VaNews

Friday July 03, 2015

Compiled by Bernadette Kinlaw


Executive Branch

BOOK CLOSES ON U.S. 460 PROJECT AT $260 MILLION COST TO STATE

By MICHAEL MARTZ AND JIM NOLAN , Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

The final bill has come due on the abortive U.S. 460 toll expressway pushed by the administration of then-Gov. Bob McDonnell — $260 million, most of it to a private contractor paid by the state without a federal permit to build the road through hundreds of acres of wetlands.


VA. SPENDS $260 MILLION ON UNBUILT ROAD BUT SAYS IT COULD HAVE BEEN WORSE

By MICHAEL LARIS, Washington Post

After paying a private company more than a quarter-billion dollars for a road that was never built, Virginia officials say they’ve reached an agreement for a modest refund. US 460 Mobility Partners — made up of Spanish multinational Ferrovial Agroman and Pennsylvania-based Allan Myers — will return $46 million to the state. The firm had been hired to build a 55-mile toll road in southeast Virginia. The state lacked the needed federal permits but kept the automatic payments flowing to the company anyway.


VA. TO GET $46 MILLION BACK FROM U.S. ROUTE 460 DEAL

By DAVE RESS, Daily Press (Paywall for certain articles)

Virginia is getting some, but far from all, of the hundreds of millions it paid for a still-unbuilt toll road to replace U.S. Route 460. The state will receive $46 million through a just-negotiated settlement with US 460 Mobility Partners, the firm it hired to build the now-canceled 55 mile-long toll road between Suffolk and Petersburg, said Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne.


GOV. MCAULIFFE ANNOUNCES SETTLEMENT ON ROUTE 460 PROJECT

By ALAN SUDERMAN, Associated Press

Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced a $149 million settlement Thursday with the builders of a failed toll road project that would have paralleled the existing U.S. 460 from Suffolk to Prince George County. The governor announced that the road's builder, US 460 Mobility Partners, had agreed to repay the state $46 million and forgo claims to an additional $103 million as part of the settlement.


MCAULIFFE SIGNS BILL THAT PROTECTS TAXPAYERS IN PUBLIC-PRIVATE DEALS

By MARY BETH GAHAN, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced a settlement on what he described as a "disastrous" U.S. 460 project Thursday before ceremonially signing a bill that takes the burden off taxpayers if a future transportation collaboration falls through. Under the Public-Private Transportation Act, which was passed by the General Assembly this spring, a committee will be set up to vet projects before financing is acquired and accountability will lie with government officials, McAuliffe said.


MCAULIFFE TAKES TRIP TO FORT WOOL

By ROBERT BRAUCHLE, Daily Press (Paywall for certain articles)

...The state's spotlight on Fort Wool may become brighter in the upcoming years. Flanked by close to two dozen police, politicians and state-level staff, Gov. Terry McAuliffe's flotilla of Virginia Marine Resources Commission boats motored through the waters of Hampton Roads harbor on Thursday morning to visit the island fort.

General Assembly

CIVIL PSYCHIATRIC COMMITMENTS ROSE IN VIRGINIA IN POSSIBLE ‘DEEDS EFFECT’

By FREDRICK KUNKLE, Washington Post

A new study by the University of Virginia found that the number of civil commitments of people in mental distress rose last year, perhaps in response to changes enacted after the fatal encounter between Sen. R. Creigh Deeds and his mentally ill son. “Roughly speaking, there’s been about a 10 percent increase,” said Richard J. Bonnie, director of the Institute of Law, Psychiatry and Public Policy at U-Va. and chairman of the state Supreme Court’s Commission on Mental Health Law Reform from 2006-2011.

Federal Elections

JIM WEBB ANNOUNCES DEMOCRATIC BID FOR PRESIDENCY

By MAGGIE HABERMAN AND ALAN RAPPEPORT, New York Times

Jim Webb, a former Virginia senator and Reagan-era secretary of the Navy, announced his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination on Thursday, bringing his antiwar credentials to the field in what many consider a long-shot campaign for the presidency.


JIM WEBB ANNOUNCES 2016 DEMOCRATIC BID

By GABRIEL DEBENEDETTI , Politico

Democrat Jim Webb, the former Virginia senator, jumped into the presidential race with an email announcing his candidacy on Thursday afternoon. “I understand the odds, particularly in today’s political climate where fair debate is so often drowned out by huge sums of money,” Webb wrote in the roughly 2,000-word email.


JIM WEBB DECLARES 2016 PRESIDENTIAL BID

By ANDREW CAIN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

Former U.S. Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., on Thursday declared his candidacy for president, saying he understands he is a long shot but believes the country needs a fresh approach to problems that divide Americans. “I understand the odds, particularly in today’s political climate where fair debate is so often drowned out by huge sums of money,” Webb said in a statement.


IN UPHILL 2016 BID, JIM WEBB BRINGS CONSERVATIVE BENT TO DEMOCRATIC FIELD

By RACHEL WEINER, Washington Post

Former Virginia senator Jim Webb announced Thursday that he will run for president, setting himself on an uphill trek for the Democratic nomination with little national name recognition and scant financial support. Webb adds a decidedly more conservative option for Democratic voters in a field in which former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton has tacked to the left under criticism from liberal former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley and socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).


THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT JIM WEBB

By KEN THOMAS, Associated Press

A look at former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, who announced Thursday he would seek the Democratic presidential nomination.

State Government

STANDARDIZED TESTING: HOW MANY TESTS ARE TOO MANY?

By MEGAN WILLIAMS AND GRIFFIN MOORES, News Leader (Metered Pay Wall)

It's SOL blitz time, and a Ware Elementary School third-grader offers an answer to a practice question, an incorrect answer as it turns out. She turns to a classmate. "I told you, I'm a failure," she said.

Economy/Business

HAMPTON ROADS JOBLESS RATE TOPS NATIONAL AVERAGE FOR FIRST TIME IN DECADE

By PHIL WALZER, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

For the first time in at least a decade, the unemployment rate in Hampton Roads is higher than the national average. The region recorded a jobless rate of 5.5 percent in May, the Virginia Employment Commission said Wednesday. That was up from the 5.0 percent rate for Hampton Roads in April, but lower than the area's 5.7 percent rate in May 2014.


DOLLAR TREE, FAMILY DOLLAR $9.2B MERGER APPROVED

By PHILIP WALZER, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Dollar Tree Inc. said Thursday it will complete its $9.2 billion acquisition of Family Dollar stores on Monday after federal regulators approved an agreement to meet antitrust concerns. The combined company will be the largest discount retailer in North America, with more than 13,000 stores.

Transportation

PROPOSED I-66 BIKE TRAIL SPARKS DEBATE

By KALI SCHUMITZ , Fairfax Times

Cyclists in the Interstate 66 corridor are hoping that the proposed highway widening project also will create an opportunity to add new bike facilities. However, for residents in Dunn Loring and Oakton already concerned about the highway encroaching into their yards and a community school, one proposed bike trail signifies to them another 10 feet of property that they might lose.

Higher Education

TRANSFER OF POWER COMPLETE AT SWEET BRIAR COLLEGE

By JESSIE POUNDS, News & Advance

A new board of directors grasped the reins of Sweet Briar College early Thursday evening with a conference call that unanimously appointed Harrisonburg attorney Phillip Stone as the new president and formally rescinded February’s board decision to close the school. Reached by phone just minutes after the call, he said, “I’m on my way.”

Virginia Other

U.S. OFFICIALLY RECOGNIZES PAMUNKEY TRIBE

By JACKSON MCMILLAN, Virginia Gazette

The federal government has officially extended recognition to the Pamunkey Indian tribe, whose members have lived in King William County since the before European colonization. It is the first Virginia tribe to achieve such recognition. In the wake of the announcement Pamunkey Indian Chief Kevin Brown, who has helped the tribe's 30-year quest for such recognition, tendered his resignation as chief.


PAMUNKEY INDIAN TRIBE WINS FEDERAL RECOGNITION 408 YEARS AFTER GREETING THE FIRST ENGLISH SETTLERS

By MARK ST. JOHN ERICKSON , Daily Press (Paywall for certain articles)

More than four centuries after its warriors met the first permanent English settlers in America, the Pamunkey Indian tribe of King William County has won official recognition from the federal government. The long-awaited decision by the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs was officially announced in a brief news release issued Thursday morning.


A RENOWNED VIRGINIA INDIAN TRIBE FINALLY WINS FEDERAL RECOGNITION

By JOE HEIM, Washington Post

More than 400 years after their ancestors greeted John Smith and other English settlers, Virginia’s Pamunkey Indians have won recognition from the federal government that they are a Native American tribe. The U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs announced Thursday that the Pamunkey tribe’s decades-long quest for recognition has been approved, making the tribe of Pocahontas the first in Virginia to receive the coveted designation. Six other Virginia tribes are seeking recognition through an act of Congress.


U.S. GRANTS FEDERAL RECOGNITION TO VIRGINIA'S PAMUNKEY TRIBE

By MARKUS SCHMIDT , Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

More than 400 years after Pocahontas, arguably the most famous Pamunkey Indian, saved the life of Englishman John Smith, the tribe once again made history Thursday by becoming the first Indian tribe in Virginia to be recognized by the federal government.


VIRGINIA POWER SAYS NATURAL GAS RELIANCE TO GROW

By JOHN RAMSEY, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

Dominion Virginia Power faces significant risks in all of its options for generating enough electricity to meet growing demand while reducing carbon emissions during the next 15 years. But one thing is clear as the state’s largest utility weighs new solar-, nuclear- and wind-power options to comply with upcoming federal regulations for carbon reduction called the Clean Power Plan.


IN NORTHERN VA., ENVIRONMENTALISTS CONCERNED ABOUT DISPOSAL OF COAL ASH

By VICTORIA ST. MARTIN, Washington Post

For six decades, on a spit of land where Quantico Creek meets the Potomac River, the Possum Point Power Station burned fossil fuels, provided energy for thousands of Virginians and left behind truckloads of a waste product known as coal ash. Dominion Virginia Power has not burned coal at the 650-acre site, about 30 miles south of Washington, in more than a decade.


GAS PIPELINE ON SCHEDULE, DESPITE FAILED PRESSURE TEST

News & Record

The Virginia Southside Expansion — the name for the newly laid, 100-mile natural gas pipeline from Pittsylvania to Brunswick counties — is nearly complete, despite a recent setback that revealed a flaw in the cast-iron pipe buried underground in the South Hill area.


CASE EXPLORES WHETHER COWS "APPLY" THEIR WASTE TO STREAMS

By REX SPRINGSTON, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

A farmer is clearly applying waste when he puts manure on a field. But is a cow applying waste when it poops in a stream? That was a key point of debate Thursday during a 90-minute Richmond Circuit Court hearing in a lawsuit that aims to keep cattle from polluting waterways.

Local

INVESTIGATORS SEEK CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN MAYOR SESSOMS, VIRGINIA BEACH DEVELOPERS

By JOHN HOLLAND, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

State investigators are seeking several years' worth of correspondence and other documents involving Mayor Will Sessoms, City Manager Jim Spore and several prominent developers who have done business in Virginia Beach since the mayor took office in January 2009.


WILDER LASHES OUT ON TWITTER AT MAYOR, CITY OVER ASHE MONUMENT

By NED OLIVER , Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

Former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder has entered the debate over the Confederate statues that line Monument Avenue, letting loose a stream of tweets Thursday aimed at the city and, seemingly, Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones. Wilder began by criticizing the city for allowing the landscaping surrounding the monument dedicated to Richmond native and tennis great Arthur Ashe to fall into disarray.


ATTORNEY WHO MADE COMPLAINT NOT REAPPOINTED TO BVU BOARD

By DAVID MCGEE, Bristol Herald Courier

An attorney who notified law enforcement about potential criminal activity at BVU Authority while serving on its board wasn’t reappointed to another four-year term Wednesday. Doug Fleenor, who served a single term as a citizen appointee to the authority board, was passed over in favor of business owner Frank Goodpasture during the Bristol Virginia City Council’s annual reorganizational meeting Wednesday. The BVU seat was included in a series of appointments that were approved unanimously following a 40-minute, closed- door meeting.


Editorials

SADLY OBSESSED WITH THE SOLS

News Leader Editorial (Metered Pay Wall)

Today’s front-page story asks if there are too many Standards of Learning exams. Our answer is yes. Worse, they are over-emphasized and have hijacked K-12 education in Virginia, with no proof that our students are better educated, much less better prepared for the real world, for having taken them.


A MILESTONE FOR VIRGINIA'S NATIVE TRIBES

News & Advance Editorial

For Virginia’s American Indian tribes, July 2 likely will go down in history as a red letter, to be remembered as the day the first Virginia tribe gained official recognition from the federal government. Think about that for a second.


$260 MILLION TO NOT BUILD A ROAD

Virginian-Pilot Editorial (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

The final figures are in, and Virginia, it’s not pretty: Former Gov. Bob McDonnell’s administration threw away more than a quarter-billion in taxpayer dollars on a road that never was — and never will be — built. If that stings, it should.


THE EPA HELPS TO RESTORE THE BAY

Richmond Times-Dispatch Editorial (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

The watershed that sustains the Chesapeake includes many states. The bay affects regions far beyond its body and tributaries. Indeed, it helps to explain America. Capt. John Smith founded Jamestown. Other European colonists and settlers followed. The Pilgrims set out for the Chesapeake but landed in what became known as Massachusetts. Yorktown effectively ended the Revolutionary War.


NEW LAWS TO CONSIDER

Daily News Record Editorial (Subscription Required)

July 1 has passed, and the new laws the General Assembly passed last session are taking effect. Some of them you might have heard about, while others didn’t make much news. Examples of the former include a new law governing how colleges handle accusations of sexual assault among students.


WIN OF SORTS FOR VOTERS ON REDISTRICTING

Daily Progress Editorial

Virginians should be pleased by the outcome of a Supreme Court decision on gerrymandering, but not necessarily by how it was won. In a case out of Arizona, a divided court ruled that the state’s residents had the authority to take redistricting decisions away from the state legislature and place them in the hands of an independent commission, as they did in a 2000 referendum.


NO NEED FOR SECRECY WITH EXECUTION DRUGS

Free Lance-Star Editorial

The effort earlier this year in the Virginia General Assembly to keep secret nearly all aspects of how the state executes people shouldn’t be repeated next session. What some in the legislature tried—and failed—to do was to close to the public information about the drugs being used in lethal injection executions, including the name of the drug, the manufacturer and supplier.

Columnists

WILLIAMS: RICHMOND POLICE MEMORIAL NEEDS A NEW HOME

By MICHAEL PAUL WILLIAMS, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

A movement is afoot to relocate a monument in Richmond. And in this case, it’s hard to imagine why anyone would object. The Richmond Police Memorial stands largely forgotten — until recently, partially obscured by plant growth and defiled by litter and the stench of urine — in a forlorn patch of city parkland called Nina F. Abady Festival Park.

Op-Ed

FOGLE: HELLO, POT, I’M KETTLE . . .

By FRANKLIN FOGLE, Published in the Winchester Star (Subscription Required)

“He didn’t seek advice from us, so he’s uncommunicative,” they said. “He voted to deny insurance coverage to autistic children,” they said. “His vote sheltered pedophiles from prosecution,” they said. Such reasons were plied to accuse Dr. Mark Berg of legislative malfeasance, but allow me to suggest that a good man was imprudently indicted for exhibiting the rare political trait of keeping his campaign promises.

Franklin Fogle is a resident of Frederick County.


SCHMOOKLER: DISGRACEFUL POLITICS THAT HARM PEOPLE

By ANDY SCHMOOKLER, Published in the News & Advance

As the American public recognizes, our political system has become dysfunctional. A big component of the problem is that disgraceful political conduct has become acceptable, and is often even rewarded. The rejection of Medicaid expansion by the Republicans in many states in which they have the power is a case in point.

Andy Schmookler, the Democratic nominee for Congress in Virginia’s Sixth District in 2012, is an author who lives in Shenandoah County.

The Friday Read

IN CHANGING TIMES, ROTARY CLUBS WRESTLE OVER PRAYER

By ANTONIO OLIVO, Washington Post

Gone are the days when a retired pastor would start each Vienna Rotary Club luncheon with a traditional Christian prayer. For the past year, club members in the leafy Washington suburb have alternated between prayer, nondenominational words of inspiration and moments of silent reflection.