Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Political Headlines from across Virginia

September 9, 2020
Top of the News

Back to school, but not back to normal

By HANNAH NATANSON, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Six-year-old Jay Horton stood in his front yard and fidgeted with the sign whose words he had carefully sounded out at the kitchen table earlier that morning: "Ver — VerTOO — VerCHOO — Virtual School." His mom, Brandi Horton, asked him to smile "for real," and then snapped a string of photos with her iPhone as he posed next to his brother, 9-year-old Wayne. It was Jay's first day of first grade, and the start of a school year like no other in Northern Virginia, where all major school systems launched online-only Tuesday because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Bill to end qualified immunity for police clears the House, after two Democrats change their stances

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

Legislation to end qualified immunity for police officers facing civil rights complaints cleared the Virginia House on Tuesday — a reversal from Friday, when the legislation narrowly met the ax. The bill, introduced by Del. Jeff Bourne, D-Richmond, has been a key demand from protesters of police brutality, who have pushed for fewer protections for officers who err.

'Things we cannot support': Advocates back away from quarantine leave bill after major changes

By KATE MASTERS, Virginia Mercury

The future of quarantine leave for some of Virginia's most vulnerable workers is uncertain after a House of Delegates committee made major changes to a bill that would have mandated it for any employee without paid time off. The original legislation, filed by Del. Elizabeth Guzmán, D-Prince William, would have required almost all employers to offer at least two weeks of paid leave to any employee working "on average at least 20 hours a week," according to the language of the bill.

Virginia Tech to move 70 students to free up quarantine space

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

Virginia Tech is moving 70 students out of their residence hall to free up more quarantine space on campus for COVID-19 patients. The university on Tuesday alerted students living in East Eggleston Hall that Tech would give them a 20% rebate in housing costs in exchange for relocating this week to other dorms on campus.

Sewage science suggests vast virus infection in North Stafford

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

If what's in the sewage is any indication, Stafford County has 10 times as many people walking around with COVID-19 than test results suggest. Since April, the county has been doing experimental testing at its two wastewater plants to track levels of the virus. It's a science known as "wastewater epidemiology," and before anyone pooh-poohs the idea, the technology has been used for decades to detect polio in countries where it hasn't been eradicated.

Portsmouth city manager resigns and city attorney is fired

By ANA LEY, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Portsmouth's city manager resigned Tuesday morning, hours before council members held a special meeting to discuss her performance. Lydia Pettis Patton's brief resignation letter gave no reason, but its contents, its timing and the simultaneous firing of City Attorney Solomon Ashby suggest she believed the council might fire her if she didn't resign.

W&L president defends first-year writing seminar, 'How to Overthrow the State,' that went viral

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

A first-year writing seminar at Washington and Lee University, titled "How to Overthrow the State," drew criticism from national media outlets and a conservative political commentator last week. But university President William Dudley defended the free exchange of ideas in an email to the student body Monday. The course, which explores historical examples of revolutionary thought and action, was covered by outlets like Breitbart News and Fox News.

The Full Report
54 articles, 24 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 House approves bill to end police immunity

By DENISE LAVOIE, Associated Press

Legislation aimed at making it easier to sue police officers for misconduct in Virginia was revived for a second time Tuesday and approved by the state House of Delegates. The bill sponsored by Del. Jeff Bourne, D-Richmond, would allow lawsuits by people who claim police have violated their constitutional rights to move forward in state court, ending the qualified immunity that often protects police from liability. The legislation had been killed once in committee and once on the House floor before winning approval Tuesday.

Virginia House of Delegates votes to make it easier for cities to take down Confederate statues

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

The Virginia House of Delegates on Tuesday approved a bill making it easier for cities and counties to take down Confederate monuments, streamlining a process that was created earlier this year. It was among a handful of bills the House passed Tuesday during its special session on the budget, social justice and coronavirus relief. The chamber also approved a measure to eliminate qualified immunity for police officers, making it easier to bring lawsuits against them on the grounds of improper conduct.

Virginia lawmaker misses virtual vote because of technical problems

By TYLER ARNOLD, Inside NOVA (Metered Paywall)

For the second time since Virginia began its first-ever virtual legislative session, a Virginia lawmaker missed a vote because of technical problems. During a vote Tuesday on a bill to end qualified immunity for police officers, Del. Michael Webert, R-Marshall, was unable to cast his vote because of technical problems, according to House Minority Leader Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah. Republicans have been critical of House Democratic leadership for their decision to conduct the House special session virtually out of concern technical problems could negatively affect the democratic process.


Good speaks toward "rule of law" at area rallies

By RACHEL MAHONEY, News & Advance (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)

Amid nationwide unrest and protests of excessive police force, Bob Good was courting voters around Central Virginia on Tuesday, describing how he's "good for law enforcement" and decrying "radical Marxist" movements. Good, a former Campbell County supervisor and former Liberty University employee, is running as the Republican candidate for the 5th Congressional District against Democrat Cameron Webb, from Charlottesville.

Third former campaign staffer for Scott Taylor indicted. Prosecutor says investigation isn't over.

By JANE HARPER, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

A third member of ex-Rep. Scott Taylor's 2018 campaign staff is facing an election fraud charge after being indicted today by a Virginia Beach grand jury. The indictment against Heather Guillot, who served as a consultant for Taylor's reelection bid, stems from a petition scandal that rocked the former U.S. congressman's campaign two years ago. Guillot is accused of submitting forged signatures in an effort to get a spoiler candidate on the ballot that year.


Appalachian Power seeks rate reduction while larger increase is pending

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

Customers of Appalachian Power Co. could soon pay less for the fuel used to generate their electricity. But any savings may be eclipsed by an increase in base rates. Appalachian announced Tuesday that it has asked the State Corporation Commission to approve a reduction in the fuel factor portion of its monthly bills.

Universal Corp. plans acquisition of vegetable, herb and fruit processing company

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

Richmond-based tobacco leaf merchant Universal Corp. is broadening its portfolio in other agricultural businesses with an acquisition of a vegetable, fruit and herb processing company. Universal said Tuesday that it has agreed to acquire Silva International for $170 million in cash.

Call center company to expand Martinsville, Stuart operations

By SYDNEY LAKE, Va Business Magazine

Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based call center company The Results Cos. announced Friday it would add approximately 288 jobs to its Martinsville location and 118 to its Stuart location by the end of the year. All positions will be full-time job opportunities in the call centers with wages of $11.50 to $13.50 per hour, dependent upon location and client, according to company spokesperson John Sternal.

Northern Virginia remains the 'King of the Cloud'


Northern Virginia remains the world's largest hub for internet traffic with more new data center capacity coming online in the first half of 2020 than anywhere else around the globe. Commercial real estate firm CBRE reports Northern Virginia accounted for 70% of the 134.9 megawatts of net absorption among primary markets through June 2020.


Trouble at Metro alarms officials

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

Fed up with years of deadly incidents and persistent safety lapses at Metro, Congress in 2017 approved the creation of an independent oversight body with the power to force transit officials to make changes. On Tuesday, federal and state officials expressed outrage and alarm over allegations that that critical body, the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission, was being undermined by agency managers, including one of its most senior officials.

County board reverses course, votes along party lines to keep Va. 28 bypass alive

By DANIEL BERTI, Prince William Times

The Prince William Board of County Supervisors voted 5-3 Tuesday to endorse the Va. 28 bypass, reversing course after unanimously rejecting the $300 million road project at their Aug. 4 meeting....Democrats stressed the vote does not mean the county will ultimately build the bypass but rather that the option will remain on the table as the county evaluates both the bypass and the possibility of widening the existing Va. 28 through Manassas and Manassas Park.


Liberty University's COVID-19 cases rise to 90

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

Eighty-four students and six employees at Liberty University have tested positive for the coronavirus in the last two weeks, a university spokesperson said Tuesday. The number of active cases at the institution has tripled from the 30 positive cases reported Aug. 28. At the time, a school official said 25 students and five employees had tested positive.

U.Va.'s COVID-19 Dashboard: What it does and what metrics it lacks


As colleges and universities across the country return their students to campus, many have established trackers or dashboards with the intention of being transparent about the number of COVID-19 cases in their communities. Compared to other universities in Virginia, U.Va.'s dashboard has many similar features — but also lacks some capabilities, such as not reporting the community's COVID-19 positivity rate.

Trump's ex-lawyer Cohen links Falwell's endorsement in 2016 to suppression of racy photos


In his book released today, Michael Cohen, the former fixer for U.S. President Donald Trump, ties for the first time the 2016 presidential endorsement of Trump by American evangelical leader Jerry Falwell Jr to Cohen's own role in helping to keep racy "personal" photographs of the Falwells from becoming public.


Number of COVID-19 hospital discharges increases in Virginia; total cases up by 836

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

On the first day of school for many in the Richmond area, the Virginia Department of Health reported on Tuesday a total of 128,407 COVID-19 cases in the state — an 836-case jump from Monday and a 6,792-case increase from a week ago. Of Tuesday's numbers, 122,711 are confirmed and 5,696 are probable. Total deaths reached 2,686, which is two more than the day before. In the past week, there was a total of 74 deaths.

Harrisonburg Records Highest Single Day Of New COVID-19 Cases

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

Harrisonburg reported 143 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday — the highest single day of new cases since the first city patient tested positive on March 12, according to the latest data from the Virginia Department of Health. Tuesday's figures are more than double Monday's new case count of 58 in Harrisonburg.

231 total positive COVID-19 cases at UVa; 2,6

By STAFF REPORT, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

The Virginia Department of Health reported Tuesday a total of 128,407 COVID-19 cases in the state — a 836-case jump from Monday and a 6,792 case increase from a week ago. Of Tuesday's numbers, 122,711 are confirmed and 5,696 are probable. Total deaths reached 2,686, which is two more than the day before. In the past week, there were a total of 74 deaths. Locally, 91 new cases were reported across the Thomas Jefferson Health District since Friday.

COVID-19 rates stay steady statewide, with spikes at some colleges

By KATE ANDREWS, Va Business Magazine

Virginia had 7,813 new COVID-19 cases and 106 deaths from Aug. 31 to Sept. 8, according to the Virginia Department of Health, with the state's positivity rate at 7.7%, up .3% from the previous week. The new totals are 128,407 cases and 2,686 deaths since March. Several universities have started reporting COVID-19 rates among students, faculty and staff members, although they're using different methods.

6 nursing home residents die from COVID-19 outbreak at Raleigh Court

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

Six residents of a Roanoke nursing home have died from COVID-19 during the last week as an outbreak has swept through residents and staff. Raleigh Court Health and Rehabilitation Center reported on its website that 50 patients and 28 staff were infected with the virus as of Tuesday.

Sheriff Gives Update on COVID-19 Outbreak in Richmond Jail


Richmond City Sheriff Antionette Irving said, as of last Friday, 81 people incarcerated at the jail have tested positive for COVID-19. Irving updated City Council on the latest numbers Tuesday night. Irving said people who tested positive are being quarantined together, and a second group of 126 people are in quarantine due to possible exposure. She said staff check their vitals a minimum of two times a day and they are scheduled to end quarantine this week.

Fairfax County Sees Over 400 New COVID-19 Cases Per Week in Mid-August


After several weeks in the mid 200 range, COVID-19 figures for Fairfax County swelled to over 400 new cases per week in mid-August. While the data at the time showed cases continuing to trend downward, the window of COVID-19 diagnoses meant that the figures for the mid-August timeframe increased substantially in the following weeks. The week of Aug. 16 there were 434 new cases — the highest number of new cases per week since May.


Report: Immigration detention center should release inmates

By MATTHEW BARAKAT, Associated Press

An outside expert who inspected an immigration detention center in Virginia that experienced a massive coronavirus outbreak is recommending that some high-risk inmates be released after finding flaws in the center's screening procedures. U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema ordered the inspection last month after several detainees filed a lawsuit with the help of legal activist groups.

Albemarle's Confederate statue to be relocated to Shenandoah Valley battlefield

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

Albemarle County's Confederate soldier statue, cannons and cannonballs will be relocated to a battlefield in the Shenandoah Valley after they are removed from Court Square on Saturday. The county Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on Tuesday at a special virtual meeting to give the items to the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation, a historic-preservation group in the Valley.

Glowing algae is lighting up the Chesapeake Bay at night

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

From Chic's Beach to Ocean View, the Chesapeake Bay is glowing after dark. And while the light show might appear magical, it's actually rooted in science. The culprit: a bioluminescent algae — Alexandrium monilatum — which can be harmful to fish and oysters. It first showed up in the bay a few days ago and seems to be sticking around.


Arlington Public Schools Experienced Technical Issues on First Day of School


Arlington Public Schools reported technical difficulties with its remote learning platform Tuesday morning, on the first day of school. "We are aware that students are having challenges logging into their classes," APS said in a School Talk email to families around 9:45 a.m. "We are working to address the issues quickly and appreciate your patience. We apologize for the difficulty families have experienced this morning." An APS spokesman described the problems as a "firewall issue."

Loudoun County school board replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day


The school board in Loudoun County, Virginia, voted 8-1 Tuesday night to replace the federal holiday Columbus Day on the school calendar with Indigenous Peoples Day. The board passed a proclamation, which charged that Christopher Columbus "opened the door to the destruction of the Indigenous People's communities in the Americas."

Loudoun County supervisors accept second round of CARES Act funds, set aside $12M for school system

By NATHANIEL CLINE, Loudoun Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors has unanimously accepted $36 million though the second round of federal CARES Act coronavirus relief funding. Funding will go to support the seven incorporated towns ($6 million) as well as childcare program services in the county ($16 million). The county's program will potentially have 1,006 seats and offer free and reduced lunch to qualifying families. Those with special needs given first priority using a lottery system.

Prince William supervisors vote down asphalt plant

By DANIEL BERTI, Prince William Times

The Prince William Board of County Supervisors voted late Tuesday to deny a special use permit for a new asphalt plant proposed near Mullen Elementary School that was opposed by several residents in nearby communities. Allan Myers Paving was seeking a needed special-use permit to build the new plant on a 23-acre site formerly occupied by a concrete manufacturing plant.

Prince William BOCS Allocates $20 Million in CARES Act Funding to Schools

By STACY SHAW, Bristow Beat

The Prince William County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted Tuesday evening to allocate $20 million in federal CARES Act funding to Prince William County Public Schools for expenditures resulting from COVID-19. The funding approval coincides with the first day of the 2020-21 school year. PWCS has started the year with approximately 98% of its students learning from home.

Richmond-area students and families start 2020-21 school year

By CHRIS SUAREZ, ABBY CHURCH AND TAMICA JEAN-CHARLES, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

As students and parents started arriving at her home for the first day of school, Yael Levin-Sheldon made sure to check everyone's temperature as she reminded them to take off their shoes and wash their hands before anything else. After talking with several friends who still have to report to work amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Levin-Sheldon recently offered to oversee a learning pod with eight students at her home while Henrico County schools hold classes online through at least the first nine weeks of the school year.

Chesterfield students, teachers have trouble logging in for first day of school year

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

Chesterfield County Public Schools had a bumpy start to the first day of school Tuesday, as students and teachers experienced trouble logging in to the district's online learning platform for approximately two hours due to capacity shortfalls. It's the third straight year that the first day in Chesterfield didn't go smoothly: Bus delays plagued the beginning of the last two years. But this year, with the buses parked, technology was to blame for the problems.

Richmond City Council approves ban on guns during protests, other events

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

The Richmond City Council has voted unanimously to adopt a gun ban on public property during protests and other events. The new law, approved Tuesday evening, bans the carrying of guns at any event, whether or not it is formally permitted by the city. The ban would also apply to any public area by an event, including streets, sidewalks, alleys and other public rights of way.

McEachin asks for special prosecutor to investigate Stoney's Confederate statue removal

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

Richmond's top prosecutor has asked the Richmond Circuit Court to appoint a special prosecutor to determine whether Mayor Levar Stoney broke any laws while arranging the removal of Confederate statues from Monument Avenue this summer. In her latest response in a series of letters with Councilwoman Kim Gray, Richmond Commonwealth's Attorney Colette McEachin said she made the request after declining to investigate late last month.

Hanover committee offers new names for Lee-Davis, Stonewall Jackson schools

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

Following a yearslong debate, a group of Hanover County students, parents and community members released recommendations Tuesday to rename two schools previously named for Confederate leaders. The Hanover County Public Schools' School Renaming Committee recommended former Lee-Davis High School be switched to Twin Rivers High School and former Stonewall Jackson Middle School be renamed Mechanicsville Middle School.

Powhatan director of elections addresses voting concerns

By LAURA MCFARLAND, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

Between accommodations for COVID-19 precautions, addressing misinformation and concerns regarding casting absentee ballots, state level directives that are increasingly difficult to meet, and the normal planning of a presidential election, the 2020 General Election is shaping up to be one of the most stressful in recent years, according to Powhatan's director of elections.

Across Hampton Roads, a first day of school unlike any other

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

There were no high-fives in the hallways, no drawings hanging on the walls, no students rushing to make it to class in time. Just quiet. Tichina Goodman's first graders aren't back in person yet but the Bryan Elementary teacher taught in her classroom for the first time since March. The Hampton teacher's lessons were directed at the large monitor that projected her students' faces at the front of the room as she juggled messaging parents, unmuting students and troubleshooting an annoying echo.

Some local school divisions combat technical issues on the first day of virtual learning

By SALEEN MARTIN, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Internet issues were interrupting the first day of school for some students in Hampton Roads. As children fired up their devices from their living rooms and bedrooms for remote learning, some parents flooded division phone lines to report technical issues.

King William Commissioner of Revenue's Office audited, loses staffer amid property reassessment

By EMILY HOLTER, Tidewater Review

The King William Commissioner of Revenue's Office is being audited and losing a staffer after refusing to take part in the county's reassessment process, one of the essential functions of the office. Without Commissioner of Revenue Sally Pearson's involvement, the reassessment revealed that nearly 500 properties weren't being taxed, some for as long as a decade.

Report: Improper tax collection, poor bookkeeping in King William County Treasurer's Office

By EMILY HOLTER, Tidewater Review

A King William County financial inquiry into the Treasurer's Office found nearly $2 million of uncollected real estate taxes, numerous bank accounts at multiple banks, and treasury employees handling taxpayer dollars without supervision. The county launched the probe mid-June after several citizens came forward expressing concerns about unpaid taxes. Since then, the county has spent months scrutinizing the office's practices and handling of funds.

Students in Charlottesville and Albemarle log-in to kick off first day of new school year

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

Maverick McIntyre's first day of school as a fifth-grader at Woodbrook Elementary started on a confusing note. "I couldn't get on to Zoom," he said at the end of the day. "Then, my mom found the link." Charlottesville and Albemarle County schools joined others across the country in the experiment of widespread virtual learning Tuesday.

Charlottesville approves ban on guns at city properties

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

The third time's the charm. Charlottesville City Council adopted an ordinance to prohibit guns in city facilities and properties after a third reading during its virtual meeting Tuesday. The council typically only conducts two readings of ordinance changes, but delayed adoption of the measure in August to further craft specifics.

Roanoke County to spend $1.3 million on new broadband projects

By ALISON GRAHAM, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Roanoke County will spend about $1.3 million on broadband projects to connect nearly 300 underserved homes. The county will use funding from its portion of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act for the projects. The federal CARES Act is intended to assist local and state governments with expenses that arose due to the pandemic and mandated closures.

Salem City Schools plans transition to 50% capacity instruction beginning next week

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

Reporting a smooth first week of classes, Salem City Schools officials said the division is ready to scale up its reopening plan. Starting next week, students will be in the classroom two days per week. "The soft opening was very, very helpful," Superintendent Alan Seibert told the Salem School Board on Tuesday night.

Montgomery County Public Schools students return to 4-day-a-week plan

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

Stephanie Stone, a first-grade teacher at Auburn Elementary School, was seated in front of a Chromebook on Tuesday afternoon as she asked her students if they could see her on their video feeds. "Perfect," she said after receiving confirmation. To her right was a projector displaying Google Classroom, a platform that teachers use to upload assignments and see which of their students have completed their tasks.

Guns seized from man accused of death threats

By EVAN GOODENOW, Winchester Star (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

A Frederick County man accused of threatening to kill his family had his guns seized on Sept. 2 in the first seizure in the county under Virginia's new red flag law. The law, designed to reduce gun violence, took effect on July 1.

Officials say Schoolfield site has enough space for casino

By JOHN CRANE, Danville Register & Bee

The Schoolfield site along West Main Street has plenty of room for a casino resort, according to officials. "The Schoolfield development site is more than 77 acres and provides ample room and space to develop the Caesars Virginia resort with a full complement of amenities," said David Rittvo, vice president of development for Caesars Entertainment in Paradise, Nevada.

TV commercial promoting Bristol casino now airing

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

The campaign to elicit votes for the proposed Hard Rock Bristol Hotel and Casino hit the airwaves Tuesday. A TV commercial featuring local business owners and a member of City Council voicing support for the casino project is now airing. Registered Bristol, Virginia voters will vote in a referendum on the casino project, starting Sept. 18 and concluding Nov. 3 on Election Day.



Optimism for first day of school, despite hiccups

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

Few days on the calendar affect the tenor of a community more than the start of a new academic year. For students, teachers, parents, administrators, support staff and even members of the public, the beginning of the new academic year requires accommodation, patience and a bit of good humor. That's especially true this week as area school systems welcomed students back — online, mostly — for what will likely be a school year populated by the unexpected.

What's the rush? Driving during COVID-19.

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

Remember speed limits? Apparently many motorists don't. Drive an interstate and the roads through the Richmond region, and chances are you will feel as though you're on the famed German Autobahn or in a Mad Max movie. A trip to the grocery store can turn into a roadway rumble as motorists also ignore stoplights, stop signs and turn signals.

Are we better off or worse off?

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

"Are you better off than you were four years ago?" Ronald Reagan famously asked in the 1980 presidential campaign. For most Americans the answer was "no," which helps explain why he won that campaign and President Jimmy Carter did not. So how about now? Well, at least "now" as defined by before the coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc with the economy.

An important victory for transgender students

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

"A special kind of discrimination against a child that he will no doubt carry with him for life." That was the biting assessment from a federal appeals court about the refusal of a Virginia school board to allow Gavin Grimm, a transgender student, to use the boys' restroom at his high school. In ruling that the boy's constitutional rights were violated, the court struck a blow for good sense and common decency that ought to spare other transgender students from the kind of cruelty experienced by Mr. Grimm.


Carter: What qualified immunity really does

By TIMOTHY C. CARTER, published in Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

The Virginia General Assembly is considering a bill to repeal qualified immunity for law enforcement officials. Even if it doesn't pass the special summer session, it will likely come up in January. The proponents of the bill — primarily trial lawyers — claim that qualified immunity allows police officers to escape responsibility for misconduct, and it denies justice to those who are injured by police misconduct. They claim that qualified immunity needs to be repealed so that there will be accountability and "justice" for police misconduct. To put it bluntly, those claims are lies.

Sheriff Timothy C. Carter of Shenandoah County is president of the Virginia Sheriffs' Association.

McGuire: Virtually turning Virginia's justice system upside down

By RUSTY E. MCGUIRE, published in Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

The speaker of the House of Delegates announced a "historic" method of making laws when the General Assembly convened this summer. She sent members home to legislate from wherever they can access the internet. What is missing is meaningful public participation in the legislative process crucial to representative democracy. It did not take long for Virginia commissions to follow suit.

McGuire is the commonwealth's attorney for Louisa County and a former professor of criminal justice at Virginia Union University.

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