Monday, August 24, 2020

Political Headlines from across Virginia

August 24, 2020
Top of the News

Virginia Commissioner of Health says he'll mandate a COVID-19 vaccine


Virginia Commissioner of Health Dr. Norman Oliver told 8News on Friday that he plans to mandate coronavirus vaccinations for Virginians once one is made available to the public. Virginia state law gives the Commissioner of Health the authority to mandate immediate immunizations during a public health crisis if a vaccine is available. Health officials say an immunization could be available as early as 2021.

How long will the General Assembly's special session last? No one knows.

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

A Plexiglas box separates a senator recovering from a surgery from his peers scattered around a museum. Hand sanitizer is stationed on their tables. Senators are wearing masks — sometimes. The 100 members of the House of Delegates are crowded into a video chat. The General Assembly is back for an unusual special session, and no one knows how long it will last. "We don't even know," said Speaker Eileen Filler- Corn, D-Fairfax, saying legislators need to remain flexible.

Sweeping police reform legislation advances in Senate, with law enforcement groups now largely on board

By NED OLIVER, Virginia Mercury

As Virginia Democrats advanced sweeping police reforms during a special legislative that began last week, GOP lawmakers assailed the proposals as an attack on law enforcement. But with a handful of exceptions, police groups are now backing many of the reforms contained in an omnibus bill the Senate that would ban most no-knock warrants, create a statewide code of conduct for police and give the state authority to decertify officers who violate it.

At center of postal service furor, Virginia congressman finds an expanding audience

By PAUL SCHWARTZMAN, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

By his own admission, Rep. Gerald E. Connolly is drawn to issues that are "technical and maybe just kind of boring good government," involving IT systems, tele-working, and, yes, mail delivery. His work as chair of a House subcommittee overseeing government operations is typically the stuff of C-SPAN, if little else. Yet, with the U.S. Postal Service in crisis, Connolly (D-Va.) has found himself commanding a broader audience, emerging as a leading advocate for an agency that for generations has been a staple of American life.

UVa employees seek to form union, call for online semester

By KATHERINE KNOTT, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

Spurred by dissatisfaction with the University of Virginia's pandemic response, a group of UVa employees is announcing Monday that they are forming a union and want officials to reconsider their plans for the fall semester. The group of employees currently is mostly made up of graduate student workers.

Fredericksburg protests halted after five organizers test positive for virus

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

FXBG Free, a coalition of local groups seeking racial justice in Fredericksburg, has postponed all in-person gatherings after five of its organizers tested positive for COVID-19. Those with confirmed cases of the virus—along with everyone in the organization who has been in contact with them—are self-isolating for a minimum of two weeks to recover and stop the spread of the virus.

How Decades of Racist Housing Policy Left Neighborhoods Sweltering

By BRAD PLUMER AND NADJA POPOVICH, New York Times (Metered Paywall - 1 to 2 articles a month)

On a hot summer's day, the neighborhood of Gilpin quickly becomes one of the most sweltering parts of Richmond. There are few trees along the sidewalks to shield people from the sun's relentless glare. More than 2,000 residents, mostly Black, live in low-income public housing that lacks central air conditioning. Many front yards are paved with concrete, which absorbs and traps heat. The ZIP code has among the highest rates of heat-related ambulance calls in the city.

The Full Report
77 articles, 27 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.


Former Virginia Lt. Gov. John H. Hager dies

By JEFF E. SCHAPIRO AND ANDREW CAIN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

John H. Hager, a moderate Republican who persevered over polio to serve as Virginia's lieutenant governor and hold other key state and national posts, died Sunday. He was 83. Details were not immediately available but Hager's death was confirmed by several senior political officials. Hager, a former tobacco executive, was lieutenant governor from 1998-2002, presiding over a state Senate that was under Republican control for the first time in more than a century.


Bill would reform Virginia sentencing law, help defendants -- and lead to more trials

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

Robert K. Via Jr. rejected a plea deal in 2011 that would have given him 15 years to serve for an armed home invasion in Hampton. Though his co-defendants agreed to similar deals, Via went for broke: He took his case to a jury trial. It didn't go well for the Poquoson man. A Hampton Circuit Court jury of 12 found him guilty on all counts. He got 128 years and a day to serve, the minimum he faced for a crime in which no one was injured.

Hurst bill aims to block pipeline worker surge in Southwest Virginia

By SARAH VOGELSONG, Virginia Mercury

A bill filed by Del. Chris Hurst, D-Montgomery, to require any employer hiring a crew of 50 or more temporary workers during the COVID-19 pandemic to receive approval from the commissioner of labor and industry would complicate Mountain Valley Pipeline's plans to deploy 4,000 workers to West Virginia and Virginia once it resumes work.

Felony charges over Confederate monument feed political intrigue in Portsmouth

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

The enormous black Hummer with state Senate plates rolled right up front, telling all the world that state Sen. L. Louise Lucas had arrived. But the most prominent African American woman in Virginia politics was actually miles from where the Senate was convening in Richmond on Tuesday — instead getting fingerprinted and booked on two felonies related to a toppled Confederate monument in Portsmouth.

A powerful Black leader. White opposition. Criminal charges. An old pattern continues in Portsmouth.

By ANA LEY AND GARY A. HARKI, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Black leaders know what to expect when they fight for change in Portsmouth. Supporters rally around them, fed up with the racism and systemic injustices that infect the city. Then, they say, white opponents come swinging, armed with the crushing weight of the law. "It's indicative of a (group) that is in the death throes of losing power," Del. Don Scott said during a rally Wednesday on the front steps of the Portsmouth courthouse.

Del. Subramanyam reflects on first session, public health efforts and family life


For Suhas Subramanyam, the silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic has been more time to spend with a special new family member — his first child, Maya Peña. Subramanyam and his wife, Miranda Peña, welcomed daughter Maya a few months after the new lawmaker became the first Indian and Hindu American to be elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in November.


New state GOP chairman promises 'level playing field' for all statewide candidates in 2021

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

The new chairman of the state Republican party said this week that he plans to create "a level playing field" for all candidates not just seeking the party nomination for governor but also the entire statewide ticket and all 100 races for the House of Delegates next year. In an interview Tuesday morning with The Progress-Index, former Del. Richard L. Anderson of Woodbridge, who was chosen to lead the party last weekend, promised the playing field in response to a question about the candidacy of state Sen. Amanda F. Chase of Chesterfield and her promise to run as an independent candidate for governor if she sensed any what she has called "shenanigans" keeping her from a fair run for the nomination.


Court OKs Virginia AG's agreement to promote absentee voting

Associated Press

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring announced Friday that a federal court has approved a consent decree negotiated by his office that promotes safe absentee voting in November's general election. In a news release, Herring said that under the consent decree, Virginia will accept absentee ballots without the signature of a witness "for voters who believe they may not safely have a witness present while completing their ballot."

These Virginia Republicans Saw Their Convention Plans Change


Roughly 350 Republicans are converging in Charlotte on Monday to begin a slimmed-down national convention, including six Virginians. Conservative talk show host John Fredricks was elected to chair the group by his fellow delegates. The Trump campaign advisor said the one-day event in Charlotte doesn't even count as a convention. "There is no convention," Fredricks said in an interview last week. "It doesn't exist. You have a one day business meeting to nominate the president and the vice president."

Daniel Gade, GOP nominee for U.S. Senate, visits Winchester

By JOSH JANNEY, Winchester Star (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Retired Lt. Col. Daniel Gade, the Republican running for U.S. Senate against Democratic incumbent Mark Warner, stopped by Winchester Thursday afternoon to talk to local voters and make a case as to why they should vote for him Nov. 3.

Defund the police? Both Wittman and his Democratic challenger say no

By DANIEL BERTI, Prince William Times

1st District congressional candidates Rep. Rob Wittman (R) and Democrat Qasim Rashid sparred over a laundry list of police and criminal justice reforms at a debate Thursday evening that had both strongly opposing any plan for Congress to "defund the police." "I do not support defunding the police and I do not support in anyway redirecting resources or reducing resources," Wittman said.

Wittman, Rashid debate criminal justice issues in Virginia's 1st District congressional race

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

Incumbent 1st District Rep. Rob Wittman and challenger Qasim Rashid squared off Thursday night in a debate over criminal justice and other issues. The Criminal Justice Forum and Debate, held at the Rappahannock Regional Criminal Justice Academy in Spotsylvania County, was the first time the two candidates have met face to face for a debate since Rashid won the Democratic Party nomination for the congressional seat.

In a red House district, a Democrat tries to siphon votes from a conservative with a 'biblical world view'

By MEAGAN FLYNN, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

At a church the size of a warehouse at the end of a rural dead-end street, Bob Good was preaching to the preachers. It was a sunny afternoon near Shenandoah National Park, and Good, the Republican nominee in Virginia's 5th Congressional District, had come to Fellowship Baptist Church to warn a small group of church leaders that, as one invitation to his "Pastor Summit" put it, "your religious liberties are under assault."

Wexton Tours Loudoun Businesses Hit by COVID-19

By RENSS GREENE, Loudoun Now

U.S. Rep. Jennifer T. Wexton (D-VA-10) toured Loudoun businesses hit by COVID-19 on Friday, hearing from business owners about what they need to get through the pandemic. Wexton stopped by Hope Flower Farm in Waterford, Harpers Ferry Brewing north of Hillsboro, and Wild Wood restaurant in the Village at Leesburg.

More than a dozen people in Amherst rally in support of USPS, postal workers

By NICK CROPPER, News & Advance (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)

More than a dozen people gathered on the sidewalk in front of the Amherst County Post Office on Saturday morning to rally in support of the U.S. Postal Service. The dual purpose of the #Savethe PostOffice rally held at the post office located on South Main Street was to show support for postal workers and offices across the country as well as stand against actions taken by the Trump administration, which critics said could interfere with the upcoming November election, according to Barbara Pryor, who helped organize the event.


Parole eligibility under way for juvenile offenders sentenced to life without parole

By FRANK GREEN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

People sentenced to life without parole or other lengthy sentences for crimes committed as juveniles will have to wait a while longer before they come up for parole consideration. Earlier this year, the General Assembly approved legislation enabling parole consideration for juvenile offenders who have served at least 20 years of their sentences. That means those convicted of crimes that occurred from roughly 1995 to 2000 became eligible as of July 1 when the new law took effect. ....Officials estimate that more than 700 juvenile offenders given long no-parole sentences are in Virginia's prisons and that more than 200 of them are, or will be, eligible for parole over the next several years after serving 20 or more years.

Virginia's student privacy law may undermine census count

By JEFF SOUTH, Virginia Mercury

Talk about the law of unintended consequences. In 2018, the Virginia General Assembly passed legislation blocking the release of addresses and contact information for students at the state's public colleges and universities.


Virginia's jobless rate dips to 8% but still far above July 2019

By JOHN REID BLACKWELL, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

Virginia's unemployment rate stood at 8% in July, down slightly from 8.1% in June, as businesses slowly recovered some of the springtime job losses from business closures and disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic. However, the state's jobless rate was still well above the 2.7% rate recorded in July 2019, as the pandemic continued to take a toll on employment.

Nonprofit offering $1,000 cash reward for unemployed Virginians who complete job training programs

By JOHN REID BLACKWELL, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

A new effort is underway to help Virginians who have lost their jobs because of the COVID-19 pandemic get training for in-demand work. A coalition of 20 businesses across the state is providing financial backing for a nonprofit called Virginia Ready, which aims to get tens of thousands of Virginians into job training programs by providing cash payments to out-of-work people who complete courses for various job through the Virginia Community College System.

Private Infighting Roils Owners of Washington NFL Team

By KEN BELSON AND KATHERINE ROSMAN, New York Times (Metered Paywall - 1 to 2 articles a month)

Michael MacCambridge spent five years writing his 2005 history of the N.F.L., visiting team after team around the country. From the stability of the Pittsburgh Steelers to the emerging dynasty in New England, he learned that great franchises thrived and overcame obstacles with a mix of talent, trust and patience. And then there is the Washington Football Team.

First Ghent, then Phoebus: Restaurants decimated after coronavirus exposures

By MATTHEW KORFHAGE, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

On a Saturday afternoon in early August, one of his busiest days of the week, Casey Haas got the phone call no business owner wants. An employee at Stuft, his restaurant in Hampton's Phoebus neighborhood, tested positive for the coronavirus. "Our kitchen manager got his test results back at five in the afternoon," Haas said. "We talked about it for a minute, then decided to shut down within two hours. We closed out everybody's checks, then regrouped with all of our employees and said everybody had to go get tested."

Torc Robotics completes expansion

By YANN RANAIVO, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Torc Robotics completed an expansion that doubled the size of its headquarters in the Blacksburg Industrial Park, the company recently announced. Torc, a developer of self-driving vehicle systems and one of the New River Valley's flagship technology companies, added nearly 16,000 square feet with the expansion.

Upending Of Education Dazes Dairy

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

Across the nation, students won't just be out of classrooms, learning from home — they'll also be out of the cafeterias, eating at home. "School milk is a big portion of fluid milk sales," said Eric Paulson, the treasurer and executive secretary of the Virginia State Dairymen's Association. "The big question is now, is the increase of people drinking milk at home — is that going to be enough to offset the milk sales at school?"


Metro ridership increases as agency begins restoring service to pre-pandemic levels

By JUSTIN GEORGE, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Daily ridership during Metro's first week of nearly normal service in five months was up by several thousand, according to preliminary agency statistics. Ridership remains significantly below pre-pandemic levels, but the consistent daily increases show that more Washington-area residents are venturing out and resuming normal activities.

Silver Line just passed a major hurdle, but more work is still needed

By JONATHAN CAPRIEL, Washington Business Journal (Subscription required for some articles)

The issues that plagued the Silver Line tie-in at Wiehle-Reston East Station have been resolved, ending what was the biggest obstacle to Phase 2's opening. The Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project announced the news Friday and credited the weekslong summer closures of the Orange and Silver Line stations, where Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority also utilized for platform repairs. Low ridership on the lines, caused by Metro's efforts to reduce the spread of Covid-19, was cited as the reason WMATA could move forward with a somewhat controversial plan.


UVa outlines consequences for students who don't comply with COVID-19 requirements

By KATHERINE KNOTT, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

The actions of students will determine if the fall semester at the University of Virginia is to remain in-person, a university official said Saturday in a video message. "In a pandemic, one person's bad decision has a direct impact on the health and safety of others; that's why this is so important," said Allen Groves, dean of students UVa. "The university has made very clear what must occur for us to offer an on-Grounds experience this fall. These things are non-negotiable and essential to keep everyone healthy and safe."

Human Rights Commission to send letter to UVa urging no in-person classes

By NOLAN STOUT, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

Charlottesville's Human Rights Commission plans to send a letter to the University of Virginia urging President Jim Ryan to hold classes online. The commission discussed the coming return of students and its impact on the spread of the coronavirus locally during its meeting Thursday. "Bringing 10,000 bodies to a small town poses a risk and we're seeing it at the universities that have already opened," Commissioner Kathryn Laughon said.

VCU reports 58 students and 12 employees have COVID-19

By STAFF REPORT, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

Virginia Commonwealth University is reporting 58 active cases of coronavirus among students and 12 employee cases, as of Sunday. That's an increase from earlier in the week when VCU reported 25 student cases and 11 employee cases on its online dashboard. Thirty-nine residential students currently are in isolation on-campus and 57 residential students currently are in quarantine on campus.

College warns students to adhere to COVID-19 guidelines, issues new Zero Tolerance policy


Students at the College of William and Mary received a notice via text the evening of Friday, Aug. 21 that their ability to adhere to campus COVID-19 safety protocols over the weekend would determine the university's path forward for the fall semester. In a series of emails and mass texts from university officials this week, the College has claimed insufficient adherence to its policies regarding mandatory mask usage and six-foot social distancing while on campus.

6 Roanoke College students removed after COVID-19 cases connected to off-campus party

Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Roanoke College announced Friday it has removed six students for violating the student conduct code after three positive tests for COVID-19 that may have been related to an off-campus party. Online classes at the private college in Salem began Wednesday, as students continue to filter into residences in a phased plan the college announced earlier this summer. Classes are supposed to transition to mostly in-person instruction by Sept. 7.

Liberty University puts stricter mask policy in place

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

Liberty University is implementing stricter mask requirements ahead of the start of classes next week. Students now must wear face coverings in all academic buildings and at any official gathering, according to a university email obtained by The News & Advance. The change — handed down Thursday afternoon — expands the mask requirements already in place for campus dining halls, retail establishments, indoor and outdoor venues and buses.

COVID-19 effects on higher ed will linger, Tech board told

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

In recent years, higher education leaders have known that achievement gaps between races persist, student debt keeps rising, more jobs will be automated and many students have adapted to online learning. The COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating these trends, the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors learned during Sunday's retreat.

Back to school in pandemic's shadow: How two universities are bringing students to campus

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

Except for all the masks, the recent move-in days at two universities in the Washington region looked at least somewhat like the back-to-school rituals of any other year. Moms and dads and siblings hauled boxes of gear into student dormitories. Beds were made, walls decorated. Catholic University in Northeast Washington served an outdoor barbecue lunch one afternoon last week for new families. George Mason University in Fairfax County, Va., handed out room keys at EagleBank Arena. The countdown was underway to the first classes on Monday.

How many fans will be able to attend 2020 Virginia football games?

By BENNETT CONLIN, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

As the clock hit zero and Virginia beat Virginia Tech 39-30 to break a 15-game losing streak to the Hokies, UVa faithful stormed the Scott Stadium field. Emotions were high in Charlottesville as the Cavaliers finally beat their bitter rival last fall. Don't expect thousands of fans rushing the field in celebration in 2020.

W&L rector says it may be more than six months before Lee name change decision is made

By GRACE MAMON, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Washington and Lee University has been reexamining its relationship with one of its namesakes all summer. But more time is needed to decide whether W&L will drop Robert E. Lee's name, according to an email sent Friday from Mike McAlevey, rector of the board of trustees. It will not be a swift decision, he wrote to the campus community.

Liberty's board investigating 'rumors and claims' as it weighs Falwell's future

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

Liberty University's board of trustees is investigating "various rumors and claims" about Jerry Falwell Jr. as the body weighs firing the prominent evangelical leader now mired in scandal. In a news release issued Friday evening, the university said Falwell will continue to receive a salary as the board attempts to wrestle with his future at the school.

Liberty University undecided if Falwell can return

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

Liberty University's embattled longtime leader, Jerry Falwell Jr., will remain on an indefinite paid leave of absence, with the school's board of trustees asking the school's acting president to "reset the spiritual focus and emphasis at the University." The board has not yet decided whether Falwell can return to the presidency, according to a statement by the school. The leadership question comes at a pivotal time, as students return to campus amid a pandemic, with classes scheduled to begin Monday, and as more evangelical leaders have publicly and privately questioned the school's direction.

Liberty Alumni Pastors Urge University Board to 'Permanently Remove' Jerry Falwell Jr. as President


A group of pastors who graduated from Liberty University are urging the college's board of trustees to "permanently remove" Jerry Falwell, Jr., from his role as president of the Christian school founded by his late father. On Thursday, in a letter addressed to the board of trustees and Dr. Jerry Prevo, who has chaired the board since 2003 but is now serving as acting president of the university, 50 ministers from churches around the country argued the college "is in need of new leadership that represents the heart of Liberty University's mission."

Faculty challenge credentials of COVID-19 testing company working with VCU, two other schools

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

Faculty leaders at two state universities asked state health officials on Friday to take a closer look at a testing company hired to test 10,000 college students across the state — a request the Virginia Department of Health has declined. In a letter to the agency, six professors at Virginia Commonwealth University and George Mason University threw into question the qualifications of a company, with few ties to the state and a hazy online presence, that so far has received more than $750,000 from three state schools.


Virginia reports 894 new coronavirus cases Sunday

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

The Virginia Department of Health reported 894 new coronavirus cases Sunday, bringing the state's tally to 112,966. At least 2,467 Virginians have died from the virus as of Sunday morning, an increase of 24 from Saturday.

VDH: Number of COVID-19 cases at Brookside Nursing and Rehab Center jumps to 47

Fauquier Times

Forty-seven people associated with Warrenton's Brookside Nursing and Rehab Center are actively positive for COVID-19, according to reporting from the Virginia Department of Health. The facility announced 36 resident cases on its website Friday; the facility was still reporting 36 cases Sunday morning, despite the higher number from the VDH.

People In The D.C. Region Are Rarely Fined For Large Social Gatherings


D.C., Maryland and Virginia all have ordinances in place that limit large gatherings and require people to wear masks during COVID-19. But according to health departments and police, enforcement of those gatherings has not been particularly punitive, with few area residents receiving fines or citations in connection with mass gatherings. While there have been several highly publicized gatherings in recent weeks, it's not clear how many large social events are truly happening, and whether those events — particularly ones held outdoors — are significant drivers of infections in the area.


State Supreme Court to hear Charlottesville statues appeal

By TYLER HAMMEL, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

Charlottesville will argue its appeal in a Confederate statues case to the Supreme Court of Virginia in November, potentially ending a years-long legal saga. As localities across the state, including Albemarle County, prepare to remove their Confederate statues, removal of Charlottesville's statues has remained tied up by the state Supreme Court appeal.

Confederate monuments face new scrutiny across Fredericksburg area

By TAFT COGHILL JR., Free Lance-Star (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

As Tracy Rollins, Diane Shoultz and other protesters marched through the town of Orange in June in support of Black Lives Matter, they noticed counter-protesters in front of the county courthouse. It was a little more than a week after George Floyd died during an arrest by Minneapolis police officers, and along the way, the protesters said they encountered at least one person who yelled profanity and waved a stick as another held up a Confederate flag.

Louisa County officials argue large Confederate flag poses safety issue

By TYLER HAMMEL, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

A Louisa County judge soon will decide if a large Confederate battle flag visible from Interstate 64 is considered a monument following a Friday hearing in Louisa County Circuit Court. The hearing was the latest in a contentious legal saga that began soon after the Virginia Flaggers erected the flagpole in 2018. Named the "Charlottesville I–64 Spirit of Defiance Memorial Battle Flag" by the Flaggers in response to Charlottesville City Council votes to remove two statues of Confederate generals, the 30- by 50-foot flag flies from a 120-foot-tall pole about 15 miles east of Charlottesville. The flag, erected on private property, is visible for a few seconds to motorists traveling east on I–64.

Muster call event canceled; small gathering held instead

By LINDA BURCHETTE AND STEPHANIE PORTER-NICHOLS, Bristol Herald Courier (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)

About two dozen people showed up for a muster call to form an "unorganized militia" in Smyth County on Saturday evening, an event that was formally canceled shortly before it was scheduled to start. Folks trickled to the planned meeting site in front of Smyth County Courthouse in Marion around 5 p.m. Attendees were encouraged to come with an unloaded rifle, "preferably a variant of the AR-15 platform." Many wore handguns strapped to their hips.


Latino families grapple with a pandemic; fear school re-opening will leave their kids behind

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

She wasn't sending her child back to school. The child's English is limited. The teacher doesn't speak Spanish. Latino parents are working essential jobs - many of which are low-wage and without paid sick leave - and can't stay home to monitor their kid's remote learning; an option most local school officials have chosen, to save lives in the middle of a pandemic. For Latinos, who comprise about 7% of Richmond's population and account for more than 40% of known COVID-19 cases in the city, hardships are mounting.

Henrico weighing civilian police review panel proposal

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

Despite his professional background in law enforcement and a lifetime of reminders that Black people are often prone to abuse and suspicion by police, Eric Harris was still frightened when a Henrico police officer pointed a gun at him during a traffic stop more than a decade ago. The officer told Harris he was afraid because the window tint made it hard to see into the vehicle. Harris thinks the officer drew the weapon because he saw the Black man in the car as a threat.

Hanover schools announce potential replacement names for Lee-Davis, Stonewall Jackson

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

Hanover County Public Schools announced the list of 14 potential replacement names for Lee-Davis High School and Stonewall Jackson Middle School on Friday. The school system posted the list on its website along with a link to an online poll.

Jury to hear civil case alleging 'hostile' behavior by Richmond police chief in N.C. incident

By ALI ROCKETT, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

Richmond's new police chief is facing a renewed legal battle in North Carolina for ordering the detention of a mother on a charge of child abuse for leaving her children unattended in a car briefly while asking for directions to a birthday party. A North Carolina Court of Appeals opinion, issued Tuesday, overturned the "public official immunity" that a lower court granted Chief Gerald Smith protecting him from liability in a civil lawsuit alleging "angry, aggressive and hostile" behavior toward the woman that "stemmed at least in part from racial or socioeconomic biases."

Virginia Beach Sports Center shaping up for a fall opening

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

Getting a $68 million sports center off the ground in the middle of a pandemic hasn't been easy for Virginia Beach, but it also hasn't slowed the process. And the virus won't keep it from opening. "It remains on time and on budget," said Nancy Helman, director of the city's sports marketing. "We were able to continue with our construction schedule and move forward at a steady space."

Hampton Roads public schools eye solar arrays, mirroring a statewide trend

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

Solar arrays will soon be coming to the rooftops of several public schools in Hampton Roads — four in Virginia Beach and five in Newport News. And if everything goes as planned, people could start seeing a lot more solar panels when they drop off their kids. "We could easily get over half of our buildings," said Tim Cole, sustainability officer for Virginia Beach City Public Schools, explaining that they have already scouted other possible locations.

Local divisions building on lessons of spring to increase structure of virtual learning

By KATHERINE KNOTT, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

As Albemarle County and Charlottesville schools gear up for the academic year, educators are working to differentiate between the emergency learning in the spring and the virtual learning they say students will experience starting Sept. 8. During the months since in-person instruction shut down, teachers have been working together and attending professional development sessions to ensure that virtual school will not be a repeat of the spring, when parents reported that they struggled with the different platforms and new responsibilities to keep their children engaged and learning.

City of Staunton approves removal of Stonewall Jackson Hotel neon sign

By MONIQUE CALELLO, News Leader (Metered Paywall - 3 to 4 articles a month)

The City of Staunton announced in a news release that they have approved the removal of the Stonewall Jackson Hotel's neon sign that sits on the hotel's main rooftop. Earlier this summer, Staunton Hotel, LLC submitted an application for a certificate of appropriateness to remove the neon sign.

Newly hired city manager resigns

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

Lynchburg's newly appointed city manager, Douglas Stanley, resigned Friday evening from the post he was slated to take Sept. 1. According to a Friday evening news release from the city, "he submitted his letter of resignation to Lynchburg City Council effective immediately, citing the recent release and circulation of several emails."

Lexington council chooses Oak Grove as new Jackson cemetery name

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

The Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery's new name will be Oak Grove Cemetery. Having narrowed the potential options down to four at previous meetings, the Lexington City Council made its pick with a unanimous vote during Thursday's regular meeting, which was conducted via Zoom video conference software and livestreamed on Facebook.

Roanoke County Public Schools accelerates plan for full-time virtual academy

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

Roanoke County Public Schools have long planned to phase in a full, four-year high school virtual education option. Then schools closed in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and virtual learning became a necessity. When Roanoke County students go back to school Monday, 208 students will be enrolled in a yearlong online academy, among the three options offered to students.

Most Montgomery Co. students, so far, plan to show up to classroom

By YANN RANAIVO, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Approximately 80% of Montgomery County Public Schools' 9,800 students have as of this past week signed up for in-person classes for the school year that will start on Sept. 8. That signup figure, which MCPS shared Friday, is one of the latest developments in the school district's much debated reopening.

Three Pittsylvania County teachers test positive for COVID-19; 15 others in quarantine as precaution

By PARKER COTTON, Danville Register & Bee

Three teachers in Pittsylvania County Schools have tested positive for COVID-19 this month, and 15 others are in quarantine, just days before the academic year begins remotely Monday. Assistant Superintendent for Administration Steven Mayhew confirmed Friday two teachers at Kentuck Elementary School and one at Tunstall Middle School tested positive within the past two weeks.

As new academic year dawns virtually, Danville school system expands food distribution program

By PARKER COTTON, Danville Register & Bee

Danville Public Schools is expanding its summer meal distribution program to serve families in more locations and with more meals when classes begin virtually on Monday. Phillip Gardner, the school division's director of child nutrition, said nearly 400,000 meals were served at 23 locations since mid-March, when schools shut down, through the end of the summer break.



Pandemic presents a generational challenge to college students

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

Every generation thinks it will change the world. Every generation also chafes at the generations before it, wishing they'd get out of the way so that generation could claim its rightful place in leading society. John Kennedy spoke stirringly of one generation taking leadership from another in his famous inaugural address: "Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans . . ."

Decide now how you're going to vote

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

Twitter Email Print Save Decide now how you're going to vote. Voters traditionally haven't paid much attention to political campaigns until after Labor Day. But 2020 is a very nontraditional year. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic and people's understandable reluctance to go to crowded public places, now is the time that Fredericksburg area residents should decide how they're going to vote in the upcoming presidential election. You don't have to decide who you're going to vote for just yet.

Lessons from Charlotte

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

We like to look at other cities the way some people like to look at birds. Every major sports championship gives us an excuse to look at the random cities represented to see what lessons — economic or otherwise — we can learn from them that can apply here in Southwest Virginia. So, too, with the sites of political conventions. Today, we turn to Charlotte, where a handful of Republicans this week will go through the formal motions of renominating Donald Trump, even as the president delivers his acceptance speech somewhere else.

Accessing health care without broadband during a pandemic

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

When Yvonne and Otis Royster moved to southern Chesterfield County in the mid-1980s, the internet was in its infancy. An online connection was not required to access essential services like grocery orders, emergency information on social media or virtual doctor's appointments. The road that led them to their forever home was not even paved. "We wanted to be off the grid, or we wouldn't have moved back here," Otis said.

Keeping a job without broadband during a pandemic

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

When Bonnie Moody, her husband, Tam, and their son, Tyler, moved to Rhodes Lane in 2015, they were prepared for a quieter way of life. After a historic August spate of rainfall in Chesterfield County, they're monitoring nearby creeks. They're watching the front door to keep snakes out and the backyard, too, where a bear has roamed in recent weeks.


Clayback, Bivona and Accavitti: As we wrestle with back-to-school decisions, we cannot neglect early childhood teachers

By KELSEY CLAYBACK, MARISSA BIVONA AND MARIA ACCAVITTI, published in Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

This summer, many educators and administrators are able to pause and regroup while determining the safest plan for returning to in-person schooling in the fall. However, for early childhood educators, there was no such pause. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, these educators have been continuing their work in classrooms across the country — helping children tie shoes and zip sweatshirts, reading stories, singing songs and tucking them in for naptime — all while sifting through burdens added by the virus.

Clayback is a doctoral student at the University of Virginia. Bivona worked for eight years as an early childhood educator before returning to the University of Virginia to earn a Ph.D. Accavitti is a doctoral student in the University of Virginia.

Tarter: On redistricting, voters should call balls and strikes

By BRENT TARTER, published in Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

It's said that baseball is America's pastime. But it's not hard to find blemishes in baseball's recent history — most notably the Houston Astros' sign-stealing scandal. After an investigation of the 2017 World Series champions, Major League Baseball rightly made it clear that any teams bending the rules of the game to benefit themselves would not be tolerated in the sport.

Brent Tarter is a Virginia historian and author of "Gerrymanders: How Redistricting has Protected Slavery, White Supremacy, and Partisan Minorities in Virginia," published by the University of Virginia Press in October 2019.

Schumacher: The Virginia GOP should get rid of conventions

By GREG SCHUMACHER, published in Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

On a Saturday last month (July 18), the 7th Congressional District Republican Committee conducted an all-day convention election in Doswell that lasted 10 hours and forced hundreds of people to stand in 90 degree heat to elect a Republican nominee to run against U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger. Dozens of senior citizens got sick from the heat and needed medical attention throughout the day, and our volunteers struggled with ballot counting numerous times.

Schumacher retired from the U.S. Army in 2011 as a Major General. He is the Chairman of the Fauquier County Republican Committee.

Slemp: Get serious about criminal justice reform by properly funding court-appointed indigent defense

By C.H. "CHUCK" SLEMP, III, published in Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Imagine being charged with a serious crime. You could end up in jail for the next 12 months. But, unfortunately, your court-appointed attorney will only be paid $120 for the entire case. Just $120 to open a file, visit you at the jail, ask the court to set bail, interview witnesses, review evidence, talk to prosecutors, appear in court on your behalf, and take your case to trial if necessary.

Slemp is the elected Commonwealth's Attorney for Wise County & the City of Norton and served as a court-appointed criminal defense attorney in Southwestern Virginia from 2010 to 2016.

Johns: Return to college MUST work

By DAVID L. JOHNS, published in Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

As students move back to college this month, the usual excitement and bittersweet goodbyes are being seasoned with apprehension and whispered prayers. None of us are naive.We know this is going to be challenging. We know we must take extra precautions. We know everything could turn on a dime at any moment, and we all know it's not 2019 any longer!

Johns is President of Ferrum College

Wellington and McLaughlin: No trade-off between saving lives and the economy

By MATTHEW WELLINGTON AND MAURA R. MCLAUGHLIN, published in Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Virginia just passed the grim milestone of 100,000 COVID-19 cases, with more than 2,000 deaths from COVID-19 recorded in our state. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), warns that unless we get the novel coronavirus under control now, we could face "the worst fall, from a public health perspective, we've ever had" in the United States.

Wellington is Public Health Campaigns Director for the U.S. Public Interest Research Groups. McLaughlin is a family physician and founder of Blue Ridge Family Practice in Crozet.

Aron: American myths speak volumes about our country's identity

By PAUL ARON, published in Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Fake news — and fake history — are nothing new. In 1800, the Rev. Mason L. Weems wrote a biography of George Washington which included a story about young George chopping down his father's favorite cherry tree and then redeeming himself by confessing. Debunkers quickly took an ax to Weems's story. The same year the book was published, the Monthly Magazine and American Review called the book "as entertaining and edifying matter as can be found in the annals of fanaticism and absurdity."

Aron, a Williamsburg resident, is the author of "American Stories: Washington's Cherry Tree, Lincoln's Log Cabin, and Other Tales — True and Not-So-True — And How They Spread Throughout the Land," published Aug. 1.

Morse: Legislature must honor rules, even in extraordinary times

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

"How people choose to make laws says a great deal about what laws they will choose to make and how they will treat those subject to those laws." That line — a pretty good line, at that — arrived last week in a statement from Del. Kirk Cox, the former Republican speaker of the House and would-be future governor.

After writing editorials for the Daily Press and The Virginian-Pilot in the 1980s, Gordon C. Morse wrote speeches for Gov. Gerald L. Baliles.

Roll: Virginia's choice

By DAVID L. ROLL, published in Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Each state is entitled to have two statues in the U.S. Capitol. When Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee is removed, one statue will remain: George Washington. Who should take Lee's place? Who shall stand beside the father of our country? It's Virginia's choice. Seventy-plus years ago, the choice would have been a no-brainer.

David L. Roll of Washington is author of "George Marshall: Defender of the Republic" and "The Hopkins Touch: Harry Hopkins and the Forging of the Alliance to Defeat Hitler."

Schexnider: Race and higher education in Virginia

By ALVIN J. SCHEXNIDER, published in Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

In January 1977, I began a faculty appointment at the Federal Executive Institute (FEI) in Charlottesville. The long, gray winters endured teaching political science at Syracuse University in New York propelled me to look southward, and FEI beckoned. The thought of returning to the South was met with some trepidation but I decided to take a leap of faith. The reverence paid to "Mr. Jefferson" locally prompted me to pay attention to Virginia's colleges and universities, several of which had begun to lay down markers.

Alvin J. Schexnider is a senior fellow at the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges.

Why I am fighting for prosecutorial discretion in Arlington

By PARISA DEHGHANI-TAFTI, published in Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Last November, the citizens of Arlington County and the city of Falls Church elected me commonwealth's attorney to reform our criminal legal system. I have taken an important step to take legal action involving our Circuit Court. It is not something I wanted to do, but I have no choice because, just two months after I took office, the Arlington County Circuit Court decided to take for itself the prosecutorial discretion that from time immemorial every occupant of this office rightfully had exercised.

Parisa Dehghani-Tafti is the commonwealth's attorney for Arlington County and the city of Falls Church.

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