Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Infamous Gentleman from Statewide is at it Again

It hasn’t even been one month since the conclusion of the General Assembly, but our favorite minority leader is at it again.  With visions of sugarplums dancing in his head, Ward Armstrong has his heart set on running for statewide office.

At the Piedmont Democratic Women’s Club breakfast this past Saturday, Minority Leader Ward Armstrong gave a legislative update to those in attendance.  When asked about his ambitions for the future, he responded, “Maybe governor. I’m also interested in the work of the attorney general.”
Does he really need to be the one in the Governor’s Mansion in order to create jobs through improvements in transportation and education?!!?  Really?!?  Didn’t the General Assembly, with bipartisan support, just pass the Governor’s  transportation and education bills?!

This guy really doesn’t get it.
Although Ward claims that he is “focusing on redistricting,” his eyes are obviously set on bigger things, like statewide office.  Instead of building and strengthening his own party this past year, he’s been too busy railing against AEP across Southwestern Virginia, holding Town Halls (mostly out of his own district) and criticizing the General Assembly and the Governor.  Instead of focusing on building and strengthening his own party, he has abandoned it for his own dream of higher office. 
Armstrong admits that he will have to make his decision by the end of the year for a 2014 Governor’s run.  It is hard to imagine that the members of his caucus will stop him from running, that way they can find new leadership and stop the sinking ship that is the House Democratic Caucus.
To read the article, click here.

For now, let’s leave you with a clip from the 2010 session that made us all laugh, “The gentlemen from statewide, Mr. Armstrong…"

Monday, March 7, 2011

This Is Just Plain Sad .....

Just when we thought the shamed Minority Leader Ward Armstrong might get a slight reprieve from being highlighted on this blog for at least a couple of weeks ... the Richmond Times-Dispatch Politifact provides us with something so good ... We just cannot help myself from piling on once again.

Ward Armstrong says the telecom bill could hurt electric utility regulation

House Minority Leader Ward Armstrong has been battling with Virginia’s largest electric utilities for more than a year.

During the last week of the recently-concluded General Assembly session, that fight spilled into the debate on a telecommunications bill. Armstrong, D-Henry, was irked by several provisions in the legislation designed to modernize regulation as the state moves from a monopoly utility system to a new environment with many competitors.

Armstrong, who is exploring a run for statewide office in 2013, charged in a fiery floor speech on Feb. 21 that the bill would allow phone companies to refuse to run new landlines if there was an alternative for customers, such as using cell phone service. He also railed that the State Corporation Commission was worried the legislation could hinder its ability to regulate electric utilities.

Although the bill was approved by the General Assembly and is now on Gov. Bob McDonnell’s desk, the acrimony did not die. Several Republicans publicly accused Armstrong of spreading false information on the House floor. Armstrong, in return, defended his remarks.

So we looked at both of Armstrong’s charges.

Armstrong, in thundering floor speech, compared the regulation bill to a ticking time bomb.

"Let me quote the SCC report. ‘If this legislation, SB 1368, would limit such record keeping only to companies required to file rate of return statements annually, this could adversely impact the commission’s ability to get necessary rate of return information from electric utilities such as Dominion Virginia Power and Appalachian Power.’

"Where did that come from?" he demanded, "Where did that little nugget appear, that we’re going to allow Dominion and Appalachian not to submit rate of return information?"

The SCC regulates Virginia’s public utilities, including electric companies and certain segments of the telephone industry. The report Armstrong quoted was prepared by the SCC’s Division of Communications and released Jan. 24.

As Armstrong said, regulators initially had concerns about rate of return language. Electric utility regulation is complicated, but the SCC explains it this way: Regulated companies like ApCo and Dominion are allowed to "recover through their rates their ‘reasonable and prudent’ operating expenses, plus a ‘fair’ rate of return (profit) on their ‘rate base,’ which is the value of their capital investment in things like generating stations and the distribution grid."

Ensuring a fair rate of return requires lots of information on expenses, investments and other activities at the utilities, so there are rules ensuring the electric companies keep the detailed records needed by regulators. The SCC initially worried this law would undermine those rules.

So the SCC brought its concerns to the House Committee on Commerce and Labor, where the bill was being debated. The panel amended the bill on Feb. 3 to state: "All public utilities doing business in the Commonwealth that file rate of return statements shall ... maintain all records necessary to prepare and submit annually a rate of return statement."

William Irby, director of the SCC’s Division of Communications, told us the amendment satisfied his department’s concerns. "Rate of return is not affected by this bill," he said.

Armstrong’s speech pointing to the SCC’s concerns came on Feb. 21 -- almost three weeks after the concerns he was citing had been addressed.

Claire Wilker, Armstrong’s chief of staff, said her boss first learned about the change after his floor speech. She said nobody told Armstrong that the SCC’s concerns had been addressed in committee and that corrections had been made.

"We were pleased to find out that rate of return had been corrected," she said. "That’s a positive."

But Armstrong, speaking the day after he was supposedly corrected, said "I don’t make any apologies when I stand up for the people of my district and for the people of this state."

He also said he would not apologize for sending out an e-mail that repeated the incorrect information on electric utilities.

Let’s review the record and put this debate to rest.

Ward Armstrong told the entire House of Delegates that a telecom bill could undo important regulations on electric utilities. And though he cited a report from the SCC, he spoke on the bill nearly three weeks after the regulatory body’s concerns about the issue were addressed by a House Committee.

This is the second time during the 2011 session Armstrong has used faulty or outdated information during floor speeches about electric utilities. On the last occasion, regarding incorrectly stated utility rate increases, we gave him the benefit of the doubt because the error involved data sent by the SCC to Armstrong.

There are no excuses this time around. Any delegate speaking about a bill on the House floor should know what the legislation says, especially when changes occurred nearly three weeks before his remarks.

We rate Armstrong’s statement False. (Again ...)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

VA FREE Made a Typo

Earlier this week I received an interesting invite from Clayton Roberts, the Executive Director for VA FREE, announcing their Leadership Luncheon up in Northern Virginia on Monday, May 23rd.

Funny thing about that is it just so happens to land on the same day as the Annual House Majority Republican Retreat, where all 61 members of the Virginia House Republican Caucus will be. Now I don't want to say that Clayton Roberts intentionally picked this date, but he was made well aware beforehand that no one from the House Republican Majority Caucus would attend on that date.

Attention Clayton Roberts!!! ... It seems as though an organization that prides itself on supposedly being:

Objective, non-partisan and unflinching.
Highly effective and widely respected.

might want to re-read their tag-line again and show a slight bit of respect to the House Majority Republican Caucus in the future.

OH ... and fix that typo in your invite ... it should read...

VAFREE Leadership Luncheon

Keynote Address by
U.S. Senator Mark R. Warner

Remarks by
Noted Political Commentator, Dr. Robert Holsworth

Featuring Invited Special Guests:
U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor
Governor Bob McDonnell
Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling
Distinguished Members of the Governor’s Cabinet,
Virginia’s Congressional Delegation,
And the House Minority Democrat Caucus

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

President Obama's Cheerleader in Chief

The NRSC has posted a very comical video of our Former Governor and now DNC Party Chair Tim Kaine who is considering a run for Jim Webb's seat in 2012.

Check out the website by clicking here.

My favorite part is the Obama and Kaine dance at the end of the video.