Saturday, January 31, 2009

Predatory Lending -vs- Overdraft Charges?

I don't necessarily agree with the following opinion, but the author does raise a good issue where I do find agreement. Read the column, then come back and vote.

The ultimate irony is that while some loan options are coming under assault, policymakers have stood idly by while young Americans have begun overdrawing their bank accounts at an alarming rate -- a "borrowing" habit that actually costs more than any other conceivable short-term loan. According to a recent study from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., a two-week, $1 overdraft at many banks can result in a $37 fee, a staggering 96,200 percent APR.

Read the column then come back and vote in the poll.

You may select more than one.

What is your opinion on predatory lending and overdraft fees?
I support restricting interest rates which lending institutions may charge.
I believe lending institutions should be allowed to charge whatever the market will bear.
I believe high overdraft fees compound the problem unfairly.
I believe overdraft fees are necessary to punish people who are irresponsible.
I believe banks and lending institutions have helped create this economic crisis and should be better regulated.
I believe we should leave the banks and lending institutions alone and let the free market take care of itself.
Free polls from

VA Politics: Naturopathic Medicine

The past 30 years have seen an extraordinary increase in consumer demand for safe, effective, and cost-efficient natural health care. Naturopathic medicine has emerged as the health care profession best suited to meet this demand. Although it almost disappeared in the mid-20th century because of the popularity of drugs and surgery, naturopathic medicine still offers safe, effective natural therapies as a vital part of the U.S. health care system in the 21st century.

Read the column

Stimulus Support

As President Barack Obama tries to win over reluctant Republicans on his economic stimulus plan, a slim majority of the American public wants to see Congress pass the roughly $800 billion package of new government spending and tax breaks. According to Gallup Poll Daily tracking on Tuesday, 52% of the nation's adults are in favor of Congress passing the plan and 37% are opposed, while 11% have no opinion.

Read the story

What Change? Take a Look

In 2008, Gallup interviewed more than 350,000 U.S. adults as part of Gallup Poll Daily tracking. That includes interviews with 1,000 or more residents of every U.S. state except Wyoming (885) and North Dakota (953), as well as the District of Columbia (689). There were more than 15,000 interviews conducted with residents of California, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Florida.

This large data set provides the unique ability to give reliable estimates of state-level characteristics for 2008. Each sample of state residents was weighted by demographic characteristics to ensure it is representative of the state's population.

In order to rank the states on partisanship, Gallup analyzes "leaned" party identification by state. This measure adds partisan-leaning independents to the percentage who identify with either of the parties. Thus, the Republican total includes Republican identifiers and independents who lean Republican, and the Democratic total likewise includes Democratic identifiers and independents who lean Democratic.

Read the story

VA Politics: Technology Jobs and Tax Credits for Families


Senate Democrats unanimously support effort to bring cutting-edge tech companies to Virginia

(Richmond, Va.) – Democratic senators passed a bill today to create jobs by attracting bioscience and other technology companies to the Commonwealth.

The bill makes it easier for Virginia to better use resources the state already has without raising taxes.

“This important piece of legislation was passed on a day when economists are predicting a deepening recession and when unemployment rates in parts of the state have reached 13- to 15-year highs,” said Sen. Mark Herring (D-Loudoun County), the sponsor of S.B. 1338. “Virginia can maintain its leadership status in science development while attracting industries that create high-paying jobs.”

The measure, which passed 35-4, promotes science and technology-based research, development and commercialization in Virginia.

It’s an economic development measure that targets multiple entities.

Under the legislation, the Commonwealth Technology Research Fund would be renamed the Commonwealth Research and Commercialization Fund. Renaming the fund emphasizes how important commercializing the research of energy, conservation, microelectronics and bioscience is.

With the new measure, the fund would also give Virginia universities and dynamic small bio-technology companies a chance to participate in a loan program to help pay for construction of commercial research facilities, like wet labs.

Science industries offer high-paying jobs. Promoting these industries would help to attract badly needed positions in the Commonwealth, while creating new products.

“Other states, like Maryland and North Carolina, have spent tens of millions of dollars to invest in their technology and life sciences industries,” Herring said. “While Virginia cannot afford to do that, we can better use our existing resources.”

One existing resource the bill impacts is the Angel Tax Credit, a stimulus to encourage early-stage investments in small, Virginia high-technology start-ups.

Through an amendment, the credit would be given to the kind of 21st-century projects it was intended to support. The tax credit would be limited to small Virginia companies engaged in science and technology. And half of the available credits would be given to technology-related research developed at or in partnership with the commonwealth’s colleges and universities.


(Richmond, Va.) – Sen. John Edwards understands the hardships that Virginians are facing during these tough economic times.

That’s why he worked to push a bill through the Virginia Senate today that would require employers to inform their workers of an existing state and federal program for low-income, working families.

Under the legislation, an employer would have to inform employees that they may be eligible for state and federal Earned Income Tax Credits and may apply for these credits on their tax returns or get the credits in advanced payments during the year. Employers would be required to post notices.

The bill passed on a party line vote, 21-18.

“It’s obvious that working families are hurting from the tough economy,” said Edwards, (D-Roanoke), the sponsor of S.B. 860. “But we have programs in place that can alleviate them of some financial burden.

“Now we just need to make sure those who qualify know.”

Virginians who may qualify for the state and federal Earned Income Tax Credit programs are low- to middle-income families and individuals. In Virginia, an individual earning up to $12,880 a year or a family earning up to $41,646 per year might qualify.

Right now, $120 million more could be accessed by working families in Virginia through the program. Families who qualify would get $1,800 on average back. At least 75,000 families have not applied for the program in Virginia.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

VA Energy Consumption Higher Than Most States

Virginia's an energy hog, compared with other states. It doesn't have to be that way. consumption, per person, is higher in Virginia than in a couple of dozen other states.

Higher even than places where you'd expect the cold to drive up heating bills, and with them per-capita consumption. Virginia uses much more energy per person than Vermont, New Hampshire, Michigan, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut and other points north.

Higher even than places where you'd expect the heat to drive up air-conditioning bills. Virginia uses more energy per person than Florida, Arizona or Hawaii.

Some high-flying examples: Virginia's consumption per person is 62 percent higher than in Rhode Island, 49 percent higher than California. That suggests that the recommendation by the governor's Commission on Climate Change, that Virginia reduce per-capita consumption by 19 percent by 2025, is doable.

Read more

Monday, January 26, 2009

Expanded Absentee Voting Passes VA Senate!


(Richmond, Va.) – Democratic senators passed a bill today to allow in-person, no-excuse absentee voting, making the election process easier and available to more voters. This was one of the bills highlighted during the first week of the legislative session.

In a near party-line vote, every Democrat and only three Republicans approved S.B. 810, which allows voters to cast absentee ballots in person without having to give an excuse. Sixteen Republicans voted against the measure.

Currently, Virginia voters have to give one of 17 reasons before they are allowed to cast absentee ballots. And long lines on Election Day deter voters from entering booths.

The new measure would expand the absentee voting process by allowing Virginians to cast an absentee ballot without having to give an excuse during the 45-day absentee voting period. The expanded timeframe cushions the Election Day process by reducing lines and the chance of problems at polling sites.

Last year, more than 321,000 Virginia voters cast in-person, absentee ballots.

“They’re doing it because they think it’s convenient, and they want to make sure their votes count,” said Sen. Janet Howell (D-Fairfax County), the bill’s patron. “I think it is really incumbent on us to catch up with the way Virginians are already acting.”

Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple (D-Arlington), Senate Democratic Caucus Chair said, “This is really a no-brainer. As long as a citizen is qualified to vote, why wouldn’t we want to make it easier for them to vote absentee?”

Obama Works to Reverse Damage to Economy

Obama Pitches His Plan to Reverse Economic Slide

President Barack Obama on Saturday laid out more pieces of an economic plan he says would add 3,000 miles of electrical lines, increase security at 90 ports and double the United States' renewable energy capacity within three years.

Read the story

Stimulus plan no quick fix for economy

The goal is to infuse money directly into the economy in the hope of bringing the nation out of recession, while creating 3 million to 4 million jobs. It would be largest economic recovery package ever enacted; the White House says the scope rivals the construction of the interstate highway system after World War II.

Read the story

Sunday, January 25, 2009

RNC Chair: Party before Country...

Thanks to Valley Progressive for this find!

It seems that Ken Blackwell, the new Chairman of the Republican National Committee, is more concerned about his party's hold on power than in Virginians, and Americans having jobs...


"Creating 600,000 new jobs might help cement Virginia in the Democrat column, making it harder for Republicans to retake the White House."

Pretty stark statement... In an economy that lost 2.6 million jobs last year, the most in any single year since World War II, and when manufacturing is at a 28-year low, Blackwell’s, and the Republican Party's biggest concern is to block the creation of new jobs because those newly-employed Americans might vote Democratic.


Read the Valley Progressive blog

Kilowatt Ours Movie at Clementine

Note from Lowell:

If you have an event you would like to announce,

Send me an email and I’ll share the information with our friends!

This is a Public Service Message on behalf of Anne

Climate Action Alliance of the Valley


the award-winning film

Kilowatt ours

A practical, entertaining look at what you can do now about the energy crisis and electric bills

Back by Popular Demand, Moderator

Tom Benevento

New Community Project

Sunday, February 8, 7:30pm

Clementine Cafe

154 South Main, Harrisonburg


For More Information, click here to send an email to Anne

VA Transportation: Obama Plan Gives Hope

After years of confused and obstinate inaction by the Republican House of Delegates on workable transportation funding, Virginia looks to President Obama.

Road-work industry in Va. on fumes

The industry that builds and maintains Virginia's roads and bridges has come to a near-standstill and is counting on a jump-start from the president.

The quarries that provide stone for asphalt and concrete have laid off employees and closed some operations.

Paving companies are waiting to bid on state highway maintenance work so they can determine how many employees they can afford to call back in the spring from seasonal layoffs that were deeper than usual.

And companies that build and repair highway bridges are cutting back crews because they don't have the work to support them.

Everyone is waiting for the economic stimulus package that President Barack Obama has promised for rebuilding public infrastructure. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine expects the impact to be substantial in Virginia -- at least $700 million.

"The only thing we can hope is that something comes out of the stimulus package," said Phillip Burleigh, owner of Burleigh Construction Co. Inc., a bridge construction firm in Campbell County that has cut its work force by 40 percent. "If it doesn't, I'm not sure some companies will be able to survive."

The construction industry that builds and maintains Virginia's infrastructure has been hit from all sides by the recession. Work has disappeared in the struggling sector of housing and commercial development, and the state has made deep cuts in highway construction because it can't afford to maintain the roads it already owns.

"We're in a situation we've never been before, where both of your two main markets have gone in the tank," said Richard J. Schreck, executive vice president of the Virginia Asphalt Association, which represents almost three dozen asphalt producers in the state. "We've got producers who are bidding driveways right now."

Read the story

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Negligent Homicide Charged by Army Investigation

Soldier’s Electrocution in Iraq Was Negligent Homicide, Army Concludes

Army investigators have concluded that a Green Beret electrocuted in a shower in his barracks in Iraq was the victim of negligent homicide in a case involving the largest American contractor in Iraq, according to a written statement from one investigator.
Read the story

Army: KBR negligence caused soldier’s electrocution in Iraq

An Army investigation calls the electrocution death of a U.S. soldier in Iraq “negligent homicide” caused by military contractor KBR Inc. and two of its supervisors.

Read the story

Some Background:
A Dozen Soldiers Have Died From Accidental Electrocution in Iraq

During his two tours of duty serving as a special forces soldier in Iraq, Ryan D. Maseth had cheated death on more than a few occasions. While protecting a Baghdad polling place in December 2005, he ran toward enemy fire to help his fellow soldiers and to repel the attack. And after a Humvee in his convoy once hit an improvised explosive device, Maseth escaped injury and apprehended the perpetrators. But little did the staff sergeant know that when he stepped into the shower at his military base in Baghdad two months ago, he was putting his life at risk. Maseth, 24, of Shaler, Pa., outside Pittsburgh, was electrocuted on Jan. 2 when an improperly grounded electric water pump short-circuited and flowed through the pipes. Since the coiled hose was touching his arm, he was hit with an electrical jolt and went into cardiac arrest and died.
Read the story

Wiring warning came months before soldier electrocuted

An Army sergeant complained about faulty wiring in Iraq months before another soldier was fatally electrocuted in a shower in the same quarters, according to documents released Wednesday by a congressional committee. Sgt. Justin Hummer filled out a work order in July 2007 that warned, "Pipes have voltage, get shocked in the shower." Hummer told investigators from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that at least once, he had to use a wooden stick to turn off the shower "because the electrical current was so strong." Army records show that electricians from contractor Kellogg, Brown and Root found "several safety issues concerning the improper grounding of electrical devices" in February 2007. In January 2008, Staff Sgt. Ryan Maseth was electrocuted in a shower in the same quarters where Hummer lived the previous summer. A follow-up investigation "found nearly all of the same problems and deficiencies that had been reported one year previously," a committee report states.
Read the story

Friday, January 23, 2009

VA Energy: Wind Farm Study in Southwest

Wind Farm Study Underway In Southwest Virginia

Energy giants Dominion and BP announced Thursday that they’ve launched a joint study on the possibility of building wind farms in Southwest Virginia – and purchased 2,560 acres of land in Tazewell County, Va., where some of the studies will take place.

Dominion spokesman Ryan Frazier, in a telephone interview Thursday, declined to state the location of the land. He said “various studies” already are under way in Tazewell and Wise counties, but he declined to elaborate on the types of studies.

Based in Richmond, Va., Dominion is building a coal-fired, 585-megawatt, power plant in Wise County. BP Wind Energy is a subsidiary of BP America, which is based in Houston, Texas. The two companies already are partners in 650 megawatts of the 750-megawatt Fowler Ridge Wind Farm in Benton County, Ind.

Read the story

VA Politics: Transportation

Two transportation bills to be introduced today

Two Hampton Roads delegates plan to unveil tax proposals today that they say would raise $1.75 billion to help meet a budget shortfall without cutting so deeply into public services.

Del. Kenny Alexander, D-Norfolk, said he and Del. Kenneth Melvin, D-Portsmouth, plan to introduce bills that would:

Read the story

May sponsors new transportation resolution

A resolution introduced in the House of Delegates on Wednesday taps two big names to set long-range goals for transportation improvements statewide.

Former Virginia Govs. Gerald Baliles and George Allen would co-chair a proposed transportation commission, the brainchild of Rep. Frank Wolf, R-10th.

Wolf said the commission would focus on sweeping recommendations across different modes of transportation so the state will "be poised when we come out of the [recession]."

Wolf first pitched the idea in December, and said it should be modeled after the Iraq Study Group, which also included leaders across party lines. Wolf sent a letter to Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine on Thursday seeking his support.

"I think people want to see a bipartisanship to kind of remove this from the political process," Wolf said.

Read the story

VA Politics: Dems want to cut taxes on food, middle class

Va. Democrats propose shifting tax burden

Democratic lawmakers proposed Thursday to shift some of Virginia’s tax burden off food sales, the middle class and small businesses and onto the wealthiest Virginians.

The Middle Class and Small Business Tax Relief Act would do away with both the state’s 1.5 percent sales tax on groceries and the corporate income tax for businesses making less than $100,000 a year, as well as cut personal income taxes for those making as much as $75,000 a year.

Read the story

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Is GOP Against Democracy?

Senate committee endorses absentee voting, Obenshain against...

A Senate committee on Tuesday endorsed a no-excuse absentee voting bill, which would allow Virginia voters to cast their ballots before election day without providing one of 17 specific reasons now required. Proponents argued the current system forces registrars to wade through and verify the long list of acceptable reasons to cast an absentee ballot and makes more accessible the most basic right of a democracy. Twenty-six states already have similar systems.

Read more

Virginia GOP delegates thwart democracy

Lowering barriers seems a worthwhile goal in a nation where voter turnout is sometimes measured in the teens. But a handful of Virginia lawmakers is determined instead to perpetuate an ethical dilemma for thousands of constituents who just want to cast a ballot. On Monday, in the early holiday hours, a group of Republican members of the House of Delegates dustbinned yet another effort to open early voting to any Virginian who wants to cast a ballot.

Note: Delegate Steve Landes, 25th District, helped kill this measure.

Read more

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Plan for Valentine's Day!!!

Why Support the Arts?

An evening of entertainment on Valentine’s Day February 14, 2009!

The “black-tie optional” gala at James Madison University’s Memorial Hall will offer cocktails, a delectable dinner and dancing to a live band.

And, in keeping with our focus on arts in education, you will have the opportunity to enjoy a rich display of visual, dramatic and musical art
Created by our most talented youth.

Featured will be an art gallery presented by students K-12 from the City and County schools, and the Spotswood High School Jazz Band will perform during the cocktail hour.
Entertainment through dinner will be by Harrisonburg High School, Broadway High School, Wilbur S. Pence Middle School and Eastern Mennonite High School.

Why Support the Arts?

Tickets to the event are $100.00 per person.

This year, 50% of all profits with be designated for the Art Council of the Valley’s Arts in Education Fund!

Be a Patron of the Arts and Sponsor a Table for $1,000.00

For individual tickets, please contact the Arts Council office at 540-801-8779

6pm Cocktails, Jazz, & Art

7pm Dinner and Entertainment

9pm Dancing with Blue Suede

Why Support the Arts?

What Happened Yesterday

America gained +40 Million rock-ribbed citizens - those people who have for many years referred to themselves as "African-Americans" to distinguish their American slave ancestry, and a continuing outsider status. Those people whose long perspective allowed them to know that laws do not bring respect, or power. Those people who saw their opportunities challenged, and the limitless span of the American Dream not available to inspire their children.

Those people assembled on the National Mall to witness the event that marked The Change. And they were joined by others who were just glad and joyous to see the page turned on America's most bitter legacy. You could have heard a pin drop as Barack Obama spoke the Presidential Oath of Office. It was a momentus day for America, 40 million fully empowered Patriots can now confidently share the Dream. Barack Obama has called their children to service and they will now aspire to the highest office. The torch is blazing bright and it lights better days ahead.

Full Text of Obama Speech

This is the text of President Barack Obama's inaugural address, as prepared for delivery.

My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

Read the entire address

Death of Bi Partisan Redistricting in Committee

HB 1685

Bi Partisan Redistricting

Delegate Brink Calls Timing of Vote into question

Committee Chair, "This is how we do business."

Delegate Landes Angry, Wants No Part of Bi Partisan Redistricting

House Minority Leader Armstrong responds

HB 1685

Bi Partisan Redistricting

Killed in Committee by Republicans like Delegate Steve Landes

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

GOP-Landes Kill Bipartisan Redistricting in House

It appears that Delegate Steve Landes and the House GOP don't trust regular citizens...

Along a party line vote at 7:00am on Martin Luther King Day:

A bill that would have created a bipartisan redistricting commission, sponsored by Del. Shannon Valentine, D-Lynchburg, died on a party-line vote Monday morning in a General Assembly subcommittee.

Read the story

Monday, January 19, 2009

Virginia 4th in US in Education

Now, how do we keep it there while cutting the budget?

A report released Thursday gives Virginia a B in overall educational quality, ranking the state fourth in the nation and better than the U.S. average. Virginia scored 83.2 out of 100, compared to the national average of 76.2, or C. The states that scored higher were Maryland, Massachusetts and New York, according to the report by researchers at Editorial Projects in Education, which publishes Education Week. The "Quality Counts" report measured state education in several categories, including academic achievement, school finance, and standards, assessments and accountability.

Read the story

And then come back and share in the conversation about how we maintain our excellent public education system while finding efficiency in the state budget.

Lowering the Costs of Virginia’s Prison System

An examination of Virginia Incarceration Policy

Governor Kaine has recommended several ways to save money on the high cost of prisons as part of his proposal to close the $3 billion budget gap. How should conservatives respond to these proposals? Typically, prison budgets have been off limits for Republicans in the General Assembly. Public safety is one of the primary responsibilities of government, and the fast rising costs of prisons have been viewed by conservatives as the price tag for protecting the public.

So why is Virginia’s corrections budget increasing despite falling crime rates, while other states are able to reduce the number of people incarcerated? It is Virginia’s policies that are driving Virginia’s budget up and up; policies that are not making us safer. They are just costing us more money.

Read the story

Mental Health Safety Net for Children on Chopping Block

THE DEEPEST CUTS: State Budgets in Crisis

For years, when some of Virginia's most troubled children have been struck by serious psychiatric problems, their most likely destination has been the low-rise brick building on a sprawling campus in the Shenandoah Valley that is home to the Commonwealth Center for Children and Adolescents.

"We're the place where kids can come when they can't go anyplace else," said Jeffrey Aaron, forensic coordinator and clinical director of an adolescent unit at the Staunton center.

Now the 48-bed, state-run facility has been identified by Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) as a place the state can do without. To help close a $3 billion budget gap, he has ordered the elimination of the center and a 16-bed hospital unit in southwestern Virginia that provides similar care.

Read the story

Then come back and offer alternative ways to cut spending or raise revenue. None of this is easy, and vilifying those who are desperately trying to find ways to balance the budget and minimize the damage and pain need our constructive support and ideas, not condemnation...

The Change Begins...

Obama Reaches Out for McCain’s Counsel

Not long after Senator John McCain returned last month from an official trip to Iraq and Pakistan, he received a phone call from President-elect Barack Obama.

As contenders for the presidency, the two had hammered each other for much of 2008 over their conflicting approaches to foreign policy, especially in Iraq. (He’d lose a war! He’d stay a hundred years!) Now, however, Mr. Obama said he wanted Mr. McCain’s advice, people in each camp briefed on the conversation said. What did he see on the trip? What did he learn?

Read the story

Sunday, January 18, 2009

US must take the lead to avert eco-disaster

Barack Obama has only four years to save the world. That is the stark assessment of Nasa scientist and leading climate expert Jim Hansen who last week warned only urgent action by the new president could halt the devastating climate change that now threatens Earth.

Crucially, that action will have to be taken within Obama's first administration, he added.
Read the story

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Bush Legacy

Its the End of an Error and Dan Froomkin at the Washington Post sums the Bush Administration up nicely:

He took the nation to a war of choice under false pretenses -- and left troops in harm's way on two fields of battle. He embraced torture as an interrogation tactic and turned the world's champion of human dignity into an outlaw nation and international pariah. He watched with detachment as a major American city went under water. He was ostensibly at the helm as the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression took hold. He went from being the most popular to the most disappointing president, having squandered a unique opportunity to unite the country and even the world behind a shared agenda after Sept. 11. He set a new precedent for avoiding the general public in favor of screened audiences and seemed to occupy an alternate reality. He took his own political party from seeming permanent majority status to where it is today. And he deliberately politicized the federal government, circumvented the traditional policymaking process, ignored expert advice and suppressed dissent, leaving behind a broken government.

The Bush Administration has been a disaster for America. Thanks for the mess Junior!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Rockingham Board of Sprawl

After a few months of holding out the Rockingham Board of Supervisors caved in last night. They approved the rezoning of 280 acres of land on Pleasant Valley Road for the construction of more McMansions. These little monuments to sprawl will sit on 1- 4 acre lots and join the approximately 23 month supply of McMansions currently on the local market.

What kind of crazy gambler would develop these +$500,000 homes in a recession? Surely the Pleasant Valley Partners have noticed that their little plantation was just downwind of the County landfill?

"I think that we got the best use for that land that we could get at this time" said Board member Dee Floyd.

What's your hurry grandpa, we've got a two year supply of +$400,000 homes in Rockingham, a hole in our school budget, no money for road improvements, and some of the most beautiful open space in all of Virginia. How about you boys on the Board start looking after the rest of the citizens of Rockingham, you know the folks that have to pay for this speculation and sprawl with ever-more of their tax dollars.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Virginia Politics 2009 - Budget

"This is a tough budget where you have to make tough decisions to do what is best for the commonwealth," says Gov. Timothy M. Kaine.

$2.9 billion budget battle ahead for Virginia General Assembly

The General Assembly's job this winter is to inflict pain.

Virginia is short $2.9 billion needed to balance its recession-racked budget, and the chasm is expected to grow. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine has proposed cutting money for public schools, colleges and health care, in addition to doubling the cigarette tax.

Read the story

Valley Legislators Find Themselves a Quandary

Del. Landes touts Commonwealth Center at meeting

Landes said he hopes legislators “can minimize the cuts to public education as much as possible.” Still, public education and mental health compose a large part of the budget, making cuts likely, Landes said.

Read the story


Valley Delegates Oppose Tax Hikes

"In a recession, it does not make sense to add to the burden," Landes told Ferrara, of Elkton, and others at Saturday's meeting.

Read the story

Sunday, January 11, 2009

National Day of Service Event in Harrisonburg!

“Soup and Socks: The Friendly City Takes the Chill Off"

11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 18,

at the Rockingham County Courthouse in downtown Harrisonburg.

Organizers ask the public to bring canned soup for donation to local food banks and soup kitchens,

as well as warm socks, of all sizes, to be donated to local agencies serving homeless people and families.

There will be hot chocolate for children,

music and fellowship,

and information from the Community Resource Center about on-going volunteer opportunities in Harrisonburg.

The Harrisonburg effort is one of several in the Valley, according to Pam Cox, regional Shenandoah Valley coordinator for the National Day of Service honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

More information about national, state and local events can be found at

President-Elect Obama has called on citizens and volunteers from across the country to plan, organize and stage community service events locally. For more information about the National Day of Service, go to

For more information about “Soup and Socks” contact:

Leah Rosenwasser, Event Captain: Leah Rosenwasser email, 540-908-7629,

or Pam Cox, Regional Coordinator, Pam Cox email, 540-433-5554

Palestinian anger at both Israel and Hamas

In West Bank, there's anger at Hamas as well as at Israel

RAMALLAH , West Bank — Since the war in Gaza began two weeks ago, Rami Hamdan has oscillated between two emotions: sadness at the deaths of Palestinian civilians and anger, not only at Israel but also at its Palestinian foe, the militant Islamist group Hamas .

Read the story

Friday, January 9, 2009

Honoring Martin Luther King Jr.

MLK Press Release

NAACP to host the Second Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Service

The Harrisonburg-Rockingham County and Staunton NAACP Branches will host the “Second Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration” at First Baptist Church, 611 Broad Street, Harrisoburg, VA on Mon., Jan. 19, 2009 at 11:00 a.m. An enlightening and informative program has been planned to honor this man of God, who fought to acquire peace and equality for all.

Rev. Michael Turner of Ebenezer Baptist Church, Staunton, VA will bring Reflections. Music will be rendered by the Voices of Praise of First Baptist Church, under the direction of Rev. C.E.Williams. We are honored to have Rev. Derek Parson, the former associate pastor of Asbury UM Church of Harrisonburg, to give his recitation of Dr. King’s famous speech “I Have a Dream”. Please come out and support this endeavor. A reception will follow the Service.

Elaine T. Blakey, Press and Publicity and Chanda McGruffin, Pres. of Staunton NAACP are chairpersons. Beverly Banks is Pres. of the Harrisonburg-Rockingham County Branch. This service is open to the general public.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Virginia Politics 2009 - Governor's Race - McAuliffe

Invitation from the Terry McAuliffe for Governor Campaign

Starting Wednesday, January 7, 2009, Terry's kicking off an announcement tour, hosting town hall meetings and other events across the Commonwealth. And he wants YOU to be there. Click on a link below in order to RSVP to the event closest to you.

Wednesday, January

7:45 am
Hampton Roads Town Hall

Location TBA
Click Here to RSVP and we'll email you the details as soon as they are finalized.

11:30 am
Richmond Town Hall
Science Museum

2500 West Broad Street
Richmond, VA
Click Here to RSVP.

3:30 pm
Charlottesville Town Hall

201 East Main Street
Charlottesville, VA
Click Here to RSVP.

7:00 pm
Alexandria Town Hall
Alexandria Lyceum
201 South Washington Street
Alexandria, VA‎
Click Here to RSVP.

Thursday, January 8

7:45 am
Harrisonburg Town Hall
Cally's Restaurant and Brewery
41 Court Square
Harrisonburg, VA
Click Here to RSVP.

11:00 am
Roanoke Town Hall
Claude Moore Education Complex
108 North Jefferson Street
Roanoke, VA
Click Here to RSVP.

6:00 pm
Bristol Town Hall
Southeast Culinary and Hospitality College
100 Piedmont Avenue
Bristol, VA
Click Here to RSVP.

Friday, January 9

Terry McAuliffe will host events in the following locations, details to be announced soon

Click Here to RSVP and we'll email you the details as soon as they are finalized.

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Saturday, January 3, 2009

Virginia Politics 2009 - Governor's Race


Creigh Deeds

Deeds -- Wikipedia

Brian Moran

Moran -- Wikipedia

Terry McAuliffe

McAuliffe -- Wikipedia