VaNews

Thursday August 25, 2016

Compiled by Ray Reed


Executive Branch

GOV. TERRY MCAULIFFE TO ANNOUNCE $1.5 BILLION BUDGET SHORTFALL

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

Gov. Terry McAuliffe will announce a shortfall of roughly $1.5 billion in the two-year state budget to the General Assembly money committees on Friday, according to a source familiar with the revised revenue forecast. 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. He will reduce projected revenues in the second year by about $630 million.


VIRGINIA COULD BE FACING MUCH BIGGER BUDGET SHORTFALL THAN EXPECTED

By LAURA VOZZELLA AND GREGORY S. SCHNEIDER, Washington Post

Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) will announce a larger-than-expected shortfall in the Virginia state budget Friday, possibly in the range of $1.5 billion, according to several people familiar with the figures. Two people with knowledge of the budget situation said the governor was expected to announce a projected shortfall of about $1.5 billion in its current two-year, $105 billion budget.

General Assembly

IF NORFOLK LOBBIED FOR MARIJUANA DECRIMINALIZATION, IT WOULD BE THE FIRST CITY IN VIRGINIA TO DO SO

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

Norfolk Councilman Paul Riddick wants the state’s second-largest city to ask the General Assembly to decriminalize possessing small amounts of marijuana. Such efforts have quickly died in the past few years in the Republican-controlled legislature. But should Norfolk decide to lobby lawmakers and seek GOP backing, the city would advance the discussion, advocates for marijuana reform said.

State Elections

GILLESPIE, FIORINA HIT ECONOMIC MESSAGE IN ASHBURN

By TREVOR BARATKO, Loudoun Times

The 2016 election is two and a half months away. So, in Virginia, it's time to start thinking about 2017. Republican gubernatorial hopeful Ed Gillespie on Tuesday hosted a high-profile supporter, former presidential candidate Carly Fiorina, in the ever-crucial Loudoun County, where the two prominent Republicans advocated for free markets, diversifying Virginia's economy and more privatization of certain government functions during an hour-long conversation moderated by state Del. Tag Greason (R-32nd).


VIRGINIA REPUBLICANS AT SAME OLD CROSSROADS: PRIMARY OR CONVENTION?

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

Virginia Republicans will gather in Richmond Saturday to address, again, the great dividing question of their times: Primary or convention? Fourteen months ago the Virginia GOP's governing State Central Committee decided to hold a 2016 presidential primary instead of a convention, where party members gather for a weekend to vote their preferences. More conservative candidates are generally thought to have an advantage in conventions.

Federal Elections

AUGUSTA GOP READY TO GET OUT THE VOTE FOR TRUMP

By BOB STUART, News Virginian

Augusta County Republicans reside in a county that has been loyal to their political brand for decades, but they are taking nothing for granted in the November presidential race. Curt Lilly, the county's Republican Committee chairman, told a crowd at Tuesday's Verona headquarters opening of the importance of their November vote in the presidential race.

Economy/Business

COUNTY’S BIG ECONOMIC COUP – TRANLIN'S $2 BILLION PAPER MILL – MISSES EARLY TARGETS

By PETER GALUSZKA, Chesterfield Observer

The biggest economic development deal in Chesterfield’s history appears to have fallen off schedule – so much so that the company, Tranlin Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of China-based Shandong Tranlin Paper Co., has deferred accepting millions in state grants tied to the project. Tranlin, which announced plans in 2014 to build a $2 billion paper manufacturing facility in eastern Chesterfield, has yet to acquire the largest parcel of land for the paper mill.


STUDY SHOWS VIRGINIA CONSUMERS STILL HAVE AFFORDABLE CARE ACCESS, EVEN IF ACA RATES INCREASE

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

Even while double-digit rate increases loom for Virginians with Affordable Care Act plans in 2017, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says reasonably priced plans will still be available to consumers in the commonwealth. ... In its report, however, the Department of Health and Human Services states that, even if all rates increased by 25 percent, most consumers in Virginia — 74 percent — would still be able to purchase coverage for less than $75 per month.

Transportation

METRO BOARD TO SEEK ANSWERS ON SAFETY, COMMUNICATIONS AT EMERGENCY MEETING

By MARTINE POWERS , Washington Post

In preparation for Thursday’s emergency Metro Board meeting, Chairman Jack Evans has told General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld that there are three answers that he doesn’t want to hear: “We’ll get back to you.” “It’s under investigation.” “We’re looking into it.”

Virginia Other

TWO SW VA. ORGANIZATIONS AWARDED $3 MILLION TO HELP COAL WORKERS

By ROBERT SORRELL, Bristol Herald Courier

Two Southwest Virginia organizations have been awarded nearly $3 million in funds from the Appalachian Regional Commission to help coal miners affected by recent layoffs. Virginia is among nine states — including Texas, Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and West Virginia—to receive funding, which could bring more than 3,000 jobs in several industries through a multi-million-dollar federal grant.


JENS SOERING SAYS NEW BLOOD ANALYSIS PROVES HIS INNOCENCE IN 31-YEAR-OLD CASE

By LAURA VOZZELLA, Washington Post

A petition submitted to Gov. Terry McAuliffe this week tries to cast doubt on the guilt of Jens Soering, a German national convicted of murdering his girlfriend’s parents in central Virginia more than 30 years ago in a sensational case with ties to the 2016 presidential race. Soering asks McAuliffe (D) for an “absolute pardon” and parole based largely on an analysis that concludes that Soering, who has type-O blood, was not the source of at least some of the type-O blood found at the scene.


OPPONENTS SEEK TOWN-HALL STYLE INPUT SESSIONS ON MOUNTAIN VALLEY PIPELINE

By ALICIA PETSKA, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

Worried by a new style of public comment session cropping up in other states, Roanoke-area pipeline critics are urging federal authorities to include traditional town halls when seeking new input on the Mountain Valley Pipeline later this year. “We’d like to see an open process,” said Diana Christopulos of Salem, a member of a coalition of groups opposed to the 301-mile interstate natural gas pipeline project.


PROFESSORS SHARE THEIR RELATED WORK AT UVA WITH CITY MEMORIALS PANEL

By CHRIS SUAREZ, Daily Progress

Two University of Virginia professors who’ve been dwelling on race and public memorials provided some potential guidance Wednesday to a Charlottesville commission convened this spring to address those issues and how they pertain to the city. In two separate presentations at Wednesday’s meeting of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Race, Memorials and Public Spaces, UVa professors Kirt von Daacke and Karen Van Lengen spoke, respectively, about how UVa and other communities around the country have been discussing how public monuments reflect — or in some cases overlook — essential narratives that explain a community’s history.

Local

STUDENTS, NAACP FILE FEDERAL CIVIL RIGHTS COMPLAINT AGAINST RICHMOND PUBLIC SCHOOLS

By K. BURNELL EVANS, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

Lawyers for two Richmond public middle school students on Wednesday filed a federal civil rights complaint with the U.S. Department of Education over district discipline policies they say unfairly punish black students and students with disabilities. The 28-page indictment of the district’s practices details inconsistencies arising from subjective interpretations of a student code of conduct lawyers describe as “a disorganized and internally inconsistent assortment of narrative, lists, and charts.”


U.S. INSPECTOR GENERAL FAULTS RICHMOND HOUSING AUTHORITY FOR OVERCHARGING, ORDERS $500,000 REPAYMENT

By K. BURNELL EVANS, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

A month after agreeing to repay the federal government $100,000 annually for more than six decades, the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority has learned it must make up an additional $507,800. A report issued last week by the Office of the Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development faulted the agency for overcharging the federal government over a three-year period.


CHESTERFIELD SURVEY SHOWS PRIORITIES OF COUNTY RESIDENTS

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

Chesterfield County residents want their government to focus on its most basic duties, primarily education, public safety and infrastructure. More than 6,200 county residents responded to an online survey this summer, with an additional 200 weighing in at three community workshops. The survey, called “Build Chesterfield’s Blueprint,” aims to allow residents to help direct the county’s priorities and tax dollars earlier in its budget process.


PORTSMOUTH COUNCILMAN DANNY MEEKS IS DELINQUENT ON HIS TAXES AGAIN, OWES MORE THAN $17,000

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

Despite being given a second chance to develop the property at the old Cradock High School site, Councilman Danny Meeks has again failed to pay his taxes on time. As of Wednesday morning, he owed more than $17,000 in taxes, stormwater fees, penalties and interest, according to the city’s website. In January, The Virginian-Pilot reported that he owed more than $13,000 in taxes and fees, which he then paid.


DEVELOPERS MUST NOW SAVE AT LEAST 51% OF HISTORIC BUILDINGS TO GET TAX BREAK IN NORFOLK

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

The City Council voted Tuesday night to limit tax breaks for renovation of historic buildings. The change, proposed by Mayor Kenny Alexander, comes after The Pilot reported that developer Buddy Gadams will get a 14-year tax abatement on an apartment complex – despite preserving only a small wall on one corner of the property.


WINCHESTER REQUIRES $1,273 FOR THE STAR’S INFORMATION REQUEST

By ONOFRIO CASTIGLIA, Winchester Star (Subscription Required)

The city is asking for $1,273 to process The Star’s Freedom of Information Act request regarding the delayed opening of a section of the Green Circle Trail. On Wednesday, city communications manager Amy Simmons sent a notice that the Aug. 17 request will "require accessing, duplicating, supplying, searching and processing an extremely large number of records."... The purpose of the request is to establish why a formal easement was never secured to build the Town Run section of the trail through 220 E. Pall Mall St., and how the city may have tried to withhold the issue from the public.


REPRESENTATIVES ADDRESS JOBS, ECONOMY AT ALTAVISTA CHAMBER EVENT

By ALEX ROHR, News & Advance

At a legislative breakfast featuring elected representatives for three levels of government, Campbell County Supervisor Stan Goldsmith asked what he should talk about. “Jobs,” called a voice from the back near eggs, biscuits and muffins. Returning jobs to small towns like Altavista and improving economic prospects hampered by declining manufacturing jobs underlined each short speech by local, state and congressional officials ... who spoke before the Altavista Area Chamber of Commerce.


Editorials

CONNECTING RURAL VIRGINIA TO THE WORLD

News & Advance Editorial

Tobacco, textiles and furniture once powered the economy of Southside and Central Virginia. But those days are long gone. ... Now, jobs and economic prosperity are inextricably tied to the global economy, which means internet access — specifically ultra-high broadband speeds — is vitally important.


THE CURIOUS NUMBERS DRIVING THE ROANOKE COLLEGE POLL RESULTS

Roanoke Times Editorial (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

Another day, another dollar, another poll showing Virginia isn’t really a swing state, after all. But 16 percentage points??? ... What’s going on here? Some of this we’ve explored before: Virginia’s demographics increasingly favor Democrats in presidential elections — or at least work against Trump.


TWIN DEFICITS HAMMER PETERSBURG

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

Petersburg is going bust. Markus Schmidt’s Wednesday news story detailed the unhappy options caused by the city’s $12 million budget deficit. Services seem destined to be cut, taxes to rise. The process will not be painless. ... The damage also draws attention to a second deficit. Petersburg confronts a shortfall not only in finances but in public trust.


CROWDED MAYORAL FIELD MAY STIFLE CHANGE

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

The city of Portsmouth has a complex of intractable problems facing it now and looming in the years to come. Its population has declined. Its crime rate remains high. Its median household income has held steady, more or less, for more than two decades. Half of its land cannot be taxed because it is owned by the local, state or federal government; the other half, privately owned, makes up for that with one of the highest tax rates in Hampton Roads.


AIRBNB DEBATE LODGES IN FREDERICKSBURG

Free Lance-Star Editorial

Fredericksburg, which prides itself on centuries of hospitality and history, is confronting one of the newer disruptions of the internet age: How to handle Airbnb. City officials are taking a practical approach to this popular online community marketplace, which links homeowners looking to rent rooms in their abodes with people looking for short-term accommodations.

Columnists

CHESLEY: PORTSMOUTH COUNCIL SHOULD REVERSE ANTI-CITIZEN RULE

By ROGER CHESLEY, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)

To the four Portsmouth council members who voted to impose fines for discussing information at closed meetings: Isn’t it time to admit you were wrong? Unless, of course, you favor spending taxpayers’ dollars on something constitutionally questionable and anti-open government. That’s not a winning strategy during campaign season, when most politicians try to convince voters they’re transparent about the decisionmaking process.

Op-Ed

LONG: EVEN GOVERNOR HAS TO FOLLOW THE LAW

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

You’ve been convicted of a felony in the Commonwealth of Virginia. You’ve served your time, paid your debts and made restitution for your crime as you can. Part of your punishment has been the revocation of your right to vote. When, and after what process, can you get your voting rights restored?

John Long is the education director for the National D-Day Memorial.