Thursday June 30, 2016
Compiled by Ray Reed
Fourth of July, a day for ALL Americans! Enjoy the USA's very special holiday weekend!
By ALAN SUDERMAN, Associated Press
Gov. Terry McAuliffe said Wednesday he had little concern that Republicans would prevail in a lawsuit over his blanket restoration of voting and other rights to ex-felons but added that even if the court ruled against him, he would still prevail with several thousand strokes of his pen. The Democratic governor and Republican lawmakers are at odds over whether McAuliffe had the authority to issue an order in April restoring certain civil rights — like voting, serving on juries or being able to run for office — to more than 200,000 ex-felons.
The governors of Tennessee and Virginia will be in Abingdon along with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to talk about the drug abuse epidemic in Appalachia. The event Thursday afternoon comes as President Barack Obama's administration seeks about $1.1 billion more for substance abuse treatment. Vilsack says the administration wants to expand the number of treatment centers nationally, train about 700 new drug treatment specialists and evaluate the results. The proposal calls for Virginia to be eligible for up to $17 million over two years to expand opioid treatment;
By RICH GRISET, Chesterfield Observer
In response to the controversy surrounding Chesterfield County Public Schools’ summer reading lists, state Sen. Amanda Chase and a handful of school librarians are jumping into the fray. After parents objected to books placed on summer reading lists for middle and high school students, the county school system revised the lists. The new lists removed the offending titles, but added online links to book lists from other organizations like Scholastic and Read Kiddo Read. These organizations’ lists included some of the books parents objected to, including Rainbow Rowell’s “Eleanor and Park.”
By GRAHAM MOOMAW , Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)
Gov. Terry McAuliffe said Wednesday that he sees little need for a second trial for former Gov. Bob McDonnell after this week’s unanimous U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned McDonnell’s bribery convictions. During a radio appearance on WTOP’s “Ask the Governor” program, McAuliffe was asked whether he agrees with those who think McDonnell shouldn’t face a second trial. The Supreme Court “pretty much said that,” McAuliffe replied.
By DAVID MCGEE, Bristol Herald Courier
Attorneys in former BVU executive Stacey Pomrenke’s corruption case have until next week to file briefs regarding any potential impact of this week’s Supreme Court decision in the case of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell. Judge James P. Jones issued that order Tuesday, the day after the high court vacated the corruption convictions of McDonnell, who was convicted in 2014 of accepting more than $165,000 in gifts and loans from a wealthy businessman. Monday’s unanimous decision determined that the lavish gifts didn’t prompt the governor to take any formal action to benefit the giver.
By JIM NOLAN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)
The Hillary Clinton campaign on Wednesday deployed a wealthy Democrat who made his fortune in business — Sen. Mark R. Warner, D-Va., to take on Republican mogul Donald Trump on his own turf. Warner, a co-founder of Nextel and a former governor, who is serving his second term in the Senate, said it’s hard to separate the “facts vs. puffery” when it comes to Trump’s business success claims, because he refuses to release his tax returns.
By ANTONIO OLIVO, Washington Post
A new member of Virginia’s Republican State Central Committee apologized over the weekend for posting anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant rhetoric on Twitter and Facebook — much of which echoed incendiary comments by presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump. Burke resident Fredy Burgos, an ardent Trump supporter who was elected to the committee in May, called Islam a “death cult organized by Satan,” compared Muslims to Nazis and said “immigration control from Islamic countries is a must.” He labeled Muhammad Ali a “racist black supremacist” and adopted Trump’s controversial criticism of the Mexican heritage of U.S.-born District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, asking on Twitter, “Isn’t this Judge an ‘Anchor Baby’?”
By KATIE DEMERIA, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)
After a major Supreme Court victory for pro-abortion rights advocates Monday, several state groups are pushing to amend what they refer to as “sham restrictions” on clinics in Virginia that perform abortions. ProgressVA, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia, American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia and NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia hand-delivered 5,500 public comments Wednesday to the state Board of Health.
By PATRICK WILSON, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)
New state laws and changes to the law passed by the General Assembly and signed by the governor go into effect Friday. A look at some of the new laws and changes: Marriage State law now requires that both parties to a marriage be at least age 18 unless permission is granted from a juvenile court.
By NED OLIVER, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)
Stone Brewing Co. is challenging the first local real estate tax assessment on its new brewery in Fulton, writing in a letter to the Richmond assessor’s office that it will pay the $220,000 bill, but only under protest. “That notification letter is the first thing they have to do before appealing to a court,” said city assessor Jim Hester.
By DAMEAN MATHEWS, Bristol Herald Courier
A new Frontier Secure Customer Care Center could bring as many as 500 jobs to Wise County, state and local officials announced Wednesday. The center will provide a number of services for computer protection, internet security and phone support mainly for small business owners and accountants. It is being built at the Lonesome Pine Business and Technology Park in Wise. Frontier Secure is part of Frontier Communications. The announcement was made by Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones at The Inn at Wise.
By JIM MCCONVILLE, Winchester Star (Subscription Required)
The town will get an economic shot in the arm from Handsome Brook Farm LLC, a New York-based egg processing company, that plans to open a facility here that will eventually employ 105 people. The company is investing $6.4 million in the area, including the purchase of the former Winchester Cold Storage facility at 300 First Street and the conversion of the 85,000-square-foot space in to a state-of-the-art egg processing facility.
By JOHN REID BLACKWELL, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)
The Richmond region’s unemployment rate increased to 3.7 percent in May from 3.5 percent in April, the Virginia Employment Commission reported Wednesday. The local jobless rate was down from 4.9 percent in May 2015. The rates released by the state were not adjusted for seasonal factors that may cause temporary fluctuations in employment, such as college graduations.
By JIM MCCONNELL, Chesterfield Observer
A spokesman for Dominion Virginia Power cast doubt last week on a local environmental group’s account of collecting and testing water that flowed from the utility company’s coal ash storage pond into the James River. In a June 22 Observer story, members of Hands Across the Lake said they took boat down the James River to Dominion’s Chesterfield Power Station, which is located on the banks of the river, and took samples of coal ash wastewater from a corrugated discharge pipe.
By MICHAEL LIVINGSTON, Danville Register & Bee
Marty Jackson recalled his “long journey” to getting his rights restored — and he wanted to do his part to help anyone else wishing to do the same. Jackson even gave out his own personal cellphone number to more than 40 people who attended an informational session on Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s restoration of ex-offenders’ rights Wednesday evening at the Calvary Baptist Church on Holbrook Street. The executive order was signed into effect on April 22, restoring civil rights to more than 200,000 people in Virginia. But General Assembly Republicans have challenged the governor’s decision in court, and the case soon will be heard.
By TAMARA DIETRICH, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)
In the spring and summer of 2011, researchers at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science were crawling through mud, fleeing a swarm of angry yellow jackets and dodging wild pigs. They were among some 50 field crews around the country collecting samples to help compile the first national survey of wetlands in the contiguous states, kicking off a five-year effort by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
By FRANCES HUBBARD, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)
The Gloucester County School Board has asked a federal court to place a preliminary injunction on hold that requires the school division to allow a 16-year-old transgender student to use the boys' restroom. The school division filed a motion on Tuesday asking the U.S. Eastern District Court of Virginia to "stay" the injunction while it appeals the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
By PATRICIA SULLIVAN, Washington Post
The Alexandria City Council is telling the city’s public housing agency to replace the run-down Ramsey Homes apartment complex with a 52-unit, mixed-income building, without attempting to preserve any remnants of the segregated federal housing. The unanimous vote Tuesday night, which reversed guidance that the council members gave in February, added yet another twist to the long-running saga of the effort by the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority (ARHA) to raze four low-rise apartment houses along busy Patrick Street.
By LOUIS LLOVIO, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)
One month before a high-ranking Richmond Public Schools official resigned, citing interference from School Board members as the cause, board Chairman Jeffrey Bourne chastised colleagues for getting in the way of administrators. In the letter delivered May 16, Bourne took members to task for participating in “school-based meetings, specifically in their capacity as board members.” This, Bourne wrote, “has caused great confusion and concern among the administration and school-based personnel.”
By ERIC HARTLEY, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)
Officially, mayor of Norfolk is a part-time job that comes with few duties except running City Council meetings. It pays $27,000 a year and, by charter, is just one of eight votes. But in 22 years in the seat, Paul Fraim has been much more. ... With Fraim, 66, retiring and Kenny Alexander set to be sworn in Friday, Norfolk will have a new mayor for the first time in decades. Born in 1966, Alexander will be the first post-baby boomer to lead the city.
By ERIC HARTLEY , Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)
An audit of city Treasurer Anthony Burfoot’s office, launched shortly after his indictment on federal corruption charges, showed no major problems with how the agency handles money. “We found the treasurer implemented adequate management controls to ensure public funds are safeguarded against theft or misappropriation,” says a report sent to Norfolk City Council members Tuesday.
Fourth of July, a day for ALL Americans! Enjoy the USA's very special holiday weekend!
Richmond Times-Dispatch Editorial (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)
Bob McDonnell had his own Innocence Project. Problem is he may not be innocent. In its unanimous decision Monday reversing McDonnell’s 2014 conviction for selling his office to a diet-product impresario for more than $170,000 in sweetheart loans, cash, gifts and trips, the U.S. Supreme Court cited briefs on behalf of the former governor by lawyers to five presidents — Democratic and Republican — six former Virginia attorneys general from both parties and 77 former attorneys general from other states, 41 of whom are Democrats, 35 Republicans and one independent.
Martinsville Bulletin Editorial
Interstate 73 is not dead, but it may be a good idea to go visit it at the hospital. At the Henry County Board of Supervisors 3 p.m. meeting on Tuesday, John Stirrup with Alcalde and Fay, a firm hired by several localities, Henry County included, to advocate for I-73, offered an update on the long-debated interstate highway. Stirrup said that I-73 is still very much alive. However, based on his summation of recent activity, the situation doesn’t sound great.
Virginian-Pilot Editorial (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)
A retired Richmond judge has publicly indicted Virginia’s judicial evaluation process, and it seems fair to ask: What, exactly, is going on here? After nearly a quarter century of quality service on the Richmond General District Court, Birdie H. Jamison suddenly found herself out of a job last year. The General Assembly declined to re-elect her, along with four other judges.
News & Advance Editorial
Could 2016 be the year Virginia’s drought on a presidential ticket might be broken? The odds are increasing that it just might, and U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine is well positioned for the No. 2 spot on the Democratic presidential ticket. One of the many nicknames for Virginia is “The Mother of Presidents,” but it’s been a century since anyone with any tie to the Old Dominion has sat in the Oval Office. Might that be about to change?
By DAN CASEY, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)
Donald Trump’s campaign for president appears to be devolving into a death spiral even before he’s formally nominated. There are a multitude of foot-shooting reasons. And then there are some external factors. Consider a couple of prominent Virginians who are all-in for Trump. One is Bishop E.W. Jackson, a preacher from Chesapeake whose quest for public office has been (so far) spectacularly unsuccessful. The other is Joseph Farah, publisher of a website known for “birther” and other crackpot “news.” Both reflect the bleak and ignorant elements of American politics that spawned McCarthyism, the John Birch Society and other ills.
By SEAN GORMAN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)
U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez says a union job is a ticket to the middle class. "If you are a member of a union, your median weekly income is roughly $200 more than if you are a nonunion member, and that doesn’t include benefits," Perez said in an interview with the Richmond Times-Dispatch, prior to headlining the Democratic Party of Virginia’s Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner on June 18.
By TOM VILSACK AND TERRY MCAULIFFE , Published in the Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)
In Appalachia and across the country, opioid addiction is a fast-growing problem that disproportionately affects rural communities. And new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows opioids were involved in 28,648 deaths in 2014, meaning more Americans are dying from drug overdoses than in motor vehicle crashes each year. As a predominately rural region, Appalachia has been hit particularly hard by this epidemic. According to the CDC, some of the largest concentrations of drug overdose deaths are in Appalachia.
Tom Vilsack s the U.S. secretary of agriculture... and leader of President Barack Obama’s rural opioid initiative. Terry McAullife is the governor of Virginia. Thursday, they hold a town hall meeting in Abingdon to discuss opioids.