Monday, January 27, 2020
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Lies, Damned Lies, and Batting Averages: The Case of VPAP’s Legislator...

by Cindy With the end of the General Assembly session comes the rollout of the VPAP “batting averages” --statistics that purport to measure “the success...

Spoons and Small Brushes Not Bulldozers and Backhoes

First African Baptist Church photo 140718FirstAfricanBaptistChurch_1_zps887db9c9.jpgUnfortunately for the preservation of Virginia's African American history, Richmond's Mayor, a man of color and the book, is either morally corrupt or benignly ignorant. Doesn't matter which, the result may be the same. It is not surprising that a typical American does not value the history of a place.

But failure to grasp his own heritage is a mortal flaw. There are a few stories here. The ground under Shockoe Bottom is one. The legacy of what went on there and in Jackson Ward and throughout Richmond is another. That legacy screams for every effort to remedy the high unemployment among blacks in Richmond and the accompanying fratricide. A properly funded and directed school system and full-time employment opportunities should be job one. Instead, places for games that feather already well-healed nests and half million dollar studies of half-cocked ideas consume Richmond City revenues. Great photo ops, though.

"...we are totally opposed to a stadium in Shockoe Bottom. Agreeing to this demand by Mayor Jones and the developers he represents would clearly state the following position: Yes, the history is important, but not so much that we can't play games on top of it. And that would be a continuation of the same disrespect that formed the basis for the acceptance of slavery and the slave trade in the first place." - statement by Phil Wilayto and Anna Edwards of the Sacred Ground Project

Compound this with the arrogant, aloof stance that Richmond is immune from federal Section 106 regulations which is even more insulting than any tea party nullification rant. If Jones were Mayor of Jerusalem, he'd solve that whole Temple Mount thing by razing both al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock then build condos and concessions surrounding a miniaturized, motorized laser show of popular myths: Abraham and alternating sons; Moses (I know, I know, but authenticity is not important) delivering an Ark of the Covenant emanating lightning bolts; Jesus in a fit turning over tables; Mohammad gliding in on his horse; you get it, something for everyone.

Maybe the race to succeed Virginia state Senator Henry Marsh (D-16th) whose former district includes much of Richmond's East End will provide a vehicle for Delegates McQuinn (D-70th), whose current district encompasses less and Dance (D-63rd) whose current district covers none to help crystalize the debate. McQuinn seems to be able to straddle both sides of the issue, which hasn't been helpful and could make it quite a tango for Dance. Both probably believe Jones' endorsement would be to their advantage in the contest. In reality, electoral influence is likely the only reason any politician patronizes Jones. Developers seem to believe there are other purposes.

So, Your “Team” Just Went 42-120, 42-120, 42-120? Now What?

At the outset of this piece, let me just apologize for doing what I thought I'd never do: pull a George Allen. No, I haven't suddenly decided to deny climate science, shill for fossil fuels, advocate ultra-simplistic "answers" to complex world problems, pander to extremists, worship at the altar of crony capitalism, or live in a bizarre, mythological past something like the "Father Knows Best" 1950s meets the late-19th century/early-20th-century Robber Baron Era. However, I have decided to borrow one of George Allen's favorite ways of explaining the world, through sports metaphors. In George Allen's case, football is the sport of choice for this exercise. For me, it's baseball, which even great intellects like George Will (ok, maybe not) have compared (favorably) to life itself. Heh.

My baseball metaphor is a simple one, actually, not metaphysical or "Field of Dreams"/George Will mystical in the least. Instead, it's a simple, basic way of understanding how things go badly wrong in an organization, and what to do about the situation when they do. In this case, the analogy is between your favorite baseball team and the Democratic Party of Virginia. Specifically, imagine if your favorite team had just suffered its third 120-loss (out of 162 games) season in a row, sort of like the 1962 New York Mets (40-120) repeated in 1963 and 1964. Essentially, that's just what happened to Virginia Democrats, with 2009 (Deeds disaster, major losses in the House of Delegates); 2010 (Tea Party wipeout, goodbye Perriello/Nye/Boucher); 2011 (major losses again in the House of Delegates, loss of the State Senate majority, wipeout losses in Prince William and Loudoun Counties). If that's not the political equivalent of three straight seasons of '62 New York Mets'-style 42-120 records, I don't know what else would be.

So, if DPVA were a baseball team, what would now happen, assuming its owner had a clue (and some backbone)?

1. The first thing to do would be a thorough "After Action Report" -- a rigorous, top-to-bottom analysis of what went right (not much in a 42-120 season, or in this case with the Virginia Democrats) and what went wrong. Clearly, this analysis MUST be performed by external, unbiased, independent auditors/analysts who would examine the organization from top to bottom and make recommendations, preferably binding. The organization also might conduct whatever internal reviews it wanted to conduct, but unless that analysis were vetted and critiqued by outsiders, then it would be untrustworthy and essentially worthless.