Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Ringing Out the Old, Hopes For the New

New Years Eve... bad news, good news. The bad news is obviously the tanking economy and the impotent fellow still in the White House. The good news happened on November 4. Most of America, indeed the entire world, is looking forward to 01.20.09.
While the economy continues spiraling down, people seem to be raising their glasses. Sales to individuals at ABC stores increased 8.1% from July to November. While not entirely recession-proof, the business of drinking is certainly faring better than cars, houses, and eating out. Part of the increase may be due to 76 more stores being open on Sundays - on July 1, ABC stores in several Hampton Roads cities and in Richmond were allowed to operate seven days a week. About one third of the state's 333 stores are now open on Sunday. Hey, what about drinkers in Roanoke, Staunton, and Harrisonburg... is going to a restaurant their only choice to drown out another Redskins loss? 
Staunton City Council's legislative "wish list" includes a ban on using handheld devices like a phone or blackberry while driving. As a person who has barely avoided being clipped by yacking drivers on numerous occasions, I hope the General Assembly will pass this much needed legislation. Teenage drivers already face this ban, but they aren't the only idiots trying to multi-task while operating 2,000 lb. battering ram.
Stay warm and have a Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Did Bob Just Announce He's Running in 2010?

Bob Goodlatte will no longer be the big Republican bird on  the Agriculture Committee in the House of Representatives. When the GOP was in the majority, Goodlatte was chair of the committee. Since January of '07 he's been the ranking Republican. Now, because of a 6 year term limit, Goodlatte is out of that leadership position.
But, he's landed in a newly created position, vice-ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee. Because this committee deals with courts and laws, it is seen as one of the more powerful in the House. Approximately one-third of all bills pass, in full or in part, through this committee before reaching the floor. Previously he'd been 5th ranking Republican; now he's number 2. So, this is basically a lateral move for the congressman. But, with agriculture being so important to the 6th District, he may be left out in the field on some issues of importance to his constituents.
Out of 11 representatives, the Commonwealth has four members on the Judiciary Committee - other Virginia congressmen on the committee are Democrats Rick Boucher and Bobby Scott and Republican Randy Forbes.
Saying "I would love to one day serve as chairman of the Judiciary Committee," Goodlatte more than strongly hinted he's running for Congress again in 2010 (and '12 and '14?). Of course, for Bob to get the Big Bird's chair, the GOP would have to recapture the House (they currently hold 178 seats in the 435 seat chamber - down from 232 in 2005-06). And, the current ranking Republican, Lamar Smith of Texas, and the House Republican Conference may have other ideas.
So much for term limits Goodlatte advocated and promised when first elected.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

LEADERSHIP, For a Change

Seems most Americans have had their fill of George W. Bush and his chicken shit presidency. According to a new CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll, 75% of Americans are looking forward to 01.20.09. Although Bush has been on a legacy tour trying to rehabilitate his reputation, only 20% say he inspires confidence.
Bill Schneider, CNN's senior political analyst commented:
"Things started out well. When President Bush first took office in 2001, more than 60 percent saw him as strong and decisive. That impression was confirmed after the September 11th attacks. The public still saw Bush as strong and decisive when he took office a second time in 2005.
"But no more. The public has completely lost confidence in this president."
Here on CCC, I usually stick to Shenandoah Valley issues, so what gives with this national poll? Well, last night at a local wateringhole and restaurant, I had an extended conversation with two prominent Republicans - one a businessman and the other a former elected official. Both voted for McCain. Each speaking independently said the right man (Barack Obama) got elected. Both said the current president had taken the country into the dumper. I got the distinct feeling they were speaking for a large group of disgruntled and pragmatic Republicans. The poll's national numbers may be reflected in local sentiment as well.
Interestingly, both support Creigh Deeds for governor (although each commented negatively on some of his "Democratic" stands, especially in regards to unions). Both thought Deeds is a common sense guy, with well thought out positions on issues facing the Commonwealth. Both though he needs a public speaking coach! The GOP's presumptive nominee, Bob  McDonnell, does not inspire either of them. Both said Moran was okay, but I got the distinct feeling they would evaluate him vs. McDonnell if Moran were the nominee. Neither would support Terry McAuliffe - calling him a "carpetbagger" and "Clintonista." Both think Moran and McAuliffe have NOVA advantages in fundraising and exposure and they are not optimistic about Deeds' chances to win the nomination against such odds.
As I explained to them, Senator Deeds will stay in the General Assembly and work on solving Virginia's problems. Moran decided to leave the legislature to concentrate on raising money and making appearances. McAuliffe is a national political figure with zero Virginia experience, but with a NOVA connection and huge fundraising ability. On the NOVA field, the fight is between Moran and McAuliffe. But, I think Creigh will serve his constituents, Virginians, and himself well by his decision to stay in the legislative fray. His opponents may split the $ and votes in NOVA and other urban areas while Creigh will be dealing with the tough issues facing the General Assembly. Creigh needs 34% - there is a clear path to him winning the nomination as Moran and McAuliffe beat on each other. Game on.
h/t to Crooks and Liars for the Dr. Seuss graphic and heads up on the poll.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Almost Christmas

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. Hope your family is gathering, the hearth warm, the pantry full.
Speaking of pantries, yesterday I stopped by the Verona Community Food Pantry to drop off a donation and to volunteer to help get them an online presence. The parking lot was full, the staff was hustling to keep up with all the clients. With layoffs, heating bills, etc. lots of people need help. Send your donation to Verona Community Food Pantry at PO Box 187, Verona, VA 24482.
Cold today so I made Broa, a Portuguese Corn Bread. Very interesting round loaf with nice crust, a light texture, and earthy flavor. And corn!
Sunday evening we visited Monticello for an evening tour that included going to the 3rd floor Dome Room which isn't on the normal tour. I've been to TJ's place 8-10 times (2nd time in the Dome) and I always learn something new about the man and Monticello. As we gathered in the new gift shop/museum who should walk in but the former deposed Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates, Vance Wilkins. I was glad he, and his extended family, were in the other tour group - it would have sickened me to hear any of his BS comments about wingnut Virginia Republicans being the natural heirs of Jefferson's legacy.
Merry Christmas to all. Even Vance.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Call in the dogs

I'm a little tired of blogging right now. Both at CCC and other blogs where I occasionally post. I'm taking tax classes to volunteer with AARP Foundation. Working on a couple other projects. The holidays are here quicker than I or my family could ever have thought!
Started some beef jerky today. Will give most of it away as gifts. Also into making bread - loaves, buns, sourdough... whatever. Will probably make salt risin' in the next few days. If you've never had salt risin' bread you've missed a real treat. If someone in your house has made it, you can attest to the distinct smell as the starter gets going. It can be dicey to make, but, it is so worth it! I got some of the "yeast" from King Arthur Flour - will be interesting to see if this makes it a bit more predictable and if it tastes like the "old fashioned" way of making it.
So, I'll sign off Coarse Cracked Corn for a while. Hell, I might wake up inspired and post tomorrow morning. Or, it may be next year. So, in the words of Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, I'll...
...piss on the fire, call in the dogs, and head it on back to Bowlegs...
At least for a while...

Monday, December 15, 2008

Bowing at the Alter

In what has become an annual pilgrimage, a host of legislators bowed at the alter of Dean Welty and the Valley Family Forum at their annual "Unveiling" last Friday. Attending werethe predictable Republicans: Del. Matt Lohr of Broadway, Del. Steve Landes of Weyers Cave, Del. Chris Saxman of Staunton, Del. Ben Cline of Rockbridge, Sen. Mark Obenshain of Harrisonburg, and Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel of Winchester. Noticeably absent was Sen. Emmett Hanger who, while he may agree on some issues, is clearly not in lockstep with this crowd . Todd Gilbert was also a no-show.
According to Welty, the mission of the Valley Family Forum is
"Our purpose is no different tonight than [in years past]. Our purpose is to defend and rebuild the moral foundation of the nation. Unless we rebuild the foundation that protects our culture, we cannot survive."
No real specifics there, but one can assume they want to ban all abortions, give vouchers or tax breaks for private schools and home schoolers, support abstinence-only sex education, promote prayer in public school, make their God a player in public policy.
So, what did the legislators offer up? Off-shore oil drilling. Anti-union legislation. Kicking Planned Parenthood out of sex education classes. Requiring parental permission for students to join clubs.
I guess off-shore drilling might connect to families by providing some jobs, but it is difficult to see the relationship to VFF goals. How about green jobs like might be provided by wind power? Unions are anti-family? Huh? So, because you disagree with organization's stand on choice/abortion, the state shouldn't work with Planned Parenthood in preventing teen pregnancy? That's hardly productive solution!
Some of the ideas made some sense, but probably aren't high on the VFF wish list. Lohr suggested easing some mandates of SOLs and NCLB because of the coming budget cuts to public schools. And, Landes' idea about donating unused medications to free clinics has merit and should be explored.
Read more at the DNR and check out the long list of comments in their online forum. Make your own comment. Those comments and common sense tell us the "family values" pushed by Valley Family Forum are out of the mainstream of many families in the Shenandoah Valley and most people in the Commonwealth. We can hope that, as they make decisions affecting us all, legislators will listen to the other voices that make up their constituencies. 

Sunday, December 14, 2008

News Affecting Valley Barnyards

Disaster Areas - Governor Tim Kaine announced that the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture has designated Albemarle, Buckingham, Caroline, Fluvanna, Franklin, Goochland, Greene, Hanover, Henry, Isle of Wight, Lunenburg, Powhatan and Rockbridge counties primary natural disaster areas due to reductions in farm production caused by drought and excessive heat that occurred this year. Farmers will be eligible for low-interest loans and any supplemental relief that might be provided by Congress in the future. Farmers in adjacent counties (in the Valley: Alleghany, Augusta, Bath, Botetourt, Page, Roanoke Rockingham) have received contiguous disaster status and also may be eligible for federal aid.
Waste Not - Poultry waste is a huge concern for the Chesapeake Bay. With 2007 sales of turkeys, chickens, eggs totaling $937 million, poultry is Virginia's #1 agricultural industry. Much of it is located in the central Shenandoah Valley. Raising poultry creates about 400,000 tons of waste annually. If not properly handled, nutrients from the waste get into the surface water, steams, and rivers eventually finding their way into the Bay. There, those nutrients cause algae booms that deplete oxygen in the water causing dead zones. Don't blame the birds for all this foul mess - nutrients come from other livestock, humans, and overuse of fertilizers on farms and front yards! Another major factor is the huge population growth along the Chesapeake's shores and tributaries in eastern Virginia, the D.C. area, and Maryland.
Valley farmers are already taking dramatic and expensive steps to better manage manure and fertilizers. Governments are enacting new policies such as limiting development along shorelines and tributaries so the natural processes can help break down the nutrients before they get into the Bay. Perdue Farms has a plant that burns the litter to generate electricity.
Learn more about the Chesapeake Bay.
Gas Tax? - The EPA has proposed a cow and pig gas tax? Yep, that right! Cows and pigs eat their feed which ferments during the digestive process creating methane and nitrous oxide which is released to the atmosphere in farts and burps. Under part of the Clean Air Act, the EPA is studying these emissions to determine if they are creating greenhouse gases that are hazardous to human health.
Under the proposed rules, a farm with more than 25 dairy cows or 50 beef cattle produces 100 tons of carbon equivalent each year and would need a permit and pay the gas tax - about $175 for each dairy cow. A Shenandoah Valley dairy farm milking 125 head would have tax of $21,875.
The EPA study will continue through 2009. For now, you can get more info at which has a Fart Chart where you can a state-by-state whiff of this breaking issue.
What's next.... a limit on how many beans I can put in my chili?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Dems Playing Chicken

Brian Moran has decided to resign from his seat in the House of Delegates and concentrate on running for Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Governor Tim Kaine has already announced that a special election will be held on January 13 to elect a new Delegate for the 46th District, which includes part of Alexandria and part of Fairfax.
Moran's decision is surprising to some political analysts and others (folks in his district, perhaps) because they didn't see it coming and because of its timing. In the past many candidates running for statewide office have given up their seats in whatever elective office they held in order to run for the higher office. It has even become a bit of a tradition to do so. But it often it occurs after the candidate has the party's nomination. Brian Moran made the decision before the hens got up.
Beyond that, Moran's calculus is factoring in several advantages:
  • Legislators are prohibited from fundraising during the session of the General Assembly. By opting out now, Moran can solicit all the funds he wants during a time when he'd have been "blacked out." Moran must figure Terry McAuliffe will seriously challenge him for those dollars, especially out of NOVA. Senator Creigh Deeds will be on on the fundraising sidelines for the duration of the session.
  • While Senator Deeds is committed to his duties in Richmond, Moran can join (well, not actually) McAuliffe on the campaign trail across the state. We'll see him speaking to civic clubs and local Democratic groups and attending ribbon cuttings. Time is money. Money is time, I guess.
  • Perhaps Moran heard McAuliffe's comment last week about his opponents being "stuck in the legislature." Stuck on fundraising? Stuck on old ideas? Stuck because McAuliffe sees himself above it all?
  • Some pundits think Moran has made a good decision by getting out of the General Assembly in what looks like a tough year. Difficult votes on the budget and other issues will be cast. Republicans will undoubtably put forth bills designed to put Democrats in difficult positions. According to these pundits, Moran can take the high road while avoiding controversy. Flip side - is Moran being a chicken? Will Deeds show leadership by taking on the tough issues? Will Deeds make news while Moran seems impotent?
Clearly, Brian Moran thinks Terry McAuliffe is running (so does just about everybody else) and that McAuliffe will challenge him for NOVA dollars and votes. Moran wants to take McAuliffe head on in battling for money and time. 
If you, like me, think Senator Deeds is refusing to chicken out by meeting his commitments to his constituents and the state by sticking it out and tackling the very tough issues... perhaps you'd like to send him a few bucks now since he can't raise any during session.
But, forgetting politics for a minute, how about those Richmond Spiders!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Free Speech, Fair Elections

On behalf of a Jill Borak and Charles Epes, a pair of Virginia voters, the ACLU, the Rutherford Institute, and The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression, have sued the Virginia State Board of Elections on the ban of political buttons, caps, shirts, etc. inside of polling places. The plaintiffs want the ban ended before the 2009 statewide elections.
The groups representing the plaintiffs represent the political spectrum with the ACLU generally seen as "liberal" while the Rutherford Institute is considered "conservative." On this issue, the groups are in agreement that the ban is an unconstitutional limit on freedom of expression and that the policy is open to differing interpretations that led to inconsistent enforcement on Election Day.
Robert M. O’Neil, director of the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression:
Election Day should be a time for celebrating the personal freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution. On that of all days, government should not be telling citizens how to express themselves.
John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute:
Thomas Jefferson understood that the first duty of government is to protect the freedom of expression. Regrettably, the State Board of Elections shirked this important civic duty when it adopted what essentially amounts to a dress code policy.
Kent Willis, executive director of the ACLU of Virginia:
The State Board of Elections has not only misinterpreted the state law, but in the process it has unnecessarily and unconstitutionally banned passive personal expression that has no history whatsoever of disrupting the voting process.
There is a good chance the complaint will never actually be heard in court. The State Board of Elections may rescind or change the policy. If the board doesn't act, Delegate David Englin, an Alexandria Democrat, has drafted legislation to overturn the policy. Although the issue may not be decided by a judge, the suit over an unpopular and controversial policy will force policy makers to reexamine their actions.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Counting kernels

According to reports, Senator Creigh Deeds, a candidate for the Democratic nomination for Governor, said Republican Bob McDonnell was "unfit to be Governor." A Deeds' spokesman elaborated by describing McDonnell as being part of the hard-right ideology and partisanship that characterized the administration of Jim Gilmore.
Deeds is in a tight race for the nomination against Brian Moran and Terry "exploring a possible run" McAuliffe. According to a new Rasmussen poll, Senator Deeds has the highest favorability ratings among Virginia Democrats with 55% giving him a "favorable," including 23% who had "very favorable" view of the Senator. The other Democrats were close, with McAuliffe garnering a 52% "favorable" and Moran 48%.
The poll shows close head-to-head match ups between each of the Democrats and McDonnell. One advantage for the Republican is his early strength among unaffiliated voters who prefer him to any of the Democrats This is likely due to him being the only Republican on the block while the Democrats, who are still being generally polite to each other, are beginning to take off the gloves. I predict many of these unaffiliated voters will come home to roost when the Democrats hatch a nominee.
The poll is interesting, but let's get real for a moment. We're 11 months out. Virginians are election-weary and more focused on the economy, hanging on to their jobs, the holidays, President-elect Obama, and a million other things than they are on the gubernatorial race. Democrats have 2.5 candidates angling for the June primary. McDonnell is scurrying around the state trying in vain to make news. The state budget is in free fall. 
Yeah, the poll makes for interesting reading and its findings have a little something for everybody. But, stay tuned... those 11 months promise a lot of cracked eggs.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Fresh litter

Because of the collapsing economy and the budget crisis facing Virginia, the City of Harrisonburg could see a cut of $3.2 million in state aid for 2010. The figures are from projections from the Virginia Municipal League. The same dire predictions are being hashed out in city and town councils and boards of supervisors across the state.
In a related story, the Virginia Retirement System reports the value of its investments has dropped over $14 million since June 30, about 1/4 of its value. VRS provides pension benefits to 136,000 employees and has over 345,000 active members - state and local employees, school teachers. It is the 24th largest public or private pension fund. Officials said payments to retirees and beneficiaries are not in jeopardy.
Across the mountain at the University of Virginia, head football coach Al Groh has shaken up his coaching staff. Several assistants, including Groh's son, will retire or "pursue other opportunities." Us chickens know when a head has been chopped off! 
In spite of saying "there are no scapegoats here," the head coach keeps his job. UVA was 5-7 this year. Does this sound like an investment bank taking bailout billions and firing the middle management while the CEO keeps his multimillion dollar salary? No scapegoats here?
One more story about our collapsing economy. Everything from toilet paper to peanut butter is affected. Popcorn, too? The size of the product shrinks while the price stays the same. But, the shrinkage is not very noticeable to the average consumer. You were shorted a couple ounces of Jiff peanut butter by an enlarged dimple in the bottom of the jar. Individual sheets of toilet paper shrink. Be a smart consumer - learn more at Mouse Print.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Holiday Gift Guide

As you shop for gifts for family and loved ones, you might also want give a gift to help others in your community. Here's my short list of possibilities:
  • The Blue Ridge Area Food Bank. The seven food banks serving Virginia are asking Governor Kaine and the General Assembly for an emergency grant of $1 million to help them through the winter. Obviously your donation can go a long way! Or, drop off canned goods (you know there are things in your pantry that you'll never use) at grocery stores
  • Perhaps you'd rather give to (or volunteer with) a food pantry that serves meals and provides food directly to folks needing it. Most communities have several of varying sizes and clientele. Two of my favorites are Trinity Church in Staunton and Verona Community Food Pantry (PO Box 187, Verona 24482).
  • The American Red Cross. You can target donations to a local chapter if you wish.
  • The Salvation Army. At least drop your spare change in the Red Kettle. How about donating clothes, coats, toys, household goods, etc. to their store? You can shop there for great bargains, too. Goodwill Industries provides education, training, and other assistance to homeless people and others working to get out of welfare dependency. They also accept donations of clothing and household goods... and more. You can shop at their stores, too.
  • Your local volunteer rescue squad or fire department.
  • The local chapter of the Humane Society or SPCA.
Want to give a gift of charity and let the recipient of the gift pick the charity? Check out You choose the amount and give a Good Card (or email) to a family or friend who then picks their favorite charity from hundreds of worthwhile charities. Social networking with a conscience.
As always, take time to check out any charity you give to. A good source of information on the strength and work of thousands of charities is Charity Navigator.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Playing chicken

The Virginia GOP met over the weekend at a very high priced coop, The Homestead, in Bath County. As expected, Jeff Frederick held on to his chairmanship, but that certainly doesn't mean all the hens are happy. The internal divisions remain sharp as some activists wonder if the divisive and often abrasive young chair can pull the party together in time for the 2009 elections. As Phil Cox, campaign manager for presumptive gubernatorial nominee Bob McDonnell said, “We can keep doing what we’re doing and we can keep losing.”
Apparently, there was no agreement on Frederick's "Statement of Republican Principles" that all candidates would have to sign to win party support. It sounds like a "loyalty oath" that would likely demand adherence to Frederick's and the ultra-conservatives' views. Hard to know exactly what the document includes and who supports or doesn't support it as the executive committee met behind closed doors.
Meanwhile, there was grousing about the cheap breakfast of bagels and cream cheese, blame for George W. Bush, the media, and others for Gilmore's crushing defeat, and conservative bloggers tilting the table for their guy for A.G., Ken Cuccinelli.
To the east in Charlottesville, that liberal hatchery, the Democratic Party of Virginia was meeting with a far more festive atmosphere. Announcements of inaugural events, smiles, cheers, pats on the back were all the order of the day.
Democrats are blessed with three (or two??) candidates for Governor. Creigh Deeds got moderate applause when he was introduced to speak, and some people had buttons for Brian Moran. Brian stayed in NOVA to attend a family function and was represented at the podium by a surrogate. Terry McAuliffe, who claims he is only exploring a run and will make a decision in early January, also spoke. For now, at least, everyone was friendly and spoke no evil of an opponent. But on NBC29 News a few rotten eggs were thrown when McAuliffe commented that the other two seemed "stuck in the legislature." Detractors called McAuliffe a "carpetbagger," said the DNC didn't make progress until it got rid of "his sorry fanny." A party activist from central Virginia urged McAuliffe to "go away." Cluck, Cluck- there will be broken eggs before we get to the June primary.
By the time the candidates for Lt. Governor, Jody Wagner and Jon Bowerbank, addressed the Democrats, folks were getting ready to wrap up the meeting - so their comments were short. Wagner seemed to have broad support in the room and many learned of her popcorn business, Jody's Popcorn. A blog named Coarse Cracked Corn is clearly impressed! There are rumors (and winks) that the state chair, Richard Cranwell, is considering jumping into the race. That might make for an interesting winter and spring as Wagner has already picked up a number of influential endorsements from Democrats.
Also speaking was candidate for Attorney General, John Fishwick, While many Democrats have heard of him, few know much about him. Vivian Page's blog takes a closer look.
Recited by various speakers were the stats from the election, many of which we've all heard before. First time Virginia has gone blue in a presidential race in 44 years, first time we had two Democratic Senators since the early 70s... the long list of accomplishments of '08 is indeed impressive (and depressing to GOP birds). A few other interesting tidbits - Mark Warner carried all but six localities (a couple of them here in the Valley). Obama improved upon Kerry's percentages in almost every locality. Several Democratic congressional candidates raised more money in their races than Jim Gilmore was able to raise for a statewide race.
On to '09 and kicking the right wing GOP out of one of their last roosts for blocking progress in Virginia - the House of Delegates.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


The slowing economy is being felt in the Shenandoah Valley and across Virginia. A few recent examples:
  • Just before Thanksgiving, Valley Building Supply closed its Waynesboro store, laying off 19 people and relocating about half a dozen to their Staunton location. The company blamed the move on the slowdown in building and the economy in general.
  • Intermet Corp, a manufacturer of cast-metal auto parts with a foundry in Radford, may lay off 140 people after the first of the year. And, Acumet Global Technologies will close its Wytheville factory during 2009 with the loss of over 160 jobs. Acumet is a supplier to the auto industry. Most of Virginia's connection to auto manufacturing (about 11,000 jobs) is found in southwest Virginia.
  • Pilgrim's Pride has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after losing $802 million in the 4th quarter. Bankruptcy will allow for a reorganization that will allow them to continue operating and may save most of 700+ jobs at their Broadway plant. They also have scores of growers in Rockingham and surrounding counties. Like others in the poultry industry Pilgrim's Pride has been hammered by rising feed costs.... especially corn!
  • Furniture frame and seating manufacturer, Frank Chevan, will close most Bedford operations and consolidate in Roanoke. Up to 90 jobs may be directly affected. One of Chevan's customers, Hooker Furniture, which is also located in Bedford, has already cut its 270 employees to a 4-day week.
  • Shorewood Packaging will close its plant in northeast Roanoke, costing 45 jobs in mid January. The company makes a variety of consumer packaging products.
In tough economic times some folks look for old fashioned ways to make money. Virginia ABC agents announced they had found the beginning of a moonshine still near Mt. Crawford. An arrest was made after they found two 55 gallon barrels of mash (corn?) and a still. The last moonshine operation discovered in Rockingham County was in 2006 in the Fulks Run area.
Tomorrow, the Labor Department will announce new unemployment numbers. Some analysts predict the loss could be as much as 250,000 jobs nationwide.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Down on the farm

In November, Governor Kaine and his cabinet visited several locations in Augusta County and Staunton. One prominent stop was at Delta Springs Farm in western Augusta County which is known for its environmental stewardship. In this short video, Governor Kaine, Charles Hor, and others discuss modern farming and the benefits of good environmental practices.

The Farm Team

Mary Sue Terry broke the mold (in both senses of the word) of Virginia politics when she was elected attorney general in 1985. The first female to hold that post in Virginia, Mary Sue was an important force in Virginia and Democratic politics during the 1980s and early 1990s. In politics timing can be everything - in 1993 she lost the Governor's Mansion to George Allen during a time when Republicans and conservatives were surging in Virginia. After that loss (for her, for Democrats, and as it turned out, for the commonwealth), Mary Sue returned to her roots in rural Patrick County. She continued to make public appearances and spoke to many groups including a high school graduation here in the central Shenandoah Valley. But, her political involvement was very low key. The Roanoke Times has an interesting article on the political career and life of Mary Sue Terry.
Today, many Virginians would probably say "Mary Sue Who?" It has been 15 years since she left the bright lights of electoral politics. Virginia's population has dramatically changed, too. I don't have the numbers, but a significant portion of the voting age population is too young to remember her or they moved to Virginia in the years since Mary Sue was front page news.
Yes, timing is everything and lots has changed since 1993. Mary Sue Terry is today reemerging as a political force in Virginia. Many political observers thought her election in '85 signaled a new era of women in politics. Yes, some progress has been made as there are more women in local and state offices (see prior post). But, there have been limits - this year, for example, Virginia Democrats made gains in the House of Representatives and bumped off the one woman, Republican Thelma Drake, who had served there.
Mary Sue and a group of influential women have joined together to encourage and help aspiring Democratic women fulfill their political dreams. The Farm Team has a simple mission:
The goal of The Farm team is a simple one: recruit, develop and elect women to office. We hope this website will be a resource for women who aspire to hold elective office and for those who wish to support them.
Visit The Farm Team to learn about its origins, other women (and men) who are involved, upcoming regional meetings, and the resources they are bringing to the table. They are not just talk - as Mary Sue says:
This group is not in the business of tilting at windmills.
The Farm Team has picked one statewide candidate, Jody Wagner, as their first and most visible project. Wagner, a former Treasurer of Virginia and Secretary of Finance, is a candidate for Lt. Governor. Mary Sue might have cracked the glass ceiling in 1985, but Wagner would be just the second woman to hold statewide office. The Farm Team is also recruiting and nurturing candidates for school boards, boards of supervisors, and city councils. They are indeed serious about building a strong farm team that will change Virginia politics forever.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Just hatched

State Senator Jill Holtzman Vogel, a Republican from Warrenton, delivered a son on Wednesday morning at the Fauquier Hospital. A sign of changing times - it is believed she is the first sitting member of the General Assembly to give birth. Mother and son are doing fine. Congratulations to the senator and her husband. More.