Letter: Worrying About Local News

Letter: Worrying About Local News

The Connection newspapers' recent financial challenges, coupled with the disappearance of standard features such as letters to the editor from recent issues, has a lot of us worried about the future of the U.S.' oldest newspaper in continuous publication, (Alexandria Gazette Packet) so seeing letters to the editor supplementing legislator's op-eds in the Feb. 17 edition is a welcome sign, like the first daffodil as winter melts into springtime.

A clearly frustrated Sen. Scott Surovell recounts the partisan divide over pandemic restrictions and laments three Democrat senators crossing over to vote with Republicans to scale them back. The Virginia Senate, although much smaller than the U.S. Senate, is blessed to have not one, but three, Joe Manchins!  The Connection Newspapers' current financial plight has a great deal to do with how pandemic restrictions have impacted the business climate and is indicative of why we need to move beyond pandemic restrictions to understanding that the coronavirus, like influenza and other diseases, is endemic.  The pandemic restrictions imposed in 2020 and in varying degrees still ongoing are historically unprecedented.  During other pandemics folks went about their normal activities, aware of heightened risk (coronavirus deaths have been remarkably stable at 2% of diagnosed cases) greatly minimized by vaccines readily available for a year. 

By contrast, Sen. Adam Ebbin's op-ed focused on fixing the Virginia Employment Commission.  One wonders why, only now, Sen. Ebbin, who has served in the legislature for nearly two decades, has suddenly realized that the Virginia Employment Commission lacks funding for "long-planned, much needed system upgrades" eight years of Democrat governors ignored.  Do common folk who don't belong to organized pressure groups or can't afford lobbyists have to ring the phone off the hook, as frustrated unemployment insurance applicants had to do, to get their legislators' attention? 

Billions of dollars of federal pandemic aid flowed into the Commonwealth. How much of it did the legislature devote to adding staff to the Virginia Employment Commission to handle the sudden spike in claims or invest in actually acquiring these "long-planned, much needed system upgrades"?  Instead, Sen. Ebbin concedes that the current administration is forthrightly addressing long-pending questions, as two of Joint Audit & Legislative Review Commission's recommendations are expedited and legislation is finally -- but belatedly -- being offered to rectify various faults in unemployment insurance administration.  A better caption for Sen. Ebbin's op-ed might have been "Better Late Than Never"! 

Dino Drudi


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