ICYMI: Where’s Howlin’ Henry?

VepcoMy latest op-ed, titled above, appeared in The Virginian-Pilot last Friday.

As Senate Bill 1349 passed both chambers of the legislature, I couldn’t help but think of an old bumper sticker and Henry Howell Jr.

The bumper sticker read, “Welcome to Virginia. Owned and Operated by Vepco.” Howell, the fiery populist from Norfolk, campaigned for governor under the slogan, “Keep the Big Boys Honest.”

I actually found an eBay listing for the old sticker, which is where the graphic comes from. And if you’re not familiar with Norfolk’s Henry Howell, here’s his Wikipedia entry. As I did some research for my article, I came across this:

In a country tenor, Gross sings the refrain:

‘Welcome to the great state of Virginia, Owned and operated by Vepco’

I don’t remember the song but I remember the bumper stickers. And I remember Howell’s last run for governor in 1977 (no, I wasn’t old enough to vote then). The two were related in my mind.

The governor has until midnight tonight to sign SB 1349, which gives Dominion, formerly Vepco, the ability to raise rates without oversight. I’m not believing the hype: yes, the base rate will be frozen but there is nothing to stop Dominion from increasing other rates, as this Washington Post editorial points out.

I’m not the first to point out that Dominion is a heavy hitter when it comes to political contributions.

To revise the old phrase, it’s now the General Assembly that is owned and operated by Dominion.

As the bill sits on his desk, the question Gov. Terry McAuliffe faces is whether he joins the legislature or channels his inner Howell.

Keep the big boys honest, governor.

My column appears in The Virginian-Pilot every week, usually on Thursdays. You can see the columns as they are published here, or navigate to them from the PilotOnline.com homepage by clicking on Opinion and then choosing my name at the bottom of the dropdown list. You can also see the columns by liking my Facebook page. Although my column appears weekly, I am not and have never been an employee of The Virginian-Pilot nor am I paid for my contributions to the paper.



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