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Saturday, May 18, 2013
A county’s official faith
Washington County’s supervisors voted this week — unanimously — to hang the Ten Commandments in the Government Center Building in Abingdon. They also voted to form a committee “to look into the legal implications of such a move,” the Bristol Herald Courier reports.
The “implications” should be as swift and sure as the Old Testament wrath of God, should anyone have the nerve to challenge the action in court.
Some apparent violations of the First Amendment’s bar against government establishment of religion occupy a gray area between free practice and government sanction. Not this one.
The board acted at the insistence of a crowd of more than 300 people, the newspaper reported, fired up by the Barter Theatre’s recent unveiling of a painting of the Hindu deity Shiva, meant to represent the famed theater’s multi-culturalism.
The county government’s response to such an audacious show of inclusion? We’ll have none of that here. We’re Christians.
And you’re not.
But don’t worry; everyone’s the same in the eyes of your government. No, really.
Just as the wheels were ready to come off . . .
For 25 years, pro-business Virginia Free has rated state legislators on how they voted on bills most important to its members. The more lawmakers’ votes lined up with the interests of business, the higher their score. This year, it came down to how each voted on a single bill: H.B. 2313, Gov. Bob McDonnell’s landmark transportation funding initiative.
Nothing less than “the most important business vote in a generation.”
Were lawmakers for the revenue package, or agin’ it? The ayes scored 100 percent; the nays, zero.
In our region, state Sen. John Edwards, a Democrat, got a glowing 100 on his report card; Republican Sens. Steve Newman, Ralph Smith and Bill Stanley, big fat goose eggs.
Area delegates scored better: Republicans Chris Head, Charles Poindexter, Lacey Putney and Joseph Yost got 100s, as did Democrat Onzlee Ware. Republican Dels. Greg Habeeb and Anne Crockett-Stark earned zeroes.
Virginia Free lauded McDonnell’s and House Speaker Bill Howell’s leadership, and the “shining examples of cooperation and compromise” shown by lawmakers who dared stray from hard-line anti-tax dogma to cast “a momentous vote that will have far-reaching benefits for business growth, job creation and economic prosperity.”
Eh. What would those tax-and-spend business people know about how to get the economy humming?
Most favored gifting status
Del. Kathy Byron’s Facebook friends knew she traveled to Taiwan last year since the country “is an important trading partner with Virginia.” She shared that message, too, with constituents on her email list.
The one place, though, that she didn’t share news of her trip is in the very place she is legally required to: her financial disclosure statement. So why didn’t she report Taiwan covered her travel?
The Bedford County Republican did not suffer a bout of amnesia like attorney general and gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli, who forgot his family vacationed twice at a donor’s Smith Mountain Lake house. Byron went with the “I didn’t think it was a gift” excuse, as cited by Gov. Bob McDonnell in opting not to report that a donor picked up the $15,000 catering tab for his daughter’s wedding.
According to The News & Advance, Byron explained in an email to the newspaper, “As this was a cultural and trade mission, I did not include it on my report as it did not clearly constitute a ‘gift.’ ”
Byron said she will amend her form to reflect the $7,800 gift.
Byron didn’t scrimp and save to splurge on Taiwan. Nor does it appear on her taxpayer-funded trips report. Unless there’s a magical fairy tour with free fares that only elected officials can take, someone bought the ticket and covered her hotel and meals. That, in the eyes of any beholder, is a gift.
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