tertium quids blog

Virginia News Stand: June 5, 2009

Here's the get-you-ready-for-the-weekend version of the News Stand. The Times, the Times and the Times-Dispatch explore the strategies in the waning days of the Democrat gubernatorial primary: The Virginia Dems are going after each other real hard, but hard enough to create hard, stay-at-home feelings among the supporters of the eventual two losers?  At the same time, Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell comes out for state commissioning of charter schools. Right now, only school districts can do it, which is why there only are four in the entire Commonwealth! Norm Leahy at Tertium Quids offers a look. We also bring you Michelle Malkin's take on the media's coverage of two recent murders and, in national news, one expert discusses why former Vice President Dick Cheney is wrong in supporting same-sex marriage.

News:

Moran goes after Democratic rivals; McDonnell backs charter schools (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Moran takes 'path to victory' in N. Va. (Washington Times)

Voters will decide if campaign attacks were effective (Roanoke Times)

Lesinski Proposes Tax Credits For Small Businesses (Harrisonburg Daily News-Record)

Rutherford Institute co-founder dead at 60 (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Carol Whitehead recalled fondly (Charlottesville Daily-Progress)

National News:

Cheney's judgment 'clouded' on same-gender unions (OneNewsNow.com)

Even Darwinists doubt latest 'missing link' (OneNewsNow.com)

Commentary:

Did Someone Say "Charter Schools"? (Norman Leahy/Tertium Quids Blog)

Climate of hate, world of double standards (Michelle Malkin/ OneNewsNow.com)

Religious Right Not Responsible for Tiller's Death (OneNewsNowBlog.com)

Eminent Domain Update In Virginia

One of the many legislative victories of which we have been a part during recent years, and one in which we are most proud, is the 2007 eminent domain reform law. Proud for a number of reasons: It righted a grievous wrong and demonstrated that when we stand on principle and work hard, much can be accomplished; we were part of a large coalition that fought the entrenched corporate and bureaucratic interests and proved that good really can come out of the legislative system; and because so many of you faithfully stayed engaged and kept up the pressure on legislators as the story of the legislation took more twists in the tale than the Crooked Road in our Great Southwest. Bills patroned by Senators Ken Cuccinelli (R-37, Fairfax), Mark Obenshain (R-26, Harrisonburg), Steve Newman (R-23, Forest), Delegates Rob Bell (R-58, Charlottesville) and Johnny Joannou (D-79, Portsmouth), and others helped overturn the effects of the deplorable Kelo vs. New London, Conn. decision by the U.S. Supreme Court which allowed governments to take private property, often family owned homes and businesses, and give it to large corporations. The bills were passed — after much redrafting and debate (one powerful senator said property rights are not in the constitution!) — by overwhelming majorities in both chambers and signed into law, somewhat reluctantly, and with a few slight amendments, by Governor Tim Kaine.

While the law has immensely improved property protections for Virginia families who own homes and family-owned businesses, it still doesn't go far enough as evidenced by "quick takes" of local governing bodies. Nor are its protections fool-proof since a future General Assembly can change the law. Don't think it can happen? Jeremy Hopkins, in a study he authored for the Virginia Institute for Public Policy, documents Virginia's lapse from a leading private property state that cherished and constitutionally protected individual property rights, to one of the weakest in the union prior to the 2007 legislation (click here). (This study was the "Bible" for those of us who worked on this bill in 2007. The state's power over the fruits of you labor will frighten you.) 

Hopkins underscores the foundational importance of private property rights to a democratic society:

Finally, the right to private property undergirds and protects all other rights. It truly is "the guardian of every other right." A cursory review of the Bill of Rights reveals that many of the rights Americans cherish have little significance without the recognition and protection of private property. Not only do many of these rights presume the right to private property, but these rights have little meaning without the right to private property.

For instance, what good is the right to free speech if one has no property from which to speak freely? What good is the right to free speech if the government owns all printing presses and all means of recording, producing, and dispensing speech? What good is the right to assemble and petition the government if one has no property on which to freely assemble and petition? What good is the right to worship freely if one has no property on which to freely worship? What good is the right to worship freely if the state owns the church, employs the clergymen, and prints all religious material?

For an absolute guarantee of secure property rights in Virginia tougher measures are needed and they need to be put into the constitution. Some of the same lawmakers noted above are interested in proposing such an amendment this coming session. It's never too early to encourage your delegates and senators to support such constitutional protections (click here)

To get an update on the status of eminent domain in Virginia — and your rights — read this post and hear this interview with Hopkins from the blog Tertium Quids (click here). Just as with any right, to secure it, we must stay informed and active.

Unintended Consequences

No, not that one. Not at all. Actually, something interesting, realistic and possibly good. Norman Leahy yesterday wrote at Tertium Quids (click here) that an unintended consequence of Governor Tim Kaine's $3 billion budget deficit is that real cuts in state spending might be made — not just reductions in increases that pols like to brag about at campaign time as big-time spending reductions (see Times-Dispatch article, here). If such cuts are made, speculates Leahy, then maybe cost-conscious state government may turn to school choice to reduce taxpayer funded public education costs. (Click here to listen to his interview about this possibility with school choice expert Adam Schaeffer of The Cato Institute.) While we're not holding our breath, maybe the pols will eliminate the unnecessary and budget busting new Pre-K program as well.

TQ Blog Radio On The Air

A few weeks back we congratulated our friends at Tertium Quids on the announcement of the launch of their Internet radio show. Now, it's on the air. Tomorrow at 10 a.m. "TQ Radio" will have as its guest Dr. Ron Utt of the Heritage Foundation. Dr. Utt is an expert on transportation and has written and studied the issue extensively. Perhaps some in the General Assembly, the Governor's Mansion and certain newspaper editorial boards should tune in . . . if they are as open to new ideas and solutions as they claim, and hear how Virginia's transportation network can be fixed without raiding our wallets. The show takes listener calls. The number to participate is 347-426-3146. Tune in tomorrow and weekly to hear what is likely to be an excellent array of guests on TQ Radio.

The Same "Just One Question" For House Republicans

As The Special Tax Session of the General Assembly was about to get underway, we posed one question we said we'd love Governor Tim Kaine to answer. Now that House Republicans, or at least some of them, are getting behind HB 6055, which would raise numerous onerous taxes in Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia (such as the real-estate killing grantor's tax), we want to pose to them the same question:

Before we go raising taxes for a bloated government to pave over the Commonwealth by taking more money from people already finding it tough to get by, shouldn't we first spend the $500 million in new money still around from last year's transportation bill?

Okay, it's worded slightly differently, but it's the same question, and rightfully posed as the bill's patron, Delegate Phil Hamilton (R-93, Newport News) today cited that same pot of money of new funding on "Richmond's Morning News with Jimmy Barrett" on WRVA-AM/1140. Despite the House Republican leadership's public statements about fixing the parts ruled unconstitutional from last year's bill, it doesn't seem to have the whole team reading from the same playbook.

New Republican Party of Virginia Chairman, and Delegate, Jeff Frederick (R-52, Woodbridge), told the blog Tertium Quids:

. . . he plans not only to vote against HB 6055, but to make the case, in his role as party chairman, that tax hikes such as this make little policy sense while also harming the GOP brand.

What does it say about the bill's policy and those well-meaning legislators who want to do something "to make the issue go away" when the party's chairman, and a colleague of the patron, is adamantly against it? Who was elected statewide most recently and has heard from the grassroots? Not only that, but statewide and regional polling makes it pretty clear: No new taxes will be tolerated, no matter what they're called, how they're imposed or what it's for. Delegate Frederick is not the only one concerned. Senator Ken Cuccinelli (R-37, Fairfax), who also has traveled the state much recently in his bid for attorney general, told TQ:

"I'm very concerned that the Republican tax bill will pass, further enraging our already-dispirited base over what they will perceive as an abandonment of Republican principles — again."

Partisans may think this split in the ranks is bad. Taxpayers, perhaps otherwise, since it gives us hope of defeating a massive tax hike (however "regional" in nature) — never good, and particularly disastrous in these uncertain economic times. So, we ask again, to House Republicans — and, for that matter, Senate Democrats, Senate Republicans, House Democrats, Governor Kaine and anyone else who will have a say in the matter:

Shouldn't we first spend what we already have?