Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Political Headlines from across Virginia

August 18, 2020
Top of the News

Northam to propose steps making absentee voting easier, including ballot drop-off boxes

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

Gov. Ralph Northam is proposing several changes in state policy to make it easier for residents to cast absentee ballots in this fall's presidential election, including allowing localities to set up drop boxes where ballots can be collected without having to put them in the mail. The proposals come after Virginia, like 45 other states and D.C., received a letter from the U.S. Postal Service suggesting that delays could cause some mail-in ballots to arrive too late to be counted — a prospect that Northam (D) tied to President Trump's efforts to discourage mail-in voting.

Portsmouth police charge Sen. Louise Lucas, NAACP leaders and other public officials in June Confederate monument protest

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

Portsmouth police announced criminal charges Monday against a bevy of public officials and activists — including state Sen. Louise Lucas, leaders of the NAACP, the city's top public defender and a School Board member — stemming from a June protest and vandalism at the city's Confederate monument that left a man seriously injured and much of the statue toppled. Lucas, NAACP President James Boyd and Vice President Louie Gibbs, School Board member LaKeesha "Klu" Atkinson and four others were charged with felony injury to a monument and conspiracy, Police Chief Angela Greene told reporters Monday afternoon.

Lawmakers return to Richmond with high-stakes agenda of coronavirus, criminal justice issues

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

Virginia Democrats face the biggest test yet of their newfound political might when the General Assembly convenes Tuesday for a special legislative session aimed at major issues of state finances, criminal justice and racial equity. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) and his party's leaders of the House of Delegates and Senate promise action to meet the demands of an extraordinary time of pandemic restrictions and social unrest. But there is tension over how far to go, and Republicans see the session as building a case that Democrats can't be trusted with full control over state government.

VPAP Visual Paths to the Virginia Senate

The Virginia Public Access Project

VPAP takes a closer look at the backgrounds of the 40 men and women who serve in the Virginia Senate. This timeline traces each Senator from their place of birth, their education, military experience, current occupation and, finally, any previous political experience. (Pop quiz: How many current Senators have served in the House of Delegates?)

Judge: Outside experts can visit immigrant detention center

Associated Press

Two outside experts will be allowed to inspect an immigration detention center in Virginia that has seen the worst coronavirus outbreak at any such facility in the nation, a federal judge said during a virtual hearing Monday. U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema agreed to a request from lawyers of inmates who have filed a lawsuit over conditions to allow a medical expert to conduct an inspection at the private facility in Farmville.

Stoney awarded $1.8M contract for Richmond's Confederate statue removal to firm linked to political donor

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

Mayor Levar Stoney agreed to pay a firm linked to one of his political donors $1.8 million to take down Richmond's Confederate statues last month, a newly released record reveals. The city contracted with NAH LLC to remove Richmond's Confederate iconography during ongoing civil unrest, according to documents the Stoney administration provided in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

While acknowledging economic benefits, Danville residents near proposed casino site say it's a bad gamble

By JOHN CRANE, Danville Register & Bee

Oak Ridge Avenue resident Terry McPeak Jr. is not too thrilled with the idea of a casino in his neighborhood. While it would reap benefits for area businesses and the city overall, a casino would also bring in unsavory elements, he believes. "It will be good for businesses, good for the economy, but I have a funny feeling it will attract bad stuff to the community," McPeak, 47, said on the front porch of his Oak Ridge Avenue home.

The Full Report
60 articles, 23 publications


VPAP Visual Disproportionate Weight

The Virginia Public Access Project

In Virginia, Hispanic residents have borne the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic. While Hispanics make up 10 percent of Virginia's population, they account for more than one-third of confirmed COVID-19 cases, where race was reported.

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 AG files lawsuit to close Mechanicsville seafood restaurant for operating without a health permit

By KARRI PEIFER, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring is seeking an injunction to stop a Hanover County seafood restaurant from operating after it lost its health permit for failing to comply with COVID-19 safety measures but had continued to operate. Calabash Seafood's health permit was suspended July 27 due to a lack of mask usage and socially distanced tables. It received a second notice of suspension on Aug. 13. The restaurant has continued to operate since, according to the complaint.

State files injunction motion against Hanover seafood restaurant

By KATE ANDREWS, Va Business Magazine

The state health commissioner and the Virginia Board of Health have filed a motion for an injunction against a seafood restaurant in Hanover County that refuses to close in spite of multiple public health orders alleging it is in violation of the state's COVID-19 rules. Calabash Seafood has been "serving customers food without a license" for the past three weeks, reads a motion filed by Attorney General Mark Herring's office Monday in the Hanover County Circuit Court.


Virginia to consider reducing penalty for assaulting police

By DENISE LAVOIE, Associated Press

Virginia lawmakers plan to take up dozens of criminal justice reforms during a special legislative session this week, but one proposal in particular is expected to spark an intense battle: a push to change a law that allows police to charge people with felony assault even if the arresting officers are not seriously hurt.

Cheat sheet: Where Virginia Democrats agree on criminal justice reform and where they diverge

By NED OLIVER, Virginia Mercury

Empowering civilian oversight of police. Creating statewide standards for law enforcement. Requiring officers to intervene when a colleague is using unlawful force. Democrats, who have full control over the legislative process in Virginia for the first time in decades, are in broad agreement on a range of criminal justice reforms that will go before the General Assembly when it convenes for a special session Tuesday.

State Sen. Louise Lucas facing 2 felony charges over toppling of Confederate statue in Portsmouth

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

Sen. Louise Lucas, D-Portsmouth, is facing two felony charges over her role in the toppling of a Confederate statue in Portsmouth in June, police announced Monday. Portsmouth Police Chief Angela Greene said the charges are the result of a weekslong investigation into the June 10 incident, which left a local man critically injured after the statue fell on him during a protest.

Sen. Louise Lucas charged with felonies over Portsmouth's Confederate Monument protest

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

Portsmouth police on Monday charged state Sen. L. Louise Lucas with being part of a conspiracy to topple the city's Confederate Monument, drawing outrage from political allies who called the accusations payback for the legislator's work to rein in police abuses. Police Chief Angela Greene announced felony warrants against Lucas (D-Portsmouth) and more than a dozen others, including three local public defenders and three representatives of the Portsmouth NAACP.

State senator charged with 'injury' to Confederate monument

By BEN FINLEY, Associated Press

A Virginia state senator has been charged with damaging a Confederate monument in Portsmouth during protests that also led to a demonstrator being critically injured when a statue was torn down, authorities said Monday. Sen. Louise Lucas faces charges of conspiracy to commit a felony and injury to a monument in excess of $1,000, Portsmouth Police Chief Angela Greene said during a news conference. The protest occurred in June.

Runion Bill Limits COVID-19 Lawsuits

By IAN MUNRO, Daily News Record (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Del. Chris Runion, R-Bridgewater, submitted a bill Saturday that would provide entities with limited immunity from lawsuits based on exposure to or transmission of COVID-19, as well as to personal protective equipment manufacturers and distributors, according to Virginia's Legislative Information System. The bill is "trying to offer some relief and, really, some ability for us to move forward without us having to look over our shoulder this whole time," Runion said Monday.

Democratic senator raps 'dictatorial fashion' of Northam's performance

By BRIAN TROMPETER, Inside NOVA (Metered Paywall)

Democratic State Sen. Chap Petersen has withdrawn a lawsuit concerning the executive orders that Gov. Ralph Northam issued during this year's pandemic but now is pressing the matter at the Virginia Supreme Court. Petersen, who represents a portion of Fairfax County, including Vienna, this spring filed suit on behalf of Fujiya House restaurant in Fredericksburg and Zion Springs vineyard and wedding venue in Hamilton, in Loudoun County, both of which he said effectively had been shut down through Phase 2 of the pandemic because of the governor's directives.

Hazel Hall funding awaits legislators' action Tuesday

By DON DEL ROSSO, Fauquier Now

If everything falls into place, work related to Lord Fairfax Community College's health, science and technology building on the Fauquier campus could start this fall, according to a top college official. But the future of the approximately $32.2-million Hazel Hall project hinges on whether additional funding the Virginia General Assembly approved earlier this year will survive the lawmakers' special session that starts Tuesday with the state's final budget and police reform getting most of their attention.

Virginia Chamber of Commerce releases recommendations for special session

By MATT WELCH, Winchester Star (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

As the General Assembly special session gets underway today, the Virginia Chamber of Commerce has released recommendations it plans to present to policymakers. Many of the recommendations stem from damages encountered through COVID-19. Chamber President and CEO Barry DuVal said the state chamber surveyed thousands of businesses during April and May and found the top concern of the business community is keeping the workforce and customers safe.


Arlington senators backing redistricting constitutional amendment

By SCOTT MCCAFFREY, Inside NOVA (Metered Paywall)

The Arlington County Democratic Committee may have come out against the state constitutional amendment on redistricting that will be on Virginia's Nov. 3 ballot. But the three members of Arlington's state Senate delegation say they support it nonetheless. The amendment to create a redistricting commission represents "a big step forward," said Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria-Arlington).


Anthem proposes lower premiums for 2021 individual health plans

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

Anthem proposed to lower the premium next year for its most popular individual health plan by 8.4%, but to raise by 1.9% the cost for its small business plan. Once again, Anthem's HealthKeepers plans will be the only ones offered in the Roanoke and New River valleys for individuals who purchase health insurance through the government exchange. But at least nine other insurers will offer small businesses choices. Anthem is the predominant carrier for much of Virginia.

Mountain Valley pledges up to $19.5 million to conserve land along Appalachian Trail

By LAURENCE HAMMACK, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

The company that plans to burrow a natural gas pipeline under the Appalachian Trail is pledging up to $19.5 million to conserve land in other spots along the footpath's route through Virginia and West Virginia. Mountain Valley Pipeline on Monday announced what it called a voluntary "stewardship agreement" with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and The Conservation Fund.

Dominion Energy acquires solar project in Orange County

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

Dominion Energy announced Monday that it had acquired a solar power project in Orange County as part of a bid to expand its clean energy portfolio. The 62.5-megawatt solar power facility is expected to go online in 2022.

Advocates Work to Save Virginia's Overnight Camps


Like many small businesses across the state, overnight camps are experiencing economic hardships during the coronavirus pandemic. Now, nearly 20 camps have formed a coalition to raise awareness on the issue in an effort to keep the industry afloat.

Washington hires Jason Wright, making him the first Black president of an NFL team

By LES CARPENTER, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

For the past seven years, as a partner in the consulting firm McKinsey & Company, Jason Wright helped rebuild companies in peril. On Monday, just hours after being named the first Black president of an NFL team, he pondered his greatest challenge yet: fixing the Washington Football Team, which has hired him to do for them what he had done for many companies in the past. "Let's be clear," he said, "I'm not a savior, neither is Coach Ron Rivera. There's no silver bullet for turning around an organization."


Northern Virginia Metro stations to reopen ahead of schedule

Associated Press

The metropolitan Washington region's Metrorail system says it will reopen two stations in northern Virginia ahead of schedule as service begins to return to pre-pandemic levels. The East Falls Church and Arlington Cemetery stations are set to reopen Aug. 23, Metro announced Monday.

Arlington and Montgomery counties join in effort to curb aircraft noise


In a partnership that stretches across the Potomac River, Arlington and Montgomery counties have launched a joint study to mitigate aircraft noise from nearby Reagan National Airport. A team of technical experts representing the suburban Virginia and Maryland counties will study flight procedures, consult residents and propose to the Federal Aviation Administration ways to reduce noise pollution from the D.C. metro region's bustling airport.

Fairfax Connector returns to full service next week


The Fairfax Connector will return to its pre-pandemic schedule starting on Saturday, Aug. 29, while also adding new routes. The bus system operated at approximately 70% to ensure transportation options for some of the region's essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Students protest on first day of classes at VCU, criticizing its reopening during pandemic, among other issues

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

Nearly 100 students at Virginia Commonwealth University criticized the school's reopening during a pandemic, police presence on campus and a reliance on underpaid workers rather than full-time faculty during a protest on Monday, the first day of classes. Organizers, who included VCU's Virginia Student Power Network, said they were violating campus policy by gathering in a large group, but pointed to the hypocrisy of the school's reopening for in-person classes and the importance of their movement as reasons why they were there.

'Students are going to be responsible for policing themselves'

By KATELYN WALTEMYER, Harrisonburg Citizen

With JMU classes scheduled to start Aug. 26, the university has published reams of new guidelines about masks and apps and quarantining that all depend on one thing in order for the campus to remain open: students, faculty and staff self-policing each other. In its guidelines and communications with students and employees, the university has emphasized that masks must be worn at all times while in any university buildings. In fact, the university's vice president of Student Affairs Tim Miller has said in a video that wearing masks is the new "holding doors" on campus, which means it's the new way of looking out for other Dukes.

CNU says three students have reported COVID cases

By STAFF REPORT, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Christopher Newport University says three students are in isolation off campus after having reported cases of COVID-19. The school in Newport News said in a message to the campus community over the weekend that the cases are unconfirmed pending verification from the Virginia Department of Health.

UVa's George Rogers Clark statue vandalized

By STAFF REPORT, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

The University of Virginia's statue of George Rogers Clark has been vandalized. In a news release, UVa police wrote that red paint was splashed across the statue overnight. The vandalism was discovered around 5:23 a.m. Monday and no suspects have been identified.

As opening day approaches, U.Va. 'monitoring' COVID-19 outbreak at UNC-Chapel Hill

By NIK POPLI, Cavalier Daily

A University spokesperson said that administrators are "monitoring" the public health conditions at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as they prepare for students returning to Grounds in the coming weeks. UNC announced Monday it is converting to virtual classes after reporting 135 new COVID-19 cases and four clusters in student housing within a week of starting classes for the fall semester — an outcome many fear could happen when U.Va. reopens Aug. 25 online with in-person classes beginning Sept. 8.

Radford University requests rezoning for $30 million hotel

By SAM WALL, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Radford University is asking city council to rezone property the school already owns to make way for a hotel that would sit across the street from the main campus on Tyler Avenue. A group of university officials presented the project announced in the fall to city council at a meeting last week.

Jerry Falwell Jr. dreaded the spotlight. Then came Donald Trump.

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

A few days after Jerry Falwell Jr. buried his father in 2007, an author writing about the family visited Falwell Jr.'s office and made what he thought was an obvious comment. With the death of Jerry Falwell Sr., a charismatic religious-right titan, Falwell Jr. was about to become president of a Christian mega-university as the heir of the extremely famous brand name.


Judge orders new health inspection at Virginia immigration center with large coronavirus outbreak

By ANTONIO OLIVO, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

A federal judge Monday ordered a new inspection at a Virginia immigration detention center hit hard by the coronavirus after learning that some of the facility's staff members were still not properly wearing protective masks, while others continued working shortly after showing symptoms of the illness. U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema expressed frustration that the Trump administration and Immigration Centers of America, the company that operates the Farmville center, have not more forcefully moved to stem the outbreak, which is the largest inside a facility of its kind in the country.

734 new coronavirus cases reported Monday in Virginia

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

The Virginia Department of Health reported 734 new coronavirus cases Monday, bringing the state's tally to 107,421. At least 2,385 Virginians have died from the virus as of Monday morning, an increase of four overnight.

Virginia sees fewer new COVID-19 deaths and cases last week

By KATE ANDREWS, Va Business Magazine

The state has reported 107,421 COVID-19 cases as of Aug. 17, an increase of 6,672 since last Monday, according to the Virginia Department of Health. The state recorded 58 deaths last week, bringing the total number of coronavirus fatalities to 2,385. These are improvements from the previous week, which saw 7,643 new cases and 109 deaths.

10 more COVID-19 cases found among inmates at Roanoke jail after widespread testing

By ALICIA PETSKA, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

A round of widespread testing initiated last week found 10 additional cases of COVID-19 among 389 inmates in the Roanoke City Jail. The new test results bring the total number of announced diagnoses related to the jail to date to 14 inmates and 14 employees. The jail decided to test every inmate in its care on Friday to help assess conditions and identify asymptomatic cases.

Virginia nursing homes face confusing, conflicting regulations

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

Melissa Green is part owner of a company that operates 23 senior care facilities, including one in Spotsylvania County, and it's her job to keep up with COVID-19 mandates from local, state and federal sources. That's not a simple task, especially when edicts sometimes contradict each other and new mandates come out every few days. It's not unusual for her to roll out new guidelines on a Thursday, then have to update them two days later. "It's a lot of cooks in the kitchen, if you will," said Green, chief clinical officer with Trio Healthcare which has headquarters in Atlanta.

Advocates press to extend federal aid for school meals

By ALLISON STEVENS, Virginia Mercury

A school nutrition leader in Virginia is calling on the federal government to extend a summer meals program to support hungry kids as schools reopen this fall. "One of our primary needs at this point is to try to maintain the summer food service," Larry Wade Sr., director of school nutrition services for Chesapeake Public Schools, said at a virtual press conference held Monday by the National Press Club. "We believe that opportunity could make a big difference during the school year."

Chesapeake library closes after staff member tests positive for coronavirus

By GORDON RAGO, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

An employee at one of Chesapeake's seven public libraries has tested positive for the coronavirus, prompting the city to close the building. Greenbrier Library, located at 1214 Volvo Parkway, will remain closed until at least Aug. 26 as the building is disinfected and cleaned.


Police chief: 12 people linked to antifa are charged with blocking street

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

A dozen people were charged with unlawful assembly and other misdemeanor offenses overnight after blocking West Grace Street and refusing orders to disperse, Richmond police said in a news release Monday morning. At a news conference Monday, Richmond Police Chief Gerald Smith said all 12 were affiliated with antifa, the anti-fascist political movement, and that some embedded themselves among peaceful demonstrators.

A Black Lives Matter street mural measuring nearly 200 feet is in the works outside Capitol Square

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

A mural dedicated to the Black Lives Matter movement stretching nearly 200 feet may soon be painted in the 800 block of Grace Street just outside of the Virginia Capitol. On Monday, the Richmond Planning Commission unanimously approved Venture Richmond's proposal for the mural, which is based on similar art projects that were recently installed in Minneapolis, Denver, Seattle, New York City and Washington, D.C., following nationwide protests against racial injustice.

A New Funding Stream for Historic African American Cemeteries


Innumerable Black lives have been lost to the grounds of old cemeteries, left to languish for lack of a dedicated steward. With them, they took first-hand accounts of enslavement, war, Jim Crow and neighborhood demolition. They haven't received nearly the amount of state support as Confederate graveyards, but that started to change in 2017, when Delegate Delores McQuinn secured almost $35,000 for Evergreen and the adjacent East End Cemetery.

The Confederate memorial in Williamsburg is no more

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

The city of Williamsburg removed the Confederate memorial in Bicentennial Park Monday morning. The monument was removed by local contractors and moved into a storage facility, said Nicole Trifone, the city's spokeswoman. Removal of the monument cost approximately $8,000.

National Park Service grant will help Seatack land on historic register

By STACY PARKER, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Two African-American communities in Virginia Beach could soon be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The city has received a $47,183 grant from the National Park Service to prepare nominations for Seatack, a 200-year-old neighborhood at the Oceanfront, and L&J Gardens, a community near Norfolk Academy that was built after World War II for prominent Blacks.

U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives expands on Peninsula

By PETER DUJARDIN, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)

A federal law enforcement agency has opened a new office on the Peninsula, saying it will help in the effort to crack down on gun trafficking and violent crime. The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said Monday that it has opened the "satellite" operation — part of the Norfolk Field Office — on this side of the water in recent months.


Outside judge will hear open meeting case against Prince William supervisors

By EMILY SIDES, Inside NOVA (Metered Paywall)

The six judges in the Prince William County Circuit Court said in an order this week they could not preside over a lawsuit against five county supervisors. The judges asked Donald Lemons, Chief Justice of Virginia's Supreme Court, to designate a judge from another court of record or a retired judge of any court to preside over the case. Judges Kimberly Irving, Steven Smith, Carroll Weimer Jr., James Willett and Tracy Calvin Hudson signed the order Aug. 11.

Richmond projects $4.7 million surplus despite fallout from COVID-19 pandemic

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

After fearing a deficit, Richmond officials now say the city appears to have ended the last fiscal year with a surplus. Richmond projects a surplus of $4.7 million, according to a new quarterly financial report sent to the City Council covering the last three months of the fiscal year that ended June 30.

Majority of Richmond students, teachers say police officers in schools have positive effect on environment

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

A majority of Richmond Public Schools students and teachers believe police officers embedded in schools have a positive effect on their environment, according to a Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services survey that was to be presented to the Richmond School Board on Monday. The survey results come a little less than a month after Superintendent Jason Kamras announced he would recommend that police officers be removed from the city's schools, pre-empting a 90-day review his administration initiated as unrest over police brutality and racial injustice swept the city.

Most Hampton Roads cities could open extra sites for early voting

By GORDON RAGO, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Cities in Hampton Roads are preparing satellite voting sites as they anticipate large numbers of voters wanting to cast ballots in the weeks leading up to the November election. Hampton has already approved such a step. Three other city councils — Virginia Beach, Norfolk and Chesapeake — are expected to take up votes in the coming weeks.

School Board to appeal FOIA verdict, award of fees

By JIMMY LAROUE, Suffolk News Herald

Attorneys for the Suffolk School Board will appeal the verdict handed down last month by a Suffolk Circuit Court judge who ruled the board and the majority of its members violated provisions of the Freedom of Information Act.

UMW, City of Fredericksburg partner in effort to more accurately tell the local Civil Rights story

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

Students and professors at the University of Mary Washington will assist Fredericksburg officials in efforts to more fully tell the story of the local civil rights movement. Fredericksburg City Council last week approved spending $205,000 on multiple projects focusing on local Black history.

Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania head back to school virtually

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

Only a handful of students were at Spotsylvania High School for the first day of the 2020–21 school year Monday. They sat at desks and tables six feet apart from each other, wearing masks, in the school's common area. They wore headphones and logged into virtual classrooms with their classmates, who logged in from home.

Roanoke Valley private schools gear up for in-person return

By CLAIRE MITZEL, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

As public schools gear up for a mix of online and in-person classes, or an all-virtual start to the school year, Roanoke Valley private and independent schools plan to open five days per week. Those schools also report seeing an uptick in interest from families who are seeking an in-person alternative to public school offerings.

Roanoke City Council takes next step to remove Lee memorial

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

The broken memorial to Robert E. Lee is stashed away in a city-owned storage facility. Roanoke City Council ensured that it won't return to Lee Plaza. The council reaffirmed its commitment to permanently remove the 10-foot granite pillar — now broken in two after a person intentionally knocked it over last month — with a unanimous vote Monday night.

Bristol, Virginia schools uncertain about in-person attendance Thursday

By SARAH WADE, Bristol Herald Courier (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)

Bristol, Virginia schools will reopen Thursday with both in-person and virtual options for students — and staff still aren't sure how many kids to expect in person, Superintendent Keith Perrigan said. At a called session of the Bristol Virginia School Board on Monday evening, Perrigan said that a divisionwide survey that included information about students' attendance plans was missing responses for about 600 students.



Sanctions may be necessary to stem virus

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

We're both pleased and a bit disconcerted by University of Virginia plans to monitor and punish students who repeatedly or egregiously violate masking and social distancing rules.

Virginia's missed opportunity on women's suffrage

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

One hundred years ago today, Tennessee voted to ratify the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Some paperwork followed and eight days later, on August 26, women were guaranteed to right to vote. The politics behind this have now faded into history, but many remain relevant to us today — perhaps even more so.

Democrats to test public's appetite for criminal justice reform

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

There are a couple of ways of looking at the criminal justice reforms proposed for consideration during the special legislative session that begins today in Richmond. Democrats pushing assorted measures may wish to consider both — for their own good. The first thing, which Democrats mention often, is that many "progressive" ideas presently touted for passage — whether focused on equity, procedure or policing — are not new. They have been proposed previously and held off by populist, conservative Republicans.

Recent string of wet weather is a wakeup call for dam safety

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

August only is half over but the Richmond region already is poised for a month of record-breaking rainfall. According to NBC 12, Richmond International Airport recorded 14.84" of rainfall as of Monday morning. Much of this month's total came over the weekend, as areas of the region were hit with five to nine inches of rain. Only 2004 — the year of Tropical Storm Gaston (16.3") — netted more precipitation.

The U.S. Postal Service's daily value to Virginians is far beyond voting

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

April 24 seems so long ago. At a time of great uncertainty amid COVID-19, President Donald Trump's tweet offered hints of leadership, on an issue Richmonders know quite well. "I will never let our Post Office fail," he wrote. "It has been mismanaged for years, especially since the advent of the internet and modern-day technology. The people that work there are great, and we're going to keep them happy, healthy, and well!"


Reynolds: Changing our way of thinking

By NANCY REYNOLDS, published in Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Aug. 18, 2020 is the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment that granted women the right to vote. It is inconceivable to me that intelligent people would consider it appropriate to deny fundamental rights to citizens on the basis of gender, race, religion, national origin, age, gender identity, or special needs status. The only rationale that makes sense for such exclusion is that those with full rights did not want to upset the social order that benefited them.

Reynolds is a trial lawyer practicing at Wood Rogers, PLC in Roanoke

Imperiled businesses need protection from COVID-19 lawsuits

By BRYAN STEPHENS, published in Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Virginia's businesses are facing unforeseen and unprecedented challenges as they fight against COVID-19 continues. As we all look to balance overcoming the virus with our recovery efforts, we must recognize that keeping our local employers in business is not just about their livelihood. It's about the economy, jobs, and the health and safety of our nation. One issue that now threatens the livelihood of our business community is COVID-19-related lawsuits.

Stephens is president and CEO of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce.

Fish and Ginsberg: Virginia still has a long road ahead for criminal justice reform

By JACOB FISH AND NINA J. GINSBERG, published in Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

State legislators have convened in Richmond for a special legislative session during which criminal justice and policing reform will be a focal point of the legislative agenda. Even before the tragic killing of George Floyd shocked the world and sparked a nationwide movement for reform, Virginia had made great strides in moving its justice system in the right direction.

Jacob Fish is deputy state director of Americans for Prosperity-Virginia. Nina J. Ginsberg is the immediate past president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and a Virginia-based criminal defense lawyer.

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