My take on the Richmond Crusade for Voters forum Wednesday evening – it was a mixed bag at best.
Let’s start with the opening speeches by the three hopefuls:
Libertarian John Barclay spoke first and it was a promising start: The nascent third party movement is rising in the nation. He discussed how the RCFV invited Sarvis to speak (That was a certain blogger’s idea by the way!) and how Sarvis is the mentor for all the Libertarians. Barclay then turned to legal pot and votes for felons.
Democrat John Bourne went second and he talked eloquently in platitudes (that’s one of my main issues – pardon the pun – with Bourne.) His website has platitudes for issue development and here is one:
I’ll support policies that grow and diversify our economy and that provide greater economic opportunity and prosperity for all. We need to tackle the issue of poverty in our city and provide hope and a hand-up to those who need it.
What does that mean?
Bourne promised a “broader range of issues” but only began to discuss two – addiction (to drugs I think) and domestic violence – and offered no solutions.
Finally, the candidate I am helping – Independent Regie Ford – who is by and far the best speaker in the room and in several adjacent rooms nearby too – he discussed the school system, the living wage and the future retirement crisis. He did not really have solutions either but Ford did cite his presidency of the Crusade and said with a strong team he had worked to make it better. (And he did – I was there too – helping with the by-laws! Not sure RCFV would be a legal corporation without Regie’s leadership.) Ford also is passionate about service.
Barclay wins the opening speeches with Ford a close second.
Then the questions:
The education funding formula that apparently does not favor Richmond City.
- Bourne said he’d get it changed but no specifics.
- Ford explained it briefly (thanks Regie!) and segued into how it was important to judge a delegate by results – such as getting bills out of committee.
- Barclay started well again – called for a revolutionary approach to education. I thought: Oh goody, we’ll have an impassioned defense of school choice and vouchers! But nope – it was if we legalize pot we’ll maybe tax the pot for education.
Advantage – I think Ford was best but it was a B- with Barclay close behind. Ford’s segue was brilliant. The correct answer was the impassioned call for school choice and vouchers.
Second question: too much poverty – 26% in RVA City and 50% or so in the black community.
- Regie said something about grant money back to the community
- John said there is a difference between love and legislation – my heart rose again – will the Libertarian say: Government can do little to solve poverty unless it gets out of the way – silly taxes like BPOL and regulations, too! And maybe sell the projects to the residents! Nope. Barclay just finished with don’t mix up love and legislation.
- Jeff wanted to fight poverty with government programs like the minority state bidding quota, which led to…you guessed it…
(Advantage with a C- was the libertarian. The answer is cited above!)
The minority state bidding
scam quota and a fake statistic was cited that says 10% of the people in Richmond are African-American but they only get one percent of the state contracts. (It’s fake because surely some of the state bidding goes to publicly traded companies and they cannot be counted – minorities and whites both own stock in public corporations.)
- Ford said – close the loophole that makes it a scam (he did not use the word and I would have) and went back to education to fight poverty.
- Barclay started again with great promise – he told the account (I have not confirmed it but I believe it) that I-95 was built through black neighborhoods and then the residents ended up in public housing. I thought he would call for ending the projects but he did not.
- Bourne said – change the formula for determining what is a minority-owned business with no specifics.
Advantage initially to Ford for admitting it was a scam but Barclay raised the projects as discrimination. Nobody gets better than a C+. Answer is do away with it and start to end the cycle of dependency on politicians and government in the inner cities.
Now we get to incarceration – another stat I distrust about 58% of the inmates in prisons are black. But let’s assume it is true.
- John alluded to racial profiling and went back to legalizing marijuana and giving felons the vote.
- Regie said dramatically that overcriminalization among African-Americans was the New Jim Crow and told a story that made me think – it really did – about how when he is in sweats with his dreadlocks down he gets unfriendly stares.
- Jeff talked about mental health issues, lowering fee thresholds (I think this is either against mandatory minimums or maybe the practice of taking driver’s licenses for failure to pay costs and fines) and to stop the school to jail pipeline. Education is critical. No specifics.
I have to give this one to Regie with the story. Maybe a B this time. The answer is to get rid of mandatory minimums, end pulling licenses for unpaid fines and costs, get rid of crimes such as contractor’s fraud (if a contractor does not pay the retainer back under certain conditions after a certified demand letter is sent it is a felony), and amend bad check charges to catch real frauds. And also we need a statewide public defender system with appellate and post-conviction units.
How do we restore incarcerated persons back into society?
- John Barclay said need the grace of felon voting (I am afraid no one specified that this did not mean prisoners voting!) and that non-profits and churches are critical to the rehabilitation process.
- Regie Ford said yes church is great but that education is key
- John Bourne said vote for felons, ban the box (the check box – have you been convicted of a felony box on a job application), and cause families to be reintegrated into public housing. (Apparently it may be a violation of law or contract for a felon to live in public housing.)
Advantage – nobody. The answer is tough – I have mixed feelings about ban the box and I am not sure government can do much on this issue.
Final question I heard (I had to leave early) was gun control.
- Bourne of course called for gun control measures – again did not specific enough but he wants to restore one gun a month and wants to do away with concealed carry reciprocity. (Yes he said it!) I was shocked he did not cite the evil “gun show loophole”. But…
- Libertarian Barclay actually said – let’s do away with loopholes! (I almost fainted dead away! The headline could easily have been for this post: Hanover Blogger Passes Out at Crusade Forum!) No constitutional carry or nationwide reciprocity cited.
- Ford talked about getting the guy with a trunk full of guns when he can barely afford it – let’s find out where he got the guns from!
I give everybody an F and I mean F (The Libertarian gets a zero grade on this!) on this question! The answer is NO MORE GUN LAWS NEEDED!
So what do I draw from the forum? No one challenged Jeff Bourne on the failure of the schools in Richmond and how did that failure make him the front-runner for delegate – not to mention Bourne’s ambition – ELEVEN days into a FOUR YEAR TERM for which he was elected last November 8 (That glorious day Trump was elected!) he runs for state legislature!
If I could vote I would vote for Regie Ford even though he’s probably a lot more liberal than I am. I would say the Libertarian is promising but I was somewhat disappointed he did not carry a better torch for liberty. I would never vote for Jeff Bourne. I do not know he wants to do if elected. I am sure it is very liberal.