Wednesday August 24, 2016
Compiled by Ray Reed
By ZACH IRBY, Bristol Herald Courier
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe loosened his tie, took off his suit jacket, and climbed into the driver’s seat of a semi tractor-trailer in Abingdon Tuesday afternoon. His visit to Roger’s Trucking gave him a first-hand look at a new commercial driver’s training program being offered by Virginia Highlands Community College.
By ALICIA PETSKA, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)
Hillary Clinton has opened a 19-point lead over Donald Trump among Virginia voters after being tied with him three months earlier, according to a new Roanoke College Poll. That divide is the largest yet among a flurry of polls released this month that found Trump trailing Clinton by double digits in the commonwealth.
By PATRICK WILSON , Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton leads her Republican opponent, Donald Trump, by 16 percentage points among likely Virginia voters, according to a poll by Roanoke College. The survey showed Clinton leading 48 to 32 percent, with Libertarian Gary Johnson receiving 8 percent.
By TREVOR BARATKO, Loudoun Times
Republican Vice Presidential nominee Mike Pence will appear at rally in western Loudoun County Saturday, according to multiple Republican sources. Pence, the governor of Indiana and veep selection of Donald Trump, is expected to appear at Patrick Henry College in Purcellville.
By JIM NOLAN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)
Anne Holton prepared dinner for friends at her Ginter Park home Monday, which was a treat because that does not happen nearly as much as it used to. One month after her husband, Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., accepted Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton’s offer to be her running mate, Holton has spent a good chunk of her time on the campaign trail outside the commonwealth. Kaine, she said, has visited 24 states in 30 days.
By TRAVIS FAIN, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)
The typical residential Dominion power bill will go up about 50 cents a month starting in September to cover the costs of burying power lines. This is a smaller version of a project the company pushed for last year, only to have the State Corporation Commission, which regulates the utility, shoot down the plan. This program is capped at $140 million, enough to bury some 400 miles of outage-prone lines.
By JOHN REID BLACKWELL, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)
Dominion Virginia Power won approval Tuesday to bury about 400 miles of power lines, and to charge its typical customer an extra $6 a year to pay for the $140 million project. The utility will spend an average of $350,000 per mile to reach about 6,000 customers and will add 50 cents to the average customer bill starting next month.
By MICHAEL MARTZ, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)
A Virginia task force is moving forward on a plan to build a new youth prison in Chesapeake as part of a plan to transform the state juvenile justice system, but advocates want to stop the project until the rest of the strategy is complete next year. The task force released an interim report last month that reaffirmed a plan approved by the General Assembly this year to build a 64-bed secure facility in Chesapeake that would replace the Beaumont Juvenile Correctional Center, a prison complex in Powhatan County that is more than four times larger.
By DAVE MAYFIELD, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)
Last year, state lawmakers answered a plea from Virginia’s commercial fishing industry to toughen the penalties for watermen who repeatedly break the law. On Tuesday, the Virginia Marine Resources Commission brought down that bigger hammer for the first time – yanking the licenses of a Hampton fisherman for five years and slapping him with a $10,000 civil penalty.
By JESSIE POUNDS, News & Advance
A fiscal year 2017 budget approved by Sweet Briar College’s Board of Directors during the weekend calls for $20 million in gifts to operate the college — out of an about $33 million total operating budget. Reached Tuesday, Sweet Briar College Board Chairwoman Teresa Pike Tomlinson said the budgeted amount for donations doesn’t come as a surprise, as board members have been looking at a $20 million figure in budget drafts as early as January. If achieved, it would rival the combined total of more than $22 million raised by the group Saving Sweet Briar in 2015 and the college itself between fall 2015 and July 2016.
By MEGAN WILLIAMS, News Leader (Metered Pay Wall)
Ever since Standards of Learning tests were introduced in Virginia in 1995, there have been strong opinions on whether the tests are helpful or hurtful, especially when it comes to public schools' youngest testers — third, fourth and fifth graders. But there is one aspect of the tests that still remains largely unspoken about. Despite the polarizing opinions on the topic, many parents still don't know that they have options.
By EMILY BROWN, Nelson County Times
As part of continued efforts to educate residents in Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina about the effects of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline, Dominion Energy released detailed simulations of the pipeline’s visual impact on Nelson County on Tuesday. With the help of Truescape, an international firm that works with companies to show the visual impacts of infrastructure projects on the surrounding environment, Dominion hopes simulations of the Wintergreen area could help people sort through perceptions and the reality of what the pipeline could look like if approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
By NED OLIVER, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)
Richmond mayoral hopeful Alan Schintzius filed a lawsuit Tuesday asking a judge to overturn the Richmond Electoral Board’s decision to disqualify him from the ballot after ruling he was seven signatures short of the petition requirements. Aiding Schintzius in the case is one of his would-be opponents in the race, Joseph D. Morrissey, whose law firm is providing pro bono legal representation.
By MICHAEL BUETTNER , Progress Index (Metered paywall - 5 free articles a month)
Faced with the possibility of a shutdown of the city government, City Council voted Tuesday to adopt the general outlines of a financial consultant's plan for fixing the city's finances. In a special meeting at Union Station, with a boisterous standing room only crowd of more than 200 in attendance, council members also voted to hold public hearings on specific items in the plan on Sept. 6. The plan was detailed in a report, “Petersburg: A Need for Action, A Path Forward,” written by government finance experts with Richmond-based PFM Group...
By MARKUS SCHMIDT, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)
Petersburg could lay off 24 full-time employees, close one of its fire stations, raise taxes, and shut down its museums and tourism centers to help reduce the city’s $12 million budget deficit. David Eichenthal, managing director of Richmond consulting firm Public Financial Management, on Tuesday evening presented a 19-step plan aimed at reducing the city’s budget deficit to the City Council at a packed Union Train Station.
By ERIC HARTLEY , Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)
A longtime neighborhood advocate and city planning commissioner was elected Tuesday to the City Council. Martin Thomas Jr., 36, will represent Ward 1 until mid-2018. He’s filling out the term Andy Protogyrou was elected to in 2014. A city charter provision forced Protogyrou to resign June 30 because he ran for mayor this year.
By JOHANNA SOMERS , Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)
The council rule that fines members $1,500 for speaking about closed meeting information has likely cost the city more than $54,600 in legal fees, according to an email from Deputy City Manager Vincent Jones. The fees went to the attorneys that City Council members used to defend themselves in colleague Bill Moody’s lawsuit against them.
By MATT MCKINNEY, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)
School Board member Carolyn Weems said Tuesday that she will sever her printing business’s ties with the city’s schools after an article in The Virginian-Pilot detailed her company’s history with the division. The Pilot reported Sunday that Weems’ printing company, Simply Sales, has received more than $56,000 from the city’s schools since 2009. State law allows board members to enter into individual contracts with schools up to $500. Weems’ company has regularly charged schools within $50 of the limit – twice within 20 cents, a Pilot analysis found.
By ALISSA SKELTON , Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)
A view of the Atlantic Ocean from the sixth floor of the Ocean Side Inn wasn’t enough to keep the 46-year-old hotel in business. The last guests left the Rudee Loop establishment on Sunday. On Monday, the owner evicted the hotel-management company, Pinnacle Holdings VIII LLC, for failing to pay $130,000 in rent, according to an Aug. 15 letter from Virginia Beach Development Authority Chairwoman Dorothy Wood.
By JOHANNA SOMERS , Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)
The City Council is scheduled to discuss a policy on contracts for minority- and female-owned businesses at 5 p.m. today during a public work session. The topic has brought conflict to City Hall in the past. During an October council meeting, one resident said the city was already doing a “good job” contracting minorities based on his analysis, while another said a business program for minorities and women was “racist and sexist” because “the minority in Portsmouth actually happens to be white males.”
By JENAY TATE, Coalfield Progress (Subscription Required)
If you want to hear for yourself what happened at a town council meeting, make plans to either be there in person or prepare to request a copy of the digital recording at town hall. Over the objections of two members, town council has decided once again to not post on its website the actual digital recording of the monthly meetings. Saying the material is public record and should be made easily accessible, councilmembers Terry Short and Clifton Cauthorne both have pressed for putting the recording online but have been in the minority.
Winchester Star Editorial (Subscription Required)
As any regular reader of this page is aware, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has been on a mission since April to restore the rights of some 200,000-plus convicted felons. To recap, McAuliffe issued a mass order to do so earlier this year, freeing this group to register to vote in the upcoming presidential election. Some Virginia legislators cried foul and took the governor to court.
Richmond Times-Dispatch Editorial (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)
Everyone should have seen this coming. July 22 made Aug. 22 inevitable. When the Virginia Supreme Court voided Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s blanket restoration of voting rights for felons who had completed their sentences, it became obvious he would at least go through the motions of restoring rights individually. On Monday, the governor announced he had restored the rights of more than 13,000 felons on a case-by-case basis. The restorations will continue. As many as 206,000 ex-offenders could receive them.
Richmond Times-Dispatch Editorial (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)
As students prepared to start another academic year, administrators at the University of Virginia and local police officials urged them to avoid a block party on Wertland Street. Drinking at the event can get out of hand, or so we hear. The young scholars do not sip sherry and discuss Elizabethan lit, apparently. Wertland runs near the Corner and is not a garden spot — or was not when we made our acquaintance with it in the 1970s. The warnings may have worked. The party seems to have been more restrained than usual. We are not in a position to judge.
Virginian-Pilot Editorial (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)
Drilling for oil and gas off Virginia Beach has always presented all kinds of risks and few potential benefits. That’s something the military has known for a decade. The Pentagon bases a huge proportion of its flying and sailing assets in Hampton Roads, where they drive the economy and the culture. Thousands upon thousands of sailors, soldiers and Marines call this region home, at least in part because every branch of the military trains in the Atlantic Ocean off Virginia.
Daily Press Editorial (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's continued involvement in research decisions on medical marijuana is wrongheaded and unnecessary. It is unreasonable to continue arbitrary barriers to study and oddly myopic to cede scientific controls to a law enforcement agency. But the DEA's recent refusal to remove marijuana from its list of Schedule I drugs, does just that. ... It is almost laughable to say marijuana has no medical use. That certainly hasn't been the experience of Virginia mothers who, for the past two legislative sessions, trekked to the Virginia General Assembly to beg access to oils derived from the marijuana plant.
Free Lance-Star Editorial
King George officials are going boldly where no other county in the Taylorsville basin has gone before, by imposing restrictions on fracking. The ground rules they approved this month would limit drilling for natural gas or oil to 9 percent of the land in the county. ... Fracking has been credited with increasing U.S. energy independence as well as reducing petroleum prices. But at what cost? Residents of some areas where it’s prevalent say it brings with it noise, heavy truck traffic, destruction of the countryside and the threat of groundwater and runoff contamination.
By JEFF E. SCHAPIRO, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)
It’s an article of faith among the Republicans who rule the Virginia legislature: To protect big business and big government, erect in the law barriers to the little man going to court, making it as difficult as possible to squeeze cash from a plutocrat or a bureaucrat for an injury physical, financial, psychological or political. But Republicans, having adopted as their own a plaintiff-hostile philosophy advanced by the General Assembly’s former Democratic majority, went straight to the Virginia Supreme Court to challenge Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s executive order restoring en masse the voting and civil rights of 206,000 felons.
By COURTLAND MILLOY, Washington Post
The Johnny Reb statue in Alexandria, known as Appomattox, should remain at the intersection of Prince and Washington streets, a racially divided citizens’ advisory group recommended to the City Council last week. But to appease those who are offended by the statue, the city should make “additional efforts to add context to its story.”
By SANDRA A. COOK, Published in the Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)
There have been times when I sat across the table from U.S. Sen. Mark Warner as a member of Virginia Organizing to tell him that he needs to do better by the people in Virginia. Today, I’m proud to stand with Senator Warner and thank him for his leadership in establishing new derivatives market protections.
Sandra A. Cook is a member of the Virginia Organizing State Governing Board.