Southwest Virginia Losing Another House Seat
by Lewis Loflin
Southwest Virginia is losing another House seat in Richmond due to population decline. This redistricting will reduce the number of House districts west of Interstate 77 (Wythville) from six to five.
We will lose the 2nd District totally while others will be chopped up and combined with parts 1st and 4th districts to create an absurd district that will run from Bristol, Virginia on the Tennessee state line all the way to Kentucky-Virginia state line.
The only good news is this is two of the 'good old boys', entrenched Delegates Joe Johnson of Abingdon, and Bud Phillips will be fighting over a corpse and one has to go. Both have worked hard wasting millions in grant dollars that led to this very problem they are facing. With Republicans in charge the fate of these two Democrats seems assured. To quote the Washington Times,
Del. Clarence E. "Bud" Phillips of Dickenson County would find himself sharing a redrawn 4th House District with fellow Democrat Joseph P. Johnson of Washington County in far southwestern Virginia. Phillips' old district, the 2nd, would move to Prince William and Stafford counties on the other end of the state.
But this was shot down it seems by the Virginia Senate which is controlled by Democrats. It seems as of April 7 Bristol, Virginia will be split from Delegate Joe Johnson (D) to Republican Bill Carrico from the 4th to 5th legislative district. Johnson, who like many local politicians has made a career of government, has represented Bristol for 25 years.
Even with over 30,000 students in college in Southwest Virginia and East Tennessee, college graduates and young people in general continue to flee the region over jobs and plummeting income levels. This is after spending hundreds of millions of dollars in Southwest Virginia for economic development from 2000-2010. Going to college is a waste of time here for the most part and in fact can hurt as many employers are hostile to college graduates.
Look at the table above based on the 2010 census. The counties with the highest levels of government "investment" lost the most population. Buchanan and Dickenson Counties got Halliburton - Coalfields Expressway deal, Russell County got the big outsourcing contractor Northrop Grumman. Buchanan County also got a $200 million flood control project for the Town of Grundy, population 1000, and even $28 million to build a parking garage for Wal-Mart.
That's over $228,000 per resident. Lee County got a big Federal prison. To this day government agencies tasked with job creation claim the creation of 12,000 new jobs over the last 20 years in the very counties that lost population.
When I contacted them for proof of those claims, they backtracked and called them "job announcements" and that they don't track employment levels or pay scales. How the hell does somebody pay a company as much as $100,000 a job and not track them?
But notice Washington County Virginia that actually had population growth from 2000 to 2010 and huge increases in government spending and government employment to boot.
It got none of the big billion dollar spending programs the others did. A lot of that increase was due to an influx of more affluent retirees while economic development went for leisure, recreation, and amenities for rich people along with generous corporate welfare.
The poverty rate actually went up and it's no surprise between 1997 and 2007, falling back to 1980s levels, while the others improved a little or stayed the same. (That was due to out migration in my view removing those that were unemployed.)
What conclusion can one come to here? The average citizen is simply bypassed and ignored. And because of closed session we never know when they are handing out the funds until after the fact, then because these are private firms the public has no way to track the funding when they get it. Add in nepotism and a poorly educated population, we have all the makings of a third world culture.Four part series:
- How "Closed Session" Betrays the Public Trust
- A Look at the Corporate Progressive Alliance
- The Poor People in Virginia and Tennessee are White
- A Suggestion for Reform in Southwest Virginia