This is one of a series following the smoking ban bill as it becomes law:
So, we've scored a major victory with the restaurant smoking ban yesterday:
my bill, SB1105, has passed a conference committee between the House and
the Senate with only minor amendments, and is on its way to Governor
Kaine for his signature. The votes in favor of the bill reported out of
conference were 27-13 in the Senate, and 60-39 in the House, showing a
great deal of bipartisan support for a concept that the vast majority of
Virginians favor. The only real differences from the original compromise
that was announced earlier were pushing the start date back until
December 1st of this year, and allowing smoking in covered outdoor areas
at times when roll-up walls are not in use.
This law will have significant health benefits for workers and patrons,
and if Virginia trends the way other states and localities have after
passing a smoking ban, it will also be good for business. I have always
contended that this is both a health issue and a matter of protecting
people's right to not be harmed by the actions of others. I am proud to
have worked with the governor and others to make smoke-free restaurants
Some people will say that this bill isn't strong enough, and as a
doctor, I can recognize that it is not perfect from a public health
standpoint. However, I do believe that it is an exceptional
accomplishment that we have found a smoking ban that works for a
Commonwealth with a 400-year-old tobacco legacy, and crafted a law that
is the strongest amongst any of the nation's top tobacco producing
states. Hopefully this will be a model for our neighbors in North
Carolina, Kentucky, and Tennessee as they consider similar action.
Also, for the readers curious about the rumors that came up a couple of
weeks ago involving a certain Republican's 'tweet', I just wanted to
make clear that I never contemplated leaving the Democratic Party. The
premature twitter comment was just another example of hyper-partisanship: exactly what the Commonwealth doesn't need right now
as we work toward hammering out a budget.
The Democratic Senate Caucus is moving forward, focusing on passing good
This needs to be investigated. If true, Speaker Howell must fire this woman. If untrue, she should sue whoever is sending around this email.
I'm reporting this in hopes of getting to the truth either way:
"Hello. My name is Tanya Smith and I am a concerned citizen contacting you with a issue I think is of great importance. It is concerning the behavior of someone I believe to work for the General Assembly. I had had a family emergency at MCV downtown and had to stay up quite late with family members young and old. As we left the hospital about 3 am Saturday night, we decided to eat at one of the local restaurants in downtown Richmond. We chose the Third Street Diner.
As we ate, two drunken girls came into the diner and made a disturbance. The girls were white, tall, and slender. They said they were celebrating a birthday and one in the blue dress exposed her breasts to a male. They were each also very drunk. Somehow, they got into a verbal feud with 4 African American ladies sitting at the bar, over the last bar stool. I did not care about this.
What happened next very much concerned me. The white girl with a blue shiny dress got into the face of the african american lady and said, "I work for the fucking speaker of the house of delegates and I'll have your black ass put in jail, do you have any fucking idea who I am, I am alexis feldt" (or alexus felt- I am not sure- but it sounded like felt with a d on the end). I could not believe this behavior. The african american ladies tried to turn away and the white girl said, "Fuck these 'blacks' (except she didn't use the term black- she used the n work). Alot of people stood up thinking a fight was going to happen, and one of the young teens at my families table next to mine took a phone video of the whole thing, if you would like to see it. I am of mixed heritage so when racial slurs are used I am very offended. My 6 year old child then asked me out loud what a (n word) was. It was very awkward and terrible to say the least. Imagine what you do, and how you would feel, if after a long night of being on pins and needles at the hospital with a very sick loved one, you try to take your family to get a bite to eat, and end up exposing your child to the work "nigger". I was very upset.
The male manager of the diner intervened, and managed to seperate the white girl from the group of african american ladies before anything else happened. The white girls then were seated at the table next to mine where I heard them drunkenly go on and on about "black people" (they used the n word) multiple times. As a parent I wanted to ask them to stop using that word.
I am contacting the general assembly so that you can find out if this person does indeed work for you, and if they do, it is my hope they are disciplined appropriately. I am not so much concerned this person was drunk in public, as I am at the offensive racism and arrogance displayed by them. I am very angry my 6 year old child has heard the term "nigger" and heard it in the context of a white person using it in a negative way towards a african american person. My friend has a video of this whole incident on her phone if you would like to see.
I would be happy to talk to you on the phone also.
Anyone who knows Democratic Primaries in Virginia and where voters come from (geography, ideologically and their demographics) has known Creigh Deeds faced an uphill battle in his primary for Governor. Even when it was Deeds-Moran, the Brian Moran campaign always had the feel of having the upper-hand over Deeds despite his statewide campaign in 2005. With Terry McAuliffe in the race, Deeds is left with his old problems plus new ones of having an opponent who can compete with him in every part of Virginia.
Yet despite these challenges the Deeds campaign is hanging in there and seems to have an outside shot of winning on June 9th. The credit for this turn around seems to go to Joe Abbey, the Deeds Campaign Manager who started in December.
A number of things have happened since early December when Joe took over:
1) Creigh has moved his office from Richmond to Charlottesville.
This is a much bigger deal than it might seem. One of Creigh's biggest weaknesses for years was the amount he relied on thinking from insiders (i.e. lobbyists) in Richmond. These are the same people who advised him to run a Warner01 like campaign in 2005, causing him to finish as the lowest performing Democrat in all three major metropolitan areas in Virginia (NoVA, Hampton Roads and Richmond). Creigh also interviewed a few of these lobbyists to be his Campaign Manager this year.
Moving the office to Charlottesville helps shut out some of this insider noise from the campaign. But it also allows for a re-branding of Creigh- from a rural Bath County candidate to the State Senator from Charlottesville. There is a very significant side to this in Northern Virginia and other urban areas- most primary voters have an image in their head of counties in Virginia they have never heard of that doesn't exactly match their goals on where to move the state. Having a candidate from Charlottesville is a much easier leap for urban and suburban primary voters to get around.
2) Creigh has stopped trying to be the candidate for everyone
Another weakness of Creigh over the past few years is he is a genuinely nice guy. Sometimes, too nice. Creigh's campaign was mindlessly competing everywhere and seemed to have no targets on where he needed to do well. I'm seeing that begin to turn around- the campaign is the lightest staffed and they have started to skip events in areas they can't make a difference in. This focusing has allowed Creigh to actually compete in the events and areas he wants to because he is no longer spread as thin. A great example of this came in the last week. At the Alexandria Presidents Day Parade, Creigh had no staff and no visibility there. Creigh is going to finish 3rd place in Brian's hometown, I think that is the right call to skip a parade there. Meanwhile, at the Mt. Vernon straw poll this weekend, Creigh competed and took 2nd place- getting a big moral victory over Terry McAuliffe in Fairfax. Both decisions were the right ones strategically and advanced the campaign.
3) Creigh is staying focused on the session and not politics
This is a big one. I expected Creigh's decision to stay in Richmond for this session to be a disaster, his campaign was already seemed to have ADD and being the only candidate in session was going to make that even worse. As it turned out, I was totally wrong here. Creigh has managed to stay focused on what is going on in the session, has not been subject to a "youtube" disaster moment from the floor and is in the mix on a number of good progressive bills moving through the General Assembly this year. The decision to "stay and fight" in the session has given Creigh some extra gravitas and finally got his campaign a consistent message. I still don't know if the numbers are there to win- but this has been an excellent turnaround for the campaign, and if this momentum keeps up, I think Creigh actually has a real chance to win this primary on June 9th.