Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Political Headlines from across Virginia

October 14, 2020
Top of the News

Whitmer plotters also discussed kidnapping Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, FBI agent testifies

By KAYLA RUBLE, LAURA VOZZELLA AND DEVLIN BARRETT, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

An FBI agent said Tuesday that some of those charged in a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer also discussed "taking" Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, who reacted to the news by accusing President Trump of fueling extremism with reckless rhetoric. The disturbing allegations about politically motivated violence surfaced during a day-long court hearing over what law enforcement officials say was a plan to abduct Michigan's highest elected official and either leave her on a boat in the middle of a lake or put her "on trial" before a self-styled militia.

Attorney general files motion, and civil rights groups file lawsuit, to extend voter registration deadline

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

On the last day to sign up to cast a ballot in the Nov. 3 election, Virginia's voter registration system broke down Tuesday, triggering statewide calls and a lawsuit to extend the deadline. As of Tuesday afternoon, requests came from Virginia representatives of the NAACP as well as Reps. Don Beyer, Gerry Connolly and Jennifer Wexton — all Democrats from Northern Virginia — and former Gov. Terry McAuliffe. In a press conference, Gov. Ralph Northam said the deadline is set in state code and he doesn't have the authority to change it, but that he would "support a court-ordered extension of the deadline."

Dems, GOP stretch for hard-to-get House districts


In a rustic Virginia district that bounced its Republican congressman after he officiated a same-sex wedding, the battle to replace him pits a self-described "biblical conservative" backed by President Donald Trump against a Black doctor who worked in Barack Obama's White House. The district, which stretches from Washington's far suburbs to the North Carolina line, has elected just one Democrat for a single two-year term this century. Trump carried it by 11 percentage points in 2016. Yet Democrats are spending money to go after it.

In redistricting reform battle, a sharp split on the role of legislators

By GRAHAM MOOMAW, Virginia Mercury

The group for it is called Fair Maps VA. The group against it is called Fair Districts VA. Both say they're working to end gerrymandering, and both say it's the other guys who want to keep it around. They both use the same anti-gerrymandering talking points, like "Voters should choose their representatives, not the other way around."

More local outbreaks lead to record number of COVID hospital patients

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

Local public health officials week after week offer their insights into how the coronavirus is behaving in the Roanoke region and consistently urge all to wear masks, maintain distances and wash hands, and yet case counts continue to climb. By Tuesday, 50 area residents were in Roanoke Valley hospitals for severe cases of COVID-19. Another nine people with known cases and nine with suspected cases were in New River Valley hospitals. And in far Southwest Virginia, Ballad Health was reporting the number of COVID patients had risen again to 100.

Concerns over children's mental well-being, childcare, virtual learning drive parents to abandon public schools

By BILLY JEAN LOUIS, Charlottesville Tomorrow

Former Albemarle County Public Schools parent Kelsey Parente said she has lost confidence in the public school system due to the way education plans were handled around the novel coronavirus. Kate Duvall and her husband work full-time, and they are former parents of two Charlottesville City Schools students. Duvall said she was concerned about her children's mental well-being.

Bernard Cohen, lawyer who won victory for interracial marriage in Loving v. Virginia, dies at 86

By EMILY LANGER, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

"Mr. Cohen, tell the Court I love my wife and it is just unfair that I can't live with her in Virginia." That was the message that Bernard S. Cohen delivered in 1967 to the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of his client, Richard Loving, a White man who had been roused from his bed in the middle of the night and arrested along with his wife for violating a state ban on interracial marriage.

The Full Report
59 articles, 27 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 politicians, observers split on reaction to alleged Northam kidnapping plot

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

Republican and Democratic politicians and observers alike reacted with shock Tuesday to allegations that the suspects charged with plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer had also discussed "taking" Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam. But they parted ways on whether to lay some of the blame on President Trump, who has sharply criticized Northam (D) over his coronavirus restrictions, support for gun control and efforts to expand abortion rights.

Northam criticizes Trump's rhetoric following report of kidnapping threat

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

Gov. Ralph Northam on Tuesday tied a thwarted kidnapping plot against him to public statements by President Donald Trump, calling the president's rhetoric "regrettable." His comments followed reports earlier Tuesday that members of an anti-government paramilitary group who allegedly sought to kidnap Michigan's governor also discussed abducting him.

Northam said his infection proves masks work

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

Gov. Ralph Northam, fresh out of isolation from his bout with the coronavirus, on Tuesday said masks protected 65 people who were close to him and the first lady from also becoming infected. "When I say close contact, I'm talking about a foot or two apart, riding in a car together, riding in an airplane, sitting and having a meeting together — 65 close contacts and none of them tested positive," he said during a media briefing on COVID-19. "We know the measures we are taking work."

Virginia governor critical of Trump's coronavirus response in first appearance since testing positive

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

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam criticized President Trump's "cavalier" attitude toward coronavirus safety on Tuesday during his first public appearance since contracting the illness last month. Northam (D) and first lady Pam Northam began isolating in the Executive Mansion, with no staff except for a security detail, after announcing that they tested positive 18 days ago.

Alleged plot to kidnap Michigan's governor may have targeted Northam as well


Members of anti-government paramilitary groups implicated in an alleged plot to kidnap Michigan's governor over measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus during a fraught election year also discussed abducting Virginia's governor during a June meeting, an FBI agent testified Tuesday. During a hearing in a Grand Rapids federal court to review the evidence against the five Michigan defendants, Magistrate Judge Sally Berens ordered Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta to be held without bond until the trial. She said she would rule at a later date on the bond status of the other two Michigan men, Adam Fox and Ty Garbin. A sixth defendant from Delaware, Barry Croft, was ordered Tuesday to be transferred to Michigan to face the charges.


Quarantine pay could get second look from Virginia lawmakers if bill is reintroduced

By ZACHARY KLOSKO, VCU Capital News Service

Del. Elizabeth Guzmán, D-Woodbridge, said she is no stranger to the struggles of low-paying jobs. Guzmán said she immigrated to the United States from Peru as a single mother and worked multiple minimum wage jobs just to be able to pay rent and care for her daughter. Guzmán has a mission to secure better financial benefits for minimum wage workers, but she said it's not going as planned.

Virginia NAACP urges state lawmakers to enact automatic expungement


The Virginia State Conference of the NAACP urged state lawmakers on Monday to pass a bill establishing a process to automatically expunge certain crimes from a person's criminal record, a move that would change a current law in Virginia barring the expungement of any criminal conviction. In a release Monday, the group called on the Virginia General Assembly to enact automatic expungement by approving House Bill 5146, a bill introduced by House Majority Leader Charniele L. Herring (D-Alexandria) and recommended by the Virginia State Crime Commission, during the special session.


Fairfax NAACP leader Sean Perryman announces Democratic bid for LG

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

Sean Perryman, president of the Fairfax County NAACP, formally announced his Democratic bid for lieutenant governor on Tuesday, calling for more boldly progressive state leadership. Though "Democrats have won control of the government here in Virginia, we've failed to make the bold progress we need," Perryman, an attorney, planned to say in a virtual announcement to supporters Tuesday evening.


In a sometimes testy 4th Congressional District debate, McEachin, Benjamin play to political bases

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

U.S. Rep. Donald McEachin, D-4th, was talking about his Republican opponent, Leon Benjamin, but he was aiming at President Donald Trump and Senate Republicans in a sometimes testy televised forum on Tuesday night in the race for the 4th Congressional District seat.

Warner and Gade spar on health care in final debate

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

Daniel Gade, the Republican vying for the U.S. Senate seat held by two-term Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., said Tuesday he does not support repealing the Obama-era Affordable Care Act, even as he would like to see key parts of the law stripped away. Gade, who has spent months criticizing the health care reform law, sought to distance himself from the GOP's decade-long push to repeal the ACA — at a time when many voters list health care as a top priority and as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

Warner, Gade focus on health issues in final debate

By ALAN SUDERMAN, Associated Press

Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia and his Republican opponent, Daniel Gade, sparred over how best to respond to the coronavirus and other health care issues Tuesday in their third and final debate. The televised event, sponsored by the AARP, focused heavily on the pandemic as well as issues important to seniors, like prescription drug prices and the Affordable Care Act.

Gade campaign announces big money haul in 3rd quarter, but still far behind Warner


Taking on a two-term Senate incumbent can be a challenge, particularly, when it comes to raising money. That's certainly the case in Virginia's Senate race this year, where Republican Daniel Gade is challenging Senator Mark Warner, a Democrat. "It's almost a David and Goliath race," CBS 6 political analyst Dr. Bob Holsworth said.

Freitas Hopes 7th District Voters Ready for More Conservative Option


Two years ago Abigail Spanberger, a former CIA officer, narrowly won Virginia's 7th Congressional seat. She became the first Democrat to represent the Central Virginia district in decades. But can she hold it? Republican Nick Freitas is hoping not....The Cook Political Report rates the seat as leaning Democratic. Although that may spell an uphill battle for Republican Nick Freitas, he does have name recognition on his side.

Ballot drop box issue in Chatham ruled 'simple mechanical failure' as investigation continues

By STAFF REPORT, Danville Register & Bee

When the back door of an empty ballot drop box fell open Monday in Chatham, Pittsylvania County Registrar Kelly Keesee ruled it an issue of "simple mechanical failure and not tampering" but is still investigating the incident.

Absentee voting in Chesterfield surpasses 23,000

By JIM MCCONNELL, Chesterfield Observer

Since early voting began Sept. 18, more than 14,000 people have voted in person at the county registrar's office and another 9,000-plus have submitted their absentee ballots in person or by mail. That averages out to about 200 voters an hour at the registrar's office. "It has been nonstop," said Constance Hargrove, Chesterfield's general registrar and director of elections, in a press release.

Marshall election officer gets "perky" to work polls

By DON DEL ROSSO, Fauquier Now

The veteran poll worker can think of no other place she'd rather be on Election Day than at the Marshall voting precinct. "It's the civic thing to do," said Ursula Baxley, who checks in voters at the Marshall Ruritan Club Building at 8400 Salem Ave. . . . In more than 35 years, Mrs. Baxley has worked every general election or primary except for two. On Tuesday, Nov. 3, Mrs. Baxley and about 350 other paid officers at 21 county precincts will help oversee the election.

Hampton Roads Transit won't charge for rides on Election Day

By ROBYN SIDERSKY, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Hampton Roads Transit is making sure anyone who wants to get to the polls on Election Day can get there without having to shell out cash for a ride. The agency won't charge for fares on its bus, light rail, ferry and paratransit services on Nov. 3.

Lynchburg registrar receives thousands in grant money to manage Nov. election

By SARAH HONOSKY, News & Advance (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)

Having already seen record numbers of absentee ballots and early voters, the Lynchburg Registrar's Office received about $64,000 in grant money to help mitigate the needs of Lynchburg voters. On Tuesday, Lynchburg City Council unanimously adopted a resolution appropriating $63,882 in grant money from the Center for Tech and Civic Life, a Chicago-based nonprofit, to the registrar's office.


Lawsuit filed to extend Virginia's voter registration deadline

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

On Tuesday — the last day Virginia residents could register to vote — the state's online voter registration system was down for several hours, prompting politicians to call for a deadline extension and advocacy groups to file a lawsuit against the Virginia Department of Elections. A court hearing was scheduled for Wednesday morning.

Multiple Virginia state websites shut down for hours because of severed cable

By ANTONIO OLIVO, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

An accidentally severed fiber-optic cable in Virginia effectively shut down most of the state's online voter registration on its last day Tuesday, prompting voter advocates to begin seeking a court-ordered extension to the deadline, estimating that thousands of voters were kept from registering online. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) said most of the state's Internet service was cut off after the cable in Chesterfield County was inadvertently severed during roadside work related to an ongoing utilities project near Route 10. A spokeswoman with the state's information technologies agency said it occurred sometime overnight and was discovered early Tuesday.

Cut cable shuts down Virginia's online voter registration, prompts lawsuit to extend process


An accidentally severed fiber optic cable that shut down Virginia's online voter registration system for several hours Tuesday, the last day to register before the November general election, has prompted a lawsuit from a civil rights organization. The Virginia Department of Elections said in a statement on Twitter that a "fiber cut" affected connectivity for multiple agencies, including the department's citizen portal and registrar's offices. The cable was inadvertently cut during a Chesterfield County roadside utilities project, according to the state's information technology agency.

Local registrars deal with site shut down

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

Tuesday was Virginia's last day to register to vote in the Nov. 3 election. So the timing couldn't have been worse when a severed fiber optic cable in Chesterfield County cause the state's online voter registration system to shut down. "We've got a line out the door. We are handing out applications as fast as we can," Frederick County Voter Registrar Rick Venskoske said on Tuesday.

Holiday liquor deals scratched at Virginia ABC stores


The Grinch known as the coronavirus pandemic is to blame for an absence of holiday promotions at Virginia's state-run liquor stores. Consumers expecting seasonal fall and holiday discounts during events such as "Door Busters," "Spirited Thursdays," "Black Friday" and "Cyber Monday" at Virginia ABC stores will be left in the cold, said the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority.


Dominion, Appalachian Power team up to expand energy storage

By SYDNEY LAKE, Va Business Magazine

Virginia electric utility giants Appalachian Power and Dominion Energy Inc. announced Tuesday a public-private partnership with InvestSWVA that aims to expand renewable energy storage technology and attract industry prospects in Southwest Virginia. "With the greater proliferation of renewables, energy storage expansion will be a vital component in providing stability to our grid and support our customer's needs," Dominion Energy Virginia President Ed Baine said in a statement.

U.S. attorney in Va., ATF and gun industry team up to curb illegal straw purchases of firearms

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

Within a day of the illegal straw purchase of a .40-caliber semiautomatic Glock pistol from a Chesterfield County gun store, the gun was used in a house party shootout in Richmond in which an estimated 20 shots were fired — among them several from the Glock. Then a day later, on Nov. 1, 2018, the same gun was used to shoot into an occupied dwelling in Washington, D.C., authorities said. As it turned out, a Chesterfield man allegedly purchased the Glock for a high-ranking member of the Red Lyfe Blood gang in Richmond.


Disruption Leads to Sizable Increase In Students Leaving JMU

By MEGAN WILLIAMS, Daily News Record (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused havoc for many, and students and faculty at James Madison University are no different. Due to a spike in positive cases as soon as students returned or moved in for the fall semester at the end of August, students were sent home for about a month between mid-September and mid-October. Now that students have returned, they are being randomly tested, with about 300 students a week being tested despite not being symptomatic. But the upheaval has caused many to decide whether they want to continue at JMU during these pandemic times.

UVA students to get tested for COVID more frequently

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

University of Virginia students living in residence halls will be tested for COVID-19 at least every nine days, university officials announced Tuesday, and those living off-campus will be given kits to test themselves. The increase in testing was announced at the same time UVA officials relaxed social gathering restrictions, allowing students to gather in groups of up to 10. Groups had been restricted to five.

U.Va. increases size of permitted gatherings to 10 people indefinitely

By AMANDA PALLAS, Cavalier Daily

The University announced Tuesday that students and individuals are now permitted to gather in groups of 10 — an increase from the previous rule of five. This restriction will be in place indefinitely. The University's other restrictions — wearing masks, maintaining a physical distance of six feet, limiting visitors and avoiding unnecessary travel — which were extended for an additional two weeks last Tuesday, will remain in place for at least another week.

UVa students get grading choices of letter or credit

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

University of Virginia students suffering stress, anxiety and internet connectivity troubles in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic will have the option of receiving course credit without a letter grade, school officials have decided. The move allows students to choose a credit/general credit/no credit grading system rather than the usual letter grading system. Classes taken under the credit system will not impact grade point average.

William & Mary faculty pushing for reinstatement of eliminated sports, new strategic plan

By MARTY O'BRIEN, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Some William & Mary faculty members continued their push for reinstatement of seven varsity sports proposed for elimination at the school by introducing three motions at a Faculty Assembly meeting Tuesday afternoon. The assembly chose to postpone resolution of the motions, tabling them until next Tuesday for a session scheduled specifically to discuss them.

Fredericksburg, University of Mary Washington form COVID-19 task force

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

The University of Mary Washington has teamed with the City of Fredericksburg to create a joint task force to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Students returned to UMW for in-person classes on Sept. 14 and several of the school's athletic programs began practicing earlier this month. The task force's objective is to operate as a bridge between the city and the university and be proactive in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Out of the spotlight, colleges try to scrape together a sports season

By LIZ ROBBINS, New York Times (Metered Paywall - 1 to 2 articles a month)

Soccer drills in socially distanced quadrants. Masked volleyball players in gyms. Padlocked fields. Positive tests. Zoom team meetings. Canceled. Postponed. Competing. Stay tuned. This is the collegiate student-athlete experience in fall 2020, one that is as dizzying as it is disproportionate. Since March, college sports on every level have been fundamentally disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. . . . "As student athletes, we are always pushing ourselves," said Meghan Skevington, a senior captain on the women's soccer team at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Va. "And when we don't even know if that sport is going to happen and you still see these athletes going out, running, doing fitness, strength and conditioning," she added, "that just shows our dedication and commitment."


Virginia COVID-19 cases jump 1,235 from Monday

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

The Virginia Department of Health reported Tuesday that the statewide total for COVID-19 cases is 160,805 — an increase of 1,235 from the 159,570 reported Monday. The 160,805 cases consist of 151,357 confirmed cases and 9,448 probable cases. There are 3,372 COVID-19 deaths in Virginia — 3,132 confirmed and 240 probable. That's an increase of 11 from the 3,361 reported Monday.

Report shows 4,500 'excess deaths' in Virginia during pandemic

By KATE MASTERS, Virginia Mercury

New research from Virginia Commonwealth University shows that an additional 4,500 Virginians died between March and August over would be expected based on historical data — a measure known as excess deaths. That's an increase of 16 percent, according to Dr. Steven Woolf, the lead author on the paper and director emeritus of VCU's Center on Society and Health. But only 52 percent of those excess deaths in Virginia during the COVID-19 pandemic were attributed to the virus itself as either the underlying cause or a contributing factor.

Feds appeal restriction at Virginia immigrant detention site

Associated Press

Justice Department lawyers on Tuesday appealed a federal judge's order that bars them from transferring inmates to a Virginia immigration detention center that experienced a massive coronavirus outbreak. The interlocutory appeal takes jurisdiction over the case from U.S. District Court Judge Leonie Brinkema and puts it in front of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond.


Hampton Roads Sanitation District receives $225 million loan from EPA to help replenish aquifer

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

Environmental Protection Agency administrator Andrew Wheeler presented the Hampton Roads Sanitation District with a $225 million loan Tuesday to help with HRSD's efforts to make sure there's enough fresh water for future generations. The money will support the Sustainable Water Initiative for Tomorrow program, or SWIFT. It's a long-term plan for converting sewage into drinking water, then injecting it back into the Potomac aquifer.

Hanover chooses Bell Creek, Mechanicsville as new names for Stonewall Jackson Middle, Lee-Davis High

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

The Hanover County School Board officially voted to change the names of two schools with Confederate namesakes at its meeting Tuesday evening. Former Stonewall Jackson Middle School will become Bell Creek. Former Lee-Davis High School will become Mechanicsville.


Loudoun School Board votes against starting full hybrid learning by Dec. 1

By JOHN BATTISTON, Loudoun Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

A motion to have all grade levels back in Loudoun County Public Schools by Dec. 1 via a hybrid learning model fell one vote short of approval during Tuesday night's Loudoun County School Board meeting. Board member Ian Serotkin (Blue Ridge District) successfully moved to suspend the rules during the evening's information agenda so he could make the motion, which failed 4-5 with Chairwoman Brenda Sheridan (Sterling District), Vice Chairwoman Atoosa Reaser (Algonkian District), Beth Barts (Leesburg District), Denise Corbo (At-Large) and Harris Mahedavi (Ashburn District) opposed.

Loudoun Co. to pay $1.5M for land to prevent controversial housing development


Loudoun County's Board of Supervisors voted to buy 16 acres of land near Middleburg, Virginia, to avert the development of 30 single-family homes in an historically Black portion of the Virginia county. The supervisors last Tuesday voted 7-0-2 to begin the process of buying the property from Mojax LLC, which had started preliminary work to build Middleburg Preserves, in the village of St. Louis — the largest historically African-American village in Loudoun.

MS-13 members charged in 'random' killings of four people in Va., officials say

By JUSTIN JOUVENAL, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Prince William County police officers found two men badly beaten and shot to death in a wooded area of Woodbridge in June 2019, authorities said. Two months later, another man was shot and killed nearby while going to meet an acquaintance. Finally, a fourth man was gunned down in Dumfries as he was walking down the street in September 2019.

Prince William police charge 12 alleged MS-13 gang members in 2019 shooting deaths

By JILL PALERMO, Prince William Times

Four Prince William County men killed by gunfire in 2019 were the random victims of a local "clique" of the criminal street gang Mara Salvatrucha, commonly known as MS-13, who carried out the fatal shootings "to further their standing" within the gang, according to police. In a Tuesday morning press conference, Acting Prince William County Police Chief Jarad Phelps announced the arrests of 12 people -- including two from Woodbridge, one from Manassas and one from Dumfries -- in connection with the 2019 fatal shootings of Milton Beltran Lopez, 40; Jairo Geremeas Mayorga, 39; Eric Lanier Tate II, 25; and Antonio Kaoul Smith, 37.

Richmond council members to keep pushing for ban on 'nonlethal' police weapons

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

Two Richmond City Council members whose push to ban law enforcement from using tear gas and other riot-control equipment was blocked from consideration Monday have vowed to resurrect the measure. The council elected to not let the resolution remain on the agenda after a council committee recently recommended striking the proposal, saying police could end up defenseless or more likely to deploy deadly force when breaking up unlawful protests.

Chesterfield fourth and fifth graders can return to school beginning Oct. 26

By JIM MCCONNELL, Chesterfield Observer

A third group of Chesterfield County Public Schools students will have the option of returning to their school buildings Oct. 26 under a hybrid model of in-person and virtual instruction, per recommendations issued Tuesday afternoon by the School Board's public health committee. Based on COVID-19 school metrics developed by the Virginia Department of Health and federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the committee concluded students in fourth and fifth grades and those attending the school system's career and technical centers can attend school in person two days per week with "lower risk" of transmitting the virus.

Chesterfield reforms gifted selection process to boost diversity among county's Maggie Walker attendees

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

The Chesterfield County School Board on Tuesday voted to reform the system's selection process for the Maggie L. Walker Governor's School to boost access and increase diversity. School officials previously had set a goal of having the demographics of students admitted to the school mirror those of the public school system by 2025. More than half of the county's students are of color, state data show.

Virginia Beach mulls how best to return remaining students to classes

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

With some 25,000 students already in classrooms, Virginia Beach school officials are now weighing the best way to get the remaining five grades back for in-person lessons. Administrators said fixing schedules, staffing and transportation issues has proven even more difficult for these older age groups — 7th and 8th graders, as well as grades 10 through 12, remain entirely virtual at this point — than it did for younger students.

Norfolk's damaged MLK Memorial will come down until 2021 for repairs

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

Norfolk's Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial will be temporarily taken down starting Thursday to allow crews to repair the badly deteriorated steel structure that holds up the 83-foot obelisk. Damage to the 20-year-old monument, located in the center of the intersection of Brambleton Avenue and Church Street, was first noted Oct. 1. A piece of the black granite face of the monument had fallen off of the top of the spire in recent weeks.

Judge throws out criminal charges against Portsmouth vice mayor

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

Before a trial even began, a judge on Tuesday dismissed two misdemeanor charges against Vice Mayor Lisa Lucas-Burke, agreeing with her lawyer that an investigation of an elected official must be undertaken at the request of the governor, attorney general or a grand jury — not by a member of the public.

York County schools plan to bring back more grades in early November

By MATT JONES, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)

More grades could return to schools in November under a plan presented Monday evening to the York County School Board. Last week, preschoolers, kindergartners and first graders returned as part of a two-day-a-week hybrid model. District leaders released a plan in September to bring back students up through third grade by Oct. 19. Some students with disabilities — and English language learners — also returned in September.

Roanoke School Board will revisit increase to in-person elementary instruction

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

The Roanoke School Board will revisit later this month the possibility of allowing the city's youngest students to attend classes in-person four days per week. Board members voted 4-3 on Tuesday night denying a motion to immediately approve the amended plan. Under the proposed amendment, pre-K through first grade students would attend in-person four days a week, second through fifth grade students would attend two days per week, and middle and high school students would remain virtual.

Plans to bring more students back in November will come to a vote Oct. 26

By RANDY ARRINGTON, Page Valley News

Monday night's meeting of the Page County School Board began much like the last one. "I strongly urge you to pass plans to get high schoolers back in the classroom," parent Beth Ancell said. "Step up to the plate and get our kids back in school. I know our teachers are working hard, but our kids need to be learning effectively." The lone speaker to address the school board on Monday echoed the sentiments of many parents across the county.



Could alleged Michigan plot have happened here?

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

In 1170, the king of England found himself in a dispute with the Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury, one of those church-state disputes that roiled politics in the Middle Ages. One day, in a fury, King Henry II cried out: "Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?" He later expressed surprise when some of his knights went to the cathedral and did just that, by cutting off the archbishop's head.

Public has a right to see criminal records

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

Like every other human behavior, crime has consequences, and not only for victims and their families. Perpetrators eventually find out that a criminal record can be a major impediment to getting a job, housing or educational benefits. Efforts currently underway in the General Assembly to automatically expunge certain criminal records in Virginia are an attempt to reduce or eliminate those consequences. But legislators should proceed with caution.

Coal dust in Norfolk, Newport News requires action

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

The huge piles of coal waiting to be shipped via rail in two Hampton Roads neighborhoods — Lamberts Point in Norfolk and the Southeast Community in Newport News — create dust that darkens cars and outdoor furniture and seeps inside buildings. Residents there are a lot more likely to suffer from asthma, and that they may also be prone to other respiratory problems and even cancer. So one wonders why it took so long for Virginia officials to conduct the first large-scale study of how much and what kind of toxic metals are in the air in those communities.

Recognizing — and addressing — the virtual fatigue

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

In Bristol, Highland View Elementary School third grade students normally change classrooms for different classes. This year, teacher Barbara Gammon is using Zoom to teach students in different classrooms and those using remote learning at home while teaching her in-person class. October nearly is half over, and school divisions across Virginia are having moments of reckoning.


Edwards: Solar energy can save taxpayer dollars at the local level

By JOHN S. EDWARDS, published in Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

This year the General Assembly passed the Solar Freedom Act and the Clean Economy Act with the goal of reaching 100 percent renewable net energy by 2050. For non-profit organizations to reach this goal, and to benefit the state in expanding renewable energy, they are able to finance solar energy installation and operation through "third-party power-purchase agreements" (PPAs).

Edwards represents Roanoke, Craig County, Giles County and parts of Montgomery and Roanoke counties in the state Senate. He is a Democrat.

Walker: Virginia should replicate successful mental health program

By ALLYN WALKER, published in Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Across the country, police are called to intervene in non-criminal crisis situations, sometimes with devastating consequences. Early this month, Linden Cameron, a 13-year-old autistic boy in Salt Lake City was shot by police. Cameron's mother had called 911 for assistance with getting him transported to a local hospital for treatment when he was in crisis.

Walker (they/them/their/theirs) is an assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice at Old Dominion University.

Bonk: Redistricting reform is good for business and employees

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

Alanea Manuel is an entrepreneur. At 36, she opened her own business — a hair salon in Alexandria. And this year, she had to consider whether she needed to close it due to the COVD-19 pandemic. She is facing the same dilemma that thousands of business owners in Virginia face: uncertainty, and how to navigate it. Stephen Covey famously once said, "If there's one thing that's certain in business, it's uncertainty."

Sarah Bonk is the founder of Business for America, a nonpartisan business organization focused on restoring trust in our elections, reducing gridlock and polarization, and setting a positive example for business engagement in the political sector.

Chambers: The truth about Amendment 1

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

Most of the commentary and editorializing about Amendment 1 has been incomplete or disingenuous. The Virginia Redistricting Commission (VRC) would be a bipartisan commission that gives the Republican Party a stronger hand in redistricting than it would have if the 2021 General Assembly managed the process itself.

Henry L Chambers Jr. is a professor of law and the Austin E. Owen Scholar at the University of Richmond School of Law.

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