Virginia Capitol Connections Summer 2022

Virginia Capitol Connections, Summer 2022 19 This is not to suggest that Americans should aspire to interfere in the elections of other countries. But to enable future generations to engage in diplomacy and defend against the spread of misinformation, we must enable our young people to feel as comfortable learning and using another language as they do learning other subjects. Fortunately, foreign language remains a part of Virginia’s advanced high school degrees…for now. If our elected officials are committed to our children’s futures, they should look to bolster resources for language teaching—so that our students can compete on the global stage with confidence. Mark Rush is Waxberg Professor of Politics and Law and Director of the Center for International Education at Washington and Lee University. Continued from previous page My Greatest Mentor, Senator Edward E. Willey By WILLIAM H. LEIGHTY I was scared. Not that sweaty, everything is moving fast, kind of scared, but that cold, slow motion scared that causes your senses to observe every detail of the movement around you. I had every right to be sweating since it was a stifling humid August Virginia day, but instead I was cold. I arrived early to make sure I was on time. I was pacing back and forth in front of the solid dark walnut door marked "private." I executed perfect "to the rear march" turns on the Georgia marble floors that were flecked with fossils imbedded in the stone. Despite the nondescript moniker, I knew I was in the right place. Everyone on Capitol Square knew this door. Behind this door was the office of Senator Edward Eugene Willey, arguably one of the most powerful icons in the history of Virginia Senate politics. Rising to power as part of the political machine dominated by former US Senator Harry F Byrd, Willey had lost favor with the ruling machine when he refused to completely go along with the "massive resistance" implemented by Byrd that closed schools rather than integrate them following the Brown versus Board of Education decision. Many people have tried to describe how powerful Senator Willey was, Willey was the Senate Pro Tempore and Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. He ruled the legislative process. His power could best be summed up by the fact that when Virginia governors needed to speak with Ed Willey, he refused to go to their third-floor office instead they had to come to his office. Smart governors, like Chuck Robb, would always set meetings with Ed Willey at the Governor’s Mansion, a more neutral location, that avoided the otherwise inevitable stalemate of setting up a meeting with Ed Willey. So yes, it was intimidating to be called to see him. While I had spent many hours inside his committee room stuffing notebooks with impact statements we never had been formally introduced. His secretary, Jackie, introduced me. He always had secretaries with British accents, which led, in my opinion to the regal nature of his domain. Senate Finance Committee staff director Paul W. Timmreck had already offered me the job as a “junior analyst” with the Committee. While in theory the job was mine, Senator Willey could veto me. See New Book Traces Personal Account of Decades of Virginia Leadership, continued on page 20 So yes, I was scared. The interview began awkwardly from my viewpoint. Was I married? Did I love my wife? Where did I go to church? Not questions on the top ten ideas of good questions from human resources for sure. He then launched into a talk about his views on governing. What it meant to bear the mantle of leadership and his philosophy of responsibility. He talked for nearly two hours. The only thing I said was an occasional "Yes Sir" in response to his lesson on the meaning of Virginia governing. Once he stopped talking, he looked at me with his deep-set eyes framed in a lanky and frail body that still evoked a demand for respect and said, "I think you will do just fine!" "Do you know what your job will be?" He inquired. "Yes, sir I think so." I replied. "Your job is to know the answer to every question I may ever be asked." He deadpanned. "Yes sir." I said. He chuckled and smiled, a rarity for Willey, and said, " You are a bright young man, but no one can ever know the answer to every question I may ever be asked!" With wisdom in his eyes he continued, "But what you CAN DO is build a professional and social network so that your network will often be in a position to tell you the answer to questions that I may be asked, before they are asked!” Senator Willey’s control over the Virginia Senate was absolute. While many of his fellow senators publicly decried his absolute power, they were often very grateful privately, that he could kill bills that they, themselves, had to put in because of pressure from “back home’ but that they themselves knew to be bad legislation. Senator Willey used three very simple but very effective mechanisms for controlling the Senate of Virginia. First, if one looks at the layout of the Senate floor, there are eight sections with five senators seated in each section. Willey had a confidant in each section. Although never publicly acknowledged they were his “secret seven.” During floor sessions, once he felt the bill had a reasonable amount of discussion, he would nod to the Majority Leader, Hunter Andrews, who sat directly across the “center aisle” from him. Hunter would rise and Willey would scan each section. His confidant would discreetly hold up their hand indicating how many votes Willey could expect from each section. If there were sufficient votes, Hunter would call for the vote. If not, Hunter would sit back down and the secret seven would go to work to alter votes. The second mechanism was the budget itself. Each senator knew they could request budget amendments calculated at $10,000 for each year in the Senate and $100,000 for each year of service on New Book Traces Personal Account of Decades of Virginia Leadership Introduction by Bonnie Atwood My whole life might have been different if I had read Bill Leighty’s book in college. Why? His career path, working his way through Virginia state government, in many capacities, sounds fun and appealing to me. I might have chosen that road for myself. Do not read this book unless you expect to be inspired and entertained. Here is an excerpt from Leighty’s copyrighted book, “Twelve Governors”… V