, including his opposition to fracking in the George Washington National Forest, his concern about the proposed expansion of the Lorton landfill, and his interest in seeing through the restoration of Dyke Marsh

Video: In Crude Language, Sen. Dick Saslaw Argues that Ethics Laws are Irrelevant, Unnecessary

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Thanks to the Washington Post for catching Senate Democratic Majority Leader Dick Saslaw, unplugged. Sure, he's entertaining, but he's also dead wrong on the need for strong ethics laws (by his reasoning, outlawing murder wouldn't prevent all murders, so why have laws against murder?). He's also cringe-inducingly embarrassing, truly a disgrace to Virginia Democrats and to the Virginia State Senate. My god, this guy needed to retire a long time ago. With that, here's the video of Saslaw bizarre ramble about how "lobbyists, campaign contributions and gifts" are NOT the "problem in Virginia;" about how "in DC, there's got to be a shuttlebus between the penitentiary and that city's council chambers," despite tough ethics laws; about how Mayor Vincent Gray is "up to his ass in alligators;" about the Prince George's County Executive's wife had "some bra, because...she had $77,000 in $100 bills in there;" etc. So, according to Saslaw, the problem is electing people with a "computer chip in their head that's not working, telling them the difference between right and wrong...and there's no laws that you can pass...that would fix couldn't write a law to stop any of that." Oh, and finally, Saslaw adds for good measure: "hell, we've got laws on the books - bank robbery, murder, armed robbery, embezzlement - and people still do it...because...they don't know the difference between right and wrong." My god, somebody primary this clown! P.S. No, not ALL the "bad guys" are on the Republican side...this guy doesn't believe in ethics legislation, but does like money from predatory lenders!

Video: Tim Kaine Speaks on the Urgency of Action to Combat Climate Change

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

From last night's all-night U.S. Senate session on the urgent need for action for our country to combat climate change. See the press release from Sen. Kaine's office below, and the transcript of Sen. Kaine's speech on the "flip." And make sure if you run into Tim Kaine to thank him for his efforts on this subject, which as I've said a million times, is THE MOST important threat facing humanity. Yes, there are many other important issues, but guess what; none of them will matter if we don't have a habitable planet to live on. This really isn't a difficult concept, except for those with a vested, economic interest in making it "difficult" (e.g., through sowing doubt about climate science).
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last night, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine joined more than 25 members of the Senate Climate Action Task Force for a rare all-night session to call attention to the effects of climate change. In his remarks, Kaine discussed the urgent need for Congress to act on curbing emissions and investing in innovative and clean energy solutions. “The solution to climate change is American innovation,” Kaine said. “We have to get beyond the idea that we need to choose between a clean environment and a strong economy. We all want cleaner air and water. We all want jobs. They don’t have to contradict each other.” Kaine also expressed concern about the economic impact that climate change will have on communities throughout the Commonwealth, particularly in Hampton Roads, home to the largest naval station in the world, Naval Station Norfolk.
“In Virginia, we've got huge areas of risk of the negative impacts of climate change - especially sea level rise - all effects that can be traced to carbon pollution,” Kaine said. “The Hampton Roads area of Virginia is the second-most populous area of our state - 1.6 million people. It is the second-most vulnerable community on the east coast, after New Orleans, to sea level rise” and ”is critically vulnerable to climate change.” “In addition to being vulnerable because of our coast, our largest industry in Virginia is agriculture and forestry. If you want to talk about an industry affected by climate, that's your industry,” Kaine continued. Kaine also urged his congressional colleagues to embrace an energy strategy that builds on current energy sources by making them “cleaner tomorrow than today.” “Coal currently accounts for 37% of U.S. electricity generation. … We don't have 37% of anything else that can step right in and replace coal, which means we need coal, we're going to be using it for a while,” Kaine said. “The challenge is to convert coal to electricity with less pollution than we do today. We have to innovate to make coal cleaner for that portion of the pie chart.”
Thank you, Mr. President. I want to thank my colleagues for drawing attention to this issue. I want to start with the solution. The solution to climate change is American innovation. The solution to climate change is American innovation. We have to get beyond the idea, first, that we need to choose between a clean environment and a strong economy. We all want cleaner air and water. We all want jobs. They don't have to contradict each other. When we frame the debate as a conflict between an economy and the environment, we just talk past one another and we're not realistic about our own history. This is at the beginning, kind of a math problem folks. According to the E.P.A.'s annual inventory of greenhouse gas emissions, the U.S. pumped about 6 billion tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere in 2005. 6 billion tons. The overwhelming scientific consensus is that putting this much pollution into the air is bad for the planet, bad for our kids and for our grandkids. Most scientists tell us that we need to reduce emissions about 17% from that peak by 2020 and over 80% by 2050 in order to contain climate change to manageable levels. And so the question is this: how do we establish the appropriate incentives to get that number lower, to produce energy more cleanly, at prices we can afford, in quantities that support modern life? We've got to reduce pollution. We need to create jobs. Instead of arguing which is more important, let's figure out how we can use American innovation to do both. My colleague from Vermont has talked a lot about some of the evidence. It is important to pay attention to patterns. And in Virginia we've got huge areas of risk of the negative impacts of climate change, especially sea level rise, all effects that can be traced to carbon pollution. The Hampton Roads area of Virginia is the second-most populous area of our state. 1.6 million people, and it is the second-most vulnerable community on the east coast, after New Orleans, the eastern half of the United States to sea level rise. So our second-largest area, which is the home of the largest concentration of naval power in the world, is critically vulnerable to climate change. I have friends who live in Hampton Roads in live in an historic neighborhood where homes have been occupied for 150 years who just in the last 15 years their home has become completely unable to be occupied. They cannot sell it. There's no way the bank will take it back. There's no way anyone will issue insurance to them. In addition to being vulnerable because of our coast, our largest industry in Virginia is agriculture and forestry. If you want to talk about an industry affected by climate, that's your industry. $70-plus billion affected by climate. Tourism is a big industry. That's $20-plus billion a year. We are directly affected by climate and we see extreme weather patterns. It is not just a Katrina or a Sandy or an Ike. It’s the pattern of one after the next, droughts after the next, fire damage after the next. Just to use a recent example, we're having to deal with this in these halls. We passed a flood insurance to delay sharp premium increases for flood insurance policies that are subsidized by the national flood insurance program. Now, for those who weren't around when we had that debate, these increases in premiums were not because of new beach homes that millionaires are building right on the floodplain out on the beach. No, these were policies for homes whose owners have lived in them for decades that were never in the floodplains before but are now in floodplains because of sea level rise. My Portsmouth friends are friends who fit into that category – a home that never had these challenges that is now a home that they now cannot sell because of the sea level rise. The debate focused on what it would cause to delay premiums, how many people would be impacted upon the solvency of this program. The larger point is this: premiums are higher because flood risks are higher. When we see flood risks getting higher in every coastal area of the country, we have got to pay attention to what the pattern tells us. And if we don't, we're foolish. Now, we have naysayers, and there are two kinds of naysayers. There are science deniers and leadership deniers, and I want to talk for a minute about both. The first are a group of people who despite the overwhelming scientific consensus say no, there is no scientific evidence that humans affect climate change or that there is even any change in the climate going on at all. Despite this overwhelming scientific consensus, the senator from Vermont mentions some quotes from members in this body who deny that science exists. To science deniers, I am happy to say that Virginians are pro-science. We are pro-science. Now, the quintessential Virginian, Thomas Jefferson, was the preeminent scientist of his day. You cannot be a proud Virginian and be anti-science. We accept the science in Virginia. In fact, the polling overwhelmingly among the Virginia public – and we're not the bluest state in the country. We're a coal-producing state. I'm going to get to that in a minute – even in coal-producing Virginia, the polling shows overwhelmingly that the Virginia public accepts humans are affecting climate, causing bad things to our economy and we've got to do something about it. Now, there is a second argument. It's not science denial, it's leadership denial. These folks may not deny the climate science, but they deny that the U.S. can or should be a leader in taking any steps. They say look, even if we reduce U.S. emission to zero, it wouldn't offset world emissions unless China or India did something, and so let's just not do anything. That is just not the American way, folks, for us not to lead on something important like that. Now, it is true, it is true that we need every country to reduce emissions in the long run, but that's not an argument for the U.S. to do nothing. That's an argument for the U.S. to step up and be leaders. You know, part of leadership is sending the right signals into the market at the right time. That's one of the reasons why I think it would be a very good thing if the President rejected the proposal to expand use of tar sands oil and the Keystone Pipeline program. We ought to send the right message right now. That's right now one of the most powerful things we could do in our country and beyond to show that we could be leaders. It's very difficult to lead and impossible to get people to follow if you're not willing to take a step as the most powerful and innovative economy in the world. We are the largest economy in the world. We have been since 1890. We're the global economic leader. We have a burden of leadership, and if we lead, we will succeed. You know, it's not too hard to reduce emissions. We can reduce them. In fact, we're already starting. The senator from Vermont mentioned this. I mentioned in 2005, the U.S. was putting six billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. That was our base year. We have now actually dipped down to 5.6 billion tons. We've reduced it since 2005. Thanks to greater energy efficiency, natural gas, uptick in renewables, better fuel standards in our vehicles. So we're already on a positive path. We're actually on the way to meeting our goal of reducing emissions 17% by the year 2020. We're on the right track. We have just got to take more steps forward. So what's the strategy we need? I hear the President sometimes and others and I may use these words on occasion talk about the -- quote -- all of the above energy strategy. I have decided I don't like that phrase. When I hear somebody say all of the above, it's like when I ask one of my teenagers something and he says whatever. I don't like whatever as an answer because it kind of sounds like indifferent, and anything goes and who cares and what difference does it make? All of the above kind of has that attitude a little bit. Now, sure, we should use all of our energy resources, I get that, in a comprehensive strategy, but what we really need is a comprehensive strategy that reduces CO2 emissions. That reduces CO2 emissions. Such a strategy to reduce emissions does mean everything: wind, solar, geothermal, advanced biofuels. I also think it means natural gas as a bridge fuel to reduce our carbon footprint. Nuclear if it we can reduce costs and resolve disposal issues and yes coal so long as we work to make it burn cleaner. This is my punch line of what we have got to do. We have to do everything cleaner tomorrow than we're doing it today. Everything cleaner tomorrow than we're doing it today. We'll have fossil fuels with us for some time and we won't bring emissions to zero any time soon, but just because we can't immediately go from six billion to zero tons of CO2, we can't rest on our effort to reduce our CO2 every day a little bit more. On fossil fuels, we have got to take any progress we can that replaces dirty with less dirty even if it doesn't get us the whole way. Over time, the portion of our total energy footprint that's carbon based will get smaller, and as we develop more non-carbon alternatives, and it will also get cleaner as we reduce carbon-based energy emissions with better technology. Now, this is why I am against dirty fossil fuels like tar sands, which makes us dirtier tomorrow than today. I want to be cleaner tomorrow than today. Tar sands oil is about 15% to 20% dirtier than conventional oil. Let's not be dirtier tomorrow than today. We have got the trend line moving in the right direction, reducing CO2 emissions. Let's be cleaner tomorrow than today. Why would we backslide and be dirtier tomorrow? The bottom line is we have got to create energy cleaner tomorrow than today. And remember, it's a math problem. Six billion tons a year. We have got six more years to reduce it 17%, 36 years to reduce it by more than 80%. So we have our goal. We have our goal. We have got to give innovators the tools they need to meet it. And since innovators will solve this problem, here is the really fundamental challenge. This is the fundamental challenge. Will Americans be the innovators? See, innovation will solve this problem. Will Americans be the innovators? Or will we bury our head in the tar sand and let other nation innovators be the ones who grab leadership in this economy? I don't want to bury my head in the tar sand. I want us to be the leader. Will we create new technologies and sell them to other nations or will we be late in the game and have to buy all the technologies from other nations? The good news as I said we're already on our way to the 2020 goal, we don’t have to make it all dire. Let's celebrate a little bit of success and then figure out how to accelerate our success. The transportation sector, the fuel economy standards for cars, changing to natural gas and power production, all these things have helped us move toward lesser emissions. Wind is the fastest growing source of new electricity capacity in the world and in the United States, even above natural gas, which is growing rapidly. In a few years, Virginia will be contributing with some of the first offshore wind turbines near Virginia Beach. I want to talk now for a second about a specific Virginia issue because I am not sure how many folks who are in this all-nighter speaking on this come from states that have coal and that produce coal and Virginia does. I want to talk about coal for a second. E.P.A. is expected to issue standards later this year about reducing pollution from coal-fired power plants, and in fact there is already talk on the other side of introducing a bill to reduce that -- repeal the regulations before the regulations even come out. I'm not exactly sure that's kosher, but I suspect we'll be having that debate later. There is a natural anxiety in a coal-producing region like southwest Virginia. That's where my wife's family is from. It's five counties in southwest Virginia. They are hard-hit counties. Coal is a big part of their economy, and traditionally it has been. Now, we mine as much coal today in Virginia as we did 50 years ago with 1/10 of the workers because it's a heavily mechanized industry but there are jobs in the state. And it's not just jobs. Coal has been traditionally low priced, and so the issue that is important and even states that don't have any coal often use a lot of coal to produce power, and the low price has been helpful to consumers who rely on cheap and abundant electricity made possible by coal. Coal has been hit hard in some recent years. But I disagree, I disagree fundamentally with the kind of argument that's made by some, mostly in the coal industry, who blame coal's woes on a regulatory “war on coal”. When I talk to folks in the industry, they are always talking about that there is a federal “war on coal”. I'm going to tell you what's hurting coal. What's hurting coal is innovation – innovation and natural gas. Innovation in the natural gas industry has brought natural gas prices down, and utilities are deciding to use natural gas rather than coal. That's what's hurting coal these days, and we ought to take a lesson from that. Innovation is driving environmental cleanliness. Innovation is driving lower costs. The solution is not to stop innovation. The solution is not to shake your fist and blame regulation. The solution is to innovate. Coal currently accounts for 37% of U.S. electricity generation and about the same percentage in Virginia. We don't have today 37% of anything else that can step right in and replace coal, which means we need coal, we're going to be using it for a while. Since we need to reduce emissions, do it cleaner tomorrow than today and we're going to need coal for a while, the challenge is to convert coal to electricity with less pollution than we do today. We have to innovate to make coal cleaner for that portion of the pie chart. I learned this as governor to permit a state-of-the-art coal plant in Virginia. It opened in 2012. It's designed in a way that dramatically reduces sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, mercury emissions and water use. It was also a plant that was only permitted when the company that wanted it agreed to take a dirty coal plant that preexisted the Clean Air Act and was grandfathered in for all of its pollution and to convert that to natural gas. That was innovative. The fuel mix of this plant needed to run the burners, accommodates biomass and waste coal as well. If we can use innovative practices to reduce these emissions, we can do the same thing with carbon emissions. But coal cannot stand still, let others innovate and then complain if it's not competitive. Coal has got to be as innovative as everything else and we have to figure out ways to assist. That's why I support federal investments in advanced fossil energy research and development. Last fall, the energy department made available $8 billion. In advance fossil energy loan guarantee authority for low carbon fossil technologies. I advocated for appropriations for fossil energy R&D and there is a strong boost for those programs in the omnibus budget bill. There is a great center for coal and energy research at Virginia Tech that's doing some of this research that can help us take that portion of the pie chart, make it cleaner and over time make it smaller as we expand on carbon energy. We have got to make sure that the upcoming standards the E.P.A. will put out are ambitious and appropriate incentives to get cleaner and disincentives to get dirtier and at the same time avoiding catastrophic disruptions in reliability or affordability. I'm going to come back and conclude where I started. Remember I started and said I will give you a conclusion. The solution to climbing is innovations. Reducing air pollution is a hard problem, maybe harder than any pollutant problem we face because most pollutants tend to come from a particular economic sector, but CO2 comes from transportation and buildings and manufacturing and power productions, all sectors -- so the solution won't be simple. But we do not have to accept the false choice of an environment against the economy. Instead, we just need to innovate to find the solution. That's the innovation challenge we have, and I make it a habit, apparently unlike some of my colleagues here, to never bet against American innovation, to never bet against American innovation. We're the nation that said we put a man on the moon in a decade with computers that have less in it than your cell phone do, and we did it. We're the nation that harnessed the power of the atom. We're the nation that unwrapped the riddle of D.N.A. and are now using that knowledge to cure disease. Nobody should ever bet against American innovation. In fact, we have already shown it again and again that innovation and regulation, smart regulation can help us tackle pressing environmental problems. When we were kids and my wife was growing up in Richmond where we now live, nobody, and I mean nobody, fished or swam in the James River in downtown Richmond. You would be taking your life into your hands if you swam or if you ate fish that you caught in that river because of pollution, other industrial pollution and poor treatment of municipal solid waste. But the nation passed the Clean Water Act and we got serious about cleaning up our rivers. Naysayers said it will damage the economy. It will bring our economy to its knees. But come and see what the Clean Water Act has meant to my hometown. You can swim or fish in the James River today and you can eat the fish that you catch. You can see herons and bald eagles there that were never there before. You can see residents and tourists who flock to the James River because they enjoy it. It took a law, it took some tough regulations, it took American ingenuity in finding new ways to clean up industrial and municipal waste, but we did it and our environment and economy are better off as a result. When we needed to reduce nitrous oxide and sulfur dioxide emissions because of acid rain, President George W. Bush worked with Congress to pass a cap-and-trade law to bring down these emissions. After the new law, somebody inverted the catalytic converter and the sulfur scrubber. Not only were they not burdensome job killers, they helped air quality. And created jobs for companies that manufactured catalytic converters and scrubbers. Not long ago we heard requiring automakers to make cars with better auto mileage would be devastating to the auto industry. President Obama struck a deal with the industry and, guess what? The quest to build more efficient vehicles helped revitalize an American auto industry that was on its back. Plants that were operating with skeleton crews just sweeping the floors at night now have multiple shifts making better vehicles that save drivers more money. The skeptics were loud but we moved ahead with smart regulation and American innovation and our environment and economy are better off as a result. Mr. President, it is the skeptics and the deniers who fight against these strategies who are actually naive. The skeptics and deniers are the naive ones. Because again and again, they always claim that taking steps to help the environment will hurt the economy. And again and again, they've been proven wrong. Protecting the environment is good for the economy and good for the environment. So I say to the climate deniers or leadership deniers, don't underestimate American innovation. We can solve the problem of climate change for the good of the economy and the good of the planet. The story of American innovation is a story of solving the hard problems and I know we can solve this one. Thank you, Mr. President. I yield the floor.

A Better DPVA in Depth - Part 3: Relevance

Monday, March 10, 2014

by Dave

Part 3 of my series (leading up to the next DPVA meeting) examining how DPVA can be the best state party possible.Dave Leichtman is the DPVA Vice-chair for Technology and Communications
Over the last couple of weeks, and leading up to this weekend's DPVA meeting, I've been highlighting how we can work to make DPVA the best state party it can be. We dug deep into fundraising (Read: "A Better DPVA in Depth - Part 1: Money"), and then we discussed candidate resources and recruitment (Read: "A Better DPVA in Depth - Part 2: Candidates"). So, for our final installment, let's discuss relevance. Let's assume for the moment that everything discussed previously is unfixable: that DPVA is stuck in a fundraising rut, that the Coordinated is destined to be its own independent entity, and that candidate recruitment will forever remain scatter-shot. Bleak outlook? Maybe. But even in such a less-than-perfect world, DPVA can still have a major part to play. DPVA can remain relevant by concentrating on what it's best at.
So what is DPVA good at?
Dave :: A Better DPVA in Depth - Part 3: Relevance
1) Being a central repository. When computer equipment was abandoned in droves after the 2012 election, where did it all go? The DPVA office in Richmond, where it was cataloged and repurposed to help Coordinated Campaign offices and house of Delegates races that needed it. Who controls the master data file for all of Virginia's Democrats? DPVA's IT Director, Brenner Tobe. DPVA and its staff provide a real and valuable service of "centralization" to campaigns and committees around the Commonwealth. By protecting its assets, like its data store and its headquarters building, the Party can provide a constant, reliable backdrop against which campaigns can cycle. And despite our travails, the Party's brand has been weakened, but not diminished. DPVA should step up its offerings, make itself more central, and capitalize on its brand for further fundraising efforts.2) Party Services and Political Development. One benefit to the Party being "the constant" in Virginia is that our political staff get to know all of the Chairs, all of the committees, and all of the potential candidates. Providing party services - answering questions about meetings and rules, getting forms and data distributed, and helping the committees organize - is an invaluable offering that DPVA is uniquely positioned to provide being that it's the franchising authority for those committees. Many come-and-go campaigners view party services as a waste of time, coddling of volunteers who would rather have titles than knock door. I prefer to think of those committees as extensions of DPVA. And by being involved in every committee, we begin to know who to go for specialty skills to and how to identify talent, especially in candidate recruitment.
3) Training. If there's one thing DPVA has been consistently good at, it's training - training on the voter file, on precinct ops, and on volunteer organization. When new Chairs begin their term, we hold a series of intro phone calls to help them get their feet wet. And during campaign cycles, there's generally road-show trainings around the state. They're invaluable to helping local committees learn the tricks of the trade used by the large campaigns, and I'd venture to say that we still don't do enough. We need to bring back our regional political directors so they can be out there working with local committees all day, every day, teaching them the ropes.
With few resources, DPVA can still accomplish much. The trick is to focus on what the Party is good at and let the campaigns do the rest. A logical extension of the above points might be that DPVA should specifically focus on "under-served" committees and work with them to make them stronger. These are the kind of ideas that can keep DPVA relevant in the current political landscape.
If you haven't already checked it out, read up on DPVA Forward ( Most of what I've discussed over these last 4 articles is enumerated there, much more succinctly. It's my hope that by providing a simple statement of how we can be better, and by urging the new Chair to support it, we can push the Party toward being a better version of itself. If you haven't yet, put your name on it, and maybe we can do some good together.
And as always, discuss!

Thanks Mostly to Republicans, 2014 Virginia General Assembly an Epic #FAIL on Almost All Fronts

This past Saturday, the regularly-scheduled Virginia General Assembly session ended, without a budget and with nary a significant accomplishment to its name. Sure, Virginia Senate Democrats put out a cheery press release - significantly off message, if you ask me - "celebrat{ing} legislative accomplishments," but you'd be hard pressed to find many. Let's go through the panoply of (mostly) #FAIL.Education
Believe it or not, two decent - albeit relatively small-bore - bills (SB 270 and SB 324) by Senator John Miller (D) actually passed both the Senate and House. The General Assembly also passed the unwise "Sea of Japan" bill. The big failure, of course, was that thanks to Republicans' refusal to compromise on Medicaid expansion, we have no budget. That means we do not have, as the Virginia Education Association explained: "Medicaid Expansion {which} will free up $1.3 billion dollars in General Fund dollars over the next 7 years, some of which can be used for funding our schools." We also don't have increased compensation for teachers. Nor do we have State health plan; participation by local school divisions, which "could save millions of dollars in the years ahead," savings which "could be used to provide needed school funding." Thanks a lot Republicans - for nothing! #GOPFAIL
Almost complete failure on this front. For instance, SB 158 ("Provides for a statewide referendum on the question of whether a bipartisan advisory commission should be created to propose redistricting plans for the House of Delegates, state Senate, and congressional districts.") passed the Democratic-controlled Senate but was killed in the Republican-controlled House of Delegates. Same deal with SB 16 ("Provides that persons age 65 or older on the day of an election for which an absentee ballot is requested are entitled to vote absentee."). Meanwhile, there's no sign of any move to restore ex-felons' right to vote (e.g., Greg Habeeb's HB 7 got nowhere). Nor is there any sign of ditching ridiculous/unnecessary voter ID legislation (e.g., HB 564 was killed in the Republican-controlled House, as was HB 83). Lame.
Two decent bills - hybrid tax repeal and some needed fixes to Virginia's fatally-flawed Renewable Portfolio Standard actually passed. Other than that...nada, basically. For instance, there are no signs of any serious effort to make Virginia the "energy capital of the East Coast" by jump-starting a clean energy revolution in this state, as is happening in so many other states. As usual, as evidenced with this bill, Dominion "Global Warming Starts Here" Power continues to rule the roost in Richmond, to all our detriment. There was also no movement to institute policies to encourage distributed energy, such as net metering, or to incentivize energy efficiency (e.g., via "decoupling"), etc, etc. Let alone any serious effort to put a price on carbon emissions or to deal with global warming and other "externalities" from dirty energy (e.g., mountaintop removal coal mining). We could go on all day here, but the bottom line is that there are a gazillion things that need to be done, yet essentially none of them got done this year. Or any year. And it's overwhelmingly the fault of Republicans, plus a few coal-bought-and-paid-for Democrats. #massivefail
If any year was the the year to enact serious ethics reform in Virginia, 2014 was it, following Bob McDonnell's (and Ken Cuccinelli's) recent scandals and ethical "issues." Yet what did we get instead? A complete joke of a bill that was "riddled with loopholes and {which} softens a penalty for lying in disclosures". Great job, huh? And the cesspool of corruption in Richmond continues on its merry way...#FAIL

Gun Safety
The attitude of Republicans (and a few Democrats, sadly), can basically be summed up as: gun safety? we don't need no stinkin' gun safety! Thus, no comprehensive background checks; no closing of the gun show loophole; heck, they couldn't even pass a bill to prohibit "any person who is convicted of stalking, sexual battery, or assault and battery of a family member involving the use of force from possessing, transporting, or carrying a firearm or any other weapon for a period of five years following his conviction." Why couldn't we get any decent gun safety regulation passed in Richmond for yet ANOTHER year, after all the mass shootings we've experienced in this state and country the past efw years? Because, quite simply, other than Dominion Power, our General Assembly is also controlled by ALEC and the NRA, and they have Republican (and some Democratic) legislators quaking in their boots.Health Care
Medicaid expansion is the big enchilada of the 2014 General Assembly session, and a huge item on the agenda for Virginia. And so far, at least, thanks to Obama Derangement Syndrome-driven opposition by hyper-ideological right-wing Republicans in the House of Delegates, we've gotten nothing. That includes the compromise known as "Marketplace Virginia, a 'private option' plan that would recapture federal tax dollars that Virginians already pay in order to fund premium supports, enabling up to 400,000 uninsured Virginians to buy private coverage." Nope, House Republicans wouldn't even go for that, preferring to let Virginia tax dollars already paid to the federal government go elsewhere, while keeping hundreds of thousands of Virginia from having access to quality, affordable health care options. Great job, Republicans, we luv ya for it! (not)
Jobs & Economy
Nothing much in this area, thanks in large part once again to Virginia Republicans. For instance, a bill to raise the minimum wage passed the Democratic-controlled Senate but was killed in the Teapublican-controlled House. As was Donald McEachin's legislation to prohibit "state agencies from including on any employment application a question inquiring whether the prospective employee has ever been arrested or charged with, or convicted of, any crime, subject to certain exceptions." Needless to say, there was no serious discussion - thanks again, Republicans - of any major jobs initiatives, any effort to deal with economic mobility, etc. Such a waste...
Del. Alfonso Lopez's bill HB 88 ("Tuition, in-state; student eligibility, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals") was killed by House Republicans. A similar billwas killed by Senate Republicans, when they still controlled that chamber. Any further questions?
LGBT Equality
Basically, Virginia Republicans spent their time ranting and raving about Attorney General Herring - gasp! - doing his job by upholding the U.S. constitution, which last anyone checked superceded Virginia's constitution (and its anti-marriage-equality amendment). Oh yeah, and House Republicans also killed a bill by Donald McEachin which passed ovewhermingly in the Senate. That one would have enabled "the LGBT partners of state and certain local public employees to buy health insurance through their partners' employers." Can't have that, according to Virginia House Teapublicans - oh god no!
Mental Health
On the one hand, SB 260 ("Emergency custody; web-based psychiatric bed registry, custody order valid up to 24 hours, etc.") passed both the House and Senate. That's good news. On the other hand, Virginia mental health advocates say that wasn't even close to being sufficient, calling them "narrowly tailored fixes that do little to tackle fundamental problems," "leaving broader improvements unaddressed," and of course providing no serious money to invest in the under-funded Virginia mental health system. This may have been touted as a success, but actually it was a huge #FAIL, especially given the attention given this issue due to the attack on Senator Creigh Deeds by his mentally ill son, Gus. If we can't get serious movement on strengthening Virginia's mental health system after THAT horrible and high-profile incident, when CAN we?!?
Women's Access to Health Care
Pretty much a total #FAIL in this area. One big item: SB 617 ("Abortion; removes requirement that woman undergo transabdominal ultrasound.") passed the Senate overwhelmingly but was - take one guess?!? - yep, killed by the Teapublican House of Delegates. And, of course, there was no repeal of the onerous "TRAP" regulations singling out women's health clinics across Virginia for unfair treatment. Total travesty.
Bottom line: the 2014 Virginia General Assembly was very close to being a complete failure, with almost nothing of any consequence being passed (unless we eventually get Medicaid expansion done), including a budget. The brutally honest truth is that none of this will change until: a) Democrats take back the House of Delegates; b) Democrats keep control of the governor's mansion and the State Senate; and c) the power of corporate interests in Richmond is drastically curtailed. The problem is, it's difficult to envision "c" happening for a long time to come (if ever), and "a" looks a long ways off, given that Democrats only managed to pick up a net of ZERO House seats in 2013, despite sweeping all three statewide elections. Ain't Virginia politics a blast?!? (snark

E.W. Jackson Warns: "Rising Tide of Homosexual Intolerance" Could Cost Christians Their Lives

Friday, March 7, 2014

Even by E.W. Jackson's low, low standards, his latest ravings are seriously unhinged. Jackson's key points:*LGBT Americans standing up for their equal rights under our Constitution are actually, in Jackson's view, the ones who are the persecutors and even bigots, making it "a liability to be a Bible-believing Christian in America."
*Homosexuality is wrong, in Jackson's learned view, because it says so in the Bible. Of course, Jackson fails to mention the gazillion things in the Bible that we would never even think of adhering to today, like the 76 things banned in Leviticus (e.g., eating fat or shellfish or pork, going to church within 33 days after giving birth to a boy or 66 days after giving birth to a girl, mixing fabrics in clothing, sleeping with another man's slave - yes there was lots of slavery in the Bible's time, trimming your beard, selling land permanently...).
*Being told you can't discriminate against people you don't like raises the questions: "Is recognition of legitimate First Amendment interests a thing of the past? Is the Providence of God in which our Founding Fathers so deeply believed to be cast on the ash heap of history?"
*"{H}omosexual behavior cannot be compared with the color of one's skin, no matter how vigorously elites try to conflate them." Actually, the scientific evidence indicates that homosexuality has a genetic basis, just as the color of one's skin does.
*"{I}n spite of liberals and homosexual activists slanderously likening our stand to slavery and Jim Crow, we will continue to love them and, at the same time, oppose their efforts to make us bow to same-sex marriage." Ee gads, now E.W.'s really getting worked into a fine lather.
*In conclusion: "In the past, standing up for the truth of God's word has cost Christians their jobs, businesses, reputations and even their lives. It may come to that again, but we will never be silent, and we will not bow." That's right, the "rising tide of homosexual intolerance" - as the headline of Jackson's op-ed reads - could ultimately cost Christians their lives.
And yes, this lunatic really WAS nominated by Virginia Republicans to be their candidate for Lieutenant Governor. Seriously, they really did that. Remind me again, why does anybody take this party in any way seriously?

Video: 8th CD Dems Hope, Shuttleworth, Beyer, Levine, Euille, Chatman, Ebbin Address ACDC (3/5/14)

Thursday, March 6, 2014

I couldn't make it last night, unfortunately, but fortunately the ever-reliable Jim Southworth was there to record the speeches by 8th CD Democratic candidates Patrick Hope, Bruce Shuttleworth, Don Beyer, Mark Levine, Bill Euille, Lavern Chatman, and Adam Ebbin. Thanks to Jim; enjoy the speeches (note: the audio's a bit funky, no fault of Jim's). P.S. Alfonso Lopez addressed ACDC last month, and presumably the remaining candidates - Derek Hyra, Mark Sickles, and Charniele Herring - will speak next month.

VA Republican Senator Who Called Women a Child's "Host" Now Pushing Denial of Evolution

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Yes, the same Virginia Republican Senator, Stephen Martin, who became a national laughing stock for his comments calling women "the child's host (some refer to them as mothers)," and generally raging against pro-choice advocates (as "very sick people"), is back at it again on his Facebook page (note to Senator Martin: stay off of social media!!!). This time, he's denying evolution, citing an article on an "intelligent design" site. According to this website's about section, "intelligent design (ID) offers a promising scientific alternative to materialistic theories of biological and cosmological evolution - an alternative that is finding increasing theoretical and empirical support." Of course, that is complete and utter bull****, but there are actually people who believe it (#educationsystemFAIL). Anyway, it seems somehow appropriate that the guy who views women as no more than a baby's "host" would also deny one of the most important, crucial, and well-evidenced scientific theories in human history. Even more amazing is that this guy is a State Senator, although it's certainly not surprising that he's a member of the Republican Party (Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and many others thrashing around in their graves just thinking about what's become of their once-fine party...).

Don Beyer Joins Patrick Hope in Opposing "Fracking" the GW National Forest

(UPDATE: Washington, D.C. City Council opposes fracking in George Washington National Forest. Now it's time for Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, etc. to weigh in! - promoted by lowkell)

I'm not planning on routinely posting 8th CD candidates' press releases, but I wanted to highlight the one below from Don Beyer (see the "flip" of this post) because it's an issue I care passionately about - as you should as well if you live in the 8th CD and use public water supplies to drink, bathe, etc. In late January, I wrote about a forum held at the Arlington County Central Library, in which representatives from DC Water, Earthworks (see video of a presentation by Dusty Horwitt of that organization), and the Sisters of Loretto warned of the serious risks to our water supplies arising from potential "fracking" in the GW National Forest. Think of what's happened to rivers and water supplies in West Virginia and North Carolina (and to an extent Danville, Virginia) in recent weeks, and imagine something like that happening to the Northern Virginia and Richmond area water supplies, which serve millions of people. It's a nightmare, to put it mildly.That's why I've been so surprised at the lack of public concern, and the relative dearth of comment by Virginia elected officials {UPDATE: See letter from Representatives Connolly and Moran opposing fracking in the GW National Forest here), on this topic. For instance, of the 11 Democratic candidates running to succeed Jim Moran in Congress, the only one prior to today who's commented on this - at least that I'm aware of - wasPatrick Hope, back on January 29. In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Hope urged that "fracking" in the GW National Forest be prohibited, given "mounting evidence that the process is inherently risky." Hope also pointed out that the recent disaster in West Virginia "showed how dangerous it can be to use dangerous and largely unknown chemicals near drinking water supplies." Hope was 100% correct, and I expected other 8th CD candidates to follow up soon thereafter with their own statements on this subject. But so far, again to my knowledge, I haven't heard anything. Until today, that is, with Don Beyer's statement (see the "flip"). Good for Don Beyer, following after Patrick Hope's letter 5 weeks ago, but...what's everyone else waiting for? We all need to fight back against even the possibility of this happening, and now's the time to be doing it, as a decision could be imminent.
Finally, I'd add that THIS is the type of leadership we should expect and demand from WHOEVER our next U.S. Representative might be. In coming weeks, I'm going to be watching closely to see how 8th CD candidates respond to pressing issues, just as if they were in Congress now. Certainly, Rep. Moran has
been on top of things, very proactively and forcefully, and we should demand no less from his successor!
lowkell :: Don Beyer Joins Patrick Hope in Opposing "Fracking" the GW National Forest
March 5, 2014 (Alexandria, Va.) - Don Beyer, the former Lieutenant Governor and a congressional candidate in Virginia's 8th district, announced today that he opposes horizontal drilling and the associated "fracking" in the George Washington National Forest.  The question of whether the natural gas extraction process will be allowed in the Forest stands before the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Beyer explained his opposition in a letter to Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack."Given the risk, insufficient data and potentially inadequate regulatory structure, I urge you to prohibit horizontal drilling in the George Washington National Forest until there is more thorough information on water contamination and a rigorous enforcement mechanism in place," Beyer wrote.
Beyer noted that many governments, elected officials and agencies oppose fracking in the Forest, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Fairfax County Water Authority, and that this position is in accord with USDA's draft plan for the George Washington National Forest.

10 of 11 Democratic Candidates in 8th CD Issue Statements on Dwight Jones for DPVA Chair

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The following are the statements I've received as of 5:15 pm today regarding whether Dwight Jones - who opposes marriage equality - should be the next Chair of the DPVA. I've listed them roughly in descending order of forcefulness (several are roughly tied, such as Ebbin's, Hyra's, Shuttleworth's and Levine's). Also note that I have sent multiple emails to the Charniele Herring and Lavern Chatman campaigns, starting on March 2, but for whatever reason have not received any statement from them Herring's campaign at all. In Chatman's case, I was told yesterday to expect a statement shortly, but never received one (I followed up by telephone...still nothing). In Herring's case, I didn't hear a word. Not cool. And let me just add, if Herring can't/won't stand up against the governor of Virginia (who put her in the position, and who she obviously doesn't want to cross), why on earth would we ever think she'd stand up against the President of the United States?!?P.S. Also check out the poll results, which show that Blue Virginia readers overwhelmingly oppose Dwight Jones as the next DPVA Chair.
UPDATE 5:33 pm: A few minutes after posting this, I received a statement - albeit one that doesn't even mention Dwight Jones - from Lavern Chatman's campaign. See below.
Adam Ebbin: "No. He does not represent the mainstream of our party and marriage equality is a civil right. We need someone who understands that."
Mark Levine: "He needs to be removed from consideration immediately." (Note: the Levine campaign sent me another statement on 3/4: "The tide of marriage equality turned a long time ago. Mayor Jones should evolve on the issue like the rest of the country and our fellow Virginians or he should not be taken into consideration. As Democrats lead the fight for equality and to love and live as one chooses, it is crucial that our party chair support these rights.")
Derek Hyra: "I believe that all committed and loving couples deserve equal protection and recognition under the law. As Democrats, we must fight for equal rights for LGBT Virginians. Equality is a core value of our party and it is critical that the next DPVA Chair share those values. I stand with the LGBT Democrats of Virginia in opposition to Mayor Dwight Jones' bid to be the next chair of the DPVA, and hope that all the other candidates in Virginia's 8th Congressional District will join us."
Bruce Shuttleworth: "Anyone opposing marriage equality is not embracing true equal rights and thus is not embodying the values or spirit of today's Democratic Party.  Most assuredly, we should not be nominating anyone to a Democratic leadership position who is unprepared to advance and defend the hard fought gains of the recent past. Being on the Board of AGLA, and having had at least 2 gay roommates, this is very personal to me and my friends."
Patrick Hope: "The Chair of the Democratic Party of Virginia needs to reflect our values as a party. This has been a historic year for marriage equality and we can not have a Chair of the party that does not support this civil right. I'm hopeful that Dwight Jones has reconsidered his position on this issue like so many others and will support marriage equality. However, if he is still against marriage equality, I strongly oppose his appointment as Chairman of the state party."
Mark Sickles: "Over the weekend, Delegate Sickles contacted the highest level of the governor's administration to express his opposition. We have received confirmation that his concerns have been acknowledged. If the governor nominates Mayor Jones for DPVA Chair, Delegate Sickles will issue a public statement in opposition."
Bill Euille: "I believe strongly that the Democratic Party of Virginia should continue to be reflective of the rich diversity of the Commonwealth. At a time when a majority of Americans all over the nation and the Commonwealth support marriage equality, a right the Commonwealth's highest court has recently affirmed, I believe firmly that our state Democratic party and leadership should be reflective of that reality. I am deeply disappointed by Mayor Jones' opposition to marriage equality. As Mayor of Alexandria, one of Virginia's largest cities, and as a strong and consistent supporter of marriage equality, I have shared by letter today this position with Mayor Jones and urged him to reconsider his previously articulated and untenable opposition to marriage equality. There is no place in our Commonwealth or nation to treat in a discriminatory fashion any individual based upon who they are or love. If Mayor Jones reconsiders his position on marriage equality I look forward to working with him as chair of DPVA."
Alfonso Lopez: "I have spoken to folks in the Mayor's office and to folks in the Governor's office to make it clear that the chair of the Democratic Party of Virginia should not lag behind the majority of the Commonwealth in supporting marriage equality for all Virginians. I have been assured by officials in the Governor's office that, if elected, Mayor Jones will fight to ensure that LGBT Virginians have the same rights as heterosexual Virginians. It is my belief that all people should be truly equal under the law no matter who they love. And I will continue to work in Richmond and on Capitol Hill to continue moving the march for equality forward."
Don Beyer: "I believe strongly in marriage equality, and trust that the next Chair of the Democratic Party will lead in a fully inclusive manner, respecting the rights of all."
Lavern Chatman: "I have spent my life working to promote equality for all Americans.  In Congress, I will fight against discrimination of any kind, whether it be based on race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation.  I applaud the steps the McAuliffe administration has made in promoting marriage equality in Virginia and in ending work place discrimination against the LGBT community.  I hope that the administration continues to push forward on this important civil rights issue."

A Better DPVA in Depth - Part 2: Candidates

by Dave

Part 2 of my series (leading up to the next DPVA meeting) examining how DPVA can be the best state party possible.Dave Leichtman is the DPVA Vice-chair for Technology and Communications
Last week, we delved into the financial side of how we can make our party the best it can be (Read: "A Better DPVA in Depth - Part 1: Money"). Since then, a lot has happened! It's no secret that I'm not comfortable with the Governor's advancement of Mayor Jones as his pick to be Chair. But I'm going to avoid that topic here and focus on moving forward after March 15th. Whoever emerges as Chair, Mayor Jones or otherwise, has a lot of work to do and is going to need all of the help he or she can get.
Somebody once told me that they were seriously disappointed in the Party over the primary results from June 2013 when both candidates of color (Justin Fairfax and Aneesh Chopra) lost. They said that we needed to instill racial diversity in our party and candidates. I agree, but I don't agree on the method or the outcome. Primaries are democratic, and it's the way we should pick our nominees. Tinkering with the will of the people may produce the results you desire, but it doesn't always lead to the strongest outcomes. What then is the solution to promoting racial and gender diversity in statewide candidates? Start at the bottom: local candidates! If we have quality, diverse candidates for local offices, then the most qualified ones will work their way up, plain and simple.
So let's talk about how we can recruit the best candidates to run locally and how we can foster and develop talent.
Dave :: A Better DPVA in Depth - Part 2: Candidates
1) The will to coordinate. Seems silly to say, but currently, the effort to recruit candidates is an incredibly fragmented task. The CD Chairs are often left to their own devices for finding Congressional candidates; the House and Senate Caucuses are left to recruit for their offices; and for local offices, a slapdash combo or the Party and local committees comes into play, but only sometimes - often local candidates simply self-select where the party isn't strong. DPVA needs to grab hold of the reins and lead the effort. Until we have a overarching system and method for identifying and approaching candidates, this effort will always be haphazard.2) The tech and the process to coordinate. This one is easily doable, it just involves a coordinated push on #1. DPVA could easily maintain an online platform like Salesforce (or some other CRM) to manage recruiting and goals - just like a well run sales-oriented business. Leads becomes qualified leads, qualified leads become opportunities, closed opportunities become candidates. See how that goes? The trick of this is giving access to all interested parties in a secure and siloed way - completely possible using commercially available tools designed specifically for this. The process need only be outlined and the tools deployed.
3) Investing in our committees. As a corollary to #2, the best place to recruit local talent is from within the local committees. But those committees need training and instruction on how to best assist in that effort. Giving the tools to help, training them on how to do so, and executing on a plan is paramount to stepping up our local recruiting game.
4) Cultivating recruits. One criticism I regularly hear from losing candidates is that once they lose, nobody follows up with them. We need a coordinated effort to foster quality candidates, even after they lose. Because today's losers can be tomorrow's winners, even in a red district. It just takes time to build up public name ID and to build a base of support (both Field and $). Good candidates need to be encouraged to run again, not ignored.
5) Making it easier to run. Candidates are often given impossibly high bars to surmount in order to run for any serious office. Often, to run for Delegate, it requires raising enough money to conduct a poll. Fine for weeding out perennial runners and whacktivists, but a difficult hump for serious candidates in rural and red areas to get over. Tracking and more methodical recruiting and coordinating can help eliminate the noise while allowing caucuses and committees to lower their barriers to entry. The Party can play a big role here with "ready to go" resources for candidates - info, tech, training, and other resources on-demand for good prospective candidates who might need it.
That's it for now. Stay tuned for Part 3, tentatively about what role is best for the Party to play and how DPVA can remain relevant in the age of modern campaigning.
In the meantime, discuss!

Photos, Video: Alexandria St. Patrick's Day Parade 2014

Saturday, March 1, 2014

After watching for about 2 hours, I finally left, with the political marchers still a ways from moving out of their staging area. So...if anyone has photos or video of the candidates and their supporters marching, please post them here if you can. Thanks!

Video: 8th CD candidates and supporters prior to marching in St. Patrick's Day Parade (0.00 / 0[delete comment]

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Video: Mayor Bill Euille kicks off 2014 Alexandria St. Patrick's Day Parade (0.00 / 0[delete comment]

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Video: Bagpipes at Alexandria St. Patrick's Day Parade 2014 (0.00 / 0[delete comment]

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Video: Bruce Shuttleworth works the crowd prior to 2014 St. Patrick's Day Parade (0.00 / 0[delete comment]

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Crazed tea party attack (0.00 / 0[delete comment]
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Just wanted to leave a comment commending the Shuttleworth people for having to deal with a truly ugly confrontation from a member of the local Tea Party. I didn't witness all of it but a deranged seeming woman from the tea party marching group began hurling insults hurtful and personal insults at the group including the child.  The Shuttleworth marches stayed calm and handled it in a great manner.

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Wow, I wonder if anyone got that on video. (0.00 / 0[delete comment]

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By the way, "crazed" and "tea party" are redundant. (0.00 / 0[delete comment]

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Video: Kena Temple Mini-cars at St. Patrick's Day Parade (0.00 / 0[delete comment]

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Video: Bolivian dancing, costumes at Alexandria St. Patrick's Day Parade 2014 (0.00 / 0[delete comment]

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Video: Three Miss Arlingtons (?) at 2014 Alexandria St. Patrick's Day Parade (0.00 / 0[delete comment]

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Photo of Charniele Herring by Catherine Read. (0.00 / 0[delete comment]
at Alexandria St. Patrick's Day Parade 2014.

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Photos of Mark Levine and Bruce Shuttleworth prior to parade (0.00 / 0[delete comment]

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Patrick Hope supporters at Alexandria St. Patrick's Day Parade 2014 (0.00 / 0[delete comment]

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Derek Hyra at St. Patrick's Day Parade (0.00 / 0[delete comment]

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Don Beyer and supporters prior to parade (0.00 / 0[delete comment]

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4 fine photos by Catherine S. Read (0.00 / 0[delete comment]

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Video: Bon Beyer Marches in St. Patrick's Day Parade (0.00 / 0[delete comment]

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Mark Levine and supporters marching in St. Patrick's Day parade (0.00 / 0[delete comment]

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