By Dan Redick, Virginia New Majority, Richmond Chapter member
Early in the 21st Century my wife and I were touring Northern California by camper van when we decided to take a day’s excursion to Eureka, California. Nestled at the foot of some of the more rugged coastal mountains of California, Eureka’s position on Humboldt Bay made it a natural shipping point for the lumber industry fed by the forested slopes leading away from the Pacific. As we looked at the setting on the map and read about the area, it seemed worthy of our exploration for neat and interesting places to visit, or even live.
As we crested a last hill before descending to the town below, we could see most of the bay was obscured by what at first appeared to be fog, not an unusual occurrence in California in the summer. As we got closer, it became apparent that what we were really seeing was “smaze”, a term TV weather forecasters came up with so they didn’t have to say “smog” on the air. As we pulled into a grocery store parking lot to replenish supplies, we quickly discovered why “smaze” and smog are the same.
Our first breath of the outside air irritated our throats, nasal passages and lungs. Our eyes burned and watered. There was a distinct acrid odor to the air. My wife wondered aloud what was causing such an awful air problem. My memory had been stirring from the first whiff until I remembered from many years previously the pulp mill in Canton, NC, where I had once visited. Through pursed lips and semi-held breath I blurted out “pulp mill” and motioned we should get into the store quickly. We did and while we shopped we marveled at how few of the people we encountered seemed to be affected by the abysmal air quality. The Evergreen Pulp Mill of Eureka would later be forced to pay hefty court-ordered fines for spewing pollutants into the air and lungs of the surrounding area. Continue reading
A poem by Kelvina Mitchell,
VNM member from Petersburg, VA
Tryna get up out this system.
Want to talk, but won’t nobody listen.
Guess that just the hand that I was given
Saw all the flaws of the previous generation
Yet I still wind up slippin
Even if I make one mistake
In this system, ones never forgiven
Tryna find some light to livin
So like everyone else here
I’ll just turn to religion
Tryna get the hell up out this system
Cause these teachers man,
They aint even tryna listen
If I express myself
They take it like I’m dissin
Sh*t need their permission just to take a piss and
Why you judgin me on how I dress
Not tryna conform
So forget you and ya wishes
Man im so tired of this system
Been dependent on it for a minute
Cant see me surviving if im not in it
Don’t know how I can feed my kids
Or keep up on my rent and
They wont let me have a man
So I just forget it
Accept things for the way they are
And just keep on livin
But forreal I haven’t been happy for a while
And around tax time, is the only time I smile
For the rest of the time I just work hard
Maybe like 1 or 2 side jobs
Not really tryna mess up my benefits
So I just settle for this sh*t.
I refuse to be a victim of this system
Shut the hell up, cuz you really need to listen
Been livin by these ways for minute
From school, welfare, even to the prison
Got us so enslaved
We fear whats different
Not fueling creativity and possibilities,
Rather do what he says, and what she sees
What kind of person can you really be
If your reality is based off of tv?
Lift off the veil so you can really see
That were trapped in this world of conformity.
So hold on to all your dreams and ambition
And search for the truth, to help find your mission.
Jeff Elkner (middle) with his wife Roxana Alfaro and son Louis.
by Jeff Elkner
My wife, Roxana, my son, Louie, and I are Arlington Virginia New Majority chapter members, and we attended the first VNM statewide members meeting of VNM in the state capitol building in Richmond on Saturday. What an inspiring day! We were so proud to join the fightback for a fair and free Virginia!
Highlights of the incredible day for me include: Continue reading
Originally posted at Progress|VA.
Conservative lawmakers did not waste any time in getting partisan legislative proposals started for the next session that starts in January. Some controversial proposals are already public, just two weeks since the election, and they include:
- Ending Criminal Background Checks for Gun Purchases – The Virginian-Pilot reports, “Gun-rights advocates have lobbied Gov. Bob McDonnell to scrap the program… Efforts to cancel the state’s 22-year-old background check system… could be debated in the upcoming General Assembly session.” This will likely be just one of many pro-gun proposals from conservatives.
- Undoing Compromise Redistricting – Conservatives led by Republican Leader Tommy Norment would redo this year’s Virginia State Senate and House redistricting to be more favorable to Republicans. (Virginia Gazette) Conservatives are also trying to stall Congressional redistricting until January, in order to pass a map that will protect their 8 – 3 Republican Congressional majority and eliminate the creation of a second minority seat. (Washington Post)
- Conservative Immigration Policy - New legislation, and legislation copied from other states, will have significant anti-immigrant impacts on Virginia law enforcement, businesses, social and medical services, education, and housing. (Change Servant)
- Anti-Union Legislation – Del. Marshall has filed a bill to prohibit state revenue for the Dulles metro project if there is a project labor agreement. (VA Legislative Information System) Senate candidate George Allen also recently voiced opposition to Project Labor Agreements. (Progressive Point)
- Removing a Ban on Uranium Mining – Conservative lawmakers will likely help the uranium industry remove Virginia’s 30-year ban on uranium mining in the Commonwealth. (Keep the Ban)
- Exempting VA Coal Companies from the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, and All Federal Regulations – Last year, conservatives passed legislation in the House of Delegates that would exempt any products mined, manufactured, or produced in any other way and sold in Virginia from all federal regulations. That means coal companies would be exempt from the Clean Water Act and utilities would be exempt from the Clean Air Act if they were burning coal mined in Virginia. (Virginia Chapter Sierra Club) This will very likely be put forward again in January.
- Major Budget Cuts and Layoffs – Gov. McDonnell will soon submit a budget that will likely include layoffs and cuts of up to 6% for Virginia agencies, as well as many changes disingenuously labeled “reforms” from McDonnell’s commission that excluded Democratic members. (Richmond Times Dispatch Oct. 28, 2011; Richmond Times Dispatch Nov. 20, 2011)
Also likely to return is a proposal to change pension plans from defined-benefit to defined-contribution–a conservative plan to hand over teachers and firefighters’ retirement accounts to Wall Street for them to gamble away. (Virginian-Pilot) We can expect many other conservative legislative proposals, such as school vouchers, anti-transparency measures, and a right-to-work constitutional amendment.
Following Republican gains in Virginia’s State Senate and House, conservative lawmakers believe they will be able to force through ideological and controversial bills that had previously been stopped by the State Senate. These proposals are not in the best interest of Virginians and we cannot allow them to become law because we weren’t paying attention.