Monday, October 12, 2020

Political Headlines from across Virginia

October 12, 2020
Top of the News

Landlords ask Supreme Court of Virginia to make eviction proceedings easier

By NED OLIVER, Virginia Mercury

A group that represents landlords around the state is asking the Supreme Court of Virginia to make it easier for them to move eviction lawsuits through the court system. In a letter late last week to Chief Justice Don Lemons, the Virginia Apartment Management Association requested the court issue an order prohibiting local judges from requiring property owners to swear they're abiding by federal protections before signing off on evictions, arguing the practice unfairly biases the trial process against them.

Police, criminal justice reformers spar over bill to reduce traffic stops, outlaw certain marijuana searches

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

A bill that proponents say will reduce what they contend is police targeting of Black drivers with unwarranted traffic stops and vehicle searches has passed the General Assembly — and is on the way to the governor for consideration. The legislation bars police from stopping drivers for a wide range of vehicle equipment infractions — from tinted windows and faulty brake lights to loud mufflers and objects dangling from rear view mirrors.

On campus with the coronavirus: An oral history of the strangest semester ever

By PAULINA FIROZI, HANNAH KNOWLES, REIS THEBAULT, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

It was the second Wednesday of the first month back on campus, just weeks into the weirdest semester on record, when one dorm's residents received an email that might have marked the beginning of the end. The University of Virginia was about to confront the biggest threat yet to its audacious plan to bring thousands of young adults back to Charlottesville and resume in-person schooling mid-pandemic. There appeared to be an outbreak of the coronavirus in Balz-Dobie residence hall, a first-year dorm with a handful of positive cases and concerning signs pointing to even more.

VPAP Visual Virginia's uneven surge in early voting

The Virginia Public Access Project

More than one of every four registered Virginia voters has cast ballots already or requested one in the mail. But enthusiasm for voting before Election Day has bypassed many rural areas that traditionally vote Republican, according to a new map showing the percentage of absentee voting by precinct.

Tobacco commission grants can leave communities on the hook


The executive director of a Virginia economic development commission bent rules to forgive a six-figure grant to a politically connected developer whose planned biofuel project didn't pan out, documents obtained by The Associated Press show. The Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission's Evan Feinman did not recoup $210,000 Chuck Lessin owed the state, according to a report from the Office of the State Inspector General. Feinman instead allowed Lessin's unrelated work as a member of the Virginia Israel Advisory Board, which also promotes economic development, to count toward the money he owed when his Appalachian Biofuels project fell through.

De-Jeffersoned: Charlottesville area organizations dropping 'Jefferson' name

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

The Thomas Jefferson Health District wants to be more equitable and inclusive for everyone in the community. That's the main reason the district is changing its name to the Blue Ridge Health District starting in 2021, said Director Dr. Denise Bonds. "I think your name is sort of your first policy statement," she said. "It is what you project out to the community, and it should represent the values and mission of your organization."

The big dig

By ELIZABETH COOPER, Va Business Magazine

With construction beginning this fall to expand the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel (HRBT), relief is on the way for travelers weary of sitting in traffic jams along one of south-eastern Virginia's most congested corridors. The $3.8 billion expansion is the largest project in the history of the Virginia Department of Transportation and one of the largest infrastructure projects in the nation. It will also employ new tunnel-excavation technology that has just begun to be used for major roadway projects.

The Full Report
38 articles, 17 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.


Small businesses show resolve and optimism while meeting with congresswoman

By DAVE RESS, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Usually, when politicians ask small businesses what's going on, they hear about problems, but when one entrepreneur-turned-member of Congress came to the Peninsula to check on pandemic-hit constituents, what she heard about was perseverance. Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Norfolk, was braced for some tough stories in her latest round of visits to small businesses, in the hardest-hit part of her Virginia Beach to Williamsburg district, the tourism-dependent Historic Triangle — and especially when talking to a brother and sister in the family restaurant business.

Bob Good, Cameron Webb distance themselves ideologically -- and socially -- in race for 5th Congressional District

By PARKER COTTON, Danville Register & Bee

A heavy reliance on Zoom meetings is arguably where the similarities between Bob Good and Cameron Webb's political campaigns end. As the candidates try to win over the voters of Virginia's 5th Congressional District, they have been challenged by COVID-19 pandemic-related limitations on traditional campaigning elements such as in-person gatherings and handshakes. As social distancing has become a new hallmark of 2020 campaigning, Good and Webb have also worked to distance themselves ideologically from each other. They see many of the same issues but have different plans of action.

Ballot Drop Boxes Placed at Libraries

By RENSS GREENE, Loudoun Now

Supervised ballot drop boxes for absentee ballots are now in place inside all Loudoun County Public Library branches, with the exception of the Law Library. Completed absentee ballots can be returned to the drop boxes through Saturday, Oct. 31 during the branches' hours of operation.

Early votes have flooded in locally

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

Area registrars have seen an increased volume of early voters this year, adapted to changes in the election process and settled up confusions about different voting situations. The most common situation among voters in Central Virginia has occurred when they void an absentee ballot and vote in person instead, according to area registrars.

Voter rally held in Bristol

By LEIF GREISS, Bristol Herald Courier (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)

Standing on the stage at Cumberland Square Park, Mark Canty said that he votes because of the sacrifices of civil rights figures such as Medgar Evers and Martin Luther King Jr. as well as of his ancestors who were taken to America to be slaves or were born in bondage. "I'm not a Black American, I am not an Afro-American, I am an American. That's why I vote," Canty said.

Warner: DeJoy Should Not Be Postmaster General


U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) on Friday, as he reassured Virginians they could count on the Postal Service this election season, also said that recently-appointed U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy should no longer serve in that role. Warner, State Sen. Jennifer Boysko (D-33) and Del. Suhas Subramanyam (D-87) held a press conference outside the Dulles Post Office Friday afternoon to comment on recent U.S. Postal Service policy changes that—although were said to be designed to cut costs amid a "financially unstable position" within the Postal Service, in a July 27 statement from DeJoy—ended up delaying mail delivery to many.


Land for new state park in Gloucester is transferred

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

Virginia will open its 40th state park, Machicomoco State Park, in Gloucester County, later this month, Gov. Ralph Northam announced as he proclaimed Monday, Oct. 12, the state's first Indigenous Peoples' Day. The state just completed formal transfer of the 644-acre site off of Timberneck Farm Road, his office confirmed.


Wexton bill would make US companies disclose products from China's Uyghur region

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

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed legislation introduced by Rep. Jennifer Wexton, D-10th, to make U.S. companies publicly disclose products that come from China's Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR) — a move designed to prevent businesses from profiting off forced labor from the region. The legislation, known as the the Uyghur Forced Labor Disclosure Act, addresses the disappearance, mass internment, and imprisonment of Turkic Muslims, particularly Uyghurs, in China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR).


330 violations and counting: JMU says no warning required

By BRICE ESTES, The Breeze

When a group of girls' small get-together of 10 people spiraled into an unruly crowd, they never imagined it'd lead to facing suspension from JMU. Especially not after Vice President for Student Affairs Tim Miller wrote that students were entitled to a warning before being referred to the Office of Student Accountability and Restorative Practices (OSARP) in a tweet on Aug. 21.

State to expand PVCC jobs program with $1.7 million investment

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

Network2Work, a locally grown program using social circles to connect jobs and people looking for work, is expanding to other parts of Virginia, thanks to a two-year, $1.7 million state investment. Established by Piedmont Virginia Community College in partnership with the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce in 2016, the program utilizes social influencers — people in the community who are natural leaders and are trusted by others — to connect potential workers with employers who have job openings.

Supporters of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett gather at Liberty University

By KENDALL WARNER, News & Advance (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)

A large pink bus with the phrases "Women for Amy" and "She prays, she votes" accompanied by a photo of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett rolled into the middle of Liberty University's campus just after noon on Friday, Oct. 9, 2020. The stop at Liberty was part of a three-day 12-state bus tour for President and CEO of Concerned Women for America Peggy Young Nance who is hitting key election states and speaking to women of faith, educating them on the confirmation of Barrett.

Ready for sunshine: Volunteers plug in major solar installation for EMS

By ERIC GORTON, Harrisonburg Citizen

An overcast sky and a few sprinkles Saturday didn't dampen the spirits of volunteers and others who swiftly snapped 357 solar panels into place on the roof of Eastern Mennonite School. The 136 kilowatt-hour system — enough to run the equivalent of 15 average homes and avoid more than 141 tons of carbon dioxide pollution per year — will provide about a third of the school's annual energy requirement for at least the next 20-30 years, said Paul Leaman, head of the school and one of the volunteer installers.


Virginia's coronavirus transmission rates continue to decline

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

The pandemic might be losing some steam, with four straight weeks of a statewide spreading rate that indicates each infected person is passing the coronavirus to fewer than one other person. No health district was surging in cases last week — not even Western Tidewater, which previously had an upward trajectory — something public health officials say they're observing for the first time.

After plummeting at start of pandemic, local hospital visits are on the rise

By LOLA FADULU, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Patient volume at hospitals in the District, Maryland and Virginia appears to be returning to levels seen before the coronavirus pandemic, officials say, thanks in part to public campaigns aimed at convincing people that hospitals are safe. Maryland hospitals were seeing 85 to 90 percent of their normal in-patient volume in early October, and 70 percent of their normal emergency-room volume, according to data provided by the Maryland Hospital Association. In Virginia, the volume of patients dropped precipitously in April, just after the pandemic arrived, but appeared to have rebounded somewhat by the end of June.

Virginia COVID-19 cases rise by 811 since 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 158,716 — an increase of 811 from the 157,905 reported Saturday. The 158,716 cases consist of 149,631 confirmed cases and 9,085 probable cases. There are 3,358 COVID-19 deaths in Virginia — 3,120 confirmed and 238 probable. That's an increase of four from the 3,354 reported Saturday.

Another outbreak reported locally; Fauquier tops 1,000 cases

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

A Spotsylvania County assisted living facility is experiencing its second outbreak of COVID-19 while Fauquier County has become the fourth locality in the region to reach cases in the four digits. Paramount Senior Living, formerly known as Brookdale Senior Living, has 19 residents sickened by the virus in its second outbreak, according to the Virginia Department of Health website.


Civil War monuments in Martinsville, Henry County stand quiet among the outrage

By CARA COOPER, Martinsville Bulletin (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Across Virginia, the South and the nation, monuments to the Confederacy and the Civil War that have stood as totems to a troubling past have come down in recent months, at times amid violence and mass protest. As millions took to the streets across the country this summer to protest the tragic killings of George Floyd Jr., Breonna Taylor and others, and the social issues those killings lay bare, monuments to the nation's war over slavery became obvious if not always easy targets.

Families seek new investigations into old police killings

By DENISE LAVOIE, Associated Press

One man died after a police officer in New York state told him to move his illegally parked car. Another, in the midst of a mental health crisis, was fatally shot by an officer on a Virginia highway. A third man died in Oklahoma after a struggle with police. His last words echoed the ones used by Black men in similar circumstances and the chants at civil rights protests: "I can't breathe."

Protesters march peacefully against police violence

By LEIF GREISS, Bristol Herald Courier (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)

Rain poured down Saturday afternoon as roughly 40 protesters, wearing plastic rain ponchos, holding umbrellas or carrying signs with messages like "Black Lives Matter" or "White Silence = Violence," marched peacefully along State Street. Bristol Tennessee Police and Bristol Virginia Police officers stationed themselves along their respective sides of Bristol's main downtown corridor watching as protesters walked by shouting chants such as "No justice, no peace, no racist police" and "This is what democracy looks like."

18th Annual Gabriel Gathering in Shockoe Slip

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

In the rain, they showed up. Dozens of people crept into the Richmond African Burial Ground, some with umbrellas, most masked. They distanced themselves around 40 pairs of white and light yellow carnations, neatly placed in rows. Taylor Maloney parked herself in the front. She sat cross-legged on a green striped blanket she laid on the neatly trimmed grass and kicked off her black-and-white checkered Vans. Gabriel's Rebellion, a thwarted slave uprising that was the basis of Saturday's gathering, wasn't talked about a lot growing up, said the Virginia Commonwealth University student.


Hackers post stolen information from Fairfax school district

By JOE HEIM, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Hackers who launched a ransomware attack on the Fairfax County Public Schools computer system last month obtained personal information about students and employees and posted it on the Internet, school district officials acknowledged Friday in a letter emailed to parents and employees and posted on the district's website.

Pandemic-related drop in enrollment in Fredericksburg-area public schools could have financial effects

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

Nora Mason's daughter started kindergarten last year at Ferry Farm Elementary School in Stafford County. "We really liked her experience in public school," Mason said. "She seemed happy, she adjusted pretty well and she was doing well academically. I feel like [Ferry Farm staff and teachers] did a good job of making school fun. She wanted to go every day." Then the pandemic hit and schools closed. Mason wasn't happy with the virtual learning offered by the school.

Spotsylvania preparing for students to return to school Monday under hybrid model

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

The majority of Spotsylvania public school students will return to school buildings starting on Monday for the first time since March. The division is the first in the immediate Fredericksburg area to begin a hybrid model, in which students who want to come back to school will receive in-person education two days a week.

Data shows Danville schools rank near the bottom in on-time graduates in 2020 class

By PARKER COTTON, Danville Register & Bee

Danville Public Schools ranked near the bottom in percentage of on-time high school graduates in the class of 2020, according to Virginia Department of Education data released recently.

CARES money to address emotional needs of city students

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

New programming at Bristol Virginia public schools is designed to help children and families cope with the added burdens of COVID-19. Highlands Community Services will provide therapists, case workers and a crisis team to offer counseling, behavioral support, crisis management and other types of support at the city's six schools under agreements approved this week by the School Board.



Ryan right in address to university

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

University of Virginia President Jim Ryan's statement that UVa "will not walk away from Thomas Jefferson" as long as he is president has received widespread coverage and social media comment — and with good reason. UVa should not walk away from its founder, the man who also helped found this nation on the very principles, now more fully realized, that encouraged equality and paved the way for diversity.

On the rough road to economic recovery

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

One encouraging sign that the U.S. economy will rebound from the "COVID Recession" is the fact that Americans have been squirrelling away $1.1 trillion in savings since the pandemic lockdown began earlier this year, according to Federal Reserve Board of Richmond president and CEO Tom Barkin, who predicted that the nation will have a "strong holiday season" as Christmas triggers consumers to spend at least some of that stash.

COVID-19 mindset during colder months must be built on discipline

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

As President Donald Trump's COVID-19 diagnosis roils the 2020 election, cantankerous discussions about the 25th Amendment or debates amid the president's infection are last on our minds. Virginia's public health and economy are first and foremost. The cavalier attitude by any American — including the president — toward the coronavirus is of highest concern.

What if names and statues only lasted for 20 years?

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

Today, for insight into the ongoing controversy over all things Confederate, we turn to two of our favorite philosophers — Thomas Jefferson and Paul Simon. Jefferson once wrote "God forbid we should ever be 20 years without such a rebellion" — a colorful way of saying that public dissent is a good thing because it keeps governments in check. Paul Simon, on his landmark "Graceland" album, sang "every generation throws a hero up the pop charts." (The song was "The Boy in the Bubble.")


Schapiro: Back to the future in VP debate

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

For Virginians, it might not have been possible to watch the vice presidential debate without suffering PTSD. Visions of U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine's rumble with Mike Pence four years ago in Farmville must have pounded in voters' heads this past Wednesday night as Pence, given to bursts of patronizing mansplaining, quarreled with Kamala Harris, whose disapproving glare could be more withering than some of her one-liners.


Edwards and Hurst: Vote no on Amendment One

By JOHN EDWARDS AND CHRIS HURST, published in Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

In 2021, Virginia will redraw the district lines for the U.S. House of Representatives, the Virginia House of Delegates and the Virginia Senate. This process is required every 10 years after the census is taken to ensure fair districts are drawn in compliance with the constitutional requirement of "one person one vote" and to protect minority voting rights. The proposed Constitutional Amendment, on the ballot as Amendment 1, is flawed because it takes authority away from the democratic process and fails to ensure minority representation.

Edwards is a Democratic state senator from Roanoke. Hurst is a Democratic member of the House of Delegates from Blacksburg.

Feng: In redistricting, 'compromise' isn't a bad word

By KATHAY FENG, published in Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Sandra Day O'Connor and the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg were the first and second women to occupy seats on the bench of the U.S. Supreme Court. They served together for a total of thirteen years, and during that time, they often found themselves on opposite sides of the high court's decisions, with O'Connor's moderate conservative worldview on one side and Ginsburg unapologetic liberalism on the other. But collegiality was essential to their relationship.

Feng is the national redistricting director at Common Cause, a nonpartisan watchdog group focused on open and accountable government.

Marion: Virginians must assess the new VMI civics course

By FORREST L. MARION, published in Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Recently, agitation against Stonewall Jackson's statue at VMI led the Institute's superintendent, General J. H. Binford Peay III, to issue a letter describing VMI's commitment going forward. While the statue will remain in place, VMI will shift focus from its 19th-century legacy to the 20th and 21st centuries. The Institute will strive, Peay stated, to "address in deeper ways racism and equity than the simple means of removing statues and renaming buildings."

Marion is a VMI graduate (1980) and military historian. He lives in Montgomery, Alabama.

Cole: Early childhood educators are unsung heroes of COVID-19 pandemic

By JOSH COLE, published in Free Lance-Star (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

I joined first lady Pamela Northam's recent visit to listen and to say "thank you" to early childhood educators at two sites, and I was disappointed that The Free Lance–Star misrepresented the visit and why it happened. I am writing to set the record straight after your Sept. 30 editorial ["The Northams' double standard]. We planned the Sept. 22 visit to learn from people working on the front lines of Virginia's pandemic response.

Del. Josh Cole represents the 28th District in the Virginia House of Delegates.

McNab: Hampton Roads seeks to mine opportunity from crisis

By ROBERT M. MCNAB, published in Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

The 21st annual State of the Region report examines how we have fared as a region in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. While projections for 2020 appeared bright at the beginning of the year, we are now facing the prospect of higher unemployment, lower incomes and a smaller regional economy at the end of 2020. Yes, there are challenges, but our choices today can invigorate growth in 2021 and beyond.

McNab is a professor of economics and director of the Dragas Center for Economic Analysis and Policy at Old Dominion University.

Morse: John Warner's poise, grace should be a political model for others

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

A certain sentimentality runs through this reaction. But former U.S. Sen. John Warner's voice, lent to TV advertising in support of Rep. Elaine Luria's bid for a second term in the House, is good to hear. You pick up some Piedmont lilt in there and rightfully so, given Warner's roots in Amherst County, via the Tinsely family. My mother's older sister married a Tinsely and more than a few of them run about that part of the world and have for a long time.

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

Love and Galindez: Virginia needs all hands on deck to end gun violence

By DEIRDRE LOVE AND SIBEL GALINDEZ, published in Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

It's just after 1 p.m. on a September afternoon in Norfolk. Gunshots ring out in the Young Terrace neighborhood, a sound sadly familiar to many of us in the community. Police are called to the scene, and by that evening, a 17-year-old boy has died from his wounds and another family has been shattered.

Love is the founder of Teens With a Purpose. Galindez is the local group leader for the Hampton Roads Moms Demand Action group.

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