Thursday, August 27, 2020

Political Headlines from across Virginia

August 27, 2020
Top of the News

Senate backs bill allowing reduced sentence for assaulting law officer

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

A bill that would redefine what qualifies as assaulting a police officer and eliminate mandatory jail time for the offense triggered a ferocious political debate over police reforms and public protests that drew comments from almost half of the Virginia Senate before passing on a party-line vote on Wednesday. Republicans decried Senate Bill 5032 as an insult to law enforcement, court officials and emergency first responders, invoking the specter of sometimes violent protests that arose in Richmond and across the country in response to the killing of George Floyd by police in Minnesota in late May.

House committee votes to expand workers' comp, mandate paid quarantine leave

By KATE MASTERS, Virginia Mercury

Virginia workers scored a preliminary victory on Wednesday when a House committee approved two bills on workers' compensation and paid quarantine leave — both major concerns amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. "Without paid time off, workers are being asked to choose between their jobs and their family's health," said Del. Elizabeth Guzman, D-Prince William, whose legislation would require employers to provide paid leave to any employee who works at least 20 hours a week.

Arlington to begin enforcing social distancing ordinance

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

Arlington County will begin enforcing a new ordinance this weekend that prohibits groups of more than three people from congregating on certain streets and sidewalks. The action comes as officials say some restaurant and bar patrons have responded with "open defiance" to police and security personnel amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Health official: COVID-19 daily numbers may not reflect what is happening today

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

Throughout the spring and much of the summer, COVID-19 case counts ticked up one or two at a time in Floyd County, reaching 33 by Aug. 1. But midway through the month, they began to pile up and over the course of a couple of days and spiked to 109 before slowing to a trickle. Another surge came in reporting data Wednesday when the Virginia Department of Health reported 14 more cases, bringing the county's total to 139. There isn't a way to look at the day's numbers and know whether there are outbreaks in places or clusters in families and friends, or if there is wider transmission occurring in the rural mountainous county. Nor is there a way to know when the infections occurred.

Portsmouth begins taking down Confederate monument

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

A crew removed parts of the Confederate monument in downtown Portsmouth on Wednesday, marking the beginning of the end of years of intense controversy over a symbol at the heart of this majority Black Southern city. That debate reached a boiling point this summer while demonstrators here and across the country held weeks of protests to denounce police misconduct as part of a movement triggered by the May killing of George Floyd, a Black man who pleaded for help as a police officer knelt on his neck for nearly eight minutes in Minneapolis.

Even with classes online, some students move to campus for a taste of the college experience


Ian Smith hesitated. His senior year at West Springfield High School in Fairfax County was abruptly altered by the coronavirus, a traditional graduation replaced with a drive-thru ceremony where he pulled up in a car to receive his diploma. For months, he looked forward to dorm life at George Mason University and classes that would set him toward a degree in sports management. But as the days of summer dwindled, his worries grew.

Lewd cheerleader videos, sexist rules: Ex-employees decry Washington's NFL team workplace

By WILL HOBSON, BETH REINHARD, LIZ CLARKE AND DALTON BENNETT, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

In "Beauties on the Beach," the official video chronicling the making of the Washington NFL team's 2008 cheerleader swimsuit calendar, the women frolic in the sand, rave about their custom bikinis and praise a photographer for putting them at ease in settings where sometimes only a strategically placed prop or tightly framed shot shielded otherwise bare breasts. What the cheerleaders didn't know was that another video, intended strictly for private use, would be produced using footage from that same shoot.

The Full Report
55 articles, 25 publications


VPAP Visual If Money Were Votes

The Virginia Public Access Project

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 July 31.

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.


VA Supreme Court Dismisses Lawsuit Challenging Governor's COVID Restrictions


The Supreme Court of Virginia dismissed the joint case of a restaurant owner in Fredericksburg and an event venue owner in Loudon County who sued Gov. Ralph Northam over his COVID-19 restrictions. They asked the court to block the safety measures outlined in his executive orders, which they said severely limit their operations. Sen. Chap Peterson (D-Fairfax City), who is also an attorney, is representing the business owners in the lawsuit — which argues that the governor's orders are unconstitutional and exceed his executive authority. But Attorney General Mark Herring said the restrictions are legal and have proven effective.


Senate passes bill eliminating mandatory minimum sentence for assaulting police

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

The Virginia Senate passed a bill Wednesday that would eliminate the mandatory minimum sentence of six months in jail for people convicted of assaulting a law enforcement officer. The bill from Sen. Scott Surovell, D-Fairfax, passed on a party-line vote in the Democratic-controlled Senate after a lengthy debate, with Democrats arguing that police are improperly using the statute when officers aren't injured and Republicans saying that it's not the time to pass such a proposal when morale is down among police officers.

Virginia Senate passes bill allowing judges to consider lesser charge in assault of police officer

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

The Virginia Senate approved a bill Wednesday that would give judges and juries leeway to decide whether someone who shoves a police officer without causing injury deserves the same felony assault charge as someone who punches or stabs. Republicans criticized the party-line vote as undermining law enforcement, but Democrats said it was a step toward delivering the criminal justice overhaul they have promised for the special General Assembly session that kicked off last week.

Virginia Senate approves changes to police assault law

By DENISE LAVOIE, Associated Press

The Virginia Senate on Wednesday approved legislation that would eliminate a six-month mandatory minimum sentence for assaulting a police officer, despite strenuous objections from Republicans who said the bill disrespects police at a time when they have come under attack during nationwide protests. Democrats, who hold a narrow majority in the Senate, said the legislation does not minimize the crime of assaulting a police officer, but instead makes a distinction between serious assaults and minor assaults.

Obenshain's Parole Board Bill Advances

By JESSICA WETZLER, Daily News Record (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

A bill aimed at increasing transparency and accountability for the Virginia Parole Board is headed to the Senate floor after reporting out of the Senate's Rehabilitation and Social Services Committee with bipartisan support. Senate Bill 5050, sponsored by Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Rockingham, was heard before the committee Monday and passed, 10-4. Democratic senators who voted in favor of the bill were Barbara Favola, of Fairfax; Jeremy McPike, of Manassas; "Monty" Mason, of Williamsburg; and Jennifer Boysko, of Fairfax.

House Courts panel advances ban of no-knock search warrants by mostly partisan vote

By BILL ATKINSON, Progress Index (Metered paywall - 10 articles a month)

A House panel advanced legislation late Wednesday afternoon that would prohibit the use of so-called "no-knock" search warrants except in the extreme case that civilian or police safety could be jeopardized. The final vote out of the House Courts of Justice Committee was 14-7, mostly along party lines.

Virginia Senate Rejects End to Qualified Immunity for Police Officers


The Virginia Senate's Judiciary Committee rejected a bill that would have allowed law enforcement officers to be sued for misconduct. The committee voted unanimously to kill the proposal on Wednesday, instead sending it for further study by a conference of the Virginia Bar Association. Qualified immunity is a legal principle that shields Virginia police officers from civil lawsuits. Sen. Joe Morrissey's (D- Richmond) bill would have done away with that protection - letting people sue police officers for excessive force or other constitutional violations.

'Marcus Alert' legislation hits snag in the Senate as Peters' family decries 'false victory'

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

Protesters in Richmond railing against police brutality held up the case of Marcus-David Peters, a local man killed by police in 2018 during a mental health crisis, as evidence of the immediate need to reform emergency response. Months since protests began here, a proposal named for Peters that is moving through the General Assembly is meeting some resistance from members of both parties, prompting criticism by Peters' family that a needed policy could be diluted and delayed.

Unwilling to tap reserves or cut current state programs, budget leaders look to federal aid in crisis

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

General Assembly budget leaders hope to use federal COVID-19 relief funds to meet the state's most pressing needs in mental health and human services and avoid cutting existing programs or risking Virginia's AAA bond rating by dipping into reserve funds. Faced with a $2.7 billion revenue shortfall in the two-year budget, the leaders of the assembly's money committees are resisting calls by some legislators and liberal advocacy groups to use reserves to pay for new spending initiatives three years after a national bond-rating agency put Virginia on credit watch for drawing down its "rainy day" fund because of a projected revenue shortfall.

Senate Bill Aims to Put Nursing Homes First in COVID-19 Testing


At the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, a majority of outbreaks in Virginia took place in nursing homes. Now, a bill proposed by Sen. Ben Chafin (R-Russell) calls on the Commissioner of Health to prioritize nursing home residents and staff when testing for COVID-19. "It's the right thing to do for our senior citizens," Chafin said, as he called on the Senate Education and Health Committee to vote in favor of the bill.

Va. Senate committee kills bill to ban police-free 'CHOP' zones

By GRAHAM MOOMAW, Virginia Mercury

A Republican-sponsored bill to ban Seattle-style police-free zones failed Wednesday in a Virginia Senate committee after one Democrat called it "the most useless piece of legislation I've ever seen." Sen. Bill Stanley, R-Franklin, the legislation's sponsor, acknowledged the bill had little real-world effect because it included no penalties for local officials who allow police-free areas like Seattle's Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, or CHOP.


Critics of Virginia Redistricting Amendment Form New PAC


Foes of a proposed Constitutional amendment on redistricting in Virginia have formed a new fundraising arm to fight the measure. Opponents of the amendment will attempt to counteract the organizational muscle of OneVirginia2021, which has pushed for an amendment since 2013 and recently formed a fundraising arm of its own.

Marshall man seeks GOP nomination for lt. governor


A month ago, the affable Marshall man would have made no Virginia political pundit's early list of potential candidates for statewide office in 2021. Air Force veteran Lance R. Allen, who has worked four years for a big defense contractor, lives with his wife and young daughter in a colonial-style home on four acres off Free State Road, northwest of the village. Mr. Allen, 32, on Aug. 4 announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination to run for lieutenant governor next year.


Roanoke College Poll shows Biden leading Trump by 14 points in Virginia

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

A new Roanoke College Poll found that former Vice President Joe Biden leads President Donald Trump by 14 percentage points in Virginia ahead of the Nov. 3 election. Biden's lead was 12 points in the college's May poll. His favorable rating is up 15 points since May, while his unfavorable rating declined by 1%.


Cline Joins Democrat On Reform Bills

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

U.S. Rep. Ben Cline, R-Lexington, who represents the rural and agricultural western part of Virginia, has introduced three government reform bills with Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips, who represents the often-chilly suburbs and exurbs north, west and south of Minneapolis, Minn. "We're from different parties, but we're Americans first," Cline said. "And we want a bright future for our kids and for future generations, not just in our own district, but across the country."

Page Republicans host opening of election HQ with Congressman Cline

By RANDY ARRINGTON, Page Valley News

For three hours on Tuesday afternoon, Congressman Ben Cline spoke with local business owners as part of his ongoing Main Street Tour across the 6th District of Virginia. Accompanied by Grayson Markowitz, the clerk of the Page County Circuit Court, and Commissioner of Revenue Becky Smith, Cline visited the Mimslyn Inn, Marlow Ford, Farm Bureau, Page One, Rancho Viejo and Skyline Paint and Hardware discussing such issues as dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.


Mountain Valley asks FERC for for more time to complete pipeline

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

Held up for nearly a year by lawsuits, suspended permits and a stop-work order, the Mountain Valley Pipeline is bidding for more time. The company building the interstate pipeline asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission late Tuesday to extend by two years a key approval that will otherwise expire in six weeks.

Past due electric bills? Dominion offering up to $1,000 to small businesses and nonprofits

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

Dominion Energy says, for the first time, eligible small businesses, nonprofits and houses of worship can seek relief for past-due electricity bills through its EnergyShare program. Those interested can seek relief of up to $1,000. Applications will be available beginning Sept. 1 and will be reviewed on a first-come, first-serve basis until funds run out. The Richmond-based utility has set aside $500,000 for the program administered through the Virginia Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

Torc Robotics to create 350 new jobs, establish another facility in Blacksburg

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

Torc Robotics will invest $8.5 million to expand its local software development operations and is slated to create 350 new jobs, according to an announcement from Gov. Ralph Northam's office Wednesday. Part of the plans for the Blacksburg-based developer of self-driving systems will be the establishment of an additional facility at the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, an office and research park near Torc's current headquarters at the Blacksburg Industrial Park.

Rouss City Hall reopening to the public on Sept. 8

By BRIAN BREHM, Winchester Star (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Nearly six months after the COVID-19 pandemic forced Winchester officials to close Rouss City Hall to the public, the building's doors are ready to open again. Interim City Manager Mary Beth Price announced on Tuesday night that all city government buildings — including the Creamery Building on South Kent Street, the Department of Social Services on Baker Street and the War Memorial Building in Jim Barnett Park — are scheduled to reopen on Sept. 8, the day after Labor Day.


VCU 'quietly' converts Honors College building into COVID-19 isolation unit


Floors of VCU's Honors College building will be used to house residential students who test positive for COVID-19, according to a university spokesperson. The plan calls for converting the seventh floor of the building immediately, followed by the fifth and sixth floors as needed — creating up to 160 additional spaces for students who need to stay in isolation.


Virginia reports 823 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday

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

The Virginia Department of Health reported 823 new coronavirus cases Wednesday, bringing the state's tally to 115,458. At least 2,515 Virginians have died from the virus as of Wednesday morning, an increase of 21 from Tuesday.

33 inmates at Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail test positive for coronavirus

By JESSICA NOLTE, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)

The Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail said 33 inmates in the same housing unit tested positive for the coronavirus during a recent round of testing. In a news release shared on its Facebook page, the jail said it tested all of its staff and all the inmates living in the housing unit after a person in the unit tested positive on Aug. 13.

Prince William reports workplace outbreak of COVID-19, 45 new cases

Prince William Times

The Prince William Health District reported its 18th "outbreak" of COVID-19 on Wednesday. It involved a workplace where six cases have been reported since Aug. 10, according to health district director Dr. Alison Ansher. Details on the workplace, including the type of business and it's location, were not immediately available Wednesday morning.

School on Quantico military base closes for deep cleaning after COVID-19 case


Two days after the combined middle and high school on the grounds of the Quantico Marine Corps base opened for in-person instruction, a case of COVID-19 is temporarily putting the school year on hold. An update on the website for Quantico Middle/High School said a "member of our Quantico Middle High School family," has tested positive for the coronavirus and the school will be closed from Aug. 26-31 "to allow for a thorough cleaning and disinfecting."

Virus outbreaks hit five Fredericksburg area care facilities

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

A string of COVID-19 outbreaks have hit five assisted living facilities in the Fredericksburg area, according to updated statistics. From Friday through Tuesday, multiple positive cases were reported at the five sites. None of the outbreaks are widespread, with each having fewer than five cases, according to Virginia Department of Health's update on Wednesday.


Gloucester School Board violated transgender student's rights, federal appeals court rules

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

A federal appeals court on Wednesday affirmed a lower court's ruling last year that the Gloucester School Board's bathroom policy violated a transgender student's constitutional rights. The three-judge panel of the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals voted 2-1 to uphold a Norfolk federal judge's 2019 ruling that the school board was wrong to bar Gavin Grimm from using the boys room at Gloucester High School six years ago.

Court rules in favor of transgender student

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

A federal appeals court Wednesday handed a victory to a transgender student once prohibited from using the boys' bathroom, signaling the continued changing legal landscape over contentious restroom policies. In a 2-to-1 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit said the Gloucester County School Board in Virginia had practiced sex-based discrimination and violated the 14th Amendment by prohibiting Gavin Grimm, a transgender student, from using the bathroom that aligned with his gender identity.

Court: School transgender bathroom policy unconstitutional


A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that a Virginia school board's transgender bathroom ban is unconstitutional and discriminated against a transgender male student who was barred from using the boys bathrooms in his high school. The ruling is a victory for transgender rights advocates and Gavin Grimm, a former student at Gloucester High School who was required to use restrooms that corresponded with his biological sex — female — or private bathrooms.

Federal court in Richmond rules again that restroom policies segregating transgender students are unconstitutional

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

The U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Wednesday that bathroom policies segregating trans students from their peers are unconstitutional — a win for transgender students like Gavin Grimm, who fought a five-year-long battle against a Gloucester County School Board policy that refused him the right to use the boys restroom at Gloucester County High School as a transgender man.

Supreme Court of Virginia tosses injunction in Richmond Confederate statue removal case

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

The Supreme Court of Virginia on Wednesday tossed out an injunction handed down by a Richmond judge that barred the city from removing its lone remaining Confederate monument. Richmond Circuit Judge Bradley Cavedo issued a 60-day injunction in July shortly after Mayor Levar Stoney ordered the removal of the city's Confederate monuments, using authority under a local emergency order. Stoney appealed the decision, and the state's highest court ruled in his favor Wednesday.

Caroline supervisors must now decide where to relocate Confederate monument

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

When Lydell Fortune woke up Wednesday morning, he felt a sense of relief. The grassroots effort that Fortune helped organize to have a Confederate monument removed from the Caroline County courthouse lawn had come to fruition the night before when the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to relocate the memorial.

A Virginia Estate Near Trump Winery Looks to Yield $75 Million

By KATHERINE CLARKE, Wall Street Journal (Subscription Required)

The enormous Virginia estate of former wireless telecom entrepreneur Tom Sullivan maintains the scale and amenities of a luxurious historical theme park. There is, among other things, a two-lane go-kart track, a 180-foot waterslide leading to a lake, 26 houses, two lakefront beaches, miles of trails and even antique carriage tours led by former Budweiser Clydesdale horses. The property requires a full-time staff of 20, plus contractors. Now after two decades the entire 4,500-acre operation is going on the market for $75 million.


Arlington adds more early voting satellite sites for November election

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

Arlington County will add two new early-voting satellite sites for the November election because of dramatic increases in early voting during presidential election years, concern about delivery of mailed ballots and the desire to avoid crowds during the coronavirus pandemic. "We are expecting a large turnout of voters during a pandemic that is still far from controlled," said County Board chair Libby Garvey (D) in a statement.

New lawsuit seeks Walts' Twitter messages

By EMILY SIDES, Inside NOVA (Metered Paywall)

Former school board Chair Ryan Sawyers is asking the court to order the release of 20,000 private Twitter messages between students and Prince William County Public Schools Superintendent Steve Walts. The move follows a separate, $2.35 million defamation lawsuit filed by Sawyers on July 12 after a complaint about Walts' Twitter use led the superintendent to stop using the account, @SuperPWCS, in May. Before closing the account, Walts posted a video message defending himself while making statements that Sawyers claims defamed him. The video has since been removed.

PPE and school supplies; community partners prepare students for unusual school year

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

Volunteers from around Richmond gathered under tents at The Diamond on Wednesday to pack 17,000 personal protective equipment kits with school supplies for students embarking on an unusual school year. Most classes around the region begin Sept. 8, and with tens of thousands of area students beginning the year online, their needs have shifted.

Chesterfield supervisors approve plans for millions in federal relief funds

By JESS NOCERA, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

Chesterfield County is delivering $61.5 million across the locality in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security funding. The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the county's CARES funding proposal after a public hearing Wednesday night. The supervisors voted on how to spend $51.5 million; $10 million already had been appropriated for business grants and fiscal 2020 expenses.

Chesterfield Schools Could Have Students Back In Classrooms By End of September


Based on recommendations from a health committee, the Chesterfield County School Board has decided to continue with its plan to have students return to school virtually on September 8. But Deputy Superintendent Thomas Taylor, who spoke on behalf of the committee, said if COVID-19 cases continue to trend downward, students could return to in-person learning as early as September 29.

Spotsylvania supervisors divided over schools request to cover laptop costs

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

There were motions, substitute motions and friendly motions but little agreement Tuesday night as the Spotsylvania Board of Supervisors wrestled over $2.5 million sought by the school system to cover pandemic-related costs for laptops for students and staff, who recently started the virtual school year. Supervisors who wanted to "hold back" the money maintained that the Chromebooks already have been purchased and potential carryover funds from the last fiscal year could cover the costs.

Female leaders in Fredericksburg area help celebrate 19th Amendment's centennial

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

Susan B. Anthony walked into a Rochester, N.Y., barbershop that doubled as a voter registration office on Nov. 1, 1872, and threatened to sue startled officials unless she was allowed to register to vote. The suffragist was arrested and charged with voting illegally after she cast a ballot for Ulysses S. Grant four days later.

Council violates CRB bylaws, ordinance with appointment

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

Charlottesville City Council appointed a city employee to the Police Civilian Review Board in violation of the oversight panel's bylaws and ordinance. The council unanimously appointed LaTita Talbert on Tuesday night after a closed session to interview applicants for the CRB and the Planning Commission and to discuss other legal matters. In Talbert's application, she lists her occupation as a city transit driver and her employer as the city of Charlottesville.

City Council to consider $4.5M bond issue to support redevelopment

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

Charlottesville is prepared to issue $4.5 million in bonds to support the redevelopment of the city's public housing stock. City Council will hold a public hearing and consider issuing the bonds during its meeting on Sept. 8, according to a public notice published in Tuesday's Daily Progress.

Henry County supervisors approve spending $500 K for first responders

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

Henry County officials on Tuesday approved using about $500,000 in federal coronavirus relief funds to pay emergency responders a hazard supplement for hours worked since March. In a last-minute addition to the afternoon meeting agenda, the Henry County Board of Supervisors authorized paying up to $3 per hour to county emergency medical services and law enforcement personnel out of the locality's CARES Act funds.

Plan could see county give $2M in CARES money to families for distance learning

By BRAD FAUBER, Northern Virginia Daily

Though no action was taken regarding the allocation of a second wave of Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic (CARES) Act funding, a plan presented to the Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors during Tuesday's meeting could distribute $2 million in federal aid to county families with school-age children to assist with distance learning.

Business owners in Schoolfield think Danville casino a good bet

By JOHN CRANE, Danville Register & Bee

Family Haircuts owner Cathy Allen is excited about the possibility of Caesars Entertainment bringing a casino to Schoolfield. "I hope it will give Danville a face-lift," said Allen from her Schoolfield business, located across from Hardee's on West Main Street, a few blocks from where the casino would be located.

State Street demonstration celebrates 19th Amendment centennial

By SARAH WADE, Bristol Herald Courier (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)

An intriguing group of demonstrators took over the sidewalks of State Street at noon in downtown Bristol Wednesday. Most were women, and most wore white: summery white tunics, flowing white skirts, floppy white hats, even white gloves. They sported purple, yellow and white sashes, waved American flags and clanged the hand bells they were all carrying. "Give women the vote!" some of them chanted through yellow and purple face masks.



Why does Virginia have so few women in elected office?

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

Over the past few weeks, we've been looking back at the campaign by which women won the right to vote — culminating with the 19th Amendment being added to the U.S. Constitution on Aug. 26, 1920. Today, we look at what's happened since. The first thing that happened was there was a mad rush to register women before that year's presidential election (eventually won by Republican Warren Harding).

Surviving a powerful hurricane depends on resilience investment now

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

Hampton Roads has in recent years been spared the effects of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes, a trend the region should hope continues in a very active season for storms. We know a big one will come — and the region remains unprepared, with carefully crafted resilience plans still waiting to be put in motion due to a lack of funding and, frankly, a lack of commitment.

Digital disparities no longer can be overlooked

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

For weeks, K-12 school divisions, colleges and universities across Virginia have grappled over a difficult and, at times, divisive question: Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, is it safe to reopen school buildings this fall? Students, parents, teachers and other key stakeholders have made their voices heard. The bridge between safety and efficacy has been nothing short of a tightrope.


Schapiro: Democrats risk getting crosswise on districting measure

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

You'd think Virginia Democrats would have something better to do. Like protect two congressional seats they won in Trump-carried districts in the Richmond area and South Hampton Roads in 2018 and, perhaps, snatch a third in deep-red rural central and Southside Virginia, where Republicans dumped a Trump-backed incumbent for a guy who used to work at Jerry Falwell Jr.'s Liberty University. But no.


Griffin, Kahl and Rea: Courts are understaffed and underpaid

By LAURA GRIFFIN, RICK KAHL AND TERRI REA, published in Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Target Corp. announced this summer that all of its employees would be paid at least $15 per hour. Amazon is hiring warehouse workers for $15+ per hour. Fast-food workers are demanding $15 per hour. Fifteen dollars per hour must be the new standard as far as wages are concerned, but what these workers are demanding is pay equity. "There can be no justice without equality." Is it not ironic then, that the Equal Rights Amendment was finally ratified this year in Virginia, yet entry-level workers employed to administer justice in Virginia are still paid less than $15 per hour?

Griffin is president-election, Kahl is president and Rea is immediate past president of the Association of Clerks of the District Courts of Virginia.

Clemo: Support Growing Climate Solutions Act

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

In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, uncertainty was everywhere. Would the virus spread, and where? What did this mean for day-to-day life? Pretty quickly, that uncertainty showed up at the grocery store. I remember seeing partially empty shelves as people panicked and stocked up on food. Today, plenty of uncertainty remains, but our grocery store shelves are full again. America's food supply chain has proven to be strong and resilient.

Clemo is a volunteer with the Roanoke Chapter of the Citizens' Climate Lobby and retired law reference librarian and special education teacher.

Samimy: Students left out of the recovery

By OLIVIA SAMIMY, published in Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Spring 2020 was supposed to be a very exciting semester for my two closest friends and me. Hannah, Haley, and I are all students at Roanoke College, and we decided that for spring semester of our junior year we would all branch out. Hannah and I took internships in D.C., hers with a non-profit law firm and mine with the nonprofit, youth advocacy organization Generation Progress. Haley would be studying abroad in Cork, Ireland.

Samimy is a senior at Roanoke College and a current intern with Generation Progress, a national youth advocacy and education organization housed within the Center for American Progress.

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

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Meet Senate Candidate Daniel Gade, Saturday, August 29, 5:30 - 7 PM

Please drop by for a hot dog and meet our future Senator 
 Daniel Gade
  • Saturday, August 29, 2020, 5:30 - 7 PM 
  • Piankatank Ruritan Pavilion, Hudgins, VA

The Mathews County Republican Committee is honored to have this outstanding American visit with  us!

Sponsored by the Mathews County Republican Committee, 
  Byron Rauch, Chair
RSVP by 5:30pm, Thursday, Aug 27, to 804-725-5117;
      leave your name and the number attending

Please pass this on! Invite your friends and neighbors to meet
 the Republican Senate Candidate,   Daniel Gade!  


Friday, August 21, 2020

Political Headlines from across Virginia

August 21, 2020
Top of the News

Senate adjourns to await resumption of work by House of Delegates

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

The Virginia Senate adjourned Thursday and will return to Richmond next week to continue work for the special session. The Senate has worked through dozens of bills in just a few days, while the House of Delegates has yet to begin its work. The House is planning to vote Sunday to transition to an all-virtual session and then it will begin taking up bills.

Unemployment claims rise in Virginia, and U.S.

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

Unemployment claims picked up in Virginia and across the United States last week. The Virginia Employment Commission reported Thursday that 15,151 initial jobless claims — the first step for people who have found themselves out of work either for the first time or again after a period of employment — had been filed with the state during the week ending Aug. 15.

McAuliffe files paperwork to run but says no decision made

By ALAN SUDERMAN, Associated Press

Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has filed paperwork to run for his old job next year but says he's still hasn't made a decision yet. McAuliffe filed paperwork with the Virginia State Board of Elections on Wednesday listing himself as a Democratic candidate for governor. But his spokesman, Brennan Bilberry, said McAuliffe won't made an official decision to run until after the November election.

7 Virginia Tech students suspended after off-campus gatherings

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

Seven Virginia Tech students were suspended Thursday after local law enforcement alerted the university to reports of large groups of students gathered off-campus. "Virginia Tech remains steadfast in its commitment to expect all members of our community to follow all public health guidelines issued in response to the COVID-19 pandemic," Dean of Students Byron Hughes said in a message posted on Tech's website Thursday afternoon.

As other universities pull the plug on in-person classes, UVa tries to reassure community

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

Positive cases of COVID-19 will be part of the "new normal" at the University of Virginia as students return to Grounds for the new school year, and a successful return doesn't mean completely eliminating the risk of infections, officials wrote in a letter to the university community Thursday. "It means instead that each and every one of us acts to prevent the spread of the virus by following simple but powerful public health measures," officials wrote.

Bristol schools reopen

By SARAH WADE, Bristol Herald Courier (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)

On Thursday, Bristol Virginia schools reopened their buildings to students for the start of the new academic year. While some had elected the remote learning option in a school systemwide survey, at least 56 percent of the student population returned in person.

Sweeping probe details ruthless rise of a new gang in D.C.'s suburbs

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

A member of the Reccless Tigers gang beat and robbed Brandon White over a drug debt in 2018. But even after they put White in the hospital with bruised ribs and broken orbital bones, they weren't done with him. Ignoring offers of bribes to keep silent and death threats, White testified in court and named his attacker as David Nguyen, according to court records. Court documents state that Nguyen admitted he got a copy of a police report from his attorney and sent out a letter from a Fairfax County jail cell: White was a "snitch" who needed to be "checked."

The Full Report
61 articles, 30 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 has $1.1B in unused reserve funds. Some say the rainy day is here.

By GRAHAM MOOMAW, Virginia Mercury

When he presented his pandemic-era budget proposal to the General Assembly this week, Gov Ralph Northam said that, just as it is in family budgeting, "cash is king." In other words, a year of crisis and financial uncertainty is no time to start spending on new things. As legislators began their special session, Northam detailed all the ways the state has tried to help Virginia families weather the COVID-19 pandemic, including the $3.1 billion in federal CARES Act money the state is deploying, much of it going directly to local governments to help their communities.

Alert system for mental health crises advanced by lawmakers

By DENISE LAVOIE, Associated Press

A Virginia Senate committee has approved legislation that would establish an alert system to dispatch mental health providers along with police to help stabilize people in crisis situations, a move prompted by the police killing of a high school teacher in Richmond police two years ago. The bill approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday is named after Marcus-David Peters, a 24-year-old Black man who was killed while he was undergoing a mental health crisis.

Virginia bill eliminating mandatory minimum punishments dies in committee


In a special session dedicated to COVID-19 and criminal justice reform, senators shot down a bill that would've done away with mandatory minimum punishments in Virginia. Eight members of the Democrat-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee voted to kill the proposal and refer it to the Virginia Crime Commission for further study. Three senators voted to keep it alive, including the Committee's Chairman Sen. John Edwards (D-Roanoke), who introduced the bill.

Bob Calhoun, former Alexandria vice mayor and state senator dies at 83

By JEANNE THEISMANN, Connection Newspapers

Bob Calhoun, a political statesman who represented Alexandria in elected office for 20 years, died Aug. 6 at his country wildlife preserve in Berryville, Va., following a battle with prostate cancer. He was 83 years old. "Bob was always interested in politics," said Calhoun's wife Sandra. "His grandmother was an influential Democratic backer in the Chicago area while the other side of his family were fervent Republicans. So I guess you could say it was kind of in his blood."

Portsmouth officer's email condemned Lucas before investigation started

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

The day after protests and vandalism at the city's Confederate monument, a Portsmouth police sergeant emailed the city manager and council members to defend the police chief and take aim at Sen. Louise Lucas, the city's top prosecutor and public defenders. "For a Senator to try to inject any of us into her agenda is repulsive," he wrote of Lucas.


McAuliffe files paperwork to form campaign committee, but has not yet decided to seek a comeback, aide says

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

Former governor Terry McAuliffe has filed paperwork with the Virginia elections office to create a campaign committee to run for governor in 2021, but the Democrat's spokesman said that it's a technicality and that there's no candidacy. Yet. "Governor McAuliffe is making no decisions on 2021 until after we defeat Donald Trump and his hateful ideology. This represents a paperwork change suggested by our accountant and lawyer," spokesman Brennan Bilberry said via text message.

Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe files paperwork to raise funds for gubernatorial run

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

Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who has teased at a run for governor after considering a run for president, filed paperwork on Wednesday with Virginia election officials to formally raise funds for a gubernatorial campaign. McAuliffe, 63, has encouraged speculation about his run for governor while becoming a prominent surrogate for the presidential campaign of Joe Biden.

Fairfax legislators split on need for redistricting amendment

By BRIAN TROMPETER, Inside NOVA (Metered Paywall)

Virginia voters on Nov. 3 will decide whether to approve a proposed constitutional amendment to create a commission that would redraw congressional and state legislative districts – a process usually conducted by the General Assembly the year after each decennial census. Democrats advocated for such a commission during the two most recent decades when they did not hold the majority in the General Assembly. But with the commission potentially on the cusp of becoming reality – and Democrats in control of both legislative houses, following last November's massive victory sweep – some lawmakers within the party are expressing reservations about possible redistricting changes.


Gade brings Senate campaign to city

By TERRAN S. YOUNG, Coalfield Progress

"I will lead the movement," U.S. Senate candidate Daniel Gade told supporters during a midday event here Monday. The Republican held an outdoor lunchtime meet-and-greet event downtown with Norton and Wise County residents. Gade is running against Democratic incumbent Mark Warner.

Stafford supervisors approve satellite voting station

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

Stafford County supervisors voted unanimously on Tuesday night to open an additional early voting site at the Stafford Regional Airport, in anticipation of heavy turnout for the upcoming presidential election.

Preparing for a unique fall election

By TOBY COX, Central Virginian

Louisa officials are preparing for an upcoming presidential and Congressional election that presents unique challenges and opportunities for voters. Around this time in a normal election year, people would be canvassing across the county, third-party nonpartisan organizations would be setting up booths at events to encourage passersby to register to vote, and the local registrar's office would be engaging high schoolers to register and participate as election pages.

New early voting location approved by Washington County supervisors

By JOE TENNIS, Washington County News

Voters can find a new early voter polling place prior to the upcoming presidential election in Washington County, Virginia. The Washington County Board of Supervisors last week approved establishing a voter satellite office at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center just off I-81's Exit 14.


Virginia seeks stopgap federal unemployment aid

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

Unemployed Virginians could receive an additional $300 a week in unemployment compensation under a federal executive order by President Donald Trump, but the emergency funding could run out soon after the money starts flowing. The Virginia Employment Commission filed an application on Thursday for enhanced unemployment compensation from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which said it already has spent about $2.4 billion of the $44 billion that would be available under the executive order issued after talks broke down between Republicans and Democrats in Congress over COVID-19 relief.

Virginia's high court won't extend ban on evictions; moratorium still set to expire in early September

By JESSICA NOLTE, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

The chief justice of the Virginia Supreme Court extended a "judicial emergency" order Thursday, but the court said it was not extending the order that temporarily stopped evictions proceedings. On Aug. 7, in a 4-3 ruling, the court agreed to a moratorium on eviction proceedings through Sept. 7 at Gov. Ralph Northam's request. The updated order Thursday said the moratorium would end unless it was amended in a future order....The court said it was passing the order to give Northam and his administration time to develop and pass a legislative package to help tenants facing eviction and to expand financial assistance.

Inspector general faults lack of diversity in conservation police agencies

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

Conservation and marine police at Virginia's natural resources agencies are overwhelmingly white and male, according to an inspector general's audit that faults the departments for not doing more to make their law enforcement staffs more diverse to reflect the population they serve.

DEQ traces Tinker Creek fuel leak to downtown Roanoke plant

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

A diesel fuel leak into Tinker Creek last month has been traced to the Coca-Cola bottling plant in downtown Roanoke. About 2,500 gallons of fuel slowly escaped from the plant's fueling station over about two weeks, according to Jon Newbill, a petroleum remediation specialist with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.


Congressman seeks to end park's designation as Lee memorial

By MATTHEW BARAKAT, Associated Press

A northern Virginia congressman is pursuing legislation to remove Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's name from the official designation at the historic mansion where he lived before the Civil War. The home, overlooking the nation's capital and surrounded by Arlington National Cemetery, is a National Park Service site officially known as "Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial."


Panelists at economic outlook forum see modest COVID-19 recovery, need for more stimulus

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

Hopes for a swift economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic are now giving way to the reality of a longer, fitful climb back to normalcy, economists and business leaders said Thursday during an online forum focusing on the economic outlook for Virginia. Joined by U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., the panel of two economists and two business leaders said a slower economic recovery will require additional measures, such as assistance for renters who may face evictions, along with more help for small businesses that were unable to tap into earlier rounds of federal government-backed relief loans.

Five N. Va. public schools will receive Amazon money for computer science classes

By JONATHAN CAPRIEL, Washington Business Journal (Subscription required for some articles)

When Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) met with CodeVA about funding computer science programs in Virginia public schools, the e-commerce and cloud computing giant wanted to know how it could make a significant impact. Chris Dovi, executive director and co-founder of the nonprofit, which works to make computer science training equitable throughout Virginia's schools, recalls responding, "Double our budget" of about $1.3 million.

SW Va. coal mine owner and foreman sentenced in dust sampling fraud case

By TIM DODSON, Washington County News

A Southwest Virginia coal mine owner and a foreman who previously pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to commit dust sampling fraud were sentenced last week in U.S. District Court in Abingdon. Daniel Tucker, 57, of Russell County, owns D&H Mining and was sentenced to three months in federal prison, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Virginia.

J.C. Penney plans to close two stores in Virginia

By GREGORY J. GILLIGAN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

J.C. Penney plans to close two stores in Virginia, including its location in Regency mall in Henrico County. The Plano, Texas-based chain, which filed for bankruptcy protection in May, filed documents with the federal bankruptcy court late Wednesday night seeking to close a total of three more stores. That list includes its store in the Fashion Square Mall in Charlottesville.


Fare or no fare? Transit agencies face tough choices amid COVID-19 budget crunch.

By WYATT GORDON, Virginia Mercury

Thanks to ground-breaking expansion plans and record ridership numbers in 2019, the Greater Richmond Transit Company expected 2020 to be a turning point in Central Virginia's glacial journey towards a truly regional transit system. Instead, GRTC's first-ever local route in Chesterfield opened during an unprecedented pandemic and eight months into the year the agency finds itself hustling to balance the safety of its riders and staff, its responsibility as an essential transportation service, and its own budget.


Community colleges, facing major enrollment drops, prep for a virtual fall semester

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

Community colleges typically face a predictable calculus: Unemployment goes up, more people seek job training and affordable tuition, so enrollment rises. The economy improves, unemployment goes down, and enrollment drops. But the coronavirus pandemic has broken all the rules. Despite high unemployment, Thomas Nelson and Tidewater community colleges are facing significant enrollment declines.

VCU reports 25 confirmed student and 11 employee COVID-19 cases

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

Within an hour of confirming 25 student and 11 employee cases of COVID-19, Virginia Commonwealth University unveiled an online dashboard billed as a transparent accounting of the potentially fatal virus's footprint in the campus community. Of the student cases, 11 involve people who are living on campus, said VCU spokesman Mike Porter.

University of Richmond has six new COVID-19 cases

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

Six students at the University of Richmond are infected with the coronavirus four days before classes start. According to a university spokeswoman, three of those students are living on campus and are in isolation. Two off-campus students self-reported their cases to the school, and one was tested on campus but did not plan to attend classes in person. Students returned to campus last week.

EMU's delay of move-in because of positive COVID tests underscores colleges' challenges

By ANDREW JENNER, Harrisonburg Citizen

Even before many of its students even reached campus, Eastern Mennonite University sought to quash an outbreak this week when four students tested positive, although without showing symptoms. But the students' interactions with others, who also now must be quarantined, set into motion a ripple effect, prompting EMU to delay its move-in date from this weekend until Sept. 3-6 and forcing classes online to start the semester.

Labor complaint filed on behalf of George Mason janitors

Associated Press

Janitors working at George Mason University who are considering forming a union are facing retaliation from their employer, according to a complaint filed with the National Labor Relations Board. The complaint filed this week by the union, Service Employees International Union, alleges janitors have been targeted with surveillance and interrogations about potential union activity by their employer, H&E Cleaning in Manassas, Virginia.

Virginia Tech gets record amount of donations

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

Virginia Tech on Thursday reported a record-setting year of donations, despite a pandemic that has ravaged the economy and imperiled the university's budgets. The university received more than $185.4 million in gifts and commitments for donations over the fiscal year that ended June 30.


863 new coronavirus cases reported Thursday in Virginia

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

The Virginia Department of Health reported 863 new coronavirus cases Thursday, bringing the state's tally to 109,882. At least 2,427 Virginians have died from the virus as of Thursday morning, an increase of 17 overnight.

Where COVID-19 cases rose in Virginia over the past month

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

After seeing an explosion in new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in July, Hampton Roads has seemingly reversed course. Many of the region's key health metrics are now trending down. Over the past few weeks, the region's percent of tests coming back positive have dropped from 12.2% to 8.7%.


Shame and acclaim; council hears opinions on statue

By ROGER WATSON, Farmville Herald (Paywall)

Farmville's Town Council spent more than an hour Wednesday, Aug. 19, hearing opinions from 27 citizens concerning the fate of the town's Confederate Heroes statue. The bronze soldier was hastily removed from atop its pedestal at the intersection of High and Randolph streets the night of June 18.

It's gone

By STEPHEN FALESKI, Smithfield Times (Paywall)

The Surry County Confederate monument, formerly located in front of the county's courthouse, is gone. The monument was removed from its spot over the weekend. According to county officials, the monument is being stored at an undisclosed location while Surry's Board of Supervisors wait out the 30 days state law requires localities to offer their Confederate monuments slated for removal to museums, historical societies, other government entities or military battlefields.

Religious leaders say they'll 'walk the walk' from Charlottesville to DC to highlight racial inequalities


A group of about 30 religious figures from around the country gathered in Charlottesville as a symbolic starting point to talk about race in the country, with a focus on inequalities that they feel sometimes go unaddressed by other religious activists. But they have no intention of staying in the Virginia.

Residents weigh in on Confederate statue's place in Lovingston

By NICK CROPPER, Nelson County Times

Several residents went before the Nelson County Board of Supervisors during its Aug. 11 meeting to voice their opinions on the suggested removal of the confederate statue that sits on courthouse grounds. In total, five residents spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting, two stating their support of the statue's removal, and three voicing their opposition.

School board removes Lee-Jackson name

By CHARLIE KOENIG, Gazette-Journal

The name Lee-Jackson Elementary is now history. By a 4-0-1 vote Tuesday night, the Mathews County School Board voted to remove the name from the school, putting off a decision on selecting a new name for the school until the end of the year.


Arlington GOP preps for first in-person meeting since COVID hit

Inside NOVA (Metered Paywall)

Having been relegated to online meetings since spring, the Arlington County Republican Committee is planning to return to in-person gatherings. Party chairman Andrew Loposser said the monthly Republican Committee meeting will be held on Wednesday, Aug. 26 at 7 p.m. at Summers Restaurant, located in the Courthouse area. . . . The Arlington GOP will be the first political party in the county to revert to in-person meetings; both the Arlington County Democratic Committee and Arlington Greens continue to use "virtual" platforms.

Loudoun County Public Schools expands opening plan to add hybrid learning for some students


As Loudoun County Public Schools gears up for a virtual start to the school year Sept. 8, certain groups of students in the Virginia school system will have a hybrid option. On Wednesday night, the Loudoun County School Board directed LCPS to add two days of in-person learning for students with disabilities who receive instruction through the Aligned Standards of Learning as well as in Early Childhood Special Education.

Prince William County facing COVID-19 workers' comp claims

By EMILY SIDES, Inside NOVA (Metered Paywall)

Prince William County has set aside over $237,000 to cover workers' compensation claims from five county employees who say they contracted COVID-19 after being exposed in the workplace. Brian Misner, the county's emergency management coordinator, provided information about employees' exposure to the coronavirus for the first time Aug. 4 at the request of the board of county supervisors. Misner said 40 county employees have tested positive for the virus, with 22 of those being public safety employees.

Superintendent investigation costs Prince William schools $110,000

By EMILY SIDES, Inside NOVA (Metered Paywall)

An investigation into Superintendent Steve Walts' use of his Twitter account has cost Prince William County Public Schools over $110,000. The school division paid law firm Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP a total of $110,776.50 for its investigation of complaints about Walts, according to documents from the division provided to InsideNoVa in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

Superintendent: 1,894 special needs students will return to school in-person

By DANIEL BERTI, Prince William Times

Prince William County Schools Superintendent Steve Walts told the school board Wednesday that approximately 1,894 special education students, English language learners and students with interrupted learning will return to school this fall for in-person learning. Walts outlined the school divisions plan to return the "most vulnerable" students to school for in-person learning and said he was "very confident" that the school division will be prepared to open on Sept. 8.

Citing questions about enforcement, Richmond City Council delays vote on gun ban

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

The Richmond City Council delayed a vote Thursday on a gun ban for events in the city amid questions over how the prohibition would be enforced. The ban, proposed by Mayor Levar Stoney, would prohibit bringing a gun to, or adjacent to, a street, sidewalk, alley or other public right-of-way at a permitted event or one that requires a permit under city code.

Empty school buildings may be central to plan to help parents with day care as they return to work

By JEREMY M. LAZARUS, Richmond Free Press

Sharonda Robinson hoped against hope that Richmond Public Schools would reopen this fall so her sons, ages 6 and 8, could be in school taking classes while she went to work. But the RPS decision to hold classes only online this fall means the 32-year-old single mother might have to give up her job as a retail store clerk to stay home to care for the boys and help them with online classes.

County sales tax revenue keeps rising, up 20% in June

By JIM MCCONNELL, Chesterfield Observer

While many individual Chesterfield businesses continue to be adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, by one important measure the local economy is outperforming those in most of Virginia's largest jurisdictions. In April, state sales tax collections in Chesterfield increased by 4%, a surprising result given the nationwide recession. Two months later, June's collections proved that wasn't a blip, as Chesterfield's state sales tax revenue jumped 20.4% that month when compared to June 2019, marking the county's largest year-over-year increase in more than two decades.

Council limits gatherings to 50; masks required in public spaces

By ROGER WATSON, Farmville Herald (Paywall)

Farmville's Town Council unanimously enacted an emergency ordinance Wednesday, Aug. 19, to limit gatherings to 50 people. The only debate was if 50 was the right number. "I think 50 is too many," Council Member Sallie Amos said.

Buckingham County Sheriff's Deputy's Facebook post questioned

By ALEXA MASSEY, Farmville Herald (Paywall)

Many area residents expressed outrage and disappointment this week in response to a social media post made by a Buckingham County sheriff's deputy. A screenshot of the post, deemed racist and unprofessional by several citizens, began circulating online last week. The Facebook status appeared to have been written by Deputy Chris Fishburne of the Buckingham County Sheriff's Office.

Prince Edward County Sheriff's Sergeant demoted after Facebook comment

By ALEXA MASSEY, Farmville Herald (Paywall)

A Prince Edward County Sheriff's Office sergeant has been demoted following his involvement in a controversial Facebook post deemed racist and offensive by many area residents. Tuesday, Aug. 11, Buckingham County Sheriff's Deputy Chris Fishburne shared a Facebook post that outraged several citizens. A Facebook profile under the name Larry Redskin Franklin seemed to find humor in the deputy's joke, commenting laughing emojis under the original post. That's when locals identified Franklin as being an employee of the Prince Edward County Sheriff's Office.

27,000 new laptops. How schools in Hampton Roads will keep students connected during COVID.

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

One book a day and cuddle. It's some advice Denae Horton got from her son's teachers after the coronavirus pandemic closed the doors to their school, Thurgood Marshall Elementary in Chesapeake. Horton had been feeling down. She was worried she wasn't being the mother her two boys needed. She was preoccupied not only by what impacts the pandemic was having on her own job prospects, but about the boys' education.

With roughly half reporting to U.S. Census, King William, King and Queen counties could miss out under limited timeline

By EMILY HOLTER, Tidewater Review

With federal dollars and congressional seats at stake, the U.S. Census Bureau is working against the clock, keeping a 200-year tradition alive, sending out letters, knocking on doors and reminding folks to fill out their forms. Conducting the report every 10 years, the agency works to collect the information on everyone in the country in hopes of gaining a better understanding of where to allocate federal funds and what votes will go where.

While local universities return, Lynchburg has no plans to enact local ordinances or scale back reopening

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

In preparation for the return of college students, some Virginia localities are implementing local ordinances in hope of limiting the spread of the virus in their communities. Blacksburg, Radford and Harrisonburg have each banned gatherings of more than 50 people in their localities in preparation for students' return to Virginia Tech, Radford and James Madison University.

As about 75 Nelson schools employees face furloughs, officials offer alternative work

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

About 75 Nelson County Public Schools employees face possible furloughs because of schools' move to remote learning, but the division is offering the opportunity for different work instead. That's the result of the Nelson County School Board's unanimous approval Aug. 13 of the division's furlough policy.

Whole lotta bull

South Boston News & Record

The Mecklenburg County School Board spent much of its monthly meeting Monday night focused on an unusual topic: cows. Trustees responded to a controversy, fanned largely on social media, concerning the care of three cows at Bluestone Middle School by FFA teacher Amy Whitten.

Accomack Board approves CARES Act Grants for watermen, charter boat captains

By CAROL VAUGHN, Eastern Shore Post

Accomack officials approved a proposal to distribute remaining money from the federal CARES Act to watermen, small businesses, and charter boat captains. Twenty grants of $5,000 each previously were awarded to watermen; 21 grants of $5,000 each were awarded to businesses; and 11 grants of $3,500 each were awarded to other businesses, according to Rich Morrison, Accomack County deputy administrator of building, planning, and economic development. He proposed the board consider awarding grants to another 46 eligible watermen who applied in the first round but were not given funds.



"Not Americans" Amanda Chase goes down dangerous path

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

State Sen. Amanda Chase, the only declared candidate for the Republican nomination for governor next year, spent part of her Fourth of July at a rally where, in the words of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, "a handful of white men raised their hands in Nazi-like salutes." Last weekend, she was in Salem to speak at another rally where she declared that "the people who are calling for defunding the police, in my opinion, are not Americans." That's a curious juxtaposition.

Crime victims deserve justice too

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

Is it too much to ask that appointed state officials follow the law like everybody else? If you're a member of the Virginia Parole Board, apparently it is. That's why State Inspector General Michael Westfall's unredacted July 28 report on the Parole Board's deliberate violations of state law and its own policies and procedures should be a must-read for state legislators currently considering reforms to the criminal justice system, including relaxing the commonwealth's "truth in sentencing" laws.

Louise Lucas arrest demands an explanation

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

Portsmouth police officials need to explain themselves. Chief Angela Greene has a duty to the city she serves to justify the decision to issue arrest warrants against Sen. Louise Lucas, the president pro tempore of the Virginia Senate, and 13 other people in relation to the June 10 rally in Olde Towne that saw the city's Confederate monument defaced and partially toppled.

Ensuring safe and secure voting

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

Voting is a right, not a privilege. And casting a ballot — that most fundamental exercise of American citizenship — should be as accessible as possible. And in this age of pandemic, voting safely should not be an issue. Voters shouldn't have to potentially forego a trip to crowded polls to cast ballots in person if they don't feel secure because of the highly contagious coronavirus.


Politifact: Spanberger Refuses Corporate Donations... For the Most Part


Rep. Abigail Spanberger sits in a yard with her parents during a TV ad, talking about the lessons they imparted. "Growing up, my parents taught me, 'Correct what's wrong, maintain what's right,'" the Virginia Democrat says. Then, Spanberger addresses something she's trying to correct: Corporate donations to political campaigns. "When I ran for Congress, I promised to refuse money from corporate PACs," she says. "I've kept that promise." The National Republican Campaign Committee says Spanberger is lying in her ad and accepting backdoor corporate contributions. So we fact-checked Spanberger's claim that she's spurned corporate PAC contributions, and found it needs elaboration.


Manley: How Virginia can rebuild its economy

By DAVID MANLEY, published in Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

If there is one thing we can all agree with —from our rolling mountains to our sandy beaches, and our most rural regions to our urban centers — it's time to get Virginia's economy back on track. It's time to get back to business. It's time to get back to work. If we don't start focusing on that now — focusing on the many tomorrows ahead of us while also working together to help slow the spread of COVID-19 — we could find Virginia falling further and further behind as a great state to do business.

Manley is a Board Member of the Virginia Economic Developers Association and Executive Director of the Joint IDA of Wythe County.

Accordino: We can bridge the urban-rural divide

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

Among America's pressing tensions and conflicts, the so-called urban-rural divide is one that we must not ignore. Characterized by divergent social and political attitudes, this divide found expression in the presidential election of 2016, in which Hillary Clinton carried almost every major metropolitan area and Donald Trump carried most of the rest of the nation, particularly rural areas.

Accordino is a professor of planning at Virginia Commonwealth University and guest editor of the special issue of State and Local Government Review on "The Urban-Rural Divide."


'The mystery is over': Researchers say they know what happened to 'Lost Colony'

By JEFF HAMPTON, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

The English colonists who settled the so-called Lost Colony before disappearing from history simply went to live with their native friends — the Croatoans of Hatteras, according to a new book. "They were never lost," said Scott Dawson, who has researched records and dug up artifacts where the colonists lived with the Indians in the 16th century. "It was made up. The mystery is over."

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