Schapiro Analysis - 6/25/10
Jeff Schapiro analyzes the week's events in Virginia politics.
Farrar: Jeff Schapiro joins us now from the Richmond Times Dispatch for his regular Friday morning analysis of Virginia political news. Good morning, Jeff.
Schapiro: Good morning to you, Wayne.
Farrar: We've been hearing in the national news this morning how in Washington, House and Senate negotiators pulled an all-nighter to complete a sweeping overhaul of banking regulations, and Virginia's Senator Mark Warner played a key role in that.
Schapiro: Ah, yes, this final bill is, excuse me, the final version of the bill, the one headed to the president, is supposed to include some provisions that have many, many of Mark Warner's fingerprints on them. Specifically, the so-called "too big to fail" provision, this is a revision, or excuse me, provision that's supposed to ensure no more government bailouts, whether they would be fast-track bankruptcies and the rapid sale of the remaining assets of these troubled financial firms.
Warner, of course, establishing himself as the "go-to" guy in the Democratic caucus for business.
Farrar: A Northern Virginia politician is asking the General Assembly for Arizona-like powers to confront undocumented immigrants.
Schapiro: Ah, yes, the native-ists are restless. Corey Stewart, he is the Chairman of the Board of Supervisors of Prince William County, and he is one of the loudest voices on the Republican right when it comes to this issue of illegal immigration. Now, Republicans are a little nervous over this idea; they say there's the small matter of the Constitution. Mind you, of course, Republicans have been somewhat aggressive on this issue before, remember, tried to close state colleges and universities to the sons and daughters of suspected illegal immigrants.
I'm wondering if this latest bit of push-back has something to do with the approaching redistricting and elections in 2011, which could very well harness the voting power of those new Virginians, mostly Asians and Hispanics, particularly in Northern Virgina, voters that are increasingly supporting Democrats.
Farrar: Governor McDonnell is still searching for a way to fund transportation improvements, and our old friend Tyler Whitley writes this morning that he's no longer talking about a special session for that.
Schapiro: Yes, Diogenes, looking in this case for a few dollars for roads, McDonnell repeating that he would not support additional fuel taxes; he is promising a plan, soon, a plan on supporting transportation somewhat through the sale of the state liquor monopoly. Of course, the Democrats in the Senate aren't too keen on that. And the governor is also indicating that a solution to transportation, if there is one, would be pushed off to the 2011 legislative session; remember, an election year rather than this fall, and if the Assembly is in town this fall, it would be largely to handle some of these ideas that McDonnell has in mind about reducing the size, scope and cost of Virginia government.
Farrar: We have about three minutes to go. You were covering a hearing on uranium mining, of all things, this week.
Schapiro: Yes, in lovely Chatham, a pretty little town in Pittsylvania County. The, this hearing focused on the economics of this proposed mine, and the proponent rolled out a report that depicted this mine, this proposed mine rather, as an economic windfall generating millions for this economically devastated region of the state.
Now the state will consider some of these claims, but it's gonna be tough, tough going and there are a couple of reasons for this: one, you know, the state doesn't have much money to really, kind of, bring in the firepower necessary to, you know, fully challenge the assumptions and the claims of supporters, and there's another factor, one that has to do with Virgina tradition, a way of, a tendency rather, to bow to business.
Farrar: That big contract between Northrup Grumman and the state to manage the state's computer services, the controversy, it just won't go away.
Schapiro: Well, this time, what was really interesting is that the push-back was coming from the Republicans, the Republicans who dominate the House Appropriations Committee, the Republicans who are supposed to be friends of Sam Nixon, the former delegate who's now running this computer agency. These Republicans are very concerned that somehow the state is gonna be captive to NG, that there's gonna be even more money thrown at this downrange, and they're very concerned about what it means for other privatization efforts. If the private sector can't get it right on state IT, what does it mean for roads, the ports, liquor stores?
Farrar: Just about a minute to go. Governor McDonnell has donated some money from his inaugural fund, a surplus, to the museum in Farmville marking the civil rights movement, which essentially began there in Virginia. We might point out state law requires that surplus inaugural funds be donated to charity.
Schapiro: Yes, nonetheless, the chance for the governor to buy a little goodwill; this is the RR Moden High School Museum, so this is essentially one of the shrines of the civil rights movement, also an opportunity for the governor, despite his sharply conservative Republican bona fides, to appear to be reaching out, if you will, to others.
Farrar: Okay, Jeff, our time's just about up for today, so we'll say so long for now and talk to you again next Friday morning.
Schapiro: Have a great weekend.
Farrar: Thanks to Jeff Schapiro of the Richmond Times Dispatch.