Virginia’s previous governor was a Republican. Accordingly, one of his core beliefs, as illustrated through his actions, was that there is no such thing as the public good.
When he looked at a big pile of public good, he saw dollar signs, something to be monetized, not something to be husbanded with stewardship. He saw the bridges and tunnels which for years had been free to cross and heard the ring of cash registers (remember cash registers?). He imposed tolls and sold the tolling rights to a private firm for 70 years because God forbid that government should provide services to citizens, when instead it can bleed them dry.
In a long report in today’s issue, my local rag documents the toll of the tolls. Here’s a snippet from the story of one the persons interviewed for the report (emphasis added).
Takeisha Reynolds owes more than $15,000 for commuting to a job that paid $11,000 last year.
She bought an E-ZPass transponder three years ago, when Elizabeth River Crossings began tolling the underwater tubes that link her home in Portsmouth to work in Norfolk. But she wasn’t making enough money to fund the account. A few months later, she faced a choice: tame the flurry of tolls, or pay for groceries, gas and rent.
The ERC invoices piled up fast. What started as a stack of small bills – $10, $20, $30 – became an impossible debt.
“It was already hard for me without tolls to pay for regular bills. Then you put this on me and tell me I have to pay this or I can’t go to work,” Reynolds said as she sifted through a drawer stuffed with statements. “I’m just stuck.”
Words fail me.
Writing in The Roanoke Times, Dale Eisman skewers George “Defending the Indefensible” Will’s attempt to defend the Regent’s appeal of having been found guilty of being on the take. A snippet (emphasis added):
Will argues that prosecutors misunderstand “the dynamics of democracy” and have stretched the definition of corruption to cover courtesies that elected officials always grant to their donors and supporters. The columnist concedes that McDonnell accepted “unseemly” gifts from diet supplement hustler Jonnie Williams and provided Williams with special access to state officials, but dismisses their dealings as just part of the “transactional business” of democratic politics.
This everybody-does-it argument has been the heart of McDonnell’s defense since his indictment two years ago. It didn’t work on the jury that listened to five weeks worth of evidence against McDonnell or on judges of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, who twice refused to overturn his convictions.
The Regent has one strike left.
The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has turned down former Gov. Bob McDonnell’s request for a rehearing on his 11 corruption convictions.
A three-judge panel of the Richmond-based appeals court upheld the convictions on July 10, holding in part that McDonnell: “received a fair trial and was duly convicted by a jury of his fellow Virginians.
Next stop: Washington and the big stage of the Supreme Court.
Maybe he should have worn a badge.
Former Gov. Bob McDonnell’s pension benefits can be taken away based on a law he signed while governor, according to a legal opinion issued Friday by Attorney General Mark Herring.
A jury in September found McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, guilty of doing favors for former Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams in exchange for more than $165,000 in gifts and loans. The couple have been sentenced to prison but are currently free on appeals.
Governor McAuliffe, who has been a much better governor than most folks expected, has been putting off a decision.
More at the link.
The Regent probably figured, as did Richard Nixon, that the laws were for the little people.
As my local rag points out, it’s still taking a toll. Here’s a bit (emphasis added):
For every public-private partnership designed to save the state money by leveraging private-sector efficiencies, there is a proposal that seeks nothing more than to insert public money into private pockets.
Many of the nation’s biggest public-private projects (supported by immensely complex webs of public and private investment), are foremost financial and investment instruments.
If you can get a government, as (ex-Governor and convicted influence peddler–ed.) McDonnell did on the Elizabeth River tunnels, to commit to outrageous terms like a 13.5 percent average annual profit, or a yearly elevator on tolls of 3.5 percent or more, all protected by a clause that forces the state to pay if it builds anything that diverts traffic, you’ve helped created a remarkably safe and lucrative financial instrument.
That comes, in this instance, at the expense of people who have no choice but to use the Downtown or Midtown tunnels, where tolls are due to rise to $1.87 per car and $7.36 per truck in 2017 and to keep on rising for decades.
Dan Casey highlights the hypocrisy. The article defies excerpting or summary.
Just read it.
I’ve been wondering whether something like this would happen.
The Virginia State Bar announced today it has suspended former Gov. Bob McDonnell’s law license effective Jan. 29.
The bar’s Disciplinary Board decided the suspension as a result of McDonnell’s conviction on 11 federal corruption charges, according to a public notice. His license was already administratively suspended because McDonnell hasn’t paid his dues since mid-October 2014, it said.
Six former Virginia attorneys general — four of them Democrats — are asking the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for permission to file a brief supporting former Gov. Bob McDonnell’s request for release pending the outcome of his appeal.
One more time:
Had he been done for shoplifting a package of Cheetos from a Cumberland Farms, he’d be wearing orange and living in solitary and never heard from again. All he did was sell out the pubic trust for a Rolex and a ride in a Ferrari, not at all comparable to lifting a bag of Cheetos, but he’s white, wears nice suits, has a square jaw, and looks good in meetings.
Also, no doubt, he has “suffered enough“(tm).
To quote the likely apochryphal words of the Emperor Augustine,
Words fail me. Nothing I could say could express the depth of my feelings on this matter.
A federal judge has denied former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell’s request to remain free while he appeals his corruption convictions.
Of course, had he shoplifted a six from a 7-11, he would have been locked up long ago. All he did was sell the public trust for a Rolex.
No doubt further appeals are in the offing, as he’s white, Republican, and wears nice suits.
When you are white and Republican and “’a good and decent man’ who served in the military,” sentencing guidelines go out the window, regardless of how much public trust you violated or how many wives you threw under the bus.
The Regent plays his
white male Republican Get Out of Jail Free card.
After all, accountability is for those people, if you know what I mean.
One of my neighbors said to me the other day, “My old neighborhood was getting dark, if you know what I mean.” I knew.
“Tis awards season, and Dan Casey has posted his list of the 2014 Dano Awards winners. A snippet:
There’s absolutely no doubt about who deserves the Dano for “Suffering Husband of the Year.” That would be former Gov. Bob McDonnell, and it’s well supported by his and others’ sworn testimony during McDonnell’s corruption trial last summer.
The linchpin of McDonnell’s defense was to paint his wife (and former Redskins cheerleader) Maureen as an insecure but covetous social climber and shopaholic who bagged a generous sugar daddy, Jonnie Williams, on election night 2009.
A litany of brand-name luxury ensued, punctuated by a Rolex watch, an Oscar de la Renta gown, a $5,000 bottle of Louis XIII cognac, fancy vacations and a borrowed Ferrari. The booty they scored totaled at least $165,000.
Unfortunately for the ex-governor, the “crazy wife” defense didn’t work and both he and the missus seem headed for federal prison.
Pap and others discuss the fall of the Regent.
The Congressman probably should have stayed home.
Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!
There is tragedy in this. I am convinced that, to the end, they will be convinced of their virtue, that they were indeed entitled to these things because they were entitled to these things.
Eugene Robinson recognizes the Regent’s Republican Family Values. A nugget:
How far would you go to stay out of jail? Would you publicly humiliate your wife of 38 years, portraying her as some kind of shrieking harridan? Would you put the innermost secrets of your marriage on display, inviting voyeurs to rummage at will?
For Robert McDonnell, the former Virginia governor on trial for alleged corruption, the answers appear to be: “As far as necessary,” “Hey, why not?” and “Sounds like a plan.”