Who heard "Richmond's Morning News With Jimmy Barrett" on 1140-AM/WRVA just a little while ago? There was an odd moment, but a teachable one, as they say.
The normally genial Jimmy Barrett interviewed incoming Republican Senate Leader Tommy Norment (R-3, Williamsburg) about the much debated abusive drivers fees and the new JLARC report saying they neither raise road building funds nor reduce bad driving, the stated goals of the new fees. There was a discernible, but respectful disagreement between the two, with Norment not in favor of reducing the fees, but predicting the next General Assembly will apply them to non-Virginia drivers as well, another bone of discontent with the citizenry. He again mentioned it was Governor Tim Kaine's amendment that created the Virginia-driver-only punishment.
(Norment also said if you think the threshold for reckless driving, for example, is too low, that's a policy position. But deterring reckless drivers is another matter.)
Then things got interesting. Barrett, with his last question, asked if the $1 increase on license plates to fund the Jamestown 2007 celebration would be repealed now that the event is over, making the case for sunsetting.
Norment snapped back (this is nearly verbatim):
"I'm sorry, Jimmy, if WRVA doesn't pay you enough where you have to be concerned over one dollar! I'll be glad to send you a dollar myself to get you over this financial crisis you're in!"
Barrett significantly raised his voice:
"Excuse me, sir! Are you calling me cheap?!" Barrett's justifiable point was if we can't repeal a small fee like this, what fee and when will we ever do so when a one-time project is over?
Norment then droned on about how the dollar fee helps tourism, one of Virginia's biggest industries and pumps back millions of dollars into the economy, and that Virginians get a great deal out of it. He also said it helps Virginia "compete with the mouse" and other high profile destinations and he was going to keep it that way.
Barrett replied that the point is that fees and taxes always are raised for single projects, then never reduced when the project is over. (He may have added that if one dollar helps the economy so much, then why not a $5 or $10 increase?)
Then he told Norment, "You're not sounding too Republican!"
Norment, then coined a new phrase. He said he was a Republican all right — "I'm a Policy Republican!"
A Policy Republican? Whatever . . .
Norment signed off by sarcastically saying he'd send Barrett his dollar, and Barrett snapped, "I don't want it from you, I want it from the state!" After Norment hung up, Barrett asked his producer if Norment sounded like a Republican, to which his producer said, "No!"
Dollar, err, point, to Jimmy.