So, in the hope that McDonnell will remain a somewhat pragmatic politician who knows the best political hay is in the middle of the field, I hopeful that his current town hall tour will fill his ears with more than right wing manure. Tonight (August 26) the governor will be at JMU Festival Conference and Student Center at 7:00 PM. In this format there will be time for only 12-15 speakers/questioners. If you plan on attending get there early and sign-up to speak - even so, it is likely his handlers will tilt the verbal questions to known conservative friends of the governor's policies.
If like me you cannot attend, or if you don't have the opportunity to speak, you can always leave comments at the governor's Reform Task Force website. Cluck, cluck... the site is slow loading today.
One issue the governor along with a local state senator will be pushing is privatization of the Commonwealth's liquor stores. I'm not opposed to the prospect of private liquor stores, but it is far from clear that this makes dollars and sense. There are two issues that I think are unresolved. The dollars don't seem to add up over time - it would be a real shame if a one-time cash infusion built a few roads and made the governor look like a hero only to have that funding stream dry up when he's out of office. Does it make sense to have more stores selling whiskey? Or would this lead to more DUIs or more hard liquor in underage bellies?
Earlier this year Governor McDonnell proposed closing five state parks and has sided with Ken Cuccinelli on the legal challenge to the EPA which questions global warming. Some right wingers want to privatize state parks. If we don't speak up, this administration may dismantle Virginia's parks and do nothing (or take steps backwards) on protecting our rivers, air, and the Chesapeake Bay. Here is what this bird is telling the task force:
- Do not privatize our state parks. Do not close state parks. Instead, assure adequate state funding to keep our parks some of the best in the nation. My family and many of our friends have too many fond memories of camping, of picnics, and of exploring our great state parks to let you or anybody shut them down or diminish their splendor.
- Get real about transportation by moving encouraging rail-freight solutions on I-81, smart investments in public transit including high speed rail, and encouraging local governments to have common sense regulations to end the sprawl that means more and more cars on the roads. VDOT must be fully accountable to all environmental regulations.
- Make Virginia a green model for the nation. A recent report indicates that many of Virginia's streams and rivers are impaired. Impaired rivers mean an impaired Chesapeake Bay. We need tougher regulations to assure our water supplies are going to be cleaner in the future than they are today. The governor supports off-shore drilling - now let's see enthusiastic support for off-shore wind energy and other green businesses. That's hard to do when your attorney general, to appease the right wing, is conducting witch hunts in his crusade against global warming.