See below for video and a few highlights from an Arlington Dems’ “Zooom” video conference call earlier today with State Sen. Barbara Favola (D-Arlington/Fairfax/Loudoun) and Delegates Rip Sullivan (D-Arlington/McLean) and Patrick Hope (D-Arlington). There was a fair amount of ground covered in the call, but given the Coronavirus crisis, obviously a significant chunk of it was focused on that. That includes the possibility of a Special Session, potential impacts on the Virginia budget, how Gov. Northam’s doing, etc. Also, check out the discussion on the infamous redistricting amendment…
- According to Sen. Favola, we don’t need a Special Session, as Gov. Northam has “quite a bit of latitude” to do what needs to be done, and also “textbooks tell us
that crises are better managed when there’s really a clear chain of authority and there is strong leadership – and I think that very much comes from the executive branch and needs to come from Governor Northam…I think the governor has taken this very seriously. Certainly, he was very quick to close the public schools. He is balancing the economic issues about…the complete closing down of restaurants against the need for for individuals to actually shelter in place…The biggest issue we’re facing, and it’s not just an issue in Virginia, is the real lack of protective clothing and protective gear for our health care professional.”
- Del. Sullivan said he agreed with everything Sen. Favola said. Sullivan added that “the governor is leading us quite well,” but that everyone’s frustrated with the “stockpiling issue” of PPEs, tests, etc., “but we’re all hopeful that we’re on the verge of solving those problems”
- Del. Hope said he also agrees that we don’t need a Special Session. Hope said it’s a legitimate question to ask whether we’re doing enough, and particularly whether Virginians are taking this crisis seriously enough. Hope mentioned Sen. Chase’s comments the other day, pleading with her supporters to take this seriously. Hope worries that at least some Virginians aren’t taking the Coronavirus crisis seriously enough.
- Talking about how quickly the Coronavirus crisis has moved, Del. Sullivan noted that it was just “2 1/2 weeks ago that we left Richmond, and…to me it seems like 6 months ago that we left Richmond…When we left Richmond, it was here, but it was not something that had yet gripped the nation from a media perspective…”
- What are the ramifications for the Virginia budget from the Coronavirus crisis? Sen. Favola said a lot of it’s going to depend on how much federal money is forthcoming, and that’s a “big unknown” at this point. Favola pointed out that we’ve had a “30% increase in unemployment compensation requests in just the last two weeks.” “So all of those things combined sort of require dollars going out the door and they also limit dollars coming in.”
- Del. Sullivan said “so much of this is going to depend on what the feds do…[they] can print money, Virginia can’t.” One good thing is that we “sock[ed] away a lot of money” into the “Rainy Day fund.”
- Del. Hope said we “passed a really good budget,” that it’s going to depend heavily on what the federal government does and how “dire” the situation turns out to be. But certainly it’s possible that “adjustments” – hopefully very little – will have to be made. Del. Hope added that he hopes this is a “temporary blip” that we can rapidly recover from.
- Finally, I’ve gotta say that I found the discussion on the fatally flawed redistricting amendment – which, by the way, is absolutely *not* (as Del. Hope reiterates in this video) true “nonpartisan redistricting reform” – to be very frustrating.
- On a positive note, I strongly agree with Delegates Hope and Sullivan, who both voted against the amendment because it’s so badly flawed. But I strongly *disagree* with Sen. Favola’s characterization of the amendment and her stated rationale for having voted for it. I also am baffled at Del. Sullivan attempting to argue that Democrats are actually united on this somehow, when in fact they are deeply – even bitterly – divided over the amendment. Also, again, this is *not* non-partisan redistricting reform, so I’m not sure how anyone can argue that Democrats are united over something which doesn’t even exist. But listen for yourself…I’m honestly tired of and deeply frustrated with the argument over this amendment, which truly is “piss-poor,” as basically all the African-American members of the Virginia House of Delegates agreed.