Home Dick Saslaw Video: At Townhall Meeting, Sen. Saslaw Makes Outlandish Comments About Housing Costs...

Video: At Townhall Meeting, Sen. Saslaw Makes Outlandish Comments About Housing Costs and the Amazon Deal, the Green New Deal, the Pipelines, etc.

Saslaw: "Arlington's created its own problems and you and I both know that...and Amazon wasn't here."

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Earlier today, Sen. Dick Saslaw and Del. Marcus Simon took part in a town hall moderated by the League of Women Voters of Falls Church. See below for the video, and a few things that jumped out at me.

  • Sen. Saslaw said he supports non-partisan redistricting, says “I don’t have a problem with” either the 1VA2021 bill or Sen. George Barker’s bill.
  • Del. Simon said he supports the “Solar Freedom Bill.” Sen. Saslaw he can support 99% of the bill, but is concerned about “standby charges” and wants to see how that’s dealt with. Note that Del. Keam’s bill “removes the ability of utilities to assess standby charges.” According to this, “In March 2011, the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) passed a measure allowing Dominion Energy to charge solar homeowners with systems over 10 KW a standby charge…Standby charges serve to disincentivize solar by adding monthly charges to the utility bills of solar homeowners. Utilities claim that these charges compensate them for the energy they produce on cloudy days and at night, when solar homeowners would consume energy from the grid. However, in reality, homes and small businesses have relatively little impact on power demand from the grid and don’t warrant a demand charge billing structure.” So basically, as far as I can tell, Sen. Saslaw is siding with Dominion Energy those of us who support distributed/rooftop solar power.
  • On the “Green New Deal,” Sen. Saslaw he hasn’t seen it and is “always careful of jumping on to slogans, because sometimes they come back and bite you.” That’s a ridiculous and, frankly, condescending/dismissive/non-thoughtful response, as the “Green New Deal” is an important approach to dealing with the climate crisis and the economy that I would think all legislators should be looking at – whether they end up supporting it in full, part, not at all, etc. More to the point, what I want to hear from leaders like Saslaw is – at the bare minimum – serious engagement with important proposals to address the climate crisis. For instance, Saslaw could have said: “1) first of all, there’s no doubt we’re facing a climate crisis; 2) there’s no doubt we need to deal with it aggressively; 3) I’m interested in learning more about the “Green New Deal,” but the bottom line is that ALL the science tells us we need to switch as quickly as possible to 100% clean energy.” Instead, we got Saslaw’s blow-off non-response. That’s the type of non-seriousness that makes me really want to see Saslaw out of the State Senate.
  • Both Sen. Saslaw and Del. Simon support a tax and/or ban on single-use plastic bags.
  • Del. Simon’s response to the “Green New Deal” question was much better – more thoughtful/serious, for starters – than Saslaw’s: “I like the idea of the Green New Deal a lot, I haven’t seen all the details…but I think the concept that we ought to rebuild our economy in southwest Virginia and other parts of the state by investing in new technologies, new energy technologies is a great idea; I think to the extent that you can build some coalitions between traditional environmental groups and groups that try to eliminate poverty and economic development groups by creating new industries is a great concept…I love the idea of using the…renewable energy industry to generate new economic development and reduce poverty and get some new jobs, I think it’s  a great concept.”
  • Sen. Saslaw said the quickest ways to get things moving in southwest Virginia are: a) “convince these people that coal is not coming back, not now/not ever”; b) “the University of Virginia at Wise has got to be turned into a full-fledged university.”
  • Both Sen. Saslaw and Del. Simon are, as always, very strong on gun violence prevention.
  • Sen. Saslaw related the story of what happened to Sen. Creigh Deeds and advocated for more investment in mental health resources.
  • On the impact of the Amazon deal on housing costs, Sen. Saslaw said he doesn’t believe it’s “not going to be anywhere near what some of the people are telling you they are…we don’t have a similar situation as…Seattle.” Saslaw was challenged by at least one audience member, who said that rents are already going up, and Saslaw said “Arlington’s created its own problems and you and I both know that…and Amazon wasn’t here.” I actually agree that Arlington has created a lot of its own problems, mostly by restricting the supply of housing, and that Amazon wasn’t a factor in any of that. However…going forward, Amazon almost certainly will make a bad housing cost situation worse, and that needs to be addressed, not flippantly and/or condescendingly blown off by Sen. Saslaw. Yet another reason Saslaw really needs to retire or BE retired.
  • On the immigration issue, Sen. Saslaw said the Trump administration’s behavior is “disgraceful,” and said that immigrant/DACA kids who graduate college should have a “green card stapled to that diploma…these kids were brought here by our parents…there’s never been an immigrant group that…didn’t make us better.” I certainly agree with that! Saslaw then related how, when he had a new house built, everything that immigrants worked on turned out great, and the ONE problem he and his wife had was with the plumbing, which was done by people who “looked like every one of us in this room.” LOL
  • Finally, asked about the pipelines, Del. Simon basically said that courts keep ruling against the permits, that he supports no “shortcuts” or “backroom deals,” views the folks promoting the pipelines “with a great deal of skepticism,” and is moving towards the position of Del. Toscano that the pipelines don’t make sense.
  • For his part, Sen. Saslaw – who, I’d note, has relentlessly carried water for Dominion Energy on this and other issues – claimed “they’re going to have to comply with the law” and then cited Terry McAuliffe’s b.s. about how we supposedly need the gas pipelines for economic development in Southside Virginia, claiming a supposed/nonexistent “shortage of natural gas.” Let’s just be blunt: all of that is total bullshit, Dominion talking points, utter nonsense. Does Saslaw know that? Is he completely clueless? Does he not realize that energy efficiency is by far and away the cheapest form of energy? Does he not realize that the fossil fuel industry talking about needing backup power for when the “sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow” has been almost completely superceded by technological (e.g., energy storage) and other improvements that make it much easier to balance and even out load. Most absurdly, at the end of his remarks, Saslaw claimed that the situation will “work itself out one way or the other, always do.” That is SO stupid it almost makes my head explode. Has Saslaw ever heard of this little thing called the CLIMATE CRISIS? How is that just going to “work itself out?” Also, does Saslaw have ANY self awareness at all? I mean, this is a guy whose “D” after his name stands for “Dominion” much more than it does for “Democrat.” By that, I mean that Saslaw has been a faithful servant of Dominion’s interests for years, so for him to then wash his hands of that and claim that things would just “work themselves out” is beyond infuriating. Yeah, this guy BADLY needs to go!