Thursday, May 28, 2015

May 2015 Update

Equipping our youth for success


One Sunday evening during the summer of 1981, I traveled with two neighbors from Hopewell to Dublin, VA. Arriving around 10:00 pm, we carried sleeping bags from my '73 Mustang to the admin building sidewalk at New River Community College, taking positions 5, 6, & 7 of what would become a lengthy line of applicants for one of just two Industrial Instrumentation degree programs on the east coast.  By sunrise, before the doors even opened, more people stood in line than were slots available and two years later there were more job offers than there were graduates. This is a scenario that repeated itself many times over the next few years.


Despite continued need, the number of students pursuing training and careers in craft skills has continually decreased since the early '90s.  As a result, manufacturers, utilities, and service companies have hit a critical point where the technicians they rely on to develop, troubleshoot, and maintain equipment and facilities are aging out at a rapid pace.  At NRCC, where my company has recruited 25 of its employees since 1989, and at community colleges around the country, many of the once full classrooms teaching electrical, instrumentation, robotics, & other craft skills have seats available.  Each empty seat represents a job going unfilled.


If you've followed my political life at all, you know that 'building a quality workforce' has been my priority initiative.  It is the keystone of economic growth and the conspicuous secret of career opportunities today.  After several trips in recent months, meeting with manufacturers throughout a multi-state region, it is clear that much work remains in this area.  Upon return, I penned an op-ed on the subject.  My goal was two-fold: to share specific information, including pay, on real opportunities that exist today and to address the inaccurate and counterproductive stigma often associated with these high paying careers. 


The Roanoke Times was kind enough to carry my letter as its lead commentary on Sunday May 17th.  I've included a link here. It has driven the greatest response of confirming anecdotes of any article I've ever had published.  I hope that it will encourage at least a few career minded students to consider these options.  I also encourage you to share it with friends and family who are considering their plans for the future.  You can find it by clicking here

Speaking of Op-Eds

It's that time of year again.  In an April 2011 editorial in the Virginia Gazette titled "Inequality creates problems", the writer used this graphic and 750 +/- words to blame most of society's ills on the fact that some Americans are more successful than others. 


Undoubtedly, its author is pleased with the current administration that, when not driving a wedge between Americans on race and gender issues, is doing all it can to separate us along economic lines.  I wrote a response to that op-ed which the Gazette carried a few weeks later. Each year about this time I post a link to the article – just as a reminder that as the effort to tear away at the American Dream is ever present, so must be our resolve to preserve it.  You can find a copy of my 2011 response by clicking here.


With summer approaching, it's time for the Business Development Caucus's 4th annual series of Town Hall meetings. In this election year, the caucus will host just three town halls while several members will hold individual meetings with local businesses.  We'll combine all ideas in November as we develop the 2016 BDC Legislative agenda.


Several new legislators joined the BDC in the last two years and introduced solid job growth legislation. We expect additional new members in 2016.  Unfortunately, another of our four founders will be missing from the General Assembly next year as Delegate David Ramadan, one of the body's strongest pro-business legislators, is retiring. Like me, David will remain active with the BDC.  He will be missed in the General Assembly but I strongly suspect his days in public service are far from over. The locations of our three upcoming town halls will be confirmed soon after the June 9th primary.


In addition to BDC activities, I have and will continue to participate in VA Chamber of Commerce programs including the recent VA Energy Forum where Industry and Policy leaders discussed Virginia's energy strategy as it relates to the Governor's 4-year plan as well as dealing with the latest EPA mandates, and next week's Virginia Health Care Conference, a meeting of over 750 industry stakeholders and employers who will address delivery and cost issues amid the sweeping changes in the health care industry. These along with other fun and interesting events across the state will round out a busy summer.


Business Owners, Managers, & Employees – your neighbors need you.


One critical tool for addressing health care needs in Virginia is its Community Health Centers and Free Clinics.  We are fortunate to have a model example right here in Lackey Free Clinic.  Founded by Dr. Jim and Cooka Shaw and with the support of volunteers, staff, area hospitals, and the community, Lackey has developed into a multi-service facility providing medical, dental and surgical care to uninsured, indigent patients at significantly reduced costs.  Despite the efforts of Obamacare however, the number and needs of patients keeps growing. 


Last summer, I was invited to join a new Business Advisory group at Lackey.  Our goal, develop partnerships with regional businesses that can make a 3-year commitment of support ranging from $500 to $5000 per year.  My company was proud to be an early partner.  It's commitment, even on the lower end of the range, will make a difference in the lives of our neighbors.  Yours will too.  Whether your business is large or small, please consider becoming a Lackey Clinic Business Partner.  You'll be recognized for your support, have tax benefits for supporting a 501(C)(3) entity, and once committed you'll be free from annual fundraising campaigns.  Most importantly, you'll make a real difference in people's lives.  Learn more by contacting me at or visiting:


On a personal note


It's not all about business and politics at our home this summer.  Adam is home from ODU after an exciting and successful first year of Engineering.  In addition to various landscape & bike repair jobs, he'll spend some time interning at CATC's Virginia laboratory. Taylor will spend much of his time at the pool with swim teams and life-guarding but will also start ride-alongs with the James City County EMT crews where he's been volunteering through Explorers for the last couple of years.  Oh, he also gets his driver's license in July.  Amy & I will enjoy time with our sons while also planning a trip south with my parents in a few weeks who, by the way, will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary on June 25th.  Congratulations Mom & Dad! 


We hope that you enjoy your summer as well.  And, look forward to Labor Day when the official election season begins.  Ah, I do love the smell of campaign flyers in the fall.

Have a great summer,


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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

FOIA Subcommittee Meetings - May 11 & 12 agendas

Dear Members and Interested Parties:

Attached please find suggested agendas for the meetings of the Records and Meetings Subcommittees to be held next week.  As a reminder, the Records Subcommittee meets at 1:30 PM on Monday, May 11, 2015, and the Meetings Subcommittee meets at 1:30 PM on Tuesday, May 12, 2015.  Both meetings will be held in the Speaker's Conference Room, Sixth Floor, General Assembly Building, 201 N. 9th Street, Richmond, Virginia 23219.

If you have any questions or need additional information, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Maria J.K. Everett, Executive Director and Senior Attorney
Alan Gernhardt, Staff Attorney
Virginia Freedom of Information Advisory Council

201 North 9th Street

Richmond, Virginia 23219

(804) 225-3056 or 1-866-448-4100 (toll free)

The staff of the Freedom of Information Advisory Council is authorized to issue advisory opinions. Please be advised that any staff advisory opinion delivered by e-mail is based solely upon the facts and information presented in your attached e-mail inquiry.

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