Monday, September 7, 2020

Political Headlines from across Virginia

September 7, 2020
Top of the News

Hundreds of JMU students are sick. Thousands have to move home by Monday.

By WAYNE EPPS AND ABBY CHURCH, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Jessica Reyes watched as stickers on floors guiding direction and distance went unheeded and unregulated during the days of her first week back at James Madison University. And at night, she'd see groups as large as 15 dressed in party clothes and packing into Ubers. Autry Harper saw students cycle in and out of a still-crowded dining hall — unmasked as they ate — during her shifts as a dining employee.

House of Delegates passes police reform bills banning chokeholds, no-knock warrants and more

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

The Virginia House of Delegates passed a batch of reform bills Friday that would ban police from using chokeholds or serving search warrants without police announcing their presence, as well as strengthen the process of decertifying an officer's license to prevent a bad one from working again in law enforcement.

Virginia Supreme Court refuses to extend state ban on evictions, saying federal moratorium in effect

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

The Supreme Court of Virginia on Friday denied a request from Gov. Ralph Northam (D) to extend a state moratorium against evictions that's due to expire Monday, but noted the state's judges should follow a federal moratorium put in place this week. Aimed at protecting cash-strapped people from losing their homes during the coronavirus pandemic, the state's moratorium began a month ago at Northam's request and runs until Monday.

Even with federal moratorium, thousands still face eviction in Richmond

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

When he limped into a Richmond courtroom last week, Ronald Dabney was no closer to coming up with the money he owed his landlord than at the start of the pandemic. Since then, things had gone from bad to worse. As COVID-19 upended life across the state, he lost his job as a cook. Then his side work as an in-home caregiver dried up.

Bill seeks to open past police investigation records to the public

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

When you ask for police records in Virginia — either from three weeks ago or 30 years ago — the response is likely to be the same. "That's part of a criminal investigative file," police departments and sheriff's offices will tell you. In other words, you can't have it. The criminal investigations exemption to the Virginia Freedom of Information Act is so broad that it protects not only active and ongoing cases from mandatory release, but also long-forgotten cases collecting dust in the file room.

Entrenched racist culture at heart of Portsmouth's police department, officers and former chief say

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

From offensive jokes to fighting reform and endangering Black officers, the Portsmouth Police Department has an entrenched racist culture that hurts female and minority officers and the predominantly Black community alike, according to nine current and former officers, including the department's former chief. Time and again a group of mostly white officers have pushed back against modernization, worked to oust chiefs, stifled the careers of minority and female officers and sought retribution on anyone seen as a threat to their "good-ol'-boy" system of racial intimidation, according to eight Black officers who recently spoke to The Virginian-Pilot.

Rural Virginia community that thought it could escape pandemic now has among highest number of new cases in state

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

In the brightest red corner of Virginia, where "Trump Digs Coal" signs dot the Appalachian mountain hollers, Jerry Estep first brushed off the coronavirus as an urban plague. Now he won't leave home in this tiny town, population 980, without a mask. "I was just going out like normal, but that's not normal no more," said Estep, 77, a retired florist with longtime health woes that could make a case of the coronavirus especially lethal. "I thought we were immune to it because we're a small, rural area. But it has caught up."

The Full Report
75 articles, 21 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.


Northam signs legislation to allow ballot drop boxes

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

Gov. Ralph Northam signed legislation Friday to set up ballot drop boxes for the November election. The General Assembly gave final passage to the measure earlier in the day. With about two months until the general election, the legislature wanted to fast-track the legislation so that local registrars could make the last-minute changes to voting opportunities. Republicans pushed back on the legislation, bringing up concerns about the security of the boxes and the $2 million cost for prepaid postage for absentee ballots sent to voters.

Virginia Supreme Court does not extend evictions moratorium, effect on tenants unclear amid federal action

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

The Virginia Supreme Court on Friday did not extend the moratorium on eviction proceedings as Gov. Ralph Northam had sought Thursday, citing slow progress on housing relief in the General Assembly's special session. The justices extended the judicial emergency in response to COVID-19 until Oct. 11, but not the moratorium.

Virginia Supreme Court won't extend eviction moratorium as Northam asked, but notes a federal ban

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

Citing a federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention order that temporarily prohibits many landlords from evicting their tenants, the Virginia Supreme Court on Friday declined to extend the state ban that prevented people from being forced out of their homes for unpaid rent during the coronavirus pandemic. Five of the seven Virginia Supreme Court justices wrote Friday that they received a memo from the executive secretary of the state Supreme Court about the emergency CDC order, which was published in the Federal Register on Friday, and therefore denied Gov. Ralph Northam's request to continue the statewide moratorium he had asked for last month. That statewide ban is set to end Monday.


Virginia House approves sweeping package of police reforms

By DENISE LAVOIE, Associated Press

The Virginia House of Delegates approved a sweeping package of police reform bills Friday that Democrats said would make it easier to reign in officers who abuse their authority but Republicans said would hamstring police and make their jobs more dangerous. The legislation includes many of the measures protesters around the country have called for since the May 25 police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, including prohibiting the use of choke holds and no-knock search warrants, requiring police officers to intervene to stop the use of excessive force by another officer and expanding the grounds to decertify officers who commit misconduct.

Virginia House Democrats push through nearly a dozen police overhaul measures

By PATRICIA SULLIVAN, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

The Virginia House of Delegates on Friday passed nearly a dozen bills overhauling police practices that would prohibit no-knock warrants, ban the use of chokeholds and require officers to intervene when other police are using excessive force — part of a package of bills that arose after nationwide protests over the deaths of Black Americans at the hands of police. The passage of the 11 bills, which now must be voted on by the state Senate and signed by Gov. Ralph Northam (D) if they are to go into effect, mark key points in the House Democrats' legislative agenda for the special session, which began in person on Aug. 18 and has since been conducted online because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Two delegates rip fellow Democrat who voted against bill to end qualified immunity for police

By ANDREW CAIN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Two members of the House of Delegates took to Twitter on Saturday to rip a fellow Democrat who voted against a bill to end qualified immunity for police officers. The House voted 48-47 Friday to defeat House Bill 5013, sponsored by Del. Jeff Bourne, D-Richmond, a measure meant to strip a doctrine that often is used to protect officers from lawsuits.

Virginians could have some criminal records expunged under pending legislation

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

Legislation pending in the General Assembly would, for the first time, allow for the expungement of some misdemeanor and felony convictions in Virginia. Only a small number of states, Virginia among them, do not allow the expungement of any criminal conviction, according to a recent study by the staff of the Virginia State Crime Commission.

Divided Senate passes reduced penalty for violations of governor's orders during public health emergency

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

Law enforcement officers in Virginia would have the option of issuing a civil penalty for violating the governor's executive orders during a public health emergency, instead of a criminal misdemeanor charge, under legislation adopted by the state Senate on Friday. All but one Republican voted against Senate Bill 5117, proposed by Sen. Creigh Deeds, D-Bath, primarily because they objected to the power that Gov. Ralph Northam has exercised by executive order since declaring the COVID-19 pandemic a public health emergency on March 12.

House Appropriations backs phased implementation of 'Marcus Alert' legislation

By ANDREW CAIN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

The House Appropriations Committee on Friday voted to back a phased implementation of "Marcus Alert" legislation meant to help people experiencing mental health crises from coming to harm in encounters with police. Under the substitute legislation, Marcus Alert programs — in which emergency teams led by mental health professionals respond to mental health crises — would be created in five parts of the state, including Richmond, by July 1. The system would gradually go statewide by July 1, 2026.

Virginia General Assembly extends civil immunity to assisted living facilities during pandemic

By KATE MASTERS, Virginia Mercury

Legislation extending civil immunity to assisted living facilities, hospices and adult day cares during the COVID-19 pandemic passed through the Virginia General Assembly this week. Both bills passed with little discussion over objections from groups like AARP Virginia, which said, in letters to House Majority Leader Charniele Herring, D-Alexandria, and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman John Edwards, D-Roanoke, that the legislation could "strip away the rights and protections" of residents.

Portsmouth police chief ousted — at least for now — amid Confederate monument case

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

Portsmouth Police Chief Angela Greene was removed from her position Friday morning, weeks after she announced felony charges against state Sen. Louise Lucas and more than a dozen others stemming from a protest and vandalism at the city's Confederate monument in June. It was not immediately clear whether her removal is permanent.

Portsmouth police chief takes leave amid felony case against Virginia state senator

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

Portsmouth Police Chief Angela Greene took an indefinite leave of absence Friday as the Virginia state senator she'd accused of conspiring to topple a Confederate monument made her first court appearance on felony charges. "The City confirms that Police Chief Angela Greene is on paid leave, and during this period Assistant Chief Scott Burke is serving as Acting Chief of Police of the City Police Department," city spokeswoman Dana Woodson said in an email to The Washington Post.

About 150 people rally to support ousted Portsmouth Police Chief

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

About 150 people rallied outside of Portsmouth city hall Sunday afternoon to support embattled Police Chief Angela Greene, who was removed from her position Friday. The decision came weeks after she announced that state Sen. Louise Lucas and more than a dozen others faced felony charges tied to a protest and vandalism at the city's Confederate monument in June. The decision sparked an immediate backlash. It is not yet clear whether her removal is permanent.

Outside judge will hear cases against Sen. Louise Lucas and others charged in Confederate monument vandalism

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

An outside judge will hear the cases of more than a dozen people charged with felonies — including state Sen. Louise Lucas — stemming from a June protest at the Portsmouth Confederate monument. Portsmouth General District Judge Morton Whitlow said Friday in court that the state Supreme Court has been contacted to assign a judge.


7th District congressional race could steal election night spotlight in Virginia

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

Two years after defeating a Republican incumbent in a congressional district traditionally hostile to Democrats, Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-7th, is defending her seat in an election that could steal the public spotlight in Virginia and determine control of the U.S. House of Representatives. The battle between Spanberger and Del. Nick Freitas, R-Culpeper, is one of several Virginia congressional races that are expected to carry the most political suspense in a state that has moved dramatically toward Democrats since Donald Trump was elected president four years ago.

Race between Bob Good and Cameron Webb for open seat in 5th Congressional District drawing attention

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

Acompetitive race for an open seat in central Virginia and an uphill battle against an incumbent in Western Virginia make up some of the congressional races in Virginia this fall. A race that is attracting attention is between Republican Bob Good and Democrat Cameron Webb, who are seeking to succeed Rep. Denver Riggleman, R-Nelson, after Good defeated him in a convention earlier this year.

Henry County voters must head online or out of town to meet 5th District Congressional candidates Good and Webb

By KIM BARTO MEEKS, Martinsville Bulletin (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Henry County voters hoping to meet the 5th Congressional District candidates will have to do so virtually, at least for now. Neither Republican Bob Good nor Democrat Dr. Cameron Webb have any upcoming, in-person events scheduled in Henry County, which is split between the 9th and 5th House districts. However, members of the public can tune in to a virtual debate that will take place via Zoom at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Betts, Cline lay out visions for 6th congressional district in campaign stops in Amherst

By JUSTIN FAULCONER, News & Advance (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)

U.S. Rep. Ben Cline, R-6th District, and Nicholas Betts, the Democratic challenger looking to unseat the freshman congressman in the Nov. 3 election, each laid out their platforms during recent campaign stops in Amherst County. The district stretches from Roanoke to Front Royal and includes Lynchburg, Amherst County and portions of Bedford County.

AG Herring and Sen. Warner address current state of the post office in Henrico

By TAMICA JEAN-CHARLES, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring and U.S. Sen. Mark Warner toured a Henrico County post office Friday amid national uncertainty over the U.S. Postal Service. The politicians, both Democrats, were at the Regency Branch Post Office to discuss efforts to stop or reverse policy changes enacted by the country's postmaster general, Louis DeJoy.

Local election departments see uptick in absentee ballots, continue to prepare for November

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

Between COVID-19 and a new Virginia law allowing residents to vote absentee by mail or in person ahead of an election without a state-approved reason, absentee voting is reaching historic levels ahead of the November presidential election. Nearly 79,000 absentee ballots have been requested across the Richmond-area as of the first week of September.


Loopholes in Conflict of Interest Act create blindspots in local oversight

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

Loopholes in Virginia's Conflict of Interests Act could allow local government officials to get away with missing deadlines and omitting information on economic disclosure forms, whether the omission is intentional or unintentional. Charlottesville Police Chief RaShall Brackney and Olivia Gabbay, a member of the Economic Development Authority, are under investigation for missing state-mandated deadlines to file the forms. Failing to file the forms on time results in a $250 civil penalty.

DEQ to take public comments on water pollution in Virginia

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

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality is taking public comments on how to best clean up the state's polluted rivers, lakes and tidal waters. DEQ is updating its biennial listing of impaired waters, which fail to meet water quality standards for one or more of six designated uses: aquatic life, fish consumption, shellfishing, recreation, wildlife and public water supply.


Sen. Tim Kaine spearheads discussion on racial inequality in maternal health

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

African American mothers and infants are more than twice as likely to die during or shortly after pregnancy than their white counterparts, and Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., said he's determined to reduce those inequities. Kaine met with several stakeholders in Winchester on Friday to discuss racial and geographic disparities in maternal health. The discussion, which took place in the Our Health Building at 329 N. Cameron Street, dove into the challenges African American women, infants and families face during pregnancy and into the first year after birth.


Men killed at Amazon site in Suffolk worked for company cited before for deaths

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

Two men killed in Suffolk a week ago while building an Amazon distribution center worked for a company that has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for two other workplace deaths since 2016. Suffolk Police identified the men Friday morning as Salvador Jovel Serrano, 32, from the Republic of Honduras, and Jose Roberto Cuevas-Macias, 34, of Mexico.

Mountain Valley Pipeline construction won't jeopardize protected species, federal review says

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

Construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, should it continue, is not likely to jeopardize five endangered or threatened species of fish, bats and plants, a long-awaited federal authorization has concluded. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Friday issued a revised biological opinion, which was essentially a rewrite of its finding in 2017.

Bristol casino backers continue soliciting support

By DAVID MCGEE, Bristol Herald Courier (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)

Backers of the proposed Hard Rock Bristol Casino and Resort are ramping up efforts to rally support for the project two weeks before voting begins. On Friday, officials of The United Co. — President and Chief Operating Officer Martin Kent and Vice President and General Counsel Jason Eige — presented an update on the project during a Bristol Chamber of Commerce Zoom event.

Dominion Energy applies for additional 20-year license for its North Anna nuclear units

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

Dominion Energy, Virginia's largest utility company, is seeking approval from federal regulators to continue operating its two nuclear reactor units in Louisa County until the years 2058 and 2060.


Business group seeks to unify Washington region's passenger rail network

By LUZ LAZO, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

A group of Washington-area business executives wants to bring together leaders from Amtrak, commuter rail and the public and private sectors to craft a regional vision for passenger rail. The Greater Washington Partnership said the region's passenger rail network has valuable assets, calling it a superior system, compared with those in other major metropolitan areas. But, the group said, the region hasn't fully leveraged the potential of the network to help solve its transportation challenges.


With JMU closing its campus, are other Virginia colleges destined to follow?

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

On Tuesday night, James Madison University sent out a stark message to its community: The threat of the coronavirus had become too great for students to remain on campus and for in-person classes to continue. Across the state, students were left wondering if their college campus would be the next to shut down. Positive cases of the coronavirus are still rising at several Virginia colleges.

As COVID-19 cases spike on campuses, Roanoke College to stick with virtual plans

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

Amid rising COVID-19 cases, Roanoke College has become the first campus in the region to decide to hold classes almost exclusively online for the rest of the semester. Classes will largely remain online for the fall, though faculty may offer in-person classes to students on campus or who commute, the private college in Salem announced Friday, one week before hundreds more students move to campus.

U.Va. announces new population testing procedures, development of rapid saliva test

By EVA SUROVELL, Cavalier Daily

Mandatory asymptomatic prevalence testing procedures will begin next week for students living on Grounds and in the Charlottesville area this fall, University administration outlined Friday in a University-wide email. The message also announced plans to monitor wastewater from residence halls as well as a new saliva screening program that will start later this month. In an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 through asymptomatic individuals, the University plans to notify anywhere from 50 to 150 students daily that they are required to provide samples.

Welcome to college. Now get tested for the coronavirus — again and again.

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

George Mason University is swabbing inside the noses of hundreds of randomly selected students a week to check for the novel coronavirus. The University of Maryland is testing all students after they arrive in College Park and plans to target selected groups in the months that follow. The University of Illinois aims to test all students twice a week throughout the semester — a staggering pace for a large public school — using a fast and inexpensive method of saliva checks that the school's leaders call a breakthrough.

Liberty University tells staffers to stop speaking with Falwell while on the job

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

Liberty University's top lawyer instructed staff members Thursday to refrain from communicating with ousted former president Jerry Falwell Jr., who he warned had placed "uncomfortable" calls to various employees in the days following his resignation. In an email obtained by The News & Advance, David Corry, Liberty's general counsel, informed employees they are barred from providing information about the school, taking orders, performing tasks or offering favors for Falwell while on university time.


Virginia reports nearly 1,200 new coronavirus cases, 1 death Sunday

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

The Virginia Department of Health reported 1,199 new coronavirus cases Sunday, bringing the state's tally to 126,926. At least 2,678 Virginians have died from the virus as of Sunday morning, an increase of 1 from Saturday.

Coronavirus cases in the D.C. region have plateaued

By REBECCA TAN AND ERIN COX, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Movie theaters are starting to reopen with spread-out seating. College students, sometimes masked, have arrived on campuses. Empty schedules are filling up again with mostly outdoor dinner dates, family gatherings, church services and youth sports. Six months after the first cases of coronavirus infection were reported in Maryland, the District and Virginia, communities are creating a new kind of social distancing normal as more than 1,500 people still test positive for the virus every day.

It's not too soon to get a flu shot, health officials say

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

In ordinary years, the cold, cough, achy, sneezy, sore throat, fever season is complicated enough, with clinicians having to sort through the various viruses circulating among their patients. As we all are keenly aware, 2020 is no ordinary year. "We've got a real challenge on our hands because not only as we go into the fall months is COVID-19 still with us, but we've got the flu season," Gov. Ralph Northam said during his latest coronavirus response briefing this week.

Virginians debate whether virus vaccine should be mandatory

By WILL GONZALEZ, VCU Capital News Service

Though the federal government is asking states to prepare for the possibility of a COVID-19 vaccine within months, some Virginians differ on whether the vaccine should be mandatory when it becomes available. Virginia Freedom Keepers, a nonprofit that advocates for medical freedom, gathered in Richmond this week for a "March Against Mandates," in protest of the statewide mask mandate, as well as a potential vaccine mandate, in response to COVID-19.

Nearly half of Richmond COVID cases are in South Richmond's Black and Latino communities

By SABRINA MORENO, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

For Manuel Gago, the past six months of the pandemic have been the same conversations. The same fight. The immigrant worker advocate with the Legal Aid Justice Center has been pushing for and ensuring that new workplace and whistleblower protections are enforced to decrease spread among communities. Looking out for migrant and low-income essential workers who fear retaliation from complaining. Calming down families who worry contracting a virus means a hospital bill they can't afford. Fact checking misinformation.

Brookside Rehab and Nursing Center outbreak associated with 6 Fauquier County COVID-19 deaths reported Saturday

Fauquier Times

Six new COVID-19 related deaths in Fauquier County are associated with a recent outbreak at the Brookside Rehab and Nursing Center in Warrenton. The VDH is now listing 64 cases and six fatalities connected with that facility. Brookside's administrator said Saturday that since Aug. 13, there have been nine deaths related to the outbreak at the facility.

State confirms COVID-19 outbreak at mental health facility in Marion

By STAFF REPORT, Bristol Herald Courier (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)

The Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services has confirmed that 10 staff members and two patients have tested positive for COVID-19 at the Southwestern Virginia Mental Health Institute in Marion. Results for two additional staff members and one patient are still pending, according to DBHDS spokeswoman Lauren Cunningham.

Roommates mistakenly sent to VCU isolation dorm say it's a nerve-racking experience

By MIKE BARBER, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

As freshmen at Virginia Commonwealth University, Sarah Hartman and Alyce Kilby-Woodward were excited to get on campus, move into their dorm rooms and begin experiencing life on their own, away at college. Even with the specter of the COVID-19 pandemic looming over everything, the two best friends from Harrisonburg were happy to be off to school. Two weeks later, the school's health services department would order them out of their dorms and into isolation, requiring them to stay inside 24/7 for two weeks in humbly apportioned rooms.


Richmond has removed the most Confederate symbols in the country since the killing of George Floyd

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

Since the killing of George Floyd and the nationwide racial reckoning that blanketed the U.S. after May 25, Virginia has removed the most Confederate symbols - 26 total - in the country. Richmond did away with 18 of them, more than any other city in the U.S., according to a study done by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Black Lives Matter 757 leader arrested as protesters marched through Virginia Beach Oceanfront

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

Five years ago, Virginia Beach police officers shot and killed a Navy veteran while she sat in a vehicle with her newborn in the backseat. More than 100 protesters gathered Saturday evening at the Oceanfront to remember 27-year-old India Kager and two other Black people who died at the hands of Virginia Beach law enforcement officers without facing criminal charges: Alvin Lamont Baum II, who was killed in March while police tried to arrest him on a warrant, and Demario Joyner, a 17-year-old boy who was killed in 2005 while police chased him from a teen night at an Oceanfront club.

Despite fears, Fredericksburg protest is nonviolent

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

Despite some fears to the contrary, Friday afternoon's march through downtown Fredericksburg in support of the Black Lives Matter movement was peaceful. The coalition of local groups that have been demanding an end to police brutality and racial injustice since late May had taken two weeks off from their daily protest to quarantine after five tested positive for COVID-19.

Richmond saw 48 protest-related fires causing $3.9 million-plus in losses

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

Richmond fire crews responded to 48 fires that officials believe were related to the Black Lives Matter protests during the first 18 days of the civil unrest in the city, causing at least $3.9 million in estimated losses, primarily in the Museum District and along the West Broad Street corridor, according to an internal Richmond Fire & EMS analysis of the department's responses during that period.

Woman travels 8,600 miles through pandemic to donate kidney in Norfolk

By ELISHA SAUERS, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Lesley Jenkins sat at her kitchen table in the glow of her computer screen. It was about midnight when she logged on to talk to a Sentara Healthcare medical team, which included a nutritionist, social worker and surgeon. They spoke for an hour about the risks of surgery and how to take care of her health for the long haul. There were medical history and consent forms to sort out.

Four-mile algae bloom being tracked in York River

By DAVE RESS, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)

Virginia Institute of Marine Science researchers are tracking a four-mile algae bloom along the Gloucester County shore of the York River. "It is a very dense bloom of A. monilatum," a kind of algae that used to be found mainly farther south but has been moving into the Chesapeake Bay since 2007, said Kim Reece, chair of aquatic health sciences at VIMS, in an email to colleagues.


Arlington Co. schools to reexamine relationship with police, school resource officer program


In the midst of the national discussion about systemic racism, the Arlington County School Board will consider whether to end its practice of having police officers in schools in the Virginia county. "We have decided it is time to evaluate and examine our partnership with ACPD (Arlington County Police Department), and specifically to review our long-standing practice of school resource officers in our schools," said Arlington County Public Schools Superintendent Francisco Duran, as he opened a video-linked discussion of Thursday's board meeting.

Lee Highway Renaming Process Moving Forward with 25-Member Working Group


The Lee Highway Alliance (LHA), which is spearheading a renaming process for the east-west commuter artery also known as Route 29, today announced the 25 members of a Working Group charged with coming up with new names. Among the members are Arlington NAACP President Julius Spain, Sr.; Lebanese Taverna co-owner Grace Abi-Najm Shea; and Matt Weinstein, a land use attorney and former legal counsel for Arlington Democrats, who will chair the group.

Loudoun County moves to undo racial segregation on WWI memorial


Change may be coming to a 99-year-old World War I memorial in the heart of Leesburg, Virginia. The memorial bears a bronze plaque that racially segregates the names of Loudoun County's war dead.

Food distribution workers struggle to meet increased demand

By ZACH JOACHIM, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Over her 11 years driving Feed More distribution trucks, Stacy Hutchison has been invited to Christmas parties, graduations and birthdays. Sometimes, children come up to her truck to show her their report cards. But on a Thursday in August, she made her rounds meeting a single site coordinator at each stop. Both wearing gloves and a mask, their exchanges were short and to the point, indicative of the necessity of their task amid a time of need. Hutchison hasn't gotten a hug from the children she serves since March.

Meeting of Richmond's Task Force to Reimagine Public Safety is available live

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

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney's Task Force to Reimagine Public Safety held its third meeting Friday afternoon, but it was the first time the public was able to watch a livestream of the discussions that aim to reshape policing in the city. Stoney announced the group's formation July 10, with promises that its discussions and recommendations would be public.

As Hanover Schools Reopen In Person, COVID Concerns Raised


Hanover County Public Schools plan to reopen September 8. The district will be one of only a few in the state to offer a fully in-person option alongside a separate online-only school. Although the plan was unanimously approved by the school board in July, some parents and teachers are raising concerns. Families had roughly two weeks to opt-in to virtual or face-to-face instruction to meet a July 31 deadline. A minority of Hanover's roughly 17,000 students, about 40 percent, choose to learn online, according to an HCPS spokesperson.

Attorney accused of unwanted touching is appointed as chairman of Virginia Beach Electoral Board

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

A Virginia Beach attorney accused of unwanted touching has been appointed as chairman of the Virginia Beach Electoral Board. In July, Jeffrey Marks, an attorney for Kaufman & Canoles, joined the board. Tina Mapes, the Virginia Republican Party chair at the time, recommended him for the position. Virginia Beach Circuit Court Chief Judge Glenn Croshaw signed the July 11 order that approved the appointment.

Norfolk tried to regulate Airbnbs. It didn't work. So they're trying again.

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

Norfolk's efforts to police and control short-term rentals via Airbnb and similar services have fallen flat. That was the message at the most recent City Council meeting, as Norfolk looks to ratchet up its efforts once again to clamp down on rogue rentals. Norfolk has grappled with the issue for years, finally putting regulations into place at the start of 2019. The new rules tried to get owners to register with the city voluntarily, get business licenses and pay taxes.

Chesapeake teacher's union says it's too soon to bring students back to school

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

The union representing more than 1,000 Chesapeake Public Schools employees, including teachers, teacher assistants, bus drivers and more, says the district is not yet ready to welcome some students back to campus in 10 days. In a letter sent to district leaders including the School Board Thursday morning, the Chesapeake Education Association said not all teachers have received personal protective equipment like face shields and gloves or other supplies like wipes or hand sanitizer.

King George will resume virtual classes Tuesday after resolving cyberattack

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

King George County's virtual classes will be back in session on Tuesday after officials resolved a cyberattack issue that happened on the third day of the new school year. "Happy to relay that our technology issue has been resolved, and we are back in business," School Superintendent Rob Benson wrote in an email Sunday morning.

Electric co-op gets $500K from Amherst County for broadband

By JUSTIN FAULCONER, News & Advance (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)

In an effort to expand high-speed internet access to rural areas of Amherst, the county's board of supervisors has awarded a $500,000 contract to Central Virginia Electric Cooperative to install a fiber network to improve coverage along a 7-mile stretch in northern Amherst County. Firefly, a subsidiary owned by the Nelson County-based CVEC, was among three Lynchburg area service providers to submit proposals.

Floyd County board takes no action on Confederate monument fate

By ASHLEY SPINKS, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

The Floyd County Board of Supervisors ultimately decided to take no action on putting the fate of a courthouse Confederate monument to a November referendum. The board, after more comment on the matter, decided to bypass a referendum at a meeting last month. The deadline for doing that has now passed.

One call from Danville mayor leads to two-week postponement of utility disconnections

Danville Register & Bee

For Danville resident LeQuanta Jones, the $1,126 in federal CARES Act utilities assistance she applied for last month was a godsend. The divorced, single mother of seven was two months behind in her utility bills and had just been hired for a job at Outback Steakhouse in late July after being unemployed for about seven months. For Danville resident LeQuanta Jones, the $1,126 in federal CARES Act utilities assistance she applied for last month was a godsend.



Finding a way back to work for everyone

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

What A difference a year makes! On Labor Day 2019, we were celebrating 13 months of labor force expansion in Virginia, with a record 4.3 million workers taking home a paycheck and unemployment at just 2.9 percent. "These statistics show a healthy state economy with a still-growing professional and business sector, expanding health and education opportunities and robust tourism. Virginia's economy is firing on all cylinders," we commented at the time.

Virginia demonstrates how to run an election during a pandemic

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

Virginia's leaders are making the state a model of how to conduct an election during this pandemic. Whether the nation sees a smooth, credible and fair presidential election may rest on the extent to which other states follow Virginia's example. The General Assembly's new Democratic majority had already overhauled voting procedures this year.

Fight for public safety demands more from us all

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

In a recent video message to the community, Norfolk Police Chief Larry Boone lamented an infant injured in an August shooting that wounded four others, a tragedy that would be incomprehensible were it not for the violence that has claimed so many young lives in our region. "I await the outcry," Boone said, drawing a direct contrast between the passionate marchers for police reform and racial justice this summer with the absence of similar outrage in response to violent crime in his city.

Colleges and universities need to reopen the right way

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

Over the past six months, Virginians have learned the value of the little things. Think of face-to-face interaction before the pandemic — the freedom to walk into a room, sit down at a table and say "hello" to a friend. That still is happening during COVID-19, but without ease and with a few extra steps — finding a chair that's spaced apart, applying hand sanitizer or even struggling to understand a friend's comment behind a face covering.


Rozell: Blue Virginia now and forever? Not so fast

By MARK J. ROZELL, published in Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

The Democratic Party in Virginia is having a remarkable run of victories — so much so that many observers today count the Old Dominion a solid blue (Democratic) state. No Republican candidate running statewide has won an election here since 2009, and Virginia is widely considered an easy win for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. Democratic Sen. Mark Warner is projected to easily hold his seat.

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

Contreras: Labor Day in Virginia has new meaning this year

By JAIME CONTRERAS, published in Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Until now, Labor Day has been a celebration of the benefits and protections that unions have helped working men and women achieve, and how dramatically they've improved life for working families. Turn the clock forward to the present day. Reflecting on how much workers have gained now reveals the stark reality of how much workers have lost under President Donald Trump.

Contreras is vice president of 32BJ SEIU, which represents more than 175,000 workers along the East Coast, including nearly 7,000 throughout Northern Virginia

Mix: This Labor Day, celebrate the freedom and prosperity of Virginia's right-to-work law

By MARK MIX, published in Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

This Labor Day, we celebrate America's working men and women, many of whom are going the extra mile during this COVID-19 pandemic. But, as a resident of Virginia, one of 27 right-to-work states, you have something more to celebrate: All of the front-line workers who have been indispensable during the pandemic are protected by your state's right-to-work law from being forced to fund a union as a condition of keeping their jobs.

Mark Mix is president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and National Right to Work Committee.

Scott: American workers need more than words of praise

By U.S. REP. BOBBY SCOTT, published in Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

This Labor Day will be marked by messages of gratitude and reverence for America's workers. Indeed, our essential workers have performed heroically throughout the pandemic. But America's workers need more than a pat on the back today — they need the federal government to do its job by providing real support to workers and their families.

Scott represents Virginia's 3rd Congressional District and is chairman of the House Committee on Education and Labor.

Mazzarella: Coming to terms with Jefferson's complicated legacy

By MARIO D. MAZZARELLA, published in Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

The statues of Robert E. Lee, Woodrow Wilson, the anonymous Confederate soldier: They deserve to be torn down as symbols of a war launched to preserve slavery and racism. But I hesitate before the monuments to Thomas Jefferson, a slave holder and a racist. Why? Because Jefferson's record on the issues is more complex than is often realized.

Mazzarella is an emeritus professor of history at Christopher Newport University in Newport News.

Kekeh and Akpinar-Elci: Public's acceptance of COVID-19 vaccine hinges on sound planning

By MICHELE KEKEH AND MUGE AKPINAR-ELCI, published in Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Since the first known case of COVID-19 was reported in this country in Washington state in January, the United States has accounted for one-quarter of all cases worldwide, with more than 5 million people infected and more than 170,000 deaths. By Aug. 17, Virginia had 107,421 confirmed cases. Of these, 8,767 people required hospitalization and 2,385 died. The incidence varies by location in Hampton Roads, but so far Norfolk and Portsmouth have registered the highest percentage of cases per capita. Researchers are working around the clock to have an effective vaccine ready by early 2021 for people at high risk, such as front-line workers and health professionals. A vaccine may be available for the general population by late 2021.

Dr. Michele Kekeh is a lecturer in Old Dominion University's School of Community & Environmental Health. Dr. Muge Akpinar-Elci is professor and associate dean of College of Health Sciences and director of ODU's Center for Global Health.

Morse: William & Mary should celebrate the leaders of its ascendancy

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

The proposed "Memorial to African Americans Enslaved by William and Mary," 10 years in the making, may yet be subsumed — contextualized, you might say — by a larger, more immediate national phenomenon. Fair or unfair, it could end up taking its place alongside the removal of statues, the purging of once lauded personalities (include Alexander Graham Bell, Francis Scott Key and Benjamin Franklin among the latest) and the attempted rewriting of American history.

After writing editorials for the Daily Press and The Virginian-Pilot in the 1980s, Gordon C. Morse wrote speeches for Gov. Gerald L. Baliles, then spent nearly three decades working on behalf of corporate and philanthropic organizations.

Hare: Virginia's Nursing Homes Need A Solution

By KEITH HARE, published in Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Our loved ones in long-term care communities have been hit hard by COVID-19. Since March, Virginia's nursing homes have faced rising costs to care for residents coupled with strained medical resources, presenting our long-term care communities with difficult challenges. However, Virginia's caregivers remain committed to protecting residents. Through long days and nights, they are putting the needs of others first. Currently, more than 60% of Virginia's nursing home residents are Medicaid beneficiaries. Unfortunately, Virginia's nursing homes have been reimbursed by the state's Medicaid program at a lower rate than the total amount it costs to provide care to residents.

Hare is president and CEO of Virginia Health Care Association-Virginia Center for Assisted Living

Daugherty: Chesterfield schools: "We are ready"

By MERVIN B. DAUGHERTY, published in Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

As a veteran educator with 40-plus years of experience in public education, I still get a nervous feeling the night before the first day of school. I do not sleep much that night, as I lie there reviewing the work we have done to prepare our students for the best learning experience our schools can provide. I imagine the nerves will re-emerge Monday night and Tuesday morning, as we prepare to greet 60,000-plus students back for the first day of the 2020-21 school year. The butterflies, though, might be one of few familiar feelings on Sept. 8, the first day of school in Chesterfield County.

Daugherty is superintendent of Chesterfield County Public Schools.

Do police lives matter in Virginia?

By MARY VOUGHT, published in Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Americans with any doubts that Democrats support crime and disorder should cast their eyes on the Virginia Capitol in Richmond. Lawmakers there want to enact legislation that would lessen penalties for assaults against police officers and first responders, while retaining penalties for assaults based on race or gender identity.

Mary Vought is executive director of the Senate Conservatives Fund. She lives in Northern Virginia.

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