Letter: Matter of Judgment

Letter: Matter of Judgment

To the Editor:

In my letter published in the Feb. 12, 2015 Gazette, I highlighted several votes taken by Del. Scott Surovell (D-44th) that he needs to explain as he seeks to be elevated to the State Senate. Jeff Carver responded to my letter last week. After describing himself as loathe to quote himself from earlier letters, he did so.

Mr. Carver quoted himself from a letter sent three years earlier claiming, at that time, it had appeared I had just discovered that Delegate Surovell votes to the left of center in the House of Delegates. Of course, I knew it then and certainly know it now. Mr. Carver believes voters should just bury their heads in the sand and ignore reality, voting without regard to the practicalities of the results of their votes.

In fact, most of the examples I gave concerning Surovell votes have less to do with his ideology than they have to do with what appears to be just a lack of good judgment. Which ideology would cause a politician to consistently vote against permitting home-schooled children to participate in public school extracurricular activities? Among the numerous people who have been home-schooled are Susan B. Anthony, Alexander Graham Bell, Lewis Carroll, Thomas Edison, Robert Frost, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Florence Nightingale, Presidents Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Tim Tebow. Delegate Surovell says his opposition is because (1) he thinks it is unfair to public school athletes who must meet grade and conduct standards, and (2) turns public education into an "a la carte" situation. Regarding (1), does anyone really think the public school athletes would find it unfair that a home-schooled athlete can help their team win? Regarding (2), the percentage of students who are home-schooled is small. They save the county money since they don't take up classroom space while their parents pay the same taxes as those attending public school classes. Preventing home-schooled children from being able to participate in public school activities, where their parents are paying taxes like everyone else, makes no sense.

Another example I gave was a bill opposed by Delegate Surovell that would authorize the House of Delegates or Virginia Senate to intervene as a party representing Virginia if the Governor or Attorney General refused to defend in court an enacted Virginia law or Constitutional provision. This issue is devoid of ideology, equally applying to any political party. Another example I gave is Delegate Surovell's consistent opposition to requiring voters to identify themselves with a photo ID. Ironically, when the N.A.A.C.P. conducted a meeting in which they took the position that photo IDs should not be required for voters, they required attendees to show a photo ID to enter the meeting hall.

Other examples I gave included his opposition to bills providing civil immunity for use of force against intruders in one's home and authorizing physical force against such intruders. I am confident if someone breaks into a person’s home, the resident won't be thinking about his ideology when he decides what he needs to do. Delegate Surovell's opposition to keeping court records confidential concerning those whose have obtained permits to carry concealed weapons is equally devoid of politics and logic. What societal benefit accrues from outing those permittees?

I did discuss Delegate Surovell's political party pertaining to the local desire for extension of Metro's Yellow Line to Fort Belvoir, with which I agree. The reality of life is that Democrats are the minority party in the Virginia General Assembly. This means that Democratic transportation priorities for Northern Virginia are unlikely to see the light of day, even though Northern Virginia is Virginia's economic engine. A citizen can keep his head in the sand and continue driving down vehicle-choked Richmond Highway or he can gain a dose of pragmatism and vote for a state senator more likely to be able to convince the General Assembly of the value of an extended subway line to the economy of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The evidence shows that, ideology aside, Scott Surovell lacks the good judgment necessary to deserve elevation to the Virginia Senate.

H. Jay Spiegel

Mount Vernon