Posts belonging to Category Virginia



Gee, thanks Eric: Cantor opposes privatization of interstate rest stops.

Delegate Bob Marshall has been on the frontlines of this issue and has been keeping his mailing list up-to-date on it:

Congressional Efforts
Congressman Frank Wolf offered an amendment to the Transportation Appropriations Act to keep Virginia rest stops open by allowing Virginia, like other states, to contract with private restaurants to operate the rest stops and provide motorists services.  The Wolf Amendment narrowly failed in the Appropriations Committee 32 nays -26 yeas.

The Wolf Amendment would cost not one dime of tax money! This amendment may come up this week on the House Floor when the Transportation Appropriations Bill is considered on Thursday, July 23 and possibly another bill!  AAA has said that closing these stops will contribute to more interstate traffic accidents.

Eric Cantor Opposes Wolf Amendment
I was interviewed by WRVA’s Jimmy Barrett (7-16-09) who informed me that Rep. Eric Cantor OPPOSED the Wolf Amendment because it would lead to competition with existing businesses just off the interstates.  I received a call (7-21-09) from an authoritative Congressional source that Congressman Eric Cantor actively worked to defeat the Wolf Amendment for the reasons that existing business near interstates OPPOSE commercial ventures at these  eighteen Interstate Safety Rest stops.

I emailed a letter to Rep. Cantor (7-20-09) and also spoke to his Chief of Staff about this and left my phone number with her.  I have received NO answer to my inquiry from Rep. Cantor or his staff.  (Gov. Kaine supports the Wolf Amendment.)

Stifling business competition is a normal Republican policy.  IF WRVA Radio and my congressional source are accurate, the bottom line is that protecting businesses is apparently more important than protecting lives on the Interstates.

Contact Congressman Cantor today and ask him to support the Wolf Amendment to allow Virginia to contract with private vendors at Interstate Safety Rest Stops to keep them open.
Richmond:  p: (804) 747-4073 | (800) 438-3793 | f: (804) 747-5308
Culpeper: p: (540) 825-8960 | f: (540) 825-8964
Washington:  p: (202) 225-2815 | f: (202) 225-0011

Tim Kaine to call for special session of the General Assembly in light of the SCOTUS decision in Melendez-Diaz v. Massacheusetts.

Check it out at Bloggers for Ken Cuccinelli: Tim Kaine Agrees With Ken Cuccinelli, Decides to Call Special Session.

Interesting: BVBL and Anti-BVBL agree on at least one thing.

They both think that Paul Warner Powell should fry (BVBL, Anti-BVBL).

Un-freakin’-believable: Paul Warner Powell gets a stay of execution.

From Virginia Lawyers Weekly’s blog:

Paul W. Powell will not be executed tomorrow night.

U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts granted a stay of execution today pending review of his petition for a writ of certiorari to the high court.

The three-sentence order indicates that Powell shouldn’t put but so much faith in the stay, however.

If the court denies the petition, “this stay shall terminate automatically,” according to the order. If it is granted, the stay will not end until the Supreme Court decides the case, the order says.

Oh, and Bearing Drift brings up a good point: Ask Sotomayor about Paul Warner Powell

Paul Warner Powell to get the chair on July 14th.

He asked for it and we’re more than happy to oblige (via Richmond Times-Dispatch):

Paul Warner Powell, set to be executed July 14 for the 1999 slaying of a 16-year-old girl, has chosen electrocution as his means of death.

An avowed racist, Powell fatally stabbed Stacie Lynn Reed in her Manassas-area home after the two argued about her black boyfriend.

Powell’s lawyers have filed a clemency petition with Gov. Timothy M. Kaine and could still ask the U.S. Supreme Court to hear an appeal.

RT-D fails to mention the several other crimes he was convicted of, including attempted rape, rape, attempted capital murder, abduction, and grand larceny.

May he burn in hell.

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.

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>. [] []

2009 Republican Party of Virginia convention: Pictures.


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