Monday, August 3, 2020

Political Headlines from across Virginia

August 3, 2020
Top of the News

In Williamsburg area, no tourists and no theme parks are far more than an inconvenience

By DAVE RESS, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)

They call them the dark ages — winter months in the Historic Triangle — when tourists have long departed and restaurants, hotels and stores need to live on their humps. This year, the dark ages look like they'll be gloomier than ever. To many, it feels as if Gov. Ralph Northam's order on Tuesday limiting hours on restaurants and bars and capping the size of social gatherings in Hampton Roads pretty much closed the door on the summer tourism season, despite Busch Gardens' plan for a limited opening on two four-day weekends this month.


Single mom wonders how she's going to help her son get a quality education virtually

By KENYA HUNTER, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

Kai Banks is usually fearless in everything she does. After all, what does she have to be afraid of? She manages grants at Virginia Commonwealth University, and assists area nonprofits. She was one of the people tapped by Harry Hughes, the Chief Schools Officer of Richmond Public Schools, to help the school system figure how it could reopen for in-person instruction.


Arlington Co. cracks down on crowded streets and sidewalks

By JOHN DOMEN, WTOP

There's a new emergency ordinance in Arlington, Virginia, aimed at cracking down on a lack of social distancing in some parts of the county, as the coronavirus pandemic continues. The new law passed unanimously by the Arlington Board prohibits people from gathering in groups of more than three, and directs pedestrians to keep a distance of at least six feet on certain streets and sidewalks, where signs will be posted noting the restrictions.


'Nowhere to go.' Renters struggle to keep their homes as pandemic relief ends

By JARED FORETEK, Inside NOVA (Metered Paywall)

Dozens of renters stood in court Friday in hopes of saving their homes as eviction proceedings were in full swing at the Prince William General District Court in Manassas. A total of 98 unlawful detainer cases were on the docket at the Manassas courthouse Friday afternoon, the vast majority for status hearings in which eviction cases are either contested and set for trial or finalized. Since a statewide moratorium on eviction proceedings was lifted by the Virginia Supreme Court at the end of June, hearings like these have been held twice per week in Prince William County.


VPAP Visual Predicting Virginia's Vulnerable Areas

The Virginia Public Access Project

The Centers for Disease Control created a Social Vulnerability Index that uses 15 social factors (including poverty, lack of access to transportation, and crowded housing) to rank census tracts on their social vulnerability. Communities with a higher social vulnerability may have a weakened ability to prevent human suffering and financial loss in an epidemic.


Social distancing at Radford University creates peaceful move-in days

By MIKE ALLEN, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

A casual visitor to Radford University, gazing across the mostly empty quads, might not have realized that students had begun to move in on Saturday, but for the occasional glimpse of someone lugging a television or fan through the front door of a dorm. As part of the safety measures the university has taken to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, Radford's students will return to campus over a period of 11 days. That started Saturday, when 500 students were scheduled to arrive.


Local overdoses on record-setting pace

By EVAN GOODENOW, Winchester Star (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Tainted heroin in Frederick County and Winchester appears to be contributing to a spike in area overdoses. Through Saturday, 38 people have fatally overdosed in the Lord Fairfax Health District in 2020, compared to 27 in all of 2019, according to Special Agent Joshua T. Price, a state police officer and coordinator of the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force. The task force covers the district, which includes Winchester as well as Clarke, Frederick, Page, Shenandoah and Warren counties.

The Full Report
44 articles, 19 publications

FROM VPAP

From VPAP Maps, Timeline of COVID-19 in Virginia

The Virginia Public Access Project

Our COVID-19 dashboard makes it easy to track the latest available data for tests performed, infections, deaths and hospital capacity. There's a filter for each city and county, plus an exclusive per-capita ZIP Code map. Updated each morning around 10:30 a.m.

EXECUTIVE BRANCH

Virginia lawmakers want to weaken the governor's emergency powers

By AMY FRIEDENBERGER, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Gov. Ralph Northam has had sweeping authority to handle Virginia's coronavirus pandemic, but as he's shut down businesses and required people to wear masks, lawmakers believe it's time to weaken the governor's emergency powers. Since his emergency declaration in March, Northam has issued more than 20 orders related to the coronavirus. Massive decisions have largely fallen to one man and his administration trying to navigate the unpredictable situation.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY

Could COVID-19 make a school nurse requirement in Virginia a reality?

By KATE MASTERS, Virginia Mercury

Legislation to mandate more nurses in Virginia's K-12 schools has been filed — and defeated — regularly in the state's General Assembly over the last five years. But amid a global pandemic and continuing debate over reopening schools this fall, legislators on both sides of the aisle are hoping to rally support for the measure. Sen. Jen Kiggans, R-Virginia Beach, and Del. Dawn Adams, D-Richmond —both licensed nurse practitioners — will both submit bills during a special session in August that would require local school divisions to hire at least one registered nurse on every campus.

STATE GOVERNMENT

Attendance at Virginia state parks is up during coronavirus

By MARIE ALBIGES, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Nearly 112,000 more people have visited Virginia state parks so far this year than during the same time in 2019, as the coronavirus pandemic forced millions to find an outdoor alternative to being stuck inside their homes. People started to go to parks more often than the prior year beginning in March, when Virginia had its first confirmed coronavirus case. In at least one park, attendance shot up 242% between February and March. Overall, visits are up about 3.6% so far this year.


State Won't Be Approving School Reopening Plans

By MEGAN PAULY, WCVE

Public schools and private day schools for students with disabilities in Virginia have to submit reopening plans to the state before they begin fall instruction, but there isn't an approval process for these plans. Gov. Ralph Northam's office said in June that the Virginia Department of Education will be signing off on school districts' plans. But that's not the case. A spokesperson for VDOE said state staff members will simply be reviewing the plans: "If we feel there are issues the school division needs to address based on our review, we're going to communicate with the school division."


Fredericksburg-area localities get state grants to encourage 'WanderLove'

By CATHY JETT AND ROB HEDELT, Free Lance-Star (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

The Virginia Tourism Corp. is showing some love for Fredericksburg and the surrounding counties through its new WanderLove Recovery Grant Program. The program is distributing $866,504 to 90 destination marketing organizations around the state to fund recovery initiatives in spots hurt financially by the coronavirus pandemic.


After several years of tumult, Air Board members reexamine public engagement process

By SARAH VOGELSONG, Virginia Mercury

Virginia's State Air Pollution Control Board, which has seen meetings repeatedly attract hundreds of angry citizens and called in police to keep order over the past few years, has created a four-member committee to reexamine the board's public engagement process. "There were lots of concerns raised during the recent permit matters we considered about the adequacy of the agency's public outreach," said board Vice Chair Roy Hoagland of Midlothian in an interview with the Mercury, referring to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. And, he said later, "swirling around all of it was the whole issue of outreach to vulnerable and environmental justice communities."

ECONOMY/BUSINESS

Pony auction shatters records with $380,000-plus spent in online version

By ROSE VELAZQUEZ, Eastern Shore News (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

The first-ever online Chincoteague pony auction topped the record for overall sales by more than $100,000. Chincoteague Island's annual Pony Penning festivities, which draw thousands of visitors from across the country, had been canceled this year amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The event is not only intended to help manage the herd population, but also serves as a fundraiser for the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company, which is responsible for the animals' care.

HIGHER EDUCATION

UVA students have until this week to declare intention to return to Grounds

By MARIE UNGAR, Charlottesville Tomorrow

The University of Virginia won't know how many students are returning to Grounds and from which regions these students are coming until Aug. 5. UVA spokesperson Brian Coy explained that on Saturday, students will receive their final class assignments, which will let them know how many of their classes will be online or in-person. "There may be a lot of students who don't have any in-person experiences at all," he said. Students will then have until Aug. 5 to cancel their housing contracts if they decide not to come back to Charlottesville.


Former University of Lynchburg students call on school to cut ties with Liberty University

By RICHARD CHUMNEY, News & Advance (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)

Former University of Lynchburg students are calling on the school to cut ties with Liberty University and to rename part of a campus facility dedicated to the late Rev. Jerry Falwell Sr., the religious institution's founder. In the past two weeks, an online petition demanding the school end its relationship with Liberty has garnered more than 700 signatures. Some former students have appealed directly to school leadership and others have taken to social media as part of a push to distance the two Hill City universities from one another.


Liberty University Poured Millions Into Sports. Now Its Black Athletes Are Leaving.

By JOEL ANDERSON, Slate

In mid-June, as the pandemic surged across the country, hundreds of students were living on Liberty University's campus. Tayvion "Tank" Land was one of them, taking a summer math class with about 10 other students—half of them his football teammates. One Thursday morning, class was partway through when the instructor told one of Land's teammates that he needed a tutor. Sensing some reticence, Land said, the instructor followed up with an attempt at a joke. "Don't be scared," he allegedly told the player. "I'm not going to pull out my whip and hit you with it."

CORONAVIRUS

Health detectives investigate COVID-19 cases

By EVAN GOODENOW, Winchester Star (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

The disease detectives don't carry guns and badges. They mostly use phones for their investigations. Leigh Headley and Dawn Hill are trying to contain the coronavirus pandemic one call at a time. The Valley Health System nurses are among five full-time and three part-time contact tracers working the phones for the Lord Fairfax Health District. They spend their days tracking people diagnosed with COVID-19 and the people with whom they may have come in contact.


Scabies case preceded COVID-19 outbreak in Patrick County

By HOLLY KOZELSKY, Martinsville Bulletin (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

The recent outbreak of COVID-19 at Blue Ridge Therapy Connection didn't surprise one man who says he had trouble this spring getting appropriate care for his mother, a resident there, with another infectious disease that is troublesome but not deadly. "If they can't handle scabies, they can't handle COVID," said Johnny Kastretsios, who said his mother, 90-year-old Goldie Kastretsios, has had both – making her one among 55 residents and employees who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.


981 new coronavirus cases reported in Virginia on Sunday

By PETER COUTU, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

The Virginia Department of Health reported 981 new coronavirus cases Sunday, bringing the state's tally to 91,782. At least 2,218 Virginians have died from the virus as of Sunday morning, up three from Saturday.


Danville adds 4 COVID-19 deaths in a week as caseload triples in July; surge status continues

By CHARLES WILBORN, Danville Register & Bee

Danville added four deaths from COVID-19 this week and maintains the designation as a surge area, according to data from the Virginia Department of Health. A death was recorded each in Wednesday's and Thursday's reports, and two more were noted in Saturday morning's update.


Proactive testing at Poet's Walk may have prevented 'catastrophic outbreak'

By CATHY DYSON, Free Lance-Star (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Virginia Mackintosh got the news that people with loved ones in a long-term care facility dread: her 90-year-old mother had COVID-19. "It was terrifying to hear. We thought this might be a death sentence," said Mackintosh, who lives in Fredericksburg and called the facility regularly for video chats with her mother. "That was very reassuring, once I could see her and see that she was herself. It wasn't like she seemed desperately ill."


UVa clinicians keeping close eye on COVID patients after ICU release

By BRYAN MCKENZIE, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

Spending time in the bed of an intensive care unit can leave its mark on a patient, and for those afflicted with COVID-19, studies show it can be even worse. That's why a small cadre of medical care providers at the University of Virginia Medical Center is following up with patients who spent time in the pandemic ICU once they go home.


Virginia Set To Release COVIDWISE App To Public This Week

By MEGAN PAULY, WCVE

The Virginia Department of Health has been beta testing an app called COVIDWISE designed to help control the spread of the novel coronavirus, and plans to release it to the public this week. "COVIDWISE is for the public who is concerned and wants some way to be told if they have come in contact with someone who tested positive and is at higher risk of potentially contracting COVID themselves," said VDH spokesperson Julie Grimes.


RIC flight bound for Charlotte disrupted after passenger refuses to wear face mask

WRIC

An American Airlines flight departing from Richmond International Airport was disrupted Sunday after a passenger on board refused to wear a face mask. As the plane was taxiing to the departure runway, American Airlines flight 2873 to Charlotte, N.C., returned to the gate where passengers were then told to get off the plane. Several police officers were at the gate as passengers arrived back at the terminal.

VIRGINIA OTHER

Police arrest three people after protest in Portsmouth escalates

By PETER COUTU, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Portsmouth police arrested three people Sunday after protesters and counter-protesters argued steps from the fenced-in Confederate monument, which loomed in the background, still covered after a crowd beheaded and pulled down some of its statues in June. The demonstration, which came after the City Council voted unanimously to remove the damaged monument from Olde Towne, grew tense at times. The Portsmouth Tea Party organized the original rally, which drew the support of several other groups; roughly 100 people attended. About a dozen people from local activist groups showed up to protest that rally.

LOCAL

NoVa parents protest virtual-only school reopening decision

By SARAH KONSMO, WUSA

Parents in northern Virginia turned out for a rally on an early August 1 morning, sharing their frustrations about school board officials deciding to start the upcoming school year entirely virtually.. Jill Jarton is a Virginia mother of five, who said her kids will be going back to school virtually in the fall. She believes their education will suffer — both academically and emotionally.


Casino backers have started their push to get Norfolk and Portsmouth voters to OK gambling resorts

By RYAN MURPHY, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Would-be casino operators have gotten two local city governments on board with the idea of major gambling resorts. They won conditional approval from the state legislature. Now, they've just got to convince the citizens. With November referendum votes looming in both Norfolk and Portsmouth, the hopeful casino operators are starting an offensive to woo voters into the "yes" column.


Fredericksburg-area law enforcement leaders open to shifting some police duties

By ADELE UPHAUS–CONNER, Free Lance-Star (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Amid calls to "defund the police," some local law enforcement leaders agree on places—such as mental health transport and drug addiction treatment programs—where police involvement could be reduced. The Free Lance–Star reached out to sheriffs in Planning District 16—Stafford, Spotsylvania, King George and Caroline counties—and the Fredericksburg City Police Department for their thoughts on the police reform movement that was spurred by national outcry over the death of George Floyd during his arrest in Minneapolis on Memorial Day.


Nelson County's Confederate statue draws pastor's cry for removal

By NICK CROPPER, Nelson County Times

As Confederate monuments are toppled across the commonwealth, Nelson County's own statue drew a lone call for removal during a recent county Board of Supervisors meeting, although supervisors have expressed they are reluctant to move it. . . . "When I think about the soldier out there and I think about my ancestors and what they went through … it is a reminder to me ... it's offensive," said the Rev. James Rose, a member of the Amherst County NAACP and a former member of the Nelson County NAACP who has participated in civil rights movements in the past, including the 1963 March on Washington, told supervisors.

 

EDITORIALS

New book on women's suffrage is must-read for Virginia history

Roanoke Times Editorial (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

The history that we were taught in school was, at best, incomplete — something we're being forced to reckon with now in many painful ways. Most of that is in the context of our racial history, but there are other aspects of history that got whitewashed out of the textbooks, too. This August marks the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which gave women the right to vote.


Key environmental law at risk

Virginian-Pilot Editorial (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

When the National Environmental Policy Act became law on Jan. 1, 1970, the landmark legislation was the result of environmental awareness, scientific study and bipartisan efforts among members of Congress, as well as the support of a Republican president, Richard Nixon. In the decades since, that law has been responsible for a great deal of the progress in improving our nation's air and water quality and protecting endangered species.


State mental hospitals stressed by virus

Daily Progress Editorial (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

Virginia's mental health system has been stressed and struggling for years — facing a series of problems often discussed here in this space. Now, add COVID to the mix. "The house is on fire," said Sen. Creigh Deeds, D-Bath, a long-time leader in efforts to improve Virginia's behavioral health system. Sen. Deeds represents Charlottesville, Nelson County and part of Albemarle.


The (economic) contact tracers that rural Virginia needs

Roanoke Times Editorial (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

The Virginia Department of Health is in the process of hiring 1,000 "contact tracers," people who get in touch with new coronavirus patients and try to figure out who they've been with so they can alert those people that they might have been exposed to the virus. A vigorous contact-tracing program is said to be one of the ways that South Korea was able to squash its virus outbreak. The United States and South Korea recorded their first COVID-19 cases on the same day — January 20.


When 'Big Brother' turns out to be your phone

Free Lance-Star Editorial (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

You might not know geofencing, but it knows you. Geofencing is defined as a technology that draws a virtual line around a physical area so that a signal can be sent to a mobile electronic device, such as a cellphone, that has passed through that area. If you've ever walked into a store, spoken to no one and then very shortly gotten an email or text from that store, you're familiar with the practice if not the word.


Virginia's HBCUs need consistent support to thrive

Virginian-Pilot Editorial (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Hampton University announced this week it had received a gift of $30 million, part of a staggering $1.7 billion donated by MacKenzie Scott, the ex-wife of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and one of the richest women in the world. That's a tremendously generous gift and the university community should be thrilled. But no gift, however large, can substitute for the commonwealth's consistent and broad support, which schools such as Hampton need to prosper.


Support redistricting reform on Nov. 3

Richmond Times-Dispatch Editorial (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

Three months from Tuesday, Virginians face a choice: Do they want to end the state's broken redistricting system, or do they want to keep the status quo that puts the interests of politicians ahead of voters? On Nov. 3, voters will be asked whether they support a constitutional amendment that would reform the state's divisive process of drawing legislative and congressional districts. We urge Virginians to vote "yes" and end partisan gerrymandering.

OP-ED

Minton: The lies our textbooks told my generation of Virginians about slavery

By BENNETT MINTON, published in Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

A series of textbooks written for the fourth, seventh and 11th grades taught a generation of Virginians our state's history. Chapter 29 of the seventh-grade edition, titled "How the Negroes Lived Under Slavery," included these sentences: "A feeling of strong affection existed between masters and slaves in a majority of Virginia homes." The masters "knew the best way to control their slaves was to win their confidence and affection."

Minton, a policy analyst, blogger and grass-roots political organizer, was a Virginia resident until 2018. He lives in Portland, Ore.


Canova: Christopher Columbus Monuments

By ROBERT F. CANOVA, published in Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

It is understandable that Christopher Columbus monuments would be erected in locations that have a direct relationship with him. In Italy, the country of his birth, there are 45 Columbus monuments and plaques, mostly in the Genoa area. In Spain, the flag under which he sailed to the New World, there are 67. There are 39 in the West Indies, where Columbus set foot in the New World. But there are 95 monuments, 21 plaques, 3 markers and 40 other commemorations to Columbus in the United States, a location with no geographical relationship to him.

Canova is President of Italian-American Heritage Club of Roanoke


McNab: To reopen or not reopen? That is the question.

By ROBERT M. MCNAB, published in Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

As Virginians debate whether public schools should reopen, options usually are discussed in stark terms: reopen or remain closed. Data, however, provides insights into the costs and benefits of reopening. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 244 Americans between the ages of 0 and 24 died from COVID-19 as of July 25.

McNab is a professor of economics and director of the Dragas Center for Economic Analysis and Policy at Old Dominion University.


Turner column: Test-optional admissions might widen differences in opportunity

By SARAH TURNER, published in Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

Anyone who follows the world of selective college admissions knows the disruptions caused by COVID-19 have included a near-universal shift away from mandatory submission of SAT or ACT scores. The move was driven by practical difficulties administering tests during a pandemic. And it has been applauded by some as a breakthrough that will increase opportunities for low-income applicants to top colleges and universities. But will it?

Turner is a professor of economics and education at the University of Virginia.


Sibelman: Monument Avenue beyond the moment

By SIMON P. SIBELMAN, published in Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

A native of Richmond, I have watched as the national mood has led to transformations on Monument Avenue. Gone from this elegant boulevard are all but one of the of the Confederate figures. Kirk Savage proposed: "A public monument represents a kind of collective recognition — in short, legitimacy — for the memory deposited there." What collective memory had been deposited in those statues: a uniform message, or did they communicate differently to varying constituencies?

Sibelman was executive director of the Virginia Holocaust Museum; professor emeritus in French and Holocaust studies at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh; and director of the Center for Judaic, Holocaust and Peace Studies at Appalachian State University


Hope, Rowsome and Perry: Heirs Property Act helps Black Virginians keep their land

By PATRICK HOPE, ALAN ROWSOME, AND DAVID PERRY, published in Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

As our nation grapples with the racial injustice that has marked this country for far too long, one issue that deserves more attention is the discrimination and inequality that prevents land ownership opportunities for people of color. During the 2020 Virginia General Assembly session, a bipartisan group of legislators took an important step towards rectifying this considerable problem by championing the provisions of the Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act.

Hope represents the 47th district in the Virginia House of Delegates. He is a Democrat from Arlington County. Rowsome is executive director of the Northern Virginia Conservation Trust. Perry is executive director of the Blue Ridge Land Conservancy.


Carroll: Drug courts are defeating the disease of addiction in Southwest Virginia

By JIM CARROLL, published in Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

In big cities, small towns, and the suburbs in between, thousands of Americans who struggle with the disease of addiction are finding new life in an unexpected place: the courtroom. Even in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, drug courts are a powerful tool for leading Americans with a substance use disorder to health, stability, and recovery. Operating on the front lines of the addiction crisis, drug courts are also an invaluable resource for law enforcement and the many community partners impacted by drug use and related crime. In Southwest Virginia, the drug court model is changing lives through the Montgomery County Adult Drug Court program.

Carroll is the Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy


Morse: Late-night statue removal at the state Capitol deserved debate

By GORDON C. MORSE, published in Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

We're changing names in Virginia, purging personalities, banishing statues, rewriting history on the fly — an illuminating rationale thus far unavailing. Thomas Paine, wrote a response in 1791 to Edmund Burke's notably unenthusiastic comments on the French Revolution and said, "I know a place in America called Point-no-Point; because as you proceed along the shore, gay and flowery … it continually recedes and presents itself at a distance ahead; and when you have got as far as you can go, there is no point at all."

Morse began his writing career with the Daily Press editorial page in 1983, then moved across the water to write opinion for The Virginian-Pilot. He later joined the administration of Gerald L. Baliles as the governor's speechwriter and special assistant.


Allen: Record heat shows urgency of our climate adaptation efforts

By MICHAEL ALLEN, published in Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Recently we experienced one of the warmest periods in Hampton Roads recorded history, culminating with four consecutive 100-degree days. Norfolk International set new records for maximum temperature on July 19, July 21 and July 28 (102°F) and observed a new maximum overnight temperature on July 20 (82°F). It was hot! Heat waves impact our health. In the United States, more people die due to heat-related issues that any other weather-related hazard.

Allen is an associate professor, climate scientist and Geography Program Director at Old Dominion University.


Brothers: Black Philanthropy Month empowers "agents of change"

By TONY BROTHERS, published in Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

In my 25 years as a referee in the NBA, I have seen many plays that pushed teams to victory. In the same way, philanthropy is a game changer for communities in need. During Black Philanthropy Month in August, I continue my commitment to giving back to important causes I care about — education, underserved men and mentoring. I encourage you to do the same with whatever you feel passionate about.

Brothers is a referee in the National Basketball Association. He lives in Norfolk and is actively involved in philanthropy and the community.


Stimpert: The value of face-to-face instruction

By LARRY STIMPERT, published in Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

Nearly five months ago, the world turned upside down for more than 16 million undergraduates as colleges and universities across the country shifted from in-person to remote instruction for the remainder of the spring semester. Now, as we approach the start of another academic year, many schools are announcing that they will be holding classes remotely again this fall. And while the factors behind these decisions vary by institution, they illustrate the contrast between large and small institutions, and their educational approaches.

Stimpert is the president of Hampden-Sydney College.


Avula and Kamras: Creating a new normal of justice for Richmond's children

By DANNY TK AVULA AND JASON KAMRAS, published in Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

Health and safety always must come first. That's why Richmond Public Schools (RPS) — along with many other school divisions around the commonwealth — decided to begin the academic year virtually. But closing school buildings only will protect our children from COVID-19 in one setting. It will do nothing to address the many injustices that children of color and low-income children faced prepandemic — injustices that only have become more devastating since March.

Danny TK Avula, M.D., is the director of the Richmond and Henrico Health Departments. Jason Kamras is superintendent of Richmond Public Schools.


Galuszka:How Virginians will move forward from the defunct Atlantic Coast Pipeline

By PETER GALUSZKA, published in Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

After years of struggle, the Rev. Paul Wilson, a Baptist pastor and funeral home director who lives near the historically African American community of Union Hill in rural Buckingham County, could not believe the news on July 5. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline, an $8 billion natural gas project led by Richmond-based Dominion Energy, had planned a noisy natural gas compressor on 68 acres of land at Union Hill. Pipeline partners had decided to give up. " 'Happy' is not the proper word. I was more than elated," said Wilson, whose efforts against the project meant 20 to 30 hours of work each week.

Galuszka is a freelance writer in Chesterfield, Va.

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Virginia Public Access Project · P.O. Box 1472 · Richmond, VA 23218 · USA

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Your August 2 Sunday Summary ...

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Dear Friend of TJI,
 
He lived the American Dream. Son of a chauffeur, Herman Cain earned a B.A. from Morehouse College and an M.S. from Purdue University before starting at Pillsbury. By his 30s, he ran 400 restaurants at Burger King. By 40, he was put in charge of turning around the Godfather's Pizza chain and soon owned it. For many in the political world, he first rose to prominence as head of the National Restaurant Association, where he educated Bill Clinton on economics, and galvanized big business to block Hillary Clinton's government healthcare plan. In some respects, he was the original Donald Trump - a businessman whose simplified tax plan appealed to those tired of government programs only lawyers, lobbyists and accountants understood, and in 2012 briefly led the polls in the race for President. An Appreciation by David Von Drehle in The Washington Post said it best: Herman Cain "made his own way, on his own terms." RIP.
 
Meanwhile ...
 
1.)  Secrecy abounds: On June 22, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney told the Richmond City Council he wanted to take down all the Confederate statues to remove the epicenters of both civil and violent protests. Later that day, still-secret individuals created the firm NAH LLC. On June 29, Governor Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency due to "civil unrest in Richmond," opening the door to taking action.  On July 1, Stoney awarded a noncompetitive $1.8 million contract to NAH LLC - a company that had not existed 18 days earlier - to remove the statues. A copy of the contract agreement provided under FOIA has no signatory for the company. The invoice address is a Post Office Box. And on July 27, after the statues were removed, the City Council rejected a resolution giving the Mayor the emergency power to do what he did. Jim Bacon, at Bacon's Rebellion broke the story here.
 
2.)  In his response to violence in Richmond, Mayor Stoney claimed that a white supremacist group called the "Boogaloo Bois" had orchestrated the pro-Black Lives Matter demonstrations. But the progressive Virginia Mercury  notes "Richmond officials have presented no direct evidence showing white supremacists organized the protest, encouraged violence or participated in any property damage."  Read the story here. The conservative Bacon's Rebellion comments further here.  In truth, it is entirely possible that violent actors on both the right and the left are purposely stirring the pot and inciting opponents. But to have the city's chief executive use it as a diversionary tactic, without evidence, serves no positive purpose.
 
4.)  Neither, according to the Virginian-Pilot editorial board, does whisking away in the dead of night Confederate statues and historical markers from what is described as "a time capsule of Virginia history" in the state Capitol building. Like all history, Virginia's is complicated and sometimes ugly.  Removing it doesn't make it less so (click here).
 
5.)  On the other hand, perhaps there is hope on the horizon (click here).
 
6.)  More secrecy: The state Inspector General has now released its report into allegations about how the Parole Board released prisoners on Ralph Northam's watch, and there is nothing there (click here). No ... really: There is nothing there except a conclusion that the allegations are substantiated and a lot of blacked out lines redacting everything else (get your laugh by looking here). Despite a law requiring the General Assembly's leaders to be given an unredacted report, no Republicans have received one (click here).  One might ask the former Parole Board chair, but she's now been chosen as a judge by this General Assembly which, if it is looking to create transparency in the criminal justice system now has a place to start.
 
7.)  "Coming on the heels of reports that the U.S. domestic gross product in the second quarter dropped to its lowest point since 1947, the U.S. Department of Labor reported Thursday that Virginia saw the second-highest increase in initial jobless claims in the nation last week," reports Virginia Business magazine (click here). The response of liberals in Congress is to extend the $600 per week supplement to unemployment insurance, raising compensation to as much as $1,000 a week. As restaurant owner Brian Moore discovered when five employees turned down opportunities to return to work (click here), that $600 supplement is aiding and abetting unemployment and the economic downturn. As John Stossel notes, Progressive Policies Wreck Everything, most of all for low-income neighborhoods (click here).
 
8.)  Instead, the policies offered tie businesses down. The Northam ban on evictions creates a downstream economic impact (click here), and new Hampton Roads restrictions are causing more economic worries (click here). One example: Busch Gardens, with a capacity of 24,000 guests each day, is limited to 1,000 - meaning it is economically unfeasible for them to open and the 5,000 people who work there remain without an income.
 
9.)  Among those hurt most are schoolchildren. As schools remain closed, low-income children - who need in-classroom instruction the most - will likely be without, putting them even further behind their higher-income peers whose parents can afford to create educational pods and hire tutors. Nearly 5,000 low-and-moderate income Virginia students won't have that problem, thanks to the Education Improvement Scholarship Program offering them scholarships to attend private schools. Educational choice is one effective way of offering alternatives, as a recent Black Minds Matter panel, including former Virginia Secretary of Education Gerard Robinson, pointed out (click here).
 
10.)                The media has underreported the violence that took place in American cities and the long-term damage done in black communities who "are almost uniformly condemnatory of riots and often harshly so." Those are not unusual conclusions for conservatives. But when they come from left-leaning journalist Michael Tracey, who made a cross-country road trip (with photos) to the riot-torn cities, it is a different matter. Read "What he saw at the Riots" in an interview here. Read his full reports here.  
 
Finally ... Governor Northam has clamped down on beachgoers in Hampton Roads, prohibiting on-site alcohol sales after 10 pm. We suppose it could be worse: It could be the same rules as beaches in the New York Hamptons (click here) have.

Happy Sunday, Everyone.

Prost!

Cordially,
Chris Braunlich
President
 

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