How Land Use Regulation Aggravates Income Inequality

This graph from the
This graph from the Shoag-Ganong study shows how states rank in two rankings of land use regulation: the Wharton Index of Regulation and the number of land use cases per capita. Regulation in Virginia, highlighted in red, was light-to-moderate compared to other states.

The thesis advanced by economists Daniel Shoag and Peter Ganong in their paper, “Why Has Personal Income Convergence in the U.S. Declined,” is not new. Market-oriented urbanists have made the same connections for years: that land use restrictions drive up the cost of housing, and that high housing costs aggravate income inequality by throttling the flow of lower-income households to wealthier regions offering greater economic opportunity. But Shoag and Ganong have tapped a new set of data to make that case more ironclad than ever.

The convergence of per capita incomes across U.S. states from 1880 to 1980 is “one of the most striking patterns in macroeconomics,” the authors state; for more than a century, incomes a rate of 1.8% per year. Then between 1990 to 2010, there was virtually no convergence at all. Prior to 1980, Americans were moving, on net, from poor places to richer places. Since then, higher-skill workers still have been moving but lower skill workers have tended to stay put.

Economic theory would suggest that in a free labor market, workers would tend to migrate to states and metropolitan regions offering better prospects for jobs and wages — as in fact occurred for more than a century. However, inter-state mobility has declined as housing prices have increased significantly more in high-income states than in low-income states, thus pricing lower-income workers out of expensive housing markets.

“Although skilled adults are still moving to high income locations, unskilled adults are actually weakly migrating away from these locations,” the authors find. “High housing prices in high nominal income areas have made these areas prohibitively costly for unskilled workers.”

Although the study was published in 2015, it has been getting increased exposure. Ganong presented the paper in a July Brookings Institute conference on municipal finance, and the Wall Street Journal highlighted the findings in an article today.

The driving force behind higher housing prices is land use regulation. Since 1977, they write, “it has been widely accepted that municipalities’ land use restrictions raise property values for incumbent homeowners. … Local variation in regulations is not randomly assigned; it is the product of substantial work by local governments and regulatory bodies.”

Hypothesizing that restrictive land use policies might explain the phenomenon, Shoag and Ganong devised a clever new measure — the frequency with which the phrase “land use” appeared in state appellate court cases over time. The number of land use court cases served as a proxy for the intensity of land use regulation in each state.

In conclusion:

A simple back of the envelope calculation … finds that cross-state convergence accounted for approximately 30% of the drop in hourly wage inequality from 1940 to 1980, and that had convergence continued apace through 2010, the increase in hourly wage inequality from 1980 to 2010 would have been approximately 10% smaller. The U.S. is increasingly characterized by segregation along economic dimensions, with limited access for most workers to America’s most productive cities and their amenities.

Bacon’s bottom line: Shoag and Ganong have documented one of the major drivers of income inequality in the country, and it has nothing to do with globalization, automation, illegal immigration or tax breaks for the rich. Sadly, the phenomenon is totally absent from our debased media commentary and presidential debate.

If anything, the authors understate the role of high housing prices because their database makes it possible to compare states only. If we look at migration patterns within Virginia, for instance, we would see the same trends at work. Thousands of unemployed and underemployed workers in Southside and Southwest Virginia find are discouraged from seeking superior work opportunities in high-wage Northern Virginia by Virginia’s strictest land use controls and the highest cost of housing.

There are legitimate reasons for some land use controls. New development should be required to mitigate its environmental impacts, such as erosion and sediment control. A case also can be made for limiting development in order to preserve unique historical or cultural attributes. But land use restrictions are far more typically put into place to restrict growth, with the goal of holding down increases by dampening the demand for schools, roads and other public amenities. But most restrictions create unintended consequences, of which the lofty price of housing is just the most visible.

Here’s One Easy Way to Clean Virginia Voter Rolls

... but only if you're a U.S. citizen.
… but only if you’re a U.S. citizen.

by James A. Bacon

Let’s pretend for a moment that Donald Trump did not create an uproar by claiming that the 2016 presidential elections are rigged. Let’s all take deep breaths, seek a meditative state of mind, and try to look dispassionately at the issue of voter fraud. Now let me advance a series of propositions.

First, we all can agree that only U.S. citizens should be allowed to vote in U.S. elections. A corollary to that proposition is that non-citizens should not be allowed to vote.

Second, we can agree that millions of non-citizens do live in the United States.

Third, we can agree that the National Voter Registration Act, which allows Americans to register while getting their drivers’ licenses, opened up a potential avenue for non-citizens to register illegally. Virginia requires no more proof from applicants than to check a box and affirm under penalty of perjury that they are citizens.

We do not know how often non-citizens register illegally, but the work of the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) has identified 1,046 non-citizens in eight localities who did so. Those non-citizens are known to have cast more than 200 ballots.

PILF’s numbers reflect only registrants who were caught in recent years: removed from voter rolls because someone had determined that they were not U.S. citizens. Most were identified by accident or chance, such as, for example, when someone claimed to be a citizen when receiving a driver’s license and later indicated he or she was not a citizen when renewing the license. The actual number of illegal voters in all 125 Virginia localities is likely much higher.

Fourth, whether the number is of sufficient size to skew election results or not, we can agree that registering illegally is, well… illegal. Furthermore, we can agree that local registrars, whose job is to uphold the integrity of the voting rolls, should institute formal procedures to remove non-citizens from the voting rolls — especially if the process is not onerously expensive and does not accidentally delete people who are qualified to vote.

Fifth — and here I know I’m going out on a limb — we can agree that every Virginia locality should periodically cross-reference its voting rolls with the federally administered Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) database to detect ineligible alien registrants. If tools exist to keep voter rolls clean, then we should use them.

VCU Takes Lead on New Richmond Baseball Stadium

The Diamond. Real estate better dedicated to mixed-use development.
The Diamond. Real estate better dedicated to mixed-use development.

by James A. Bacon

The big news out of Richmond today is that Virginia Commonwealth University and the Richmond Flying Squirrels have committed to being “major contributors” to a baseball stadium near the location of the existing stadium, known as the Diamond. The memorandum of understanding was announced in a press release yesterday.

“This is a significant step forward for baseball in the Richmond region,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones in the statement. Jones has spent the better part of his tenure as mayor trying to identify a location and financing for a stadium to replace the aging Diamond.

The announcement did not identify a site, although the Richmond Times-Dispatch cited sources as saying that officials are “still targeting” land occupied by an aging Virginia Department of Beverage Control warehouse. Nor did the press release say who would pay for the facility, although it did state that VCU would take the lead in efforts to develop the stadium.

Media accounts provided no details about the proposed site other than its location near the Diamond. While the McAuliffe administration probably can be counted on to be supportive of the project, it is unknown what issues might be encountered in making the ABC-warehouse property available. On the positive side, moving the stadium would open up 60 acres occupied by the Diamond and its parking lot to redevelopment. Located near the Boulevard interchange with Interstate 64 and the rapidly redeveloping Scotts Addition neighborhood, the property would be prime real estate. The prospect of adding to the tax base would make the initiative a winner for the city.

The bigger question is who will pay for the project. The Squirrels have indicated a willingness to pay a lease of about $1 million annually. That compares to annual financing costs (using very rough numbers and assuming the project is financed through 30-year municipal bonds) in the $2.5-million to $3-million-a-year range. Times-Dispatch sources indicated that the city and the counties of Chesterfield, Henrico and Hanover also would contribute to the project but gave no idea of how much.

Noting that the facility would be comparable in size and amenities to ballparks in Charlotte, N.C., and Allentown, Pa., the press release also said it could be used for concerts, festivals and other events, all of which could generate revenue as well.

To me, the biggest question is the role of VCU. How much of its own money will the university put into the project? How much exposure will the university have if the project falls short of financial expectations? And to what extent will VCU’s commitment to the ballpark crowd out its capacity to undertake other long-term capital projects? It’s far from clear, given the little we know, whether or not the project is a wise commitment by VCU.

Update: Mayoral candidate Joe Morrissey has declared that he would reject the use of public funds “no matter how camouflaged” to help build the baseball stadium. “The Diamond was built in 1985. The average public school in the City of Richmond was built in 1955,” he said in a press release today. “We need to focus on modernizing the schools before spending public money on a new baseball stadium.”

Yes, Virginia, There Is Voter Fraud

trumpby James A. Bacon

Donald Trump has dominated the news the past few days with charges that the election is “rigged” due to media bias and electoral fraud. His charges, which have been long on bluster and short on specifics, have inspired numerous rebuttals in the news media. The vast majority of commentary suggests that voter fraud is negligible — and certainly does not occur on a scale to affect election outcomes.

While media retorts tend to be more fact-based than Trump’s (whose motto could well be, “Proof? We don’t need no stinking proof!”), that doesn’t mean they tell the whole story. The rebuttal articles I have surveyed create an aura of verisimilitude by citing academic studies and quoting experts about the electoral process, but they ignore evidence that contradicts their views.

For instance, an essay by Philip Bump in the Washington Post this morning headlined, “Trump’s Claims about voter fraud are patently ridiculously,” omits mention of the recent report by the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF), “Alien Invasion in Virginia,” which uncovered evidence, naming names, of 1,046 non-citizens who were illegally registered to vote and had cast at least 200 ballots before being removed from voter rolls. (PILF had similar findings in Pennsylvania.)

The primary evidence that Bump cited was a study by Justin Levitt with the Loyola Law School who traced years’ worth of votes and found “only a few sporadic instances of possible — but not certain fraud. Specifically: 31 incidents out of 1 billion cast votes.” Wrote Bump: “There’s simply no credible evidence that in-person voter fraud happens with any regularity, much less at a scale that could affect a national race.” (My italics.)

Note the qualifier. No credible evidence of in-person voter fraud. Levitt focused on instances in which people showed up at the polls and voted using a false identity — a particular species of fraud targeted by Republican-initiated Voter ID laws. Levitt’s research found that that particular type of fraud was nearly non-existent. But it did not rule out other categories of voter fraud. As Levitt noted in a 2014 Washington Post piece:

These allegations do not include other forms of fraud … including absentee ballot fraud, vote buying, vote coercion, fraud in the tallying process, voter registration fraud, double voting, voting by noncitizens, voting by persons disenfranchised by conviction, or fraud in the petitioning process.

The commentators citing Levitt’s study to discredit Trump’s charges never mention that expansive caveat.

The Trump busters also cite the paucity of prosecutions as evidence that voter fraud is negligible. If fraud were widespread, they say, surely there would be evidence of it in the record of prosecutions and convictions. But that argument ignores the possibility that prosecutors may have no interest in tracking down voter fraud. As the PILF report demonstrated, registration among non-citizens in Virginia is endemic and hundreds of ballots were cast illegally, and that’s just based upon a sample of eight of Virginia’s 125 localities. These are not isolated instances — they are systemic, based upon the way the National Voter Registration Act is administered and enforced (or not enforced) across the state and probably the nation. Remarkably, PILF found no evidence that a single illegally registered voter uncovered in its Virginia investigation had been prosecuted.

PILF’s Noel J. Johnson said in testimony submitted last week to the House Privileges and Elections Committee:

Alexandria provided a list of 70 non-citizens who had been removed from their voter rolls in recent years. Each one of these registrants likely committed a felony when they registered to vote. Yet we received no records showing that any of these individuals had been referred to law enforcement for investigation or prosecution. …

Why have Virginia election officials not pursued criminal prosecutions of aliens registering and voting? …

Why has not a single instance of non-citizen registration and voting been prosecuted in Virginia that we could find?

The committee hearing turned into a bitter partisan fight as Republican lawmakers called for removal of Edgardo Cortes, commissioner of the Virginia Department of Elections, and Democrats accused Republicans of following Trump’s lead of casting doubt on the legitimacy of the upcoming election. (See the Richmond Times-Dispatch coverage here.)

Here’s what I have yet to see — a single mainstream media article about the PILF report. As a former member of mainstream media myself, I don’t believe in media conspiracies. But I can understand why the Trumpkins do. The media’s lack of interest in the allegations detailed by PILF is as astonishing as the allegations themselves. How can the media be so uninterested in charges that, at least on the face of it, seem well documented and go to the heart of our democratic process? Surely such accusations should be aired publicly and subjected to critical analysis. Ironically, the fact that the report is swept under the rug will only feed the conspiracy-mongering of Trump and his minions.

If Trump succeeds in undermining the legitimacy of the 2016 election, which he undoubtedly will lose, he will have had plenty of help from his antagonists in the media. Instapundit blogger Glenn Reynolds has popularized the phrase, “Think of [members of the press] as Democratic operatives with bylines and you won’t go far wrong.” At least half the population would agree.

Update: I just watched Chris Hayes on MSNBC citing Levitt’s figure of 31 incidents out of 1 billion votes as if it were representative of all forms of voting fraud. I wonder if Levitt takes issue with the way his study is being misconstrued in the press.

Update: I managed to contact Levitt, who is on leave from the Loyola Law School and now works for the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. Unfortunately, he says he cannot comment on any topic not directly related to his DOJ work. “In the course of the year,”he writes, “I’ve seen my work (including but not limited to the piece you mentioned) cited quite a bit — some accurately, some not, some criticism, and some praise — but I’ve had to let the work itself do all of the talking on my behalf. ”

Update: Peter Galuszka takes issue with my statement that not a single mainstream media outlet has mentioned the PILF report. He wrote an opinion piece for the Washington Post’sAll Opinions Are Local” feature that minimized the significance of the report as the product of “two right-wing groups” that “hounded” registrars for data and uncovered some sloppiness in record keeping. “Even if all 1,046 cases the groups claim are valid,” he concluded, “they do not make their point, given that more than 2 million Virginians tend to vote in elections. That’s hardly massive voting fraud.”

This Is What a Fiscal Meltdown Looks Like, Part V: Big Legal Fees

quicksandAs creditors close in and the City of Petersburg struggles to avoid default, it is spending large sums on legal and consulting fees. In the latest litigation, the city has hired the Richmond-based law firm Sands Anderson to fight an Oct. 4 order by a Petersburg Circuit Court Judge appointing a special receiver to ensure that city residents’ wastewater payments are forwarded to the regional sewage treatment agency.

In his order, Circuit Court Judge Joseph M. Teefey Jr. appointed an attorney from Richmond-based LeClair Ryan as the receiver. Presumably, the city will be responsible for covering LeClair Ryan’s fees as well.

The city is in more than $1 million in arrears in its payments to the South Central Wastewater Authority because it diverted wastewater revenues to other uses. The appointment of a receiver could trigger a default in other obligations, including more than $10 million in water, sewer and stormwater revenue-backed bonds.

Those debts include clauses specifying that the appointment of a receiver automatically constitutes an “Event of Default,” reports the Progress-Index.

“If the receivership is not vacated and the multitude of bond defaults described herein are triggered, it is expected that any short-term or long-term debt restructuring to facilitate … cash-flow relief for the city … will be extremely difficult to obtain,” states the city’s motion.

Meanwhile, City Council also hired the Robert Bobb Group, a municipal turn-around group, to help the city work through its financial woes. The principal of the group, Robert Bobb, was city manager of Richmond from 1986 to 1997 and was instrumental in rooting out corruption and turning around the deficit-plagued Detroit school system. Sources have told WRIC News that the consulting fees could cost $300,000.

Bacon’s bottom line: It has to be galling for secretaries, police, fire fighters and other city employees to swallow pay cuts while the city is doling out funds for high-priced lawyers and consultants. But what is the alternative? Roll over and play dead? Sadly, the city is caught in legal quicksand now. The harder it struggles to stay afloat, the more it racks up big professional fees that it can’t afford. The moral of the story for everyone else: Don’t let yourself get caught in Petersburg’s situation.


More Monitoring of Possum Point Groundwater


The Department of Environmental Quality has told Dominion Virginia Power to add nine new monitoring wells at its Possum Point Power Station and submit samples on a bi-weekly basis to get a better read on whether groundwater from its coal ash pits is contaminating neighbors’ drinking water.

Tests in private wells near the power station have indicated potentially dangerous levels of heavy metals associated with coal ash. However, the evidence is not conclusive enough for DEQ to rule out contamination by other sources.

“It’s really an effort to delineate what the groundwater looks like now and make an effort to see what it will look like in the future,” said Bill Hayden, a DEQ spokesman, as reported by Inside NoVa.

Environmental groups are pressing Dominion to remove the coal-combustion residue from the site, suggesting that some of the material could be recycled and the rest buried in a sealed landfill. Dominion argues that such a remedy would be enormously expensive, burdening electricity rate payers with unnecessary costs. DEQ must decide whether or not to grant Dominion a solid waste permit for buying and capping the coal ash on site.


After Fixing this Budget Shortfall, What Comes Next?

Governor McAuliffe explains his plan to close budget shortfall this year. Secretary of Finance "Ric" Brown stands in the background.
Governor McAuliffe explains his plan to close budget shortfall this year. Secretary of Finance Ric Brown stands in the background. Photo credit: Richmond Times-Dispatch.

As state revenues continue to lag projections, Governor Terry McAuliffe announced yesterday his plan to balance the FY 2017 budget. The plan implements three main strategies: eliminating $125 million in budgeted pay increases for state employees, withdrawing $392 million from the revenue stabilization fund, and scraping together unspent fund balances and agency spending cuts to cover the rest.

“There will be no program cuts to public education, Medicaid for our families most in need, nor our core public safety services. We did not kick our budget problems to local governments by reducing payments to cities, counties or towns,” said McAuliffe in making the announcement yesterday. “These are obviously difficult decisions to make and there may be more to come, but I am confident that the progress and investments we are making today will put Virginia on course for strong growth well into the future.”

Overall, it’s a reasonable set of priorities, and (unless you’re a state employee) relatively painless. Republican legislators and the Democratic governor will quibble over details, but there shouldn’t be too much sturm and drang.

Next year is a different matter. As the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports, the following fiscal year is projected to have a $654 million revenue shortfall. McAuliffe says the state could free up $211 million a year now spent on mental health, inmate hospital care and uncompensated care subsidies to hospitals if the state expanded the Medicaid program as provided under the Affordable Care Act. Republicans have opposed expansion because the state eventually would be responsible for picking up 10% of the cost of the expansion, adding to long-term budget liabilities. That debate is sure to be contentious.

Broadly speaking, Virginia can take one of three approaches to dealing with the budget crunch. First, it can raise taxes. But there seems to be no political appetite for that at the moment (thankfully). Second, lawmakers can address budget shortfalls on an ad hoc basis year by year, drawing from the same limited range of options. But there is a limit to how long we can lurch from short-term expedient to short-term expedient before we run out of expedients.

Lawmakers must confront the reality that there is a long-term mismatch between spending and revenue. That mismatch would look even worse if we made realistic assumptions regarding Virginia’s under-funded pension liabilities, and yet worse if we acknowledged that the rate of economic growth (and the new revenue generated by that growth) most likely will slow in Virginia the years ahead, as it will nationally and globally. Factor in the likelihood of a recession eventually, and we can predict a crisis-level budgetary crack-up within the next couple of budget cycles.

There is a third path, and that is rethinking government from stem to stern. Is there a different way to fund and prioritize transportation spending? Is there a different way to ensure that Virginia school children receive the education they need? Is there a different way to deliver health care? Is there a different way to provide Virginians the college-level skills and training they need to compete in the marketplace? Is there a different way to organize our human settlement patterns to make them more tax-efficient? Is there a different way to approach economic development? Is there a different way to ensure public safety? Is there a different way to protect the environment?

Virginia is wedded to approaches that have evolved over decades, and we tweak them every year with incremental reforms. Incremental reforms won’t work much longer. Muddling through won’t work much longer.

Does Diversity of Viewpoint Matter to UVa?

safe_spaceThe Douglas Muir controversy may have settled down now that the entrepreneurship instructor has abjectedly apologized for a stupid remark about Black Lives Matter on Facebook and will resume teaching at the University of Virginia. But questions about UVa’s commitment to freedom of expression linger. Muir’s comment was a flash in the pan; the worldview of university administrators is deeply entrenched and will govern the institution’s actions going forward.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch asks some pointed questions in an editorial today:

A statement from the Engineering School where Muir lectured said it could not abide “actions that undermine our values, dedication to diversity and educational mission.” This deserves careful parsing.

First: Don’t the school’s values include freedom of thought and expression?

Second: In what way, exactly, did Muir’s post undermine the school’s dedication to diversity? If diversity means, in practice, that harsh criticism of Black Lives Matter will not be allowed, then what other groups are off limits? Perhaps the school should draw up a list.

Third: Does diversity include diversity of viewpoint? If so, then why is Muir’s viewpoint out of bounds? If diversity does not include diversity of viewpoint, then what purpose does diversity serve?

Finally: How does silencing unpopular — and on campus, immensely unpopular — viewpoints like Muir’s advance U.Va.’s educational mission? Colleges already look too much like intellectually gated communities where dissent from prevailing orthodoxies is forbidden. By hanging Muir out to dry for voicing an offensive opinion, U.Va. has just signaled to others who might also might deviate from approved viewpoints that they would be wise to keep their thoughts to themselves.

Students taught in such a stilted atmosphere will be unprepared for the wider world.

Read the whole thing.

Meanwhile, the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression, affiliated with the University of Virginia Law School, hosted a symposium yesterday addressing free speech in higher education. (Hat tip: Randy Salzman.) Remarkably, none of the speakers addressed the Muir controversy, according to The Daily Progress.

“The entire debate was between center-left influencers bringing up articles by other center-left influencers,” noted attendee Jason Kessler. “I told them, if we’re really going to get to the crux of this thing, then you need to let right-wing and conservative people have a voice in the debate,”


Don’t Forget the Bond Referenda

bond_referendum3by James A. Bacon

While the U.S. presidential election degenerates into a parody of a banana republic (I hope I’m not insulting banana republics by saying that), Virginia voters may be tempted to avoid the polls. Neither one of Virginia’s two U.S. Senate seats are up for bids, after all, and congressional districts are so gerrymandered that throwing out incumbent congressmen is next to impossible, so why bother? One reason to show up is make your voice heard in local bond referenda to finance local school projects, transportation initiatives and other public amenities.

The most significant votes this year will determine whether Virginia citizens want to continue pouring money into the dysfunctional yet mission-critical Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), which has a $6 billion, six-year capital improvement campaign to upgrade creaky, unsafe infrastructure on Metro rail. Fairfax County’s designated share is $120 million; Arlington County’s is $30 million.

Pontificating from afar, I would expect Arlington citizens to approve the bond issue with little fanfare. The Metro is so central to the county’s transportation infrastructure that allowing the system to fail is inconceivable.

The story in Fairfax County is  different. Fairfax residents are far less dependent upon Metro than Arlingtonians. While a significant number do use rail to get to work, even more use the Dulles Toll Road. Many commuters resent how the state has jacked up fares on the toll road to fund construction of the Metro’s rail-to-Dulles extension — even while WMATA refuses to raise rail fares. While the political establishment has backed the Silver Line, many commuters are resentful that they are being singled out to pay for a commuter rail service they don’t use. It will be interesting to see if a populist backlash against the Silver Line manifests itself in votes against the WMATA-subsidy bonds.

Here in Henrico County, voters will be asked to vote on a $420 million package to support schools, parks, firehouses, libraries and roads. More than a third of the sum, $168 million, will be dedicated to modernizing and updating eight schools, the average age of which is nearly 57 years old. Another $100 million will go to relieve school overcrowding and increase program capacity.

Local media coverage on the bond issues has been negligible, and no one is asking questions like, why does the county need to spend $12.5 million to rehabilitate high school athletic fields with synthetic turf? Henrico County is rolling in the dough right now with more money than expected coming in from the meals tax enacted in 2013, so the county can support the bonds without raising the real estate tax rate. There’s nothing like a slew of new schools, libraries and fire stations sprinkled around the county to ingratiate county supervisors with voters.

In theory, the county could have used greater-than-expected meals tax revenue to fund the modernization of government processes that would save money, or, god forbid, reduce the BPOL tax as a spur to business and job growth. But there is no organized opposition to articulate alternative approaches, and Henrico government is generally perceived as well run, so the bonds probably will pass. Who knows, I might even vote for them myself.

Muir Apologizes, Will Resume Teaching

Douglas Muir has issued an apology for making a controversial Facebook statement about the Black Lives Matter movement and will resume teaching his classes at the University of Virginia next week. An excerpt from his statement, as reported by the Cavalier Daily:

On October 4, I responded to a Facebook post about Black Lives Matter by comparing the organization to the Ku Klux Klan. I was wrong in my comparison and want to offer my profound apologies for my words. …

As I have come to learn the long, violent history of the Klan, it makes my comparison misguided and shows a misunderstanding of the past. I am ashamed to admit that I knew little about Black Lives Matter when I wrote that post. This lack of awareness is unacceptable for our civil discourse and most especially for an educator like myself. My post was an unfortunate example of what I tell my students never to do because it was criticism without investigation.”

Yeah, his original post was unfortunate. The Black Lives Matter movement is guilty of inflammatory rhetoric, but a comparison with the KKK with its lynchings and cross burnings was ludicrous.

All’s well that ends well, I suppose, although his statement does sound like a document one might sign when emerging from a re-education camp. One interesting line did slip into the statement:  “I never imagined that my words would lead to threats against my family and my employees.”

I wonder what the story behind that statement was and how it might have shaped his apology.