On April 29, on the site’s 8th anniversary, Virginia Political Blogs will be shut down. Its purpose has been served, and it no longer plays a useful role in political discourse in Virginia, with that having moved largely to Facebook and Twitter. You can download a list of all member sites as OPML, should you so desire.
The nonpartisan Virginia Public Access Project has posted 15 lobbyist registrations received from the Secretary of the Commonwealth since March 4. The latest batch contained the following:
VPAP will continue to provide updates as the SOC makes the information available.
Come celebrate St. Patricks Day with the gals! Saturday March 15, 9:00 pm until you can’t dance anymore. The dance will be held at the Impulse Gay Social Club (address below). $10 cover. Beer and wine available for purchase. Non-smoking. Question? Contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. We are thrilled to announce that Drop Ded Red will be the DJ for this event!!
Saturday March 15 @ 9:00 pm — ????
Impulse Gay Social Club – 1417 Emmet St. N, Charlottesville VA
I’m trying to wrap my head around this Ukraine situation. I haven’t been paying a huge amount of attention to news lately, so I only get bits and pieces of it at a time. I seem to recall having difficulty the last time something happened in Ukraine, too. If I’m understanding the incredibly obtuse explanations from the media correctly, it’s something like this:
Grossly simplified, Ukraine is made up of two basic ethnic regions. The western side is more of a Ukrainian ethnicity, while the eastern side is more of a Russian ethnicity. The people of Crimea in the southeast, a penninsula sitting smack between Ukraine and Russia, want to leave Ukraine. I don’t know why, but I guess because they speak Russian while the rest of their country speaks Ukrainian. I’m not sure if the Crimean people want their own country, or if they just want to become part of Russia. The latter would make more sense, since they would probably be a shambles by themselves.
Unfortunately in these modern times, you can’t just up and decide to move your land from one country to another. The Ukrainian government doesn’t particularly want a big chunk of their territory to disappear. It would look bad on their yearly evaluations or something. Also, presumably, whatever revenue and resources come from Crimea would be lost.
Complicating matters is that the U.S. and Russia are on opposing sides. Russia seems fine with the idea of Crimea becoming Russian. The U.S., perhaps sympathetic because of its own Civil War, is firmly behind Ukraine. If Crimea left for Russia, it would be a big political black eye for us, as we would "lose" to Russia, and we certainly can’t have that.
To put this in terms more Americans might understand, it’s a bit like this hypothetical situation: California decides to leave the U.S. for Mexico. California is filled with Spanish-speaking people, right? I think so. Anyway, the U.S. obviously wouldn’t allow that to happen, because we set a rather harsh precedent during the Civil War that no State would be leaving the Union, or else. In this analogy, Ukraine is the U.S., Crimea is California, and Mexico is Russia.
It’s entirely possible that analogy is totally wrong, but it sounds good to me. (In reality, Mexico may not want California, given its generally horrible financial state.)
I have no strong feelings about the politics of the situation one way or another, which is to say that I don’t care if Crimea is part of Ukraine or part of Russia. I just feel horrible for the people living in that area. And as a U.S. citizen I don’t particularly want to get involved in a potential Ukrainian civil war, especially with Russia on the other side. Can’t we spend a little time not being involved in a conflict somewhere in the world? Just for a change of pace?
I’ve said before that I couldn’t conceive of how the Civil War came about, but this looks like a living example of it happening right before our eyes. Still, I can’t comprehend being so passionate about one’s national identity that one would be willing to start shooting people over it. That seems like an incredibly Middle Ages attitude to me. (Actually the entire concept of national identity in general seems obsolete, with the explosion of cross-border communciation possible through the Internet.)
Anyway, as of this writing, Crimea has essentially voted to become part of Russia. Of course, Ukraine (and the U.S.) doesn’t recognize their authority to make that decision. Let’s hope they find a way to resolve everything without creating a lot of innocent dead people.
Instead of swallowing a deliberately misleading public relations campaign, let’s have the public weigh in. Instead of conducting another opinion poll, let’s get real. Moreover, the forces for the mayor’s revitalization plan “love” it that some people have the gotten the misconception that only a handful of activists are against their scheme.
With a citizens’ referendum on the ballot, not only is outlawing a stadium in Shockoe Bottom possible, it would offer youngsters in Richmond a splendid opportunity to see democracy in action.
Want more info? Tune in to a radio interview that will lay out the case for a referendum. It will air on WRIR 97.3 FM at 4 p.m. today. Open Source’s Don Harrison will be asking the questions. The answers, however enlightening or lame, will be coming from yours truly.
For those who’ve come to the issue recently, the information may provide some historical background. Knowing how we got here helps. For those who’ve been opposed to building a stadium in Shockoe Bottom for several years, perhaps what’s revealed about a new team dedicated to putting a citizens’ referendum on the ballot will provide some encouragement.
Emily Badger, a perceptive writer for the Atlantic Cities blog, makes a number of excellent points in a commentary published today but manages to confirm conservatives’ worst fears that liberals and progressives are engaged in a war against cars. The libs may say they are “pro-transit,” “pro-bicycle” and “pro-transportation choice,” but when you scratch the surface, their real goal is to get people out of cars. It may be politically inexpedient to say so out loud — too many people like their cars — but that’s where liberals’ social-engineering instincts take them.
In the piece, Badger discusses the many trade-offs that Americans make when deciding which transportation mode to use on any given day. The implicit goal is to shift commuters out of single-occupancy vehicles and into other modes of transportation such as biking, car pooling, walking or transit. “We can incentivize transit by making all of those other options more attractive,” she writes. “Or we can disincentivize driving by making it less so. What’s become increasingly apparent in the United States is that we’ll only get so far playing to the first strategy without incorporating the second.” Then she writes:
The question is really how far we can get down the path of least resistance, pursuing only the politically easy tactics. If the goal at the end of the day is changing behavior, how much can you really achieve by showing people a nice new bike lane?
Ka-boom! With one phrase — “if the goal is changing behavior” — Badger triggers conservatives’ reptilian fight-or-flight instinct. You don’t change anyone’s behavior through the political process except by mobilizing the coercive power of government. In other words, Badger wants to force me to change my behavior to advance her vision of society.
Ironically, Badger dances along the edge of true insight. She alludes to important ways in which federal, state and local governments subsidize automobility — particularly through so-called “free” parking and gas taxes that fail to cover the full cost of building and maintaining roads. Then, for a brief, flickering moment, she really gets it:
“Behavior change” sounds vaguely manipulative. … But in this context, the disincentives are really about removing subsidies and distortions from the market.
Bingo! If Badger and her allies would re-frame the debate along those lines, they would make much bigger inroads with moderates, conservatives and others who resist social engineering at the hand of liberals. A couple of pointers for making Smart Growth palatable to conservatives:
Adopt mode agnosticism. Don’t make “getting people out of their cars” the foundational goal of transportation policy. People like their cars, and for good reason — they offer flexibility, convenience and privacy. Instead, make transportation policy mode-agnostic. Create a level playing field between cars, transit, bikes and walking by eliminating governmental carrots and sticks altogether. The message: You’re welcome to drive your car if that’s what you prefer — just don’t expect us to subsidize your preference.
End free parking. The way to curtail excessive car usage shouldn’t be to create artificial scarcities of parking, it should be to cease creating artificial surpluses of parking. Municipal policy subsidizes parking in many ways: mandating that property owners provide parking spaces, using tax-free municipal bonds to erect new parking garages and providing on-street parking for free, to name a few. Eliminating parking mandates and subsidies will increase the cost of car ownership, achieving liberal-progressive ends, but will do so in a way that deprives conservatives any philosophical basis for objecting.
Reform road financing. Motor fuels taxes once paid fully for roads and highways. Now they pay for less than half. In other words, the cost of building and maintaining roads is heavily subsidized. The principled conservative position, and one that liberals should embrace, is to shift all transportation modes to a user-pays system based on the fuels tax (and perhaps one day a mileage-based user fee) for cars and fare-box revenue for transit. (New transit construction could be financed through value-capture strategies, creating special tax districts to tax landowners whose properties gain value from proximity to rail, bus or streetcar lines.
That just skims the surface of a conservative Smart Growth agenda for transportation, but you get the idea. Stop subsidizing transportation. Let everyone pay the full cost of their transportation choices. And then let people choose freely.
Pride isn’t just once a year – it happens all year long. Upcoming opportunities to participate:
- Cville Pride will have a float in the Dogwood Parade! Volunteers to help decorate and ride the float needed!
- Finally, SAVE THE DATE: 3rd annual 2014 Cville Pride Festival will be September 13th. Mark your calendars! Location TBD. Again, let us know if you would like to be involved!
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A lot of posturing, not much progress.
That may be the way to describe the status of negotiations at the State Capitol. Virginia Democrats, led by Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) remain committed to only passing a budget that contains an expansion of Medicaid. Republicans, led by Speaker William Howell and Del. Kirk Cox refuse to budge.
Thursday McAuliffe used the expected roll out of a new program that will combine Medicaid and Medicare programs for Virginians who are eligible for both as an example that the state is ready for wholesale expansion.
The reform is significant and supported by republicans and democrats, but republicans were quick to say it has nothing to do with Medicaid expansion and especially as it relates to the budget.
It seems that despite a lot of public sabre rattling, we aren't much closer to a deal on the budget.
Here is my story for NBC12:
RICHMOND (WWBT)- The announcement of Virginia's move to blend Medicare and Medicaid was going to happen with or without an expansion of Medicaid.
But Governor Terry McAuliffe (D) believes it is an example of how Virginia has worked to reform the process. Republicans still don't believe the state or the federal government is ready for that kind of huge investment.
It was a campaign promise, and Governor McAuliffe continues his push for expansion, any which way he can.
"This Medicaid expansion and how it relates to Medicaid in Virginia this is critical to our budget it is already 20% of our budget," the Governor said in a one on one interview in his office.
McAuliffe continues to hold firm on his belief the budget cannot go through without Medicaid expansion. Republicans argue both sides should be having two different conversations.
'We need a clean budget not one that includes Medicaid expansion something that was inserted and not introduced by the governor something that was inserted by the senate and is holding up the other priority needs of the commonwealth," and said Del. Chris Jones (R-Suffolk) the lead budget negotiator in the House.
According to the governor today's announcement that people eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid can now sign up for one program- is evidence that Virginia has made great strides reforming the system and prepared to cover more people.
"It is a win win it shows that Virginia is on top leading on what we need to do on these health care reforms," McAuliffe said.
But republicans aren't ready to budge, and aren't ready to trust the federal government to hold up its end of the bargain long term.
"We knew this coming in I've met with shareholder groups back in October that were concerned about the contracts," said Jones. "I think there are three insurers they are dealing with. So this is nothing new. There is nothing new with this."
...read the full story on NBC12.com
Meanwhile some 78 thousand Virginians are already starting to take advantage of the new blended program.
Mike Valerio covered that part of the story and how it will directly impact those who are eligible for both programs:
RICHMOND (WWBT)- In an effort to cut confusion and cut costs, Governor Terry McAuliffe announced the merger of Medicare and Medicaid benefits for Virginians enrolled in both programs Thursday. The move eliminates two sets of often misaligned rules, and launches the new endeavor in one new program.
The new initiative is now known as Commonwealth Coordinated Care (CCC), a program that will cover an estimated 78,000 Virginians. Gov. McAuliffe said the goal is to eliminate complicated rules, and to help patients request the care they need.
"Nationwide, individuals who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid typically have the highest and most complex medical needs but are often underserved," McAuliffe said at a news conference Thursday. "CCC will blend all of the benefits currently provided under Medicare and Medicaid into one plan."
Letters are now being sent to all Virginians who are eligible for the plan. The letters provide information on how to enroll, as well as contact information for representatives who can answer questions.
Highlights of CCC include a care manager for each patient, a feature Secretary of Health and Human Resources, Dr. William A. Hazel, Jr. said goes beyond current benefits for Medicaid and Medicare.
"[A care manager] will complete a comprehensive evaluation to understand the enrollee's situation and work directly with the enrollee to develop a plan of care that is tailored to their needs and preferences," Hazel said.
Republicans largely dismissed the announcement as a plan that was already in the works for three years. Advocates for senior citizens also expressed concerns that patients may throw out the enrollment letters by mistake, or not understand the changes.
"Even if the letter is thrown out, people who receive certain medications from Medicaid and Medicare will continue to receive the same medications under the new system," said Cindi Jones, director of Virginia's Department of Medical Assistance Services in a phone interview Thursday. "And if you don't like the new merged plan, you have the right to opt out, and go back to how things were before."
read and see Mike's full story on NBC12.com