One of the lesser-known items on the job description of a General Assembly member is “Wallpaper.” That’s where you appear at a press event to serve as part of the scenery. You don’t have a speaking role — rather, your job is to provide a supportive backdrop to the event going on in front of you.

One such Wallpaper event occurred yesterday. Along with about a dozen other members of the House and Senate, I drove down to Croc’s Restaurant in Virginia Beach to participate in Governor Kaine’s signing ceremony for the bills banning smoking in Virginia restaurants. The bills were sponsored in the Senate by Ralph Northam, a Democrat from Norfolk, and in the House by John Cosgrove, a Republican from Chesapeake. John’s remarks highlighted why the Republican House, which had killed smoking bills in previous years, had come around to support a smoking ban this session: he said as he went door-to-door in the neighborhoods of his Republican-leaning district, his constituents would tell him, “John, we love what you’re doing down there — but when are you going to do something about smoking?”

With my cell phone camera, I got a shot of the Governor signing the bills in front of me. Unfortunately, it was at that moment that the Virginian-Pilot took a picture of the tableau, making it appear that I was checking my email rather than attending to my wallpaper duties.

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