Saturday, August 29, 2020

Special Saturday Edition

August 29, 2020
Top of the News

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

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

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

Virginia House advances plan for civilian review boards

By DENISE LAVOIE, Associated Press

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

Virginia Democrats advance measures tightening thresholds for traffic stops

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

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

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

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

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

Kanye West qualifies for Virginia's presidential ballot

By GRAHAM MOOMAW, Virginia Mercury

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

Despite city warnings, civil rights protesters march on

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

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

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


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

The Full Report
42 articles, 16 publications


From VPAP Maps, Timeline of COVID-19 in Virginia

The Virginia Public Access Project

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Virginia legislators advance protections for nursing home residents

By KATE MASTERS, Virginia Mercury

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

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

By NED OLIVER, Virginia Mercury

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


Lawsuit challenges ballot language on redistricting amendment

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

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


Kanye West's Presidential Campaign Is Both Proceeding and Unraveling

By BEN JACOBS, New York Magazine

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


Silver Line project team announces progress on Phase 2 completion


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


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

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

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

UVA will proceed with in-person classes this semester

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

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

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

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

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

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

By PATRICK RONEY, Cavalier Daily

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Randolph College responds to allegations of Title IX misconduct

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

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


1,013 new coronavirus cases reported in Virginia on Friday

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By STAFF REPORT, Loudoun Times

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

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

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

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


FCPS Hires New Chief Information Officer After Top Official Resigns


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

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

By JILL PALERMO, Prince William Times

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

More Manassas residents join opposition to proposed asphalt plant

By DANIEL BERTI, Prince William Times

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

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

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

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

Richmond prosecutor says she won't investigate statue removal contract

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amidst federal lawsuit, Stafford supervisors amend cemetery ordinances again

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

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

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

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

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

Roanoke council approves hazard pay, bonuses for city employees

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

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



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

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

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


Schapiro: Jerry Falwell Jr.'s fall arouses Democrats

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

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


Leonard: Franklin County should replace rebel statue with Washington

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

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

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

Harris: The meaning of race

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

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

Harris is a surgeon practicing in the New River Valley

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