UPDATE 11:57 am – Holy crap, check out the following exchange on WTOP between Gov. Northam’s comms director Brian Coy and the WTOP folks. Note that it appears they didn’t know this was being broadcast to the public (whoops!). Coy basically tells the WTOP people that two questions on the pipelines was too much, just ask one. Coy adds, “Many of these people, they are not acting in good faith.” WTF? He seriously thinks that people like me who oppose the pipelines are not acting in good faith? Grrrrrrrrrrr. Also, seriously? People who OPPOSE the pipelines are NOT acting in “good faith,” but Dominion Energy and the Mountain Valley Pipeline people ARE??? Totally warped.
See below for video of Gov. Ralph Northam on WTOP’s “Ask the Governor” shortly after 10 am this morning. I’ll live blog it underneath the video. We’ll see if they sneak in a pipelines question, like they did last month.
UPDATE 10:56 am – Question, finally, on the gas pipelines, with just 4 minutes left, so no real time for followups. “I’m very sympathetic to these individuals” (ha!). As expecdted, he’s spewing out the usual b.s. talking points – “the science,” “most rigorous” environmental enforcement, “land rates,” “these are federal/interstate projects,” “transparency,” “the law,” blah blah blah. And, as predicted, no followups to Northam’s boilerplate, and false, non-answers.
UPDATE 10:54 am – Question on Apple possibly coming to Northern Virginia. Northam says he’s “excited” about Apple and Amazon possibly coming to Virginia. “What I hear…the most important thing is workforce development.” “They’re also very interested in inclusivity…that we don’t discriminate in the Commonwealth of Virginia.” “Congestion is an issue…transportation…infrastructure…whether it’s Apple or Amazon, we need to do these things…affordable housing is another big issue.”
UPDATE 10:53 am – Looks like WTOP is doing everything it can to protect Northam from answering tough questions about the pipelines. Pathetic.
UPDATE 10:48 am – Questions on medical marijuana for veterans, also veterans being pushed out of the housing market. Says we need to be open-minded about the use of cannabis as medicine.
UPDATE 10:47 am – Caller question on active duty service members deployed overseas have to pay state taxes. Northam says we want to have “our doors open for our military in Virginia,” make sure Virginia is the “most veteran-friendly state in the country.”
UPDATE 10:46 am – Caller question on K-12 STEM education. Northam says “we are tremendous advocates” for “STEAM-H,” that “these are the jobs of the 21st century.” “We have an all-out effort” on this, working with colleges and universities…”most importantly is early childhood education.” “We have a great Secretary of Education.”
UPDATE 10:44 am – Another caller question, this time on schools starting after Labor Day. Northam says the tourism industry wants school to start after Labor Day, that we’re going to think “outside the box,” consider “year-round education.”
UPDATE 10:43 am – Caller question on salary increases for teachers in Virginia. Northam says his wife is an educator and that he teaches too, that they’re big advocates for education. “Our current budget…if we can get it passed today has a 3% raise for teachers.” Teachers in Virginia making $9,200 less than the national average – “we have to pay them.”
UPDATE 10:37 am – Question on voters being placed in the wrong legislative district. “Integrity is of utmost importance…we want to know that every vote counts.” “We’ve brought in new management” at the Board of Elections. “It starts at the top and it starts with me…we’ve made changes…I think Virginians will see we’ve made some significant changes.”
UPDATE 10:36 am – Question on VA-10 Democratic candidate Jennifer Wexton, who Northam has endorsed, and corporate PAC money. Northam thinks we need “comprehensive finance reform,” but that we need “bilateral disarmament.”
UPDATE 10:34 am – Question on Rep. Tom Garrett and on the midterm elections. Northam sends his “best to Tom and his family.” Says it “does open up that seat” (wrong). “We have a great chance to pick up some Congressional seats.” Need to keep the enthusiasm up, strong coordinated campaign.
UPDATE 10:32 am – Question about the “G3 [education] initiative,” which Northam talked about CONSTANTLY during the 2017 campaign, but that we haven’t heard much about since then. Northam said this will be a second-year initiative, that it’s “something that we’re working on” and is “very excited” about it.
UPDATE 10:25 am – And another favorite topic/obsession of WTOP – tolls. Northam says we “desperately need to address I-81” but that “these projects are “very very expensive” and the “money doesn’t fall out of the skies,” so looking at tolling as an option.
UPDATE 10:24 am – And yet more on Metro. My god, how many times do you have to ask about the same topic? Lame.
UPDATE 10:22 am – Question on Metro maintenance, service. Northam says Metro is “vitally important to the economy” but “has some challenges.” “I think there are going to be some nuisances…but we need…to keep up with the maintenance…keep Metro safe.”
UPDATE 10:19 am – So far, no tough questions…all softballs and somewhat repetitive questions.
UPDATE 10:17 am – Question on Metro funding and losing transportation dollars for other projects. Northam says he certainly hopes that we’ll have adequate transportation funding in addition to the dedicated funding for Metro. The problem is taking money out of NVTA, but “some folks in the Republican House” defeated Northam’s amendment to restore that money…”it wasn’t a good direction.” “It absolutely will be” addressed in future years.
UPDATE 10:13 am: Question on whether the federal government reneges on its commitments. Northam says he doesn’t “buy into that argument.” (I couldn’t agree more; this is just assinine) On how ready the state is to implement Medicaid expansion, the answer is “January 2019…about six months from now we should be up and running.”
UPDATE 10:12 am – Question on work requirements as part of Medicaid expansion. Northam says the “simpler we can do this…will be easier.” “There’s been give and take on both sides.” “There is a work requirement clause in there…we don’t need to be penalizing people,” but should help people get back into the workforce.
UPDATE 10:05 am – First question of course about Medicaid expansion, given that the Senate is in session right now. Northam says “it’s been a long time coming” and that he is “hopeful” the Senate will act to expand health care in Virginia. “We’re going to watch closely.” “It’s time to put the excuses aside.” “I’m hopeful I’ll get it either today or tomorrow.” “There have been some tough negotiations.” Some of the Senate’s GOP leadership “have chosen not to be at the table.” “We’ve been fighting [for] this for five years.”