Slips of paper with the names of Virginia House of Delegates candidates Shelly Simonds (D-VA) and David Yancy (R-VA) are drawn from a bowl during a meeting of the Virginia State Board of Elections January 4, 2018 in Richmond, Virginia. The slips of paper were placed inside old film cannisters and drawn from the bowl to decide a tied race between the two candidates. Yancey’s name was pulled from the bowl and Republicans retained control of the Virginia House of Delegates. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
The Weekender: a round-up of opinions from across Virginia.
Mercury commentary this week that you might have missed: If there’s a tie election this year in a House of Delegates or Senate race, we’re still going to the bowl (a random drawing). But that needs to change, I argue.
Roger Chesley says a judge’s decision striking down Virginia’s requirement to identify by race on marriage licenses is a small step toward progress in Virginia, which too often remains “stuck in the past, on the wrong side of history, holding out to the bitter end.”
In a guest column, Paulette McElwain of the Virginia League for Planned Parenthood wrote that, with U.S. Supreme Court taking up a crucial abortion case, “having elected officials who champion safe reproductive health could ensure abortion access is protected in Virginia regardless of what the Supreme Court does.”
‘Rapidly thinning ranks:’ Veteran RTD political columnist Jeff Schapiro walks readers through the life and career of longtime Newport News Del. Alan Diamonstein, who died last week at 88. The Daily Press also eulogized him here.
“A centrist Democrat leery of the extremes, Diamonstein was business-friendly but not to the exclusion of his party’s most reliable friends: minorities and women who had felt the sting of the intolerance he sometimes endured as a Jew coming up in the 1960s in a General Assembly that was largely white, Anglo-Saxon and Protestant,” Schapiro wrote.
“Diamonstein was of that post-World War II generation of political figures whose rapidly thinning ranks are a reminder of the dramatic change remaking a legislature that so often resists it.”
Don’t tell them that history: Using the gruesome history of the Tower of London as an example, The Roanoke Times questions people who prefer a moonlight and magnolias version of plantation home tours and don’t want to hear about the ugly reality of slavery. “Why are some visitors visiting these grand Southern houses so upset to hear about slavery? Those houses didn’t exactly build themselves,” the paper wrote.
‘Instructive and provocative:’ Virginian-Pilot columnist Gordon C. Morse writes about a new exhibit at Norfolk’s Chrysler Museum, which “in addition to architectural models of Jefferson’s designs and displayed editions of his great writings,” will feature “bricks, nails and other components from Jefferson’s buildings that were created by enslaved laborers and craftsmen, as well as two rare images of enslaved and formerly enslaved people who can be linked directly to Jefferson and his buildings.”
He adds: “I suspect this will prove instructive. It may prove provocative, too
On guns: Former RTD editor Tom Kapsidelis, who wrote a book about the Virginia Tech massacre, questions whether Virginia’s ready to do something about guns. “While there is no one law or policy that can eliminate mass killings — and the daily homicides that plague our neighborhoods — measures taken together can make an impact without infringing on the rights of gun owners,” he wrote.
‘Woe to any lawmaker’: In an editorial, The Virginian-Pilot, citing the Mercury’s reporting on the fate of redistricting reform, issues a warning to lawmakers thinking about waffling.
“This isn’t the time for second guessing or cynical political calculations, but rather a moment for courage and an opportunity to do what’s right for all of Virginia,” the paper wrote. “Redistricting reform will be a top priority next session. Woe to any lawmaker who pledges support now and fails to back it up once elected.”
‘Gubbins’: The Martinsville Bulletin’s “Stroller” column, the type of regular round-up of local odds and ends that used to be more common at papers, is almost always edifying. “Friday’s word was gubbins. The parts of a fish that generally are thrown away while the fish is being prepared for a meal. Example: After Jack’s fishing trips, his wife faithfully skinned and prepared the fish for supper, throwing the gubbins to the far edges of the yard for the cats.”
Impeachment: The RTD editorial board calls for more transparency in the impeachment process playing out in the House of Representatives. “There is no question that so far, this investigation has been shrouded in secrecy and irregularity,” the paper wrote in an editorial. “The star-chamber-like inquiries and interviews House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff is holding bear little resemblance to impeachment processes exercised in the past.”
Letter of the week: “I write as an ultra-conservative Republican who is utterly and completely ashamed and embarrassed by the unhinged, crude, irresponsible petulant child that we have in the White House. Third World dictators show more class and statesmanship than does Donald Trump,” wrote Wes Gillespie of Forest to the Lynchburg News & Advance. “I apologize, America, for the fact that I voted for this madman once.”
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