Friday December 02, 2016
By SARAH RANKIN, Associated Press
Legislative leaders from both parties say increasing salaries and reducing staffing shortages among Virginia State Police will be a priority in the upcoming legislative session despite the state's budget shortfall. The state is facing an estimated $1.5 billion shortfall due to lower-than-expected income and sales tax collections, which prompted Gov. Terry McAuliffe over the summer to scrap planned raises for state employees. The head of the State Police says since that time, departures have escalated, leaving the agency with a severe manpower shortage.
By JIM NOLAN , Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)
Coal jobs are not coming back to Southwest Virginia, according to a Democratic legislative leader — and the prospects of Medicaid expansion in Virginia are similarly dire, a Republican leader said Thursday. But lawmakers from both parties say they recognize the need for economic development in some of the state’s most depressed regions and the importance of working to fill any coverage gap that could open if the Trump administration succeeds in repealing the Affordable Care Act.
By SCOTT MCCAFFREY, Sun Gazette
Do not expect any big, or even little, new initiatives to come out of the General Assembly during the 46-day session that kicks off in January. “I don’t think we’re going to see anything that costs the state money,” state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-30th) said during a work session with Arlington County Board members on Nov. 29. “We’re short of funds; there won’t be any new programs,” Ebbin predicted. The all-Democratic, seven-member Arlington delegation sits in the minority in each house of the legislature. As a result, “We’re going to be playing a lot of defense,” predicted Del. Mark Levine (D-45th), who is headed into his second session.
By JOSH JANNEY, Winchester Star (Subscription Required)
Being able to sufficiently fund programs with a budget shortfall of $1.5 billion is one of the main priorities for the state General Assembly when it convenes Jan 11., area legislators said during the Top of Virginia Regional Chamber’s annual pre-session legislative meeting Thursday. Attending the event at the George Washington Hotel were 29th District Del. Chris Collins, R-Frederick County; 33rd District Del. Dave LaRock, R-Hamilton; and 10th District Del. Randy Minchew, R-Leesburg. The three answered questions that had been submitted in advance by the Chamber, as well as questions from the nearly 40 people attending the event.
By CARMEN FORMAN, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)
State Sen. Bill Stanley is considering a run for attorney general and likely will decide next week. Stanley, a Republican from Franklin County, has been thinking of running for the nomination since Del. Rob Bell, R-Charlottesville, unexpectedly dropped out of the running last month. “We’re giving it serious consideration right now,” Stanley said Thursday at the Virginia Press Association Day at the Capital
By JIM NOLAN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)
Sen. William M. Stanley Jr., R-Franklin County, is considering a run for attorney general in 2017. “I’m giving it serious consideration,” the lawmaker told government reporters from around Virginia gathered Thursday in Richmond for the annual Virginia Press Association Day at the Capital,
By LAURA VOZZELLA, Washington Post
Virginia state Sen. Bryce E. Reeves formally launched his 2017 bid for lieutenant governor Thursday with a nod to President-elect Donald Trump and a swipe at Gov. Terry McAuliffe. In a speech to supporters, Reeves (R-Spotsylvania) hit upon issues that helped the Republican real estate businessman win the White House, including gun rights, terrorism and federal overreach.
By ALEX ROHR, News & Advance
Democrats plan to nominate either a teacher or a career law enforcement officer Saturday in the race to replace state Sen. Tom Garrett, R-Buckingham. The 22nd State Senate District Democratic Nominating Committee plans to hold a caucus at 11 a.m. Saturday at Moton Museum in Farmville to choose between Katie Webb Cyphert, of Lynchburg, and Ryant L. Washington, of Palmyra. The deadline to register with the party passed at 5 p.m. Thursday.
By JEFF BRANSCOME, Free Lance-Star
Virginia’s black voters turned out in lower rates this year, perhaps explaining why President-elect Donald Trump won reliably Democratic Caroline County, according to a recent analysis by the dean of George Mason University’s School of Policy and Government. Mark J. Rozell, who presented his analysis Thursday during Virginia Press Association Day at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, said an estimated 55.4 percent of the state’s black voters participated in this year’s presidential election, down 8 percent from 2008 and 2012. He called that a potentially troubling sign for Democrats, who he said typically need an “overwhelming large majority of black votes and also a very strong turnout among blacks and Latinos” to win statewide.
By ALEX ROHR, News & Advance
The state plans to transfer three Central Virginia Training Center residents to Petersburg regardless of whether their guardians approve, according to a statement Thursday from the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services. The three individuals cannot be served at the Madison Heights facility housing people with severe intellectual and developmental disabilities once beds classified for skilled nursing are decertified Dec. 31, DBHDS Executive Advisor Meghan McGuire said in an emailed statement Thursday.
By MORIAH BALINGIT, Washington Post
A Virginia Board of Education member has stepped down after a series of his tweets from several years ago surfaced, including public messages that had gay slurs, references to sexual assault and anti-white comments. Wes Bellamy, 30, a high school computer science teacher and a Charlottesville city councilman, was appointed to the state board of education by Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) in March. Brian Coy, McAuliffe’s spokesman, said Wednesday morning that “the governor was horrified by what was reported as having appeared on Mr. Bellamy’s Twitter feed.”
Payroll provider ADP is formally opening a new facility in Norfolk that will eventually employ 1,800 people. The company says Friday morning's ribbon cutting will make it one of ADP's largest such facilities in the country. Employees in Norfolk will work with clients on cloud-based payroll programs and human resources solutions.
By ANDREW CAIN , Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)
Reducing territorial politics and improving workforce development are among the keys to lessening disparities between Virginia’s affluent urban crescent and struggling regions, lawmakers and other panelists said Thursday. Sens. J. Chapman “Chap” Petersen, D-Fairfax City, and William M. Stanley Jr., R-Franklin County; Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade Todd P. Haymore; and August Wallmeyer, author of a book titled “The Extremes of Virginia,” discussed Virginia’s regional divide on Thursday at Virginia Press Association Day at the Capital,
By ROBERT MCCABE, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)
They’re viewed by local maritime-industry leaders as “must-haves” to secure the Port of Virginia’s future: Two big dredging projects that together could cost about $300 million. One would deepen the port’s main shipping channels from 50 feet to 55 feet, giving it the deepest water on the East Coast. ... On Thursday, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers official briefed about 125 stakeholders on the status of the two projects at a yearly navigational summit
By ROBERT ZULLO, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)
There was no need for music. The hum of heavy machinery and rumbling of diesel engines across the vast construction site behind the tent set up for the occasion was sonorous enough for the assemblage of local officials, businesspeople and utility company representatives at the groundbreaking Thursday for Dominion Virginia Power’s $1.3 billion natural gas-fired Greensville County Power Station.
By SYDNEY KASHIWAGI, Loudoun Times
As the Trump administration gears up for the White House, Virginians are bracing for how the transition will impact business and politics. This was the topic of conversation Thursday morning at a Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce-hosted conversation with George Mason University Political Science Professor Toni-Michelle Travis and veteran Richmond Times-Dispatch columnist Jeff Schapiro.
By SYDNEY KASHIWAGI, Loudoun Times
A high-level delegation of Chinese and U.S. officials recently toured local breweries and eateries in what local officials described as a friendly visit to Loudoun County. The nearly four-hour long Nov. 20 visit was attended by local leaders from Visit Loudoun, Loudoun County Economic Development, Chairwoman of the Board of Supervisors Phyllis Randall (D-At-Large), Congresswoman Barbara Comstock (R) and Chinese media. Local media, however, were prohibited from attending, and details of China’s interest in Loudoun County in particular are few.
A northern Virginia congressman says Washington's beleaguered subway system is facing a "leadership crisis" because of its board of directors. Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly says in prepared remarks for a hearing on Friday that Metro's board is mismanaging the system and is plagued by "rampant parochialism." He says the board may be "so dysfunctional that a federal takeover is our only option."
By BOB STUART, News Virginian
An online alumnae group of Mary Baldwin University is organizing with an initial goal of delaying the fall 2017 implementation of a coeducational program that would have men living on the Staunton campus, but the group is also calling for new university leadership if necessary. The online alumnae group is soliciting members on Facebook under the slogan of “not for time, but for eternity: Mary Baldwin College.” The group hopes to achieve the delay of the University College program through activisim, outreach and protest.
By LAURA PETERS, News Leader (Metered Pay Wall)
It was more than a year ago that Mary Baldwin University was helping Sweet Briar College students to find a way to stay in an all-female college. Now, the university is paving the way to make the school coed. When Sweet Briar was threatened with closure, Mary Baldwin stepped in to take those students who wanted to continue their education in an all-female environment through an expedited transfer program. Now, with Sweet Briar remaining open, Mary Baldwin has gone down a different path.
By KARIN KAPSIDELIS, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)
Mary Baldwin University’s president and board chairwoman sought Thursday to quell the anger and confusion over the announcement that men will be allowed to live on campus at the historically women’s college. MBU President Pamela Fox acknowledged the paradox, but board Chairwoman Jane Harding Miller defended the decision as the only sustainable way forward for the 175-year-old school.
By LOUIS LLOVIO, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)
Congress is expected to give its final approval in coming days to legislation that will add 7,000 acres to Petersburg National Battlefield, making it the largest Civil War battlefield in the country. Virginia’s two U.S. senators, Democrats Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, announced Thursday that they expect the U.S. House of Representatives to pass the legislation, which is part of the National Defense Authorization Act, today. The Senate is expected to approve it early next week. The legislation would allow the National Park Service to acquire the land through purchase or donation.
A Virginia school district has temporarily pulled two classic novels from its classrooms after a parent filed a formal complaint over language contained in the books. A parent of an Accomack County Public Schools student filed the complaint over "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" and "To Kill a Mockingbird" because of their use of racial slurs, local media outlets reported. The district has temporarily suspended the use of the books while officials examine the issue.
By HUGH LESSIG, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)
With President-elect Donald Trump eyeing an overhaul in veterans health care, 18 senators are urging quick action from the lame-duck Congress on two dozen stalled VA projects, including a major one in Hampton Roads. U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine, representing Virginia, joined 16 of their colleagues Thursday in calling for Congress to set aside funding for a list of health care centers, outpatient clinics and research facilities proposed throughout the Veterans Affairs system.
By KATIE DEMERIA , Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)
As the state lingers in the grip of its ongoing opioid epidemic, Virginia’s top health official is warning that the state soon may also be dealing with skyrocketing rates of hepatitis C and HIV. During a Virginia Board of Health meeting Thursday, the state health commissioner, Dr. Marissa Levine, said that as opioid use continues, the two deadly infections “will rear their ugly heads.”
By KATHERINE SHAVER , Washington Post
An environmental group is offering $1,000 for information about whoever spilled an oily substance discovered Sunday as a brownish sheen in the Potomac River — pollution that D.C.-area water utilities are watching as it moves toward intake pipes for their drinking water treatment plants. The Potomac Riverkeeper Network said it will pass along information to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which is leading the investigation. Tips can be reported via the organization’s website, www.potomacriverkeepernetwork.org, or at 336-809-6041.
By HILLARY T CHESSON, Eastern Shore News
Marie Rothstein-Williams, a white parent of a biracial child who attends Nandua High School, spoke at a Nov. 15 Accomack County School Board meeting against the use of the books “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and “To Kill a Mockingbird" in Accomack County classrooms and libraries. “I keep hearing ‘This is a classic, this is a classic.' I understand this is a literature classic but at some point I feel the children will not or do not truly get the classic part, the literature part — which I’m not disputing this is great literature — but there is so much racial slurs in there and offensive wording that you can’t get past that.”
By NED OLIVER , Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)
With the election a little less than a month behind them, most of Richmond’s former mayoral candidates are planning a quiet return to private life. Jack Berry, who placed second in the race behind Mayor-elect Levar Stoney, said he would not seek a job in Stoney’s administration — a possibility some of his supporters have encouraged both him and Stoney to pursue.
By SCOTT DAUGHERTY AND ERIC HARTLEY , Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)
Norfolk Treasurer Anthony Burfoot testified Thursday that he never took bribes in exchange for votes, but instead voted for what he thought was in the best interest of the city. Taking the stand in his own defense in federal court, Burfoot was asked by his attorney why he pleaded not guilty to all the charges against him.
By TRAVIS FAIN, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)
State Sen. Bill Stanley hasn't decided on a run for Virginia Attorney General, he told a room full of reporters Thursday, but that decision should come in days. If he does get in the race, he'll have a short window to raise money for it. General Assembly members are forbidden from raising campaign cash during the legislative session that begins January 11.
By JESSICA CHASMAR , Washington Times
A Virginia school district is reportedly suspending “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” from classrooms and libraries while a committee investigates racial language in the literary classics. The N-word appears 219 times in Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and 48 times in Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
Richmond Times-Dispatch Editorial (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)
Petersburg’s financial collapse has inflamed the citizenry. The city’s response to its budget crisis has not restored trust. The ACLU of Virginia faults Petersburg officials for secrecy, a lack of openness. It cites special meetings called at the last minute and held not only at inconvenient times but in cramped quarters. The circumstances discourage public participation. Residents want to know. They have a right to know.
News & Advance Editorial
Three days before Thanksgiving, Virginia Health Commissioner Marissa Levine issued an official declaration of a public health crisis that has struck across the commonwealth: She officially declared opioid addiction a “crisis,” which brings a host of public resources to the battle against this increasingly deadly foe. It’s a crisis Lt. Jon Wilks of the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office has seen up close far too often in his law enforcement job. He spoke earlier this week at a regular meeting of the Central Virginia Opioid Epidemic Coalition about how the crisis has affected crime rates locally and across the nation.
Richmond Times-Dispatch Editorial (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)
On Tuesday, Virginia Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine asked the chair and ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense to protect funding for the Carrier Replacement Program during the Fiscal Year 2017 appropriations process. If a defense bill is not passed — which is probable — the Department of Defense will be funded temporarily via a Continuing Resolution. If that happens, the advance procurement funding for the program will continue at Fiscal Year 2016 levels. That reduction would cause delays in shipbuilding, jeopardize national security and threaten jobs in Hampton Roads.
Roanoke Times Editorial (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)
Before anyone starts to get nostalgic over the old revolutionary Fidel Castro, they should remember this: If Castro had gotten his way, much of the world would have been in radioactive ruins today. ... but technically, the American embargo on Cuba remains in force. Should it? ... Virginia sells more ag products to Cuba than any other state.
By KERRY DOUGHERTY , Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)
Good heavens. Another book banning. Make that an attempted ban. They never learn, do they? Some book bans are instigated by religious zealots, others by the politically correct. Bans take place in the North and the South. In cities and in rural areas. Modern novels fall victim, and so do classics. It’s the tyranny of the minority.
By MICHAEL PAUL WILLIAMS, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)
Amid the gripping, grinning and chuckling during the meeting of the mayor-elect and the mayor, Levar Stoney paid Dwight C. Jones a compliment laced with double meaning. Mayor-elect Levar Stoney will take office on Jan. 1, 2017. “The last eight years, you’ve, I’ll say, done the Lord’s work,” Stoney said during that Nov. 10 meeting, as both men laughed heartily. The suspicion that Jones and his director of public works were doing the Lord’s work with city resources was no laughing matter ...
By BRIAN CARLTON, Martinsville Bulletin
They walked up to the podium smiling. Then again, if I was getting $8,000 a month from local governments, I’d be smiling too. Earlier this week, the Franklin Board of Supervisors got a visit from people familiar to Martinsville and Henry County. Officials from lobbying firm Alcalde and Fay dropped by, to encourage the supervisors, along with their neighboring cities and counties, to renew their contract. Maybe we need to hold off on that. Franklin, along with Martinsville, Henry County, Roanoke and Roanoke County, signed a deal in 2015 to hire the lobbying firm to help get funding for Interstate 73.
By WARREN FISKE, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)
During his gubernatorial campaign, Terry McAuliffe pledged to end expensive new regulations that he said were forcing abortion clinics to close. "As governor, I'm going to get right down and start to work to make sure I stop it, so no more of these women's health centers shut down in Virginia," the Democrat said in a July 2013 speech. "You have my word on that."
By SABINA THALER, Published in the Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)
Now is the time to talk about voter suppression. During this past election, many people — mostly men and women of color — were denied their constitutional right to vote. On election day, I served as a poll observer for the Voter Protection Team (attorneys organized by the Democratic Party to oversee elections). Our goal was to ensure that all votes were counted. They were not. At my precinct, at least 20 people (roughly 1.2 percent of voters) were denied the right to cast an election-day ballot. To put this in context, Presidents Kennedy, Nixon, Cleveland and Garfield won the popular vote by slimmer margins.
Thaler is an attorney who grew up in Roanoke.
The Friday Read
By ARIANA SAWYER , The Tennessean
Brandon Reese walked across the road toward the River Edge Motor Lodge, the bottoms of his shoes melting on the asphalt. Smoke rolled off the pool outside. One hotel room was so warped from the heat that the door swung open with almost no effort. The thermostat inside had melted down the wall. Somebody's clothes still hung in the closet, left behind.