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Ken Plum: it will take more than magic

A hobby I pursue infrequently is performing magic tricks. Recently I did a magic show for preschoolers to help the United Christian Parish Preschool that my wife Jane directs raise money to improve the preschool library.

As I explained to my eager audience, magic can make the seemingly impossible take place. When the children were insistent that sticking a balloon with a needle would cause it to pop, they held their ears as I inserted a long needle in one side and out the other side of a transparent balloon. When I removed the needle, I told them they were right all along, and I popped the balloon by pricking it with the same needle. Part of the fun of performing magic is in knowing the secret technique, sleight-of-hand, or apparatus that makes what appears to be magic happen.

There is no sleight-of-hand or trickery that will help in my regular duties as a member of the House of Delegates, although some members continue to act as though there may be. Responses to our transportation challenges have been more illusionary than real in recent years.

A seminar sponsored last week by the Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance (NVTA) entitled, “What Everyone Needs to Know about Transportation Funding,” promised “just the facts.” Actually the facts on transportation funding are well known, having been discussed thoroughly by NVTA President Bob Chase in an article in the Fall 2010 edition of Virginia Issues and Answers from Virginia Tech ( As the career professional Commissioner of VDOT expressed it at the seminar, “VDOT does not have the money to do its job.” As Bob Chase expressed it in his article, “the need for new, dedicated, reliable transportation funding is paramount and undeniable.”

Some of Gov. McDonnell’s tricks to fund transportation like offshore oil drilling and selling the ABC stores have been shown not to be viable. Recent discussions on the issue seem to be more magic show patter than real solutions. In the end, there is no magic solution. What is needed is what Bob Chase refers to in his article as “political will.”

Ken Plum is a member of the Virginia House of Delegates.