Vivian J. Paige started her blog, now called All Politics is Local, five years ago with an eye toward Norfolk, Va., politics. She’s got experience in the matter, having run for local office. Paige is also a co-founder of Norfolk United Facing Race, a non-profit that hosts honest dialogues on race, and has been in leadership and advisory roles in many organizations, including the Hampton Roads Center for Civic Engagement.
Plus, a day job – president of the accounting firm, founded in 1986, that bears her name.
Point being, she’s busy.
Her blog covers a lot of ground, due to Paige’s interest in a wide variety of social and political issues, and also due to the inclusion of a relatively new stable of contributors – The Virginia Gazette’s Steve Vaughan, Norfolk City Councilman Tommy Smigiel of the 5th Ward, and Navy vet and retired land surveyor Mark Brooks.
Paige is among a small handful of bloggers who set the standard in these parts, and her thoughtful and passionate prose can also be found in The Virginian-Pilot’s op-ed pages. So I’m thrilled she agreed to lower herself to my level for a few silly (and a few not so silly) questions.
Before I launch into our email exchange, I’ll quote from a blog post from 2006, when she wrote about a “debate” on the so-called “marriage” amendment that ultimately passed in Virginia. She pulled no punches. An excerpt from “Bigotry ” follows:
It was like a KKK rally, only the folks under the hoods were black.
Blinded by bigotry, these folks used the Bible as justification for their position. I see absolutely no differences between the claims made by these black bigots and similar claims made by white bigots to justify discrimination against blacks. Of all the groups who should just get this, it should be blacks. After all, it is not as if gays are unknown to the black church. In my home church – the one where my father was ordained in 1946, the one that I grew up in, the one that my family still attends, where my brother-in-law is a deacon and my sister a deaconness and a member of the choir – every prominent family had at least one gay member.
Blinded by bigotry, these people are unwilling to acknowledge the effects of this amendment on their own families, on their friends, on their co-workers. Blinded by bigotry, these people would rather focus on running gays out the state than worrying about things such as the breakdown of the black family, the crime in black neighborhoods, and the high unemployment.
‘Protect marriage,’ they say. From what?
Powerful stuff. On to the Q&A:
Q: Just who do you think you are? Please use three examples in your response.
- A lifetime constituent of President Bartlett
- A washed up Julie London wannabe, and
- Mom to Tommy and Fluffy (and Kelly, Rupert, Sweetness, Samatha, Junior, and Lucy, of blessed memory)
Q: Did you have “found guilty of extortion and bribery + will appeal according to lawyer” in the former state Del. Phil Hamilton Federal Trial pool? I had “jurors and alternates hit by comet + reanimated dinosaur eats incriminating emails resulting in mistrial,” which would have paid out at 1.3 billion to 1. You know, I liked my odds until the other thing happened. Discuss.
Actually, I did have the “guilty + appeal” in the pool. It really was a no-brainer once the emails became public and Old Dominion University officials were granted immunity to testify against him. I suspect Hamilton will get a long sentence – with most of it suspended. The Justice Department seems to be looking to make an example of him. And I predict he’ll lose his appeal, but that’s a long way off.
Q: You’ve offered up prime real estate your All Politics is Local blog to other contributors, including a member of Norfolk City Council. Are you worried the council will try to build a virtual pro hockey stadium there now that they have an in? A bit more seriously, will you make any considerations, such as offering “equal time/space,” to anyone who runs against Smigiel?
Pro hockey? Um, no. But if they offered a virtual pro football stadium, I’d probably give them all passwords.
As for equal time for a challenger to Tommy – no. While Tommy and I don’t agree on everything, he has my support. And I can’t imagine that a challenger would ever earn that.
Besides, for the low, low cost of $0, anybody can start a blog at WordPress.com.
Q: Why would anyone want to be vice mayor of Norfolk?
To preside over events – like ribbon cuttings – when the mayor can’t? That’s about the only reason I can think of.
Q: You’ve written extensively about how citizens can track campaign finance and the redistricting process and other issues, including gay rights matters such as the so-called “marriage” amendment/legislative efforts. The vast majority of people, however, just don’t seem to get involved with (a) local government or (b) critical thinking on how certain processes work and/or affect others? Why do you bother?
Because it is important. We can’t get better government at the top until we get better government at the bottom. And we have such tremendous influence at the local level, far exceeding any we will ever have at the national level. Besides, a lot of those folks we see in Washington started out in their local offices. The chance to get to know them – and help them develop into better elected officials – is much greater at the local level.
Q: So what you’re saying is you’re in it for all the sweet blogging money, yes?
Ha! Blogging costs me money, not the other way around. Thank goodness for the day job.
Q: Will you run for office again?
Maybe. Or maybe not.
Q: I’ve been interested in the evolutions of outlets such as AltDaily and Veer, as well as established local blogs such as All Politics is Local and Bearing Drift. What news sources do you follow in addition to the local newspapers? And who do you avoid reading?
I’m a Twitter addict. More than three or four hours away from it and I’m going through withdrawal. I follow about 400 Twitterers, a lot of them news outlets, both local and nationwide. If I avoid any, it’s Fox News and the Huffington Post.
Q: We’ve covered so much ground. Is there anything you’d like to add?
Just one thing: when are you going to grace us over at All Politics is Local with one of your awesome articles?
Uh, I’ll get back to you.
Right now I’m tied up with the hack stuff.