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COLUMN — Virtual town hall planned July 14

The Northam administration ordered a subcontractor to remove a one-story-tall American flag from the new General Assembly building under construction this past weekend, as it could be a “target” during possible protests. The contractor complied, even though the odds of anyone reaching the flag, hanging high on the steel of the new General Assembly building, were low at best.

There was a time in Virginia when a governor would have defended the flag, rather than ask that it be removed to appease potential agitators. Gov. Ralph Northam, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, and others have done nothing but cower in fear since protests began in Virginia in May. 

Rather than protect homes, businesses, and property, Democrats have carefully avoided criticizing rioters. Instead, Democrats have pivoted toward defunding the police.

Republicans will never hide our flag. We will always defend it.

A significant amount of the criminal justice reform proposed by Democrats amounts to letting criminals out of jail early, easing sentences, and generally falling back into the “soft on crime” stance. They also have floated proposals to “defelonize” attacks on law enforcement.

Police aren’t perfect, but they’re the only thing that separates us from chaos. Without police, the unarmed are at the mercy of those who are bigger, stronger, or better armed.

Republicans stand with law enforcement, and we will fight any attempt to defund their departments or defelonize attacks on them.

Virginia’s truth in sentencing reforms worked. We have a low crime rate and the lowest rate of recidivism. Criminals here know if they offend, they go to jail. Democrats would reverse all that and institute a “cash bail” reform that would let dangerous criminals walk away from jail, not unlike what recently happened in New York City.

The slow-motion disaster in Virginia’s nursing homes continues, as two-thirds of confirmed deaths from COVID-19 have been residents of long-term care facilities. The governor’s response to this from day one has been slow, inept, and bungled.

When it became clear that his administration had failed utterly, he changed the subject, and a compliant media followed him. Now, more than 1,000 nursing home residents are dead.

Gov. Northam’s failure to lead continued last week with his team’s inept handling of school reopening. After his administration put out an unrealistic 130-plus- page document detailing how schools should reopen, parents revolted at the awful plans that came about as a result. 

Northam then punted responsibility to local school boards, saying that they, not his administration, were responsible for reopening plans. Not only is that rank cowardice, it’s the latest flip-flop in a series of COVID-related decisions the governor has made.

Last week, my office hosted a virtual town hall for Campbell County schools along with State Sen. Frank Ruff, Del. Kathy Byron, Del. James Edmunds, Dr. Bobby Johnson and moderator Jack Dean. We covered many topics and a great deal was discussed and learned about the tentative school plan. The meeting in its entirety can be seen on my Facebook page and if you have any further questions, please email webmaster@campbell.k12.va.us.

I will be hosting two similar virtual meetings for Appomattox and Buckingham on July 14. You can also find information for both meetings on my Facebook page. I also urge you to contact your school board members to voice your concerns on the 2020-21 school year.

Virginia gun sales soared to historic levels in June, the second record spike in three months, in a tumultuous year marked by the long-term uncertainty of COVID-19, the economic turmoil it’s brought, protests over racial injustices and activists’ demands to defund the police.

The June figure is the highest monthly total on record for any month since state police began tracking the data in 1990. It represents an increase of 157% over the number of transactions conducted during the same month in 2019.

My office has received several calls and emails pertaining to any new legislation that may arise during the special session in August. Please know that I am a strong Second Amendment supporter and will not vote for any gun control measures set forth in the special session.

Del. C. Matthew Fariss represents Buckingham in the Virginia House of Delegates. His email address is DelMFariss@house.virginia.gov.