Stinging rebuke to local GOP lawmakers

How about that ringing endorsement of 25th District Republican Del. Steve Landes’ effort to inject partisan politics into the special session of the Virginia General Assembly on Wednesday?
The Republican-majority House of Delegates voted 82-7 to limit the legislation to come before the session to the matter at hand cited by Gov. Tim Kaine in calling it, to deal with the fallout of the Melendez-Diaz Supreme Court decision as it pertains to evidentiary matters in criminal cases.

Five of the seven votes against the limitation came from Central Shenandoah Valley Republicans – Landes, 15th District Del. Todd Gilbert, 20th District Del. Chris Saxman, 24th District Del. Ben Cline and 26th District Del. Matt Lohr.

The other four were backing the Landes gambit to inject into the special session legislation that called for the immediate reopening of 19 rest stops closed this summer under a cost-savings plan implemented by the Virginia Department of Transportation.

The move was all politics – the quintet has tried to raise partisan hay from the rest-stop issue with little apparent success, to my ability to read into things.

My recollection is that I haven’t heard from a single person upset with the rest-stop closures even with local and state Republicans trying to stir the pot. Republican gubernatorial nominee Bob McDonnell has also been outspoken on the issue, and included provisions for reopening the closed rest stops in a tourism plan that he unveiled last week.

Funny thing about the hubbub they’re trying to create is that the very people raising the issue are the ones who have been voting consistently with the Republican majority in the House to block efforts to increase transportation funding that have effectively landed us where we are on the transportation front – from the basics of not having money in the VDOT budget to keep up with fundamental maintenance needs to the specifics of the stand-down on the HOT lanes project in Northern Virginia.

We’re billions of dollars behind on transportation, and when push comes to shove every February and March in Richmond we hear from the likes of Landes, Lohr, Cline, et al, that what we really need to do is make VDOT more efficient and streamlined and leaner and meaner and the rest.

And then when VDOT comes out with something oriented toward efficiency and streamlining and leanness and meanness as in closing underutilized rest stops, well, we can’t have that, because some of those underutilized rest stops are in our districts.

Reminds me of how our local Republican delegation is all in favor of public-private partnerships including toll roads to get transportation-improvement projects done until it comes to the talk of going public-private with a tolling plan to widen Interstate 81.

It’s all well and good to toe the partisan line until it affects me in my backyard.

Kudos to the Virginia GOP for seeing through the issues that our shortsighted local GOP lawmakers have with their belief systems.

It must be a lonely feeling getting rebuked by a vast majority of your own party on something like that.

 

– Column by Chris Graham