Monday, August 31, 2020

Political Headlines from across Virginia

August 31, 2020
Top of the News

Live from someone's kitchen: Virginia's virtual House of Delegates

By GREGORY S. SCHNEIDER, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

When Del. Marcus Simon (D-Fairfax) appeared on screen during Friday's virtual session of the House of Delegates, he sent a not-so-subtle message to colleagues about which way to vote on the matter at hand. Arrayed behind his image was a computer-generated cluster of green signs all bearing the word "YES." Simon is picking up the tools of online legislating faster than some other lawmakers as Virginia's 401-year-old House attempts a digital makeover during this time of pandemic.

Kanye West campaign in Virginia is accused of deceptive signature gathering

By PETER JAMISON AND LAURA VOZZELLA, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Kanye West's campaign is facing allegations that voters were deceived by signature gatherers circulating paperwork to qualify the rapper-entrepreneur for the Virginia ballot, the latest setback for a stumbling presidential bid that also is facing problems in other states. Two signed affidavits were submitted Friday to the State Board of Elections from registered voters who said they were duped into signing up to serve as electors for West in Virginia. In a separate account, an Alexandria woman said Saturday that a man tried to obtain her signature on one of West's petitions under false pretenses.

Anatomy of an outbreak: Church revival blamed for many of rural county's COVID-19 cases

By RACHEL NEEDHAM, Rappahannock News (Metered Paywall)

Many of Rappahannock County's 49 cases of COVID-19 and both deaths can be traced to the Massanova Pentecostal Church in Castleton and a week-long revival held there in late June, according to Virginia Department of Health documents. The Rappahannock News received copies of dozens of internal emails from the VDH from a source who obtained them after filing a Freedom of Information Act request for all communications related to the outbreak at Massanova Pentecostal Church.

Orange supervisors meet in person — without masks or social distancing

By HILARY HOLLADAY, Orange County Review

Last Tuesday, the Orange County Board of Supervisors held its first in-person meeting of the COVID-19 era. By Thursday, the county was under investigation for possibly violating Gov. Ralph Northam's executive order requiring protective masks in indoor settings. By Friday, the investigation was completed and, according to Dr. Wade Kartchner, health director of the Rappahannock-Rapidan Health District, county administration had heard directly from the district's environmental health staff. Specifically, Kartchner said the county was advised to be mindful of appearances and consider the message supervisors send to the public when they don't wear masks at their meetings.

For Danville area nurses, caring for COVID-19 patients brings a mix of dedication, passion and fear

By SUSAN ELZEY, Danville Register & Bee

Each time Michele Coffey wakes up with a headache or a sore throat, she wonders if the coronavirus has finally caught up with her. Coffey — a nurse for 28 years and registered nurse for four with a Bachelor's of Science degree in nursing — works as a staff RN in the emergency department at Cone Health Moses Cone Hospital in Greensboro, North Carolina. Before moving to Danville in January, she worked as an infection preventionist, but said she is grateful not to be involved with infection prevention and control during the current pandemic. She specifically chose to return to work in the ED because it was where her "heart was."

Overdose calls up 65% in Richmond

By ZACH JOACHIM AND C. SUAREZ ROJAS, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Friends, family members and those who have survived drug addiction will gather in memory of those who didn't next month outside the McShin Foundation to dedicate a new memorial garden. They'll tell stories, shed tears, and hope it doesn't grow. But figures obtained by the Richmond Times-Dispatch reveal a troubling trend: Emergency calls for non-alcohol-related overdoses in the Richmond area are up nearly 65% in the first half of 2020. Statewide, those calls have risen more than 40%.

He thought the blue lights meant local police. It was ICE.

By SABRINA MORENO, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

He wasn't afraid until the officer gripped the gun-packed holster and eyed him closely, clutching the neck of a bulletproof vest that stretched "POLICE" in thick, white letters across his chest. A nondescript golden-plated badge dangled beside it, latched onto a utility belt that wrapped the officer's thick blue jeans and button-down beige long sleeve. That's when Josh Ayala knew: The masked men weren't local police.

The Full Report
47 articles, 21 publications


VPAP Visual Presidential Donations by Region

The Virginia Public Access Project

The suburbs outside Washington, D.C., are fertile ground for presidential fundraising. Donald Trump has raised 45 cents of every Virginia dollar in Northern Virginia; for Joe Biden it's 70 cents of every dollar. VPAP breaks down the money by region -- and lets you drill down to a list of donors by ZIP Code.

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.


Virginia lawmakers pursue compromise on eviction moratorium

By NED OLIVER, Virginia Mercury

Lawmakers in the Virginia Senate appear to be nearing a compromise on a proposed eviction moratorium that advocates hope will head off a wave of homelessness amid widespread job losses and expiring unemployment benefits. Initial proposals would have barred nearly all evictions through April 30, 2021, and mandated landlords participate in a state rent-relief program that in some cases required them to forgive half the rent they were owed.

Minimizing the Damage from Pandemic-related Evictions


With thousands of eviction cases sitting in Virginia's courts and many more likely on the way, lawmakers are attempting to enact a suite of legislation that would prevent evictions or minimize the damage brought on in their wake. Getting kicked out of a house is one part of an eviction. The bad rap that follows is another. Delegate Joshua Cole says not being able to pay bills during a pandemic shouldn't count against people trying to find a new home.

Should systemic racism be a public-health crisis? Delegate says yes, it should

By BILL ATKINSON, Progress Index (Metered paywall - 10 articles a month)

A resolution introduced in the House of Delegates this week would recognize systemic racism as a public-health crisis and directs the state health department's health equity office to develop policy to ensure fairness in preventive care to communities of color. The measure from Del. Lashrecse D. Aird, D-Petersburg, claims that systemic racism has "manifested as a determinant" not only in public health but also criminal justice, economic opportunities and other areas.


Absentee ballot requests up 2,000% from four years ago in Albemarle

By ALLISON WRABEL, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

Absentee ballot requests in Albemarle County for the 2020 election are up nearly 2,000% from where they were this time ahead of the 2016 election, according to the county registrar. "We're not in Kansas anymore," Registrar Jake Washburne said. "That is an order of magnitude that we have just never seen anything like before."


Virginia officials backed off push to close Shore poultry plants for two weeks to fight pandemic

By SARAH VOGELSONG, Virginia Mercury

A legislative attempt to force Virginia to reveal more information about COVID-19 outbreaks in the state's poultry plants and other workplaces, introduced after months of stonewalling from Virginia health officials and their insistence that the plants are entitled to privacy protections, stalled Wednesday with no prospect of being revived until 2021. The demise of the bill by Sen. Lynwood Lewis, who represents the poultry-heavy Eastern Shore, was another blow to workers and activists who have long sought details about the extent of the transmission of COVID-19 in poultry plants, which began in April and ultimately led to more than 1,200 cases and 10 deaths in largely minority and socioeconomically disadvantaged communities.

Unwanted care, unexpected bills

By LUANNE RIFE, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

When their dad was kept in a state hospital against their will, a family learns that they will bear the financial burden. When a judge stripped Conlan Williams and his family of their rights to decide what would be best for him, the worst happened, his children said. Williams, a Korean War veteran who worked for decades in the nation's defense, was locked away in a state psychiatric hospital where he'd mark his 85th, and last, birthday. His only illness was dementia.

VHSL plans call for high school sports schedules to be cut 60%

By FRED HODGE, Fauquier Times

The Virginia High School League has released proposed contest limits for the delayed high school sports calendar, planning for 60% reductions to regular seasons in most sports. For the winter sports, basketball will play 14 games (22 previously) with eight for wrestling (12) and six for both swimming and indoor track (10).


Extreme weather of 2020 producing pain in Hampton Roads' croplands

By JOANNE KIMBERLIN, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

As if 2020 hasn't been tough enough already, extreme weather is producing pain for local farmers. Not you too, Mother Nature. Indeed. City folks on a drive through the countryside might not notice, but a growing season that's bounced between way too dry and way too wet has left a patchwork of damage across the region's croplands. All those acres of rustling corn? They look OK from a car window, but closer inspection on a slew of farms finds a lot of cob with missing kernels.

2 dead in Suffolk industrial accident at site of future Amazon facility

By KATHERINE HAFNER, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Two workers are dead after an unspecified industrial accident Saturday afternoon at the site of a future Amazon fulfillment center, authorities said. More were temporarily unaccounted for but later found with no injuries. Police and fire crews responded to the scene after learning of the incident shortly before 2:15 p.m. in the 2000 block of Northgate Commerce Parkway, according to a city news release.

Danville businesses stay afloat with help from COVID-19 assistance

By JOHN CRANE, Danville Register & Bee

For John Mason, the assistance he and his wife received from the city for their business covered rent for a month this past spring. Mason and his wife, Anne, own Foxglove Clothing of Danville on West Main Street in Schoolfield. The money they received enabled them to use funds — money that would otherwise have covered rent — to pay for other expenses, he said. "We could use those dollars to help pay utilities and pay invoices to our vendors," John Mason said.


Pair of Dulles Greenway rush hour relief projects done


After $20 million and almost two years, a pair of rush hour relief projects on Northern Virginia's Dulles Greenway are finished. Officials said they hope the two projects will help ease a rush hour bottleneck for commuters in Loudoun County, Greenway's mainline plaza and Centreville Road.


Student life has resumed at CNU; only 4 cases reported leading up to the start of classes

By JOSH REYES, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)

Christopher Newport University's campus will be at its capacity this weekend, with classes starting Monday. The university has opted to hold most classes in person, requiring students and professors to distance and wear masks. Many students have already moved into campus residence halls, and the remainder will arrive this weekend.

Sunday's state COVID-19 data: Radford cases increase by 50

By STAFF REPORT, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

The Virginia Department of Health reports 938 new coronavirus cases across the state from Saturday to Sunday. That includes 50 new cases in Radford, a COVID-19 hot spot over the past several weeks. The city's total is now 384. A total of 52 new cases were reported in Radford Saturday morning, according to VDH's latest data. This weekend's cases in Radford are substantially more than any other locality in the region.

Native American center eyed in place of UVa's George Rogers Clark statue

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

The statue of Revolutionary War Gen. George Rogers Clark has stood on University of Virginia land for 99 years, but a push for racial equity and efforts by student leaders may force the statue to be removed. The statue, for which university leaders actively lobbied a wealthy Charlottesville philanthropist back in 1921, would be replaced by a Native American-centered cultural center under a recommendation by UVa's Racial Equity Task Force.

Falwell's exit puts Liberty at crossroads

By SUSAN SVRLUGA, MICHELLE BOORSTEIN AND SARAH PULLIAM BAILEY, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Liberty University students watched their first all-school convocation of the semester one day after their high-profile president, Jerry Falwell Jr., resigned amid personal scandals. Falwell has been "an inspiration," said Jerry Prevo, a powerful, fundamentalist pastor from Alaska serving as acting president. He told students that Liberty's leaders are committed to the spiritual mission of the university. He also said Falwell had been the "builder of this great campus, which all of us can be proud of."


Virginia reports 938 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, 1 more death

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

The Virginia Department of Health reported 938 new coronavirus cases Sunday, bringing the state's tally to 119,747. At least 2,569 Virginians have died from the virus as of Sunday morning, an increase of one from Saturday.

Supply chain issues still hampering UVa's virus testing efforts

By ALLISON WRABEL, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

Supply chain issues are still hampering the University of Virginia Health Systems's COVID-19 test processing efforts. UVa had a goal of running 3,000 tests a day by early June, but is currently only running about 750 tests a day due to material shortages, among other issues.

Health department employees faced with long hours, never-ending responsibilities

By CALEB AYERS, Danville Register & Bee

In the world before COVID-19, people often asked Pittsylvania-Danville Health Director Scott Spillmann why the health department needed epidemiologists — health professionals who track and attempt to curb the spread of infectious diseases — or health emergency coordinators. "No one is asking that now," Spillmann said.

Henry County Jail takes steps to curtail spread of 'several' coronavirus cases

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

Coronavirus has spread in the Henry County Jail despite a reduction in population designed to present an outbreak. Henry County Lane Perry declined to provide a number of cases, but he did say that the positive tests "were contained within two cells." Between 15 and 20 men live in a cell.

Defying virus with military precision

By HANNAH NATANSON, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

The teenage boys struggled up the hill in the predawn darkness, panting beneath gray masks stamped with crossed swords and an ornate "F." Behind them, fog swirled over the dark humps of Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains. In front of them waited Capt. Mark Black, his summer-white Navy uniform glowing against the red-brick exterior of Fishburne Military School. Each boy slowed to a walk as he passed the superintendent, then snapped an arm in prompt salute. "Mr. Loe," Black called to a teen, "did you really wear that gaiter the whole run?" "Yes, sir!" said 17-year-old Wesley Loe. "You got to do what you got to do."


Richmond Community Groups Hold 'Unity Walk', Commemorating March On Washington


More than 100 people gathered at the Virginia Museum of History and Culture Friday night for a Unity Walk. It was a commemoration of the 57th anniversary of the March on Washington and Martin Luther King, Jr.'s most famous speech, "I Have A Dream." Thousands of protesters also arrived in Washington D.C. that same night for a march on the National Mall. The Unity Walk was unlike any of the protests Richmond has seen over the past few months. There were no chants as people walked along Arthur Ashe Boulevard. The marchers were asked to quietly reflect on racial justice.

Report: Prosecution of federal human trafficking cases down in Va.

By JOSETTE KEELOR, Winchester Star (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

A new report from the Human Trafficking Institute has listed Virginia 13th on the list of active criminal trafficking cases it's pursuing at the federal level. The 2019 Federal Human Trafficking Report lists 13 active cases in Virginia, 12 of them in the Eastern District, which contains many of the state's most populous urban areas. The Western District (comprising about 50 counties across the Shenandoah Valley, west-central and southwest regions and about half of Virginia's central and southside regions) reported one active human trafficking case in federal courts as of the end of 2019, said Kyleigh Feehs, associate legal counsel and co-author of the report.


Loudoun Co. use of libraries for county day care prompts closures, anger


The decision by Loudoun County's Board of Supervisors to utilize two of the Virginia county's libraries as day care facilities for county employees during the COVID-19 pandemic has drawn the ire of library officials. Starting Monday, Aug. 31, the Ashburn and Rust branches — two of the county's 10 branches — will be limited to curbside pickup service.

Maggie Walker school's new 5-year plan addresses diversity. But with no metrics, critics question its utility

By KENYA HUNTER, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Alumni who hoped a five-year plan approved last week for a predominantly white magnet school would address systemic racism say the regional school board did not do enough to support students of color. While the 11-page plan adopted by the board of the Maggie L. Walker Governor's School on Aug. 20 contains a reference to "underserved populations," it does not mention racism or Black or brown students.

Richmond ends amnesty program for parking citations

NBC 12

The city of Richmond will be ending its parking amnesty program, which started in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Parking enforcement already resumed citywide in July. At 5 p.m. on Aug. 31, the city will begin booting vehicles with outstanding past-due tickets.

Open land preserved in Spotsylvania

By SCOTT SHENK, Free Lance-Star (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

More than 1,000 acres near Lake Anna in Spotsylvania County have been placed under a conservation easement. The Land Trust of Virginia, a nonprofit that works with landowners who want to preserve property, said two tracts were donated in July. Richmond McDaniel, a Fredericksburg resident, donated the properties—one covering 784 acres and the other 241 acres.

Firefly, Nelson County partner for $1 million investment in broadband expansion

By NICK CROPPER, Nelson County Times

Invigorated with additional federal aid money, the Nelson County Board of Supervisors recently allocated $1.125 million for Firefly Fiber Broadband to use for immediate broadband expansion in the county. A proposal by Firefly — which is owned by the members of Central Virginia Electric Cooperative — to complete a total of six projects in the areas of Shipman, Arrington, Gladstone, Piney River and Colleen would provide reliable, high-speed internet to more than 400 homes and businesses off the CVEC system by Dec. 31.

Roanoke County awards close to $1 million in aid to local businesses

By ALISON GRAHAM, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Roanoke County has awarded close to $1 million to local businesses since the start of its coronavirus assistance grant program in July. So far, more than 200 businesses in the county and town of Vinton have received grants — most of them restaurants, retail and health and medical businesses. The average grant amount has been about $5,000.

Altavista council approves renaming park after a Black community leader

By SARAH HONOSKY, News & Advance (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)

An Altavista park is being renamed in honor of a prominent Black community leader from the town's history. John Moseley moved from Charlotte Court House to work for the Lane Company in 1909. In a matter of years, he purchased land, opened a small business and was instrumental in building the African American community in Altavista, establishing a neighborhood still named for him, Moseley Heights.

Nearly 2,000 Danville Utilities customers at risk of service disconnection starting Tuesday

By PARKER COTTON, Danville Register & Bee

About 2,000 Danville Utilities residential customers are at risk of having their service disconnected in the first few days of September if they do not make an attempt to address their delinquent balance, according to Michael Adkins, the city's director of finance. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in mid-March, the city imposed a moratorium on shut-offs as customers lost jobs en masse or had working hours reduced, making it much more difficult to pay various bills.

BVU board hears about lawsuit, possible rate cut

By DAVID MCGEE, Bristol Herald Courier (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)

The BVU Authority board spent about 50 minutes in closed session Friday, in part to receive an update on litigation recently filed against it by the city of Bristol, Virginia, but members had little to say afterward. The city's July 31 complaint seeks $6.5 million from what it claims are proceeds from the $48 million sale of the former OptiNet telecommunications division, which concluded in August 2018. BVU filed its response last week, claiming there were no funds left over and asking that the issue be moved to U.S. District Court in Abingdon.



Show workers appreciation in these troubled times

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

There was hope when the coronavirus began that it might prompt a profound change in the treatment and consideration given to the hourly workers and service industry employees whose toil was suddenly classified as "essential." Medical professionals have always held an esteemed place in society, so praise showered on them, though very much warranted, was in keeping with their station. Appreciation heaped on postal workers and grocery store clerks, restaurant employees and cleaning personnel represented something different.

Help wanted: Virginia officers of election

Richmond Times-Dispatch Editorial (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Teresa F. Smithson, general registrar and director of elections for Hanover County, calls officers of election "the unsung heroes of our democracy." "If we didn't have them checking in voters, giving out ballots, handing out stickers and doing everything else they do, we wouldn't have any elections," she said. "Our officers of election have the community at heart, and we are so grateful to have the people we do."

Questions for Good and Webb in the 5th District

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

The Fifth District, which stretches from the North Carolina line to the outskirts of Northern Virginia, has one of the most interesting congressional races anywhere in the country this year. For the Democrats, Cameron Webb, a Black doctor from Charlottesville running in a district where Confederate statues prompted the violent march by white supremacists three years ago. For the Republicans, Bob Good, who calls himself a "bright red Biblical and constitutional conservative."

A cautionary energy tale from California

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

If you've noticed that your electricity bills have slowly creeped up over the past decade or so, you're not imagining things. According to the Virginia State Corporation Commission, energy legislation passed by the General Assembly have increased Dominion Energy customers' power bills nearly 29 percent since 2007. When the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown imposed by Gov. Ralph Northam caused hundreds of thousands of Virginians to lose their jobs, the SCC imposed a moratorium on utility shutoffs, which was to have expired on Monday. The moratorium was extended to Sept. 16 to give the General Assembly, now meeting in special session, a bit more time to pass emergency legislation to help people who lost their livelihoods keep the lights on, at least temporarily.

Responding to the Census benefits us all

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

This is crunch time for the 2020 Census. Hampton Roads communities should make every effort to encourage people who haven't responded to make sure they are counted. Counting every person matters — to all of us. COVID-19 has, of course, complicated the process of counting every person who lives in the United States.

No exceptions should be made for COVID-19.

Richmond Times-Dispatch Editorial (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

To gain a sense of how strange the start of the fall 2020 semester has been at Virginia Commonwealth University, look no further than a recent pinned tweet on the main @VCU Twitter feed. "Check this thread for indoor + outdoor locations for studying and eating," the tweet said, along with emojis of books, a computer, a sandwich and a box of french fries.


Johnson: Connect the suburbs

By MAXWELL JOHNSON, published in Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

When I was younger, I thought that it was strange to walk. Or rather, I thought it strange that people would dare to go by foot alongside the bustling roads that crisscross suburban Chesterfield County, where I grew up. I was reminded of these past thoughts when driving on Midlothian Turnpike from Manchester to my parents' Midlothian home on a recent weekend. The pedestrian infrastructure of the city quickly fades away as the road opens up into sprawling shopping plazas and their attendant acres of asphalt. But pedestrians remain — walking the medians and cutting across multiple lanes of traffic, not in defiance of a walk signal but in the absence of one.

Maxwell Johnson is a native of Chesterfield County and a graduate of the University of Virginia.

Yarcich: The Postal Service's vital role in medication delivery

By AMY YARCICH, published in Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Concerns about the capacity of the U.S. Postal Service to carry out its "appointed rounds" have reached a fever pitch. While much of the debate has focused on the potential risks to the fall election, there are other serious day-to-day consequences of a debilitated post office, particularly its critical role in delivering lifesaving medications to patients who rely on them.

Yarcich is executive director of Rx Partnership. Her grandfather, who passed away in 2012, served as a letter carrier in New Jersey for 30 years.

Owen: 50th anniversary of co-education at U.Va.

By KAREN OWEN, published in Free Lance-Star (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

As we celebrate the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, giving women the right to vote throughout the land, perhaps lost in the shuffle is another red-letter day for women in Virginia: The 50th anniversary of full co-education at the state's flagship university. The Commonwealth of Virginia itself would not ratify the 19th Amendment until 1952.

Owen is an editor and writer, and former Viewpoints editor (2007–14) of The Free Lance–Star.

Latham: Want to cast a ballot safely this fall? A local registrar explains how.

By WALT LATHAM, published in Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Presidential elections bring elevated attention to the political process, which not only brings heightened levels of excitement, energy, involvement, and participation but also heightened levels of misinformation, confusion, and frustration. These negative aspects of a presidential election are unnecessary. With the information below, Virginians can feel knowledgeable and confident about Virginia's election process. If you are not registered to vote or are unsure, you need to fix that!

Latham is the general registrar for York County. He is also the immediate past president of the Voter Registrars Association of Virginia.

Morse: Star spangled or not, the messaging gets challenging

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

As political message-making goes, the image of Vice President Mike Pence surrounded by American flags at Fort McHenry hardly qualifies as subtle. But that's the way these things work. Mount Rushmore. The White House. What, did they forget the Old North Church and Independence Hall? Settings (circumstances) set the message and, man, do Democrats, including those presently operating in Richmond, need to absorb this reality.

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

Jankowski: Making brave choices will see us through COVID-19

By JUDY JANKOWSKI, published in Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Within the next few weeks, students across the country will be returning to school. The number of questions to be answered before schools open — where kids should attend, how they should be served, the impact on their social and emotional health, the ability of teachers to build essential relationships with their students when starting the year remotely — can be overwhelming for families and educators alike. The data collected from our great distance learning experiment of last spring indicates that by the end of the term many students were simply unable to sustain momentum.

Judy Jankowski, Ed.D., head of school for Chesapeake Bay Academy, has dedicated her career to the education and well-being of children who learn differently.

Tracci: Make law enforcement part of Virginia's criminal reform solution

By ROBERT N. TRACCI, published in Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

The unlawful killing of George Floyd has occasioned widespread and well-founded calls for enhanced police training, accreditation and justice reform. But rather than seizing a historic opportunity for bipartisan legislative action, leaders in Virginia's General Assembly have proposed measures that would undermine community safety, deny justice to crime victims, and imperil the lives of Virginia residents and law enforcement officers.

Robert Tracci serves as assistant commonwealth's attorney for Louisa County. He was Albemarle County's commonwealth's attorney from 2016-19.

Hincker: Dear conservative or centrist voter

By LARRY HINCKER, published in Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

For all you undecided conservative, independent, or centrist voters. Find yourself in a difficult spot? Trump or Biden in 2020? Not much of a choice, eh? Flashback time to 2016 – Hillary or Donald? Except that now we know something we didn't know then. The stable genius president aced his cognitive exam and remembered five words. The stable genius recommended we drink bleach to rid a virus. The stable genius warns that windmills cause cancer. OK, on a more serious policy standpoint, this president presides over a national budget deficit that is the largest in modern history.

Hincker is a retired public relations executive.

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

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Special Saturday Edition

August 29, 2020
Top of the News

Va. Parole Board dismisses calls to resign amid questions about Inspector General's authority to probe its decisions

By MARK BOWES, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

The Virginia Parole Board will not heed demands by top state Republican leaders to resign in the wake of a blistering report by the state Inspector General, as questions are being raised about the IG's authority and expertise to investigate the board's decision to grant parole to a man sentenced to life in prison in 1980 for killing a Richmond police officer. Attorney Jeffrey Breit, a longtime friend and legal advisor to Gov. Ralph Northam, contends the Inspector General's Office "went way beyond the bounds" of their intended mission as a state government watchdog agency in investigating a quasi-judicial body such as the parole board.

Virginia House advances plan for civilian review boards

By DENISE LAVOIE, Associated Press

The Virginia House of Delegates advanced legislation Friday that would require cities and counties across the state to establish civilian review boards with the authority to investigate citizen complaints and take disciplinary action against police officers. The bill sponsored by House Majority Leader Charniele Herring, D-Alexandria, sets a deadline of July 1, 2021, for localities to set up the review boards, which have become one of the leading police reforms pushed by protesters across the country since the May 25 police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Virginia Democrats advance measures tightening thresholds for traffic stops

By LAURA VOZZELLA, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Police in Virginia could no longer stop cars for certain physical defects or search them based on an alleged whiff of marijuana under legislation that state Democrats are pursuing in a special General Assembly session. The measures are part of a push in Virginia and across the country to overhaul law enforcement practices after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody in May. Backers of the changes say that under current law, police can use minor offenses as a pretext for racially motivated stops.

Virginia lawmakers just made it easier to vote. Local registrars have only weeks to carry it out.

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

In the nearly 10 years since Norfolk voter registrar Stephanie Iles began working in the local elections department, she's never been in such a crunch to get everything ready for an election with so much still uncertain. With the election just over two months away, Virginia's voter registrars say they already were inundated with work as they prepare to carry out changes state lawmakers approved in their regular session earlier this year. Recently, they've had to deal with questions surrounding the U.S. Postal Service's ability to deliver absentee ballots.

Kanye West qualifies for Virginia's presidential ballot

By GRAHAM MOOMAW, Virginia Mercury

Rapper Kanye West has qualified to appear on Virginia's presidential ballot in November, according to state election officials. Elections officials confirmed Friday evening that West will appear on the ballot as an independent after verifying he submitted 5,000 petition signatures from Virginia voters.

Despite city warnings, civil rights protesters march on

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

Marshaled by a phalanx of riders from Tha Pack Motorcycle Club, Rosia Parker and Katrina Turner led 30 marchers and a media entourage down Charlottesville streets Friday afternoon, calling for justice and equality in defiance of city officials. Holding a banner, they shouted chants over bullhorns on the two-hour march that started in front of the Charlottesville Police Department, stopped at the intersection of McIntire Road and Preston Avenue and continued up Preston to Fifth Street, ending at Tonsler Park.

In Virginia, A Family Tragedy Stirs New Life In A Burial Ground For The Enslaved


Pastor Michelle Thomas was scouring Loudoun County records five years ago for evidence of the enslaved people who once toiled on the area's plantations. In Folder 17 of a county collection she found a listing that caught her eye: "Slave Cemetery — Belmont Plantation." It became her life's work. Thomas led a community effort to gain custody of the grounds and clear the overgrowth and trees that obscured the old fieldstones. Her work sparked new interest in other abandoned African American graveyards, setting an example for preservationists across Virginia.

The Full Report
42 articles, 16 publications


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.


Virginia General Assembly votes to expand access to absentee voting, create ballot drop boxes

By GREGORY S. SCHNEIDER, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Virginia's General Assembly passed measures Friday to broaden access to absentee voting in this fall's presidential election, including the creation of ballot drop boxes that Republicans warned would be an invitation to fraud. Democrats used their control of both chambers to muscle through the bills, arguing that concerns about voting during a pandemic and a time of uncertainty around the U.S. Postal Service called for extraordinary action.

General Assembly passes legislation setting up ballot drop boxes for November election

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

The General Assembly passed legislation Friday that would set up ballot drop boxes in each locality ahead of the November election. The Democratic-controlled House of Delegates and Senate passed the legislation on party-line votes. The bills need to get passed in the opposite chamber before they go to Gov. Ralph Northam for his signature. The legislation also would have the state spend $2 million on prepaid postage to go along with ballots sent to voters.

Virginia legislators approve drop boxes, prepaid return postage for absentee ballots

By MEL LEONOR AND MICHAEL MARTZ, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Virginia legislators on Friday approved legislation to create drop boxes for absentee ballots at local election offices and fund prepaid return postage for people voting by mail. The legislation, which was broadly opposed by Republicans citing security risks, was championed by Democrats who now control the state legislature and want to expand access to the ballot.

Virginia legislators advance protections for nursing home residents

By KATE MASTERS, Virginia Mercury

Gov. Ralph Northam's administration faced bipartisan criticism throughout much of the COVID-19 pandemic for its decision not to release the names of nursing homes and assisted living centers with outbreaks of the virus — largely leaving families and residents in the dark unless the facility chose to disclose the information itself. The Virginia General Assembly responded this week, unanimously passing emergency bills in the House and Senate to require the disclosure. Del. Mark Sickles, D-Fairfax, and Sen. George Barker, D-Fairfax, sponsored identical legislation that clarifies existing state code and tasks the Virginia Department of Health with making information on outbreaks publicly available.

Virginia lawmakers move to ban police searches based on the smell of marijuana

By NED OLIVER, Virginia Mercury

Todd Zinicola is pretty sure it's the only time someone has smoked a Black & Mild cigar in a Virginia courtroom at the request of a judge. He was defending a client in Fairfax who police searched after saying they smelled marijuana during a routine traffic stop. But Zinicola argued in court that it was impossible for the state trooper to smell the drug, wrapped in two layers of plastic wrap in the back seat, over the overpowering scent of the Black & Mild the man was smoking at the time.


Lawsuit challenges ballot language on redistricting amendment

By MEL LEONOR, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

A former chairman of the Democratic Party of Virginia on Friday filed a lawsuit challenging the ballot language tied to a constitutional amendment that would revamp the state's redistricting process. Paul Goldman, who led the state party from 1990 to 1993 and is running for lieutenant governor, is arguing in court that the language describing the amendment doesn't accurately portray its effect and is meant to sway votes to support it.


Kanye West's Presidential Campaign Is Both Proceeding and Unraveling

By BEN JACOBS, New York Magazine

...West may face particular issues in Virginia, where seven of the 13 electors that West submitted told Intelligencer they were either unaware that they signed up to cast electoral votes on his behalf, or that they had signed notarized paperwork connected to the rapper's presidential bid at all. "Is this a joke?" one of the electors, Ilisa Stillman, asked when reached by Intelligencer. "Holy guacamole," she replied when informed it was not. "I'm certainly not supporting Kanye West," she made clear before ending the conversation.


Busch Gardens Williamsburg to remain open on certain days in September for another limited capacity event

By GREGORY J. GILLIGAN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Busch Gardens Williamsburg will continue operating on limited days in September while it adds additional days and a couple more roller coasters and rides. The theme park, which reopened earlier this month by holding a Coasters & Craft Brews event during certain days in August, has come up with Taste of Busch Gardens, another new limited capacity special event that requires reservations.

Hampton defense contractor fraudulently labeled Chinese goods as American while taking in $25 million, feds say

By KATHERINE HAFNER, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)

A Hampton-based business sold the U.S. government Chinese-made goods that it falsely labeled as "Made the USA," according to a federal indictment unsealed Wednesday. I-Tek Inc. received about $25 million from the procurement scheme as a supplier to the U.S. Army, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and other federal agencies, prosecutors said. The company delivered clothing, wire, parachutes and more that had been imported from China and systematically made to look otherwise.


Silver Line project team announces progress on Phase 2 completion


The Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project teams recently announced that they have completed the train control system connections of Phase 2 of the Silver Line to the rest of the region's transit system. Project officials say this is major step toward completion of the rail line extension from the Wiehle-Reston East Station through Dulles Airport to Ashburn in eastern Loudoun County. Recently, Metro reopened six Fairfax County stations and restored its Silver Line service a few weeks earlier than expected amid the COVID-19 pandemic.


UVa sticking to plan to resume in-person classes on Sept. 8

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

The University of Virginia is sticking with plans to begin in-person classes on Sept. 8 and will welcome students back a week before, the school announced in a message Friday afternoon. The decision comes after the university earlier this month delayed the start of in-person classes by two weeks amid a late summer surge in COVID-19 cases.

UVA will proceed with in-person classes this semester

By ERIC KOLENICH, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

The University of Virginia is sticking with plans to begin in-person classes on Sept. 8 and will welcome students back next week, the school announced in a message Friday afternoon. The decision comes after the university earlier this month delayed the start of in-person classes by two weeks amid a late-summer surge in COVID-19 cases.

Notre Dame, U-Va. to resume in-person classes

By NICK ANDERSON, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

The University of Notre Dame plans to resume in-person teaching next week after school officials determined that the threat of a wider outbreak of coronavirus cases in the campus community is receding. And the University of Virginia said it has resolved to teach undergraduates face to face after Labor Day. These announcements Friday vindicated, for the moment, those who believe that higher education can return this year to at least some of its classroom routines.

Greek councils ban in-person gatherings, including parties, amid COVID-19 pandemic

By PATRICK RONEY, Cavalier Daily

The Inter-Fraternity Council and Inter-Sorority Council released a joint statement Wednesday to suspend all in-person activities this semester — including formal and informal gatherings such as parties and meetings. The statement included a warning that offending chapters could face a Fraternal Organization Agreement suspension for the academic year. This comes after fraternities and sororities came under scrutiny in the spring and summer for hosting gatherings during which attendees did not adhere to social distancing or the University's mask policy.

Virginia Tech asks fraternity to quarantine after possible COVID-19 exposure

By HENRI GENDREAU, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Virginia Tech has asked all members of a fraternity to self-quarantine for 14 days after some members may have been exposed to COVID-19. The university learned earlier this week that members of Delta Sigma Phi could have been exposed, Tech spokesman Mark Owczarski said Friday in an email. Tech has not disciplined any students in the case, he said.

At Liberty, 30 students and staff have tested positive for coronavirus

By ERIC KOLENICH, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Twenty-five students and five employees have tested positive for the coronavirus at Liberty University in Lynchburg, a school spokesman said. On Thursday, when the Richmond Times-Dispatch surveyed the case counts at 41 colleges across the state, Liberty had not made its number of total positive cases public. On Friday, Liberty provided figures to The Times-Dispatch.

A label on vials containing COVID-19 tests sent to W&M students says 'for research use only…'

By JULIA MARSIGLIANO, Williamsburg-Yorktown Daily (Metered paywall - 3 articles per month)

Fact 1: William & Mary students had to be tested for the coronavirus before setting foot on campus for the fall semester. Fact 2: The COVID-19 test kit, a self-administered throat swab test, was mailed to students, so they could test themselves at-home, send the test samples to a laboratory with the test results available before the semester started. There's just one thing: Tests given to the students were labeled "For Research Use Only Not For Use in Diagnostic Procedures."

Randolph College responds to allegations of Title IX misconduct

By JAMEY CROSS, News & Advance (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)

In response to allegations of Title IX misconduct, Randolph College is making efforts to improve resources on campus. Earlier this month, Randolph College alumni took to social media to share their experiences with sexual assault during their time on campus, alleging the college failed to properly investigate their allegations when they occurred.


1,013 new coronavirus cases reported in Virginia on Friday

By MOSS BRENNAN, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

The Virginia Department of Health reported 1,013 new coronavirus cases Friday, bringing the state's tally to 117,529. At least 2,550 Virginians have died from the virus as of Thursday morning, an increase of 23 from Thursday.

Fewer people show up for COVID-19 testing as cases rise in Richmond and Henrico

By MICHAEL MARTZ, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Richmond and Henrico County health officials are seeing fewer people seek free testing for COVID-19, even though positive cases of the virus have risen in both localities in the past month. Instead of seeing an average of 200 people per day at community testing events, Richmond and Henrico health officials are seeing fewer than 100 people show up for free public health tests.


Demonstrators call for end to injustice, racism outside Newport News City Hall

By JESSICA NOLTE, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)

A group of dozens of people — police officers, a councilman, Christopher Newport University students and other community members — rallied Friday night in front of Newport News City Hall to call for an end to racism and injustice. The rally, which was promoted under the name "March against Racism and Injustice at Newport News City Hall," was to honor the 57th Anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Civil Rights Movement March and call for local changes.

Black Lives Matters protest in Rocky Mount honors King's famous speech

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

Henry Turnage returned Friday to the site of his one-man protest, waving an American flag, followed by young marchers holding a Black Lives Matter banner. He stepped up onto the pedestal supporting a statue of a Confederate soldier that stands outside the Franklin County Courthouse, the same statue he walked laps around for several days running in June.

Officials move ahead with efforts to revamp history education, eliminate gaps in African American content

By MEL LEONOR, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

On the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first Africans to North American shores, Virginia state officials vowed to improve the state's history education to make it more inclusive of the African American experience. That effort will move ahead on Monday, when a commission tasked with reviewing the state's history curriculum will wrap up its work and issue recommendations to edit Virginia's history standards — to more broadly and accurately represent the experiences, perspectives and contributions of Black Virginians.

U.S. Attorney Cullen endorses call for Kappa Alpha, his fraternity, to cut ties with Robert E. Lee legacy

By JEFF STURGEON, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

U.S. Attorney Thomas Cullen on Friday challenged his college fraternity's longstanding affiliation with Robert E. Lee, saying he supports calls to end the legacy. Virginia-based Kappa Alpha, which Cullen joined during undergraduate studies at Furman University, identifies the Confederate general as its "spiritual founder."

Loudoun County Public Schools, School Board to apologize for formerly operating segregated schools

By STAFF REPORT, Loudoun Times

Loudoun County Public Schools, the third-largest school system in the commonwealth, was also one of the last in the nation to desegregate its schools, for which the Loudoun County School Board and Superintendent Eric Williams plans to formally apologize next month. LCPS Public Information Officer Wayde Byard announced Friday — the 57th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech — the School Board's plans to issue the formal apology in September alongside a video presentation outlining the history of segregation in the school system.

A farm sanctuary for animals and humans is on the brink of closure. Can it survive?

By EMILY DAVIES, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Nestled amid sprawling fields in Northern Virginia lies an oasis of healing. Jackson, a horse once confined to a stall with a broken hip, trots again through grassy fields. Wilbur, earlier chased in a greased pig contest, sits near a mud pit waiting for a treat. And Alyssa Conrad, a Virginia woman born without ligaments or tendons in her legs, can feel her body grow stronger after long days of tending to the barn.


FCPS Hires New Chief Information Officer After Top Official Resigns


A new Chief Information Officer will oversee Fairfax County Public Schools' virtual learning and department of information technology. Gautam Sethi, who currently serves as the chief technology officer for Douglas County in Colorado, will take over the position on Sept. 21. The head of information technology for FCPS resigned in April following distance learning woes.

Judge says more time is needed to review Walts' Twitter messages to decide if they should be released

By JILL PALERMO, Prince William Times

When Prince William County Schools Superintendent Steven Walts suspended his Twitter account in May, he made a video in which he said the account did not belong to him personally but rather was an "official account" managed by the school division's communication office. . . . The fact Walts granted other school division employees access to his Twitter account was at the center of a court hearing Thursday about whether the messages are subject to release under the Freedom of Information Act.

More Manassas residents join opposition to proposed asphalt plant

By DANIEL BERTI, Prince William Times

A new asphalt plant proposed for a densely populated area outside Manassas is sparking intense opposition from residents in nearby neighborhoods. Last Saturday, Aug. 22, more than 50 people took to their neighborhood streets to protest over concerns that the plant will increase dump truck traffic, noise and pollution in the area.

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney's public safety task force already facing criticism

By ALI ROCKETT, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Just three weeks since Mayor Levar Stoney's "Reimagine Public Safety" task force first met, and less than a month from delivering its initial recommendations for police reforms, questions of transparency and sharp criticism from a former member have already stymied progress. But those on the nearly 40-member advisory board, who represent both pro- and anti-police sentiments, as well as a cross-section of the community, say they're withholding judgement as the real work and hard conversations have only just started.

Richmond prosecutor says she won't investigate statue removal contract

By CHRIS SUAREZ, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Richmond Commonwealth's Attorney Collette McEachin said Friday she will not investigate Mayor Levar Stoney's handling of a $1.8 million contract for the removal of the city's Confederate monuments. In response to Councilwoman Kimberly Gray's request for the probe earlier this month, McEachin said she thinks there could be a perceived conflict of interest because the business executive tied to the shell company the city hired to take down the statues donated to her husband's state Senate campaign in 2011.

Richmond-area private schools saw record applications this summer, but had no room to add students

By HOLLY PRESTIDGE, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Dan Frank remembers that one week earlier this summer, just after school officials in Richmond and Chesterfield and Henrico counties announced that they'd be going virtual for the start of the 2020-21 school year. "Our phone was ringing off the hook," said Frank, Head of School at the Steward School, a private school in Henrico County. Many of those calls were from parents of children in public school divisions simply looking for in-person options.

Norfolk police officer charged with manslaughter in off-duty Chesapeake shooting

By MARGARET MATRAY, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

A Norfolk police officer who shot and killed a schizophrenic man while off duty in Chesapeake earlier this year was arrested Thursday and charged with voluntary manslaughter. Edmund Hoyt, 34, turned himself in Thursday at the Chesapeake City Jail and is being held without bond in the January death of 42-year-old Kelvin Dwayne White. Hoyt was charged at the direction of the Commonwealth's Attorney's Office, police wrote in a news release.

About one in three Hampton Roads parents say they'll keep kids home even once schools reopen

By SARA GREGORY, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Some Hampton Roads schools could reopen this fall if coronavirus measures allow it. But thousands of parents already have decided they'll keep their kids home anyway. In Virginia Beach, 39% of parents picked a fully virtual option for the rest of this semester; in Chesapeake, a third did. In Norfolk, roughly one in four students plan to attend school virtually for the entire school year.

Amidst federal lawsuit, Stafford supervisors amend cemetery ordinances again

By JAMES SCOTT BARON, Free Lance-Star (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Stafford supervisors have once again changed the county zoning ordinance pertaining to cemeteries, this time in the shadow of a lawsuit filed against the county by the U.S. Department of Justice. New cemeteries will now need to be at least 656 feet from private wells, and will need to obtain a conditional use permit to be built.

County broadband authority seeking $3.8M to bring fiber internet to 2,300 homes and businesses

By ALLISON WRABEL, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

The Albemarle County Broadband Authority has applied to get state funding for a project that would bring fiber internet to more than 2,300 homes and businesses in rural Albemarle. The authority and CenturyLink are requesting nearly $3.8 million in grant money from the Virginia Telecommunication Initiative. Authority board members think the project has a good shot at receiving funding, but, currently, there is only $19 million budgeted for this year's program.

Roanoke council approves hazard pay, bonuses for city employees

By RALPH BERRIER JR., Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Roanoke's police, firefighters, emergency workers and other city employees will receive extra money as a thank you for their work during the pandemic. On Friday, the Roanoke City Council unanimously approved giving public safety personnel up to $2,000 in hazard pay and awarding other city staffers $1,000 bonuses.



Judges are trying to reduce a reform prosecutor's powers. She's right to fight back

Washington Post Editorial (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

There's nothing unusual about prosecutors taking someone to court. What is unusual — indeed extraordinary — is the commonwealth's attorney for Arlington County and Falls Church suing the very judges who preside over the cases she normally prosecutes. Extraordinary, but unavoidable: Parisa Dehghani-Tafti had to take this action to have any hope of doing her job and honoring her commitments to the people who elected her.


Schapiro: Jerry Falwell Jr.'s fall arouses Democrats

By JEFF E. SCHAPIRO, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

Virginia Democrats are getting turned on watching the Jerry Falwell Jr. sex scandal. "Yikes," the Democratic Party of Virginia declared, retweeting Republican Nick Freitas' March 26 thank-you to Falwell for endorsing him for Congress in the Abigail Spanberger-held 7th District. It's anchored in the Richmond suburbs, where Falwell's fall could be more fuel for the anti-Trump fury on which Spanberger's fortunes depend.


Leonard: Franklin County should replace rebel statue with Washington

By EDWARD LEONARD, published in Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

The article by Robert Meredith on Aug. 1, 2020 ("Franklin County needs a memorial to Booker T. Washington") concerning memorials in Franklin County seemed at first an option for bridging the factions and divisions in our country concerning Confederate monuments and racism. His closing remark about "erecting a memorial to Booker T. Washington adjacent to the memorial to the Confederate dead on our courthouse grounds" struck me as extremely ludicrous.

Leonard is a retired United Methodist minister who once served churches in Franklin County. He lives in Roanoke.

Harris: The meaning of race

By CHUCK HARRIS, published in Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Race. It only has the meaning we assign to it. It is entirely a social construct. It is not a biologic category. In surgery, we do not have separate anatomy books of reference based on race. When we transfuse blood, or transplant organs, race is not a factor. There is just one race; the human race. The difference between black and white, physically, is a mere 1/30th of an ounce of melanin. Skin's very design is for relating; for touch.

Harris is a surgeon practicing in the New River Valley

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