VaNews

Friday March 24, 2017


Executive Branch


MCAULIFFE BREAKS ALL-TIME VETO RECORD

By GRAHAM MOOMAW , Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Gov. Terry McAuliffe broke the record for most vetoes by a Virginia governor Thursday by striking two Republican-backed bills aimed at protecting religious groups that oppose same-sex marriage. McAuliffe, a Democrat in the last year of his four-year term, vetoed the bills during a live radio appearance on Washington’s WTOP, calling them “another attempt to stigmatize” LGBT Virginians.



MCAULIFFE VETOES LEGISLATION ON CHARTER SCHOOLS, VIRTUAL SCHOOLS

By BOB STUART, News Virginian

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe Thursday vetoed legislation sponsored in the House of Delegates by Del. Steve Landes that would have allowed the state Board of Education to create regional charter school divisions. The Senate version of the charter schools bill was introduced by Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg. Also Thursday, the governor vetoed for the second year in a row legislation sponsored by Del. Dickie Bell that would have created a statewide virtual school program that would have provided Virginia students a full-time online education program.



MCAULIFFE ANNOUNCES EFFORT TO HINDER VEHICLE REGISTRATION HOLDS FOR TUNNEL TOLL DEBTORS

By ANA LEY , Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)

State officials are launching an effort to make it harder for Elizabeth River Crossings to punish debtors with vehicle registration holds. The toll operator uses that tactic to crack down on those who don’t pay on time. Gov. Terry McAuliffe plans to fold a legislative directive into the state’s budget that would require ERC to give drivers a chance to pay off fees at a $2,200 cap before hitting them with the penalty. The proposal, which McAuliffe announced on a visit to Portsmouth on Thursday, has the backing of Del. Chris Jones, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.



MCAULIFFE ANNOUNCES ‘TOP-TO-BOTTOM’ REVIEW OF METRO

By ALAN SUDERMAN, Associated Press

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe says he’s asked former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood to conduct a “top-to-bottom” review of the Washington-area’s struggling public transit system, which on Thursday approved fare hikes and service cuts. McAuliffe said there needs to be an independent assessment of what’s troubling Metro and how much it will cost to fix those problems before substantive improvements can be made.



MCAULIFFE COMMITS TO FUND INDEPENDENT REVIEW OF WASHINGTON TRANSIT AUTHORITY

By ROBERT ZULLO, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Gov. Terry McAuliffe said Thursday that he has picked former U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to lead an “objective, top-down review” of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, which has been beset by high-profile safety lapses and is facing severe financial shortfalls. “We all know WMATA has faced some very serious problems over the past few years, and we need to take a hard look at where we can reform the agency to better support the region’s residents and its economy,” McAuliffe said in a statement.

General Assembly


NORMENT STARTS NEW "VIRGINIA WAY" PAC

By TRAVIS FAIN, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. "Tommy" Norment has started a leadership PAC. It's named after a phrase near to the James City County Republican's heart: The Virginia Way. The political action committee hasn't raised any money yet, it's just a bit of paperwork thus far reserving the name, Norment spokesman Jeff Ryer said.

State Elections


GILLESPIE TOUTS INCOME TAX CUT PLAN IN LEXINGTON STOP

By BOB STUART, News Virginian

Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie touted his new state income tax cut plan to college students during a Thursday stop at a Lexington restaurant. The Gillespie income tax plan would cut Virginia income tax rates by 10 percent across-the-board over three years, putting $1,300 per year back into the pockets of a family of four. "This will makes us more attractive to retirees, especially military retirees,'' Gillespie said in his talk to Washington and Lee University students at Salerno's Pizzeria.



ATTORNEY GENERAL HOPEFUL STOPS IN CITY

By TONY BROWN, Daily News Record (Subscription Required)

Immigration lawyer Chuck Smith says he should be Virginia’s next attorney general in November because his experience as a former Marine, Navy judge advocate general and chairman of the Virginia Beach Republican Committee makes a better man for the job. And while ethnicity shouldn’t qualify or disqualify a man for office, he told a small crowd in Harrisonburg Thursday night, being a black Republican who speaks fluent Spanish could help him reach voters the GOP found elusive in recent close statewide elections.



COMPLAINT ALLEGES NORFOLK DEMOCRATS PRESSURED NAACP HEAD TO DROP CAMPAIGN

By ERIC HARTLEY , Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)

An allegation that Democratic officials pressured a House of Delegates candidate to drop out of the race to make way for a party-favored opponent has led to an official investigation. A letter sent to Norfolk’s top prosecutor by activist Michael Muhammad says the city Democratic Party chairman, Linwood Fisher, relayed an offer to give Dillard $10,000 in campaign money if he ran for Norfolk School Board instead of going for an open delegate seat.



LIBERTARIAN TO CHALLENGE BYRON IN 22ND HOUSE OF DELEGATES DISTRICT

By ALEX ROHR, News & Advance (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Lynchburg-area Libertarians expect to nominate a candidate Saturday to challenge longtime Republican Del. Kathy Byron in the 22nd House of Delegates district. About 15 to 20 Libertarians plan to nominate Michael C. Millner Jr., of Campbell County, a water restoration technician, in hopes of building the party locally and eventually rising from minor party status, according to Michael Sale, the the local chapter’s president. The candidate, though, said he’s running because the district needs a choice other than the two-decade Republican incumbent.

State Government


LINDENBURG LAWSUIT NEEDS REVISING, ECONOMIC PARTNERSHIP TELLS JUDGE

By JEFF STURGEON, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

The company behind a failed business deal in Appomattox used a North Carolina consultant that lacked the necessary state business certificate and real estate license, according to state officials. The Virginia Economic Development Partnership notified a judge it wants to add these points and others to a lawsuit pending against Lindenburg Industry, a Chinese company that accepted a $1.4 million grant to open a manufacturing plant in Appomattox, and site consultant Development Advisors of Charlotte.



WITH INVESTIGATION UNDERWAY, ROCKBRIDGE JAIL SUPERINTENDENT RETIRES

By LAURENCE HAMMACK, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

The superintendent of the Rockbridge Regional Jail has decided to step down in the midst of a state police investigation of the facility. John Higgins’ retirement was accepted Wednesday by the regional commission that oversees the jail, according to its chairman, Buena Vista Sheriff Randy Hamilton. Higgins, who had worked at the jail for more than 30 years, also serves as vice chairman of the Rockbridge County Board of Supervisors.

Economy/Business


COLONIAL WILLIAMSBURG CONSIDERS RESTRICTED ACCESS

By WESLEY WRIGHT, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is pondering the idea of asking the city for permission to fence off part of the Historic Area, restricting access that would allow it to charge admission. Currently, access to the property is free to the public. Colonial Williamsburg charges for access to its trade shops, homes and museums, as well as tours of the Governor's Palace.



RESTAURANT SUES OVER NEW PARKING FEES IN RESTON TOWN CENTER

By ANTONIO OLIVO, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

A Northern Virginia restaurant on Thursday sued the owners of the Reston Town Center, arguing that $2-per-hour parking fees at the shopping district violate a lease agreement and have damaged business. Jackson’s Mighty Fine Food & Lucky Lounge is one of several businesses that have complained about decreasing sales since Boston Properties implemented the fees in January. Earlier this month, several hundred people marched near the town center in protest over the parking fees.



LYNCHBURG REGION'S FRUIT CROP AFFECTED BY MARCH FREEZE

By MARGARET CARMEL, News & Advance (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

In Central Virginia, unseasonably warm weather in the winter caused fruit trees at several orchards in the Lynchburg region to bloom ahead of schedule. Weather then took a turn with a cold front in early March that has orchard owners and farm managers still trying to assess damage to some of their fruits.

Transportation


METRO MAKES IT OFFICIAL: HIGHER FARES, REDUCED SERVICE COMING JULY 1

By FAIZ SIDDIQUI, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Metro’s board gave final approval Thursday to fare increases and service cuts as part of an austere fiscal 2018 budget aimed at easing the transit agency’s financial struggles. Beginning July 1, peak-period rail fares will increase 10 cents, with $2.25 as the new minimum and $6 as the maximum one-way fare. Off-peak fares will rise 25 cents, to $2, as will bus fares.



VDOT OFFICIALS STILL WAITING ON RECORDS IN AIRPORT AUDIT

By JORDAN PASCALE , Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)

Virginia Department of Transportation auditors said they still don’t have access to bank records, emails and other documents they need to investigate the alleged misuse of state funds by the Newport News airport. On March 8, the airport commission told TowneBank to cooperate with the audit, but it’s been 15 days and there’s still no information, said Brad Gales, VDOT director of assurance and compliance. The original request was made Feb. 1.



AUDITORS STILL DON'T HAVE AIRPORT'S PEOPLE EXPRESS LOAN RECORDS

By DAVE RESS, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

State auditors say they’ve heard the talk that People Express Airlines had lined up more than enough financing to make the Peninsula Airport Commission’s promise to guarantee a loan no more than a temporary stop-gap, but have so far seen no sign of it. That guarantee eventually required Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport to pay off $4.5 million of debt People Express owed TowneBank, which it did using taxpayer funds.

Virginia Other


FEDERAL JUDGE FINDS ARSENIC FROM DOMINION COAL ASH VIOLATED CLEAN WATER ACT

By ROBERT ZULLO , Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

A federal judge has ruled that arsenic seeping into the Elizabeth River from ash ponds at Dominion Virginia Power’s now-shuttered Chesapeake Energy Center violates the federal Clean Water Act, but he opted not to impose penalties or dictate how the violation should be addressed. “The finding of a violation, however, does not end the inquiry, for the court must fashion a remedy in this case,” U.S. District Judge John A. Gibney Jr. wrote in his order dated Thursday. Gibney directed the parties “to suggest a remedial plan consistent with the court’s opinion.”



JUDGE: DOMINION VIOLATED CLEAN WATER ACT AFTER ARSENIC SEEPED INTO ELIZABETH RIVER

By DAVE MAYFIELD , Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)

A federal judge ruled Thursday that Dominion Virginia Power has violated the Clean Water Act because arsenic from a coal ash-storage site in Chesapeake made its way into the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River. But U.S. District Judge John Gibney did not order the utility to move the more than 3 million tons of ash away from the Chesapeake Energy Center, as the Sierra Club had sought in its lawsuit against Dominion. And Gibney did not levy a civil penalty against the company.



JUDGE RULES DOMINION'S COAL ASH SITE POLLUTES VIRGINIA WATER

By SARAH RANKIN, Associated Press

Arsenic is illegally flowing out of one of the sites where Virginia's biggest utility stores coal ash, polluting surrounding waters, a federal judge ruled Thursday. Though U.S. District Judge John Gibney Jr. found Dominion Virginia Power had violated federal law with the discharges from a retired power plant in Chesapeake, he didn't impose a civil penalty, saying he saw no evidence the discharge was harmful.



COAL ASH: 'WHY IN THE WORLD WOULD WE BE IMPORTING IT?'

By SARAH RANKIN , Associated Press

Shipping containers full of coal ash from China, Poland and India have come into the U.S. through the Port of Virginia as foreign companies find a market for the same industrial waste that America's utilities are struggling to dispose of. Critics call it a missed opportunity. Coal ash is treasure as well as trash, useful for projects from roads to concrete to wallboard. They want Virginia to mandate more recycling of the ash that's already here, threatening to contaminate water sources or create an environmental disaster.



NEW POPULATION ESTIMATES HAVE LOUDOUN, PRINCE WILLIAM, ARLINGTON CLIMBING; FAIRFAX FLAT

By GREG HAMBRICK, Inside NOVA

Northern Virginia counties and cities have added more than 27,000 new residents, according to new 2016 population estimates released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau. The state added a total of 44,221 residents. The population of Prince William County has surpassed the City of Virginia Beach, making it second only to Fairfax County in population size.



CULPEPER MOSQUE CASE HEADED FOR SETTLEMENT

By ALLISON BROPHY CHAMPION, Culpeper Star Exponent (Modified Pay Wall)

After just one hearing in federal court, a religious discrimination complaint against Culpeper County is headed for settlement. Following an initial hearing Wednesday in Charlottesville, both sides requested to mediate the suit, which alleges that the Culpeper Board of Supervisors bowed to anti-Muslim public pressure last April when it turned down the Islamic Center of Culpeper’s utility permit request, a process approved many other times in the past.

Local


CHESAPEAKE MAYOR, STATE SENATOR TO VIE FOR COURT CLERK'S POST

By VICTORIA BOURNE , Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)

Two political heavyweights want to be Chesapeake’s next Clerk of Circuit Court. Mayor Alan Krasnoff said he was running Thursday, two days after state Sen. John Cosgrove announced his bid for the post that pays about $154,000 a year. It’s unclear if anyone else is interested in the position, but if either Krasnoff or Cosgrove win, their current office would ultimately have to be filled.

TV/Radio


LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR RALPH NORTHAM VISITS CHARLOTTESVILLE

NBC 29

One of the candidates running to be Virginia’s next governor is making a swing through central Virginia. Democrat and Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam stopped at the Charlottesville Medical Center for Women Thursday afternoon. The Albemarle County facility provides services including abortion. Northam says he's among those keeping an eye on what happens in Congress.



TOM PERRIELLO VISITS CHARLOTTESVILLE, DEFENDS ACA

NBC 29

Former Congressman Tom Perriello is speaking out about the looming health care vote. The Democrat, who is also running for governor, held a town hall Thursday night in Charlottesville. Many turned out at The Haven on East Market Street for the event, which was held on the anniversary of the signing of the Affordable Care Act into law. Perriello touted his hard work on the Affordable Care Act and defended what the legislation have accomplished.

Online News


LIBERTARIAN LEAVES GOVERNOR'S RACE

By TRAVIS FAIN, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

A Libertarian candidate for governor has ended his campaign, leaving the race almost as soon as he got in. Jason Carrier, who earlier this month was recruiting volunteers to collect signatures to get him on the ballot, gave it the old nevermind a day after launching his official campaign Facebook page.



WARD PICKS UP A CHALLENGER IN HAMPTON: MICHAEL HARRIS

By TRAVIS FAIN, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Del. Jeion Ward has picked up a primary challenger: Michael Harris, an ex-Navy man who works now at the Newport News shipyard. Harris, 33, said he doesn’t have a problem with Ward’s positions, but he wants to bring “a new perspective on things” to the House.


Editorials


GO VIRGINIA'S $1.01 MILLION QUESTION

Roanoke Times Editorial (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

Some of the most influential business leaders between Lynchburg and Blacksburg met in Roanoke Thursday to chart a new direction for the region’s economy. Whether they succeed is a $1.01 million question. Here’s where we must change out of our cheerleader’s uniform and put on the old rags of the Greek philosopher Diogenes to issue a reality check: If you’re counting on the GO Virginia initiative to transform our economy, as many business and political leaders are, please don’t get your hopes up.



VA. DEMOCRATS' INSURGENT CANDIDATE

Winchester Star Editorial (Subscription Required)

After the 2016 election, the rise of the insurgent candidate is not surprising, considering that Donald Trump is President of the United States. So, it should not come as a shock that the race to be Virginia’s next governor features a growing insurgent campaign. ...[I]t is on the Democratic side that somewhat of an outsider is challenging the status quo. And some of those aligning with him have a surprising background in party politics.



MORE EVIDENCE THAT WASHINGTON SUCKS AMERICA DRY

Richmond Times-Dispatch Editorial (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

We have data — and it explains a lot. For much of this decade, the Democrats running things up in Washington, and all their pals and relatives in the news media, kept insisting that the U.S. economy was just fine. Why all the worry and angst out in the provinces? And now we know why — the good folks in our nation’s capital were simply responding to the evidence right in front of their own eyes.



IRRESPONSIBILITY, AMBITION AT THE RPV

Virginian-Pilot Editorial (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)

EARLIER THIS MONTH, Attorney General Mark Herring held a town hall meeting at the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church. Among other topics, the event intended to foster a discussion about the Trump administration’s travel ban, which has specifically targeted Muslims. Herring’s office said the meeting was an attempt to reassure American citizens that their rights would be protected. The Virginia Republican Party disagreed, as with nearly everything Herring does in office. In this case, though, the party sent out a membership-building email blast decrying the town hall in an inflammatory and, frankly, reckless way.



IT'S WAY PAST TIME THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT RECOGNIZED VIRGINIA'S INDIAN TRIBES

Richmond Times-Dispatch Editorial (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Virginia Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner are sponsoring legislation that would extend federal recognition to six Virginia Indian tribes. The legislation is welcome. The recognition is overdue — in the extreme. A seventh tribe, the Pamunkey, received such recognition two years ago. Legislation to recognize the remaining six tribes has passed the House, but never the Senate. Virginia’s tribes deserve better.



ANOTHER VCU PRICE HIKE? C'MON.

Richmond Times-Dispatch Editorial (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Poor VCU. The school might have no choice but to raise tuition by 3 percent to 5 percent, officials claim - because the state is stiffing it on general appropriations. Please.

Columnists


DOUGHERTY: WILLIAMSBURG BELONGS TO TAXPAYERS, TOO

By KERRY DOUGHERTY, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)

Looks like President Donald Trump isn’t the only one itching to build a sturdy fence to keep out intruders. The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is now making noises about walling off the historic area to all but ticketed visitors. Imagine that. No more unencumbered strolls down Duke of Gloucester Street for those who haven’t ponied up more than 100 bucks for a family of four. No more gaping at colonial-garbed workers.

The Friday Read


FOR 25 YEARS, LOCAL NEWSPAPER 'INDEPENDENT AS A HOG ON ICE'

By LAURENCE HAMMACK, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

Doug Harwood ambled along a downtown sidewalk, an unfiltered Camel cigarette dangling below his drooping moustache and a stack of his news magazines tucked under one arm, hot off the press. On this blustery afternoon in early March, Harwood delivered the latest edition of The Rockbridge Advocate, which once a month provides an unvarnished version of events in Lexington and Rockbridge County.