Saturday, May 21, 2011

Cuccinelli to Appeal Department of Education Ruling

Some actions are legal but morally unconscionable. Attorney General Cuccinelli’s dealings with the Virginia Tech families and that tragedy fall into that category.

The latest example is Cuccinelli’s appeal the Department of Education’s (DoE) ruling that Virginia Tech violated federal law by not issuing an earlier warning on April 16, 2007. He calls the DoE decision “Monday morning quarterbacking at its worst.” But his own actions are tantamount to a cover-up.

Cuccinelli claims that the school administration “acted entirely appropriately” and did not violate federal law in not warning the campus for two hours and fifteen minutes after the first double homicide. Look at the facts:

--At 0715: two students were murdered

--At 0800: the Virginia Tech Office of Continuing Education locked down

--At 0815: two senior officials at Virginia Tech talked to their families and raised the shootings

--At 0823: the police cancelled all bank deposits

--At 0845: a Policy Group member emailed the Governor’s office stating, “a gunman (is) on the loose”

--At 0852: the Blacksburg schools locked down

--At 0852: the Executive Director of Government Relations, with an office adjacent to the school president’s, directed that doors to his office be locked

--Between 0900 and 0915: the Virginia Tech Veterinary College locked down

-- At 0926: the university Policy Group issued an email warning to the campus

--Between 0940 and 0951: Thirty people were murdered and 17 wounded

Cuccenilli also fails to mention evidence that some school officials were aware of errors in the crime timeline while the governor’s Review Panel was preparing its report, and said nothing. Cuccenilli, isn’t there a law regarding withholding of information pertinent to a crime investigation?

Monday, May 16, 2011


The National Rifle Associations’ (NRA) latest excursion into mind control and violation of the constitutional right of freedom of speech centers on their efforts to get states to adopt laws that make it illegal for doctors to ask patients if they have a gun at home. According to the 13 May edition of USA Today, three states are considering laws that would penalize doctors and other health care providers for asking patients or their parents whether they have a gun at home.

“The National Rifle Association and other pro-gun interest groups argue that doctors violate patients; Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms by inquiring about gun ownership. Doctors say they ask only because of safety concerns. Prohibiting them from asking guns violates the First Amendment, at least one constitutional law expert says.”

What about the right of any doctor to ask any patient any question pertaining to the patient’s wellbeing? Apparently the NRA believes there is only one amendment in the Bill of Rights and that is the second amendment. If you are going to apply order of importance to the amendments, then it is not unreasonable to think that the most important consideration on the founding fathers’ minds was freedom of speech. The last time I counted “one” came before “two.”

What a shame if the power of the gun lobby, coupled with the cowardice of the politicians, rewrites history and interprets the Constitution to the benefit of demented paranoia of the NRA.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

McDonnell’s Health Care Betrayal

Governor McDonnell’s intention to privatize Virginia’s mental health system is a betrayal of the electorate and an insult to the victims of the Virginia school shootings. The governor apparently bases his proposal on the system implemented by the former Republican governor of New Jersey, Christie Todd Whitman. The New Jersey system has not saved money, has led to more vagrancy, (and probably crime), and has drastically undercut the quality of mental health.

Under the privatization scheme, vouchers are given to the mentally ill to use at private clinics. Most of these people are so ill that they have no jobs, cannot afford a car, and there is no public transportation to get them to the clinics. They are left homeless and on the street.

I recently witnessed the terrible results of the New Jersey program. I spent an evening with a professor and her students at Kean University in Union, New Jersey. We made over 100 peanut and jelly sandwiches and put them in bags along with fruit and water. We then went to the train station in Newark.

The station was packed with homeless, the vast majority of whom suffered from some form of mental illness. There were police everywhere, (an added taxpayer expense), in an effort to prevent crime and assure commuters they were safe.

Virginians should reject any move to cut funds for mental health or to privatize the program. Both the shooters at Appalachian School of Law and Virginia Tech were unstable and in need of mental health care. Following the Virginia Tech massacre, President George W. Bush called for greater government spending on mental health.

McDonnell’s argument for privatization of mental health care is specious. It is an insult to the victims of the two school shootings and their families.