Archive for the 'Programs' Category

Virginia General Assembly Legislative Report (2019)

Sunday, May 12th, 2019

The annual recap of the recently concluded Session of the Virginia General Assembly was presented by our local legislators, Senator Creigh Deeds (D) and Delegates Steve Landes (R) and David Toscano (D). Delegates Bell and Fariss and Senator Reeves declined to participate.

The program was moderated by SSV vice president and program committee chair Bonnie Brewer. Listen to the podcast (press Audio MP3) and then start the PowerPoint by clicking here.

A Free-Enterprise Solution To Climate Change

Thursday, April 11th, 2019

Former United States Congressman Bob Inglis talks about conservative economics and ethics principles for climate action.

Bob Inglis was elected to the United States Congress in 1992 where he represented Greenville-Spartanburg, SC, from 1993-98 and from 2004 to 2010.

In 2011, Inglis went full-time into promoting free enterprise action on climate change and launched the Energy and Enterprise Initiative (E&EI) at George Mason University. In 2014, E&EI re-branded to become, a growing grassroots community of over 5000 members educating the country about free-enterprise solutions to climate change. Listen to his presentation that was moderated by Past President Bob McGrath.

For his work on climate change Inglis was given the 2015 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award. He appears in the film Merchants of Doubt and in the Showtime series YEARS of Living Dangerously (episodes 3 and 4). He has given talks at the TEDx Jacksonville and TEDx BeaconStreet events and has been interviewed on various national news programs.

He was a resident fellow at Harvard’s Institute of Politics in 2011, a visiting fellow at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment in 2012, and a resident fellow at the University of Chicago’s Institute for Politics in 2014.

Inglis grew up in the Low country of South Carolina, graduated from Duke and the University of Virginia School of Law and practiced commercial real estate law in Greenville, S.C., before and between his years in Congress. Bob, his wife, and five children live on a small farm in Greenville County.

Program Summary

Bob Inglis, former Republican Congressman from South Carolina and current executive director of, presented a program on the conservative case for climate change action. He developed his interest as a result of a congressional science trip to Antarctica where he observed the results of deep core drilling tests that showed an increase in CO2 in the air at the time of the industrial revolution. It is an undisputed fact of science that burning fossil fuels leads to chemical changes in the air. He explained the scientific evidence example that increased CO2 can lead to disappearance of coral reefs by 2050.

His basic philosophy to solving this problem, based on conservative values, is to fix the economic factors that lead to the introduction of CO2 into the air involves a “pay to play” process. In short that would involve a graduated carbon tax that would charge for emitting carbon dioxide and an end of subsidies and tax credits to wind, solar and nuclear groups. This would make the cost of the product reflect its actual price. As a result of this wind, solar and nuclear energy would become cost competitive and there would be an abundance of energy available.

When asked about the rest of world contributing to the CO2 problem, he suggested a border carbon tax from those who want to import to the US and produce goods that don’t follow the CO2 rules. His argument for this was implemented by the thought that other governments would tax the offenders rather than pay the tax to the US. There seems to be growing bipartisan support for several of his comments.

The final factor to determine the success of human activity reducing climate change is timely implementation of policies. Mr. Inglis feels that free enterprise moves more quickly than governments in effecting change, so that is where the best solution lies.

Cybersecurity: Making Cyberspace Open, Interoperable, Secure and Reliable

Saturday, March 16th, 2019

What are the major cyber security threats and challenges facing us in 2019 and beyond? What are the Federal Government’s primary roles and responsibilities? What is the Commonwealth of Virginia doing to tackle cyber security? Find the answers to these questions and more in this interesting podcast moderated by SSV president Rich DeMong. First download the view graphs that were presented.

Thomas A. Dukes, Jr., is the Director of Strategic Initiatives for the Virginia National Guard, as well as an adjunct professor of cyber law and policy at the University of Virginia and the University of Tartu, Estonia.  He previously served as the U.S. State Department’s Deputy Coordinator for Cyber Issues, as a senior trial attorney in the U.S. Justice Department’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, and as an active duty U.S. Air Force Judge Advocate.  He earned a JD from the University of Virginia School of Law and a BA from the University of Maine at Farmington.

Program Summary

Cybersecurity threats would include cyberespionage to seek political, economic and military advantage over the US, cyber enabled theft and extortion against US networks and US elections interference. The role of the US has been one of leadership in developing a strategy for managing cybersecurity. The global use of the internet has different countries having different thoughts on how this should be accomplished. US presidents have initiated several commissions to present a federal policy, but currently there is not one though individual states have their own. The UN has also tried to form a global policy, but without success. In principle all parties agree on the goal of an open, reliable and secure network.
In speaking about Virginia specifically, the state government has several cybersecurity initiatives: Cybersecurity Strategy (2016),, Virginia Information Technology Agency (VITA) , Attorney General of Virginia, Virginia Dept of Public Safety, VA National Guard and VA Department of Emergency Management.
The internet has radically changed our world and it is important to remember how young this field of technology really is. On June 29,2007 the first iPhone was released. Cybersecurity is an evolving field trying to maintain a balance between freedom and safety.

Affordable Housing – The Status in Charlottesville & Albemarle

Wednesday, February 13th, 2019

What are the roles of the City and County in the growth of affordable housing? Does location matter? “Rural vs. Urban” or “Rural plus Urban?” What can the agencies do to help. Stacy Pethia and Sunshine Mathon addressed this at our Wednesday February 13, 2019 meeting. The program was moderated by SSV board member Peppy Linden. Listen to this interesting podcast after downloading the view-graph presentation.

In December Stacy Pethia became the principal planner for Housing for Albemarle County. Previously she coordinated Housing Programs in the City and managed Charlottesville’s Affordable Housing Fund. Stacy has a PhD in Urban Regeneration Policy from the University of Birmingham and a BA in Sociology from the University of Pittsburgh.





Sunshine Mathon became executive director of the Piedmont Housing Alliance in 2017. The mission of Piedmont Housing Alliance is to create affordable housing opportunities and foster community through education, lending, and equitable development. Prior to that Sunshine served as the director of real estate development for Foundation Communities in Austin, Texas. Sunshine has a Master of Architecture from the University of Texas at Austin and a BS in Physics from Bates College.



Program Summary

Stacy Pethia and Sunshine Mahone discussed the current status of affordable housing in our area. Both speakers acknowledged that this is not just a local, but also a national problem affecting both urban and rural areas.

Stacy started her presentation by defining affordable housing — less than 30% of household income including rent, mortgage, utilities and taxes is spent on housing. She stated that greater than 30% of county residents are housing burdened, 50% of those pay more than 50% of household income for housing and of that group 25% are 55 years or older. Barriers to affordable housing are economic including not only income, but also cost of construction and decreased levels of funding. Regulatory barriers including zoning and land use policies prevent building affordable housing as well as social barriers such as discrimination and NIMBY (not in my backyard) attitudes.

Sunshine discussed the needs between urban and rural areas such as costs of transportation and staffing requirements. Tax credits are a large part of building affordable housing for developers. In order to receive these limited federal credits, localities have to have guaranteed local funding. It has been shown that individuals who have unaffordable or unstable housing have poorer health and sense of wellbeing. Regional Housing Partnership is a new group of Charlottesville, Albemarle and UVA members focused on resolving the housing crisis. Sunshine concluded with the statement that there is no perfect solution to this problem. He advised that there should be a decisive and proactive role by communities and smart spending of resources by all parties.

Albemarle Forward: How Our Schools Will Make a Difference

Wednesday, January 9th, 2019

Albemarle Schools are ranked #3 in the state, which is very impressive. The schools, however, continue to have significant disparities in achievement and discipline within. Although Albemarle County had a very successful school referendum two years ago (with 75% voter approval) and the last of those projects will be completed in a few months, Albemarle Schools are still working to catch up with our capital needs after the last recession and a decade of under funding capital during which 1000+ students were added to the rolls.  Albemarle Tech, an innovative learning environment for our high school students, is a new program that has had a lot of success. Increasing partnerships with community organizations in 2019 is a high-value strategic objective for the division in the new year.

Dr. Kate Acuff was elected to the Albemarle County Public School Board in November, 2013, as the representative from the Jack Jouett Magisterial District. She has been the chair for almost three years. Dr. Acuff spoke at our Wednesday January 9, 2019 meeting. The program was moderated by SSV president Rich DeMong.

Start to listen to the podcast of the meeting and the Q&A session. Then the slides that accompanied Dr. Acuff can be downloaded here.

Dr. Acuff, who is a health policy consultant, serves on the Board of the University of Virginia Physicians Group, on the Board of Mental Health America-Charlottesville/Albemarle and on the Steering Committee of the Community Mental Health and Wellness Coalition. She previously was a consultant to the Virginia Supreme Court’s Commission on Mental Health Law Reform, an adjunct assistant professor in Emory University’s School of Public Health and a vice president of policy and education with the National Public Health and Hospitals Institute.

Dr. Acuff is a strong advocate for providing safe and healthy learning environments in schools. Among her priorities is to support collaborative programs among students, parents, school staff and other members of the community to continue the division’s progress in its bullying prevention programs. Dr. Acuff also believes that access by students to pre-K instruction should be expanded to reduce the opportunity gap among children in Albemarle County.

A native of the Midwest, Dr. Acuff is a graduate of the University of Tulsa. She received her Master’s in Microbiology & Immunology from the University of Colorado and her Ph.D. and a M.P.H. in Public Health and Public Policy and Management from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. She also earned a J.D. from Georgetown University.

Program Summary

Although the Albemarle County Public School system is ranked #3 in the state there are significant disparities that are being addressed. The learning environment is changing. Artificial intelligence, robotics demand a new skill set of students today. The style of public school education needs to change to prepare the students of today for the future. The idea of teachers lecturing to students is morphing into students being asked to focus on complex problems, critical thinking, creativity, communication and collaboration (the five Cs). This process involves developing programs such as the opening of Albemarle Tech in the former Comdial building to simply re-configuring classroom space.

Today students are encouraged to connect with the community through internships and job training to obtain real world work experience. Dr. Acuff also discussed the challenges of the diversity of the student population with students from over 180 different countries who speak 65+ languages, and a 30% low income student base; as well as addressing the achievement opportunity gap, combating racism, recruiting and retaining teachers and capital needs that have taken a large financial setback due to the 2008 financial crisis.

In summary, the goals of the school system are to create a culture of high expectations for all, identify and remove practices that perpetuate the achievement gap, and ensure that students identify and develop personal interests.

Ending the Civil War: 1865 Until Today

Friday, December 28th, 2018

Dr. Edward Ayers of the University of Richmond spoke to the Senior Statesmen of Virginia at its December 12, 2018 meeting. He stated that Americans continue to struggle with the causes and meanings of their Civil War. He discussed our current understanding of the war, why people disagree about it, and how we might move forward.

Dr. Ayers is Tucker-Boatwright Professor of the Humanities and president emeritus at the University of Richmond. He has been named National Professor of the Year, received the National Humanities Medal at the White House, served as president of the Organization of American Historians, and won the Bancroft Prize in American history. Ed is one of the cohosts for BackStory, a popular podcast about American history. His newest book, The Thin Light of Freedom: The Civil War and Emancipation in the Heart of America, received the Lincoln Prize.

Unfortunately the podcast of the meeting was corrupted and could not be recovered.  A short video of the event can be found at the CBS19 link below.

Program Summary

Dr. Ayers discussed how myths about the “Lost Cause” limits our ability to fully recover from the Civil War. He used examples from his work with the Monument Avenue Commission in Richmond to illustrate the point that some are not yet willing to accept that a major cause of the Civil War was slavery. He pointed out that the Civil War lead to the end of perpetual bondage of 4 million people which is a major event in this country.

CBS19 News summarized the meeting with the following story:

It was a packed house at the Center on Wednesday (December 12, 2018) in Charlottesville where people gathered to talk about the Civil War.

The afternoon (December 12, 2018) gathering was sponsored by the Senior Statesman of Virginia and featured the former University of Richmond President and award-winning author Edward Ayers.

He was talking about his newest book, “Thin Light of Freedom – The Civil War and Emancipation in the Heart of America.

Ayers says the “Lost Cause” myth of the Civil War has made it difficult to teach the reality of the reason why the Civil War was fought.

“It was created precisely to deny the centrality of slavery in the Civil War,” he said. “It was to ennoble peoples fathers and brothers who had died to create a new nation or as many think of it as dismantling the United States of America.”

Ayers also says if people understand all the reasons for the war including economics, they might better understand how slavery played a huge role as the economic engine of the country at the time.” 


Four Important Political Trends That Haven’t Received the Notice They Deserve

Thursday, November 15th, 2018

Senior Statesmen Vice President and Program Chair, Terry Cooper, spoke about several trends in politics that have gone largely unnoticed. Following the presentation, questions were taken from the audience. The program was moderated by SSV president Rich DeMong.

Mr. Cooper was a long-time Republican political consultant specializing in issues and opposition research. Terry’s current business is political analysis. He is a native of Charlottesville and a graduate of Episcopal High School, Princeton University and the University of Virginia School of Law.

Listen to the podcast of the presentation and Q&A and watch the slides presented by clicking here.

Program Summary

Terry explicated four “Highlights.” The first was that “Bernie Sanders’ ideas are gaining widespread acceptance.” Precampaign impressions of Bernie were that he was intemperate, illogical, unpersuasive, a flake and an embarrassment. Now he is viewed as a nice guy with a great wife who makes a point. An August 2018 Gallup poll reported that 57% of democrats view socialism favorably, 47% view capitalism favorably, and 51% of all millennials view socialism favorably.

Terry’s second highlight is that “The big interloper is the #metoo movement.” This trend originates at least with Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein, but possibly as far back as Fatty Arbuckle!  Resulting from this trend was a total refocus of the hearings on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, and it had a major impact on the 2018 elections and the directions the parties take.

Highlight #3: “The consequences of ‘wave’ elections.” Wave elections are likely to increase rather than reduce partisanship, polarization and gridlock because the damage falls disproportionally on moderates. Their districts are closely divided and therefore easier to flip. The hard left and the hard right are mostly insulated from the carnage.

Terry’s fourth Highlight: “Party loyalty.” Americans are steadily dissociating themselves from the two major parties. More now self-identify as independents than as Republicans or Democrats.

The Coming Retirement Crisis

Friday, October 12th, 2018

Can we count on Social Security? Did Baby Boomers save enough?  What about Gen X and the Millennials? What is the future of 401(k)s, IRAs, mRAs? Will retirees have sufficient funds for health care and nursing home care? Are there any solutions other than working until you drop?  Find out the answers to these and many more questions in this interesting podcast.  The PowerPoint used can be downloaded here.  Mr. DeMong spoke at the Wednesday October 10, 2018 meeting that was moderated by SSV board member Bob McGrath.

Rich DeMong is the University of Virginia’s Virginia Bankers Association Professor Emeritus after teaching investments and corporate finance at the McIntire School of Commerce for 37 years. He has a PhD from the University of Colorado, an MBA from William & Mary, and a BA in Political Science from California State University at Long Beach. He has authored or coauthored many research papers, books and monographs on investment and finance topics.

In addition to having retired from UVa, Rich retired from the United States Air Force as a colonel. He flew C-130s in Viet Nam and was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross and many other medals and ribbons.

Rich has a CFA charter and has taught investment, 401(k), and retirement seminars in the U.S., Switzerland, Germany, Japan, Thailand, Kazakhstan, and the U.K.

Rich is the president of the Senior Statesmen of Virginia and is on the board of The Center, Charlottesville Committee on Foreign Relations, Innisfree, and the University of Virginia Physicians.

Program Summary

Rich DeMong led off with the very sobering news that 43 percent of workers will run out of money in retirement representing a shortfall of 4 trillion dollars. The first slide of his data-packed PowerPoint presentation began whimsically showing the famous head shot of Mad Magazine cartoon character Alfred E. Neuman with the caption, “What me worry?” And, as we were to learn during the course of the program, unfortunately that attitude pretty well sums up the journey of many of today’s workers as they advance towards retirement. In fact, there is plenty to worry about.

Rich listed the following topics to be addressed during his presentation: (1) Current situation; (2) Can we count on Social Security? (3) Have Baby Boomers saved enough? (4) What about Gen X and the Millennials? (5) Future of 401(k)s, and IRAs; (6) Will retirees have sufficient funds for health care and nursing home care? and (7) Possible solutions.

Fifty-seven percent of workers feel they are not on track for a successful retirement, and then overlay this with the recognition that we as humans tend to be over confident with regard to our knowledge and abilities. Positive investment outcomes in the past may have been due to luck or good timing and in any event are no assurance of future successes.

Further, most people underestimate what they’ll need for retirement. Typically it is assumed that income needs will drop to 65 to 70 percent of preretirement spending where in reality it often increases because you start doing the things you always wanted to do over time but never got around to doing such as travel and visiting and supporting children and grandchildren.

After citing dire predictions from national media sources, Rich brought the message close to home by quoting a similarly unhappy prediction from The Daily Progress, “By 2030 one in five Americans will be of retirement age and most of these won’t have the financial means to pay for their erstwhile golden years.”

Rich described what our parents experienced with the “joys of retirement” as having a nice pension which enabled them to take cruises, visit grandchildren, get a gold watch, and at age 65 sign up for Social Security and Medicare, and have no mortgage. That contrasts with workers today who face a much different situation. Forty-four percent still have mortgages when they retire; 2.8 million of 60 years olds have a student loan; and more persons 75 and older have more debt today than in 2007. This is just a small sliver of the “troubling news” facing today’s retirees. Other issues relate to health care costs; long-term care; Social Security; 401(k) and 403(b) plans; and IRAs and Roth IRAs. Offering a bit of relief, Rich also explicated some “good news” as well as some solutions for individuals and policy solutions.

Likely Effects of the 2017 Federal Tax Law Changes

Friday, September 14th, 2018

The 2017 federal tax law changes were controversial from the beginning. The bill was essentially written in secret, without the benefit of public hearings. Opponents, though they hadn’t seen even a draft, lambasted the bill as a giveaway to “the rich” that would massively increase the deficit and the national debt.

Professor George Yin spoke at the Wednesday September 12, 2018 meeting, which was held at the The Center in Charlottesville. Following the presentation, questions were taken from the audience. The program was moderated by SSV board member Bob McGrath. Listen to the podcast for a clear explanation of the impact of the new law.

Professor George Yin, an expert on federal tax law, presented a balanced assessment of the bill’s likely consequences on individuals, on businesses and on the economy. His analysis includes both a lay explanation of tax-law arcana such as “the Byrd rule” and an even-handed, practical critique of the assessments of the bill by its supporters and its opponents.

Professor Yin was formerly chief of staff to Congress’ Joint Committee on Taxation (known colloquially as “Joint Tax”), a nonpartisan body that helps draft tax legislation, analyzes it and prepares official revenue estimates concerning its effects. Prior to that he was tax counsel to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan, the University of Florida, and the George Washington University Law School.

Program Summary

A lot has changed in the legislative process since the last major tax reform adopted in 1986. The 2017 bill was rushed through almost as if the legislators were ashamed of what they were doing. In 1986 the first proposal came out in three volumes. In 2017 the proposal was one page of bullet points. The second proposal in 1986 was contained in a 500 page report, while in 2017 the second proposal consisted of a nine page press release. The markup of the bill took 17 and 26 days in 1986 as compared to four and four days in 2017. The total time to pass the legislation in 1986 took almost two years. In 2017 it was just seven weeks.

Almost all of the selected tax changes affecting individuals will expire in 2025 while most of the tax changes affecting businesses do not sunset. For individuals the maximum rate has been reduced to 37 percent. The standard deductions for individuals and married couples have been increased from $6,500 and $13,000 to $12,000 and $24,000 respectively. An additional standard deduction for a single person 65 or over is $1,600 and for married couples with only one person over 65 is $1,300, and $2,600 if both over 65. The child credit increases from $1,000 to $2,000. Offsetting some of these changes, the personal/dependent exemptions which were $4,050 in 2017 have been repealed. To sum up, under the old law a married couple both of whom are 65 or older would have been entitled to total exemptions of $23,700 before any taxable income at all. Under the new law the total exemption is $26,600, a difference of about $3,000 resulting in a bit of a tax cut.

The major business-related changes include a reduction in the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent—a 40 percent decrease! “Passthrough” businesses have a new 20 percent deduction but only through 2025. Businesses can deduct 100 percent of capital investments other than buildings through 2022 and then the amount is reduced between 2023 and 2026 to 80, 60, 40 and finally 20 percent.

There has been a growing inequality of income and wealth over recent decades. With regard to income, the top one percent has experienced a 169 percent real increase between 1980 and 2014 with the top one-tenth of one percent enjoying a 281 percent real increase. Compare those increases to the median household increase of only 11 percent over the same three decades. During approximately the same time period the top one percent increased its holdings from 25 percent to 40 percent, while the top 10 percent increased from two-thirds to three-quarters.

Fifth Congressional District Candidates Forum

Friday, August 10th, 2018

Leslie Cockburn (D) spoke at the candidates forum with Preston Bryant moderating

The 5th Congressional District candidates forum is a biennial SSV event. Both major-party nominees, Democrat Leslie Cockburn and Republican Denver Riggleman, were invited to discuss their views. Mr. Riggleman declined the invitation. The program was moderated by McGuireWoods Consulting Senior Vice President Preston Bryant. Listen to a podcast of the event by clicking below.

Leslie Cockburn (D), is a graduate of Yale, and has had a 35-year career in journalism, including as a producer for CBS News’ “60 Minutes,” a correspondent for PBS’ “Frontline,” a Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton and a writer and author. She has won two Emmys, two George Polk Awards, two Columbia duPont Journalism awards and the Robert F. Kennedy Award. She has covered many of the major developments of our time, from the financial meltdown to the rise of radical jihadists.

She has served for many years on the boards of the Piedmont Environmental Council and the conservationist Krebser Fund and has been active in her opposition to the Dominion pipelines and uranium mining.

Leslie and her husband Andrew, Washington Editor of Harper’s Magazine, reside on a farm in Rappahannock County. They have two daughters, a son and four grandchildren.

Our moderator, Preston Bryant is a senior vice president at McGuireWoods Consulting, where he works in the firm’s infrastructure and economic development group. His experience lies in water, wastewater, and energy generation projects, and he advises clients on project site selection and regulatory affairs.

In 2009, President Obama appointed Preston to chair the National Capital Planning Commission, the central planning agency for all federal lands and buildings in Washington, DC, suburban Maryland, and Northern Virginia. At NCPC, he presides over a staff of some 45 planners, architects, engineers and other professionals.

An large crowd attended the event at the Senior Center on Hillsdale Drive in Charlottesville.

Program Summary

At the Senior Statesmen forum, Leslie Cockburn received questions from the audience and was given five minutes to answer each. The topics ranged from her past work as a journalist to her thoughts on Medicare for All, a proposed legislative alternative to the Affordable Care Act.

Reintroduced this year by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, Medicare for All would move all people onto Medicare, even if they have private health care coverage. It has received support from Senate Democrats.

Due to recent changes to the Affordable Care Act, people in the Charlottesville area who receive health care through the act could pay some of the highest insurance rates in the state.

“A family of four in Charlottesville can pay $36,000 a year because we have one provider because [President Donald] Trump pulled out the legs from under the companies that are no longer subsidized,” she said.

Her support of Medicare for All is one of the few policy points where Cockburn differs from U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, a Democrat who is running for reelection. Kaine has proposed Medicare-X, which would allow people to buy into Medicare and has been characterized as less extensive than Medicare for All.

More details can be found in an article written by The Daily Progress reporter Tyler Hammel (434-978-7268,, @TylerHammelVA on Twitter) which appeared in the August 9, 2018, edition of The Daily Progress. The above was excerpted from this article. Click here to read the article.