VaNews

Friday July 21, 2017


Today's Sponsor:

William H Leighty

Managing Partner of DecideSmart, LLC. Honoring the birthday of his son, Matt Leighty. Proud of you!

Executive Branch


MCCONNELL DECLINES MCAULIFFE'S INVITATION TO RAM HEALTH CLINIC FOR POOR

Associated Press

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe extended an invitation to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to visit a free health clinic for the state's poor later this week, but the Kentucky Republican declined, according to a McAuliffe spokesman. McAuliffe, a Democrat, said the Republican majority leader could have heard firsthand stories from people who struggle to obtain adequate health care.

State Elections


GILLESPIE SHIFTS FROM AVOIDING TRUMP TO DROPPING THE PRESIDENT’S NAME

By LAURA VOZZELLA, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Two little words are on Ed Gillespie’s lips of late: “President Trump.” Since launching his bid for Virginia governor, the establishment Republican had treated the man in the White House like a Voldemortian unmentionable. That was widely considered a smart strategy in a swing state that went for Hillary Clinton in November and where the president’s approval rating sat at 36 percent in a Washington Post-Schar School poll in May.



AHEAD OF FIRST NORTHAM-GILLESPIE DEBATE, ONE QUESTION LOOMS LARGE: SHOULD VIRGINIA WORK WITH TRUMP?

By GRAHAM MOOMAW , Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

In a recent Facebook Live video by Ralph S. Northam’s campaign, Ed Gillespie appeared as a stiff cardboard cutout, showing no response as a parade of Northam aides read the text of a controversial Republican health care overhaul pushed by President Donald Trump. On a website created by Gillespie’s campaign, Northam’s policy agenda for Virginia was represented as a substanceless void of white pixels.



CAMPAIGN OF GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE SEEKS INCLUSION INTO VBA DEBATE

By JORDAN BONDURANT, Virginia Lawyers Weekly (Paywall for some articles)

The Virginia Bar Association is set to help kick off Virginia's battle for governor Saturday as part of its summer meeting, and one candidate is pushing to be on the stage. Republican Ed Gillespie and Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam, the Democratic nominee, will spar for the first time with each man trying to paint a picture...



2ND DEBATE IN VIRGINIA GOVERNOR'S RACE SET FOR SEPTEMBER

Associated Press

A second debate in Virginia's closely watched governor's race has been scheduled for September. The Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce announced Thursday that Republican Ed Gillespie and Democrat Ralph Northam will participate in a debate Tuesday, Sept. 19, at Capital One headquarters in Tysons. NBC journalist Chuck Todd, who hosts "Meet the Press," will serve as moderator.



GOVERNOR CANDIDATES FOCUS ON UVA-WISE

By JENAY TATE, Coalfield Progress (Subscription Required)

Politicians have turned some interest on Wise County, with one gubernatorial candidate proposing millions in expansion for UVa-Wise and both candidates agreeing to a debate on the college's campus in October. Democrat Ralph Northam discussed a plan this week for rural Virginia overall that included significantly expanding the size and scope of educational offerings at the college.



HERRING TALKS DRUG ABUSE PREVENTION AT TAZEWELL STOP

By JIM TALBERT, Richlands News-Press

Virginia’s attorney general came to listen and he got an earful in Tazewell July 19. Mark Herring was in Town to discuss the drug epidemic with educators, law enforcement, treatment professionals and those who work with prevention. Herring told the group that his office has stepped up prosecution of dealers and traffickers but that is not enough. “It requires a multi faceted approach we can’t arrest our way out of it,’ he said.



VIRGINIA HOUSE 2ND DISTRICT RECOUNT UNDERWAY

By ALEX KOMA, Sun Gazette

With just a handful of votes separating the two Democratic contenders for the 2nd District seat in the House of Delegates, election officials are now hard at work on a recount to certify the winner of the June 13 primary contest. On election night, Jennifer Foy seemingly bested Josh King by just 10 votes in the race to challenge Republican Laquan Austion for the seat vacated by retiring GOP Del. Mark Dudenhefer.



KING RUNS FOR DELEGATE AS GREEN PARTY CANDIDATE

By JEFF SAY , Culpeper Times

Will King wants to represent the people of the 18th District, not a party. The Green Party candidate will challenge Republican incumbent Michael Webert and Democratic challenger Tristan Shields in the November election for a seat in the general assembly.

Federal Elections


SAWYERS LEADS DEMS IN FUNDRAISING FOR 1ST DISTRICT RACE, BUT STILL WAY BEHIND WITTMAN

By ALEX KOMA, Sun Gazette

Prince William County School Board Chairman Ryan Sawyers holds an early fundraising lead over his Democratic opponents in the race to challenge Rep. Rob Wittman, R-1st District, but the longtime congressman still boasts a hefty war chest ahead of the 2018 midterms.

State Government


VIRGINIA SUPREME COURT DISMISSES COMPLAINT ALLEGING IMPROPER POLITICAL ACTIVITY BY JUDGES

By FRANK GREEN , Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

A unanimous Virginia Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed a complaint from the Judicial Inquiry and Review Commission against two judges accused of improper political activity. The commission asked the justices to censure former Virginia Court of Appeals Judge Rudolph Bumgardner III and former Circuit Judge Humes J. Franklin Jr. for campaigning against an Augusta County voter referendum question on moving the county courthouse from Staunton into the county last year.



VIRGINIA SUPREME COURT CLEARS LOCAL JUDGES OF ANY MISCONDUCT

By BOB STUART, News Virginian

Two local retired judges have been unanimously cleared of misconduct by the Virginia Supreme Court in connection to their public opposition to the Augusta County Courthouse referendum last year. The Supreme Court's dismissal opinion by Chief Justice Donald W. Lemons, which was issued Thursday, involved the complaint against retired state Court of Appeals Judge Rudolph Bumgardner III of Staunton and retired Circuit Court Judge Humes J. Franklin, Jr., of Augusta County.



COURTHOUSE: VA. SUPREME CT. DISMISSES ETHICS CASE AGAINST RETIRED JUDGES

By GABE CAVALLARO, News Leader (Metered Pay Wall)

The Supreme Court of Virginia on Thursday dismissed a case involving two retired judges' conduct in relation to the November 2016 Augusta County Courthouse referendum. The Judicial Inquiry and Review Commission of Virginia filed a complaint against retired 25th Judicial Circuit Judge Humes J. Franklin, Jr., and retired Virginia Appeals Court Judge Rudolph Bumgardner III for allegedly violating the state judicial canons on political activity by publicly speaking against moving the courthouse.



JUDICIAL ETHICS PANEL SEEKS SANCTIONS FOR BRISTOL JUDGE

By PETER VIETH , Virginia Lawyers Weekly (Paywall for some articles)

The state commission that enforces judicial ethics has recommended the Supreme Court of Virginia remove or censure Bristol Juvenile and Domestic Relations Judge Kurt J. Pomrenke. The ethics complaint filed in the Supreme Court July 10 stems from Pomrenke’s attempts to help his wife defend criminal charges. Pomrenke was not charged in the federal public corruption case



RON MORRIS WILL RESIGN, TO BECOME A JUDGE ON AUG. 1

Greene County Record

Greene County Commonwealth’s Attorney Ronald L. Morris announced last week that he is resigning, as he’s been appointed a Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court. Morris said the judges of the 16th Judicial Court have appointed him to fill the vacancy created by the recent retirement of Edward DeJ. Berry of the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.



ACCOMACK JUDGE HEARS ARGUMENTS IN FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT CASE

By CAROL VAUGHN, Eastern Shore News

A General District judge in Accomack County said he will rule by early August on a case involving a man who made dozens of Freedom of Information Act requests to two state offices — the Office of the Attorney General and the Office of the Executive Secretary of the Supreme Court of Virginia. Testimony and arguments were given during a nearly five-hour hearing Friday in Accomac.

Transportation


DESPITE CRITICISMS, NEW STUDY FINDS METRO WORKERS’ PAY AND BENEFITS ARE TYPICAL FOR INDUSTRY.

By ROBERT MCCARTNEY, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

A new study shows Metro workers’ pay and benefits are in line with those of other major transit systems, blunting long-standing criticism of the agency’s labor costs. But Northern Virginia Republican lawmakers said it would still be necessary for Metro to restrain costs and weaken union powers to persuade the GOP-led General Assembly in Richmond to back increased funding for the transit system.

Virginia Other


NEW MARKET RECEIVES $400K FROM FEDS FOR PRESERVATION

By KELLY CLARK, Shenandoah Valley Herald

Less than three weeks after launching a fundraising campaign to preserve three local Civil War sites, the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation received a major boost from the federal government. On July 5, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced the disbursement of $4.2 million to the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation for preservation efforts at 10 state battlefields.



STATUES TO CONFEDERACY IN ITS EX-CAPITAL SPUR SOUL-SEARCHING

By SARAH RANKIN, Associated Press

When a French artist's statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee arrived by train in Richmond in 1890, thousands helped haul the enormous pieces to what is today the city's grandest boulevard. Many took home pieces of the rope they used as souvenirs, so beloved was Lee as a top Confederate commander and native Virginia son. Well over a century later, cities across the U.S. are removing Confederate statues and other symbols critics see as offensive reminders of slavery and racism. But not Richmond, which has no such plans for taking down Lee's towering statue — or others like it — along its Monument Avenue.



OVER $330,000 GRANTED TO FIGHT STATE’S OPIOID EPIDEMIC

Progress Index (Metered paywall - 5 free articles a month)

Congressman A. Donald McEachin, VA-04, announced a $333,233 grant award for the Virginia State Department of Health to aid state efforts fighting against the opioid epidemic. The Center for Disease Control and the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control awarded this grant to the Virginia State Department of Health.

Local


LOUDOUN SUPERVISORS APPROVE 62 PERCENT PAY RAISE IN 5-4 VOTE

By SYDNEY KASHIWAGI, Loudoun Times

After weeks of discussion, Loudoun supervisors agreed Thursday night on a 62 percent raise for the next Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission effective 2020. The proposal passed 5-4 with supervisors Ralph Buona (R-Ashburn), Suzanne Volpe (R-Algonkian), Geary Higgins (R-Catoctin) and Kristen Umstattd (D-Leesburg) opposed. Under the new pay rate, members of the next Board of Supervisors, excluding the chair and vice chair, will be paid $66,826 in 2020



ONCE AGAIN, LOUDOUN IS THE NATION’S MOST AFFLUENT COUNTY. SO WHY ISN’T EVERYONE CELEBRATING?

By CHANTALLE EDMUNDS, Loudoun Times

Loudoun County is once again the richest county in the U.S., according to the latest Census Bureau estimates, but not everyone thinks the distinction is a cause for celebration – and some residents think the title masks certain truths. The county boasts a median household income just shy of $126,000, top in the nation.



RICHMOND CITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT SAYS HE WILL RELEASE VALUE OF AUDITOR'S EXIT PACKAGE MONDAY

By NED OLIVER , Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Richmond City Council President Chris Hilbert said Thursday the precise cash value of former City Auditor Umesh Dalal’s compensation package has not yet been calculated, but he anticipates being able to provide the number publicly Monday. “I don’t want to give you a half-baked estimate of it,” Hilbert said in a phone call. “I could have done that. I want to get everyone the exact information. I don’t want it to be off by 5 cents. I can assure you, when I get this number, I will call you with it.”



RICHMOND PANEL AGREES TO REBATE CRAFT BREWER'S TAX BILL BY $111,000

By NED OLIVER, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

A panel of Richmond City Council members agreed Thursday to rebate $111,000 of a $220,000 real estate tax bill that Stone Brewing Co. paid under protest last year, resolving a year-old dispute between the city assessor and the company. Richmond will continue to rebate a portion of the real estate tax paid by Stone every year per a clause in the agreement that brought the San Diego-based brewer to Richmond in 2015, said Lee Downey, the city’s top economic development officer.



HOPEWELL CITY ATTORNEY RESIGNS CITING ‘ABUSE’

By SARAH VOGELSONG , Progress Index (Metered paywall - 5 free articles a month)

City Attorney Stefan Calos submitted his resignation to Hopewell City Council Wednesday morning, citing “the abuse that has been inflicted upon this office by some city councilors.” Calos’ memo, which was submitted to City Council, cites several incidents that allegedly occurred during his tenure as part of a larger pattern of circumstances “that have made it untenable” for him to continue in his role as city attorney, a position he has held since 2015.

TV/Radio


VIRGINIA DEMOCRATIC LEADERS STOP IN CHARLOTTESVILLE FOR 'TRUMP GILLESPIE TOUR'

NBC 29

Virginia Democratic leaders are traveling the state to talk about GOP gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie's relationship with the Trump administration. The Democratic Party of Virginia has begun a "Trump Gillespie 2017 Tour," which focuses on concerns they have with the Republican Party's candidate.



SEN. KAINE ON HEALTH CARE: ‘WE CAN’T AFFORD TO GET THIS WRONG’

By EVANNE ARMOUR, WRIC

On Thursday, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) weighed in on the health care debate in Washington. An estimated 32 million people could lose coverage if the Affordable Care Act is repealed. Kaine said working across party lines is essential. “No one has anything in their life that’s more important than their health and the health of their families,” he said.



AHEAD OF FIRST DEBATE, GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATES AT ODDS OVER HOW MANY MORE

By MALLORY NOE-PAYNE, WVTF

As Virginia’s candidates for governor prep for their first debate this weekend, there’s some disagreement over how many more debates there should be. Democrat Ralph Northam has agreed to three, but Republican Ed Gillespie is pushing for more.


Today's Sponsor:

William H Leighty

Managing Partner of DecideSmart, LLC. Honoring the birthday of his son, Matt Leighty. Proud of you!

Editorials


LET'S MOVE FORWARD ON BROADBAND

News & Advance Editorial (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

If any locality wants to be a serious player in 21st-century economic development, then broadband internet access is a no-brainer. Without it, areas that want to compete for modern jobs are doing so with one arm tied behind their backs.



RURAL AMERICA GETS MICROSOFT'S ATTENTION

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

Let’s give credit where credit is due: President Trump is responsible for bringing broadband Internet to two counties in Southside Virginia. Indirectly, anyway. He might also be responsible, again, indirectly, for extending broadband to lots of other places in rural America.



VB REVIEW OF CONTRACTS COULD BE VALUABLE

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

Given the city’s rather modest goal of awarding 10 percent of these contracts to minority businesses, it is reasonable to wonder how the actual figures have lagged behind. Is it a problem with the city, the vendors or a combination of the two? Are other factors involved? To answer these questions, the city commissioned a disparity study to examine contracting practices and procedures. It is a wholly worthwhile, if expensive and time-consuming, undertaking, but it should help the city chart a responsible path forward.



MORE INEXCUSABLE SECRECY FROM RICHMOND CITY GOVERNMENT

Richmond Times-Dispatch Editorial (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Too many divisions of Richmond government think the citizens should be treated like mushrooms: kept in the dark and fed a bunch of fertilizer. Now the City Council is refusing to release the details of auditor Umesh Dalal’s departure. That’s a public position. Public money is involved in his severance. And the public has every right to know the details.



DON'T KEEP COURTS DATABASE UNDER WRAPS

Free Lance-Star Editorial (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

It is the Code of Virginia that makes circuit court clerks responsible for the gathering and preservation of court records. The state law also says that FOIA requests should be made to the custodian of such records. So, it will now be up to the General Assembly to come up with new wording for the law that will explicitly make a database that contains the outcomes of nearly all criminal cases adjudicated in circuit courts in the commonwealth a public record.

Op-Ed


KANTER: VIRGINIANS DESERVE A GOVERNOR WHO UNDERSTANDS THE ECONOMICS OF A MINIMUM WAGE RAISE

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

Virginians need to think long and hard about whom they want to run the Commonwealth this November. As a business owner of a private investment firm, based right here in Virginia, I always look at candidates through a lens of economics: their ability to grasp economic concepts and grow the economy. And in this vein, the difference between gubernatorial candidates Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam and former RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie couldn’t be starker.

Joel Kanter is the President of Windy City, Inc., a private investment firm headquartered in Northern Virginia.



GILLEY: NOW IS THE TIME TO FIND OUT WHO CARES ABOUT SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA

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

The primary elections are over in Virginia. Now the leaders of Southwest Virginia should turn their focus on which candidate for governor will commit to a new and innovative regional economic development plan. The discussions in recent months about the challenges facing the Southwest Virginia region, promoted in The Roanoke Times, is perhaps the most important question in the coming election. For across America there is growing concern about the lack of growth and actual recession or depression of rural economies and Virginia has a major case in point which could serve as a state and national model.

Gilley, a retired university president, once served as Virginia’s Secretary of Education and on national boards related to research and economic development.

The Friday Read


A SON’S RACE TO GIVE HIS DYING FATHER ARTIFICIAL IMMORTALITY

By JAMES VLAHOS, Wired

When James Vlahos learned that his father, John, was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer, he set out to save his dad’s memories by programming them into a chatbot that he could pull up from his phone. The chatbot, nicknamed “Dadbot,” could emulate John in text conversations, bringing up various stories from John’s life. Vlahos wrote about his experience in Wired, and recounts the first time his mother interacted with “Dadbot”: