A compilation of newspaper articles
about state government and politics.
VaNews - February 7, 2013
Today's Sponsor: Virginia Association of Realtors®
Thank you Members of the General Assembly for welcoming Virginia Realtors on their annual visit to Capitol Square!
Compiled by Sue Lindsey
The ad begins with the sound of a horn in a harbor and a woman's voice touting Hampton Roads' 400-year maritime history, how the "water defines us," and the port's role as the region's gateway to the world. "But, sadly, the future of the Port of Virginia is at risk due to bureaucrats and politicians in Richmond," it states. "Support Gov. McDonnell's efforts to run the Port of Virginia like a business, by business," the ad concludes.
Despite what morning drivers might think as they pound their steering wheels in frustration on the Capital Beltway, there may be worse cities for commuting. A new study from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute ranked the Washington area as the worst in the U.S. for traffic congestion, with the average commuter losing 67 hours in delays a year. This is the fourth year in a row in which Washington sits atop the study's ranking. Other reports, however, have put Washington lower in their rankings.
University President Teresa Sullivan spoke about the University’s strategic planning process at Wednesday’s Faculty Senate meeting, where she addressed what it meant to be a public university. “I would like to see us a little more aspirational,” Sullivan said. “When you’re already at the top of a lot of ratings, that can be hard. But [we have to ask], how can we still be the school everyone still wants to be at in five years? Ten years?”
The Roanoke Valley could become "the mecca for technology folks" if it adopts the recommendations of a technology task force that were announced Wednesday. The Roanoke Valley Fiber/Broadband Task Force's eight-month study urged the formation of a multijurisdiction, public-private broadband authority to implement the recommendations.
Want a booking photo in a high profile case? Prepare to pay $24. Want to see a copy of a report clearing officers who killed an unarmed teenager? Arlington County Police officials won’t release the document, and they’ll send an invoice for $31.16 to cover the half an hour of staff time to summarize the secret report. How about copies of all the Freedom of Information Act requests from a given year? Prepare to pay $573.25.
Last week, 15 Fairfax County employees took a course in mental health first aid. None of them has a job that would seem to call for such training, but as more mental health care is provided in settings other than hospitals, people who work in local government say they are more likely to encounter people in need of mental health services. So Fairfax, the region’s most populous jurisdiction, is moving to provide basic mental health training to more employees, particularly those who deal with the public every day.
Prince William County Public Schools Superintendent Steven L. Walts has proposed an $893.6 million operating budget for fiscal 2014 that he said "squeezes limited resources" to provide for the school division's students and staff. The proposed budget, presented to the Prince William County School Board Wedesday night, represents a 3.2 percent increase over the budget for the current fiscal year.
Loudoun's Board of Supervisors will debate several recommendations from the year old Government Reform Commission Feb. 6, including a call for a more transparent Loudoun Water and examining the structure of the county's fire and rescue commission. The all-Republican Board of Supervisors will also consider the county's cost for the government-funded Adult Day Care providers in the county.
Privatizing government is a popular sound bite for many politicians, but outsourcing some aspects of Loudoun County operations to private companies is a lot easier said than done. After months spent reviewing the issue, the Board of Supervisors-appointed Government Reform Commission hasn’t identified specific programs that should be turned over to contractors. Instead, its recommendation highlights areas of county government that could be pursued for privatization.
Loudoun County Administrator Tim Hemstreet presented his bosses, the county's nine-member Board of Supervisors, with a more than $1.8 billion spending plan for fiscal 2014 Wednesday evening – a budget that keeps homeowners' tax bills equal and maintains the county's core government series, Hemstreet said. Following guidance from the board, the equalized tax rate will be advertised as $1.23 per $100 in assessed value.
While the Loudoun Board of Supervisors—and the public—was presented with an FY14 budget reflecting a tax rate of $1.23 per $100 of assessed value, a level that was expected to keep the average homeowners tax bill flat next year, revenue information received by the county last night could bump the equalized tax rate down by two or three cents.
After nearly two years without a permanent leader, the city announced on Tuesday that a new director has been picked to head the Richmond Department of Animal Care and Control. Christie Chipps Peters, now executive director of the Portsmouth Humane Society, will start in Richmond on Feb. 25. Peters, 34, who the city says was hired after a nationwide search, will be the first director of the department since it was made an independent agency last year by the City Council. Her salary will be $105,000, city spokesman Mike Wallace said.
Henrico County’s funding for capital projects has shrunk to a 52-year low, according to County Manager John A. Vithoulkas. In a Jan. 29 letter that lays out the proposed budget for infrastructure spending for the coming year, Vithoulkas noted that the $6.8 million capital projects fund for fiscal 2013-14 is smaller than the same fund for fiscal 1961-62. “That really is an indication of the fiscal situation that we find ourselves in,” Vithoulkas said in an interview. Henrico’s total budget for capital projects for next year stands at about $30.2 million, a sharp drop from the $147 million in the approved budget for fiscal 2012-13.
Could the joint Richmond-Chesterfield County project to revitalize a nearly 5-mile stretch of Hull Street Road be a sign of similar partnerships on the horizon? One member of the Chesterfield Board of Supervisors believes so.
A group led by a Virginia Beach man is exploring building a minor league ballpark in the city. James "Jas" Short said the idea is to build a 6,000-seat stadium for an expansion team in the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball Clubs, an independent league whose eight teams are not affiliated with Major League Baseball.