Monday, September 28, 2020

Political Headlines from across Virginia

September 28, 2020
Top of the News

61 and counting: evictions continue in Richmond area despite federal moratorium

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

The notice posted on Ladontis Holland's front door in the second week of September forewarned an impending eviction. The 29-year-old knew he could not pay the thousands in back rent he owed his landlord. At least six calls he made to a local nonprofit fielding rent relief requests went unreturned, he said. He sought out a legal aid lawyer who told him there was another way he could save his home, at least through the end of the year: by filling out a Centers for Disease Control declaration under the federal evictions moratorium.

Debate around statewide definition of affordable housing belies larger crisis

By WYATT GORDON, Virginia Mercury

Long before the COVID-19 recession put millions of Virginians on the precipice of losing their homes, the commonwealth already suffered from the country's worst eviction epidemic. After five Virginia cities landed in the top 10 of Princeton University's Eviction Lab rankings in 2016, the data served as a clarion call to action for policymakers and local officials. In the intervening four years, Gov. Ralph Northam has made reducing the rate of evictions across the state a priority.

Jurors seek to lessen 74-year sentence in Va. case

By RACHEL WEINER, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

A decorated retired Army major and counterintelligence official, drunk and angry on Christmas Eve in 2017, shot and wounded two Loudoun County sheriff's deputies who were trying to arrest him after a domestic dispute. On Wednesday, a Loudoun County Circuit Court judge will decide whether to formally sentence Douglas Vernon Johnson Jr., 42, to the 74 years in prison set by a jury. But several jurors now say they either believed they were giving him a lower sentence or wish they had the power to do so.

Pittsylvania County Schools resumes in-person teaching on Monday. The teachers group says the district isn't ready.

By PARKER COTTON, Danville Register & Bee

After a lot of deliberation and patience, Pittsylvania County Schools will welcome select groups of children back into classrooms on Monday — the first step in the district's plan in hopes of returning all students to a more normal learning environment amid the COVID-19 pandemic by mid-October. According to Virginia Department of Health data, as of Friday, Pittsylvania County has experienced a 7-day average of seven new cases per day and a 7-day average of 11 new cases per 100,000 population — both figures that are vastly improved from 18 and 29.5, respectively, on the last day of August.

VCU is considering making a course on racism part of its required curriculum

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

While racial injustice protests were occurring on a nightly basis throughout the summer in Richmond, faculty at Virginia Commonwealth University began to re-evaluate the topic of racism and its priority in the university's curriculum. Perhaps the subject is so important, they said, that every student should be required to study it.

Charlottesville activists say mayor, police chief need to go

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

Charlottesville officials are coalescing around the city's response to unsanctioned events while fending off accusations from activists about personal vendettas. Several activists spoke during last week's City Council meeting about the response to events after Rosia Parker was informed earlier in the day that her permit for a Sunday march had been denied.

Evelyn Butts fought Virginia's poll tax. A new highway marker in Norfolk will help people know her name.

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

Evelyn Butts helped eliminate the poll tax from state and local elections, registered thousands to vote and upon her death in 1993 was called in a Virginia Senate resolution "one of the most influential political leaders of the last three decades." But in her hometown of Norfolk, there's been little evidence of her work aside from a street named after her in her former Oakwood neighborhood.

The Full Report
40 articles, 18 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.


Pledge to delay aside, Cox sounds like a candidate for governor

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

Even though he has not officially entered the race and vows he will not make his intentions known until after the November election, Del. Kirk Cox of Colonial Heights is sounding more and more like a candidate for governor in 2021. In a radio interview Thursday afternoon with former GOP delegate Chris Saxman, Cox all but formally declared his candidacy, saying there was an "urgency" for Republicans to retake the governor's mansion and he felt that with three decades of experience in the House, he has a record of getting things done.


Trump looms large in 4th District congressional election - for both candidates

By MICHAEL MARTZ, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

Rep. Donald McEachin, D-4th, and Republican challenger Leon Benjamin are both ordained African American ministers who have one other thing in common - they're both happy to let their congressional election campaign be about President Donald Trump. Benjamin, 52, is a South Richmond pastor who calls himself a special adviser to Trump and leads a prayer group for the president each week. He planned to attend Trump's campaign stop at the Newport News airport on Friday night. "I believe in what he is doing," he said of the president in an interview.

Congressional candidate Cameron Webb, Danville City Council hopefuls stress voting at NAACP event

By PARKER COTTON, Danville Register & Bee

The Danville chapter of the NAACP hosted its Family & Friends Day on Saturday with two distinct themes in mind: voting and COVID-19 safety. Amid a collection of informational booths for community resources, free COVID-19 tests were available at the playground on the corner of Holbrook and Sycamore Streets in Danville. And when a band wasn't playing or a raffle wasn't being held, attendees heard speeches from several political candidates vying for votes with just more than a month remaining until Election Day on Nov. 3.

Hundreds turn out for "God, Guns and a Good Time" rally in Fluvanna Co.


Hundreds of people came out to the "God, Guns and a Good Time," rally in Palmyra to support of 5th District Congressional candidate Bob Good. The free event hosted several different musical performances and vendors. Notable speakers included Good, among several others. People could also register to vote at the event if they hadn't already. Darrell Byers, chair of the Fluvanna County Republicans, said the rally is meant to get voters in the area energized and excited for the 2020 election.

164,000 cast ballots in first week of early voting in Virginia


Virginia voting is off to an active start, with tens of thousands of people hitting the polls during the 45-day early voting period. More than 164,000 citizens have voted in person, while more than 926,000 absentee ballots have been issued as of Friday, said Andrea Gaines, director of community relations and compliance support at the Virginia Department of Elections.


For D.C.-area colleges, cautious optimism

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

"I really liked your party last night." Will Heffernan, an 18-year-old freshman, said the line through his University of Maryland-branded face mask, his words muffled by the cotton fabric covering his mouth. He stood before about a dozen other students, also masked. "Say it again?" professor Sue Sherburne asked. She, too, was masked but spoke through a microphone to compensate for her muffled speech. It was just an exercise, of course. Parties on and around the College Park campus have been outlawed.

Randolph College students, professors adapt to meet demands of remote semester

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

Randolph College junior Shae Starks misses the view from the small sitting area behind Main Hall on the college's campus. It's an area she frequented during her first two years as a student there, unwinding after a day of classes and watching the sun set over the mountains. "There are no bad views on campus," said Starks, who is majoring in chemistry with minors in environmental studies and music. "That's what I'm missing right now — just being there."


Sunday's state coronavirus numbers: Cases increase by 736

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

Statewide coronavirus cases increased by 736 from Saturday to Sunday, according to the latest data from the Virginia Department of Health. The total number of reported cases is now 146,144. Hospitalizations rose over the 24-hour period by 26, and 15 additional deaths were reported.

Virus testing gives 'peace of mind' at Virginia school

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

When a nasal swab went up his nose, Dick McGrady had all sorts of reactions. First and foremost, he thought he was going to sneeze, and in his effort to keep that at bay, he started laughing. Next, his eyes began to water; as a big-time sufferer of seasonal allergies, anything in his nasal area causes a tickle. Fortunately for him, the COVID-19 test lasted only a few seconds, so McGrady grabbed a few tissues and headed back to his class at Fredericksburg Academy, where he's an English teacher.

Safety precautions followed during Va. Gov.'s wife's visit to Stafford Co. school


Stafford County Public Schools said all health safety precautions were followed at the Northern Virginia school that first lady Pamela Northam visited earlier in the week Northam visited Rising Star Early Childhood Center in Fredericksburg, as part of a Back-To-School tour on Tuesday. Both she and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam tested positive for coronavirus Thursday.


Limited childcare options, decline in labor force 'primarily impacting moms'

By KATE MASTERS, Virginia Mercury

Until the pandemic hit, Cate Garstang said her life was going pretty normally. She gave birth to her son, Andy, in May 2019 and was back to work as an office assistant in Richmond by the end of July. For the next several months, Andy was in daycare while Garstang and her husband worked. Then came March, and Virginia's first confirmed cases of COVID-19. "We were watching and waiting, watching and waiting, and kind of starting to get more and more uncomfortable with the situation," Garstang said. "But our daycare was saying they couldn't close until the health department told them they needed to close."

Protesters in Roanoke demand police reform after Breonna Taylor case indictment

By TAD DICKENS, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

The scene across the street from the Roanoke Police Office headquarters on Sunday was familiar. Chants of "no justice, no peace" rang out. Signs with such slogans as "Racism is not born. It's taught" appeared. The name on protesters' lips was different this time. "Say her name," a leader shouted. "Breonna Taylor," the crowd responded.

Catholics journey across Hampton Roads landmarks to highlight racial inequality

By KIMBERLY PIERCEALL, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)

The man dressed as Frederick Douglass, the escaped slave and abolitionist, stood at the shore where the first enslaved Africans arrived by boat in 1619, and offered some advice. "If you're looking for history and you only have one side of it, you may not find it," he said to the gathering at Fort Monroe. The journey, prompted by the reckoning that followed the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers, has involved visiting landmarks and monuments tied to the region's role in the slave trade.


Washington-area schools inch toward reopening plans

By HANNAH NATANSON, DONNA ST. GEORGE AND PERRY STEIN, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

As coronavirus cases in the Washington region hit their lowest levels in months, area school systems are inching toward reopening and normalcy — pledging to gradually usher students back into classrooms, and onto sports fields, over the next several weeks.

Loudoun County Public Schools apologizes for history of segregation

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

Loudoun County fought an order to desegregate its schools for more than a decade after the Supreme Court ruled it illegal. More recently, the school system has been accused of discriminating against its Black students and failing to provide them with equal access to advance classes. On Friday, the school system did something those students in the 1950s couldn't have imagined. It apologized.

Is it safe for students to return to school? Experts say the answer isn't clear cut

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

As Richmond-area public schools enter their fourth week of instruction, some districts that began virtually are inching toward bringing students back into the classroom even as COVID-19 school employee cases continue to tick up. Officials grappling with these decisions must do so armed with fluctuating data and uncertainty, even as they learn to live with one truth: There will be spread.

A casino in a tent? Norfolk zoning rules could allow it.

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

Voters have already started deciding whether to approve a new waterfront casino downtown. If approved, the Pamunkey Indian Tribe and its partners expect to start construction on the lot next to Harbor Park in 2021 and wrap up sometime in 2023. But in the meantime, could the tribe host gambling on the lot — perhaps in a tent or trailer — even as the $500 million project is going up?

13,000 devices. Hundreds of tech support questions. How Portsmouth is helping families through virtual learning.

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

When Portsmouth decided to start the first nine weeks of school virtually, the district's director of information technology wanted to make sure one thing happened: Any parent who called needing tech support would reach someone on the phone. Dean Schlaepfer knew his team wouldn't be able to solve every problem immediately, but wanted to limit the number of times technology caused families additional stress.

Fredericksburg Area Museum to exhibit city's slave auction block in November

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

Fredericksburg's controversial slave auction block has been professionally cleaned and will be loaned to the Fredericksburg Area Museum early next month. It will go on display there by mid-November at the earliest, with graffiti spray painted during several protests last summer intact.

Handley students create the school's first Black Student Union

By ANNA MEROD, Winchester Star (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

As a young Black woman, Eunice Mejiadeu hasn't always felt like she belonged at Handley High School. She has friends of color who feel the same way. "When we look at Handley, there's not really this, I guess a safe place to come together. There's a lot of self-isolation," said the 17-year-old senior. "We just got kind of tired of just not feeling like we mattered, and I don't think that was the intention Handley wanted to bring, and I feel like it just gradually happened over time."

Charlotte Harris Historical Marker Unveiled

By PETE DELEA, Daily News Record (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Three years ago, community activist Steven Thomas set out on a mission to make sure everyone in the Harrisonburg area knew the story of Charlotte Harris, a Black woman from Rockingham County who was abducted from police custody by a white mob and lynched in 1878. On Saturday, Thomas gathered with his fellow Harrisonburg Community Remembrance Project Committee members and pulled down a cloth, unveiling Harris' historical marker on Court Square.

With new leadership after controversy, Danville Historical Society looks to tell a more inclusive story of city's history

By JOHN CRANE, Danville Register & Bee

Two and a half months after a Facebook post led to the resignation of the president of the Danville Historical Society, the group is moving ahead. The society has a brand new president and has since added another person of color to its board of directors. Kendall Ratliffe, who just became the group's president this month, wants the organization to tell a more inclusive story of the city's history.

School districts go through elaborate review before deciding to return to classes

By PARKER COTTON, Martinsville Bulletin (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

The decision this week to send Henry County Public Schools students back to classrooms on Oct. 12 is similar to decisions being played out in school board meetings around the region. You know likely that Martinsville City Public Schools Board voted earlier this month to review its current distance-learning practice at the end of the first nine weeks, a practice that was introduced after several mind changes in the final days leading up to the opening of schools on Aug. 10.



Will our better angels prevail in 2020?

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

On the night in November 1969 when Republican Linwood Holton became the first person other than a Democrat to be elected governor of Virginia since 1881, there was an unexpected visitor at his victory party in Richmond. Bill Battle, the just-defeated Democratic candidate, showed up to congratulate Holton and wish him well, a visible demonstration of the comity that once existed between political rivals.

Last chance to get an accurate count in Virginia

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

We're down to the wire for the 2020 Census. Counting stops Sept. 30. If you haven't been counted, spend a few minutes answering simple questions. That's all it takes. If you've done your part, tell others how easy it was and urge them to do likewise. Getting an accurate count matters — a lot. The repercussions of an undercount will hurt Virginia for the next decade.

Yes on Virginia's Amendment 1

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

Virginians who cast a ballot this fall face what may be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to dampen political opportunism and manipulation in the process by which their state legislative and congressional districts are drawn. They should seize it by voting "yes" on Constitutional Amendment 1. The amendment would not remove politics from redistricting. But as a tough compromise struck between Democrats and Republicans in Richmond, it would form a thoroughly bipartisan commission that would forge voting districts — not in hidden backrooms, as has been the practice for decades, but in public, for all to see.

Legal issues still delay statue removals

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

The saga of Charlottesville's Confederate statues grows ever more complex. You could say that Charlottesville lost a battle but won the war: It's virtually certain now that the statues will come down. But the issue still remains tied up in court, despite legislative and, as a result, legal changes giving the city the authority to remove Robert E. Lee and "Stonewall" Jackson from their downtown locations.

A better idea for Virginia's controversial coal tax credits

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

The cold-eyed accountants for the General Assembly's auditing arm made headlines recently when they ran the numbers on the state's coal tax credit and concluded that it actually costs the state more jobs than it saves. This is good news for coal-hating Democrats who have tried for years now to get rid of the program and bad news for Republicans who represent the counties that produce coal. At least that's the conventional reading of the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission's report.

Germanna grows, even during pandemic

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

COVID-19 HAS played havoc with education in Virginia and elsewhere, from kindergarten through graduate school. Every K-12 school system and every college and university seems to have its own plan for dealing with pandemic-driven learning. As one example, Virginia Commonwealth University has eight different options for its massive student body. Germanna Community College, however, seems to have figured it out.

Virginia leading the way to make voting accessible

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

As valid concerns about the integrity of this year's election ripple across the country, Virginia residents should take some measure of pride that the commonwealth is not among those states expecting problems. Sure, it's possible that things could go sideways — that's always the case, in every election — but reforms passed by the General Assembly earlier this year will make voting here easier and safer than ever before.

What took so long with the state budget?

Richmond Times-Dispatch Editorial (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

When Gov. Ralph Northam called for a special session of the Virginia General Assembly in July, the topline concern prompting the return of legislators to Richmond was the state's budget. The language in the governor's proclamation was crystal clear: The special session would commence on Aug. 18 "for the purpose of adopting a budget based on the revised revenue forecast and consideration of legislation related to the emergency of COVID-19 and criminal and social justice reforms."


Connolly, Hazel and Landry:The value of partnership and collaboration during a crisis

By CHRISTY CONNOLLY, WILLIAM HAZEL AND SHARI LANDRY, published in Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

In late spring, there was no shortage of problems facing our nation's public health. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic created a need for increased testing, education on prevention and contact tracing efforts to stem growing infection rates. Of course, all areas of the country were faced with similar issues, but at varying levels. In Virginia's Rappahannock-Rapidan Health District, conversations between health-focused foundations and area colleges and universities led to a creative solution for a contact tracing program, bridging the gap as the state mobilized efforts to meet this incredible and unexpected need.

Connolly is president and CEO of the PATH Foundation in Warrenton; Hazel is senior deputy executive director of the Claude Moore Charitable Foundation in Fairfax; Landry is president of the Culpeper Wellness Foundation.

Henderson: The importance of voting

By BERNARD L. HENDERSON JR., published in Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

I have been fascinated with politics since I was 10 years old and John F. Kennedy was running for president. I actively would be involved in this fall's campaigns if not for my serving as an appointed nonlegislative member of the Virginia Conflict of Interest and Ethics Council, which would make it inappropriate for me to engage in partisan activities. Having voluntarily retired from 30 years in a career that depended on the results of elections, I never questioned the importance of voting, but I did not realize just how profoundly important it was until after retirement.

Henderson Jr. is president emeritus and funeral celebrant for Woody and Nelsen Funeral Homes. He served as senior deputy secretary of the commonwealth of Virginia from 2002 to 2010.

Hincker: Vote yes on Amendment 1; take back control of your vote

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

Virginians have a once in a generation opportunity to minimize political power of the Republican and Democratic parties to dilute and control your vote. Amendment 1 on this fall's ballot asks voters to approve a constitutional amendment creating an independent redistricting commission. Voters, pundits, and politicians have long lamented the baldly political and warped process of gerrymandered voting districts. You have heard it before – the political parties determine who gets your vote, not you.

Hincker is a retired public relations executive living in Blacksburg.

Goldman: Consumer fraud: The 2020 Redistricting Referendum

By PAUL GOLDMAN, published in Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

When you vote this year, there will be a referendum on the 2020 ballot seeking your support for two proposed constitutional amendments affecting the way Virginia will redraw the State Senate and House of Delegates next. Virginia has been holding these referendums for roughly a century. There have been nearly seven dozen of those over the years. But this is the first one with such deceptive wording that it would qualify as a consumer fraud if claimed by a business entity to fairly, accurately, and impartially, describe their product.

Goldman is a former chairman of the Virginia Democratic Party and a candidate for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor.

Custalow: Native Americans still overlooked in debates about U.S. history

By DAWN CUSTALOW, published in Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

The 1619 Project is gaining more traction in the media since its unveiling last year in the New York Times magazine. Its premise, "to reframe American history by regarding 1619 as our nation's birth year." The question is "What would it mean not to seek a 'new' history for our country but to acknowledge the already existing history pre-1619?" Why is there talk of reframing history for this country? If anyone has the right to do so it would be the Native Americans of the East Coast of Virginia.

Dawn Custalow, an English language learner teacher who lives in Roanoke, is a tribal member of the Mattaponi tribe whose reservation is located in West Point.

Morse: Virginia Democrats owe Trump for their hold on state government

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

"The 50 political states of America," The Washington Post announced last week. Uh, oh. What, pray tell, would this very big newspaper, with its very short summary, say about Virginia? In 45 words, here it is: "Virginia: Republicans have not won anything here since 2009, and Trump has given rocket fuel to the suburban liberals who now dominate state politics. The president has barely tried to win the state, but three House races — around Charlottesville, Richmond and Virginia Beach — are competitive." What do you know? That's about right —

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

Marks: On Amendment 1, let's say the quiet part out loud

By TAVORISE K. MARKS, published in Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Over the past several months, there has been a growing debate within Black political circles about how our votes can be lifted to become more powerful. Much of this conversation has been around how Virginia draws its electoral district lines. For context, every 10 years, all 50 states redraw their districts and the Virginia Constitution mandates that the General Assembly take on this responsibility. That means that politicians can pick and choose exactly who they want representing them for an entire decade.

Tavorise K. Marks of Chesterfield County is a civil rights leader in central Virginia and a former candidate for the House of Delegates.

Rozell: A 2020 GOP thrashing could set up a Virginia Republican rebound in 2021

By MARK J. ROZELL, published in Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

As a diverse Democratic field of candidates for next year's Virginia gubernatorial race grew over the summer, Republicans had watched, seemingly paralyzed, as state Sen. Amanda F. Chase (R-Chesterfield), a far-right provocateur who openly panders to White grievance, planted her flag as the party's lone declared candidate. When former House of Delegates speaker Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) lofted a trial balloon about a possible candidacy in August, it brought a palpable sigh of relief to many Republicans fearful that today's juggernaut Democratic Party would steamroll a fringe Republican nominee who had been disavowed by her own local party.

Mark J. Rozell is dean of the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University

Invite Friends to read VaNews

Invite two friends to read VaNews and you'll receive VaViews, a weekly compilation of commentary from a variety of viewpoints.


You don't have any referrals yet.

Or use your personal referral link:

For questions email
Participation in the VaNews Referral Program constitutes your acceptance of the VPAP Terms and Conditions of Use.

This email was sent to
why did I get this?    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences
Virginia Public Access Project · P.O. Box 1472 · Richmond, VA 23218 · USA

No comments:

Post a Comment