Local Commentary

Bob Hull’s Richmond Report

To What End?  You may not realize it, but the Virginia General Assembly is still in special session, although we have not had a session in some weeks.

You will recall that we were called back into special session after adjourning the regular session in March without approving a full two-year budget for the first time in history.

It was not until the last day of the fiscal year on June 30 that the

Governor had a final budget to sign. Included in it was new transportation funding with a catch.

A little over $300 million was set aside for roads and rail “a totally inadequate sum” as long as the General Assembly met before November 1 to finalize the details.

We will go into session on Monday, after an annual budget briefing by the Governor, to make technical changes to the budget. But, there has been no agreement on the transportation session.

It may happen in mid-September, it may occur the following week, or it may be October before we meet. Or, it may not happen at all.

The Senate leadership is saying that they will not even convene unless the House passes legislation for a statewide plan with new funding sources. The House GOP leadership, however, refuses to consider any increase in taxes, sees no need for statewide plan, and does not feel that Virginians are worried about transportation.

At the same time, Northern Virginia Republicans are said to be working on a plan for this region only which, from what I have heard of its ever changing nature, sounds inadequate.

So, my question is this: Why meet at all if there is no consensus on even having a final product?

Galax Revisited

Among the highlights of the Old Fiddler’s Convention, which I reviewed last week, were the adult bluegrass and old time bands that included kids.

One example was a group known as "Paw Paw’s Pride," consisting of a bass-playing grandfather and his six grandchildren, ranging in age from six to 14.

The fiddler, 11-year old Aaron, said that she had performed at six straight conventions. She was the featured performer in the group and received great applause.

Among the many bands are those in which the performers do not take themselves too seriously. One such group was from Richmond called "Special Ed in the Short Bus."

I saw them last year, too, and they appear to be VCU music majors who play a different kind of music, which the audience came to appreciate.

Using guitar, bass, mandolin, fiddle, banjo, and washboard, they started with classical music and ended with a Klesmer sounding bluegrass.

Another favorite was "Kill-Basa Bill’s Road Show," led by guitar-playing Bill Guthrie, who was dressed in a full length red duster and cowboy hat.

Tie-dyed outfits, including the tie-dyed overalls of the bass player, who said that this was his 33rd convention, dominated the garb of the other band members.

They played a tune that I heard them perform last year, which the audience found very popular, called "I Met My Baby in The Porta-Potty Line."

Please Get it Straight

It is bad enough that the students and staff of Virginia’s great land grant institution went through a harrowing experience this week involving a killer on the run.

But, neither the News-Press nor The Washington Post seems to know enough about Virginia to get the institution’s name straight.

There is no such thing as "Virginia Tech University," the name both newspapers incorrectly used in brief stories last week.

The official nick name of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University is Virginia Tech. Nothing more and nothing less.

This shows the same lack of knowledge as I have seen in print and heard on radio and television about "The University of Virginia at Charlottesville."

Virginia does not have a unified university system, as in North Carolina or California, with the same university name in multiple cities. There is only one University of Virginia.

Just like there is only one Harvard University and only one Virginia Tech. Sola-Rex, Sola-Rah.