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Video: Politics Makes Strange Bedfellows, Virginia Energy Policy Edition

As you can see from the following video of a vote in Senate Commerce and Labor Committee earlier today, politics in general - and...

Unlike the Amazon/Washington Post, Here’s Some Factual, Non-“Click-Bait” Information on Del....

Over at the Amazon/Bezos/Washington Post, they apparently decided to go all "click bait" on the story of right-wing Republican Del. Greg Habeeb announcing he's...

Far-Right-Wing Va. Del. Greg Habeeb Attacks “Boyfriend of Va. reporter fatally...

Just when you think the far (far, far, far) right can't sink any lower, Virginia Del. Greg Habeeb (R-Roanoke County, Salem County) does just...

GOP Assault on the Teaching Profession

"Teachers matter.  They deserve our support.  And I want to make sure that we are constantly lifting up how important teachers are to making sure...this country succeeds." - President Barack Obama

Anyone tracking bills affecting teachers introduced in this session of the General Assembly quickly discovers that the GOP in Virginia doesn't agree with the President's premise that teachers "deserve our support." Instead, they've declared war.

Greg Habeeb (R-Salem) and Ralph Smith (R-Roanoke) introduced bills that would let school divisions wait until June 15 to inform people that they have no job the coming August. Presently, teachers have to be notified by April 15, giving them time to seek another teaching position. Chris Stolle (R-Virginia Beach) has a bill allowing any local school board to switch all its employees to a defined contribution retirement, effectively destroying the Virginia Retirement System for future teachers in that locality. Mark Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg) sponsored a bill allowing public charter schools to opt out of VRS and have up to 50% of their teachers unlicensed by the state.

Perhaps the worst bill before the Assembly is Dickie Bell's (R-Staunton). It would eliminate teacher tenure and the right to a hearing before the school board if a teacher who has attained a continuing contract is summarily fired. It would also change the probationary period for new teachers from three to five years, the time when they can be fired without cause. After that, teachers would be given three-year contracts for the rest of their career, meaning that in times of tight budgets many school boards would get rid of their most expensive (i.e., most experienced) teachers.

These GOP bills are meant to take away the very things that make teaching an attractive option for college graduates.  

Local Democrats Ready for Battle in 8th HOD District

After pulling off a victory by handily electing a Democrat as sheriff, Roanoke County Democrats are now gearing up for the January 11 special election to fill the House of Delegates seat vacated by Morgan Griffith. While far too many "establishment" Democrats in Richmond assumed there was no use in contesting the Republican-leaning district, local activists found a candidate with an excellent shot at winning the seat.

Ginger Mumpower is a successful business owner with excellent name recognition in the district. A while back, she was named the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce's Small Business Person of the Year. Those business connections allow her to contrast herself with the anti-abortion, right-wing lawyer Republicans have nominated, Greg Habeeb.

While Habeeb has never held elective office, Mumpower has, elected to a term on Radford City Council when she was just 23. As the top vote-getter in that election, she was named vice-mayor. She also served a term on the Radford University Board of Visitors. In 2000, she received the New Century Women's Leadership Award. The award honors women who have made significant contributions to the economic development and civic life of Southwest Virginia.

Mumpower told the Roanoke Times she will be "focusing my energy and efforts on creating jobs and reinventing our struggling economy." She said that her four years in the 1980s on Radford City Council was a time when the council found ways to expand its budget and services without increasing property taxes. She also said her  experience owning and managing a business enables her to understand the challenges that small business owners face.

This race is going to be very interesting to watch. Mumpower is better qualified than her opponent. She knows how to campaign and will do so energetically. She has already hired a campaign manager and opened a campaign headquarters. Yet again, turnout will be the key in this election. Go, get'um, Ginger!