Thursday, August 19, 2010

Will House Dems risk a rout?

With Republican prospects looking ever better for this fall, the House Democratic Campaign Committee and the PACs that follow its lead face tough triage decisions: Who will they fund?
Republicans need 39 seats to take away the Democrats' majority, so the temptation is to focus on protecting the weakest seats. But protecting a House majority is becoming more unrealistic -- so what should the party do? Will it mount a goal-line stand and pour funds into its weakest 39 races -- or tacitly concede the House, back up and defend the seats it can win?

By moving resources out of the races where they're weakest, Democrats would be swallowing a bitter pill by admitting that Nancy Pelosi's days as House speaker are numbered. But if they focus their funds and manpower on the most endangered seats, they may well let slip away dozens more seats that they might have defended successfully.
Futile efforts to protect a disappearing majority could lead to a loss of 60 to 80 seats, where a more prudent allocation of resources might hold the damage to 50 seats.
Condemning those dozens of "extra" Democrats to defeat would deny the Democrats the incumbents on whom they'd need to build a future majority -- opening the door to a longterm GOP majority.
Take Virginia, for example: Three House Democrats are facing tough re-election races there -- and one is as good as gone. In Charlottesville, freshman Democrat Tom Perriello is running more than 20 points behind his GOP challenger, Robert Hurt. In Norfolk/Virginia Beach, Glenn Nye is slightly behind his Republican opponent, Scott Rigells. In the southwestern part of the state, longterm incumbent Rick Boucher still leads his GOP challenger, Morgan Griffith -- but the Republican could well come on and win.
So where should the Dems put their money? They'll probably need both the Perriello and Nye seats to keep their majority. But if they put funds there, they won't have enough left to protect Boucher.
So do they endanger Boucher to try to protect Nye and Perriello, or fall back and make sure solider incumbents like Boucher win -- even if it means virtually guaranteeing a loss of their majority by giving up on the Nye and Perriello seats?
The GOP math is different: If strategists conclude that the Nyes and the Perriellos of this Congress are goners and devote their resources to true swing seats like Boucher's, the Republicans vying for the Nye and Perriello seats will still attract all the money they need from opportunists eager to fund their winning campaigns.
As November approaches, watch how the Dems allocate their resources. It'll soon be evident if they're attempting a desperation defense of those 39 seats or if they're falling back to protect what they can.
Falling back would be an admission of defeat. But the desperate defense could transform a defeat into a rout.

Newport News house goes up in flames

A vacant house in Newport News was badly damaged by fire early Wednesday.
Firefighters arrived on 29th Street around 2:00 a.m. and found the building in flames.
During the firefight, the roof collapsed.
No one was hurt.
The cause of the fire is under investigation and will take some time due to the extensive damage, fire officials stated.
Damage is estimated at about $38,000, authorities added.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Architecture council under CBI scanner over affiliations

The CBI has tightened the noose around the Council of Architecture (CoA) — an apex body of professional architects — which has been accused of granting affiliations to institutions and courses without any authority. On Friday, the agency conducted raids in Goa and Delhi and seized documents related to unauthorized affiliations granted to several courses and institutes in India.

The raid in Goa was carried out at Vidya Vardhan’s Institute of Design, Environment and Architecture, whose director V S Sohoni is also the president of CoA. Sohoni is alleged to have violated various guidelines of the central government in running CoA, a national level autonomous body recognized by the Union government. CBI had last year received a letter from the HRD ministry, after which a preliminary investigation was launched.

“COA is similar to the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India where professionals need to register themselves. It has no right to give recognition to courses or colleges. We have found several such cases where CoA’s name was used to grant recognition. Sohoni’s college in Goa is also one of the institutes where students were given false representation,” said a CBI official.

“We are probing all such colleges and institutions which have been given affiliation during the tenure of Sohoni, who has been the head of COA since 2004.The documents seized have been sent for forensic examination. The role of other officials of COA is also under scanner and nationwide raids are being carried out to unearth the entire scam. We’ve come to know during investigation that in many cases, the council did not even seek approval of the ministry in decision-making,” the official added.

When contacted by TOI, Sohoni refused to comment, saying that the matter was sub-judice. The power to recognize a course or institute is vested with the University Grants Commission (UGC) and the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) only.

Read more: Architecture council under CBI scanner over affiliations - India - The Times of India