C’ville Debacle Raises Questions About Drinking Laws

One of the issues with being a state agency is that no one pays attention to you unless something goes wrong.  So let it be this week with the ABC.

The ABC does a lot of good things, such as regulating alcohol distribution, enforcing laws against businesses, and collecting millions in revenues.  Arresting individuals is not their thing, nor should it be.   That is the role of local law enforcement or the State Police.

The unnecessary use of force at UVA raises a larger issue — why are we devoting any law enforcement resources to arresting 20 year old college students for drinking alcohol?

The shift to the “21 or over” drinking age was led in the Eighties by the Federal government, who tied Federal highway funds to mandatory changes in state law.  (Talk about coercion!).  Virginia, like every other state, had no other choice but to fall in line. While the Federal effort had the laudable purpose of reducing DWI violations, it created the absurdity that college-age young people could not legally drink any form of alcohol.

Welcome to the world of “Baby Prohibition” on college campuses.  And just as unsuccessful and fruitless an effort.

Having done a fair amount of global travel, I can promise you that nobody else maintains this kind of legal over-reach against young adults presumably enjoying the best days of their lives.  (On the other hand, we have college football and March madness.  So maybe it balances out.)

This policy has forced otherwise law-abiding young people to evade an over-inclusive law, which is largely ignored on campuses and will always be.  And that’s not counting the irony of denying alcohol to 19 and 20 year olds serving in the military.

It may still be impossible to legally reduce the drinking age.  One fact is clear to me:  possession of alcohol, as opposed to DWI or public drunkenness, should not be a criminal violation, at least for 19 and 20 year olds.

That doesn’t mean it can’t still be a civil violation (and potentially an ABC license revocation) for businesses that serve “under-age,” but arresting individual students is ridiculous and self-defeating.  We’ve all got better and more important things to do.

And that includes the ABC.

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Press Release: Virginia Proclaims Petersen’s “Homeowners Bill of Rights” Law: Commonwealth Celebrates

Fairfax, Va. – When an overly aggressive home owner’s association or condo association takes action against a Virginia homeowner, the citizen will have a new tool to defend their property: A Homeowners’ Bill of Rights.

Announced by the Governor’s office today on the Legislative Information System, Senator Chap Petersen’s (D-Fairfax) bill was signed into law on Tuesday.

Senator Petersen’s bill, SB 1008, codifies a series of protections for homeowners that live in a home owners’ association (HOA) or condominium associations.

The Homeowners’ Bill of Rights consists of five provisions –

1. The right to inspect all books and records –
2. The right to cast a vote on any matter requiring a vote –
3. The right to have notice of all meetings and to record the meetings –
4. The right to have notice of any proceeding conducted against the owner and to have the right of due process –
5. The right to serve in elected office if duly elected –

Upon receiving notice that Governor Terence R. McAuliffe had signed the bill, Senator Petersen issued the following statement:

“In 1775, a Virginia Assembly member, George Mason, stood on the steps of the Fairfax County courthouse and proclaimed the ‘Fairfax County Resolves’ to the local militia leaving to join General Washington’s army. Those resolves later became the Virginia Declaration of Rights and, finally, the Bill of Rights in the United States Constitution.”

“Today, HOAs and condo associations now constitute a new level of government, without any legal protections for due process or accountability. I applaud Governor McAuliffe for signing this bill, and today in Virginia we proclaim the Homeowners’ Bill of Rights which will codify protections for homeowners and families, and provide legal recourse against HOA abuses.”

The Homeowners’ Bill of Rights comes as a result of constituent concerns in Northern Virginia over overly aggressive home owner’s associations (HOAs) and condo associations. Flora Nicholas​, a Fairfax County resident, was recently fined because a displaced soccer ball in her front yard was deemed to be debris.

Most famously in 2009, a Virginia man, Retired Army Officer Van Thurmon Barfoot was fined for displaying the American flag outside his home. Now deceased, Barfoot’s story still spreads virally through social media at regular intervals.

Following his bills to permit solar panels in HOAs, as well as his 2014 effort to neuter HB791, a bill to take away homeowners’ property rights, Senator Petersen has emerged as the leading voice in the General Assembly to protect homeowners.


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I Still Hate Christian Laettner? (Not really)

It’s late March 1990.  I”m a senior in college on Spring Break,  at a poolside  in Daytona Beach, Florida.  At the bar, a TV is playing a regional final.  The ball is in-bounded with a second to go.  A shot goes up from 20 feet.  Swish.  Christian Laettner.

Two years later, I’m in Charlottesville, down at The Corner. It’s my 24th birthday.  Kentucky vs. Duke.  Kentucky hits a running one-hander with two seconds to play.  Over right?  The ball is thrown down court.  Up it goes.  Swish.  Christian Laettner.

The defining moments of March Madness.   And it was only yesterday.

Just finished watching “I Still Hate Christian Laettner” on ESPN.  Wish I could sympathize with the guy after all these years.  Well, I tried.

He was easy to hate, especially representing the Duke Blue Bloods.  But he was a hell of a ballplayer.  And those were great, great teams.

Those were the golden days of college basketball.  After years of North Carolina dominance (Michael, Worthy, Sam Perkins), Duke had risen to dominate Tobacco Road.  UVA was getting better under Jeff Jones — but was light years from the Ralph era.

Laettner, Bobby Hurley and Grant Hill dominated college basketball in the early Nineties.  They also stayed in school all four years, which magnified their influence.

College basketball in March is still the greatest.  We love the Cinderella stories, the villains, the drama.  Can’t wait for the tournament to begin on Thursday.

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