VaNews

Friday May 26, 2017


Today's Sponsor:

John S Gray CPA

This Memorial Day weekend, as a former U. S. Marine (1969-1973) infantryman in Vietnam, I remember all those who didn't make it home.

Executive Branch


INTERFAITH CENTER ASKS MCAULIFFE TO PARDON SECOND IMMIGRANT FACING DEPORTATION

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

A day after he pardoned a Salvadoran mother facing deportation after a minor driving conviction, Gov. Terry McAuliffe was asked by immigrant rights advocates to intervene in a second deportation case, raising the possibility that such requests could become a recurring feature under the enforcement policies of President Donald Trump. The Richmond-based Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy on Thursday called on McAuliffe to pardon Jose Luis Lugo Zarco, an undocumented immigrant living in the United States since 2002 who resides in the Richmond area.



MCAULIFFE SIGNS BILL ON DRIVERS LICENSE SUSPENSIONS

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

Drivers licenses suspended over outstanding court fines, something that affects more than 600,000 Virginians, should be easier to reinstate now that new laws are taking effect. Gov. Terry McAuliffe and a cadre of state legislators descended upon the state's Department of Motor Vehicles headquarters Thursday to call attention to the changes, which advocates have pushed for some time.

General Assembly


MORE MONEY FOR METRO? REPUBLICAN SENATORS SAY THEY NEED CONVINCING

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

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority is struggling to overcome chronic safety and reliability problems, a massive unfunded pension liability and years of expensive deferred maintenance. The transit system — created by Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C., in 1967 — needs about $15.5 billion for capital needs alone over the next 10 years, according to General Manager and CEO Paul Wiedefeld.



VIRGINIA FINANCE SECRETARY REASSURES LAWMAKERS ON REVENUES

By MICHAEL MARTZ, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Secretary of Finance Richard D. “Ric” Brown sought to reassure legislators Thursday that state revenues will not fall short despite a rough April. State revenues ended April about $130 million ahead of the forecast for the fiscal year that will end June 30, but that was about $185 million less than had been projected at the end of March. “We took a punch in April,” Brown told the Senate Finance Committee at the Capitol. “We staggered a bit but we didn’t fall. We’re still ahead of forecast.”



OUTGOING SPEAKER HOWELL SKEWERS COLLEAGUES, SELF AT VPAP FUNDRAISER

By ANDREW CAIN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Outgoing Speaker of the House William J. Howell, R-Stafford, poked fun at his colleagues and himself Thursday during the annual fundraising luncheon for the Virginia Public Access Project. ...Howell, a member of the House since 1988 and speaker since 2003, said he was happy to be at an event where “everybody eats, a few people talk too much, nothing really gets done.” Turning to Susan Clarke Schaar, clerk of the Virginia Senate, Howell said: “In the House, we call that the Senate floor session.”

State Elections


GILLESPIE'S FRONTRUNNER STRATEGY: STAY AWAY FROM THE OTHER GUYS

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

The last debate with all three Republican candidates for governor was April 22, more than seven weeks removed from the June 13 primary. The reason? According to the two other campaigns and a potential debate organizer, frontrunner Ed Gillespie either isn't interested, or isn't available. Gillespie, who leads in public polling and fundraising, has skipped enough potential joint appearances that it's looking like a strategy in the waning weeks of this campaign.



AS GAS PIPELINES ROIL VIRGINIA GOVERNOR’S RACE, REGULATORS BACKTRACK ON THEIR ROLE

By FENIT NIRAPPIL , Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northam, under pressure from environmentalists to oppose two natural gas pipelines, told voters for weeks that he had won assurances from state regulators that they will increase scrutiny on the projects by assessing environmental impacts along specific sites, instead of relying on a “blanket” approval from federal officials. But this week, the state agency in charge of the review said it miscommunicated its plan.



LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR HOPEFUL SUSAN PLATT CALLS FOR TAKING DOWN ALL CONFEDERATE MONUMENTS IN VA.

By PATRICK WILSON , Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Susan Platt, a Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor in the June 13 primary, on Thursday called for removing all Confederate monuments in Virginia and renaming all highways and buildings named for Confederates. The issue has permeated the GOP primary for governor, but a news release Thursday from Platt introduced it into the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor, a part-time office tasked with presiding over the state Senate when the General Assembly is in session.



AFTER TRUMP WIN, SURGE OF DEMOCRATS FOR VIRGINIA HOUSE RACES

By SARAH RANKIN, Associated Press

Democrats in Virginia have mobilized after President Donald Trump's election, sending a groundswell of candidates to run for the state House of Delegates. All 100 House seats are up for election in November, and Democrats hope to chip away at the Republicans' solid majority, if not retake the chamber for the first time in nearly two decades. Democratic House minority leader David Toscano says "it's been raining candidates" since Trump's election.



DEMOCRAT SEEKING 8TH DISTRICT PRIMARY NOD OFFERS OPPONENT $1,500 TO EXIT RACE

By CARMEN FORMAN, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

Candidate Steve McBride acknowledges he offered fellow Democrat Bryan Keele a $1,500 campaign contribution to leave their House of Delegates primary election and run for a Roanoke County Board of Supervisors seat. Each is seeking the Democratic nomination in the June 13 primary to oppose Del. Greg Habeeb, R-Salem, in the November general election.



DEMOCRAT’S CRUDE FACEBOOK JOKES HAVE PARTY LEADERS TRYING TO PUSH HIM OUT OF PRIMARY

By FENIT NIRAPPIL, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Democratic state lawmakers in Virginia are trying to push a first-time candidate out of a primary contest for a House of Delegates seat, after learning he made a series of sexist and racist online comments. House Democratic leaders took the rare step last week of asking Tom Brock of Virginia Beach to step aside, saying they need to hold their own accountable, especially after months of bashing President Trump for insensitivity toward women and minorities.

Congress


SENS. KAINE AND FLAKE WANT CONGRESS TO RECLAIM ITS WAR POWERS

By BILL BARTEL, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

A pair of U.S. senators want Congress to debate and vote on the legitimacy of sending American forces to battle the Islamic State group and other non-state terrorists instead of relying on what they argue are outdated war authorizations given the president 15 years ago. Sens. Tim Kaine, a Virginia Democrat, and Jeff Flake, an Arizona Republican, introduced an “Authorization for the Use of Military Force” resolution Thursday that would empower the president to wage war against the Islamic State group – also known as ISIS – as well as al-Qaida and the Taliban for the next five years in the six countries where U.S. forces already are active.



SEN. WARNER’S RUSSIA REFRAIN: ‘THE MOST SERIOUS THING I’VE EVER TAKEN ON’

By TREVOR BARATKO, Loudoun Times

Sen. Mark Warner has always considered himself a numbers guy. Since landing in Washington in 2009, the former governor has exerted the lion's share of his energy on big-picture budget items like cutting down the federal debt, analyzing the fiscal and social impact of the “gig economy” and finding efficiencies within the health care system. But those issues aren't the reason Americans have seen Warner's name and face splashed across national headlines and TV screens in recent weeks.



TIM KAINE HOSTS CONVERSATION ON GANG VIOLENCE IN ALEXANDRIA

By ALEXA EPITROPOULOS , Alexandria Times

Sen. Tim Kaine, D­Va., visited Alexandria on Monday to take part in a roundtable discussion concerning gang violence in Northern Virginia. Kaine made his visit as the 2018 federal budget makes its way through Congress that could impact the operating budgets of law enforcement, schools and nonprofits working to fight gang violence.

Economy/Business


ROANOKE COUNTY PRINTING COMPANY TO CLOSE IN JULY, LAY OFF 140 WORKERS

By TIFFANY STEVENS, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

A Roanoke County printing plant will close in July and lay off 140 workers, the company told local officials this week. LSC Communications, formerly known as RR Donnelley & Sons, will begin closing its book-printing plant in the county’s ValleyTech Park on July 23, according to a letter sent to Salem Mayor Randy Foley.



TRUMP BUDGET PROPOSAL SPELLS MORE PAIN FOR D.C. REGION

By ROBERT MCCARTNEY , Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

President Trump’s full budget plan, issued Tuesday, is even worse for the Washington region than the initial “skinny” version released in March, local government officials and analysts say. The new one includes all the same ominous proposals that prompted warnings that the spending plan would worsen economic inequality and possibly tip the area into recession. The White House still wants to shrink the local federal workforce by thousands of jobs

Transportation


HRT BUDGET OUTLOOK PREDICTS DECLINING RIDERSHIP; CITIES MAY HAVE TO PICK UP TAB

By JORDAN PASCALE , Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Hampton Roads Transit expects ridership to continue declining and expenses to be high in its next budget season. The six cities that use HRT’s bus, light-rail and ferry services likely will have to make up a $2.8 million gap. That deficit is set to remain even with HRT’s plan to raise one-way bus, light-rail and ferry fares from $1.75 to $2 in October.

Higher Education


UVA DOWNSIZING HUMAN-RESOURCES STAFF

By DEREK QUIZON, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

About 40 full-time-equivalent staff positions at the University of Virginia could be on the chopping block as the university merges its human resources departments in the academic and medical divisions. The merger would bring the number of full-time-equivalent employees from 240 to 200, according to university spokesman Anthony de Bruyn. The project, which the university calls UFirst, is supposed to cut down on bureaucratic waste and make HR at the university run more efficiently.

Virginia Other


EMPLOYEE MISCONDUCT, WASTE OF STATE FUNDS AND MORE: CALLS TO VIRGINIA FRAUD HOTLINE JUMP

By KATHERINE HAFNER , Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Calls reporting fraud, waste and abuse to an anonymous state hotline more than doubled earlier this year. The Virginia Office of the State Inspector General saw a surge in calls during the third quarter of the fiscal year, which led to a "significant increase" in state agency investigations, according to a news release.



DEQ DRAWS IRE OF PIPELINE OPPONENTS

By BOB STUART, News Virginian

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality's "clarification" about water quality permits related to the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines is being fiercely criticized by a local group opposed to the projects. DEQ on Wednesday clarified that it would rely on a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' national permit for the waterways crossed by the natural gas pipelines. In April, the DEQ had said it would require individual certifications for each of the hundreds of waterway crossings along the routes of both pipelines.



STEEP SLOPE PLAN ‘EXTENSIVE,’ DOMINION SAYS

By JOHN BRUCE, The Recorder (Paywall)

Dominion argued in a May 19 filing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission an earlier U.S. Forest Service request for information about the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline steep-slope construction plans was, in part, mistaken.

Local


PRINCE WILLIAM SCHOOL BOARD CHAIR SUES TO SEE PREDECESSOR’S EMAILS

By ALEX KOMA, Inside NOVA

Prince William County School Board Chairman Ryan Sawyers is taking legal action against division Superintendent Steven L. Walts, claiming that the administrator is unjustly blocking access to his predecessors’ emails. Sawyers is asking a circuit court judge to order Walts to provide him immediate access to emails sent and received by any previous board chairman, arguing in a court filing that the superintendent is “arbitrarily and capriciously” impeding Sawyers from reviewing past decisions by the board.



STONEY'S CITY HALL REVIEW POINTS TO OLD PROBLEMS

By NED OLIVER, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Richmond’s Department of Public Works employees say they’ve had equipment repossessed from job sites because of late bill payments. The city’s Emergency Communications Department said three outages last year translated to missed calls and delayed response times. The Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities said the city’s fleet department takes months to perform basic maintenance such as oil changes.



MARION MAYOR FIGHTING FOR RURAL AMERICA'S NEEDS IN D.C.

By STEPHANIE PORTER-NICHOLS, Smyth County News & Messenger

Small towns in rural America will have a single spokesperson today (5/24/17) as a U.S. House of Representatives committee hears testimony on the importance of a threatened grant program that helps communities provide essentials like water and sewer and create economic growth. That lone voice is one that carries experience and credibility, Marion Mayor David Helms. This afternoon, Helms will serve as one member on a panel of eight testifying about the importance of Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), a $3 billion program that is eliminated in President Donald Trump’s proposed 2018 budget.

Online News


VITA DELETES INTERNAL AUDITING DIVISION

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

The state's IT agency closed out its internal auditing division in April, laying off all three team members to meet a budget cut target, then offering them other agency positions. The move is an eyebrow raiser, particularly as the Virginia Information Technologies Agency tries to disentangle the state from a decade-long, multi-billion-dollar IT contract with Northrop Grumman. It certainly was a concern for the anonymous tipster who reached out to the Daily Press.


Today's Sponsor:

John S Gray CPA

This Memorial Day weekend, as a former U. S. Marine (1969-1973) infantryman in Vietnam, I remember all those who didn't make it home.

Editorials


ACCOUNTABILITY AND REFORM IN WAKE OF JAIL DEATH

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

Jamycheal Mitchell, a 24-year-old man with a history of mental illness, died under horrific circumstances nearly two years ago at the Hampton Roads Regional Jail. A lawsuit filed by his family alleges that he lost 46 pounds during the 101 days after his arrest for shoplifting about $5 worth of snacks from a convenience store. It was a preventable tragedy that still lacks a thorough explanation. Two reports issued by state agencies failed to provide a detailed accounting of what happened while Mitchell was in state custody, and two ongoing investigations — one state, one federal — have not yet rendered judgment.



GILLESPIE HITS RIGHT NOTE ON JOBS

News Virginian Editorial

As the primaries approach, the candidates have been fleshing out their policy platforms. And while a certain amount of poll-tested cant is to be expected in any well-run campaign, Virginia’s candidates for governor also have rolled out a series of proposals that deserve thoughtful consideration and even applause. This week brought an especially worthy, and innovative, proposal from Republican Ed Gillespie, the front-runner for the GOP gubernatorial nomination.



WHEN IS IT NOT PEAK TRAVEL ON I-95?

Free Lance-Star Editorial (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

OBLIGATORY warnings about the peak summer driving season that spring up like so many dandelions in the yard before Memorial Day weekend leave many motorists in the Fredericksburg area wondering when isn’t it peak driving time on Interstate 95. There are few hours of the day almost any time of the year when traffic is not heavy on this section of the East Coast’s Main Street. These days, congestion means even the most minor incident will tie up travel, and significant crashes can cause hours of delay as drivers flee the interstate and clog up area highways and byways. It takes a toll—pun intended—on lives and commerce in our area.

Op-Ed


GILLEY: WHO CARES ABOUT SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA?

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

As a native of Southwest Virginia, I read The Roanoke Times’ April 30 editorial “Nobody cares” with interest and reflection. One thing is for certain, rural Virginia, especially the Appalachian Mountain section of the state, is approaching a 21st-century economic crisis — perhaps unlike any experienced before. Having lived all over Virginia, I can assure you that people in Norfolk do not worry about the Danville/Martinsville area or Southwest Virginia, and the same is true for Richmond and Northern Virginia. Thus, in my opinion, leaders of the region where I grew up should take responsibility and act.

Gilley, a native of Carroll County, is a graduate of Virginia Tech. He has served as a university president as well as the Secretary of Education for Virginia.

The Friday Read


YOU CAN GET WEED DELIVERED TO YOUR DOOR IN D.C. JUST LIKE PIZZA. BUT IS IT LEGAL?

By STEVE HENDRIX, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

In Washington, it is now as easy to get marijuana delivered to your front door as pizza. Really expensive pizza. More than two years after the District allowed residents to legally cultivate and possess cannabis for personal use, a growing gray market of companies has sprung up that will bring orders of high-priced cookies, juice, clothing or even artwork to your house, along with the “gift” of a few fat buds.

From vpap.org


VIDEO: FUNNY OUTTAKES FROM THE 2017 GENERAL ASSEMBLY SESSION

The Virginia Public Access Project

The legislative process can excruciatingly tedious, except for rare, unscripted moments of levity. VPAP has compiled some lighthearted footage from this year's General Assembly session.



PHOTOS AND AUDIO: THREE LEGISLATORS DO STAND UP

The Virginia Public Access Project

Who says legislators don't have a sense of humor? Sen. Mamie Locke, Del. Chris Jones and Speaker Bill Howell took turns at the microphone Thursday in front of 430 people who attended VPAP's annual fundraiser in Richmond. VPAP has posted photos and short audio clips from an event that uses humor to bring together activists and lobbyists from all sides.