Friday, August 7, 2020

Political Headlines from across Virginia

August 7, 2020
Top of the News

Agency: Virginia Parole Board violated law, policies

By SARAH RANKIN, Associated Press

The Virginia Parole Board and its former chairwoman violated state law and its own policies and procedures in granting the release of a man convicted decades ago of killing a Richmond police officer, according to a report from the state's government watchdog agency that was initially withheld from the public. Republican legislative leaders made public Thursday a six-page report from the Office of the State Inspector General about its investigation into the release of Vincent Martin.

Released from jail at height of pandemic, Alexandria rape suspect allegedly killed his accuser

By TOM JACKMAN, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

The incident in Karla Dominguez's apartment last October was violent, and it was not consensual, she testified in Alexandria District Court in December. The man she accused was indicted on charges including rape, strangulation and abduction and jailed without bond in Alexandria. Then the coronavirus pandemic hit.

Senate Democrats introduce police reform omnibus bill creating officer code of conduct

By NED OLIVER, Virginia Mercury

Senate Democrats unveiled police reform legislation Thursday they hope to adopt during a special session of the General Assembly later this month. Endorsed by the caucus' 21-member majority, the 33-page bill proposes a range of new policies from the creation of statewide standards for police officers to a ban on departments obtaining surplus military equipment.

Voter mailings in Va. spread distress

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

A voter registration group with a history of sending error-ridden mailers has again sown confusion in Virginia, this time tapping into concerns about mail-in ballots sparked by President Trump's repeated allegations — without evidence — of election fraud. The Washington-based Center for Voter Information, a nonprofit geared toward increasing voter participation among underrepresented groups, mailed 2.25 million applications for absentee ballots to voters across the state, with a quarter of them containing a return envelope addressed to the wrong election office, the group said Thursday.

Virginia Department of Health wants to hire around 100 workers to enforce COVID-19 guidelines

By JOHANNA ALONSO, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Having received upward of 23,500 complaints about businesses failing to comply with Gov. Ralph Northam's coronavirus regulations, the Virginia Department of Health wants 100 temporary workers to help respond. The agency is submitting a $6 million request to Northam's administration for the positions and travel and equipment costs, said Julie Henderson, director of VDH's Office of Environmental Health Services.

School official on mask requirement: 'We have to protect ourselves, our children and people around us'

By JUSTIN FAULCONER, Amherst New Era Progress

Facial coverings, a hot-button topic that has drawn debate across the country during the novel coronavirus pandemic, landed front and center at the Amherst County School Board's July 30 meeting. The board voted 5-2, with members Ginger Burg and Amanda Wright opposed, to require all students to wear masks while in school buildings.

Va. parks and preserves see big crowds -- and damage -- as people cooped up by the pandemic head outdoors

By BILL LOHMANN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, Virginia state parks and natural area preserves have become popular destinations for visitors, particularly early on when so many other recreational sites were closed. The attention has been generally welcomed -- the parks and preserves belong to everyone, after all, and what better place to spend some time than the great outdoors -- but the large crowds have resulted in unusual stress on public lands and, in some cases, environmental damage.

The Full Report
55 articles, 30 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.


Racial equity, police reform discussed in Virginia town hall


More than 1,000 people, including community and state leaders, police, activists and experts, joined a virtual town hall Thursday on racial equity and policing reform during Virginia's first Racial Truth and Reconciliation Week. The town hall was organized by the office of Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, who said the conversation is a way to understand the ways racial inequity has been built into existing systems, such as education, housing, finance and so many others, and how it can be rooted out.


Senate Democrats in Virginia unveil wide-ranging police overhaul

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

Democrats in Virginia's Senate unveiled a wide-ranging bill to overhaul policing in the state Thursday ahead of a special session later this month where criminal justice issues will be one of the centerpieces of debate. The proposal touches on officers' recruitment, training, use of force, standards of conduct and accountability, but sidesteps some hot-button issues that have bogged down reform efforts in other states and already generated controversy in Virginia.


Republican firehouse primary for 29th District House of Delegates seat is Saturday

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

Republicans will choose their candidate for the 29th District House of Delegates seat during a firehouse primary on Saturday in Frederick County. Voting will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Millwood Station Banquet Hall, 252 Costello Drive. Two candidates are vying for the GOP nomination: former Warren County Board of Supervisors chairman Richard Traczyk, of Frederick County, and Winchester City Councilor Bill Wiley.

At rally, gubernatorial candidate Amanda Chase vows to make Virginia great again

News Messenger

State senator Amanda Chase was in Christiansburg Friday as the centerpiece of an old-fashioned tailgating party and campaign rally at Fat Back Soul Shack. She is barnstorming across the state in her campaign to be Virginia's next governor.


Outside group sending absentee ballot applications causes confusion and concern for voters, officials say

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

Applications for absentee ballots that went to millions of Virginia voters — and in some cases, contained incorrect information — didn't come from state or local election offices, officials said Thursday. Instead, the unsolicited applications came from a third party that aims to boost voter participation for the upcoming Nov. 3 elections.

Confusion reigns as Roanoke-aea residents receive absentee applications with wrong addresses

By RALPH BERRIER, KAREN DILLON, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

A nonprofit group that encourages voter participation mailed confusing absentee ballot applications to Roanoke Valley residents that included the wrong return address for local election offices. This week, thousands of residents in Roanoke, Roanoke County and Franklin County have received applications for absentee ballots from the Center for Voter Information, a Washington, D.C.-based group that provides information about candidates and elections.

A GOP House candidate is selling anti-China face masks. Asian Americans say they incite racism.

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

It was a selfie by Del. Mark Cole that first caught Sookyung Oh's eye. Cole (R-Fredericksburg) tweeted an image showing off a bright red face mask he said he'd purchased from the congressional campaign of Del. Nick Freitas (R-Culpeper). "COVID-19, 'MADE IN CHINA," it read.


Inspector general: Va. Parole Board violated law, policies in releasing killer of Richmond officer

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

The Virginia Parole Board and its former chairperson violated state law and parole board policies in its decision to grant parole to Vincent Martin, who was sentenced to life in prison in 1980 for killing a Richmond police officer, according to an investigative report by the Office of the Inspector General that initially was kept secret. Three senior state Republican leaders on Thursday released an unredacted version of the six-page report from Virginia's government watchdog agency that found allegations against the parole board and former Chair Adrianne Bennett were substantiated.

Fewer Virginians filed new unemployment claims last week

By KIMBERLY PIERCEALL, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

The Virginia Employment Commission said 23,918 new unemployment claims were filed across the state last week, 44% fewer than the week earlier. It was the first time in five weeks that claims had dropped from the previous week. It was also the first week that Virginians no longer had the benefit of an extra $600 a week in federal relief.


Virginia senators again push for pipeline review reforms

By SARAH VOGELSONG, Virginia Mercury

Virginia's Democratic Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine are again proposing reforms to the federal pipeline review process in response to public complaints surrounding the now-cancelled Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the still active Mountain Valley Pipeline through Virginia.


Capital One fined $80 million for 2019 hack of 100 million credit card applications

By DEVLIN BARRETT, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Capital One has agreed to pay an $80 million fine to U.S. regulators over a major hacking incident last year in which authorities say about 100 million credit card applications were illegally accessed.

McLean-based Capital One fined $80M for 2019 data breach

By SYDNEY LAKE, Virginia Business

Federal bank regulator the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency announced Thursday it has fined McLean-based Capital One Financial Corp $80 million for what it calls unsafe and unsound information technology practices tied to computing operations in its cloud environment. Capital One is the largest bank in Virginia, according to 2019 deposits.

COVID-19 costs Newport News shipyard parent Huntington Ingalls more than $60 million

By DAVE RESS, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Coping with the new coronavirus pandemic cost Newport News Shipbuilding and its parent company tens of millions of dollars this spring. Huntington Ingalls Industries said absences because of ill and quarantined employees along with measures to mitigate the impact of COVID-19, out-of-sequence work and compliance with civil authorities' orders cost it some $61 million in the three months that ended June 30.

A Virginia Beach company with $1.3 billion worth of contract awards sought a COVID-19 relief loan

By KIMBERLY PIERCEALL, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Here's a riddle: What Virginia Beach-based company won more than $1 billion worth of government contracts in the last quarter of 2019 and had another $1.3 billion in contract obligations for 2020, yet still applied for a COVID-19 relief loan worth between $2 million and $5 million intended for small businesses? The answer: ADS Inc., or Atlantic Diving Supply, which had been accused as recently as last year by the Small Business Administration Office of Government Contracting of masquerading as a small enterprise in order to get contracts meant for small businesses.

Virginia's sales tax holiday begins Friday

By ALISSA SKELTON, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Virginia's annual sales tax holiday weekend will kick off Friday. Shoppers can buy school supplies, clothing, footwear, hurricane and emergency preparedness items, and Energy Star and WaterSense products without paying sales taxes. Also included: disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer soap.

$50 million project to renovate 750 homes at Fort Lee to begin this month

By SEAN GORMAN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Work is expected to begin in two weeks on a project that will renovate more than 750 homes at Fort Lee in the coming years. Hunt Military Communities, a private company that manages the housing on the U.S. Army base near Petersburg, is beginning a $50 million project to update the homes.

Some economic activity in Virginia nearly back to prepandemic levels, according to cellphone data study

By DREW HANSEN, Washington Business Journal (Subscription required for some articles)

Virginians are returning to work and visiting local businesses nearly at prepandemic levels, according to the University of Virginia Biocomplexity Institute. The institute, which did not cite specific figures in its study, says the rebound in economic activity is good news — but only if businesses and customers continue to follow guidance on safety, cleanliness and other restrictions laid out in Virginia's reopening plan.


Students begin ordering COVID-19 test kits in preparation for the return to Grounds

By MARYANN XUE, Cavalier Daily

In preparation for the return to Grounds in the fall, Dean of Students Allen Groves sent an email to all students Monday morning with information about ordering free COVID-19 test kits. The University announced last month that all students would be required to submit a self-administered COVID-19 viral PCR test before returning to Grounds.

JMU's class of 2020 balances disappointment with hope after graduation was postponed — twice

By TRISTAN LOREI, Harrisonburg Citizen

Today was supposed to be the start of the pandemic-delayed graduation ceremony for JMU's class of 2020. But after months of anxiously and eagerly waiting, JMU 2020 seniors learned through a July 6 email that the rescheduled Aug.7-8 ceremony would be delayed. Again.

Jerry Falwell Jr. said a racy photo was 'in good fun.' A GOP lawmaker says he should resign.

By TEO ARMUS, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

His pants were unzipped, his midriff was out, and his glass was filled with a dark liquid he called "black water." But Jerry Falwell Jr., one of President Trump's loudest evangelical supporters, said the provocative vacation photo he posted and then deleted last weekend was little cause for concern — even after it drew both cries of confusion and charges of hypocrisy as it circulated around the Internet.


Coronavirus cases plateau across D.C. area

By DANA HEDGPETH, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

The number of known coronavirus cases in the greater Washington region surpassed 200,000 Thursday, even as health experts noted signs of optimism that the region might be turning a corner after a recent surge of infections. The seven-day average of new daily cases in D.C., Maryland and Virginia more than doubled during July, starting the month below 1,000 and ending above 2,000.

818 new coronavirus cases reported Thursday in Virginia

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

The Virginia Department of Health reported 818 new coronavirus cases Thursday, bringing the state's tally to 95,867. At least 2,299 Virginians have died from the virus as of Thursday morning, up 25 from Wednesday.

Hispanics and Latinos down to fewer than 20 new cases per week in Richmond

By JOHANNA ALONSO, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases within Richmond's Latino community, the hardest hit during the pandemic, is trending down, health officials say. At a peak in May, Latinos in Richmond, who make up about 7% of the city's population and nearly half of its confirmed cases, accounted for between 100 and 150 COVID-19 diagnoses per week.

122 infected as Baskerville jail outbreak grows

By SUSAN KYTE, South Boston News & Record

Mecklenburg County's COVID-19 caseload has jumped to 427 patients with an outbreak at the Baskerville Correctional Center that has infected 122 people. According to Mecklenburg County Emergency Services Coordinator Jon Taylor, the state health department informed his office that 114 new cases of the virus surfaced on Monday, with another three cases reported Tuesday. "Almost all of these new positive cases are from a known outbreak," said Taylor.


Cape Charles Resident Urges Action on Eastville Confederate Monument

By STEFANIE JACKSON, Eastern Shore Post

Across the U.S., recent protests against racism and social injustice have turned violent, leading to an array of destruction including defacing and toppling historic statues and monuments. In light of those events, attention has turned to the Eastern Shore's two Confederate monuments – one in Parksley, in Accomack County, and another in Eastville, Northampton's county seat.

George Washington's Mount Vernon Highlights More Stories Of Enslaved People


America's history is being taken to task. People are calling for a reckoning of the violent, racist past that has permeated every facet of society. The legacy of landmarks is being scrutinized for traditionally glorifying the country's white Founding Fathers, many of whom were slave owners and fought to protect the institution of slavery.

For Protests, RPD Spent Over $200K on Tear Gas, Vans, Meals


The Richmond Police Department spent at least $126,000 on rental vans, chemical agents and other equipment to respond to anti-police brutality protests in the city. Purchase order data VPM obtained through a public records request show RPD bought 1,025 units of chemical agents in various forms from June 1 through July 7. The department spent roughly $18,000 on hand-held and gas grenade forms of O.C. spray, commonly called pepper spray.

In Richmond, Black Dance Claims a Space Near Robert E. Lee

By REBECCA J. RITZEL, New York Times (Metered Paywall - 1 to 2 articles a month)

Janine Bell lived in Richmond for 35 years before visiting Monument Avenue. But that changed in July, when Ms. Bell threw a gathering honoring Emmett Till under the shadow of a statue of Robert E. Lee. Standing at the base of the three-story pedestal supporting the Confederate general's likeness, Ms. Bell, the artistic director Elegba Folklore Society, welcomed a small sea of drummers, dancers and bystanders banging on plastic buckets to an event she called the Reclamation Drum Circle.


White and Black soldiers are segregated on Loudoun County's World War I memorial


The bronze plaque on the Loudoun County World War I Memorial has stood in the heart of Leesburg for nearly 100 years. Located on the county courthouse grounds, the plaque lists the names of the 30 service members from Loudoun who died during war. Segregated by two engraved lines, on top are the names of 27 white service members; below are three Black men who equally gave their lives for America. The dividing line may soon be gone.

Richmond Public Schools Plans Launch Of New 'REAL Richmond' History Class


Richmond Public Schools is rolling out a new history elective class this coming fall – called REAL Richmond. It will highlight the often untold history of marginalized groups in the city. "We might talk about when Civil War battles came into the city of Richmond, the burning of the city," said Ma'Asehyahu Isra-Ul, the district's specialist for history instruction, who has been developing the course, and training other RPS teachers this summer. "We may talk about how the 95 highway system was created and plowed directly through flourishing Black neighborhoods."

Freeman High to retire 'Rebels' nickname

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

Douglas S. Freeman High School in Henrico County will no longer use the nickname "Rebels," the county school system announced Thursday. The decision is based on the recommendation of a community poll and a school committee created earlier this summer to study whether to continue using the Confederate-related name. Nearly two-thirds of the official poll's 1,500 respondents supported the change.

Vast majority of Norfolk police officers live outside the city

By JONATHAN EDWARDS, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

The vast majority of Norfolk officers live outside the city they police, something both the mayor and a U.S. congressman representing much of Norfolk say is a problem. One out of every five officers lives in Norfolk, according to a Virginian-Pilot analysis of city data. Far more — nearly two-thirds of the city's roughly 700 sworn officers — live in Virginia Beach and Chesapeake.

Hampton schools go virtual

By MATT JONES, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)

The Hampton School Board in a virtual meeting Wednesday night unanimously affirmed the superintendent's recommendation that schools start the year virtually. At Superintendent Jeffery Smith's request, it voted to give him the authority to modify school schedules as necessary to bring students back in limited ways. Smith has the authority to bring students back up to a hybrid online and in-person system without seeking board approval again.

Fredericksburg police report finds use of force against protesters justified

By KEITH EPPS, Free Lance-Star (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Controversial actions taken by police during the early days of the social justice protests in Fredericksburg were justified and carried out according to department standards, according to an internal review released Thursday by city police. The 16-page report put out by Police Chief Brian Layton lists multiple violations of law and acts of vandalism in late May and early June that led police to use at least two types of non-lethal gas and rubber projectiles against protesters.

Speakers express views on Confederate symbols; Culpeper board mostly silent in response

By ALLISON BROPHY CHAMPION, Culpeper Star Exponent (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

The Confederate flag that has flown over publicly-owned Lenn Park in Stevensburg for more than a decade was quietly removed Wednesday by a local farming family tired of the strife it was causing. The Confederate monument on land in the Culpeper Courthouse Square, owned by the county, remains a striking point. Evidence of divisions caused by the presence of such Confederate symbols in modern-day Culpeper emerged during more than an hour of public comment on the contentious nationwide issue at Tuesday night's County Board of Supervisors meeting.

Albemarle to remove Court Square Confederate soldier statue

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

Albemarle County's Confederate soldier statue will be removed next month. On Thursday, the county Board of Supervisors voted unanimously during a virtual meeting to remove the bronze statue of the life-size Confederate soldier in uniform, a cannon and three cannon balls from the Albemarle County Courthouse property.

Roanoke City Public Schools recommends virtual start to school year, scaling back previous plan

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

The Star City's hopes for in-person education dimmed Thursday. Roanoke City Public Schools' reopening task force now recommends a virtual start to the school year for most students, setting aside an ambitious plan to send students back to the classroom four days per week.

Upper Mattaponi Tribe cancels annual powwow amid the pandemic

By EMILY HOLTER, Tidewater Review

As the days grow longer and the sun brings blistering heat, summertime always signals the start of the annual Upper Mattaponi Powwow celebration. For more than 30 years, folks have traveled from across county and state lines to witness the rhythmic heartbeat of a longstanding community. While some years brought inclement weather, the tribe has always held its celebration. But, for the first time, the Upper Mattaponi Tribe will not host its 33rd annual powwow celebration amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Northumberland to reopen elementary classrooms despite lack of face masks, cleaning supplies

By MEGAN SCHIFFRES, Rappahannock Record (Paywall)

Despite a lack of basic supplies to keep students safe during the pandemic, and new evidence cited by the district health director that children present a high risk for spreading the COVID-19 virus, members of the Northumberland school board voted 3-2 to reopen in-person learning options for students in pre-K through third grade. Students in grades four through 12 will only be offered distance learning opportunities when the new school year begins.

Urbanna to install security cameras

By TOM CHILLEMI, Southside Sentinel

Vandalism has motivated the Urbanna Town Council to purchase video surveillance cameras to catch those responsible. At its July 23 work session meeting, council voted to position cameras at Taber Park where playground equipment, including the swings, has been vandalized recently.

School board expected to vote this month on name change

By CHARLIE KOENIG, Gazette-Journal

Less than a month after the proposal was introduced at a Mathews School Board meeting, the board is set to take action on whether to remove the name Lee-Jackson from the county's elementary school. School board members approved consideration of the name change as an action item for the Aug. 18 agenda during a special meeting held last Thursday in the Harry M. Ward Auditorium at Mathews High School.

Gloucester voters to decide on local sales tax

By TYLER BASS, Gazette-Journal

The Gloucester Board of Supervisors voted to hold a referendum on the November ballot to institute a local sales tax not to exceed 1 percent to fund renovations to Gloucester County Public Schools during its Aug. 5 meeting. The referendum was made possible by a vote of the Virginia General Assembly, authorizing Gloucester County to levy the local sales tax for construction or renovation of county schools.

Harrisonburg Council To Consider Ban On Gatherings Over 50

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

Harrisonburg City Council will consider an emergency ordinance to prohibit gatherings of 50 people in certain areas, according to the agenda for Tuesday's meeting. "This is based on some conversations we've had with other cities across Virginia and what we're seeing other cities do," said Michael Parks, the spokesman for the city.

Tall wind turbines in Botetourt will pose no hazard to aircraft, FAA determines

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

In a step forward for a proposed wind farm in Botetourt County, the Federal Aviation Administration has determined that making tall turbines 130 feet taller will not endanger passing aircraft. The FAA found this week that turbines reaching as far as 680 feet into the sky from the top of a mountain would "not constitute a hazard to air navigation."

Radford largely relying on restaurants to regulate COVID precautions

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

City officials and restaurant owners came together to discuss how to safely operate during the COVID-19 pandemic as Radford University students return to the area for the fall semester. Thursday's unofficial meeting included Mayor David Horton, Councilwoman Jessie Foster and representatives from about 10 different Radford businesses.

Danville School Board approves virtual learning for nine weeks

By PARKER COTTON, Danville Register & Bee

The Danville School Board on Thursday unanimously approved a reopening plan for the 2020-21 academic year. For the most part, the plan remains consistent with the proposal from two weeks ago that called for nine weeks of virtual learning to begin the school year for a majority of students.

Marion leaders, citizens debate how best to confront racism and division

By STEPHANIE PORTER-NICHOLS, Smyth County News & Messenger

No one denied that racism exists in the community, but the best way to defeat its presence was the subject of passionate debate Monday evening. Three leaders, including one of their own, approached the Marion Town Council with a resolution that called for the establishment of an annual Unity Day. The three men wanted to put the focus on what unites the community.



Who are Virginia's modern founding fathers and mothers?

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

Former President Barack Obama eulogized John Lewis last week as "a founding father of that fuller, fairer, better America." Set aside your feelings about the 44th president and focus on the concept that not all of our founders were around in 1776. Now let's apply that concept to Virginia: Who would our later-generation founders be?

Orra Langhorne still speaks to us

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

She was given four names at birth and acquired a fifth one by marriage, which means that the name of Orra Henderson Moore Gray Langhorne takes up more space than most when it comes to listing the names of important figures in Virginia history. However, she takes up less space in our historical memory than she should.

How much power should a governor wield?

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

Does Gov. Ralph Northam possess too much power? Has he abused his powers, employed them wrongly? Some Republicans lawmakers recently raised these questions in the context of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but disputes over the concentration and exercise of political power are ancient and enduring.

Local census efforts must rise above any mixed federal messages

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

In mid-March, the U.S. Census Bureau was running at full speed. Most households received initial invitations to complete the 2020 census online, by phone or by mail. But by Census Day (April 1) — the normal reference point to respond to the survey — normalcy was elusive. Thirty states, including Virginia, had stay-at-home orders due to COVID-19. Some households participated with record ease online, while others faced hurdles.

Governors stepping up to expand COVID-19 testing

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

Citing a lack of a national testing strategy in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Ralph Northam and other governors have joined forces to buy antigen tests that deliver quick results. Northam and governors from Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina and Ohio have formed the first interstate purchasing compact of its kind during the pandemic.


Kerchof: Ben Cline, please take a position

By BRAD KERCHOF, published in Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

The Times' July 25 article on Confederate iconography described the U.S. House of Representatives approving a bill to remove the statues of Robert E. Lee and other Confederate leaders from the U.S. Capitol, adding that all of the Democrats in Virginia's delegation voted in favor of the bill, and that Ben Cline, R-Botetourt, voted against it. Quoted in the article, Congressman Cline justified his vote by saying, "So long as the Capitol statue selection process is made by each individual state, the decision to remove Robert E. Lee from the Capitol Complex should remain Virginia's to make — not Congress's and not Nancy Pelosi's."

Kerchof retired from Norfolk Southern in 2019. He lives in Roanoke.


A roller coaster fanatic was too overweight to ride his dream 'giga coaster.' It motivated him to lose 195 pounds.

By CATHY FREE, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Five years ago, roller coaster enthusiast Jared Ream was excited to take another ride on his all-time favorite coaster — the 310-foot Millennium Force at Ohio's Cedar Point amusement park — when he received some bad news. Because he couldn't buckle his safety restraint, a park employee told him he would have to get off the coaster train.

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