Sunday, September 6, 2009


Following the state of Virginia’s settlement with 30 of the Virginia Tech victims’ families, a number of people wrote letters to the editor criticizing this use of taxpayer money. They usually argued that no one can be held responsible for anyone else’s actions and that therefore the financial settlement was not justified.

Their assertions are not only contrary to a whole body of legal opinion, but show a lack of knowledge, understanding, empathy, and conscience. To deny a family a miserly $100,000.00 compensation for the loss of a child is disgraceful.

If these writers want examples of wholesale waste of taxpayers’ money, consider the fact that Virginia Tech and the state of Virginia combined spent over one million dollars to spin the tragedy. For example, the state of Virginia hired TriData, an Arlington-based consulting firm, to write the Review Panel Report of the tragedy—TriDate was paid $516,475.50. Does anyone reading this seriously think TriData would point accusing fingers at the school or state when they are being paid over half a million dollars—and may get more contracts from either the state or the school?

Don’t forget that less than six weeks after the shootings, the Virginia Tech signed an agreement with one of the nation’s largest public relations firms, Burson-Marsteller, to spin the story of the tragedy in such a way as to do minimal damage to Virginia Tech and its administration. In other words, the school paid $663,000.00 to a public relations firm, when Virginia Tech has its own an office that deals with public relations. Furthermore, the school has some of the best minds in the country, yet it spent nearly $700,000.00 on public relations.

From my 43-years of work with law enforcement, intelligence, and individuals who investigated other school shootings, I can assure you there are people far more qualified than Tridata employees to write the report. And, they would probably have volunteered to do the work.

This cavalier spending of over a million dollars by the state and by Virginia Tech University in an effort to manipulate opinion following the nation’s worst school shooting, is disgraceful—absolutely disgraceful.

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