VaNews

Friday September 23, 2016


Executive Branch


MCAULIFFE ATTRACTS HEAT FROM PIPELINE FOES BUT KUDOS FROM CLEAN ENERGY SECTOR DURING ROANOKE VISIT

By DUNCAN ADAMS , Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

Gov. Terry McAuliffe hustled Thursday morning from his black SUV toward the entrance of the Roanoke Regional Chamber and the Clean Energy Business Roundtable inside as demonstrators outside shouted their dismay about his support for two separate multi-billion dollar fossil fuel infrastructure projects. ... Meanwhile, several roundtable participants, including executives from businesses large and small that are involved in renewable energy projects, congratulated McAuliffe for his administration’s support of solar and wind energy and efforts to promote energy efficiency.



MCAULIFFE MEETS WITH OVERSEAS GROUP AT UVA, HINTS AT FUTURE DEALS

By CHRIS SUAREZ, Daily Progress

After traveling more than halfway across the world, a delegation of civic-minded professionals from the Middle East and North Africa spent Thursday afternoon listening to the self-proclaimed “greatest chicken salesman in America.” Alluding to recent trade missions he’s conducted in countries such as Oman and Kuwait — where bans on Virginia poultry products were lifted last year — Gov. Terry McAuliffe met with the delegation being hosted by the University of Virginia Center for Politics’ Global Perspectives on Democracy Program this month.

General Assembly


HOUSE SPEAKER HOWELL TALKS VOTES, JOBS AND DANVILLE'S ECONOMY

By TREVOR METCALFE , Danville Register & Bee

Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates Bill Howell defended state Republicans’ legal battle over restoration of felon voting rights and spoke about other legislative issues during a legislative lunch in Danville Thursday. “ It has nothing to do with restoration of rights or giving people a second chance, being compassionate,” Howell said. “Nobody believes more in second chances than I.”



ISLE OF WIGHT DEL. MORRIS FACING NEW CHARGES

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

State Del. Rick Morris, R-Suffolk, was handed six additional felony charges Thursday afternoon related to child abuse and assault in Suffolk, two days after he was arrested for similar charges there. The new charges represent multiple times this year that Morris is suspected of assaulting a boy and a woman, both family members, according to Diana Klink , spokeswoman for the city of Suffolk. The names of the child and woman have not been released per department policy, Klink said. Klink said police have executed a court-issued protective order for the victims who are involved.



POLICE CHARGE DELEGATE WITH MORE CRIMES

By TRACY AGNEW, Suffolk News Herald

A state delegate has been charged with 11 additional counts following further investigation, according to Suffolk police. Richard Lee Morris, 47, has been served with warrants charging him with three felony counts of cruelty and injuries to children, three felony counts of child endangerment, three misdemeanor counts of domestic assault involving a minor, and two misdemeanor counts of domestic assault involving an adult female family member, according to a city press release.



SUFFOLK POLICE FILE ADDITIONAL CHARGES AGAINST STATE DEL. RICK MORRIS IN CONNECTION WITH ASSAULTS

By AMIR VERA , Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)

Del. Richard L. “Rick” Morris is facing additional charges after being arrested Tuesday on charges of assaulting a child and an adult family member. Suffolk police said Morris, 47, has been charged with three felony counts of cruelty and injuries to children, three felony counts of child endangerment, three misdemeanor counts of domestic assault involving a minor and two misdemeanor counts of domestic assault involving an adult female family member.



VIRGINIA DEL. RICHARD MORRIS CHARGED WITH ASSAULTING CHILD, FAMILY MEMBER

By BRANDON SHULLEETA AND BRYAN DEVASHER, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

Del. Richard L. Morris, R-Suffolk, has been charged with a litany of crimes of violence against family members — including offenses of cruelty and injuries toward a minor, as well as assault and battery of a female relative. The Suffolk Police Department did not specify Morris’ exact relationship with his alleged victims, but police said the violence began as early as December and continued at various times this year.



VA. DEL. RICHARD MORRIS IS CHARGED WITH ASSAULTING FAMILY MEMBERS

By LAURA VOZZELLA, Washington Post

A Virginia state legislator was charged this week with repeatedly assaulting a boy and a woman, both of them relatives. Del. Richard L. Morris (R-Suffolk), 47, was arrested Tuesday and charged with two misdemeanor counts of assault and battery of a family member and one felony count of cruelty and injuries to children, Suffolk police said.



GMU TO UNVEIL STATUE OF CHUCK COLGAN SUNDAY ON HIS 90TH BIRTHDAY

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

Former state Sen. Chuck Colgan was never one to put himself on a pedestal. But now admirers have done it for him. This Sunday, on his 90th birthday, a life-size bronze statue of Colgan will be unveiled at the Science and Technology Campus of George Mason University in Prince William County.

Federal Elections


TWO NEW VIRGINIA POLLS INDICATE PRESIDENTIAL RACE TIGHTENING

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

Two polls of likely Virginia voters released Thursday indicate the gap between presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump has narrowed in recent weeks. Clinton has a lead but Trump is gaining ground in Virginia, which is considered a key state in this year’s White House contest, according to separate cellphone and landline polls conducted by Quinnipiac University and Roanoke College.



CLINTON LEADS IN VIRGINIA, BUT TRUMP HAS NARROWED GAP, QUINNIPIAC SURVEY SHOWS

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

Donald Trump has narrowed the gap with Hillary Clinton in Virginia, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll. Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, received 45 percent of the vote to 39 percent for Trump, the Republican nominee; 8 percent for Libertarian Gary Johnson; and 1 percent for Green Party nominee Jill Stein in a survey taken Sept. 13-21.



CLINTON HAS MODEST LEAD OVER TRUMP IN VIRGINIA, NEW POLLS SAY

By SCOTT CLEMENT AND GREGORY S. SCHNEIDER, Washington Post

Hillary Clinton holds a modest lead over Donald Trump in Virginia, according to two polls released Thursday, although the Republican nominee has gained ground since August, when he trailed by double digits. A Roanoke College poll found Clinton leading with 44 percent to Trump’s 37 percent among likely voters, while a Quinnipiac University poll found Clinton ahead by a similar 45 percent-to-39 percent margin.



APPEALS COURT TO HEAR CHALLENGE TO VIRGINIA’S VOTER-IDENTIFICATION LAW

By ANN E. MARIMOW, Washington Post

RICHMOND — The shadow of North Carolina’s strict voting rules hung over a federal court hearing Thursday about a Virginia law where lawyers were repeatedly asked whether the state’s requirements are just as bad. The case involving Virginia’s voter-identification law comes two months after judges on the same appeals court threw out North Carolina’s far-reaching voting restrictions, finding North Carolina legislators had intentionally made it more difficult for minorities to cast ballots.



4TH CIRCUIT JUDGES WEIGH VIRGINIA VOTER ID WITH N.C. CASE IN MIND

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

A U.S. Court of Appeals panel wrestled here Thursday over how to treat Virginia's voter ID law following a circuit decision that nullified a similar law in North Carolina. That decision was made by a different three-judge panel on the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, but its precedent looms large in Virginia's case.



AMID VOTER ID FIGHT AND ‘MISLEADING’ MAILINGS, VOTING TO BEGIN IN BATTLEGROUND VA.

By LAURA VOZZELLA, Washington Post

Voters begin going to the polls Friday in this battleground state, where Republicans and Democrats continue wrangling over voter ID laws, and elections officials were warning Virginians to ignore “misleading” letters about their registration status. Voters who cannot make it to the polls on Election Day may cast their ballots in person at their local elections offices starting Friday. In-person absentee voting continues through Nov. 5.



MAILINGS DRAW ELECTION OFFICIALS' CONCERNS

By DAVE RESS, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Two groups – one that focuses on conservative issues and one that seeks to sign up minority, female and young voters, have been confusing Virginians with misleading letters about their voter registration status, the state Department of Elections says. The department said it has received numerous calls from voters who were concerned about their right to vote after receiving letters from America's Future Inc. and the Voter Participation Center that suggested their registration status was uncertain.



VOTERS CONFUSED BY REGISTRATION LETTERS

By JEFF LESTER, Dickenson Star (Subscription Required)

Apparently, a lot of properly registered Virginia voters are receiving letters that call their registration status into question. Local registrars and the Virginia Department of Elections warn voters that at least two organizations, America’s Future Inc. and the Voter Participation Center, are sending out such letters.



TRUMP CAMPAIGN TO OPEN OFFICE IN WINCHESTER

By SALLY VOTH, Winchester Star (Subscription Required)

A local Republican victory office is expected to open Saturday at 225 N. Cameron St. David Sparkman said he is the Donald Trump lead for Frederick County. A time wasn’t yet confirmed for the opening, he said Thursday.



5TH DISTRICT CANDIDATES TO FACE OFF ON MONDAY IN APPOMATTOX

By ALEX ROHR, News & Advance

The 5th Congressional District candidates meet twice next week, with the first forum scheduled for Monday in Appomattox, leading off for the nationally televised presiden-tial debates later that evening. ABC-13 WSET’s Mark Spain will moderate between state Sen. Tom Garrett, R-Buckingham, and Democrat and former Albemarle County supervisor Jane Dittmar



5TH DISTRICT HOPEFULS BICKER OVER URANIUM MINING ISSUE

South Boston News & Record

The contenders for the 5th District congressional seat will appear together twice next week at candidate forums in Lynchburg and Charlottesville, with a dormant controversy — uranium mining — emerging as a hot issue in the race. Democrat Jane Dittmar and Republican Tom Garrett, each seeking to succeed retiring Rep. Robert Hurt in the Nov. 8 election, have been squabbling over uranium mining since the release of a Dittmar campaign commercial, “Doing,” now airing throughout the district.

State Government


VA. ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OFFICE TO LOSE INTERNATIONAL TRADE DIVISION, REFOCUS MISSION

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

Things aren’t what they used to be at VEDP. The Virginia Economic Development Partnership, or VEDP, will lose its international trade division next spring, along with 17 percent of its staff and about a quarter of its budget.



STATE BOARD APPROVES COAL-ASH WASTEWATER PERMIT FOR CHESTERFIELD POWER STATION

By ROBERT ZULLO , Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

The State Water Control Board unanimously approved a complex and expansive permit Thursday that will allow Dominion Virginia Power to drain millions of gallons of wastewater from the coal ash ponds at its Chesterfield Power Station, the largest fossil fuel plant in Virginia, then treat it and discharge it into the James River. The decision came over the objections of environmental groups that wanted tighter requirements related to discharges from cooling water, stricter effluent limits for heavy metals, and protections for endangered fish that may be spawning near the plant.



SEVERAL PROJECTS GET TOBACCO COMMISSION FUNDING

By JENAY TATE, Coalfield Progress (Subscription Required)

The Virginia Tobacco Commission Tuesday pumped money into an array of project requests, including ones with particular potential for Wise County and Norton. One commission award was toward an Appalachian Spring project that includes building a High Knob destination center in Norton, as well as an Appalachian Trail destination center in Damascus and a multi-use trail connecting Haysi and Breaks Interstate Park.

Economy/Business


PUBLIC UTILITIES GIRD UP TO BATTLE CYBERTHREATS TO GRID

By TAMARA DIETRICH, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

When it comes to protecting its power grid in Virginia from cyberattack, Dominion Virginia Power considers its long experience with hurricanes a helpful template. "It's just another challenge," said Rodney Blevins, chief information officer and senior vice president for the biggest utility in the state and one of the biggest in the country.



AND THEY’RE OFF! HORSE RACING BRINGS NEW FESTIVALS

By KELLY CLARK, Shenandoah Valley Herald

The fair may be over, but the Shenandoah County Fair Association is prepping for a new slate of fall events. Starting last Saturday, the Woodstock fairgrounds will host three new festivals to coincide with the launching of five weekends of state-sanctioned harness racing at the newly dubbed Shenandoah Downs race track. The races, which include parimutuel betting, are sponsored by the Virginia Equine Alliance.



NEWS MESSENGER, RADFORD NEWS JOURNAL PURCHASED BY MOUNTAIN MEDIA

Christiansburg News Messenger

Mountain Media, a Lewisburg, West Virginia-based community newspaper company, has purchased the assets of Montgomery Publishing, which includes the News Messenger, Radford News Journal and four other community newspapers in Southwest Virginia.

Higher Education


VCU FUNDRAISING GOAL IS $750 MILLION — ITS LARGEST YET

By KARIN KAPSIDELIS , Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

With more than half the amount already raised, Virginia Commonwealth University set a goal of $750 million for its largest fundraising campaign yet. At a reception and dinner Thursday at James Branch Cabell Library, the university launched the public phase of the Make It Real Campaign for VCU, which will run through June 30, 2020.

Local


THIS SMALL-CITY VIRGINIA GOVERNMENT MAY HAVE SOLVED THE PAY GAP

By PATRICIA SULLIVAN, Washington Post

To the long-running national debate over pay equity, add this news: The city government in Alexandria, Va., pays women and men very nearly the same for similar jobs. A first-ever study of pay equity by the Alexandria city government found that female city employees earned 94 cents for every $1 earned by their male peers.



LENDERS EXPECT PETERSBURG TO DO MORE THAN CUT BUDGET

By MICHAEL BUETTNER, Progress Index (Metered paywall - 5 free articles a month)

With major decisions about Petersburg's future now in the hands of people in Richmond or New York, the interim city manager said she's doing whatever she can to show that the city is ready to operate in a financially responsible way.



NORFOLK KEEPS STRONG CREDIT RATINGS

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

The city has earned strong marks in new reports from the three major credit-rating agencies. Higher ratings mean lower interest rates when cities borrow money for new public buildings, including schools. All three agencies kept Norfolk’s ratings the same, the city said in an announcement Thursday. City Manager Marcus Jones and other officials went to New York in early September to meet with the agencies.



SUFFOLK CITY COUNCIL APPROVES FINANCIAL STRATEGY THAT COULD IMPACT FUTURE UTILITY COSTS

By VICTORIA BOURNE , Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)

City Council members gave a thumbs-up this week to a financial plan that should help stem the rising tide of water rates – at least for next year. They voted unanimously to refinance about $73 million dollars of existing debt in Suffolk’s water and sewer fund and combine it with $18 million the city needs to borrow for infrastructure projects.



HARRISONBURG FORUM REMARK CAUSES CONCERN

By NOLAN STOUT, Daily News Record (Subscription Required)

George Hirschmann has clarified questionable comments he made at a City Council candidates forum earlier this week. The independent candidate raised eyebrows Monday at a forum hosted by the Harrisonburg-Rockingham chapter of the NAACP when he suggested discrimination doesn’t exist.



CPC OFFICIALS CONCERNED ABOUT BVU AUDIT FINDINGS

By DAVID MCGEE, Bristol Herald Courier

Results of a state audit have cast new shadows on the sometimes rocky relationship between BVU Authority and the Cumberland Plateau Planning District. Last week DeAnn Compton, audit director of the Virginia Auditor of Public Accounts, presented a draft report showing 57 findings of BVU’s widespread failures within its business and financial practices.



FORMER CLINCHCO, VA. MAYOR SENTENCED TO PRISON ON FEDERAL FRAUD CHARGES

Bristol Herald Courier

The former mayor of Clinchco, Virginia in Dickenson County, was sentenced Thursday in federal court to fraud charges stemming from her use of town funds used to make improvements and repairs to her personal home while she was mayor, U.S. Attorney John P. Fishwick Jr. said.


Editorials


WHICH FELONS SHOULD GET TO VOTE - AND OWN GUNS?

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

A bull in a china shop could not have made a bigger mess than Gov. Terry McAuliffe did when he issued an executive order granting blanket restoration of voting rights to felons. The resulting Cleanup on Aisle Six has taken months. But give him credit for this much: He has jump-started a reform movement.

The Friday Read


A SMALL VA. COUNTY PUT BRAKES ON PLANS FOR MOSQUE. WAS IT DISCRIMINATION?

By RACHEL WEINER, Washington Post

The small Muslim community here used to pray in the historic Amtrak station, where Lyndon B. Johnson kicked off a 1960 whistle-stop tour. When a local history museum moved into the space in 2014, they shifted to an empty home next to an auto business. After years of drifting, the group of about 12 to 20 Muslims who show up regularly for Friday prayers want a more permanent place of worship. So they set out to build a mosque in a more rural area outside town.