By MICHAEL MARTZ, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)
The General Assembly all but ended the strangest legislative session in modern memory on Friday by fulfilling the two central purposes for calling legislators to Richmond 60 days earlier — adopting a budget to cope with the economic meltdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and approving criminal justice reforms after a summer of protest over police conduct.
By KATHERINE KNOTT, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)
Karen Garland, a kindergarten teacher at Mountain View Elementary, didn't expect to have to decide a few months into her 40th year of teaching if she would retire. But if she doesn't get approved to teach virtually for the second quarter, that's the decision before her. As the division readies to offer in-person classes as part of Stage Three of its reopening plan, some teachers will be required to return to classrooms.
By MARK BOWES, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)
A Richmond activist pleaded no contest Friday to conspiring to incite a riot and assaulting a police officer during a Black Lives Matter demonstration that turned violent outside city police headquarters in June, but the judge deferred a decision in the case until May to give the defendant an opportunity to make amends. Michaela G. Hatton, 22, entered her felony pleas before Richmond Circuit Judge Beverly Snukals, who ruled there was sufficient evidence for a finding of guilt....The agreement calls for Hatton to complete 50 hours of community service, successfully complete a monthlong Richmond Police Department Citizens Police Academy, and write an essay that reflects on her decision to disparage a Richmond police officer in a Twitter post in August.
By ANA LEY, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)
The head of the bipartisan board charged with ensuring fair elections in Portsmouth urged one mayoral candidate to drop out of the race to help another win, a recording obtained this week by The Virginian-Pilot revealed. William Watts' fellow board members called his conduct unethical, though it appears to have violated no law.
By ANTONIO OLIVO, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)
During her brief time as Prince William County's first Latina supervisor, Yesli Vega has been called a racist, a traitor and — by one woman spitting out her words in Spanish during a public meeting — a smear of manure on the bottom of one's shoe. The attacks come mostly from fellow Latinos.
Doris Hutchinson wanted to use money from the sale of her late mother's house to help her grandchildren go to college. Then she learned the University of Virginia Health System was taking $38,000 of the proceeds because a 13-year-old medical bill owed by her deceased brother had somehow turned into a lien on the property.
By MICHAEL E. MILLER, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)
Paul Karns paced just beyond the plexiglass door, listening to the muffled pops of ammunition and feeling the muscles in his back tighten. He'd grown up around guns, learning to shoot as a teenager with his father. But that was a lifetime ago, before two shootings seven years apart left him with post-traumatic stress disorder. Before he sank into alcoholism and depression. And before a pandemic and protests threatened to derail his recovery.
Nearly one-third of registered voters in Virginia have cast ballots ahead of the Nov. 3 election or have requested a mail application, according to the latest figures from the state Department of Elections. At this pace, early voting will account for more than 2 million ballots this fall. VPAP's dashboard provides a statewide perspective and the ability to see what is happening in your city or county.
Candidates running in Virginia's three most competitive congressional races accounted for $7 of every $10 in campaign contributions raised from July through September. With this interactive chart you can sort by amount and ending cash balance at the end of September.
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.
By GREGORY S. SCHNEIDER AND LAURA VOZZELLA, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)
Virginia's General Assembly wrapped up work Friday on the state's pandemic-damaged budget and concluded an extraordinary special session in which lawmakers also passed sweeping measures to overhaul criminal justice and police oversight. Fittingly for a session that convened Aug. 18 and dragged on far longer than expected, though, it still won't technically be adjourned. A dispute among Democrats over language in the budget will leave that document incomplete until after next month's elections.
By AMY FRIEDENBERGER, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)
Five months after George Floyd died in police custody in Minneapolis, sparking nationwide protests, the Virginia General Assembly has sent Gov. Ralph Northam a package of police and criminal justice reform bills. Among those proposals are setting up a mechanism to send counselors to 911 calls when the person is having a mental health crisis, limiting police use of chokeholds, banning police from making traffic stops for various minor infractions and searching people based on the smell of marijuana, and prohibiting police from serving search warrants without first announcing themselves.
Virginia lawmakers passed a closely watched bill Friday aimed at ensuring people can exercise their right to a jury trial without risking much steeper punishments. Criminal justice reform advocates frequently called the legislation one of the most important changes the General Assembly could adopt during a special legislative session that has been largely devoted to issues of policing, courts and prisons. "Everything else is window dressing compared to this bill," said Sen. Joe Morrissey, D-Richmond, who proposed the measure.
By AMY FRIEDENBERGER, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)
The Virginia General Assembly passed a revised state budget Friday, but it may be a few more weeks until the spending plan — which includes ways to help people struggling to pay rent and utility bills as well as child care assistance — goes into effect because of a political fight over redistricting reform. The slow pace of the special session — which has gone on for 59 days — during a pandemic that has required fast-paced decisions has already been a source of criticism.
By ALAN SUDERMAN AND DENISE LAVOIE, Associated Press
Virginia lawmakers all but wrapped up a special legislative session Friday by approving a new state budget that gives bonuses to police, pays for a host of new criminal justice reforms, and extends moratoriums on evictions and utility shutoffs during the coronavirus pandemic. The budget now goes to Gov. Ralph Northam, who can propose changes before it is finalized.
By MEAGAN FLYNN, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)
Democrats in the most closely watched Virginia congressional districts came out on top in the latest fundraising reports, with significant cash-on-hand advantages as they head into the final stretch of the campaign. Reps. Abigail Spanberger and Elaine Luria, Democrats who flipped red districts in 2018, each outraised her Republican challenger by hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to third-quarter campaign finance reports that were due Thursday night to the Federal Election Commission.
By ANDREW CAIN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)
Cameron Webb, the Democrat who is trying to capture a GOP seat in Virginia's sprawling 5th congressional district, outraised his Republican opponent, Bob Good, by a 3-to-1 margin in the third quarter. Webb, an internal medicine doctor and director of health policy and equity at the University of Virginia, brought in nearly $2.73 million in the period that ended Sept. 30, compared with $722,724 for Good, a former employee of Liberty University and former Campbell County supervisor, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.
By JOSH JANNEY, Winchester Star (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)
With less than three weeks to go until the Nov. 3 election, incumbent U.S. Rep. Jennifer Wexton, a Democrat, and her Republican challenger Aliscia Andrews are reaching out to voters to make the case for why they should be elected to represent the 10th congressional district. Although both candidates say they have the best interests of the voters, they have different ideas on how to lead the 10th district, which includes all of Loudoun, Clarke and Frederick counties and parts of Fairfax and Prince William counties.
By IAN MUNRO, Daily News Record (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)
Rep. Ben Cline, R-Lexington, is co-sponsoring a bill that would expand exemptions for local meat processors and producers from federal inspection requirements, according to government documents. "This would allow for more choice for farmers and consumers to be able to get the federal government out of the way," Cline said Friday. The bill, called the PRIME Act, would mean livestock slaughtered at small "custom" processors could be sold inside a state, if the state legislature approves the measure. PRIME stands for Processing Revival and Intrastate Meat Exemption
A small number of voting irregularities -- mostly involving people mailing in ballots after voting early in-person -- likely prompted a warning Friday from Prince William Commonwealth's Attorney Amy Ashworth that any attempt at voter fraud or intimidation at local polling places will be prosecuted. Ashworth's office issued a statement at 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 16, saying the office "has become aware of allegations that people are attempting to 'test the system' by voting twice."
By RACHEL MAHONEY, News & Advance (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)
Earlier this week, a member of Lynchburg City Council questioned the city's registrar about the fairness of early ballot counting. Ward III Councilman Jeff Helgeson asked at Tuesday afternoon's meeting about the office's response to claims that workers started counting absentee ballots Monday "without Republican representation present" as described in state law. Lynchburg Registrar Christine Gibbons said a Republican election officer who was supposed to be present "had an emergency" and couldn't be there, and others trained to be there also couldn't make it.
A handmade sign reading "Democrats vote here" was placed outside the Bealeton Depot at Bealeton Library – one of two satellite registrar's offices opened this week -- sometime Friday morning. All registered voters, regardless of party affiliation, may vote at the Bealeton office or any other polling location open either before or on Election Day.
For the past 22 years, Tim Snider has been an election officer for the City of Charlottesville. But not this year. "I was reluctant to do so because my age and for other considerations, because of the prevalence of the COVID virus," Snider admitted. "It was a very difficult choice, very difficult for a variety of reasons." The mustached retired attorney is 73, so he had to weigh his age, and his health, against his love for being an election officer. And all the hype around the 2020 elections made it harder to walk away.
By MATT JONES, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)
About 37,000 fewer students enrolled in Virginia public schools this fall, according to an estimate from the Virginia Association of School Superintendents. That's a critical problem for schools. The state's formula for distributing basic aid funds, which make up a large chunk of district budgets, is based primarily on enrollment.
The Virginia Board of Education approved a set of recommendations on Thursday to improve the teaching of African American history in schools across the commonwealth. Those recommendations were made by the African American History Education Commission, which Gov. Ralph Northam created on Aug. 24. "This unprecedented time of crisis has given all of us an opportunity to renew our focus on breaking down structural inequities and telling a more honest Virginia story in our classrooms," Northam said in a release.
An 18-month study of how the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality can incorporate environmental justice into its policies and procedures calls for both sweeping changes in the agency's culture and new laws to more clearly govern the evaluation and management of projects that could impact sensitive communities. . . . The report, issued Friday, was commissioned by DEQ in April 2019 in the wake of national criticism of the state's approval of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline's proposal to construct a natural gas compressor station in the predominantly Black community of Union Hill in Buckingham County. That approval was later struck down by the Richmond-based Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which declared in its ruling that "environmental justice is not a box to be checked."
By NEIL HARVEY, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)
For the first time since springtime COVID-19 precautions put limits on legal activities across Virginia, courthouses in the Roanoke Valley will soon be able to resume jury trials. "I am pleased to report that a few minutes ago, the [Virginia] Supreme Court advised us that, effective immediately, it had approved the jury trial resumption plans for each of the three courts in the 23rd Judicial Circuit," Roanoke's Chief Circuit Court Judge David Carson wrote in a news release Friday afternoon.
By LUANNE RIFE, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)
By Thursday afternoon, the first day of Medicare open enrollment, 10 people had already been in to see Burman Clark for advice. For insurance brokers and navigators, the next two months could be jammed with business owners, new and early retirees, recently laid-off workers and people who have kept their jobs but lost their benefits, all searching for ways to afford health care coverage during 2021.
By JOHN REID BLACKWELL, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)
Dominion Energy said this week that a pilot project for producing offshore wind energy has moved past a key hurdle. Two wind turbines that the company installed in June off the coast of Virginia have "successfully completed reliability testing," and are ready to enter commercial service providing renewable energy in Virginia, the company said.
By LAURENCE HAMMACK, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)
The on-again, off-again pace of building the Mountain Valley Pipeline is off again. A temporary administrative stay of stream-crossing permits was issued Friday by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. In a brief order, the court said the delay — which was requested Thursday by conservation groups concerned about environmental damage from the massive natural gas pipeline — will remain in effect until it has time to consider a full stay that was sought earlier.
By ERIC KOLENICH, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)
Virginia State University is starting a new program to help students become more career ready in a digitally focused world, and it's getting help from Google. The search engine giant has announced an initiative called the Grow with Google HBCU Career Readiness Program, in which it will provide 20 historically Black colleges and universities with workshops for students to improve their digital skills. Google has made a $1 million commitment to the program.
By ERIC KOLENICH, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)
Virginia Union University is expanding its distance learning offerings with fully online degrees and continuing education classes in a program called VUU Global, the university announced this week. "We are committed to creating new tools to develop scholars, leaders and life-long learners beyond our Richmond footprint," said Terrell Strayhorn, VUU's provost.
By STAFF REPORT, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)
The Virginia Department of Health reported Friday that the statewide total for COVID-19 cases is 164,124 — an increase of 1,183 from the 162,941 reported Thursday. The 164,124 cases consist of 154,126 confirmed cases and 9,998 probable cases. There are 3,408 COVID-19 deaths in Virginia — 3,161 confirmed and 247 probable. That's an increase of 20 from the 3,388 reported Thursday.
By MEL LEONOR, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)
Doses of an eventual COVID-19 vaccine are expected to make their way to Virginia just days after federal regulators clear the serum, and preparations have begun in Virginia for the massive, and likely unprecedented immunization effort. More than 500 organizations with physicians on staff have already expressed interest in helping administer the vaccine, according to the Virginia Department of Health, which has begun outreach efforts to prepare to administer the vaccine.
By ADELE UPHAUS–CONNER, Free Lance-Star (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)
Fredericksburg City Public Schools on Friday announced a positive case of COVID-19 in a "student or staff member" on one of the school division's buses. A letter was sent Friday to families of students who ride the bus, informing them of the positive case. According to the letter from Interim Deputy Superintendent Matthew Eberhardt, the person received positive test result Friday and has not been on the bus since Monday.
By CATHY DYSON, Free Lance-Star (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)
Thirty-five residents of Westmoreland County have become infected with COVID-19 after traveling to an event outside the region. Dr. Rich Williams, director of the Three Rivers Health District that includes Westmoreland, said he couldn't provide many details about the outbreak because of privacy concerns.
A few times a week, Daphne MacDougall and her three kids pile into the car and head for the Holly Grove Christian Church, about two miles from their home in southeast Louisa County, Virginia. The family sits in the gravel parking lot, flanked by fields, a few houses and patches of trees, and logs onto the internet. The signal comes from a trailer cart parked at the edge of the lot, which is equipped with a cellular hotspot running on solar power.
By JUSTIN JOUVENAL, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)
After someone painted a slogan on the sidewalk outside the home of Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring during a September protest, Leesburg police launched a criminal investigation into the immigrant rights coalition that organized it, court records state. Investigators claim in a search warrant that Free Them All VA briefly posted on its Facebook page photos and video showing the perpetrators of the misdemeanor crime. But the search warrant authorities filed went beyond seeking just that visual evidence.
By SABRINA MORENO, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)
The Monument Avenue statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, in its current graffitied state with overlaying condemnations of police violence and white supremacy, has been named the most influential work of protest art since World War II by The New York Times Style Magazine.
By THESSALY LA FORCE, ZOË LESCAZE, NANCY HASS AND M.H. MILLER, New York Times (Metered Paywall - 1 to 2 articles a month)
. . . A colossal 61-foot equestrian statue of Robert E. Lee has towered above Richmond, Va., since 1890. It was the first Confederate monument erected in the former capital of the Confederacy and, as of this summer, it is among the last two standing. . . .
A California man who pleaded guilty to attacking anti-racism protesters at a white nationalist rally and at a torch-lit march through the University of Virginia's campus will avoid serving a term in federal prison. U.S. District Judge Norman Moon on Friday sentenced Cole Evan White, 26, of Clayton, California, to 14 months in prison but gave him credit for seven months he served in jail after his arrest and five months of home confinement. That leaves two more months of house arrest followed by two years of supervised release.
By SABRINA MORENO, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)
A month ago, protesters showed up at the Henrico County home of the top U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement official, Tony Pham. Last week, an immigration activist was arrested by police in Philadelphia on two misdemeanor charges of littering and trespassing in connection with the protest at Pham's home.
River Farm in Alexandria was once owned by George Washington, and like the first president's estate at Mount Vernon, it sits high above the Potomac River with sweeping views. For nearly five decades, the land and its manicured gardens have open to the public. But the 27-acre property, valued at nearly $17 million, could soon go to the highest bidder — another casualty of the economic downturn brought by the pandemic.
The board overseeing Virginia's largest school district has failed to endorse a plan from its superintendent that would keep a majority of students fully online until February. In a series of votes early Friday morning, the 12-member Fairfax County school board deadlocked 6-6 on whether to endorse Superintendent Scott Brabrand's plan, or whether to push for an earlier return to in-person learning for grades 3-12.
A prominent issue in this year's Richmond mayoral race is how candidates have responded to ongoing calls for police reform and protests that rocked the city over the summer. On June 1, a day after protesters set fires and damaged businesses in downtown Richmond in response to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, hundreds of protesters gathered at the Robert E. Lee monument. With the sun still beaming down, roughly twenty minutes before a city-imposed 8 p.m. curfew, Richmond police deployed clouds of tear gas on the crowd.
By ALEX PERRY, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)
A new program started by United Way of the Virginia Peninsula and in collaboration with regional localities is helping to address the need for child care services during the coronavirus pandemic. Care and Supervision for School-Age Children is a grant-voucher program that helps child care providers expand their services for school-age children, while also providing tuition-free assistance for qualifying families.
By JAMES SCOTT BARON, Free Lance-Star (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)
Stafford supervisors are considering having a library management company review whether the county is getting the most from the money it puts into the Central Rappahannock Regional Library system. Displeased with the extended closure of library buildings during the coronavirus pandemic and other issues, county supervisors will discuss the possibility of the no-cost assessment at their meeting Tuesday.
By ALICIA PETSKA, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)
A former probation supervisor and police officer has been picked to serve as Roanoke's first-ever rapid response coordinator. The hiring of Lloyd Merchant was announced by city leaders Friday. His new position was a key recommendation of last year's initial report from the community's gun violence task force and is being paid for by a state grant.
The decision to reopen Danville Public Schools starting Nov. 9 came with some collective reservations, but ultimately the school board and division personnel believed that their confidence in their safety plan superseded the potential risks that come with bringing students back to classrooms.
Washington Post Editorial (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)
It is a truism that police officers who cause deaths are rarely charged or convicted of a crime, except in the most extraordinary circumstances. The unwarranted killing in 2017 of Bijan Ghaisar, an unarmed young accountant shot to death by two U.S. Park Police officers after a fender bender, was just such an extraordinary circumstance.
Free Lance-Star Editorial (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)
Governments are not necessarily in the business of wasting taxpayer money. Look no farther than Caroline County to see an example of a locality whose leaders respect the bottom line. Caroline voted to relocate its Confederate monument from the courthouse lawn to Greenlawn Cemetery. The county got four estimates for removing it. The estimates ranged from $170,000 to $260,000. That was too much, in the opinion of Kevin Wightman, the county's building official.
By JEFF E. SCHAPIRO, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)
This past Tuesday morning, following the holiday weekend, Gov. Ralph Northam and top aides trickled back to their desks at the Patrick Henry Building, ending — as he had — two weeks in coronavirus quarantine. Northam was readying for his first public appearance that afternoon since testing positive for COVID-19.
By CHRIS BRAUNLICH, published in Free Lance-Star (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)
A week after party-line votes killed Republican initiatives to assist parents of school-aged children financially with federal COVID-19 dollars, Gov. Ralph Northam proposed sending another $223 million of those dollars to public schools, adding to millions already sent. There is a major divide in the way Republicans and Democrats view the role of parents in a child's education. In this age of COVID, parents need bipartisan support. They are not receiving it.
Braunlich is president of the Springfield-based Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy.
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