Gilmore Touts Va. GOP Gains, Low-Tax Message

Gov. James S. Gilmore III continues to be a hot property on the lecture circuit, appearing the other day at the National Taxpayers Union and keynoting a dinner in Baltimore that helped raise $80,000 for the Free State's GOP.

At the Alexandria-based taxpayers group, Gilmore preached his standard low-tax message, saying: "People work and are entitled to satisfaction and reward and control.

"Outside of the essentials of a national existence, government spending must be subordinate to this."

In Baltimore, Gilmore regaled the party faithful with the modern-day saga of Virginia Republicans. He noted that since the early 1980s, when Democrats held the big three statewide offices, the GOP nearly has doubled its representation in the legislature.

"This year we are poised to win the first outright Republican majority in the General Assembly since Reconstruction," Gilmore said.

A New Revenue Stream for Traffic

Ever the Republican maverick, state Sen. Warren E. Barry, of Fairfax County, chairman of a key transportation committee in the legislature, used a business lunch last week to exhort local leaders to think "out of the box" and support a dedicated source of revenue to solve Northern Virginia's traffic crisis.

Receiving a regional business award from the county Chamber of Commerce, Barry said, "We have reached that point where we need legislators, regardless of party affiliation, who will join lock step in demanding that we cast aside the old way of thinking."

Barry wants a new revenue stream devoted exclusively to Northern Virginia.

"This is not thought of as a tax increase, but as an investment in our community with Northern Virginia entitled to a positive return," Barry said. "A tax increase will surely occur if we continue to do business as usual with the growth of increased needs and fewer dollars, whereby the golden goose--Northern Virginia businesses--can't produce any longer, and then we will be forced into statewide tax increases."

Getting Ready to Run

Mark R. Warner continues to plant the seeds for his Democratic run for governor in 2001.

More than 300 party activists dropped by his family's Lee Street home in Old Town Alexandria the other day and raised $70,000 for challengers and open-seat candidates for the General Assembly this fall.

Guests included U.S. Sen. Charles S. Robb (D-Va.) and Rep. James P. Moran Jr. D-Va.), as well as the state party chairman, Del. Kenneth R. Plum (D-Fairfax).

Talking Out-of-State Trash

Out-of-state trash, the hot political issue of this year's General Assembly session, is back in the news again.

Seven private landfills in Virginia accepted about 4 million tons of out-of-state waste last year, well up from the estimated total of 3.2 million tons the year before, two environmental groups said.

"These rising import numbers are a cry for action at the national level," said Jim Sharp, director of Campaign Virginia, an advocacy group that issued an analysis in conjunction with another group, Virginians for Sensible Waste Management.

About a third of the trash going to the big landfills was from New York.

Honoring a Role Model

The Virginia Citizenship Institute, a new program in Charlottesville designed to get young people interested in statewide affairs, has just bestowed its first annual Lifetime of Citizenship Award to John Charles Thomas, a lawyer who served as the first African American member of the state Supreme Court.

Greg Werkheiser, the institute's executive director, said Thomas's career is a "fine model for students because he has achieved incredible professional success while also succeeding as a servant to his community."

From Watchdog to Watched

The revolving door between journalism and politics continues to spin, this time in the office of state Attorney General Mark L. Earley (R).

Longtime radio and television reporter J. Randall Davis, most recently with public television in Richmond, is going to work for Earley as his number two press person, replacing Jonathan B. Amacker, who is off to business school at the University of Virginia.

Davis began his reporting career in 1977, covering then-Gov. Mills E. Godwin Jr. for WLEE-AM.