Senate Democrats should be filing a different law suit


    by Paul Goldman

    While the decision in Richmond Circuit Court on the Senate Democrats’ lawsuit was technically procedural, the results appear to make it impossible to force Bolling to appear before a court once he casts his tie-breaking vote (should that be necessary). As I read the Constitution and state law, the LG has the right to postpone a decision on the merits until after the General Assembly Session finally adjourns.

    Today’s result is what was predicted in this space last month, based on the law and Constitution. If Senate Democrats want to sue someone in Richmond, I will point out later in this piece who that might better be, for the benefit of the very people who look to Democrats for such advocacy.

    Bottom line: The Senate needs to settle this inherently political question, the organization of a co-equal branch’s internal rules, themselves.

    This was the Democratic position in 1995, until the politics of the Senate forced Senate Democrats and Democratic Lt. Governor Don Beyer to do a power-sharing deal.

    Power-sharing is the right thing for Virginia right now too. But it is not constitutionally required should the Republicans prefer to go 100% partisan.

    The upside of such a GOP move is this: It will make the Democrats stronger in 2012 and 2013.


    Admittedly, life in the minority will be the pits for Dick, Donald, and the other 18 Democrats.

    I get that. But it seems to me they’ll still have it a lot easier than a whole lot of other people in Virginia right now. Take the school children of Richmond, a city that Donald represents, and where Mrs. Saslaw also has responsibility based on her post on the Board of Education. The average Richmond high school graduate can’t read at a 10th grade level, based on national statistics.

    While Warner and Webb and Kaine, and even McDonnell, Cantor and Allen, are actually trying to get them some needed help, Richmond’s Mayor, School Board and City Council are doing effectively nothing. Indeed, a case can be made that they are making it harder; even criticizing those who dare question the real performance of the schools and the bigotry of low expectations.

    Precisely how do America and Virginia move forward as a house divided, poor African American kids denied a fair opportunity at an education because their city leaders don’t seem to care, while others from different circumstances have leaders who do. Blame those that care? Hell, you should be applauding them. The problem is with the city officials of Richmond, and the fact they feel they will not be publicly challenged by anyone in state government or the federal government.

    If Senate Democrats want to sue in a Richmond court to help the people, then let me humbly suggest there might be a better lawsuit. For if Senate Democrats can shake up a school system that effectively denies African-American kids a fair chance at life – and get some real change going – it will be far more beneficial in the long run to those who have historically relied on Democrats to stand tall than whatever the outcome any suit against Mr. Bolling might bring.  


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