See below for video and for my comments on WTOP’s July “Ask the Governor” Show. For starters, I wonder if they’ll ask Gov. Northam some tough questions about important topics like the pipelines, or stick with the softballs like they usually do.
UPDATE 10:58 am: And WTOP ends the hour with another idiotic softball question, this time on “The Bachelorette.” Barf. God, WTOP sucks.
UPDATE 10:56 am: Question on racial packing/gerrymandering and how much Virginia has spent defending these district lines. Northam says this is NOT a good use of taxpayer money, that he agrees with the AG’s decision on this. We have a great opportunity to address these 11 racially “packed” districts. Need legislature to do something about this. “We need to stop the gerrymandering,” need “nonpartisan redistricting.” Northam has spoken with Speaker Cox on this; as soon as the courts rule on this, we’ll move forward.
UPDATE 10:54 am: Question on Confederate statues being removed. Northam says we’ve talked about that extensively, that if there are statues that promote “hatred and bigotry,” then “they should be in a museum.” “Richmond is a good example” – look at it on a “local basis.” Have to be “very sensitive to individuals,” we have a “very diverse society.”
UPDATE 10:53 am: Question about possibly tolling reverse commuters. Exciting! LOL
UPDATE 10:52 am: Question about restitution to get ex-prisoners integrated back into society. Northam says “we have been addressing that” and will continue to do so.
UPDATE 10:44 am: And now a question about the silly “best place to do business” rankings. Zzzzzz. Northam says “we’re very proud” that we’re #4 in the country on this ranking, that we’re working on workforce development, comprehensive tax reform (“simpler and fairer”) and “comprehensive regulatory reform” (hmmm). Need to invest in infrastructure.
UPDATE 10:42 am: Question about…yep, traffic (WTOP’s favorite subject, other than weather) and specifically about EZ Pass Flex. Northam says he was made aware of this recently and he agrees with the listener that we should make this as efficient as we can.
UPDATE 10:37 am: Question about raising the minimum wage. Northam says “absolutely,” that our minimum wage is $7.25 an hour and that nobody can support themselves on that. Northam wants to raise it to $15 an hour.
UPDATE 10:35 am: Caller says the comments about arming three year olds was just a “joke,” also that it’s not the job of the governor to fly around the world to promote certain businesses. Apparently, the right wingnuts are active today. Ugh.
UPDATE 10:33 am: More questions about school safety. There’s some grant money to hire more school resource officers. “We’re going to address this from a lot of different angles.” He anticipates legislation for the 2019 General Assembly. “I will introduce some legislation.”
UPDATE 10:27 am: Question about Lee County allowing teachers to be armed. Will Virginia challenge that? “As we speak, our Attorney General is looking at making a ruling on whether this is legal in…Virginia.” “I am against the policy of arming our teachers.” Northam talks about watching people talking about arming 3 year olds and that he strongly disagrees with that (he’s referring to Sacha Baron Cohen, I believe).
UPDATE 10:25 am: Question about school security/safety. We expect our children to be safe when the go to school. We’re “going to address a lot of different topics,” including “gun control” in our schools. “I am absolutely against [our teachers being armed.” “Teachers don’t go to school to be police officers…security officers.”
UPDATE 10:23 am: Question from a listener on “school choice” and charter schools. Northam says every child should have access to a world-class education, that we’re fortunate to have a “lot of options” in Virginia. But “here’s the issue” – we need to make sure that our public K-12 is as strong as possible. Vouchers “take funding away from our public schools” and “I don’t support them” until we shore up our public schools, pay our teachers fair salaries, revise our SOLs, reduce the # of students per classroom, etc.
UPDATE 10:16 am: Potential for violence in Northern Virginia – at Metro stations, for instance – leading up to the DC march? Northam says we’ll be ready for it. “Our law enforcement folks…are well trained…We gained a lot of experience last year…Leadership…needs to start at the top…Virginia is a welcoming state…I would ask our president to make the same statement…these aren’t fine people, they’re racists, they’re white supremacists.”
UPDATE 10:13 am: Question on the “Unite the Right” one-year anniversary rally plans by Jason Kessler, potential for what might happen in Charlottesville. Gov. Northam says the white supremacists’ rally, “spewing hatred and bigotry,” was a tragedy. “This is not Virginia, this is not America…go back to wherever you came from.” “I hope Mr. Kessler has received that message.” “We learned a lot of lessons from that…we don’t want to ever go down that road again.” “We don’t want these kind of groups…there’s no room for them in Virginia.” Can’t guarantee that there won’t be future tragedies, we’ve done everything we can to prevent them.
UPDATE 10:11 am: Followup on Northam’s trade mission and concerns about Trump’s trade policy. Northam says the tariff on soybeans is a big worry. “We live in a world economy.” Trump is going to “bail out the farmers with $12 billion of taxpayer dollars; where does this stop?” This is “very detrimental.” When are “Americans going to call b.s. on this president?” Trump should “at least talk to people” before he makes decisions like on the tariffs.
UPDATE 10:07 am: Northam talks about his trade mission in the UK, Italy and Germany. Message – “we’re open for business in Virginia.” “They did have questions about relationships with our allies” and “the tariffs.”
UPDATE 10:06 am: And they LITERALLY ask Northam a “softball” question, about his softball team! LOL