richmond virginia

Family Foundation Gala Preview: See Phill Kline Right To Life Speech

The Family Foundation of Virginia's Annual Gala is November 20 in Richmond. We have, and will, continue to preview the event and our keynote speaker, former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline (see here), here all the way up to the event. We will post videos of him in interviews and speeches, and even an exclusive blog interview, so you will get an idea of how dynamic and inspiring his story is — a true reformer and passionate defender of life, he has fought for the truth at great political and personal cost. A real life William Wilberforce. Engendering hate and vile against him by radicals, he perseveres in his fight against the evils of Planned Parenthood. We hope you will be able to join us in Richmond on November 20. It will be an event you won't want to miss. Here's one reason why — how many politicians speak with this conviction?

For more information about The Family Foundation of Virginia's Annual Gala, please call us at 804.343.0010 or e-mail

You Know The MSM Is Unhinged When . . .

Even the local Mainstream Media is getting into the act. It can't stand the success of Governor Sarah Palin (who will campaign again in Richmond Saturday) and how she has created an immense amount of enthusiasm, not just among Republicans, but among women and men Democrats and independents of all socio-economic backgrounds to the McCain-Palin ticket (see the ticket's remaining Virginia campaign schedule here). But it's not even the typical MSM. It's the entertainment MSM. Who cares what they think? But they want in on the action, too, I suppose. After Governor Palin's last visit to Richmond, the Richmond Times-Dispatch pop music critic thought it necessary to ridicule the Hank Williams, Jr., song "McCain-Palin Tradition" that he sang as a warm up to the governor's speech (click here to hear). According to the critic, Hank Jr.'s original hit, "Family Tradition," on which the campaign song is based, has some lyrics not in tune with "family values" voters (see article here).She mentions some Democrat instances as well, but clearly aims for what she thinks is a double standard among conservatives. Apparently, we're not allowed to have a good time — or at least it has to be good as defined by an elitist standard. But guess what?Even the celebration of Christmas was based on a pagan holiday. Guess we ought to stop celebrating, then. She continues with a litany of liberal recording artists who have demanded of Republicans to stop using their songs. Hard hitting stuff.

What's funny is this critic's view of Christians, values voters and conservatives in general — a stereotypical view of the types of people she thinks conservative politicians appeal to. It's as if she is saying conservatives don't have fun and live completely cloistered lives. Maybe she's the one who needs to get out more . . . or at least to more diverse entertainment venues to learn about the folks — that there's more out there than smokey bars and concert halls — and stop generalizing.

She also needs to learn some history. She claimed Ronald Reagan's 1984 campaign theme song was Bruce Springsteen's "Born In The U.S.A." Wrong. It was Lee Greenwood's "Proud To Be An American." Then again, he's just a values guy. No one relates to his music, right?

Is The Governor Fiddling, Part 2/Quote Of The Day

Two weeks ago we asked if Governor Tim Kaine was fiddling around with national politics while Richmond and the Virginia budget was burning (click here) because he was running around the country campaigning for Democrat presidential candidate Barack Obama. We're not the only ones who think so. Today, The Washington Times (click here) ran a feature on what the governor's schedule has been like in recent weeks. Among the states he's visited: Georgia, Iowa, Indiana and Texas, Colorado and Arizona. Which prompted this comment in The Times from House Majority Leader Morgan Griffith (R-8, Salem):

He clearly has spent almost as much time out of the state as he has in the state. I think we're going to find a lot of little things that he probably should have been on top of.

One of those "little things" is "chaplain-gate" which Griffith notes had been brewing for several weeks. The out of balance Virginia budget may be another. Although many claim the governor's budget was out of whack from the beginning or, at the very least, he wasn't paying attention to it because of his campaigning, he claims in The Times article that the national economy is to blame. (Funny how the national economy gets no credit when times are good, eh, governor?)

The governor says he has good people in place and gives them latitude to run the government. How does this explain Jody Wagner, his former finance secretary, who produced the bogus numbers upon which he based his budget? Also, if true, why elect a governor? Let's just keep these good people in place for life.

Delegate Bill Janis (R-56, Glen Allen), who has claimed that Kaine called this past summer's special session of the General Assembly to raise his national political profile in order to wedge his way onto Senator Obama's ticket, however, earns our coveted Quote of the Day. As he told The Times:

I think he's abandoned any pretense of trying to be the governor. At least Nero stayed in Rome and fiddled while it burned. He's out in Colorado.

Just as we said two weeks ago. The other difference Kaine has with Nero is that he not only fiddled during the fire, he started the fire as well. Now the question is, does the governor have the will, the poise, the sound judgement, the willingness to be bi-partisan — the time off the campaign trail — to grab a hose and put out the fire — not to mention tend to the other matters at hand?

Is The Governor Fiddling?

Is Governor Tim Kaine fiddling while Richmond burns? While he lays off 570 state government employees (see Washington Post, here), many of whom are in the all important corrections field, because of a budget deficit he caused by ignoring projections of a severe revenue shortfall so he could start new, unwanted programs such as Pre-K education, His Excellency is heading this weekend to Arizona and Colorado to campaign for Democrat presidential candidate Barack Obama. It was his hyper campaigning for Senator Obama during the primaries, then his self-promotion campaign to get himself on the Democrat ticket as its vice presidential nominee, that many say got Governor Kaine into this budget mess. That is to say, he took his eyes off his duties for the glamor of presidential politics. Whether that's true or not, it is certain that he obstinately refused to listen to many sane voices in the General Assembly to scale back his spending plan (the budget is based on revenue projections). He didn't and here we are, eliminating security jobs and closing prisons instead of eliminating social engineering programs.

More savings Governor Kaine said he's found are in the elimination of unfilled jobs. How this saves money since no salary is spent on people who aren't working is confusing at best. Phantom savings? But don't forget about his cutting the bottled water shipments to Capitol Square offices (see Richmond Times-Dispatch, here).

The governor also will use bonds instead of cash to pay for construction which will pile up further debt to be repaid later. Funny how it's fine to use debt to build monuments — uhhh, make that buildings to name after politicians — but can't be used for transportation which is a necessity and government responsibility. It also begs the question, why is our government so big that we are constructing more state buildings? (Buying them, too: The state just bought the high-rise Verizon building in downtown Richmond.)

Another major component of Governor Kaine's budget balancing is his raid on the Rainy Day Fund, which is budget surplus; in other words, our tax money which just sits in an account, not to be refunded when we have annual surpluses, but to be used to continue feeding the government beast when the economy turns south and the politicians don't think they can tax us any further. 

Governor Kaine's actions haven't been too popular, to say the least, with state government employees and others. Now the interesting part really comes into play: Will his barnstorming for Senator Obama while the state's budget deficit explodes have any backlash on Senator Obama in Virginia? It's a tune we're waiting to hear the fiddler play while the fire rages on.   

Constitution 101 Quote Of The Day

It truly is remarkable the lack of understanding some people have of the U.S. and Virginia Constitutions. Some of them actually run for, get elected and serve in high office. Case in point: In Friday night's debate between U.S. Senate candidates Democrat Mark Warner and Republican Jim Gilmore, both former governors, Warner was asked a question regarding his veto of a bill which would allow Virginia offshore drilling for oil and natural gas once federal approval is given. Even his Democrat successor, Governor Tim Kaine signed a similar bill. That the question came up surprised us. We posted it Friday afternoon as one of five questions we wanted to hear, although we doubted they would get asked. Gilmore used the veto to blunt Warner's claim that he now supports domestic drilling. 

Defending himself, Warner gave us our Quote Of The Day:

That bill I vetoed because it was the legislature telling the governor what to do in terms of a specific piece of legislation.

But a quick glance at the Constitution verifies that is, in fact, how it works: The legislative branch passes a law and the executive branch executes it (thus the word "executive"). Sort of like a tax increase, where the legislature sets "specific" rates and the executive collects it, something Mr. Warner should know all about. It's as if he was saying he didn't recognize the other two branches of government. Even stranger, this is the same Mark Warner who loves to talk about how bipartisan he and the General Assembly were during his four years in Richmond. All of sudden, it was a partisan machine, trying to roll him over.

(Almost as peculiar, he advocated that "all levels of government . . . local, state and federal" start placing orders for new cars "for 2010 and 2011" from Detroit — cars that get 100 miles per gallon. There are several problems here, perhaps the major one being that they don't exist!)

Also during the debate, adding to his misunderstanding of constitutional matters, Warner repeated the often misstated meaning of overturning Roe vs. Wade. If the case ever gets overturned, it would not end abortion nationwide immediately — a common liberal scare tactic. It simply would return the decision making from the federal courts to each state. 

There are no individual sound bytes of the Quote of the Day that we could find. Instead, you can view the entire debate by clicking here. You can drag the progression bar forward to 40:45 to hear Warner's futuristic 100 mph car claim and to 43:38 to hear the QOD. If you did not see or hear the debate, we encourage you to view it in its entirety in order to make an informed decision this November in this important U.S. Senate contest. It takes less than an hour and is an invigorating give and take.

Fun Facts For Today

Whether Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's experience is a real factor or not remains to be seen as she enters into the vice presidential debate Thursday night. Right now, the voters don't seem to mind. In fact, the last budget she administered is about $7.6 billion; the last budget administered by then-Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton when he ran for president was about $3.6 billion. So, does she have twice the practical experience he had in 1992? Certainly, the issues of energy independence are more complicated than Arkansas pre-K education. Former Virginia governor and current Richmond Mayor Doug Wilder has disparaged Governor Palin's experience. But then-Governor Wilder, in 1992, with only one year as governor under his belt, ran for the Democrat presidential nomination. Double standard, your honor?

But perhaps the most fun (and hypocrisy exposing) fact of all is, that while her critics ridicule the size of her state, her opponent, Senator Joe Biden, comes from lil' ol' Delaware, population 853,476 or less than the total population of metropolitan Richmond (Henrico, Chesterfield and Hanover Counties, and Doug's domain) which has a combined population of about 888,399. So . . . Doug Wilder for president after all?

Update: Charter Elementary School To Get Second Life?

That it is more difficult to get a vote on a realistic contract for a charter school in Virginia than extracting crude oil from a banana, as happened in Richmond last week, is proof enough that the issue must be revisited by the General Assembly soon. As we commented on last week, Virginia still has no charter elementary school, although Richmond was on the verge of getting one after its school board approved the Patrick Henry Initiative last spring. All that was left to do was for the school board to approve a contract with PHI. However, the the Richmond Public Schools administration sabotaged the deal by drawing up contract terms so restrictive that it was destined to condemn the school to failure.  Now, Richmond School Board member Keith West, who voted against the contract because of its untenable conditions, will bring the issue back for reconsideration. West, a founder of School Choice Virginia, can do so as one who voted on the prevailing side of the question. As reported in the Richmond Times-Dispatch Saturday, West will offer a simpler contract, outlining "what needs to be done, not how to do it."

Of course, telling a charter school how to do its mission defeats the purpose of charter schools — which is to offer alternative methods of instruction rather than the status quo offered by the educrat establishment, that same expertise that has failed so many, especially in urban communities.

While the chances for rescuing PHI aren't great, they are still alive. Overwhelming parent and citizen involvement got the effort this far and may yet finish the mission. They will need all the wherewithal they can summon to do so. West's new proposal first will be sent to a committee by School Board Chairman George Braxton, if it's not killed outright by the board. Plus, Braxton and another previous yes vote, Vice Chairman Lisa Dawson, hinted they would vote no on West's new contract anyway.

What kind of message does scuttling a first-ever charter elementary school send the rest of the state? It should send one to the General Assembly that this alleged system of educational choice must be revisited now, because although it is ostensibly set up for change, it really protects the same old torn up, infertile  turf of the educrat establishment, not the interests of parents, students and new ideas to advance education.

Is Mark Warner Afraid Of Barack Obama?

A couple of nights ago, as I nervoulsy was cheering on whatever American individual or team on the brink of elimination or medal at the Olympics, I got a call with a pleasant sounding woman on the other end. She wanted to know if I'd participate in a survey regarding the presidential campaign. I obliged, but wanted to know who was conducting it. She said she could tell me at its completion, and so we started. Here are the question predicates pretty much verbatim (they each had a scale or a modifier at the end, which isn't relevant here). I scribbled them down as soon as I hung up:

  1. Are you following the presidential campaign closely?
  2. Who are you likely to vote for?
  3. How likely are you to vote for that candidate?
  4. If not, would you vote for Barack Obama?
  5. In the U.S. Senate race, are you more likely to vote for Jim Gilmore or Mark Warner?
  6. Are your neighbors ready for a black president?
  7. Is experience or change more important in a presidential candidate?
  8. (This was a long winded push-poll question about the evils of pro-life candidates ruining women's lives versus the freedom loving pro-abortion, uhhhh, "pro-choice" candidates.)

I live in a very liberal, pretty upscale area, smack dab in the middle of Governor Tim Kaine's former fiefdom of Richmond's Fan District (when he was a Richmond city councilman just a few years ago; you know, at the same time Obama was an Illinois state senator). So I found the question about my neighbors' attitudes on a potential black, pro-abortion president, interesting. Surely the pollsters know what neighborhoods they are calling.

Surprise! At its conclusion the nice woman identified the poll as being paid for and authorized by . . . drum roll, please . . . "The Democratic Party of Virginia."

Well, I'lllllllllllllllllllll be. If it's all such a slam dunk, why are Tax Governor Warner and his apparatchiks so concerned?

Guess Who's Coming To Dinner?

The Family Foundation of Virginia is very pleased to announce that former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline, perhaps this nation's leading pro-life public official, someone who took on with vigor the pro-abortion forces in his state, will be the keynote speaker at our annual Gala, November 20, at the Greater Richmond Convention Center. He is the cover story of this month's Citizen Magazine, a Focus on the Family publication. Phill Kline is one of the rare elected officials who puts principles over politics. He is a dynamic speaker with substance, driven by principle. He bravely took on Planned Parenthood in Kansas despite the opposition of very powerful forces and never backed down, despite great political cost to him. We are truly excited and fortunate to host him and hope everyone takes the opportunity to hear him. We'll have more information about the event, and more about Mr. Kline, in the coming days and weeks, but we wanted to give everyone as much advanced notice as possible.

When you hear him speak, you will understand why we are so excited. If you have not heard Phill Kline's story, or are unfamiliar with him, just do a little research (click here for his Web site). We know first hand. We heard him at a meeting in Colorado Springs this past year. He has a powerful message guaranteed to enlighten you on pro-family values as well as interest you with his personal message. Join The Family Foundation and hundreds of pro-family Virginians from around the Commonwealth for this annual Gala celebration. Together, we will rejoice over our past victories and re-energize for the battles yet to come.

Here's just what a sample of the very high praise Phill Kline has received:

"There are yet in America heroes emerging who speak great truths with simplicity, eloquence, and passion." - National Review

"A pro-life crusading DA whose efforts have placed Kansas as the epicenter of the abortion debate . . . the fiercest state battleground in the abortion wars." - Human Events

"... the Legislature's ‘chief tax slasher' during a period in which state taxes probably were reduced by more than at any time in Kansas history." - The Topeka Capital-Journal

See y'all in November!

Oh, Say Does That Green-Spangled Banner Yet Wave At The Watermelon Festival?

It was a gorgeous weekend in Richmond and like 100,000 other Richmonders I brought my husband and two children to Carytown to attend the Watermelon Festival. Since many Richmonders are as proud to host this festival as the Chinese are to host the Olympics, I thought I ought to check it out — plus, Elizabeth Reagan loves watermelon.   Upon my arrival the first thing I noticed was the Planned Parenthood booth and its array of volunteers gathering petition names. My first reaction was disappointment that they continue to have an innocuous presence at many major events but my second reaction was excitement over the paper we will release later in the year exposing that organization for all that it is. Anyway, as our family and some friends made our way to the Boulevard intersection where the festival ended and the main stage was featuring some cover band, we saw a banner over the music stage announcing the day's sponsor:

Mindful of the recent budget crunch, I was immediately consumed by the question of "How many taxpayer dollars were put towards sponsoring the Watermelon Fest — an event that in its beloved state needs no money to continue to exist and serves no state pupose?" Bothered by this thought, I determined that it didn't matter the amount. Not a single dollar should have been spent in this manner. Not just because we have a budget crunch but because it violates the Code of Virginia:  

§ 58.1-4022. State Lottery Fund

E. As a function of the administration of this chapter, funds may be expended for the purposes of reasonably informing the public concerning (i) the facts embraced in the subjects contained in subdivisions 1 through 7 of subsection A of § 58.1-4007 and (ii) the fact that the net proceeds are paid into the Lottery Proceeds Fund of the Commonwealth; but no funds shall be expended for the primary purpose of inducing persons to participate in the lottery.

The Department of the Lottery has gone way off its mission. This banner does nothing to inform its viewers of the facts of the lottery and it is not alone as an example of advertising most reasonable minds would agree is intended to encourage or "induce" people into participating in the lottery (read this commentary by a litigant against the Virginia Lottery). In fact, not long ago, I met a really nice professional gentleman at a luncheon who, when asked his occupation, informed me that he does marketing for the lottery. Because I believe this man does not intend harm and probably does not feel his work runs afoul of Virginia law, I did not discuss it much further but the existence of such a position is disappointing to most Virginians. While most Virgnians support appropriate levels of funding for public education, in the name of "funding education" all things become acceptable.   

Dave Leitao: A Sports Leader Who Has It In Perspective

Society sometimes puts too much emphasis on entertainment figures, especially as it relates to their undeserved celebrity status and personal lives. This is includes sports. Sadder still is that the 24-hour sports television, radio, print and Internet media has ensnared college athletes into the same celebrity trap. "Big-time" schools and conferences make a mockery of their mission of higher education, where recruiting farm teams for the pros and earning millions for huge stadiums and athletes-only facilities dwarf the importance of recruiting Rhodes Scholars or Nobel professors.

Unfortunately, this spring and summer have seen an almost daily list of multiple criminal activity from student-athletes at these powerhouse sports colleges. Coaches aren't exempt either. Some barely rise above the absurdity of their self-absorption. (Perhaps no one is more important or more influential in an 18-year-old athlete's life — away from home for the first time, with the added pressures of the campus and media spotlight — than his coach.) Those in sports who do rise far above the manipulative, win-at-all-costs, career-ladder mentality are noteworthy, especially coaches. Sports cannot reach its true fulfillment without the accompanying life lessons that an adult can give the youth in his charge, a responsibility too many in athletic authority ignore. 

Fortunately, one of the good guys, who has it all in perspective for himself and his teams, is here in the Old Dominion: U.Va. Basketball Coach Dave Leitao. He knows there are more important things in life than Ws and Ls and is not afraid to impart the relative insignificance of sports to his players. In January 2007, on his own, he took his Cavaliers to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., to visit injured soldiers and Marines. In the summer of 2006, he went to Japan with the USO to coach our troops there in a tournament. But this past June, he and a few other NCAA basketball coaches went on a USO trip to Kuwait, Iraq and two military hospitals in Washington. It doesn't seem like he needs much perspective, but he told The Richmond Times-Dispatch it helped:

"I think I was a little embarrassed that we use war terms when we're talking in sports," Leitao said yesterday, but the soldiers' response lifted his spirits.

"They said, 'Hey, it's your battle, it's your war, so we don't feel bad for you saying it.'"


"I think, to a man, we all left saying we'd happily go back again," Leitao said. "Whether I do or not, only time will tell. But it's something that affected all of us."

More insights from Coach Leitao are here, at a journal he kept during his visits. Unlike the coach who, a few years ago, left one big-time college program's big bucks for a huge program and its megabucks, and didn't even tell his players "goodbye" — despite the fact he convinced them to trust their college years to him only to desert them — the ennobling side of sports leadership (and pop culture in general) isn't profiled more often. If it did, perhaps it would send the positive messages so urgently needed, not only to sports fans in general, who take things much too seriously on occasion, but to people within the profession as well as to the public at large.

School Choice: Whether Educrats Like It Or Not

Despite rabid opposition from the education establishment across the nation, more states are realizing that restoring parents' freedom to choose how their child is educated is critical to guaranteeing the best education possible. In recent years Georgia, Florida, Arizona and Pennsylvania, to name a few, have passed various forms of education choice legislation. Even the District of Columbia has opened the doors of education freedom to parents. In Virginia, the birthplace of liberty in our nation, the idea of extending that freedom to parents of children in elementary and secondary schools is met with ferocious hostility by the education unions and, unfortunately, a majority of legislators. "Choice," it seems, is limited by too many only to abortion. While Virginia government provides direct assistance to families with children in pre-K programs or college, no such assistance is available for kids K-12. In fact, college TAG grants provide essentially the same type of education choice we need in K-12, so for the state to say the general model won't work is a little disingenuous.

We have long advocated for providing parents the freedom to choose the best education environment for their children. As we move through the 21st century, we remain in a 19th century education model — a "once size fits all" approach that fails too many children. Educrats simply offer to continue to pour more and more money into a system — notice their rhetoric is always about the "system" — instead of allowing parents to find the best environment for their children's particular needs.

Tuesday, we were pleased to join several other organizations in Virginia to announce the formation of School Choice Virginia, started by school choice advocate Delegate Chris Saxman (R-20, Staunton). The event garnered a lot of statewide attention (see our post and the news links here, as well as a new article, today, here.) This group will review the myriad of potential proposals and work to bring about real education freedom in Virginia through advocacy and education.

At the Richmond press conference announcing the group, former Washington, D.C., City Councilman Ken Chavous, an African-American Democrat, endorsed our efforts. Mr. Chavous has seen first hand the impact of giving families more opportunities to educate children in communities where far too many never even make it to graduation. He now is traveling the country, working with legislators and organizations, to bring education choice to all of our nation's families.

In his comments, Mr. Chavous made it clear that this is not a partisan issue — it became largely so, as so many others, when it became federalized. Rather, this is an issue of liberty and it's about what is best for our nations' children. We can no longer be held hostage by the education establishment.

Not only will education freedom help students struggling in poor performing schools, but it also will save taxpayers money. Study after study shows that when choice is introduced, enrollment in public schools decreases, but much of the money spent on the students that leave stays with the school. In essence, the schools have more money to spend per child.  Though we know that money isn't the answer, this undermines opponents who claim that school choice will "take money from public schools." Nothing could be further from the truth. Not only that, but the new competition forces public schools to improve — and in many cases they do.

Frankly, school choice is coming to Virginia. It's coming whether the educrat establishment likes it or not. It may take some time, but as more and more states recognize the need for educational freedom, the only question that remains is whether Virginia will take the lead in granting families more liberty, or whether it will once again choose to fall further and further behind the rest of the nation in the area of freedom.

School Choice Now Has A Voice In Virgnia

We will have more on this later, but yesterday we were part of an announcement by Delegate Chris Saxman (R-20, Staunton) that introduced School Choice Virginia, a new 501(c)(4) organization, to lobby on school choice issues. It cannot support candidates. Virginia severely lacks choices in public education. Suppose your local government drew up shopping districts and you could only shop at the grocery store in your district. Do you think the service, quality and pricing would be competitive and the products of high standard? Of course not. It would be a monopoly. That's the case in Virginia with its public education. Not all public school systems are failing to be sure. But where they are, they are failing dramatically, and the only thing that can help them is competition and reform. (For example, look at difficult it was for Richmond to get its first charter school, despite overwhelming parental approval.) Virginia needs more charter schools (which means a drastic improvement over the current law) and more freedom of enrollment within the existing structure among many other options.

We look forward to serving on School Choice Virginia's board, with organizations and individuals such as the Virginia Catholic Conference, home school leaders, Richmond School Board member and reformer Keith West, an independent, and former District of Columbia City Councilman Kevin P. Chavous, a Democrat, and one of the nation's leading school choice advocates.

While it always is exciting to see momentum growing for an issue, evidenced by the formation a new coalition, School Choice Virginia is no reason to believe education reform is anywhere closer to fruition. The General Assembly climate has not been warm to even modest school choice — Delegate Saxman's bill to create private sector funded scholarships was defeated last year — and this new group will need all the grassroots help it can get. 

How Prescient Are We?

How prescient is this blog? The scientific studies have not come back from the lab yet, but it seems whenever we mention an institution or group making a goof of itself in public, they do it again almost immediately after mention them. Not that it's a pressing bit of business for us, but since this involves a major state university, we found with more than a little interest that Virginia Commonwealth University hit the front page of The Richmond Times-Dispatch this morning, again, this time about some severe ramifications regarding its awarding of a bachelor's degree to former Richmond city police chief Rodney Monroe (now police chief in Charlotte, N.C.), even though he did not meet typical academic requirements. The upshot: Four prominent members of the faculty resigned their leadership positions over the way the investigation of the inappropriately awarded diploma was handled. Among them was noted political commentator Dr. Bob Hollsworth, who has spoken to the Family Foundation on different occasions, including our annual Richmond Briefing during the 2007 session of the General Assembly.

Of the four, one is taking a new job out of state. The other three will remain as faculty members but have relinquished positions as deans, directors and other leadership posts (some held dual positions in addition to their tenured ones). We've found "Dr. Bob" to be an objective, insightful and astute observer of the political culture in Virginia. We hope he continues in that role.

Tragic Intentions Undetected

Over the last few weeks a tragedy has come to light in Richmond. In January, an abortion happened on the watch of Commonwealth Catholic Charities, which is run by the Catholic Diocese of Richmond (one of the two Catholic dioceses that encompass Virginia's Catholic population). Four people who worked for the organization aided a 16-year-old Guatemalan in getting an abortion and in the implantation of a contraceptive device. The four, who were fired, either ignored Catholic teaching on birth control and abortion or were somehow unaware of it (the organization employs non-Catholics). Most appalling was that one of them, who had no legal standing, signed an abortion consent form required from a minor's parent or legal guardian — in direct violation of Virginia law.

The Guatemalan's only legal guardian is the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Refugee Resettlement's Department of Unaccompanied Children's Services. Catholic Charities is one of several organizations that provide care for refuge children under the department's custody. Since Catholic teaching forbids abortion and federal policies prohibit it except in rare situations, the girl should not have been able to secure an abortion.

Quite clearly, a law was broken. But Richmond City Commonwealth's Attorney Michael Herring looked into this only briefly and determined that although what the former employee did was wrong and illegal, he would not prosecute her because he believes she had no intent.

Since when does ignorance of the law stop at abortion? Or, how about, I swindled that widow's money, but my intent wasn't to make her life miserable, I just wanted to buy myself a new Porsche? There's all sorts of byproducts of committing crimes that don't include intent, but that doesn't excuse prosecution. Ignorance never has. Besides, since when is mind reading part of a prosecutor's required job skills? Isn't the application of the law supposed to be dispassionate?

Not only that, aren't they supposed to keep evidence and suspicions close to the vest? But in interviews with the media in announcing that he would investigate, Mr. Herring basically gifted the former employee a Get Out of Jail Card, as he did in this July 9 Richmond Times-Dispatch article:

Herring said prosecution will depend on his findings. He said he also would consider the intention of the social worker who signed the consent form.

"Let's suppose that a woman in good faith thought it was OK for her to sign the form," he said. "I would not feel comfortable prosecuting. But if she behaved in bad faith, if she tried to use this incident to make a statement, which doesn't make sense considering who she worked for, then I would be considerably less sympathetic."

Regardless of that, did Mr. Herring ask the former employee if he or she thought to check with the Catholic Charities' executive director before executing such a drastic and controversial action? Even if this person wasn't aware of Catholic teaching, even if avoiding the boss' permission is an internal matter (doesn't the absence of such consultation seem strange in such a situation?), wouldn't that give insight into the motivation — i.e., intent — of this person?

Mr. Herring has done a commendable job in his first term — one reason Richmond's crime rate has dropped. He also forcefully testified, as spokesman for the Commonwealth Attorneys' Association, at the Senate Education and Health Committee this past General Assembly regular session in favor of the fetal homicide bill. In fact, he forcefully told the committee if it killed it (which it predictably did), "We will be back in front of you next year." He also is the Herring in Richmond Medical Center vs. Herring, the case in front of the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, testing the constitutionality of Virginia's partial birth abortion ban — which means he is the one being sued by the pro-abortionists. So with this background, we are doubly perplexed, and more than disappointed, in Mr. Herring's refusal to pursue this abomination vigorously.

Furthermore, what of the abortionist who willingly accepted this consent form? The man from Mars wouldn't have been that gullible. This person obviously saw an opening to take sad advantage of the situation and did so without hesitation. If one is looking for intent, that's probably the only one applicable in this whole sordid, tragic matter. But apparently, for some, this is the one law where that does not matter. Media reports indicate federal officials also are looking into aspects of this crime. We hope they come to a much different conclusion than Mr. Herring.