VaNews

Tuesday April 21, 2015

Compiled by Bernadette Kinlaw


Executive Branch

MCAULIFFE ON REDSKINS STADIUM IN VIRGINIA: ‘IT’S WHERE THEY BELONG’

By JONATHAN O'CONNELL, Washington Post

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has remained largely mum about his pursuit of a new stadium for the Washington Redskins, but said last week that he was wooing the team as part of his ongoing effort to attract business and employers to the state. He said Virginia was a natural fit because many of the team’s fans and players already live there.

General Assembly

LAWMAKERS WANT ASSISTANT NORFOLK PROSECUTOR AS JUDGE

By PATRICK WILSON, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Hampton Roads lawmakers have asked Norfolk's Circuit Court judges to appoint Lyn Simmons, a senior assistant commonwealth's attorney, to the city's Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court bench. Del. Chris Stolle, R-Virginia Beach, said lawmakers had the Norfolk and Portsmouth Bar Association review potential candidates for the judicial opening.

McDonnell Case

MAUREEN MCDONNELL: CORRUPTION TRIAL WAS UNFAIR

By ALAN SUDERMAN, Associated Press

Former Virginia first lady Maureen McDonnell's legal team said in court filings Monday that her convictions on several public corruption charges are based on an overly broad definition of bribery and that she did not receive a fair trial owing to mistakes by the presiding federal judge. In a 101-page brief filed in the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, her attorneys said McDonnell's convictions should be overturned or that, at minimum, she should be given another trial because of those errors.


MAUREEN MCDONNELL ASKS APPEALS COURT TO TOSS OUT CONVICTIONS

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

Lawyers for former Virginia first lady Maureen McDonnell argued in an appeal brief filed Monday night that her convictions should be reversed because a federal court’s “expansive redefinition of the federal corruption laws” criminalized routine political conduct “and gave federal prosecutors unbridled discretion.” In the 101-page brief, filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit after 10:30 p.m., Maureen McDonnell’s lawyers asserted that the “unprecedented application of the law to Governor (Bob) McDonnell, and the unwarranted extension of those laws to Mrs. McDonnell should be reversed and their convictions should be vacated.”


EX-VIRGINIA FIRST LADY MCDONNELL TRIES TO GET CORRUPTION CONVICTIONS TOSSED

By MATT ZAPOTOSKY, Washington Post

Former Virginia First Lady Maureen McDonnell on Monday laid out her own bid to have an appeals court throw out her public corruption convictions, arguing that she did not knowingly conspire with her husband to lend any official favors to a Richmond businessman who lavished her family with loans and gifts. Maureen McDonnell’s appeal to the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals was strikingly similar to that of her husband, former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell (R). Both were convicted of public corruption last year for lending the prestige of the governor’s office to Richmond businessman Jonnie R. Williams Sr. in exchange for $177,000 in loans, vacations and luxury goods.

State Elections

CANDIDATES KICKING IN TO THEIR OWN CAMPAIGNS IN KEY SENATE RACES

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

Candidates are kicking in to their own campaigns to build early fundraising stakes in key contests for control of the state Senate. Some hopefuls also are getting boosts from pre-existing campaign accounts or in donations from businesses with which they have professional ties, according to data posted by the Virginia Public Access Project.

State Government

ABC SHAKES UP LEADERSHIP OF ENFORCEMENT DIVISION

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

Law enforcement is under new management at the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. Travis G. Hill, appointed chief operating officer at ABC in October, took direct control of the agency’s troubled law-enforcement bureau Monday. He reassigned its director to oversee compliance with alcohol license holders, records, and administrative services instead of field operations and training.

Congress

GOODLATTE MAKES STOP IN AMHERST COUNTY, TALKS ABOUT NSA PROGRAM

By ALICIA PETSKA, Amherst New Era Progress

The effort to end government’s mass collection of phone records and other data will return this week as the House Judiciary Committee prepares to take up the issue. U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, committee chairman, said the panel will be marking up a bill this week to ban the bulk collection of metadata — a National Security Agency program revealed in 2013 by Edward Snowden.

Higher Education

STUDENTS, PARENTS JOIN WITH ALUMNAE ON SWEET BRIAR COLLEGE LEGAL ACTION

By JESSIE POUNDS, News & Advance

A group of Sweet Briar students, parents and alumnae have filed a legal complaint against Sweet Briar College, seeking to stop the school from closing. Jessica Campbell, an alumna who dropped her complaint against the college, is back and this time she is joined by three students, three parents and two alumnae. Their lawyer is Elliott Schuchardt, who represented Campbell previously.

Local

PRINCE WILLIAM GOP CANDIDATES PREP FOR FIREHOUSE PRIMARY

By JILL PALERMO, Prince William Today

Turnout for the upcoming Republican “firehouse primary” is expected to be just 1 to 3 percent, meaning only a small slice of Prince William County’s electorate will decide the political fates of three longtime incumbents – including Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart. Prince William County Republican Committee Chairman Bill Card said the group is planning for up to 1,500 voters to cast ballots at each of eight polling places set up for the Saturday, April 25, contest.


WHILE STRONGER ECONOMY HELPS PENINSULA TAX RATES, MANY FEES ARE RISING

By DAVE RESS, Daily Press (Paywall for certain articles)

By and large, the big bill from local governments — the real estate tax — isn't going up, but plenty of the smaller IOUs that cities and counties demand are. Water, sewer and trash rates are rising for many Peninsula residents, if city councils and county boards of supervisors approve the proposed budgets now pending before them.


VA. BEACH OCEANFRONT ARTS DISTRICT POISED TO TAKE STEP

By STACY PARKER, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Supporters of an arts and cultural district at the Oceanfront are about to check off the first step in making it a reality. The City Council will vote today on an ordinance establishing the ViBe Creative District, having set aside $100,000 for it in the proposed 2015-16 budget. Next up for the district's proponents: Install signs and banners, push for sidewalks and form a nonprofit to help grow creative businesses.


CITY, COUNTY DODGE COSTLY VOTING MACHINE REPLACEMENT

By TREVOR METCALFE, Danville Register & Bee

Danville and Pittsylvania County won’t be affected by a moratorium on a widely-used type of electronic voting machine. However, city officials said machines are still vulnerable to future legislation outlawing the machines. “We have a safe and secure system,” Danville Voter’s Registrar Peggy Petty said. “That’s something we really take seriously.”


Editorials

PROBLEMS WITH VIRGINIA'S VOTING SYSTEMS UNDERMINE CONFIDENCE IN OUR ELECTION RESULTS

Daily Press Editorial (Paywall for certain articles)

The Virginia Board of Elections took the necessary step last week of voting to decertify a certain type of voting machine used in 30 localities, including in York County. A recent report by the Department of Elections found serious security flaws in those devices, prompting the board's action. While we applaud that decision, it does little to alleviate our continued concern about the integrity of elections in the commonwealth.


A CREATIVE WAY TO BUILD COMMUNITY

Virginian-Pilot Editorial (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

...Tonight, the City Council will consider establishing it as an arts district, similar to ones in Richmond, Staunton and Fredericksburg, to encourage the arts, stimulate commerce and enable a creative community where people want to live, work and visit.


MACKER ON ‘MEET’

Winchester Star Editorial (Subscription Required)

Viewers who tuned in “Meet the Press” Sunday were treated to a huge helping of Terry McAuliffe. We’re not certain it was a gastronomic, or even a political, treat. Folks who missed The Macker on “Meet” may be wondering why he found his way there. After all, his first 18 months as Virginia’s chief executive have been nothing more than routine . . . for a Democratic governor obliged to deal with a Republican legislature.


OUR SLEEP-WALKING SENATOR

Roanoke Times Editorial

Hello? Hello? Is John Edwards awake? Judging from the latest campaign finance reports, it doesn’t appear so. The Democratic state senator from Roanoke — whose district ranges south to include Blacksburg, about half of Montgomery County and all of Giles County — faces an energetic and well-funded Republican challenger this fall in the form of retired surgeon Nancy Dye.


OUTRAGE HELPS FORCE ETHICS BILL

Daily Progress Editorial

We have a new ethics bill. And we have it because ethics was a problem “that the public wanted us to solve,” to quote Del. C. Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah. Last week’s passage of a tightened ethics bill was a major accomplishment, one for which Virginians should be grateful. Indeed, we extend our thanks and appreciation to lawmakers for their hard work in adopting the legislation, and for accepting restrictions that will create at least some added work for them in the future by requiring them to attend to stricter rules.


NORFOLK BUDGET LOOKS FORWARD

Virginian-Pilot Editorial (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

A budget - whether personal, corporate or governmental - is more than just dollars in and dollars out. It's a catalog of values and priorities, documentation of direction and drift. The top lines are important. Just ask the politicians in Portsmouth, aghast that their budgetary priorities demanded a 17-cent property-tax increase.


VIRGINIA MAKES PROGRESS ON ETHICS

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

Although some of them had to be dragged kicking and screaming every step of the way, Virginia’s lawmakers have finally passed something approaching meaningful ethics reform. Take a moment to savor the accomplishment. A Potemkin measure last year was so plainly inadequate that the General Assembly gave it another shot this year. This year’s effort, too, fell short — principally by allowing an unlimited number of gifts worth just under $100, and by creating an exception for “widely attended events” that amounted to a free pass for junkets.

Columnists

WILLIAMS: RICHMOND'S SEGREGATION IS BY DESIGN

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

A lot of hard work went into the segregation of Richmond. After all, this was a place where black people, free and enslaved, lived in close proximity to white people in the 19th century, and where Jackson Ward, a historically black enclave, originally housed a large German immigrant community.

Op-Ed

HARRIS: INTERNATIONAL TRADE HELPS VIRGINIA, LOCAL COMMUNITY

By SCOTT HARRIS, Published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

Global trade might be a topic many Virginians don’t think about, but international trade is one of the key drivers for our state’s economy — and it has a huge impact on taxes, revenue and jobs in our community. In Virginia, agricultural exports reached an estimated $1.2 billion in 2013. This boosted farm prices and income, while supporting about 9,100 jobs.

Scott Harris is the founder of Catoctin Creek Distillery in Purcellville, the first distillery in Loudoun County since before Prohibition.


OLSEN: FOR YEARS, CRIME VICTIMS WERE IGNORED IN COURT

By ERIC OLSEN, Published in the Free Lance-Star

“THE DEFENDANT has all of these rights, what about the victim?” The first time I was asked that question by a victim was 1989—and for the next eight years the answer was always the same: Virginia law does not recognize or confer any rights for victims of crimes. This was the legal landscape in the early days of the victims’ rights movement.

Eric Olsen is Stafford County commonwealth’s attorney.