Articles from June 2009



Jody Wagner v. The Democratic Party of Virgina.

Someone needs to invest in message coordination. First, this e-mail from Jody Wagner in which she attacks Ken Cuccinelli:

During his comments, Cuccinelli said “I tell people this is a rematch, a math test, and a debate, along this ticket.  And I think we should just have the math test this week and end the Wagner-Bolling race right now.  Put her out of her misery!”  Well, we couldn’t agree more with a math test, so we took a look at the numbers, and posted the results below.  Now we need YOUR HELP in spreading the news:

The Warner-Kaine-Wagner Math Test

2

“Best Managed State” awards

3

“Best State for Business” awards

1

“Best State to Raise a Child” award

$731 Million

2004’s record new investment in public education

$1.6 Billion

2008’s record investment in higher education facilities

195,000

New jobs created in the Warner and Kaine administrations

= The Warner-Kaine-Wagner Record of Success

First, isn’t she running for Lieutenant Governor, not Attorney General? So why is she focusing on what Ken Cuccinelli has said and not her opponent Bill Bolling? She must really be on the defensive if she’s spending time responding to a wisecrack remark made by someone that isn’t even her opponent!

Anyway, check out these quotes from “Stand Up For Virginia” (get your own link), a “A Project of the Democratic Party of Virginia”, where they attack Republicans for refusing to raise taxes on businesses in the middle of a recession:

Nearly 300,000 Virginians are unemployed — with unemployment rates in places like Martinsville as high as 20.2%.

[…]

291,000

Estimated number of unemployed people in Virginia

6.6%

statewide unemployment rate in Virginia

20.2%

unemployment rate in Martinsville, the highest rate in the state

That’s the real legacy of eight years of Democratic (snort) leadership under Warner–Kaine folks: 20.2% unemployment in one city in our state. Wagner doesn’t get to cherry pick and talk about some stupid award that Virginia has received and then gets to ignore massive unemployment rates in the state and in particular areas, especially when the political party she’s affiliated with is using those same numbers to attack the other side of the aisle for not raising taxes.

Can Rob Wittman (R-1st) tell us where in the United States Constitution it mentions youth crime and gang prevention?

I asked that question in a previous post regarding Bobby Scott’s youth crime and gang prevention bill that Rob Wittman is a cosponsor of. It was an admittedly snarky argument since 99.99% of the stuff Congress does has no authorization in the United States Constitution.

However, as I was browsing the legislation that Wittman is currently cosponsoring I came across H.R. 450. H.R. 450 would “require Congress to specify the source of authority under the United States Constitution for the enactment of laws”. The text of the bill reads:

Each Act of Congress shall contain a concise and definite statement of the constitutional authority relied upon for the enactment of each portion of that Act. The failure to comply with this section shall give rise to a point of order in either House of Congress. The availability of this point of order does not affect any other available relief.

So Wittman is cosponsoring legislation that would require people that introduce legislation in Congress to enumerate where in the Constitution it says that Congress has such authority to enact the legislation while simultaneously cosponsoring legislation that Congress has no authority in the Constitution to enact. Unless, of course, I missed a mention to youth crime and gang prevention in the Constitution. It wasn’t in the edition I have, but who knows, right?

While H.R. 450 hasn’t been passed — and never will be — Rob Wittman is supposed to be a leader, correct? One of 435 special people elected due to the their perceived unique abilities by the public, including their leadership ability. Now, if Rob Wittman was a leader, shouldn’t he be following this resolution before it was even pass and ensuring that every piece of legislation that he sponsored or cosponsored specified where in the Constitution it was permitted and authorized?

Will forensics scientists in Virginia have to go to court for each and every test and analysis they do?

Virginia Lawyers Weekly seems to think so at their blog site:

Forensic scientists may be more frequent visitors to Virginia courtrooms as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling today that laboratory reports are testimonial evidence and therefore invoke the Confrontation Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

The court split 5-4, with Justice Scalia, the author of Crawford v.Washington, the 2004 opinion that rewrote the concept of what prosecutors and criminal defense attorneys usually put in the category of hearsay testimony.

The opinion shifted the analysis from whether an out-of-court statement is reliable to whether it was “made under circumstances which would lead an objective witness reasonably to believe that the treatment would be available for use at a later trial.”

That’s the whole purpose of laboratory analysis, so Crawford clearly applies, Scalia concluded in Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts.

Head on other to their site to read the whole thing.

Just think of the impact this might have on prosecutions in the state if this is actually required. Requiring a scientists to come for a DNA test for a murder is one thing, but every drug charge is (usually) accompanied by a test by the Department of Forensic Science that states that the substance the suspect is accused of processing or selling was actually a drug. I don’t know how many of this test are done every year or how many are actually used at trial but if a tech that does a 100 of those tests a day has to be in a dozen jurisdictions on the same day just to testify for the cases there are going to some major problems.

And the point of sentencing guidelines is what exactly?

From The Free Lance–Star:

A Spotsylvania County man was sentenced yesterday to 10 years in prison for the repeated molestation of his 15-year-old daughter.

He pleaded guilty last fall to incest, sodomy, aggravated sexual battery and indecent liberties of the girl after his wife, the girl’s stepmother, hid video cameras in the family’s home after suspecting abuse.

[…]

[Defense Attorney Eugene] Frost asked the judge for a five-year sentence. The sentencing guidelines called for a midpoint of a 19-year active sentence.

But Beck deviated to a much lesser sentence than that recommended in the guidelines.

The total sentence given to the man was five years for each of the indecent liberties charges, life in prison for the sodomy and 20 years for both the incest and aggravated sexual battery.

Beck though, suspended all but two years on each conviction.

He also ordered that part of the time the man spends in jail be at a facility that offers sex-offender rehabilitation.

What exactly is the point of having sentencing guidelines when the judge essentially ignores them, especially when it’s for a crime like this?

Hopefully the next time Judge Beck is up for reappointment someone at the General Assembly remembers this and gives him hell for it.

Big government Rob Wittman (R-1st) wants to baby gang members.

From The Hill:

Legislation aimed at curtailing crime through preventive measures is attracting broad bipartisan support in the House.

If enacted, the Youth Promise Act would mark a historic change in the direction in juvenile justice and gang-related crime policy. It also would be the first such bill of its kind to pass in a decade.

[…]

The bill seeks to fund evidence- and research-based crime-prevention programs and would allocate $1.2 billion over five years to bring together law enforcement, schools and community organizations in an effort to prevent gang crime. The focus on prevention rather than the traditional “three-strikes-and-you’re-out” approach would represent a dramatic shift in dealing with crime and the costs associated with it.

[…]

The Scott-Castle bill’s focus on prevention rather than punishment is driving much of the GOP backing, with Republicans noting the potential for cost savings by avoiding some costly incarcerations.

The Congressional Budget Office has not yet scored the legislation.

[…]

Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.), who is a co-sponsor, said, “I think if you look at the investments we are making on the correctional side of things I get concerned with the number of folks going into correctional institutions. If we are going to stem the flow we’d better look at programs up front.”

Okay, so let’s stop putting people in correctional institutions then Rob. Heck, who doesn’t want murderers, rapists, and other criminals in their neighborhoods? After all, they didn’t do anything wrong. Those scumbags from MS-13 responsible for killing people in Stafford and Prince William Counties? Good folks. Those people from different “groups” in Caroline County that resulted in one kid’s death? Oh, that’s nothing, they were just horseplaying. Those miscellaneous other scumbags in Hampton and Newport News? Oh, they just hung out with the wrong crowd. It’s not their fault.

And just like any “problem” out there in the country, what’s the solution? Federal money of course! And just like any other federal program (e.g., Social Security or Medicare), 60% of the appropriations will be spent on “administration” of the program. And here we have a Representative (Wittman) that constantly talks and complains about how bad government spending is and how those big mean Democrats won’t let him do anything to reduce spending. So, what’s his solution? He supports a $1,200,000,000 government handout program.

Does he go out there and say “no” to every spending bill? Nope. Does he want the citizens to have more money instead of the federal bureaucracy? Apparently not. Maybe if citizens had more money (instead of the government having it) there would be more community and religious programs out there since more people would have more money to contribute to them. But, of course, them as elected politicians are more capable of spending your money than you are.

And you know the best thing about spending money on “prevention” is? There’s no way to prove that money spent actually prevented something from happening.

You know, I just looked through my copy of the United States Constitution and sure enough I didn’t see a single thing in that document about youth crime and gang prevention. I see stuff about treason and regulating interstate commerce but there sure isn’t anything about youth crime and gang prevention. Does Representative Wittman have a different version than the one I have? I’m sure the folks at Black’s Law Dictionary would make sure the proper version was included in their printing.

No word in that story on whether “nationally recognized anti-gang leader” Alex Sanchez, who was recently indicted for conspiracy to commit murder, will be receiving any of this money.

POS Jajuan Carlos Lewis pleds guilty in ‘murder by mob’ case.

Sentencing agreement is for a ten year active sentence for the murder count and another five years for a robbery charge according to The Free Lance–Star.

He’s the second person to take a plea in this case as I recall. Lashawn Monroe pled guilty for this charge and a capital murder charge a couple months ago.

Two down, seven more to go.

Does the state of Virginia think you’re a terrorist?

Below you’ll find some pages of a PDF document that was prepared by Trooper John R. Wright of the Virginia State Police and distributed by the Virginia Department of Human Resource Management on their website for “Safety Day” in 2004 (you can view the full report/presentation here [PDF]). UPDATE: The state of Virginia has removed the PDF from their web server; thankfully I downloaded the whole thing to my computer. You can view the original here [PDF]).

I’ll admit up front that my brother (shameless plug: check out his two hate-blogs, On The Right and Orange, VA Independence Day Tea Party) found the information on some nut conspiracy theorist website after a link to the nut’s post was mentioned on Twitter. Now, I’m not one to provide any type of support for nut conspiracy theorists — and I’ve been know to ridicule them on this very blog — but the stuff that the Virginia State Police considers to be a threat is a joke (click for the full-size version):

Note that in the first image (page 22 in the original PDF) that civil disobedience is now considered “low key terrorism”. So, what does that make Martin Luther King Jr.? What about Rosa Parks? What about all those antiwar protesters during the ’60s, ’70s, and even today? I don’t agree with those antiwar protesters nowadays but I don’t consider them having a die-in to be “low key terrorism”.

Note that on the second image (p. 41 in the original PDF) that single issue groups are considered “extremist groups” by the author. Does that apply to someone in the National Rifle Association, or conversely, in the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence? Or maybe the American Life League versus NARAL? Are they both “single issue” “extremist groups”?

And then you get to the “anti-government groups issues” page (p. 49 in original PDF) where they note such things as gun rights, constitutional issues, and tax protesters as points of concern. While this particular report was written in 2004, does the Virginia State Police still consider these issues that warrant their attention? Do they have any concerns about the current tea party tax protesters? I recall that the state of Maryland got caught surveilling antiwar groups for no reason, is the Virginia State Police doing the same thing to tea party tax protesters? And even more insulting is that they include an image of the First Navy Jack — which the United States Navy still uses to this day — on a page regarding “anti-government groups”. Are they keeping an eye out for United States Navy veterans that might have one of those flags in their possession?

And then on the next image (p. 52 in PDF), they characterize “single issue extremists” and “anti-abortion activists” as “hate groups”. Are they keeping a track of what the folks at American Life League are doing or what? They consider them “hate groups” because anti-abortion groups have a desire to bring an end to abortion legally through the legislative and judicial system?

And then on the next image you have the State Police telling government employees to be on the lookout for “unusual requests for information”. Am I going to have a visit by a State Trooper if I send in a FOIA request to the state government asking how much government money goes to Planned Parenthood (remember those anti-abortion activists are “hate groups”!)?

This just goes to show the geniuses that were in control of the Virginia State Police back when Mark Warner was Governor. The same folks that consider this report to be accurate and helpful to employees of the state government are the same people responsible for negotiating that STARS contract for example. Is the Trooper that was responsible for this oh-so-helpful report still employed by the state? If he is, what does that tell you about Tim Kaine and his management and leadership of the state?

How bad is the Virginia Statewide Agencies Radio System (STARS) project?

It’s so unreliable that troopers are relying on their personal cell phones to communicate according to Richmond Times-Dispatch:

The head of a Virginia State Police advocacy group says the new statewide communications system being developed for the state police and 20 other state agencies is so unreliable that many troopers use their personal cell phones to communicate.

Ken Bumgarner, president of the Virginia State Police Association, said yesterday that the association, consisting of about 2,100 troopers and retired troopers, has been made aware of numerous problems with the system.[1]

I’m sure it’s a great boon to Trooper morale when they don’t know if anyone will hear them when they key their radio to call for backup or to request other assistance.

Here’s another thing to think about: What happens when the cellular phone system goes down or becomes overloaded because of a natural disaster or terrorist attack? How does the state planning on dispatching units and coordinating activities if the main users of the system (the Virginia State Police) rely on their personal cell phones for communications?

And for almost $340,000,000 the state of Virginia has been hoodwinked into purchasing a system that’s over budget — by over $10,000,000 already — and almost a year behind schedule and the main users of the system (State Troopers) don’t even think the system is reliable. They’re the ones whose lives count on the system working or not and they don’t trust it!

This is just one example of the failures in management and leadership by Warner–Kaine. They’re leaving their employees, which have the most dangerous jobs in the state government,  with inadequate equipment and nothing has been done to fix these problems even after the Auditor of Public Accounts has had to do two different audits on this project.

When will these problems be fixed and how much will it cost?

  1. Tyler Whitley. “Communications system for troopers, others is criticized.” Richmond Times-Dispatch. 19 Jun. 2009: <http://www.timesdispatch.com/rtd/news/state_regional/state_regional_govtpolitics/article/STAR19_20090618-222804/274738/>. []

Will Creigh Deeds continue to follow the failed Warner-Kaine lead on the Virginia STARS project?

The Virginia STARS (Statewide Agencies Radio System) is an ongoing project that’s supposed to provide a digital, interoperable radio system for the Virginia State Police and other state agencies. The system is also supposed to provide for instance interoperability with local agencies. The contract for this project was awarded back in June 2004 and was supposed to be completely operational by September 2009 according to the original timetable.[1]

But, as everything the government does (regardless of whether it’s the federal, state, or local government doing it), the project is behind schedule and over budget. And the General Assembly is starting to get fed up with the whole thing according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

Virginia’s new Statewide Agencies Radio System is over budget and behind schedule, in part because of poor planning, the House Appropriations Committee was told today.

The system is to bring new computers and radios to State Police cars and allow them to communicate easily with other public safety agencies.

Exasperated members of the budget committee sharply questioned Col. W. Steven Flaherty, the superintendent of State Police, about the report by a state auditor.

“What the heck are you all doing and how can we trust you?“ asked Del. R. Steven Landes, R-Augusta.

The project is expected to cost about $350 million. It was originally scheduled to be finished at the end of this year, but will need another year of work beyond that deadline, officials said.

Among the problems found by the auditor was that the project management team could not determine whether the work was on budget. It also found insufficient review of a consultant’s invoices before payment.

Flaherty said the deficiencies have been corrected and that some were exaggerated.[2]

Of course: ‘They’re just lying. Everything is a-okay here and we’re completely on budget! In fact, we’re under budget!’ *Snort*.

This is a project that’s currently over $10,000,000 over budget.[3][4] This is a program that should have been completely operational by September 2009.[1] Now, it’s almost a whole year behind in implementation.[5] According to the original project time table, all but one of the seven Virginia State Police divisions should be using the system currently, but as it stands now, only two are.[1][5]

This is a colossal failure of management and leadership by both Mark Warner and Tim Kaine. And Creigh Deeds says he wants to follow in footsteps of the Warner-Kaine style of governance? If so, this whole state is in for more of a Charlie-Foxtrot if he gets elected.

  1. “Frequently Asked Questions About STARS.” <http://www.vsp.state.va.us/downloads/STARSContract/STARS_FAQ.htm>. [] [] []
  2. Tyler Whitley. “Auditor critical of work on state public safety radio system.” Richmond Times-Dispatch. 16 June 2009: <http://www.timesdispatch.com/rtd/news/state_regional/article/STAR17_20090616-135201/274164/>. []
  3. Department of the State Police. “Notice of Award.” 14 July 2004: <http://www.vsp.state.va.us/downloads/stars_files/Notice%20of%20Award%20Posting.tif>. []
  4. “Modification #25 to Contract Number 2001-035 Between the Commonwealth of Virginia and Motorola, Inc.” 25 Nov. 2008: <http://www.vsp.state.va.us/downloads/stars_files/Contract%20Mod%2025%20v6%2011-20-08.pdf>. []
  5. Department of State Police. “Re: Extended Implementation Justification.” 20 Oct. 2008: <http://tinyurl.com/m2h9bd>. [] []

Correction time: Ben Boyd did disclosure his convictions for steroid possession.

If The Caroline Progress can be believed:

Also commenting Tuesday, School Board Chairman Margaret Watkins said that Coach Boyd included the misdemeanor conviction on his application. She said that everyone has something in their past they regret. She pointed out that few at Citizens Comments criticized the hiring.

Well, in a battle between The Caroline Progress and The Free Lance–Star, they both lose. But in a normal world, someone would list those convictions on their resume. And since the burden of proof is on me to show that he didn’t (even if all I’m doing is quoting one rag of a paper, i.e., The Free Lance–Star), if another rag (i.e., The Caroline Progress) comes along and says that he did indeed list those convictions, I’m going to issue a retraction and a correction. At least until there’s some evidence contrary to what The Caroline Progress has said. Although, for some reason they use the singular term “conviction” when Boyd was in fact convicted of two different counts: possession of steroids and misbranding of a prescription drug.

Anyway…my my, my face is red. Of course, it’s not as red as some other people’s faces should be.

Just sayin’.