Reliable internet service is important to me and to the vitality of our community. So are affordable health care, education and job skills and the expectation that rights are not curtailed by race, gender or wealth. We all want respect, opportunity, and fairness.
All these things are critical to a happy and healthy life in modern-day Virginia. Because we all know this, we should replace John McGuire in the General Assembly this November. He has persisted in preventing efforts to provide all Virginians with these important benefits. There is nothing to indicate next year will be any different if we return him to office in Richmond.
Juanita Jo Matkins is campaigning to replace John McGuire in the House of Delegates. She has made clear that she will fight for better education, access to broadband internet, affordable health care and representation for all Virginians. Voters in the 56th District should seek to meet her, hear her and then vote for her in November.
Lynn Engler Louisa
I was pleased to see a Richmond television station airing interviews with local candidates for government office. I saw the interview with Juanita Jo Matkins, candidate for the House of Delegates for Louisa County.
Matkins plans to increase spending for education in the Commonwealth. When asked how she would pay for this, she explained that the important thing is to make your priorities reflect what is important. If, as she would like, education is the highest priority in the budget, then the question becomes how to pay for the things lower on the priority list. Just like a home budget, you will always fund those things you see as the most important, then worry about the rest.
I thought her response was pitch-perfect. What do we value most? Budget the needed money and then see what the next priority is. Budget for that, and so forth.
It’s clear that education, rural broadband and affordable health care need to be higher on the priority list of the Virginia General Assembly. I believe Juanita Jo Matkins will represent my priorities in the legislature.
Jim Wolf Louisa
Editor's Note: This originally appeared in the Central Virginian and has been re-posted here with with the author's permission.
The Central Virginian's readers may not be aware that Tyler Adams, Supervisor Duane Adams son, is not the CV's usual kind of letter writer. He's a Republican political operative, who has worked for, and continues to work for some of the most radical politicians in the Commonwealth.
What they need to know is that his hit-piece last week continues a running narrative, that government has no role in promoting services that would benefit everyone in the county.
Apparently he and likeminded county officials want people to forget their history, and the reasons why rural electrification cooperatives were started, and who was responsible — our government. Their shared vision is to undermine faith in government’s ability to work for the common good. A hypocritical con game that’s as breathtaking as it is effective, throwing just enough sand into the gears to jam things up.
Like our supervisors voting against the industrial park, only to reverse course the next month, and supporting a housing development just to shoot it down after “debating” into the wee hours. Knowing that neither project could happen until the situation with the intake site for the James River Pipeline involving the Monican nation was resolved.
A crucial fact that has been public knowledge since 2016, one they would have you believe was a minor oversight. Yet according to an representative the Monican nation, it was the first in a chain of six major errors, each one compounding the previous mistake.
Statements that weren't printed by the CV in their coverage of the earlier James River Authority meeting with the Monican nation and their attorney, or in last weeks edition.
Tyler’s grandiose statement about “government intervening … where it has no business,” is taken straight from the playbook of Koch brother sponsored front groups’ the American City County Exchange (ACCE), and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), whose sole purpose is to develop model policy at the city/county level and model legislature at the state level.
Unsurprisingly, both groups and their front men are highly sensitive to being publicly exposed, like how Jon Russell ACCE’s executive director, after recently chiming in on the CV’s and Toni Williams Facebook page about Louisa County’s Broadband project, stopped commenting almost as soon as he was exposed.
Or when Tyler Adams was similarly challenged on both FB pages he responded with deflections and schoolyard taunts in an attempt to silence any opposing views.
And when it comes to the Adams family, apparently the batshit doesn’t fall far from the family tree.
While shills like Mr. Russell and Adams are fond of pretending to the world that they are heroically challenging ingrained assumptions, and crowing about — limited government and free market principles, low taxes, minimal debt and regulations, the organizations they represent are mostly concerned with finding creative ways to help themselves.
The reality behind their rhetoric is that leaders from business and industry are the ones writing this model legislature, often for their own benefit, and in Republican controlled states they are rubber-stamping it, actions which affect the lives of millions of Americans.
Here in Virginia, our General Assembly changed the SCC’s ability in 2015 to regulate Dominion Power with a series of bills promoted by former House Speaker Bill “ALEC” Howell. Now all of their customers and the states taxpayers are footing the bill. Where last year they collected $227 million in excess profits from their customers, and could be in line for a 26% increase this year.
From all appearances this creative interpretation of responsible governance is driving the actions of our three most ideological supervisors — Wade, Adams and Williams. Even though Wade is stepping down this year, should the rest of the supervisors continue with their spineless ways and follow Adams and Williams lead until the 2021 elections, Louisa County is likely to become more like Goochland and Hanover where the Tea Party has taken over.
In the meantime, these supervisors’ hypocritical claims of “fiscal responsibility,” are excuses; not to deliver high-speed internet to the county, or ensure there will be water for future growth, and are in Mr. Adam’s words, an indictment of their “qualifications for office.”
The residents of the Jackson district in particular should start by removing deadwood like Toni Williams from office. Likewise, the people of Louisa should act to restore accountability in the General Assembly, by voting for Juanita Jo Matkins as their state delegate, and Amy Laufer as their state senator.
Editor’s Note: this is an extended version of a letter submitted to the Central Virginian, and expands on themes in this post.
I don’t often become parochial in these columns, but in his Aug. 25 column Jon Russell asserted that America cities are dying because of their public policy choices. His list of dying cities included my hometown, Seattle.
I just returned from visiting family and friends in Seattle and marveled again at nearby, majestic Mount Rainer. If Seattle is dying, Mr. Russell better not tell Microsoft or Amazon, or the people who just built the new monorail into town from the airport, or those who tore down the unsightly viaduct along the waterfront.
Neither the educators associated with Seattle’s great academic institutions, such as the University of Washington, nor the doctors, nurses and technicians of its cutting-edge hospitals would see themselves in Mr. Russell’s characterization. Perhaps Boeing is having a spot of trouble, but one can’t blame that on local governments.
There is no evidence that local or state governments are passing unwieldy regulations that will bring the city to its knees or bring rats out of the gutters. Pike Place Market is as attractive as always.
Mr. Russell’s basic argument is that U.S. cities are dying because of homelessness, which he says is a consequence of local overregulation.
But in the wake of considerable scientific evidence, everyone else understands that homelessness is connected with mental illness, loss of income leading to loss of homes, PTSD, weaknesses in the Veterans Administration’s assistance to veterans, and corporations’ spread of opioids.
Mr. Russell completely garbles the facts concerning homelessness in Los Angeles, a city with a population of 4 million. The city has a homeless population of 60,000; it didn’t increase by 60,000. And that’s 1.5 percent of LA’s total population. You can read the facts about this incredibly complicated situation right here.
Predictably, Mr. Russell’s views on major urban areas echoes the president’s sentiments. To attack a member of Congress, Rep. Elijah Cummings, President Trump characterized Maryland’s 7th Congressional District as a place where “no human being would want to live” and claimed it ranked last in “almost every major category.” Not surprisingly, the fact-checkers had great fun demonstrating that Cummings’ district did not fit the president’s destructive Twitter rantings.
Howard County, Md., is the third-wealthiest county in America, with a median household income of $115,576, far above the national median of $57,652. The district, overall, has a median household income of $60,929, still above the national average. It has the second-highest median income of any U.S. predominantly black district, according to the Baltimore Sun. And as American statistician Nate Silver points out, the district has above-average college education rates.
Oddly enough, the bulk of Mr. Russell’s column was spent singing his own praises as the chair of the American City County Exchange, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the American Legislative Exchange Council, both of which are notoriously conservative lobbying organizations funded by corporate giants attempting to impose their views and objectives on state and local governments for their own profits. For a closer, alternate look try this site.
So, we ask, is homelessness due to a lack of programs or to overregulation?
We started with the thought that American cities are dying, and one data point was homelessness. But wait, by Mr. Russell’s measure, Culpeper is dying, too. Just ask the stalwart volunteers at our community’s Food Closet. They see homelessness.
Mr. Russell has been elected to take care of our community. Would he please tell us which specific local regulations the Town Council or the Board of Supervisors passed that caused homelessness in Culpeper? We ask in the name of problem-solving, not dogma, especially with elections for local offices coming this November.
Editor’s Note: This letter originally appeared in the Culpeper Star Exponent, and is re-posted here with the author’s permission, and has been edited to incorporate his links to other websites.
Given his role as the Executive Director of ACCE, it’s no coincidence that Mr. Russell has taken to commenting on the Central Virginian’s and Toni Williams Facebook pages with his views about the counties Broadband project.
I volunteer with a non-partisan organization dedicated to making sure everybody who is eligible to vote and wants to vote is registered and able to vote.
One of my partners in this work is Juanita Jo Matkins. Her untiring dedication to this work has inspired me and others to volunteer. We set up tables in public places where we can register voters, and when necessary, begin the process of obtaining an ID. Sometimes we have a client who can’t vote because of a felony conviction. If they have served their sentence, we can log onto the state Department of Elections website and find out whether their rights have been restored. If not, we help them apply. This is a non-partisan effort. Nobody’s asking who they’re going to vote for.
Although it’s quite rewarding, tabling isn’t all that easy. I’ve tabled with Juanita Jo out in a parking lot when it’s 90 degrees and when its 30 degrees. When we get a lull in activity I’m likely to be thinking: “Can we go home now?” Not Juanita Jo. Not if there is one more person we might be able to help.
This non-partisan dedication to the American democratic ideal of representation is one of the reasons I will be voting for Juanita Jo Matkins for delegate for the 56th district this November.
Editor’s Note: this originally appeared in the August 29th edition of the Central Virginian and has been reposted here with the authors permission.
At Louisa County High School on Aug. 17, I listened to our Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger and three experts talk about the problems rural Virginia has with access to broadband internet. I also listened to Louisa residents talk about the problems they face (poor connectivity, long delays, lack of access) and the consequences of these problems (can’t work at home, moving out of Louisa, disadvantaged children, lack of competitiveness in attracting businesses and others).
Where were our board of supervisor members? Who knows! They were not there to listen to their constituents. When a citizen asked about their absence, another constituent yelled, “They don’t care.” This got some applause.
The following Tuesday I had occasion to talk to a member of the Louisa County Broadband Authority and asked how things were going. The response came as no shock. I was told the board of supervisors never wanted the broadband authority to succeed.
It’s been six long years since the authority started its work. How many residents are being served? According to the authority’s minutes, it’s around 20.
Are all the authorized towers installed yet? No. Why not? One reason was a 35 percent increase in the price of steel caused by the federal government-imposed trade war with China.
Did the supervisors take that into consideration? No. As the current chair of the board stated, the authority had to work with the money authorized. If that meant cutting back on coverage, too bad—so sad.
Is this the government we want?
Do we want to cripple our children and grandchildren due to lack of access to all the benefits of modern technology? Do we want them destined to a work life of lower opportunity because they didn’t have the same internet access as their competitors in other counties?
We can no longer sit back and wait for our supposed leaders to do their jobs. You want a better life for you and your children? Show up at the board meetings and demand action. Vote out any supervisor that waffles and delays implementation of the authority’s plan. They are the decision makers—it’s on them to make this happen. Failure is on them as well.
Editor’s Note: this originally appeared in the August 29th edition of the Central Virginian and has been reposted here with the authors permission.
On Saturday I attended the 2019 Rural Broadband Summit sponsored by Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger. The summit drew a large crowd from Louisa, Goochland and Orange counties.
In the opening session I heard a range of questions and comments from concerned parents, small business owners, local farmers and residents trying to telecommute. There was also valuable information provided by the panelists on programs and grants that are available to help expand broadband in rural areas such as Louisa County.
Unfortunately, what I did not see was any member of the Louisa County Board of Supervisors or any member of the county’s broadband authority. Several members of the audience asked questions regarding the board’s efforts (or lack thereof) to expand broadband, but there was no one there to respond.
No one to discuss the status of the broadband towers we have been waiting for. No one to explain why county residents must pay two or three times what non-rural Virginians pay for slower, less efficient broadband.
This should not be a partisan issue. One audience member mentioned a bill sponsored by Rep. Rob Wittman (RVA) that would provide some funding for rural broadband. Rep. Spanberger immediately agreed to cosponsor the bill. Broadband access should be an issue with bipartisan support.
Editor’s note: This letter to the editor originally appeared in the August 22 edition of the Central Virginian, and has been re-posted here with the author’s permission.
July, we hear, was the hottest month on record. We in central Virginia were spared the worst, but as records for heat worldwide continue to be broken, we are not likely to be spared in the long run. We need action to address the causes and adaptations to this threat. But causes and adaptations, just like the effects, are global. We couldn’t, for instance, put a dome over Louisa County and expect to keep out the changes. What can we do locally, to help correct the problem?
I believe that we should elect those who are willing to roll up their sleeves and work on the problem, rather than try to ignore it. Time is short, so we need to start now. (We needed to start yesterday, maybe, but late is better than never.) State and local elections are coming up this November, and we can put in place those who pledge to work on this problem. The work will take cooperation and determination.
Juanita Jo Matkins will do more to enable our future than the incumbent in the House of Delegates. John McGuire’s web site lists nine issues that are important to him, but I could find not a single word about this most pressing issue of our time. Yet if we can’t solve climate change, we will not have the opportunity to solve anything else.
Juanita Jo’s background in science education gives her the understanding that while the problem is global, the solutions involve local actions all around the globe. That is why she wants clean energy and broadband access for us, grants and tax credits for local home energy improvements and an emphasis on science education in the schools.
Her outlook on local efforts for solutions to big problems is why I will vote for her this November.
Editor’s note: This letter to the editor originally appeared in the August 22 edition of the Central Virginian, and has been re-posted here with the author’s permission.
Gov. Ralph Northam called a special session of the legislature in response to the Virginia Beach shooting that killed 12 people and wounded four on May 12. On July 9, after only 90 minutes, the Republican-controlled General Assembly adjourned without the slightest consideration of the 60 bills that had been submitted in regular session.
Gun violence is not a single phenomenon, but includes many types of tragedies: domestic violence (averaging 50 women a month shot and killed by their partners), children killing children because a gun in the house was left unsecured, suicides (including many veterans), rampant gun trafficking (New York City has been complaining for years that guns bought in Virginia show up on its streets).
And then there mass slaughters of hundreds every year with military-style weapons, such as El Paso (22 killed, 24 wounded), Dayton (nine killed, 27 wounded), and Las Vegas (58 killed, 422 wounded).
Finally, there’s thoughtlessness in relation to guns, as when Nick Freitas tried to take his loaded pistol through security at Washington Dulles International Airport in 2013.
Now a state delegate, Freitas stoutly defended gun rights in last Sunday’s Culpeper Star-Exponent.
Bryce Reeves was proudly pictured firing an Army cannon.
Sen. Amanda Chase, R-Colonial Heights, wears her pistol on her hip in the Virginia Senate.
Speaker Kirk Cox gaveled the House of Delegates out of session July 9 without considering a single bill presented by Northam.
These are a few people among the many Virginia Republicans who continue to do absolutely nothing to address gun-violence tragedies.
The specious argument that mass murder is a people problem caused by video games, lack of prayer in school or the breakdown of the family is not supported by facts. If true, one would expect similar gun violence in other countries.
And if one suggests there is a national mental-health problem involving gun violence, that would require vast resources to address.
What jumps out in most of mass killings is the effectiveness of rapid-fire, military-style firearms with high-volume magazines.
The Dayton police force estimates the shooter fired more than 30 shots in only 30 seconds. He still had plenty of ammunition. The story in El Paso was even worse—rapid-fire, plenty of bullets, lots of dead and wounded. What do you think the death toll would have been if the Dayton, El Paso or Las Vegas shooters were armed with revolvers? Or knives? The obvious conclusion is that military-style rifles, ammunition and magazines are what makes such attacks so lethal.
Any combat veteran or doctor can tell you that military ammunition travels at such a high velocity that, in tumbling and tearing through the human body, its shock wave shreds organs and breaks bones, even if they’re not directly hit. Victims may require multiple subsequent operations to piece their bodies back together. Imagine what the Sandy Hook children looked like.
In order to calm a tsunami of criticism, President Trump and some congressional Republicans recently intimated they might look at background checks and red-flag laws, i.e., handling gun violence like a people problem. Does anyone have faith that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has taken up no meaningful legislation passed by the House this entire year, will do so in this case?
There is no way to get around the one indisputable fact in these mass shootings: Lethality belongs to the military-style assault weapon.
But our society is not defenseless. Volunteer with Moms Demand Action and other groups fighting to reduce gun violence. Educate yourselves. Lock up your firearms.
No politician in either party in Central Virginia wants to take away your guns, but something must be done to stop the killing. Vote for candidates who will address these problems, instead of mouthing platitudes and National Rifle Association talking points.
Elections have consequences. Vote on Nov. 5.
David Reuther, a retired foreign service officer, chairs the Culpeper Democratic Committee. These are his personal observations.
Editor’s Note: this op-ed originally appeared in the Culpeper Star Exponent and has been re-posted here with the author’s permission.
An earlier Blue Louisa piece discussed some of the ways Republican’s exploit emotional issues to distract from their hidden economic agendas, and here's how it works in Louisa County
Most of the CV’s readers would have little reason to recall their in-depth 2016-17 coverage of the James River Water Project. Stories which clearly indicated that the intake for the pipeline would be built on top of a known archeological site, presumably information the Board of Supervisor’s took into consideration in their subsequent decisions about projects depending on this pipeline.
So how did they fail to anticipate the Monican Nations concerns, knowing that until they were resolved, any work on the pipeline was unlike to start, and that it would cause significant delays and likely cost overruns? The short answer — such absent mindedness, including their most recent proposed “fix” of taking even more water from the Green Springs aquifer for a residential development behind the Wal-Mart has always been a feature of their economic plans, not a bug.
Unlike the attitudes of the James River Water Authority, it appears that the reasons for the Board’s deeds are rooted in Virginia’s peculiar mythology. From my transplanted Yankee perspective, the “Virginia Way” can best be described as a deep-seated cultural acquiescence to authority, one little removed from the thinking of the plantation era.
Bland acceptance of that’s the way things are, accompanied by it’s hypocritical cousin, “get along to go along,” where maintaining the appearance of genteel collegiality regardless of any legitimate differences becomes more important than effective government.
Considering that Virginia started as a “royal charter,” where the investors profits took precedence over everything else, it should come as little surprise to discover that this mindset has dominated the Commonwealth’s politics at every level since the 1600’s. Where “the business of government has always been business,” no matter who’s running things.
A unique form of American capitalism centered around slavery, where their harsh treatment was a daily reminder for everyone else to stay in line. Where in a time when land prices were low, financial products like mortgage-backed securities were written against the indirect value of the enslaved.
Where most of the southern banking industry backed the slaves value, and the banks in the north and especially Europe made lots of money from their misery. Where accounting concepts like depreciation and hierarchical management structures were first developed for the plantation, not the railroads and industry of the later industrial age.
A set of practices, which University of Wisconsin-Madison sociologist Joel Rogers has termed: Low-road capitalism A mindset which lives on today, with local county officials and Supervisors praising today’s version of prosperity gospel with all the evangelical fervor they can muster.
Promises of a glorious future/past indifferently mixed with antediluvian notions like; Segregation… ahem …“economic growth now, economic growth tomorrow, economic growth forever.” Pointedly ignoring realities like the availability of water, particularly ground water sets the upper limit for any growth.
Such emotional misdirection’s and false promises are how Republican’s have operated since the day’s of Nixon’s “Southern Strategy,” hiding behind a veneer of hypocritical civility, calls for law and order, using coded emotional appeals while governing with tax cuts for the rich and regulatory rollbacks.
Considering what has happened in adjacent counties where the Tea Publicans have taken over, the Boards plans are more likely to entrench ideological … I mean economic [and racial] segregation now, tomorrow and forever.
A land where local officials apparently only know one tune, Virginia's oldest cultural earworm " I wish I was in the land of cotton, old times there are not forgotten, Look away, look away, look away, Dixie Land." A land where inequality reigns and poverty remains endemic just as it has for decades.
Nor does it matter if it’s due to an overly deferential and incurious mindset, typified by the Boards three biggest sclerotics … I mean … get along’s, Barlow, Barnes and Gentry; who consistently fail to exercise any due diligence or oversight, convinced if there’s no conflict there’s no problem. Or because of the closed doors schemes of radical ideologists [aka Replican’ts ] like Wade, Adams and Williams and others.
The results will be the same; a rigged game where only a select few reap the economic benefits.
Until the people of Louisa demand accountability from the Board for their actions, and make a concerted effort to change who sits on the Board, they will continue to ignore the advice of their committees; from the Planning Commission to the Broadband Authority.
And they will continue to ignore common sense proposals; like putting a roof over, and heating the County pool for year round use, calling it government waste and socialism. And they will continue to do everything possible to ensure that the profits of these economic ventures are privatized while the losses are socialized
An earlier piece, vote for progress not emotions, discussed how many of the candidates running for local office are not using social media platforms like Facebook to promote their re-election or candidacy for office, and others appear to have little understanding of how to communicate with potential voters, making little if any attempt to persuade anyone to vote for them.
Weeks after speaking with multiple candidates a surprising number of them still don’t have a Web or Facebook campaign page. Some like our current Treasurer, Henry Wash after spending ~ $ 8 K on signs during his first campaign 8 years ago, says he doesn’t see any need to promote himself any further.
Since he’s running unopposed, and given the number of Wash signs around the County he’s probably right.
Other incumbents like Cuckoo Supervisor Willie Gentry, also running unopposed, says “people know who I am”, and doesn’t feel any need to go over the $ 1K threshold that would require him to file financial reports, and from all appearances is content to let his personal Facebook page double as a campaign page.
Surprisingly, staying under the $ 1K threshold is a sentiment shared by Charles Rosson running for the open Commissioner of the Revenue seat, who has yet to put up a campaign FB page, and it's probably why he has so few campaign signs up.
While Republican Dan Braswell, also running for the open Commissioner of the Revenue seat, and Eric Purcell currently running unopposed for the open Louisa Supervisor seat, discussed their plans at the AG fair for using social media to reach voters. Yet weeks later, neither has a working campaign page.
Although in Eric's defense, he says that he has information ready to be posted, and he confirmed at the recent Rural Broadband Summit that he will be getting together with his IT person about getting it online. While Braswell is seemingly content to let his personal FB page double as his campaign page.
Troy Painting who is running a quixotic campaign for Sheriff appears to be relying on the volume of his signs around the county to win the day, and has no Web or Facebook campaign page.
Meanwhile, the other two Republicans running for office; Donnie Lowe for Sheriff, and Toni Williams for Jackson District Supervisor, Facebook pages are little more than placeholders, with no meaningful information about the candidates. What both of these pages have in common is that their primary message is an emotional appeal, not content which might inform potential supporters.
Nor is this an oversight, it is a deliberate attempt to control the flow of information, ensuring that voters can’t readily scrutinize their past deeds, what they stand for, or even what they propose to do in the future.
A tactic they have copied from their upstream brethren, Delegate John McGuire and Senator Bryce Reeves whose Facebook pages are filled with fluff about all the “important” people they met with. What is left out of their one sided messaging is that their meetings always were closed to the “public” so unless you’re a like minded soul with money to give, you ain’t invited, and definitely aren’t welcome.
In Donnie Lowe’s case, all the public is “allowed” to know about him consists of a barrage of signs around the county, and after the fact notices about this or that “community unity” event he attended. And while Toni Williams Facebook page isn’t over the top like John McGuire’s constant second amendment, flag flying freak.
His content free Facebook page is aimed squarely at an audience that overlaps McGuire’s 2A fanatics, his evangelical brothers and sisters. And the subtle “Christian whistle” visual iconography on his campaign page will fly right by the uninitiated without a second glance.
In direct contrast; the two independent candidates with working Facebook pages, Bernie Hill who is running for the Jackson district Supervisor seat, and Stacy Coleman Fletcher running for the open Commissioner of the Revenue seat, that she has held since the previous Commissioner resigned 8 months ago.
Are openly talking about what they bring to the job, what qualifies them for this office, and where they stand on relevant issues. And in Bernie’s case, he is taking his message directly to the residents of the Jackson District with the first in a series of mass mailers.
Something he will need if he is to have any chance of countering the weekly letters to the editor Toni Williams fellow congregation members and evangelical supporters are submitting on his behalf.
I first met Juanita Jo Matkins over 25 years ago when she was teaching a class for the Virginia Extension Office on Heart Healthy Recipes. I didn’t realize at the time that she was a teacher for many years at Piedmont Christian and Jouett Elementary teaching science and gifted education. In fact, she won a national award in for her teaching – the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science and Mathematics.
I was busy working and raising a family at Blue Ridge Shores so our paths did not cross again for a few years. After my kids got to high school, I became a graduate student at the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia. Juanita Jo was an Associate Professor there teaching Science Education. UVa is pretty selective about hiring professors so I was impressed that a fellow Louisan had a position on the staff.
Fast forward a few more years. My husband and I had been to many of the Christmas Cantatas and other special events at Yanceyville Christian Church over the years and we liked the church so we decided to join. At that time, Juanita Jo was a church elder and she led the liturgy service every Sunday. I was impressed with the church for accepting a woman as a church leader and impressed with Juanita Jo for bringing intelligence, passion, and a sense of grace to the weekly ceremony.
My husband and I attended church there for many years and Juanita Jo was a church trustee was an active member of the Sunday School, always bringing new ideas and concerns to the conversation. Like my husband who was a physicist for the Army at Ft. Belvoir, Juanita Jo was a commuter to her job in Northern Virginia as an assistant professor at George Mason University. They shared many “road warrior” stories about Northern Virginia’s traffic problems and relished the fact that they could enjoy a home in rural Louisa.
Over the next few years, we got to know Juanita Jo and her husband, Don Short, former Commonwealth Attorney for Louisa County. Juanita Jo was an avid horsewoman as a young woman and her family had a small horse farm in Louisa County. Juanita Jo helped her father breed, train and show horses.
One summer, Juanita Jo came by our farm to catch some frogs from our pond for her summer session at William and Mary training science teachers how to do hands-on science in the lab. Along with a fellow professor, she had written and was administering several multi-million dollar grants to develop techniques to train teachers to upgrade K-12 science curriculums all over the country.
She retired in 2015 from William and Mary University as a Full Professor. But retirement did not mean resting on her laurels. She served on the Louisa County Zoning Commission. She joined a county gospel choir. She helped found the Louisa Chapter of Spread the Vote and worked to register new voters. At church, she took on the job of full-time organist. With other members of the church, she helped found the Yanceyville Summer Nature Camp for children.
Juanita Jo Matkins has been a resident of Louisa County for many, many years. She taught in the schools. She raised her family here. She worked at many universities but she always made her home in Louisa. She has been an active member of the community for most of her life.
Now she is running as a candidate for the Virginia 56th House of Delegates, which includes all of Louisa County. She will work to improve and keep our schools and state universities top notch. She is determined to help bring broadband and decent internet service to our rural communities. She believes that everyone should have access to good health care. If you want someone who will represent our interests in Richmond, then vote for a Louisan. Cast your vote on Nov. 1st for Juanita Jo Matkins for 56th House of Delegates. She’s got your back.
I’d like to bring it to the attention of Virginia voters that women still do not have equal rights guaranteed by the US Constitution. Congress passed a Constitutional amendment, the Equal Rights Amendment, (ERA) in 1972 which would give women the right to be paid the same wages as men for equal work. It would also give us equal standing in legal matters such as property and divorce. This would affect 160 million American women.
It order to be enacted, 38 states must ratify the amendment. As of now, 37 states have voted to ratify. Public polling done in 2018 shows that 88% of Virginians support ratification of the amendment.
Ratification was proposed in the most recent session of the General Assembly where it was sent to a committee. The committee prevented it from passing forward to a full floor vote. John McGuire, who currently represents all of Louisa County was on that committee and did not support it.
Virginia could be the state that makes this amendment become federal law. Historically, Republicans were strong supporters of women’s rights. Obviously, John McGuire is not a supporter. We need someone who is.
I’m voting for Juanita Jo Matkins for 56th District Delegate this November. With her support, Virginia can become the last state needed to finally, 47 years later, make this amendment the law of the land.
Editor’s Note: this op-ed originally appeared in the August 8th edition of the Central Virginian, and is re-posted here with the author’s permission.
Flipping the coin on Jon Russell’s Star-Exponent column, “Politics mars Trump’s Jamestown visit,” the U.S. president has an obligation to honor the office he holds, and all Americans, when acting in an official capacity, regardless of who resides in the White House.
Virginia’s commemoration of its 400th anniversary as the Western Hemisphere’s first representative legislative assembly took years of planning. Inviting the President of the United States to speak was likely suggested years ago. That Donald Trump happened to be president when the day arrived was obviously viewed as a blessing to some, and a distasteful coincidence to others.
Most, I think, would have preferred for the event to have been a non-partisan celebration marked by camaraderie.
Unfortunately, President Trump used the days leading up to this historic occasion to fan the flames of anti-immigrant, anti-minorities sentiments and thus incited others to angrily push back. As they say, leadership begins at the top.
Take one step down and we see Trump’s administration in a constant churn of incompetency—and to be sure, the recent Democratic debates included plenty of wackadoodle ideas and self-destructive infighting.
The cast of characters competing in the past two GOP primaries were hardly prime examples of competency and leadership either.
Have we Americans lost all ability to lead and to govern?
Like Mr. Russell, I am also concerned for our future generations. Their turn is fast approaching, and I fear they are being shortchanged.
Today’s candidates say they support education. Insist they support it with robust educational funding for rigorous curricula featuring inclusive, non-biased American and world history, and straightforward non-partisan civics, in all public, private, and home schools. Some remedial training might benefit us all.
Editor’s Note: this letter originally appeared in the Culpeper Star Exponent, and re-posted here with the author’s permission.
Despite the CSE’s recent policy of printing this disclaimer at the end of their featured columnists pieces, “... opinions represent his personal views only,“ it in no way changes the fact that Mr. Russell is the Executive Director of ACCE, a spin off of the better known Koch brothers front group ALEC, and his opinions rarely differ from their partisan propaganda.
I’d like to commend David Holtzman for pointing out in last week’s edition of the Central Virginian how Republican Delegate John McGuire connects with his supporters on social media. And for quoting Stephen Farnsworth, a political scientist at the University of Mary Washington — “By focusing on the issues [guns and abortion] that generate a strong emotional response, it maximizes the chances they’re re-elected,” laying out the psychological underpinnings behind those messages.
Still both observations fall short of capturing the magnitude of what McGuire, and indeed the entire Republican Party is doing and will continue to do right up to election day.
Deliberately attempting to short circuit peoples ability to think clearly, using messages designed to cause them to become captives of their own emotions. Too angry to even think, let alone ask questions everyone should be asking of their elected officials regardless of their own tribal affiliations.
Questions like; How have your actions this past session benefited the people of the 56th district and can you cite some specific examples?
McGuire’s strategy is simple; distract from relevant issues by saying one thing while communicating an entirely different message. In the not too distant past these messages were coded racist “dog whistles,” today they barely attempt to conceal their contempt.
Paul Krugman of the New York Times says these inherently racist messages have been the Republican’s bread and butter, since the 1970’s when the Party was taken over by economic radicals, “determined to slash taxes for the wealthy while undermining the social safety net.” And that this agenda has been unpopular for decades, since “most voters believe the rich should pay more, not less, in taxes, and want spending on social programs to rise, not fall.”
With such a negative agenda, the only way Republicans could win elections was to campaign with coded appeals to racial hostility, with phases like; “welfare queens,” and “invading hordes,” knowing that after they won the election they could safely return to implementing privatization and tax cuts.
And with ®esident45’s increasingly “audible” racism — rising well beyond the “dog whistles” of the past — any “plausible deniability” which Republican's previously used to deny that their own racist feelings were driving their political allegiances have been eliminated.
Unfortunately, it won't change the fact that racism has become such an integral part of Republican politics that only the willfully blind can't see it.
The leaders of the Republican Party will never admit that racism, right-wing extremism, and the rise in stochastic terrorism [aka mass shootings] we’ve all seen over the past decade are a threat to American society, because doing so would threaten their ability to exploit racial hostility, and more importantly their ability to implement their economic goals.
Nor should anyone be shocked to discover that many of John McGuire’s [and Bryce Reeves] supporters have long been “radicalized” – willfully ignorant — irrationally angry — and increasingly willing to sanction racial mayhem.
Just take a look at his Facebook page where he displays images like the one below, proudly flying his coded freak at every opportunity, while hypocritically calling the El Paso shooting an “evil and cowardly attack” and calling for “thoughts and prayers’ for the victims.
Distractions away from the real issue, that the recent mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton were in no small measure “enabled” by a decade’s long NRA campaign to block any legislation that might have prevented tragedies like these. One that Republicans at every level of government willingly embraced.
And why wouldn’t they; by claiming to support second amendment “rights,” Republican’s have the perfect issue for every situation, one which enthralls the rubes, gets them elected, gives them cover for their economic agenda of privatization and tax cuts, and as an added incentive, they get to line up like hogs at the trough.
While media coverage of mass shootings long ago went down the “if it bleed, it leads” rabbit hole, the simple fact is that for decades, the leading cause of gun death has been suicide, not homicide, or the “acts of deranged individuals.
According to the National Center for Health Research, “Gun violence is a public health issue, but politics has interfered with research to determine how to reduce suicides or homicides caused by guns. Research is necessary for legislators to create effective gun control policy.”
The absence of statistically reliable information about gun violence is no accident, since the Clinton era, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has been prevented from collecting any data on gun violence, because Congressional Republicans have refused to approve any funding for research.
Yet another indictment of how completely our legislators, particularly those on the Republican side of the aisle have failed to address the reality that anyone, anywhere in the country has unfettered access to guns, particularly weapons of mass mayhem, and we’re the only developed nation in the world where this is happening.
In response to McGuire’s hypocritical flag waving, and sanctimonious attitude, one person called him out out on his Facebook page, saying, “Oh no Johnny boy you do not get to comment on the murders of innocent Americans to score political points. You and the rest of the Republicans slunk away from Richmond without discussing even ONE bill to help save Virginians.”
Meanwhile, Republicans across the country are taking refuge behind the usual talking points; “it’s too soon to talk about it,” blaming "violent video games," or “we need to deal with mental illness,” and in Orange Julius’s case doing everything he can to undermine public safety.
And it’s the same playbook of watered down misdirection that the people of Louisa are seeing from local candidates running under Party banners, Facebook pages that have if any meaningful content that might assist voters in evaluating what they bring to the table, or even where they stand on relevant issues.
Although in Tony Williams case, it should be noted that he’s following Duane Adams 2017 playbook, using like minded proxies to flood the CV with letters of support. And while these are activities that any elected official or candidate worth their salt should be engaging in.
What few of the CV readers will notice is that they follow a similar pattern of pattern of distraction as the higher level Replican’ts [McGuire and Reeves] or that their claims are little more than an assortment of what-about-isms, and inflated accomplishments.
Some local officials currently in office and surprisingly some new candidates for office are content to run their campaign on the down low; depending almost entirely on word of mouth, keeping their “expenses” at such low levels that they won’t have to file any financial reports.
While other have taken to littering the roadways with signs, convinced that volume is a substitute for substance, and others are content to reach out to voters by using their personal Facebook pages as campaign pages.
Nor is it any coincidence that you’re not seeing this kind of pabulum on local independent candidates Facebook and web pages, not just because they want to be elected, but because they’re not afraid to talk about the issues.
Make no mistake, whichever lever you choose to pull on November 5th this year, and the following year, those decisions will likely be the most critical votes of your lifetime, and will play a major part in which direction this country takes for decades to come.
Whether you like it or not, there no longer is any comfortable middle ground, or room for indecisiveness, your choices are simple; either you’re for social progress, justice and a working government, or your not. And by your silence in the face of non stop racism are supporting a Party which has become a "systematic enabler" of white supremacist terrorism.
And as Paul Krugman, pointed out, if you want to know why, just “follow the money."
Editor’s Note: this is an expanded version of a letter published in the August 8th edition of the Central Virginian.
This is a rebuttal to the letter from Ty Fabling in last week’s edition of the Central Virginian. Toni Williams’ voting record is available for public viewing in the minutes to the Board of Supervisors meetings. My Facebook post on BernieHill4Supervisor regarding Toni Williams voting record is entirely accurate and can be corroborated by those Board of Supervisor minutes. I have made verification easier for the reader by embedding those dates, within my Facebook post, for all of Toni’s votes against broadband.
Mr. Fabling’s misunderstanding of the role of the Louisa County Broadband Authority is apparent throughout his article. The Broadband Authority is composed of volunteer citizens that have been appointed to advise the Board of Supervisors on matters related to broadband within the County.
Contrary to Mr. Fabling’s claims, the Broadband Authority does not have the legal rights to enter into contracts or spend money. County leaders - NOT the Broadband Authority - administered the contract to build the broadband towers.
After the Board of Supervisors approved the tower-construction contract, the tower project became part of the Louisa County Capital Improvement Program administered by County officials.
Therefore, Mr. Fabling’s attacks on the Broadband Authority were misdirected.
Editor’s note: This letter was originally submitted to the Central Virginian for their August 8th edition, as a rebuttal to a letter the previous week from one of Toni Williams supporters and was denied because it’s not the CV’s policy to publish letters from active political candidates.
Often as residential and commercial developments have occurred across our country, land investors and developers have bought rural land on speculation. They rezone their properties, then build homes, apartments, stores and office buildings.
Investors often reap tremendous profits by such re-zonings and the subsequent developments that follow. No doubt, there’s much hard work, luck, and funds invested for developers to earn their rewards. But many times taxpayers have been left to pay for the capital cost burdens this growth brings: new roads and improvements, more classrooms, school buses, police cruisers, recreational facilities and parks, fire houses and trucks.
Zion Crossroads, thanks to its water and sewer infrastructure, a catalyst for development, is now experiencing a massive spike in growth. The county currently is considering three large-scale development proposals that would build approximately 1,200 residential units at Zion.
Much planning has gone into each proposal. But one aspect has been largely ignored in all three applications: the costs to the county for capital improvements. Yes, the costs for overlooked, forgotten, or ignored new roads/road improvements, classrooms, buses, police cruisers, ladder fire trucks that will be needed if these proposals are approved. And these costs are not insignificant.
Taxpayers must insist now before the rezoning applications are considered for approval that county officials do their job. They must hold developers accountable for their fair share of these largely yet undetermined costs. This accountability must be codified in the county’s written approval of large-scale growth proposals to define clearly and bind legally all stakeholders to their financial responsibilities.
Otherwise, several years later, while sitting in traffic jams with multiple cycle traffic light delays while our children attend overcrowded schools and our law enforcement officers or fire and rescue personnel can’t reach us in time to prevent a tragedy, we Louisa citizens will wonder: How did this happen? Who will pay to fix it?
If the developers refuse to help shoulder the burden their growth will bring, perhaps they should be told their proposals are too costly for Louisa. What happens at Zion will impact all of Louisa. We taxpayers and voters will be watching.
Editor’s Note: this op-ed originally appeared in the August 1st edition of the Central Virginian, and is re-posted here with the author’s permission.
While the subject of ®esident45’s mental health has been a concern before he was elected, and throughout his time in office, and most reasonable people recognize that his antics are how a raging narcissist behaves, his recent actions have raised those concerns to 5-alarm fire levels.
Over the past two months, there have been numerous public examples of his mental and physical decline, and invoking the 25th amendment to remove him for office is necessary. Under normal circumstances, that process would start with the Vice President, and members of the cabinet. However, these are not normal times, because Orange Julius has filled his cabinet full of ideologues, sycophants and yes men, and Vice President Pence is as spineless as they come.
So by default, it becomes Congresses responsibility under section 4 of the 25th Amendment to create a “disability review body” which would rule on the Presidents disability. To be clear, we’re not talking about impeachment for “treason, bribery, and other high crimes and misdemeanors,” but removing him from office because he’s unable to perform the most basic executive functions without being constantly stage handled.
Having a figurehead serving as president is unfortunately, something this country has seen before.
First, with Woodrow Wilson incapacitated by a stroke, and most recently with Ronald Reagan suffering with Alzheimer’s for the better part of two terms. Considering the Mango Mussolini’s family history with Alzheimer’s, and his actions so far, there are legitimate concerns that he is a prime candidate for his following his father into the inescapable labyrinth of dementia.
Given his unusual physical mannerisms, and behavior during recent public appearances, it’s likely that he’s showing signs of a form of dementia called frontotemporal dementia. What’s not debatable is his narcissistic and infantile behavior, which if allowed to continue unchecked, will leave us with a poltergeist ®esident at the helm of the world’s largest economic and military power. Something, the people of this country and this world can ill afford.
Even more so than the circumstances surrounding Reagan’s presidency, his enablers in the White House and power brokers financing the ® Party will continue to manipulate and use him, allowing him to literally fall to the ground in the later stages of dementia before they will acknowledge there’s even a problem, because he’s their “useful idiot.”
To be even clearer, the 25th amendment process must start when Congress resumes this fall, not at some politically convenient time that won't interfere with the 2020 campaigns, or even during (gasp) during his second term. At this point, discerning and skeptical readers should be saying, “so where’s your evidence for invoking the 25th amendment?”
Especially, since these alarmist claims seem little removed from the video’s that everyone from conspiracy sites to British tabloids were circulating as “proof" that Hillary Clinton was at deaths doorstep during the 2016 campaign. And this is where the notion of “who are you going to believe, me or you lying eyes,” and the vast differences in people’s perceptions comes into play.
Some will look at these recent pictures and videos of our ®esident and promptly dismiss them as “fake news,” while other will say, “I didn't know what I was looking at.”
Figure 1- Leaning and using others to “balance” himself with the classic spread feet, butt back, forward leaning, arms out posture
Figure 2 -Leaning forward hanging on to the podium using his body to balance himself.
Figure 3 - When Trump sits on a chair, he not as many people would interpret this body language, “asserting his dominance,” he’s sitting on the edge to spread his weight between his butt and his legs. If he sat back in an over-stuffed chair, he would move about with obvious twitching and writhing, and is compensating for that by leaning forward to brace himself
Figure 4 - Sitting at his desk, feet pressed to the floor, butt on the edge of the chair, using his left arm, palm flat on the desk to braces himself.
As his unsteady gait, rigid body posture, muscle weakness and twitchy mannerisms become more noticeable, expect to see him appear less and less frequently in public, and future senior moment videos like this one with Nobel Prize recipient Nadia Murad edited out. Particularly videos like this one with Buzz Aldrin commemorating the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, where he repeatedly looks to his handlers for cues.
While there clearly are two divergent reactions to the same information, these differences are largely attributable to how people perceive the world around them, on one side are folks capable of changing their existing “opinions” based on new evidence, because they are grounded in tangible reality.
On the other side, are those who will cling to their beliefs no matter what new information they might encounter, with multiple studies showing that these divergences between “liberals” and “conservatives” are measurable and attributable to differences in how they manage fear.
While a certain amount of fear is reasonable and indeed healthy, for example; should a lion suddenly walk into your living room, only a complete fool wouldn’t be fearful and make every effort to avoid becoming dinner. According to these studies, what most conservatives dread, is rarely this tangible, it’s a entirely different kind of apprehension.
A fear that the world is not as they imagine it to be, and when faced with a world which rarely conforms to those preconceptions it's no great leap of logic to understand why their first and often only “rationale” for why the world doesn’t match their preconceptions is that “something or someone is preventing it.”
As rationalizations go, it’s hard to beat “it’s not your fault, its all [fill in the blank] fault,” as the reason why the world isn’t the way you think it should be. Like “faith” in most western religions, it’s a mindset which can never be disproved, because it only exists is in ones imagination.
For many conservatives, the downside of their blanket acceptance of a “faith based” worldview is that it leaves them highly susceptible to the messages of demagogues, particularly those who preach that blaming others for everything under the sun is acceptable. And in following these messages, it often sets them on a lifelong journey down one rabbit hole after another forever chasing the next scapegoat and bogeyman.
In that regard, Hillary Clinton completely failed to grasp how the so called “deplorables,” view themselves. In their minds, they were not being racist, sexist and homophobic because they supported an even worse presidential candidate, they’re simply “wretched refugees” adrift in a sea of liberal socialism desperately searching for magical solutions … I mean validity.
Should Congress decide not to invoke the 25th amendment, we shouldn’t count on the pundit class or the lamestream media to stay focused on the fact that the ®esident is unfit for office and should be removed ASAP. It will be up to concerned citizens around the country to keep repeating this message, ®esident45’s is sick and is unfit to be in office.
Words, which will no doubt enrage him, spurring him on to even more bizarre behavior, but it will be a message that will turn off some of his supporters, who like their idol will have no sympathy for a sick, weak, old “loser” man. While that may strike some as being unnecessarily mean spirited, it’s where we are as a society, either we resist this administrations growing fascism with every means at our disposal, or we will be consumed by it.
Special Counsel Mueller’s testimony before two congressional committees last week starkly described Russian interference in the American 2016 elections. Wikileaks released Democratic Party emails stolen by Russian government hackers. Mueller noted there were signs of Russian targeting of state voting systems, with the expectation that the American public would lose confidence in its ballot. Mueller put a huge number on the fake Facebook groups and messages as the Russians flooded social media with false news reports and incendiary political ads designed to boost Trump’s campaign.
One of the great American stories is its immigrant tradition. America, the beacon of freedom. Americans take pride in the Statue of Liberty and the poem by Emma Lazarus—a symbol recognized throughout the world. Remember the student demonstrators in Tiananmen Square in June 1989 made their own Statue of Liberty to represent their hopes and dreams.
Since the founding of America, its leaders were aware of its diversity. That’s why America’s motto is e pluribus unum. The Constitution was written with diversity in mind. The 2004 book “The Island at the Center of the World” by Russell Shorto describes the religious, racial and ethnic diversity that was already in place in the 17th century Dutch colony of New Amsterdam. Diversity has been here all the time.
However, our diversity has not always been honored. Ask Japanese-Americans interned during WWII; ask the Chinese who built America’s railroads and faced the Chinese Exclusion Act, which was not changed until well into the 20th century. Ask the Greeks and Italians who faced discrimination in more recent times. The list is long and domestic forces are making it longer.
There has been much immigration legislation submitted in the U.S. Congress in the last two decades, but little has gathered the necessary bipartisan consensus needed to pass. As time passes anti-immigrant rhetoric has become more vicious. Current U.S. leaders justify deporting perhaps millions of people by describing Hispanics here illegally as rapists, murderers, and gang members. Yet the rhetoric often doesn’t match the mothers, husbands, and grandparents who are being stigmatized and deported. The Russians see an opportunity to distract America, a sprawling, diverse nation with a long history of ethnic assimilation, from finding creative solutions for a strong immigration regime and secure borders.
Much of what America has done in the last two years follows the path of dehumanizing immigrants and attacking them with uncaring cruelty. The Trump administration has verbally obliterated the difference between legal asylum seekers and random border-crossers. People are denied long-accepted rights; U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents put people of all ages in cages and unsanitary, even unhealthy situations. These conditions bring to mind the fact that Anne Frank didn’t die in the gas chambers; she died of typhus in an overcrowded concentration camp. Leaders of any country play a major role in setting the tone, defining the hopes, and encouraging basic human decency for their societies. This is particularly true in the United States, a nation that takes pride in the assertion, “...all men are created equal ... that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” The Mueller Report suggests Russians want to undermine the American dream. Today internal forces awaken fears with derogatory stereotypes, and Russia stokes the flames.
Dr. King stirred the soul talking about his dream for a diverse nation. As we approach another November election, are there any who have a different hope than the Charlottesville chant, “Jews will not replace us?” Any who lift their eyes rather than bow their head? Perhaps in the quiet of the polling booth, some will dream the dream of hope. Otherwise the Russians have a plan for us.
Editor’s Note: This op-ed originally appeared in the Culpeper Star Exponent and has been re-posted here with the author’s permission.
As chairman of the Black Caucus of the Hanover County Democratic Committee, I am concerned about the Hanover County Board of Supervisors’ very anemic response to the Ku Klux Klan’s appearance and protest in Hanover.
With the exception of Supervisor Faye Prichard, those of you who responded didn’t seem too concerned that Hanover was the place the Klan picked to demonstrate and asked for membership support and those with no response, well “the silence was deafening”.
Bigotry and disdain for any human being is like a cancer and it eats at the core of our inalienable and God-given rights as our Constitution’s 9th Amendment so states the concept of “inalienable rights”.
The Ku Klux Klan ideas represent a deadly poisonous venom spewed on black and people of color and there is no place in Hanover County or America for this deep-rooted hatred because of the color of anyone’s skin.
Our nation thrived on diversification and will continue to do so. We fought that war and “WON” -- it ended May 9, 1865; this is 2019.
We, as Americans have too many issues to deal with these immoral and hateful acts and we will continue to stand and fight against theses vile forms of oppression.
We support the Hanover NAACP’s call on the Hanover County Board of Supervisors to speak out against racism and inequality and replace it’s cavalier message with one of dignity, moral character and support for all of the people they serve, all people of Hanover County.
Sandra R. Howard Chairman Black Caucus, HDC
Editor’s Note: this op-ed originally appeared in the July 16th edition of the Hanover-Mechanicsville section of the Richmond Times Dispatch, and has been re-posted here with the author’s permission.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.