VaNews

Friday August 26, 2016

Compiled by Ray Reed


Executive Branch

RAINY DAY FUND WILL HELP SOAK UP VIRGINIA'S BUDGET SHORTFALL - FOR NOW

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

The rainy day came sooner than expected for Gov. Terry McAuliffe and General Assembly budget leaders. The $1.5 billion shortfall that McAuliffe will announce today will require the state to tap the Revenue Stabilization Fund, or rainy day fund, to fill an estimated $420 million of the hole in this fiscal year and an additional $210 million in the second.


MCAULIFFE ENTERTAINS LAWMAKERS AT MANSION ON EVE OF REVENUE SHORTFALL ANNOUNCEMENT

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

Gov. Terry McAuliffe and members of his administration entertained lawmakers at the executive mansion on the eve of his outlining of a projected revenue shortfall they will address in the state's two-year budget. McAuliffe will speak to members of the General Assembly money committees at 8 a.m. Friday before making a trip to Hampton Roads. Lawmakers on the committees were invited to a reception at the mansion early Thursday evening for drinks and a budget discussion.

State Elections

TRUMP’S VIRGINIA MINI-ME: COREY STEWART TIES HIS AMBITIONS TO THE GOP CANDIDATE

By PAUL SCHWARTZMAN, Washington Post

Donald Trump’s main man in Virginia was winding down his pitch for the Republican nominee when a teacher in the audience asked whether Trump would ever forsake his fondness for rhetorical grenades and delve into policy. Not to worry, replied Corey A. Stewart, Trump’s campaign chairman in the commonwealth, insisting that enough time remains for the candidate to immerse himself in the details of economics and national security.


VETERAN FEDERAL PROSECUTOR JOINS 2017 RACE FOR VIRGINIA LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR

By LAURA VOZZELLA, Washington Post

Democrat Gene Rossi, a veteran federal prosecutor best known for targeting doctors who overprescribe pain pills, jumped into the 2017 race for lieutenant governor on Thursday. “I will be a strong voice for justice,” Rossi said in a statement. “I’m passionate about how our state government can better serve its citizens in many areas. I have seen firsthand what works — and what doesn’t. Above all, we must be fair, firm, and compassionate in our approaches to the opioid crisis, criminal justice, voting rights restoration, healthcare, and education.”


GOP SETS CONVENTION IN 22ND IN CASE OF GARRETT WIN

By ALEX ROHR, News & Advance

Republicans in Virginia’s 22nd Senate District plan to hold a convention to nominate a replacement for state Sen. Tom Garrett, R-Buckingham, if he wins the 5th Congressional District seat. The U.S. House seat is being vacated by retiring Rep. Robert Hurt. Garrett, Democrat Jane Dittmar — former Albemarle County Board of Supervisors chairwoman — Libertarian Stephen Harmon and independent candidate Yale Landsberg are competing for the seat.

Federal Elections

GOV. TERRY MCAULIFFE SUMS UP TRUMP’S PITCH TO BLACK VOTERS AS ‘YOUR LIFE SUCKS’

By LAURA VOZZELLA, Washington Post

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Thursday distilled Donald Trump’s recent pitch to black voters to something bumper-sticker short and snappy: “Your life sucks.” “What he said about the African Americans, ‘You’re all — you have no jobs, your schools are horrible, you’re worthless.’ Is that an endearing message to get people to vote for you?” McAuliffe, a close friend and political ally of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, said in a Richmond radio interview.


MCAULIFFE: 'LET'S MOVE ON' FROM CLINTON FOUNDATION SCRUTINY

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

Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Thursday dismissed calls for the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate overlap between Hillary Clinton’s State Department and the Clinton Foundation. Responding to a caller’s question during a radio appearance on Richmond’s WRVA, McAuliffe said FBI Director James B. Comey was “very clear” in announcing the results of a lengthy investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server while serving as secretary of state, a probe that resulted in no criminal charges.


MCAULIFFE: HILLARY CLINTON SO FAR AHEAD VIRGINIA "OFF THE TABLE" RIGHT NOW FOR DONALD TRUMP

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

Gov. Terry McAuliffe is confident about longtime friend Hillary Clinton’s lead in Virginia. “Unfortunately for all of our media companies here in Virginia, they’ve (the Clinton campaign) pulled all the advertising we’re so far up. This is amazing,” McAuliffe said Thursday on WRVA’s “Ask the Governor” radio show. “We are a true swing state and, think of it, Virginia is now taken off the table as competitive.”


MIKE PENCE TO CAMPAIGN IN LOUDOUN COUNTY ON SATURDAY

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

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, the running mate of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, will campaign Saturday in Loudoun County at Patrick Henry College, a conservative Christian school. Doors open at noon, and the event is scheduled for 3 p.m. People who want to attend the event may register for tickets at Trump’s website.


KAINE GETS FRIENDLY RECEPTION, GENTLE RIBBING ON "LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT"

By BILL BARTEL, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)

U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine seemed a little nervous Thursday night as he walked on stage for CBS's "Late Show with Stephen Colbert." He told the host that he "never dreamed" he would be a guest on late-night TV. When Colbert predicted he'll likely do more such appearances, the Democratic vice presidential nominee replied, "I don't know, we'll see how tonight goes."


KAINE TAKES TRUSTY HARMONICA TO "LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT"

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

Tim Kaine knows an opportunity when he sees one. So when the invitation to appear on CBS’ “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” came up, Hillary Clinton’s vice presidential running mate took a page from the Bill Clinton late-night television playbook. He showed up with a musical instrument and jammed with the band.


SOME BLACK VOTERS IN FREDERICKSBURG SKEPTICAL OF TRUMP'S APPEAL TO AFRICAN-AMERICANS

By JEFF BRANSCOME, Free Lance-Star

Conversations about Donald Trump often begin the same way at the Quality Cuts barbershop in Fredericksburg: “Did you hear what he said last night?” Whatever he said is typically met with disapproval from the patrons of the barbershop decorated with Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys paraphernalia. And the Republican presidential nominee’s appeal to black voters at a campaign stop Saturday in Fredericksburg did not appear to boost his standing.


5TH DISTRICT CANDIDATES TO DEBATE AT LEAST SEVEN MORE TIMES

Daily Progress

More debates and forums for candidates running for Virginia’s 5th Congressional District seat have been announced, bringing the current total of scheduled events to seven through September and October. The race for the 5th District is between Democrat candidate and former Albemarle County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Jane Dittmar and state Sen. Tom Garrett, R-Buckingham, as well as Libertarian candidate Stephen Harmon and independent candidate Yale Landsberg.

Economy/Business

VIRGINIA SEES SURGE IN WORKPLACE FATALITIES

By CLARISSA COOPER, News Leader (Metered Pay Wall)

Virginia has seen an escalation in workplace fatalities in 2016, with three of the 29 deaths recorded from January to July occurring within the Verona field office region, which covers the area from Culpeper to Nelson County and includes Bath and Highland counties. There were 29 preventable workplace injury or illness-related deaths, nearly matching 2015's total number of 31 workplace fatalities, according to the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry. There were 31 recorded workplace fatalities in 2014, too.


TRANLIN DEFERS PAYOUT OF STATE GRANTS, BUT PROJECT STILL ON SCHEDULE

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

Tranlin Inc.’s $2 billion paper manufacturing plant in Chesterfield County is set to be fully operational by 2020, but internal delays have kept the company from drawing the millions in grants the state has awarded. State officials say Tranlin has deferred the withdrawing of $2 million available by July 1 until at least 2018. The money is part of a larger $20 million grant administered by the Virginia Economic Development Partnership.


ECONOMY FACES SIGNIFICANT CHALLENGES, PANELISTS SAY AT RICHMOND EVENT

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

The health of the U.S. economy falls somewhere between poor to pretty good, based on the views of four panelists who spoke Thursday at an economic forum in Richmond hosted by the Institute for Real Estate Management. On the panel were Rep. Dave Brat, R-7th; Raymond Owens, senior economist and research adviser for the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond; Bill Barnett, senior vice president and partner with Henrico County-based Commonwealth Commercial Partners LLC; and Michael Walsh, director of debt management for the Virginia Tech Foundation.

Transportation

JAPAN AUTHORIZES $2M TO STUDY HIGH-SPEED TRAIN BETWEEN BALTIMORE AND WASHINGTON

By BRIAN WITTE , Associated Press

apan's ambassador to the U.S. says his country has authorized $2 million to support a feasibility study on building a high-speed train between Baltimore and Washington. Ambassador Kenichiro Sasae made the announcement Wednesday after signing a memorandum of cooperation between Japan and Maryland with Gov. Larry Hogan. The agreement formalizes trade relations between the state and Japan.


METRO LEADERS FIELD QUESTIONS ON SUMMER’S MISHAPS AND EMBARRASSMENTS

By MARTINE POWERS AND FAIZ SIDDIQUI, Washington Post

It was about this time last year that Metro board members gathered after a worrisome derailment, demanding answers from the agency’s leaders in light of a series of damning federal reports that questioned the safety of the system. By the end of the meeting, board members had expressed their profound dissatisfaction with the lack of answers and the agency’s leadership. Hours later, Metro’s chief safety officer resigned.

Higher Education

LAWMAKERS WANT TO KNOW WHY U-VA. STOCKPILED BILLIONS BUT STILL BOOSTED TUITION

By NICK ANDERSON, SUSAN SVRLUGA AND DANIELLE DOUGLAS-GABRIEL, Washington Post

The University of Virginia has spent the past decade building an investment fund that now totals $2.2 billion, a pile of money so large that officials say it could finance the entire school and medical center for nine months. As the balance grew, the university sought to protect the annual funding it gets from Virginia taxpayers and raised its tuition significantly, with the price for in-state freshmen rising 30 percent since 2013.

Virginia Other

SUNSET INVOLVED IN FEDERAL BROADBAND PROJECT IN LEE COUNTY

By DAVID MCGEE, Bristol Herald Courier

New federal funding to promote broadband in Lee County, Virginia, will involve Sunset Digital Communications, the firm attempting to buy BVU Authority’s OptiNet division. The towns of Jonesville and Pennington Gap will be part of a pilot program called Cool & Connected, which is designed to use high-speed broadband to promote economic development in rural areas negatively impacted by the downturn in the coal industry, according to a written statement.

Local

RICHMOND SCHOOLS’ DISCIPLINE RULES ARE DISCRIMINATORY, COMPLAINT SAYS

By MORIAH BALINGIT, Washington Post

Attorneys filed a civil rights complaint with the U.S. Department of Education on the behalf of two black students in Richmond Public Schools, alleging the district’s discipline practices — which push hundreds of black students out of classrooms as punishment for bad behavior — are discriminatory. The Legal Aid Justice Center and the American Civil Liberties Union filed the complaint Wednesday on behalf of two black middle school students and the Richmond branch of the NAACP.


PORTSMOUTH'S STRICT RULES ABOUT POT IN BACKGROUND CHECKS MAKE HIRING DIFFICULT, POLICE CHIEF SAYS

By JOHANNA SOMERS , Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)

To fill 39 police officer vacancies, Chief Tonya Chapman says, the city needs to reduce the power of the panel that vets candidates. At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, she said some civil service commissioners’ strict criteria, such as opposing applicants who have smoked marijuana, “made no sense.”


STAFFORD SCHOOLS AUDIT SAYS MILLIONS SHIFTED WITHOUT OVERSIGHT

By VANESSA REMMERS, Free Lance-Star

Practices that allowed millions of dollars to shift within Stafford County schools with little to no oversight spanned at least two years, and likely many more, auditors concluded. A forensic audit commissioned by the School Board found that the former budget director, primarily, moved $3.7 million at the end of fiscal year 2014 without proper approval. At least $1.8 million of that came from personnel and benefit accounts.


Editorials

VIRGINIA'S BUDGET DEFICIT COULD BE WORSE

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

In the grand scheme of things, Virginia’s anticipated budget deficit — $1.5 billion — could be worse. It will not require the sort of drastic measures that confront, say, Petersburg. Nor is it on the order of the federal debt, which is now $19 trillion and on track to top $26 trillion within a decade. Then again “not as bad as Washington” isn’t the highest of praise. And two other considerations bear on the matter as well: First, the state collected a record amount of revenue in the last fiscal year. So while tax collections are down, they are down from a historic high.


GROWTH, BUT SLOW

Daily News Record Editorial (Subscription Required)

In what will now be no surprise, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe is expected to inform members of the General Assembly’s top money committees today that Virginia is facing a budget shortfall in the range of $1.5 billion. As the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported, “The governor will reduce anticipated revenues by about $850 million in the current fiscal year in response to a shortfall of almost $270 million in the year that ended June 30 and increasing pessimism about growth in income and sales tax collections


SAME-SEX MARRIAGE IS LEGAL. VIRGINIA’S CONSTITUTION SHOULD CATCH UP WITH THE LAW.

Washington Post Editorial

THE U.S. Constitution, according to the Supreme Court, guarantees same-sex couples the right to marry. The Virginia constitution begs to differ — as do constitutions in 29 other states. In Virginia, two lawmakers are trying to change things.

Columnists

JOHNSTON: STATE PENSION REFORM COULD HURT WORKERS

By DONNIE JOHNSTON, Free Lance-Star

There was a story this week regarding Republican House of Delegates Speaker Bill Howell’s attempt to change the Virginia Retirement System mandatory setup. Instead of employees and employers making mandatory contributions into the retirement system, the employee would decide how much he wanted to contribute and manage the plan himself. Sometimes you wonder if politicians know anything at all about the average American worker. Most live paycheck to paycheck with little or no savings or financial knowledge.

The Friday Read

FEMALE FIREFIGHTER’S SUICIDE IS A ‘FIRE BELL IN THE NIGHT’

By JUSTIN JOUVENAL, Washington Post

When Fairfax County firefighter Nicole Mittendorff hanged herself in April, a fellow firefighter likened the suicide to a “fire bell in the night” demanding an urgent response. It is not known why the 31-year-old took her life, but Mittendorff’s death stirred anger about lewd and harassing comments that had been made about her in a popular online forum. The messages, which appeared to have been posted by colleagues, reverberated painfully with women in firefighting locally and across the nation.