Monday, October 26, 2020

Political Headlines from across Virginia

October 26, 2020
Top of the News

Caroline County, volunteers relocate Confederate monument to cemetery

By TAFT COGHILL JR., Free Lance-Star (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

When Vernessa Ware was growing up in Bowling Green in the 1950s and 60s, there were symbols of a massive divide between whites and Blacks in the town just about everywhere she looked. Ware attended segregated schools. She recalls a "whites only" water fountain on Main Street and a movie theater in which whites sat downstairs while Blacks were relegated to the balcony. Ware slowly saw those signs of division disappear.


5th District: Will a reliably Republican district flip in a turbid political year?

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

Virginia's 5th Congressional District has been full of surprises the past few years. After just one term in office, Republican Rep. Tom Garrett abruptly announced in 2018 his struggle with alcoholism and that he wouldn't run for reelection. Then, in a hastily assembled nomination contest, Denver Riggleman won the Republican nod by one vote. After a competitive race — which featured the Democratic opponent accusing Riggleman of being a fan of Bigfoot erotica — Riggleman won the seat. A few months into his term, Riggleman officiated at a same-sex marriage, offending social conservatives, and lost the party nomination a year later to self-described "bright red Biblical conservative" Bob Good.


Voters in four cities will decide this month whether to allow casinos in the Old Dominion

By MASON ADAMS, Va Business Magazine

Danville once stood tall as a driver of Virginia's economy, an epicenter both for textile production at Dan River Mills and for tobacco when it was still the commonwealth's golden leaf. Both industries came crashing down in the 2000s. A rising tide of public sentiment led to tobacco's decline, and the federal quota system that guaranteed crop prices ended in 2005. Globalization moved textile production to other countries with lower labor costs, and the mills closed in 2007.


UVa doctor: Historic inequality behind more serious COVID impact on poor, minorities

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

The novel coronavirus fueling the global pandemic can affect anyone, regardless of race or social economic background, but that doesn't mean the virus offers everyone an equal opportunity for infection, hospitalization and death. From Central Virginia to the state to the nation, non-whites are more likely to be hospitalized after contracting COVID-19 and far more likely to be seriously sickened or die from the disease, according to figures released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Virginia Department of Health, Thomas Jefferson Health District and other agencies across the country.


Thousands of Virginia prisoners could be released early under new earned sentence credit program

By NED OLIVER, Virginia Mercury

State prison officials estimate that more than 14,000 inmates in Virginia could see their release dates moved up under legislation awaiting Gov. Ralph Northam's signature. The bill, backed by General Assembly Democrats and unanimously opposed by GOP lawmakers, would let inmates cut their sentences by a third as long as they weren't convicted of certain violent offenses, follow prison rules and participate in counseling and education programs.


The headstones dumped in the Potomac

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

Richard and Lisa Stuart were walking beside the Potomac River when they noticed an odd rock in the riprap on the water's edge. "I think that's a headstone," Richard Stuart remembers saying to his wife that day four years ago. Once they started looking, they saw another. And another. With horror, Stuart discovered that a two-mile stretch of erosion control along the riverfront farm he had just purchased was full of grave markers.


As elections officials process voters' mail-in ballots, some envelopes contain surprises

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

Elections office staffers prepared rigorously for the expected surge in mail-in and drop-off voting this fall: They renewed their training, learned the new rules, got masks and protective gear ready and adjusted their working hours. But they were not prepared for the thank-you notes. Tucked into the return envelopes with some ballots were handwritten missives from voters in Fairfax and Loudoun counties: "Thank you for what you do." "Thanks for making my vote count." A Halloween sticker or two also appeared.

The Full Report
46 articles, 18 publications

FROM VPAP

VPAP Visual If Money Were Votes

The Virginia Public Access Project

Here's an update to VPAP's exclusive statewide map showing Trump v. Biden campaign donations in each of Virginia's 2,453 voting precincts. The data has been updated to include the latest donations through October 14. See which candidate is leading the money chase in your community.


VPAP Visual Updated: Absentee Voting by Precinct

The Virginia Public Access Project

More than half of voters in many densely populated areas already have cast ballots ahead of the November 3 election. Enthusiasm for voting is not nearly as high in many rural areas. VPAP has updated its interactive map showing the percentage of registered voters in each precinct who already had voted as of last Thursday.


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.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY

Public defender's office says prosecutor serving as lawmaker creates 'conflict of interest' for judges

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

The Hampton Public Defender's Office is objecting to a Hampton prosecutor also serving as an elected state lawmaker. A motion filed in a criminal case contends that the dual roles for Del. Mike Mullin, D-Newport News — particularly that he serves on a House committee overseeing courts and judges — creates "a conflict of interest for the judiciary." The motion, which asks judges to recuse themselves from a pending felony Hampton hit-and-run case, asserts that Mullin's role as a lawmaker could bias those judges in his favor.

STATE ELECTIONS

Redistricting referendum on the Nov. 3 ballot

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

Down the electoral ballot, Virginians are weighing a question about power over the political maps that will govern the state for the next decade. Constitutional Amendment 1 would curb the legislature's control over General Assembly and congressional districts ahead of redistricting in 2021, shifting map-drawing duties to a commission of lawmakers and citizens, and if they deadlock, to the right-leaning Virginia Supreme Court.

FEDERAL ELECTIONS

Rashid challenges Wittman in 1st Congressional District race

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

The race between Rep. Rob Wittman and Democratic challenger Qasim Rashid for the 1st District Congressional seat is in the final stretch. With just over a week to go until Election Day, both candidates are spending the remaining days vigorously campaigning throughout the district, which includes much of the Fredericksburg area and stretches through the Northern Neck to the Hampton Roads area.


Rep. Ben Cline faces Nicholas Betts in low-key 6th District race

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

The race to represent Virginia's 6th Congressional District pits Republican Rep. Ben Cline against Democrat Nicholas Betts. The race for the seat that's been a Republican stronghold for years has been a low-profile event with no television ads and two tame debates. Cline, who is seeking his second two-year term on Nov. 3, is expected to cruise to victory.


Two Spotsylvania events celebrate Vote Early Day

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

Two events in Spotsylvania County celebrated the first national Vote Early Day on Saturday. The NAACP sponsored a car parade from the John J. Wright Education and Cultural Center to the Spotsylvania registrar's satellite voting location, and the Spotsylvania Republican Party hosted a rally at its headquarters next to the voting location. Both events were held Saturday morning.


FRED to offer free rides to the polls on Election Day

By TAFT COGHILL JR., Free Lance-Star (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Fredericksburg Regional Transit will offer free rides to the polls on Election Day, Nov. 3. Free fares will be offered by FRED throughout its service area in Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania County and Stafford County. The goal is to increase voter turnout among FRED riders.

STATE GOVERNMENT

2020 was supposed to be a historic year for environmental funding in Virginia. Then came the pandemic.

By SARAH VOGELSONG, Virginia Mercury

2020 was supposed to be the year to make the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality great again. After years of budget cuts to the agency charged with maintaining the health of the commonwealth's air, water and lands, a surplus of funds in state coffers promised to put millions of dollars back into DEQ and add some 85 new workers to its ranks.

CONGRESS

Riggleman says 'the two-party system is really failing the American people right now'

By JOHN L. DORMAN, Business Insider

GOP Representative Denver Riggleman of Virginia on Sunday lamented the state of American politics, questioning the effectiveness of the current two-party system. On NBC's "Meet the Press," host Chuck Todd asked Riggleman if he was still a Republican. Riggleman said that it was "difficult" to be a part of any political party at the moment.


Locals Protest Supreme Court Nominee

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

Over 90 people gathered in front of the Rockingham County Courthouse on Saturday to voice their opposition to the naming of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. A majority of the protesters were women and said they were concerned with the nominee because of Barrett's previous interpretations of the law and her personal beliefs.

ECONOMY/BUSINESS

Richmond-area museums report lower attendance, layoffs, revenue loss

By COLLEEN CURRAN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Richmond-area museums reopened this summer and fall after being closed for four to six months due to the coronavirus, but as expected, none of them has returned to "business as usual." Lower attendance, layoffs and massive financial losses in the millions are the new normal, as well as additional expenses for COVID-19 safety precautions.

HIGHER EDUCATION

William & Mary women's track team won't represent school unless men's team is reinstated

By GREG GIESEN, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)

William & Mary female track and field athletes, angered by administration's elimination of the men's track teams, penned a letter on Saturday stating that they will not represent the university "in uniform" again until the matter is resolved. Twenty-six athletes signed the "Open Letter to the Administration and Board of Visitors" expressing their desire that the men's indoor and outdoor track and field teams — which are slated for elimination at the end of this academic year — be reinstated.


Virginia Tech student government marred by dysfunction and sexism, former members say

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

Impeachment attempts against the president. Mass resignations. Scorched-earth campaign tactics. Claims of sexism and homophobia. Welcome to student government at Virginia Tech. The university's Student Government Association, which represents more than 30,000 undergraduates, has become riven by discord, dysfunction and cronyism, according to interviews with eight current and former members.


W&L survey about name change gets 14,000-plus responses

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

A survey of Washington and Lee University students, faculty, alumni and parents that will help the board of trustees decide whether to remove Robert E. Lee's name from the school has garnered more than 14,000 responses, but a decision remains unlikely to come soon. The liberal arts university in Lexington has been scrutinizing its relationship with the Confederate general since the summer, amid similar calls across the nation.


Central Virginia Community College enrollment drops by 11%

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

Enrollment at Central Virginia Community College dropped 11% this year — but leaders, who anticipated a drop as large as 25%, are hopeful. According to early enrollment estimates released last week by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, CVCC isn't alone. Enrollment at community colleges in the state is down nearly 10% across all public two-year institutions.

CORONAVIRUS

Virginia COVID-19 cases rise by 999 from Saturday

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

The Virginia Department of Health reported Sunday that the statewide total for COVID-19 cases is 173,371, an increase of 999 from the 172,372 reported Saturday. The 173,371 cases consist of 161,668 confirmed cases and 11,703 probable cases. There have been 3,579 COVID-19 deaths in Virginia — 3,329 confirmed and 250 probable. That's an increase of one from the total reported Saturday.


New CDC guidance on 'close contacts' in COVID-19 cases could affect schools

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

The local health department says new guidance from the CDC that changes the definition of who is a "close contact" of someone with COVID-19 could increase the number of people in schools and certain workplaces considered at risk of contracting the disease. The CDC released the new guidance last week.


Virginia coronavirus: Winter forecast uncertain

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

Hampton Roads' experience with the public health crisis was divided last week, with the Southside on a downward or flattening path and areas north in slow growth mode. Only Chesapeake bucked the trend with signs that its COVID-19 trajectory was on the rise. Even Western Tidewater, which previously had elevated numbers because of large outbreaks, was dropping from a recent peak.

VIRGINIA OTHER

Black contractor braves threats in removing Richmond statues

By SARAH RANKIN, Associated Press

Devon Henry paced in nervous anticipation, because this was a project like nothing he'd ever done. He wore the usual hard hat — and a bulletproof vest. An accomplished Black businessman, Henry took on a job the city says others were unwilling to do: lead contractor for the now-completed removal of 14 pieces of Confederate statuary that dotted Virginia's capital city. There was angry opposition, and fear for the safety of all involved.


Richmond reviewing offers for disposition of its Confederate monuments

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

With 22 proposals in hand for the Confederate monuments they took down this summer, Richmond leaders are grappling with practical and ethical concerns that come with divesting. How much money should the city expect to receive for the statues, which the city spent at least $1.8 million to remove? What responsibility should officials bear for ensuring the Lost Cause symbols are put in context, wherever they land?


'Lifting people up': Manassas officials unveil long-awaited Jennie Dean statue

By JILL PALERMO, Prince William Times

"She is leaning forward with her hand extended, lifting people up," Manassas Mayor Hal Parrish said Saturday morning, as dignitaries pulled a black shroud from a long-awaited sculpture memorializing Jennie Dean, a Manassas native born into slavery who founded the Manassas Industrial School for Colored Youth, which educated thousands of Black high school students from the 1890s through the 1930s.

LOCAL

Fairfax School Board seeks equitable 'talent development' program for Thomas Jefferson High School

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

The Fairfax County Public Schools board voted to ask the superintendent to develop an equitable talent identification program for the Northern Virginia district's flagship magnet school, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. The vote Thursday night, which took place after more than a dozen parents and students spoke for and against suggested changes to Thomas Jefferson's highly selective admissions process, was unanimous.


Litigation Group Seeks to Block Leesburg Police's Facebook Search Warrant

By PATRICK SZABO, Loudoun Now

A Sept. 11 protest that left a message painted on the sidewalk in front of Attorney General Mark Herring's downtown Leesburg home prompted the town's police force to obtain a search warrant to find out who was responsible for the crime. Now, the activists who led the protest are petitioning the court to block that search.


Split vote will keep most students home for first semester

By JIMMY LAROUE, Suffolk News Herald

A split vote among the Suffolk School Board will keep most students at home through the end of the first semester at the end of January. The board voted 3-3 at an Oct. 23 special meeting on a hybrid plan that would have returned those choosing to return to school twice per week beginning Nov. 16, with the remaining days for virtual learning.


Albemarle to revise mask policy after teachers raise concerns

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

Albemarle County schools Superintendent Matt Haas is planning to revise the division's policy requiring masks or cloth face coverings. Haas's decision, discussed at the end of Thursday's School Board meeting, comes after the Albemarle Education Association sent a letter to board members detailing its concerns with the policy and how the division was implementing it. The AEA previously has raised a number of issues related to the reopening of schools.


Pandemic-safe trial plans not yet greenlit in Central Virginia

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

With court proceedings slowed during the pandemic, Lynchburg-area circuit courts are among 100 statewide that don't yet have an approved plan for restarting jury trials. Courtrooms have been in an extended state of judicial emergency by order of the Supreme Court of Virginia since the coronavirus pandemic started in mid-March, with restrictions loosening over time.


Coronavirus' impact on crime and courts varies across New River, Roanoke valleys

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

Seven months of pandemic have had definite effects on the region's criminal justice system — including a backlog of court cases that may soon begin to clear and in some areas, a jump in the number of domestic assault and intoxication cases. Giles County Commonwealth's Attorney Bobby Lilly said that "a common thread" in an increase in domestic violence cases has been people stuck at home together.


Lawsuit: FCPS blocked comments of mother of special needs student

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

A woman whose son has special needs is suing Frederick County Public Schools in federal court for violating her right to free speech after the division blocked her ability to comment and react to posts on its Facebook page, according to the suit. Christie Scarborough, who is representing herself in the lawsuit, asks that FCPS "unblock" her on Facebook and award her at least $5,000 for "mental and emotional distress that results in headache and heartache damages."


In rally against Danville casino, speaker says Caesars in Danville would be a monument to racial injustice and inequality

By JOHN CRANE, Danville Register & Bee

An anti-gambling speaker at a rally held by casino opponents compared gaming interests to the Minneapolis police officer who killed George Floyd. "Big corporate gambling companies like casinos, along with state and local governments, effectively have had their knee on the throat of the financial well-being of African American citizens for 40 years," Les Bernal, national director of the Washington-based group Stop Predatory Gambling, told attendees at an anti-casino rally held in front of the James F. Ingram Justice Center Sunday.


In final week before Danville vote, Caesars continues aggressive marketing campaign

By JOHN CRANE, Danville Register & Bee

Casino opponents and supporters are working to get their viewpoints out before voters in the last days before Nov. 3, when Danvillians will decide whether they want Caesars Entertainment to build a gaming resort in Schoolfield. With an aggressive marketing campaign by Caesars emphasizing 1,300 permanent jobs promised, tens of millions in anticipated revenue for the city and a host of other amenities expected from a casino, at least one opponent feels like the deck is stacked against them.

 

EDITORIALS

Six different ways to ask the Confederate statue question

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

Six Virginia localities are voting in November (or now, if you're an early voter) on whether to take down their Confederate statues. But they're not all voting on the same question. Technically each of these is a non-binding advisory referendum, but woe be to the county board that doesn't honor the voters' wishes. The specific question varies from locality to locality, depending on how the county board of supervisors framed the issue. Will ballot language matter? Let's take a look.


For Virginia colleges and universities, more adapting is to come

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

When the coronavirus threw in-person classes and residential life at college campuses across the country into disarray, the enrollment projections for higher education institutions were grim. One survey profiled by Inside Higher Ed in April suggested colleges could lose 20% of their students. Fortunately, early indicators in Virginia show the disruption from COVID-19 has not been as crippling as first expected.


FAMPO'S standoff is a no-win for region

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

The stated mission of the Fredericksburg Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (FAMPO), which was established in 1993 under provisions of the Federal Highway Act, is to "provide a cooperative, continuous and comprehensive transportation planning process to build regional agreement on transportation investments."


Help officials protect election's integrity

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

Fears about the integrity of the election remain high, though there are plenty of officials on the local, state and national level working diligently to ensure Americans can have confidence in both the process and the outcome of this year's vote. This week, some of them asked for the public's help in this all-important effort. It's critical they have it.


Virginia's Rep. Abigail Spanberger deserves a second term

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

Rep. Abigail Spanberger, the first-term Democrat who represents a swath of central Virginia, is a smart, sane, measured moderate who has walked a tightrope between her conservative-leaning district and her party's increasingly assertive left wing. Her attempt to negotiate Washington's vanishing political center has been largely successful, and her campaign for reelection is a test of whether such an admirable, if sometimes lonely, undertaking is politically viable. It should be.

COLUMNISTS

McCartney: Va. blue wave shows no sign of ebbing

By ROBERT MCCARTNEY, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Two years ago, Virginia Democrats won a majority of their state's congressional seats for the first time in a decade, part of a national trend that made Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) speaker of the House. Republicans vowed to wrest back those gains, especially in districts that had long been GOP strongholds. It isn't going to happen, at least not this year. Nonpartisan forecasters predict Democrats will hold on to their 7-to-4 advantage in House seats and may even pick up an eighth.


Gibson: Virginia has a long parade of 2021 contenders

By BOB GIBSON, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Only Virginia and New Jersey hold their elections for governor the year after the nation votes for president, and this year a former Virginia governor appears poised to grab an early lead in an already crowded field. In past decades, campaigns for governor of the Old Dominion and the Turnpike State could be expected to start in the days or weeks after the White House winner received a concession call from the losing presidential candidate. This year, things are different.

OP-ED

Foy: Cable companies stand in way of rural broadband

By JENNIFER CARROLL FOY, published in Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Virginians impacted by the pandemic are counting on us to deliver concrete and lasting relief. With our growing reliance on technology and the internet, I am very concerned that we did not do enough in the special session to expand broadband access for underserved communities. Even before the pandemic, there were too many corners of Virginia where individuals had to travel miles just to access the internet.

Foy represents parts of Stafford and Prince William counties in the House of Delegates. She is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor.


Spencer: Those who can vote are duty-bound to do so

By A. BENJAMIN SPENCER, published in Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

As Election Day nears — in an election season in which millions have already voted — and as President Donald Trump and the U.S. Senate rush to fill a Supreme Court vacancy before Nov. 3, it is time for a reminder of the importance of making our voices heard at the ballot box. We live in a democratic republic that distributes electoral power in a way that is counter-majoritarian. Because the Senate is composed of equal representation by state, today a majority of the Senate represents a minority of the U.S. population.

Spencer is dean of William & Mary Law School


Avula and Winn: The flu shot is another line of defense against COVID-19

By DANNY TK AVULA AND ROBERT WINN, published in Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

We wouldn't blame anyone reading this if the flu shot was the last thing on your mind. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we've all had good reasons to feel unsafe, uncertain and disconnected. The threat of COVID-19 continues to shape how we live, work and travel. Most of us still are keeping our circles small, and avoiding big crowds and unnecessary exposure to strangers, postponing visits to the doctor (which might not be such a great idea) and foregoing weddings, funerals and other family events.

Dr. Danny TK Avula is the director of the Richmond City and Henrico County Health Departments. Dr. Robert Winn is the director of the VCU Massey Cancer Center.


McAuliffe: Education investment will drive COVID recovery

By TERRY MCAULIFFE, published in Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

The coronavirus continues to have a devastating impact on the economy and unemployment rates, and the outlook remains unclear. In March, Virginia sat at 3.3% unemployment before jumping to 10.6% in April, and the commonwealth has yet to fully recover. Though much is uncertain right now, we can be sure that this pandemic will forever change the economy of Virginia and the nation. Jobs have been permanently lost, and many of those who have lost employment lack the skills or credentials necessary for the jobs that remain.

McAuliffe served as the 72nd governor of Virginia.


Anderson: Trump leads Great American Comeback

By RICH ANDERSON, published in Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

On Sept. 18, Virginia voters began to cast ballots for their candidate of choice. On Nov. 3, Virginians and the nation will return President Trump to the White House, where he will continue to lead us to the Great American Comeback.

Anderson is chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia.


Politics messed up Silver Line Phase 2 and is doing so again

By DENNIS L. MARTIRE, published in Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Would you buy a newly constructed house that had cracks in its concrete foundation? What if the builder told you that the cracks were no problem, you just needed to apply three coats of silane to the concrete every seven years and you should be fine? This is essentially the deal being offered to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA).

Martire, who was on the MWAA Board during the procurement of Silver Line Phase 2, is vice president and Mid-Atlantic regional manager of the Laborers' International Union of North America.


Hoffman: Trump whips up fear and range

By KATHERINE HOFFMAN, published in Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Watching the farce that was the presidential debate last month was depressing and outrageous. The contrast could not be more clear. On one side, a hectoring bully who continually talked over his opponent with self-serving lies and evasions. On the other, a decent man with points of real substance to make trying to get a word in edgewise.

Hoffman is a resident of Roanoke.

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Virginia Public Access Project · P.O. Box 1472 · Richmond, VA 23218 · USA

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Special Saturday Edition

October 24, 2020
Top of the News

Northam turns to far Southwest Virginia during economic recovery tour

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

Gov. Ralph Northam on Friday turned to one of the most economically challenged places in Virginia to hear how the pandemic has affected businesses and families and what they need to recover. "We want to do what we can to bring all of Virginia back, especially rural Virginia," Northam said during a virtual roundtable organized by the United Way of Southwest Virginia. "We're here to listen. We don't have monopolies on ideas here in Richmond."


'Revolutionary' criminal sentencing change passes in Virginia

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

When he heard a fellow Democrat was working against his bill to change Virginia's sentencing laws, state Sen. Joseph D. Morrissey of Richmond sent a text message invoking his high school wrestling career. Morrissey told Michael Mullin, a prosecutor from Hampton, Va., and chairman of a powerful House panel on criminal justice, that in 1974 he had won a state wrestling championship with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, participating against the advice of his physician father. "You have badly underestimated me," he concluded in the text last week.


Loudoun Supervisors to Let Unions Meet with County Employees

By RENSS GREENE, Loudoun Now

The Loudoun Board of Supervisors has voted to let unions into county buildings to talk to and recruit public employees. Currently, under state law, state and local governments are not allowed to recognize any union or collective bargaining. Although some county employees are union members already with organizations like the Service Employees International Union Virginia 512, whose leaders speak on behalf of the concerns of county employees during the public input sessions in every annual budget cycle, unions cannot bargain on behalf of employees.


The first female recession: Women in Richmond and beyond are leaving the workforce in record numbers

By COLLEEN CURRAN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

When the pandemic hit, Richmonder Kari Altizer was a financial advisor about to give birth to her first child, a boy, at the end of March. "I wasn't sure I was going to make enough money to afford day care. My clients were dropping off. And I wasn't sure where I wanted my baby to go during the pandemic. I didn't know what was safe," Altizer said. She decided to quit her job and stay home with her son.


Wedding at Wintergreen Resort leads to quarantine

By NICK CROPPER, News & Advance (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)

A recent wedding held at Wintergreen Resort has resulted in multiple employees being quarantined because of possible exposure to COVID-19 and some staff have tested positive, an official with the resort said Friday. Director of Marketing Lori Zaloga said Wintergreen hosted a wedding the weekend of Oct. 10 and 11. A few days afterward, she said, resort staff was notified by a member of the wedding party another attendee had tested positive for COVID-19.


City–county feud paralyzes Fredericksburg area transportation committee

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

A rift on the area's transportation planning organization has grown now to the point where little is getting done because Fredericksburg representatives are boycotting meetings. The city's members on the Policy Committee for the Fredericksburg Area Metropolitan Planning Organization have been arguing with Stafford County and Spotsylvania County members over policies for more than a year.


As rising seas push high tides higher, Northern Neck volunteers gather valuable data with their phones

By JOHN BOYER, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

When volunteers head out to map the growing reach of Virginia's tidal flooding, one of the obstacles can be the water itself. Tami McCauley and a neighbor, both Kilmarnock-based members of the Northern Neck Master Gardeners, set out in a skiff last Sunday to map the year's highest tide at Hughlett Point on the Chesapeake Bay near Ditchley. "We couldn't land the boat there because there was no beach," McCauley said.

The Full Report
41 articles, 24 publications

FROM VPAP

VPAP Visual Last Full Look at Congressional Fundraising

The Virginia Public Access Project

Cameron Webb, a Democrat running in a rural Republican district, was the top fundraiser among all Virginia congressional candidates during the first two weeks of October. This interactive visual lets you rank candidates by money raised during the period and amount of cash on hand as of October 14.


VPAP Visual Outside Money Bypasses Virginia Senate Race

The Virginia Public Access Project

Outside interest groups have spent nearly $1 billion on U.S. Senate races across the nation, but they have largely bypassed Virginia. This chart ranks spending by partisan and single-interest groups by states where Senate seats are on the ballot next month.


VPAP Visual Biden Widens Lead in Virginia Fundraising

The Virginia Public Access Project

In the first two weeks of October, Democrat Joe Biden raised nearly $2.5 million from individuals with Virginia addresses. President Donald Trump reported $974,000. The disclosures released Friday contained the public's last complete look of presidential fundraising before the November 3 election.


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.

EXECUTIVE BRANCH

Post-Schar School poll: Majority of Virginia voters approve of Northam's job performance

By GREGORY S. SCHNEIDER, LAURA VOZZELLA, EMILY GUSKIN AND ALAUNA SAFARPOUR, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

More than half of Virginia's registered voters approve of the overall job performance of Gov. Ralph Northam, and an even larger majority support his handling of the novel coronavirus pandemic, according to a new Washington Post-Schar School poll. Northam's job approval rating of 56 percent is up from 49 percent about a year ago and from 43 percent in the wake of his blackface scandal in early 2019.

STATE ELECTIONS

Xavier Warren Aims For 'Fresh Start' in Campaign For Lieutenant Governor

By SCOTT FIELDS, ArlNow

Arlington businessman Xavier Warren is basing his campaign for lieutenant governor of Virginia on a pledge to lead a statewide economic recovery while focusing on the job market. Warren is a partner with Congressional Partners, a bipartisan organization that helps nonprofits and corporations secure federal grants. He also works as a sports agent and serves as a NFL Players Association contract advisor.

FEDERAL ELECTIONS

2 moderate Democrats vie for reelection in Virginia suburbs

By BEN FINLEY, Associated Press

Elaine Luria and Abigail Spanberger were part of a historic wave of women who helped Democrats retake the U.S. House in 2018. And when they got to Washington, both established themselves as party moderates willing to work with Republicans on legislation. But their reelection bids are far from guaranteed. They're wooing voters in Republican-drawn districts that supported Donald Trump, a president they voted to impeach.


Battle lines drawn in Chesterfield as Spanberger touts record, while Freitas focuses on party

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

The lines at four new satellite polling places for early voting in Chesterfield County this week signaled a new way of running elections in Virginia, triggered by a public health emergency that has transformed a pivotal congressional campaign that could determine political control of the U.S. House of Representatives. Former Chesterfield Registrar Larry Haake predicted a close race and delayed outcome in the showdown between Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-7th, and Del. Nick Freitas, R-Culpeper.


Fiery House election on Virginia's coast tests whether GOP can rebound in an increasingly blue state

By THOMAS FRANCK, CNBC

A bitter election in Virginia's 2nd Congressional District over a crucial House seat is boiling down to which of two Navy veterans better represents a historically Republican region that now finds itself increasingly drawn toward Democrats. The contest, as muddy as its Tidewater setting, pits incumbent Democrat Elaine Luria against a familiar rival: GOP challenger and former Rep. Scott Taylor.


Fairfax NAACP urges Electoral Board to make changes with early voting in the county

By JONATHAN FRANKLIN, WUSA

The Fairfax County chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is urging the county's Electoral Board to make significant, but swift changes as residents are continuing to stand in long lines for early voting in this year's general election. "Since early voting began in mid-September, Fairfax County residents have stood in lines of four hours and longer to vote. We were told that once satellite locations opened in October, the lines would become manageable. However, this is not the case, and now we have many lines averaging four hours all over the county," the local chapter said in a release.


Registrar processes record number of mail-in ballots

By DON DEL ROSSO, Fauquier Now

The Fauquier Electoral Board secretary has complete faith in the county registrar's system of handling mail-in votes. "My only concern is if people don't get the ballots into the mail on time," said Jane Hurst, who joined the three-member panel about a dozen years ago. "The sooner the better. The mail can be slow. No need to push that."


Here's what's happening at the polls to protect voters from COVID-19

By STEPHANIE HARRIS, WAVY-TV

When you show up to vote on Election Day, you'll notice quite a few changes at Virginia polling places. For starters, the number of people inside each building will be limited. "We can't have more than 10 people at a time inside of the actual precinct," said Hattie Lattimore, precinct chief at the Major Hillard Library Precinct in Chesapeake.

STATE GOVERNMENT

Virginia Supreme Court upholds dismissal of lawsuit over Sheriff's Office's participation in ICE program

By JOSH GULLY, Inside NOVA (Metered Paywall)

The Virginia Supreme Court upheld the local circuit court's dismissal of a civil lawsuit over the Culpeper County Sheriff's Office's participation in a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement program that allows sheriff's deputies to notify ICE officials of illegal immigrants housed in local jails. The lawsuit, filed in 2018 by county residents Michael V. McClary and Christina Stockton in coordination with the ACLU, claimed that the supposedly free program is funded with local tax dollars.

ECONOMY/BUSINESS

Loudoun's new cash crop: Local farmers see opportunity in growing hemp market

By KAREN GRAHAM, Loudoun Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

As Loudoun County farmer Luke Greer inspects his first crop of hemp plants, he is pleased with the rows of tall and bushy stems and says they are ready for harvest. Greer, owner of Northern Virginia Hemp Company on Allder School Road in Purcellville, produces CBD oil, topical cream, massage cream and other products used for humans and animals. The items are made using a C02 extractor.


Steak-Holders: Local Beef Industry Members Have Concerns About PRIME Act

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

The Grottoes family farm of Charles Patterson can trace its roots back to 1745. And as a seventh-generation farmer, Patterson knows his history. "I could remember my granddaddy and my grandmother telling me they used to have what they called 'beef clubs,'" Patterson, 66, said. These "beef clubs" were a loose organization of about eight to 10 people in the area who would slaughter cattle on a rotation.

TRANSPORTATION

I-81 improvements remain on track

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

Work on all 48 remaining I-81 improvement projects remain on schedule, with some even ahead of schedule, according to Virginia Department of Transportation staff. The Interstate 81 advisory committee met Friday morning to hear updates from VDOT staff about the roadway improvements, truck parking situation and facets of the I-81 corridor impacting residents and commuters. Dave Covington, the I-81 improvements project lead, said at this time there are no plans for any delays either. Del. Tony Wilt, R-Broadway is on the advisory committee and called the news "a very pleasant surprise."


AAA: Fatal teen car crashes up in Virginia despite lighter pandemic traffic

By ANNA GAWEL, WTOP

Traffic is lighter, there are fewer car accidents and students are studying at home because of the coronavirus pandemic, yet teen-involved fatal crashes are up in Virginia in 2020. According to AAA, 55 people have died in crashes involving teen drivers in the commonwealth as of mid-October, compared to an annual average of 51 people who died in teen- and rookie driver-related crashes in Virginia during the same time frame between 2015 and 2019.

HIGHER EDUCATION

William & Mary moves spring break to individual days off, rather than a full week

By MAGGIE MORE, Virginia Gazette (Metered Paywall - 4 Articles per Month)

William & Mary's 2021 spring break will be comprised of individual days off, spaced out over the semester, rather than one week of consecutive vacation days, the school announced to students in a Thursday email detailing spring semester updates. Classes in the spring, like in the fall, will be a mix of in-person, blended and fully remote classes.


JMU makes changes to academic calendar because of COVID-19

The Breeze

JMU removed spring break from the official academic calendar Friday. Instead of an official week off school, the calendar includes two "Break Days" to the spring semester. The university will still be closed on Friday, March 12 as originally planned. There'll be no class on Feb. 17, March 12 and April 8.

CORONAVIRUS

Virginia directs $22 million in emergency aid to vaccination effort

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

Virginia plans to spend $22 million in federal emergency aid this year to prepare for its COVID-19 mass vaccination campaign, an unprecedented effort ahead of the approval of a vaccine.


Virginia COVID-19 cases rise by 1,180 from Thursday

By STAFF REPORT, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

The Virginia Department of Health reported Friday that the statewide total for COVID-19 cases is 171,284 — an increase of 1,180 from the 170,104 reported Thursday. The 171,284 cases consist of 160,004 confirmed cases and 11,280 probable cases. There are 3,539 COVID-19 deaths in Virginia — 3,293 confirmed and 246 probable. That's an increase of 15 from the 3,524 reported Thursday.


Another COVID-19 unit converted at Lynchburg General as facilities 'strained'

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

With COVID-19 hospitalizations on the rise, Centra Health has converted another unit at Lynchburg General Hospital to specifically deal with those patients. The increase in patients comes on the heels of a bump in cases in and around Lynchburg. As of late this week, the hospital reported 39 COVID-19 patients, 11 of them in ICU settings.


COVID-19 death count in Pittsylvania-Danville Health District reaches 21 in past 23 days

By STAFF REPORT, Danville Register & Bee

The terrible month of death in the Pittsylvania- Danville Health District continued Friday when yet another resident of Danville succumbed to COVID-19 This is the 59th person in the district to die of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus and the 42nd in the city, the Virginia Department of Health reported. This also continues the deadliest month since the pandemic began, with 21 deaths in the past 23 days.


Four Richmond bars have permits suspended; complaints to two health departments pass 3,000

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

Four Richmond bars had their health permits suspended Friday for violating COVID-19 regulations outlined in Phase Three guidelines, which mandate frequent disinfection, physical distancing and that employees wear masks, according to the Virginia Department of Health.

VIRGINIA OTHER

TPS Holders In D.C. Region Sue To Stop Policy Change That Could Lead To Deportation

By DANIELLA CHESLOW, DCist

Six residents of the D.C. region are among a group of foreign nationals suing the Trump administration. They're trying to halt a policy change that makes it harder for some immigrants to shake off old deportation orders. Immigrant advocates say the shift in policy leaves those people vulnerable as Trump pushes to end the Temporary Protected Status program next year. Floriselda Alvarez Gomez, 48, is a mother of four and works as a manager at Burger King restaurants in Manassas and Gainesville, Virginia.


Shenandoah National Park Reports Too Many Visitors, Not Enough Cash

By SANDY HAUSMAN, WVTF

The new superintendent of Shenandoah National Park spoke to supporters Thursday night – warning that attendance is way up, and it might be necessary to require reservations for visitors. Patrick Kenney, who took over at Shenandoah three weeks ago, says the park is setting records for attendance during the pandemic, and there's limited funding for day-to-day operations.

LOCAL

Condo Board Objects to Decorative Cemetery for 'Hate' and 'Racism'

By JO DEVOE, ArlNow

Two residents of the Fairlington Arbor condominiums were told by the condo board to dig up their spooky gravestones that seek to lay bigotry to rest. Katrina Reed and her husband Joe decked out their yard with six decorative gravestones, but they papered over the space for names of the deceased to bury hate, racism, religions discrimination, sexism, homophobia and white supremacy instead.


Fairfax County Public Schools to bring more students back to classrooms

By ABIGAIL CONSTANTINO, WTOP

Some elementary school students and other students in specific programs are returning to classrooms next month in Virginia's largest school system. Fairfax County Public Schools said that starting Nov. 16, it will open in-person instruction to students in kindergarten, pre-K, Early Head Start, special education and students with intensive support needs.


As Students With Disabilities Return To Loudoun Schools, Some Parents Feel Left Out

By KAVITHA CARDOZA, DCist

As Principal Derek Racino welcomes back students to Sycolin Creek Elementary School in Leesburg, he watches as one of his students in a wheelchair is lowered onto a ramp. School staff is waiting, ready to take the young boy inside for his first day of in-person classes since March. The bell rings. "It feels good," says Racino. "It's a sound we're definitely looking forward to hearing more and more often, that's for sure."


Some Richmond teachers want a new elementary grading system for virtual learning

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

Some Richmond Public Schools teachers want to revise the grading system for elementary students during virtual learning in a move they say would help ensure equity. A petition launched online and signed by 400 people as of Friday afternoon calls for a move away from the traditional letter grade scale while children and teachers grapple with remote learning.


A North Side woman faced eviction. Then activists stepped in.

By MARK ROBINSON, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

Fifty people stood outside of Katrina Pitt's North Side home on Friday, ready to stop her from losing it. They gathered for an emergency eviction defense, a last-ditch effort to keep Pitt's landlord and sheriff's deputies from evicting her from the property that morning. Tenant unions and activists have employed the tactic in other cities this year, confronting landlords who pursued evictions despite legal protections meant to keep tenants sheltered during the COVID-19 pandemic.


King George looks to cash in on cigarette sales

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

King George County officials want to make sure their chances to get some money from cigarette sales don't go up in smoke. "I don't want to drag our feet on this," county Supervisor Jeff Bueche said this week. "We recognize the potential revenues the county is losing every day with the amount of cigarettes floating out of this county."


Frederick Water disconnecting 30-70 delinquent accounts per day

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

Since resuming disconnections for delinquent water and sewer accounts on Oct. 14, Frederick Water has been disconnecting service to 30-70 customers a day, Frederick Water Executive Director Eric Lawrence told the agency's board of directors on Tuesday night. The coronavirus pandemic resulted in Frederick Water suspending penalties and disconnections in March. In August, the board voted to resume them in October.


Danville Mayor Alonzo Jones resigns from role in Danville Public Schools

By PARKER COTTON, Danville Register & Bee

Danville Mayor Alonzo Jones resigned from his position as director of maintenance and operations for Danville Public Schools this week. DPS officials confirmed his resignation but offered no other comment on the matter. Messages to Interim Superintendent Catherine Magouyrk and Danville School Board members went unreturned. Jones, when reached Wednesday, said he felt the workload of being mayor and working within DPS had become too much to keep up with.

 

EDITORIALS

Housing project is promising

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

Albemarle County might get a new public housing complex based on strategies that have had success elsewhere in Charlottesville and Albemarle. Three area agencies are considering creating such a complex on U.S. 29 north of Westfield Road. Under the proposal, the site also would contain a mixed-use office building. Efforts are prompted by the county's existing homeless problem, exacerbated by COVID.


Would Virginia shut down VMI?

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

Is Virginia Military Institute doomed? That's probably an overstatement, but we're not the ones who raised the question — the chair of the General Assembly's Senate Finance Committee was and, since she's got some control over the state's budget, she's the one who really counts.

COLUMNISTS

Williams: The Lee statue property should belong to the city

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

We cannot liberate Richmond from its veneration of the Lost Cause until we emancipate the ground where the Robert E. Lee statue stands. We're in the midst of an ongoing lawsuit to prevent the statue's removal. In City Hall, a measure is under consideration — supported by civic associations in response to ongoing demonstrations — that would restrict public traffic on medians near the Lee statue. But the elephant on the pedestal remains the monument's ongoing status as state property, exactly as intended by Lost Cause proponents more than 130 years ago.


Schapiro: The Virginia irony that wasn't

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

Bernie Cohen tilted at windmills. He also tore them down. As a legislator, he tried — and failed — to decriminalize homosexuality in Virginia in 1980, 23 years before the U.S. Supreme Court nationally did so, ruling in a Texas case. But Cohen won protections for consumers, especially car buyers stuck with lemons. And he wrote Virginia's right-to-die law in 1983 — a statute unsuccessfully challenged in court 15 years later by a Republican governor mindful of his right flank.


Teel: W&M track advocates question dramatic change in reported endowment data in the years before sports were cut

By DAVID TEEL, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

In explaining recent plans to ax seven varsity sports, William & Mary called the athletic department's financial deficits "unsustainable." The aftermath of that decision has created a shortfall far less tangible but no less damaging — a shortfall of trust. The latest suspicions emerged Thursday afternoon when advocates for the targeted men's track program unveiled what they believe is evidence of misappropriated funds from restricted endowments, which in turn inflated the program's budget deficit — no W&M sport generates a surplus.

OP-ED

Morse: Officials render VMI verdict before conducting an investigation

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

The lesson from last year — that elected officials, faced with a difficult situation, ought to avoid hurried, snap political judgments — obviously did not take. That would be one fair conclusion from the letter dispatched last week by Gov. Ralph Northam — co-signed by the lieutenant governor, attorney general, speaker of the House and seven other leading members of the General Assembly — to the VMI Board of Visitors.

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


Jemaine and Town: VCEA a historic win for climate action

By KIM JEMAINE AND MICHAEL TOWN, published in Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

The blessing and the curse of democracy is that little gets done at the legislature without a lot of back and forth — and this particularly is true when fixing our broken, fossil fuel-dependent system of energy regulation. What RTD reporter Patrick Wilson failed to recognize in his Oct. 9 article is that on the Virginia Clean Economy Act (VCEA), the lion's share of compromise had to be carried — for the first time in, perhaps, ever — on Dominion Energy's shoulders rather than on the backs of Virginia's ratepayers, and the environmental and clean energy community.

Kim Jemaine is Virginia director for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. Michael Town is executive director of the Virginia League of Conservation Voters.

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