VaNews

Thursday May 26, 2016

Compiled by Ray Reed


Today's Sponsor:

Virginia Chamber of Commerce

Technology is improving healthcare quality, access, and cost for Virginians. Join us June 9 to learn how businesses, providers, and consumers are adapting to changes. https://www.vachamber.com/event/2016-health-care-conference/

Executive Branch

MCAULIFFE ATTORNEY SAYS FBI INVESTIGATION IS NOT ABOUT CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS

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

Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s private attorney said Wednesday that the Department of Justice investigation leaked earlier this week isn’t focused on campaign contributions, but on whether McAuliffe lobbied the U.S. government on behalf of foreign entities. Justice officials also told attorney James W. Cooper there was no evidence of wrong doing on the governor’s part, McAuliffe said Wednesday, during a monthly radio call-in show.


MCAULIFFE: FEDS HAVE FOUND NO WRONGDOING

Associated Press

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said Wednesday that federal investigators looking at donations from his 2013 campaign have told his attorney there’s no indication he did anything wrong. The governor said on a WTOP radio program that his attorney reached out to federal prosecutors following reports that McAuliffe is a subject of a federal investigation. “My lawyer reached out to the Justice Department, and asked if they’ve had any indication of any wrongdoing on my part, and the answer was no,” McAuliffe said.


MCAULIFFE ATTORNEY SAYS FEDS FOUND NO CRIME, REBUTS 'FALSE INFORMATION' ON PROBE'S FOCUS

By GRAHAM MOOMAW, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

An attorney representing Gov. Terry McAuliffe said Wednesday that the federal investigation into the governor should be closed because there's no evidence McAuliffe violated laws dealing with foreign influence of U.S. policy. James W. Cooper, a lawyer with the D.C.-based firm Arnold & Porter, said the U.S. Department of Justice told him the probe is focused on McAuliffe's foreign sources of income before he became governor and whether he lobbied on behalf of those interests without registering as a foreign agent.


MCAULIFFE CHALLENGES FEDERAL LEAKS, SAYS JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SHOULD BE HELD TO HIGHER STANDARD

By PATRICK WILSON , Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)

Two days after CNN reported he is under federal investigation, Gov. Terry McAuliffe went on the radio Wednesday and said the network’s reporters “were sold a bag of goods” and decried leaks from the U.S. Justice Department.


MCAULIFFE LAWYER: VIRGINIA GOVERNOR DID NOTHING WRONG

By JENNA PORTNOY, Washington Post

RICHMOND — Federal authorities are investigating whether Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) violated an obscure statute that regulates U.S. citizens’ lobbying of the U.S. government on behalf of foreign governments, the governor’s attorney said Wednesday. The attorney, James W. Cooper, said the Justice Department and the FBI will find no evidence of wrongdoing by McAuliffe, despite probing his personal finances dating back at least a decade before he became governor.


FALLOUT OVER MCAULIFFE INVESTIGATION EXTENDS TO RICHMOND MAYOR'S RACE

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

The fallout over news of a federal investigation into Gov. Terry McAuliffe trickled down to the Richmond mayor’s race Wednesday with an attack on McAuliffe’s former aide and mayoral hopeful Levar Stoney. Former state Del. Joseph D. Morrissey, who is also running for mayor, issued a statement calling on Stoney to reject “any campaign contributions from Governor McAuliffe or any of his contributors.”


GOVERNOR ASKS AGENCIES TO CURTAIL SPENDING NOW TO HELP WITH NEXT BUDGET

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

Gov. Terry McAuliffe is asking state agencies to cut discretionary spending now to help with potential cuts in the budget that would take effect July 1. Paul J. Reagan, the governor’s chief of staff, advised the heads of executive branch agencies on Monday that the state is likely to transfer a smaller operational surplus than budgeted from this fiscal year to the next one, for fiscal 2017.

General Assembly

AREA LEGISLATORS SAY VOTING RESTORATION LAWSUIT A NECESSARY CHECK

By BOB STUART, News Virginian

Area General Assembly members say the lawsuit filed Monday in the Supreme Court challenging Gov. Terry McAuliffe's mass restoration of voting rights to felons was necessary, and the best option. The lawsuit, led by House Speaker Bill Howell and Senate Majority Leader Thomas Norment, argues that McAuliffe exceeded his authority last month when he issued an order covering more than 200,000 felons who served their time. Del. Steve Landes, R-Weyers Cave, said the only recourse other than a lawsuit "was to go into special session." He said attorneys advising Republican leadership believed quick action was necessary, and said the move must be blocked before the November presidential election.


LEGISLATORS: AREA IN NEED OF SKILLED TRADESMEN

By SALLY VOTH, Winchester Star (Subscription Required)

Area legislators discussed a proffers bill and the need for more skilled tradesmen during a Top of Virginia Building Association legislative breakfast Wednesday at Winchester Country Club. “I actually am a builder,” 33rd District Del. Dave LaRock, R-Hamilton, said. “I’m glad to have that connection to many of you folks.”

State Government

SCC SCRUTINIZES PLANNED ANTHEM-CIGNA MERGER AT HEARING

By KATIE DEMERIA, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

Virginia’s State Corporation Commission held its only scheduled public hearing on the proposed $48 billion merger of Anthem Inc. and Cigna Corp. on Wednesday, during which opponents voiced concerns that the merger could have a detrimental impact on state consumers by reducing competition and increasing premiums. Anthem, Virginia’s largest insurer, announced its intention to acquire Cigna last year. Along with Aetna’s proposed acquisition of Humana, the move would reduce the number of top national insurance companies from five to three, along with UnitedHealthcare.

Economy/Business

NEWPORT NEWS SHIPYARD TO RECALL 210 LAID-OFF WORKERS

By HUGH LESSIG, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Newport News Shipbuilding will recall 210 employees who lost their jobs in February due to layoffs, company President Matt Mulherin said Wednesday. "Although we are not completely through the workload valley, this news is more positive than originally predicted, and we will continue to evaluate our planning needs throughout the year," he said in a letter to employees.


NEWPORT NEWS SHIPBUILDING IS RECALLING 210 LAID-OFF EMPLOYEES

By ROBERT MCCABE , Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)

Newport News Shipbuilding is calling back 210 of the workers it laid off in early February, the company announced Wednesday. The recall follows another in early April, when 75 employees who had been let go were called back. The 285 recalled employees had been among 738 laid off on Feb. 3. In a letter to shipyard workers, Matt Mulherin, president of Newport News Shipbuilding, said the recall was due “to updated workload manning plans and growth work on several programs.”


NEW CRAFT BEER TRAIL COMES TO THE VALLEY

By LAURA PETERS, News Leader (Metered Pay Wall)

Like Nelson County has the Brew Ridge Trail, the Shenandoah Valley now has its very own beer trail snaking down Interstate 81. A multi-locality effort has brought a dozen craft breweries together to benefit six tourism areas. It’s called the Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail.


NEW ANTARES ROCKET TO UNDERGO HOT-FIRE TEST NEXT WEEK

By TAMARA DIETRICH, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

An upgraded Antares rocket is scheduled for a hot-fire test at Virginia's Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport next week, 19 months after an earlier booster exploded after lift-off and nearly destroyed the launch pad. The hot-fire is to prove the new Antares' readiness and marks a key milestone for rocket-maker Orbital ATK before it can resume cargo resupply missions from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) to the International Space Station. It will also assess the repaired pad's fueling systems.

Transportation

MARYLAND, VIRGINIA AND D.C. REACH AGREEMENT ON NEW METRO SAFETY COMMISSION

By PAUL DUGGAN AND JENNA PORTNOY, Washington Post

Under federal pressure to beef up safety monitoring of Metro, officials in Maryland, Virginia and the District have drafted legislation to create a regional oversight commission that would have “robust” power to investigate safety lapses but also would be allowed to withhold its findings from the public. The proposal, unveiled Wednesday, comes at a time of heightened concern among officials and hundreds of thousands of Metro riders about track fires and other dangerous safety lapses. It also comes amid calls for more transparency from the transit agency and its leaders.


GOVERNOR SIGNS EXECUTIVE ORDER ON SAFETY OVERSIGHT FOR DC METRO

By ROBERT ZULLO, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

Gov. Terry McAuliffe issued an executive directive Wednesday that seeks to spur the creation of a new oversight agency for Washington’s much-maligned Metro subway system, which has been plagued by safety and management problems and is under mounting pressure from politicians to reverse a downward spiral that has cost passengers their lives, created service outages and cut ridership. Paul Wiedefeld, general manager and CEO of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority since November, axed 20 managers last week as part of his effort to overhaul the authority, an effort that includes a massive maintenance and repair program starting next month.

Virginia Other

MEETING WITH DOMINION ‘POSITIVE,’ CITIZENS SAY

By JIM MCCONNELL, Chesterfield Observer

As promised, Dominion Virginia Power officials conducted a tour of the Chesterfield power station last Thursday for a group of 12 citizens that included state Sen. Amanda Chase. Despite their dissatisfaction with the company’s coal ash management practices, several of the people who participated in the tour agreed that the atmosphere was cordial and nonconfrontational. ... (Dominion denied the Observer’s request to cover last week’s event. The company offered to let a reporter tour the plant, but not at the same time as the citizen group.)


ENERGY COMPANY HEARS FROM THOSE FOR AND AGAINST WIND POWER PROJECT

Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

At a public library not far from the mountain on which it hopes to build a row of giant wind turbines, Apex Clean Energy took comments pro and con Wednesday evening.

Local

ALEXANDRIA CITY COUNCIL AGREES TO A WATERED-DOWN ETHICS CODE

By PATRICIA SULLIVAN, Washington Post

The Alexandria City Council agreed Tuesday night to what it described as a code of ethics and conduct that is “aspirational in nature,” without legal penalty. The measure, passed by a unanimous vote, requires a once-per-term public pledge to act ethically and a public conversation, dialogue or seminar on ethics every three years.


AT&T SAYS PROPOSED SHORT HILL SITE NOT A ‘DATA CENTER’

By SYDNEY KASHIWAGI, Loudoun Times

“This is not a data center,” Bob Ericksen, a project manager for AT&T, told an eager crowd of over 100 Loudoun County residents packed into the Game Protective Association on Monday as they waited for answers from the applicant of the proposed 3.5-acre telephone transmission facility on top of Short Hill Mountain. ... But with a facility that's proposed annual water usage is slated for 2 million gallons or more, coupled with a 230,000-gallon underground diesel fuel storage capacity in a site that needs at least four 4 megawatt generators to power itself – Loudoun County residents say they just aren't buying it.


BYOM: RESIDENTS PITCH IN TO CUT RICHMOND'S GRASS

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

When Shirley Perkins heard the city of Richmond wasn’t going to be able to keep grass on public property mowed this summer, she put on her old clothes, loaded her push mower into her car, threw in a gas can, and headed for the wide medians of Monument Avenue. “It was so bad,” said the 78-year-old South Richmond resident. “I cut a pretty good section.”


NORFOLK IS BRINGING FREE PUBLIC WI-FI TO PARK PLACE WITH MORE NEIGHBORHOODS ON THE HORIZON

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

The city will offer free public Wi-Fi across the Park Place neighborhood starting this fall in the first program of its kind in Norfolk. Up to 7,800 people at a time will be able to use the high-speed internet, said the city’s chief information officer, Steven DeBerry.


SPOTSYLVANIA, STAFFORD CONSIDER ELIMINATING DEVELOPER FEE POLICIES

By JEFF BRANSCOME, Free Lance-Star

Spotsylvania and Stafford counties may eliminate policies recommending voluntary fees from homebuilders in light of the state’s recent ban on “unreasonable” cash proffers. Both counties collect cash proffers from residential developers in exchange for rezonings, with the payments going toward new infrastructure such as schools and roads. But a law signed by the governor in March clamps down on the fees, allowing proffers only if they cover costs “specifically attributable” to a development.


AUGUSTA COUNTY REPEALS PANHANDLING ORDINANCE

By BOB STUART, News Virginian

Augusta County has become the latest community in Virginia to repeal an ordinance banning panhandling on the streets. County supervisors voted Wednesday to repeal the county’s ordinance, which had banned the practice on all county streets since the passage in 2014. Augusta County Attorney Pat Morgan said a Charlottesville attorney contacted the county and pointed to the broad nature of the county’s ordinance. The attorney also cited several court cases.


SUSPENSIONS IN DANVILLE SCHOOLS AMONG HIGHEST IN VIRGINIA, REPORT FINDS

By TREVOR METCALFE, Danville Register & Bee

Danville Public Schools is among the harshest school districts in the state for short-term and long-term suspensions, according to a new study. However, school leaders say new policies are keeping more students out of suspension — and back in the classroom. “Danville Public Schools has struggled with disciplinary actions for many years, but we now have a new approach that puts the school principal at the forefront of dealing with discipline,” said Danville School Board Chair Ed Polhamus.


Today's Sponsor:

Virginia Chamber of Commerce

Technology is improving healthcare quality, access, and cost for Virginians. Join us June 9 to learn how businesses, providers, and consumers are adapting to changes. https://www.vachamber.com/event/2016-health-care-conference/

Editorials

YET ANOTHER CLOUD OVER VIRGINIA POLITICS

News & Advance Editorial

Virginia’s been down this road before; please help us if we have to do it again. We’re talking, of course, about an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Public Integrity Section of a sitting governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia. First, then-Gov. Bob McDonnell and, now, evidently, Gov. Terry McAuliffe.


FEDS KEEP BUSY WITH GOVERNORS

Daily Progress Editorial

Against a backdrop in which Facebook employees say they secretly manipulated conservatives’ posts and the Internal Revenue Service has been exposed for subjecting conservative groups to extra scrutiny, damaging the credibility of major entities in both the private public sectors, at least you can say that the FBI is playing it down the middle.


FELONS, BALLOTS AND BULLETS

Daily Press Editorial (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

The commonwealth of Virginia has long had strong provisions barring convicted felons from ever possessing a gun again. "It shall be unlawful for any person who has been convicted of a felony … to knowingly and intentionally possess … any firearm," state law says. And if someone violates that prohibition, they have just committed another felony — punishable by between one and five years in prison.


THE GOP’S VOTING RIGHTS LAWSUIT WOULD PERPETUATE INJUSTICE

Washington Post Editorial

Republican leaders of Virginia’s legislature have asked the state’s highest court to block Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s order restoring voting rights to more than 200,000 felons who have served out their sentences — the latest in a series of GOP measures meant to dilute and minimize the electoral clout of African Americans in the commonwealth. The Republican lawsuit rests heavily on the idea that Virginia’s governor is invested with the authority to restore ex-convicts’ voting rights only if the restoration is “individualized” — a word that appears nowhere in the state’s constitution.


REDISTRICTING, DONE THE WRONG WAY IN VIRGINIA

Free Lance-Star Editorial

Virginia's ability to redraw its own congressional districts received another vote of no-confidence this week when the U.S. Supreme Court rejected arguments by three Virginia congressmen who petitioned that a court-drawn map would do them electoral harm. The case dates to 2011, when the redistricting process began as required after the 2010 census. It has put Republican lawmakers, who by 2012 controlled both General Assembly chambers, in the hot seat for drawing a single, new minority-heavy Third District.


PUBLIC SQUARE TAUGHT LESSONS

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

Tuesday’s extraordinary Times-Dispatch Public Square with Keith Harward, who spent three decades behind bars for someone else’s crime, taught those in attendance many lessons. We call your attention to three of them that range from highly public to highly personal. The first concerns the need for Virginia to adopt what is known as open-file discovery. Some jurisdictions use it, but many don’t. The term refers to a standard that obliges prosecutors in criminal cases to share all the evidence against the defendant with his legal counsel.


MITCHELL INVESTIGATION MUST MOVE FORWARD

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

The Virginia State Police confirmed last week that it had begun a criminal inquiry into the death of Jamycheal Mitchell, the 24-year-old with a history of mental illness who was found dead in his cell at the Hampton Roads Regional Jail. It’s about time.

Op-Ed

STOTTLEMYER AND REVELEY: THE WILLIAM & MARY PROMISE: PROMISES MADE, PROMISES KEPT

By TODD STOTTLEMYER AND TAYLOR REVELEY, Published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

Recently concerns have arisen about a decision made six months ago by William & Mary’s Board of Visitors. Important facts were missed. In 2013, the Board of Visitors approved a comprehensive, multiyear 10-point plan, known as the William & Mary Promise, to provide tuition predictability for in-state students, affordability to Virginia’s low- and middle-income families through greater financial aid, and expanded access by increasing in-state undergraduate enrollment.

Todd Stottlemyer is the rector of the College of William & Mary. Taylor Reveley is William & Mary president.


FREUND: HOW GOODLATTE COULD FIGHT OPIOID CRISIS

By JIM FREUND, Published in the Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

It’s every parent’s worst nightmare: losing a child. When my son Scott lost his battle with addiction over five years ago and just two days before his 21st birthday, I experienced the same devastation and heartache that tens of thousands of families face when they lose a loved one to abuse of prescription painkillers or heroin, both of which are in a class of drugs called opioids. It is life-shattering. Addiction to these drugs is now a national crisis, surpassing car accidents as the number one cause of accidental death in our country. More than 30,000 of our loved ones will die this year from an overdose of opioids. Right here in Virginia, one person dies every nine hours from an overdose of opioid painkillers or heroin.

Jim Freund s a father from Ashburn and an ambassador for Shatterproof, a national nonprofit devoted to reducing the devastation to families caused by the addiction to prescription drugs, illicit drugs and alcohol.

From vpap.org

SEN. STURTEVANT, DEL. BAGBY TAKE A TURN AT POLITICAL COMEDY

The Virginia Public Access Project

More than 350 people turned out Wednesday for VPAP's annual luncheon, which featured stand up routines by two freshman state legislators, Sen. Glen Sturtevant and Del. Lamont Bagby. VPAP posted photos and audio clips from the luncheon, along with a link to its second annual General Assembly blooper reel.