Monday, June 25, 2007

It all depends how you "Phrase" the question...(Update)

The Mason Conservative has a link to a letter from House Speaker Howell regarding the media's "Spin" on the recent laws going into effect concerning abusive drivers.

"IN MONDAY'S lead edi- torial, "Sherwood Forest drive," you did a disservice to your readers by stating as "fact" several mischaracterizations of the fees to be assessed upon drivers who habitually violate Virginia's traffic laws."

The Speakers response was to an editorial written in the Free-Lance Star and looks like it applies to the same one written in the Staunton NewsLeader this past week...

"Of greater concern, your editorial left the impression that good drivers--those not already subject to existing penalties for a high number of driver demerit points on their licenses--would somehow be billed thousands of dollars for the slightest infraction. Such hyperbole, the mainstay of extreme partisans and the stuff of their blogs, is unsuitable for a publication"

A few days ago the Staunton NewsLeader ran another “Opinion Poll” on their website asking about the upcoming changes to the fine\penalty structure for motor vehicle violations. I found the “Phrasing” of the poll question somewhat leading towards their apparent dislike of the higher fines and penalties as compared to raising fuel taxes to finance the needed transportation projects.

Poll Question:
“What would you prefer as a method of funding Virginia’s transportation needs: Astronomically high “Abuser fees” for traffic offenses and a $10 hike in registration fees, or a few cents extra per gallon gas tax at the pump?”

It seems that the NewsLeader would rather see the cost of Transportation projects spread more evenly across the board so that all Virginia, as well as out of state, taxpayers foot this bill.

NewsLeader Editorial:
“Rather than levy a few cents per gallon extra of tax on automotive fuels that would set Virginians — and out-of-state truckers and motorists — back an average of $1.40 to $2 extra at the gas pump at each fill-up, miscreant Virginian drivers will foot the bill for asphalt and bridges.”

It also appears that the NewsLeader may feel that these fines\penalties would unfairly punish the lower income segment of society and just another ploy by the “Evil Republicans” in the General Assembly…

Newsleader editorial:
“After all, most of the people who are habitual offenders don't come from a socio-economic class that has high hundreds or low thousands of dollars to pay for fees. Even the "generous installment terms" offered to those Virginians caught in the General Assembly's little pyramid scheme might tax the wallets of the poor.”

You know maybe the NewsLeader did not come outright and accuse the Republicans in the General Assembly but as posted in a prior post on RightsideVA, I found these comments on a Liberal Virginia blog:

Our friends over at a much more “Liberal” blog that claims to have “Raised” our now Democratic Governor Tim “Kaine” to office has a post about this same topic. It is interesting to see how they present this same story. In fact it appears they may have actually turned this discussion about the safety of our public transportation to a political issue and a call to remove those evil Republicans from office. Several quotes from “comments” posted on their topic: “We're stuck with it unless we toss the jerks”… “More to the point, there's no gubernatorial election this year, but EVERY SINGLE GENERAL ASSEMBLY SEATE is up for grabs”…

The NewsLeader also seems to have a problem with this solution which does not raise taxes as much as they would like. This bill does increase the cost of car registration by $10 a year… Another tax increase…

NewsLeader Editorial:
"No matter; our heroic anti-taxers have saved the day, laying all the burden on the shoulders of Virginians while allowing out-of-state miscreants to run free

I found it very interesting today when I read in the NewsLeader print edition a Associated Press story getting more in depth describing the actual penalty phases and reasoning.

ASSOCIATED Press story:
“Those “Abusive” in state motorists will pay hundreds of dollars - in some cases, thousands - over three years in addition to existing fines, court costs and possible jail time. Drive with a suspended or revoked license and pony up three annual payments of $250 each; reckless driving, three yearly payments of $350 each; driving under the influence, $750 a year for three years. Any vehicle-related felony is $1,000 times three”…

In a sidebar to this article was the following description of the “New Virginia Laws”:

“Hundreds of dollars - in some cases thousands - in “civil remedial fees,” are allowed to be imposed for egregious and persistent dangerous drivers. Fees apply only to Virginia residents.”

Instead of just going ahead and raising taxes straight across the board to help pay for the transportation projects, the General Assembly is looking to raise revenue by sending a message to “egregious and persistent dangerous drivers” that continued motor vehicle violations will not be tolerated. It also looks as if the Judge imposing the actual penalty may have some movement in the severity, “are allowed to be imposed for” of the penalty as imposed. And look at the people these fines are targeted at: Persistent dangerous drivers. Driving while on suspended list. Driving under the influence. Vehicle related felonies. Repeat offenders who do not correct their actions.
These “Motorists” need to learn that their continued and\or dangerous motor vehicle actions are not acceptable and will not be tolerated no matter what the $$$ cost might do to them. The safety of All vehicle operators and passengers must take priority.

A increase in the Virginia fuel tax may still be needed to finance all of the transportation projects on the board, but I applaud the General Assembly in looking for alternate sources of revenue, and their efforts in cost cutting, in dealing with transportation costs.

I guess it really does come down to how you “Phrase” the question…


Anonymous said...

RSVa - You make a convincing case. I guess the only way to neuter the Mis-Leader is to cancel your subscription. What's their readership like?

Can a new paper be printed in the SWAC area?

RightsideVA said...

I understand the readership over at the Leader has been dropping and I think it was around 18,000 last time I heard. Not sure and I hope somebody will confirm that if I can't find it. There seems to be a exodus to the NewsVirginian out of Waynesboro and I have dealt with Bob Stuart who is a reporter and good person.

The NewsLeader has shown a different side since they started their blog and their comments. In the past I would write letters to the editor but now they allow anonymous people to respond in comments on the online version and there is a group that tends to get vicious at times. I can see attacking me after writing posts like this but I have seen these attacks allowed against some fine and respected indiviuals from Staunton who have written letters only for the NewsLeader to allow attacks.

Awhile back a Strong GOP'er suggested getting the Washington Times to publish a paper from this strong Conservative area. Would love to see that!!!

Steve Harkonnen said...

Much thanks to me, the Newsleader lost 8 subscriptions over the past few months. I spoke with our families about their misdoings over at their forum. And, each time I see someone trying to buy their paper at Food Lion or out of a vending machine, I tell them that the newspaper is Liberal-based, and that one of their editors is a Liberal who paints himself as a Libertarian.

Those morons actually still drop a newspaper over at my new residence. I don't think anyone told them that the former owners moved. We use their newspapers as window cleaners or just throw them in the trash. Hey, at least it's worth something.

I will continue to do everything that I possibly can, within legal limits, to expose that rag until it is shut down.

RightsideVA said...

As I said above to the comments left by Anon it has been surprising to see how far the blogside of the NewsLeader has gone in the past 6 months. This too is reflected in their editorials and the "Home" commenters thay have for their discussions and posting in regards to the letters to the editor. It is correct and proper to require those writing the letters to identify themselves but to allow people hiding behind "Blog-names" to be able to comment and "attack" the way they do is wrong.

Several local bloggers and people I know have also dropped their subscriptions recently and have gone to the NewsVirginian for their "base" info. I read both most of time but only "watch" the NL to point out items like the above post on "Opinion Polls" and keep them in question in my little corner of the world...

I fear they are headed towards focusing and attracting those wishing to turn Staunton into "Little Charlottesville"...


Newt said...

Anybody see this last week that it turns out 9 to 1 media reporters donate\support Democrat candidates... And they still claim there is no bias in the mainstream media?

The newsleder editor claims he is a libertarian but that is hard to believe with his comments and topic selections.

We dont need a new paper, just more places to buy the Washington Times. If we support the Waynesboro paper maybe we can get them to provide the local news without the 9to1 bias of the newsleder.

Newt said...

This shows that the Staunton Newsleder is not the only left-leaning paper out there spinning away on this issue. Agai. Newspaper people contribute to Dems 9to1 over Republicans!!!

The papers are trying their best to blame this made up crisis on the Republican delegates.

RightsideVA said...

A big topic in todays news is the push for the "Fairness Doctrine" by those who do not understand the free market system. They claim an unfair condition exists in talk radio now but yet I notice there is still Air America which nobody listens to. If they would look at and admit the bias in the mainstream media in NBC, ABC, CNN, MSNBC, CBS, and the likes they will find there are actually more oulets for liberal bias media out there. The problem for them is that the people no longer have to go to these outlets for their biased news for there are other outlets out there...

Steve Harkonnen said...

The newsleder editor claims he is a libertarian but that is hard to believe with his comments and topic selections.

Without outwardly attacking his opinion, I must tell you that I agree with a lot of the main points of the average Libertarian, which explains my confusion over his choice of words and outright attacks against the local conservative bloggers. It makes no sense to me. Libertarians and conservatives share much more commonality than liberals - who are often thinking in the wrong direction than most normal American patriots do.

Belle Rose said...

Some misuse of the term "libertarian" which is another "depending how you phrase it" (and also depending how the listener hears it) situation. Libertarian (ideology not party) does not align neatly with either liberal or conservative as Steve H. incorrectly asserts.

Take a quiz to figure yourself out. The first one is quick if your attention span is short:

RightsideVA said...

Belle Rose,

Interesting poll but some of the questions leading and combine more then one option in some answers. Like many things I had to accept one answer to get the part I agreed with.

Would love to do this poll at work and show co-workers what they really are...

Belle Rose said...

All polls have leading questions and difficult answer choices. For both "liberals" and "conservatives." I've done each of these polls with fairly large numbers of young adults in Augusta Co. I suspect you'd be quite disappointed in the responses. As was I, a liberal antagonist of yours, was somewhat disappointed.

Steve Harkonnen said...

Maybe you'd get the results you wanted if you conducted your polls over in Charlottesville?

Steve Harkonnen said...

Bella Rose, or whatever,

Interesting poll, but I see that "Radical right wing nutjob conservative wanting to deport, en masse, every single illegal immigrant or making them join the army in the front lines of Iraq for US Residency Status for a period of two years or longer" wasn't one of the results, which is where I sit politically.

More accurately, I'm not a wimpy neocon like George Bush. he's not on my recommended daily dietary allowance. He is far too much of a pandering fool for my tastes. This "compassionate conservatism" breed really gets under my collar.

I'm a paleo-conservative, the breed of conservative nutjobs that make people like you lose sleep at night.

Fred Thompson '08