Call it Mayor Dwight Jones' opening statement. In his State of the City address tonight at Thomas Jefferson High School on West Grace Street, Jones unleashed a torrential downpour of mayoral accomplishments in his first three years -- lots and lots of groundbreakings, mostly for things that are still years from actually being built.
We’ll parse through the particulars soon enough. (Ask us about the green, concrete-looking "riverfront terraces" lining the bank of the James).
The real story here is that Jones let the preacher out, particularly toward the end of his speech, and it damn near broke into a call-and-response sermon. This is a relatively rare occurrence. Jones likes to keep the reverend out of his politics, perhaps to his detriment.
If this is a sign of things to come in 2012, well, it can’t all be bad. In pressing for continuing to build on the foundation his administration has supposedly already built --“We’re playing on a great stage,” he told the audience -- the mayor dropped this gem:
“I’ve spoken about the schools that we are building, and we’re so proud of that and we’re grateful to all who have come together to make that happen. … But the buildings speak to bricks and mortar. And we’re using the same bricks and mortar to build a jail. Our challenge is to make sure that our jail is not the structure that ends up getting the most use.”
“I applaud the progress that’s been made by the school system. Dr. [Yvonne] Brandon and the School Board have done a marvelous job. Let me be the first to say we have come a long way. But I must also point out that the future of our children and the future of our city demands more of you, and demands more of me,” Jones said. “A tier one city is one where we stop celebrating the decreases in our negatives. For example, a tier one city does not celebrate a decrease in our dropout rate and truancy rates. A tier one city does not celebrate getting more education money from the state because we are poor and have kids on free lunch. A tier one city does not celebrate when our schools are … accredited based on archaic minimum standards.”
Oh, it gets even better:
“And I must admit that I myself have participated in these celebrations of mediocrity. But we’ve got to stop. A tier one city has got to recognize that we will accept nothing but excellence in education. We have got to let go of the mediocrity and embrace excellence. … Our children are crying out for help.”
I don’t know what message that sends about his campaign for reelection, but it’s hard not to be a little inspired by his honesty. At the very least, it’s a good start.
Abortion is always an unpleasant topic. It must be horrendous for a woman to be in a position to make such as choice. Still, it is her constitutional right, the law of the land.
So, after years of trying, Virginia’s newly empowered conservative legislators are on the verge of putting themselves, and the power of the state, in between a pregnant woman and her doctor.
They would require that an ultrasound examination be performed before the abortion takes place. The woman would be offered the chance to see the results of the examination and her choice would be recorded and kept in a file. If she lives less than 100 miles from the ultrasound facility, she must wait 24 hours before having the abortion but only two hours if she lives farther than 100 miles.
In six other states that have such a provision, the mother would be “offered” a chance to see the result, although is not required to view the results, according to Guttmacher Institute.
Experts agree that there’s no medical reason for an ultrasound in the first trimester of a pregnancy. Rather, such a requirement is a naked psychological ploy to assault the mother with feelings of guilt and play on her emotions to not go through with the procedure.
Even though abortion is legal within limits, this extra requirement would be both medieval and insulting, not to mention sexist.
In Virginia, however, that’s likely going to change soon. By an 8-7 vote, the Republican-controlled Education and Health Committee has endorsed the ultrasound requirement and have sent it to the full state Senate, which, thanks to the GOP’s refusal to share power, means it’s likely to pass given the 20-20 imbalance of power and Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling holding the deciding vote. Ultrasound bills are being pushed by Sen. Jill Vogel, R-Fauquier County, and Sen. Ralph Smith, R-Roanoke County. Republican Gov. Robert F. McDonnell applauds the law.
What’s so utterly hypocritical of many conservatives is how they pick and chose their fights. Most of the time, they are lecturing us that we need to get government and its regulations away from people’s everyday lives. We need smaller government and should leave as much as possible to personal choice.
But not when it comes to one of the most painful and personal decisions a woman makes. Swollen with their moral authority, they want to be there, dressed in a blue hospital gowns beside the doctors, laying on a profound guilt trip to an experience that is most times already wracked with grief. They are assuming that women (not men) are too stupid to understand what abortion is despite their right to one that is bound by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Similar laws have been enacted in other states. One example, according to The New York Times, is Texas, where an ultrasound law has been a bureaucratic debacle with otherwise busy physicians being required to do many more ultrasound exams.
The proposed Virginia law has already sparked its own retaliatory acts. Fairfax County Democrat Janet Howell, a state senator, is pushing a bill that would require men to have a rectal exam and a heart stress test before receiving prescriptions for erectile dysfunction.
The General Assembly needs to keep its nose out of the doctors’ offices. It needs to respect the intelligence of women to make a choice that is legally theirs to make.