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June 9, 2023
Top of the News

Document shows FBI prefers Virginia for its new headquarters


The FBI, in a document obtained exclusively by WUSA9, is laying out specific details of why it believes proximity to Quantico, Virginia, should play an outsized role in determining the future location of its headquarters. For more than a decade, government leaders have sought to move the FBI’s workforce out of the crumbling J Edgar Hoover building in downtown D.C. and into a new, state-of-the-art facility in the DMV’s suburbs. Political leaders on both sides of the Potomac River have engaged in an arduous tug-of-war to try and land the project, estimated to cost over $2 billion.

After redistricting, Democrats sensing rare opportunity in Amherst

By JUSTIN FAULCONER, Amherst New Era Progress

Some local Democrats during a recent campaign event in Amherst expressed optimism in achieving a political feat this November that hasn’t been done in nearly three decades: turning the county blue for representation in the Virginia Senate. Not since the late Elliot Schewel, who formerly represented Amherst County when it was part of the 23rd Senate District, has the county had a Democratic state senator. Upon the election of Sen. Steve Newman in 1995 to that seat, the county has handily been Republican ...

Pat Robertson, Virginia broadcaster who helped make religion central to GOP politics, dies at 93

By BEN FINLEY, Associated Press

Pat Robertson, a religious broadcaster who turned a tiny Virginia station into the global Christian Broadcasting Network, tried a run for president and helped make religion central to Republican Party politics in America through his Christian Coalition, has died. He was 93. Robertson’s death Thursday was confirmed in an email by his broadcasting network. No cause was given. Robertson’s enterprises also included Regent University, an evangelical Christian school in Virginia Beach.

Lawmakers talk gun policy after post-graduation shooting

By MICHAEL MARTZ, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Virginia lawmakers — in Congress and the General Assembly — vowed on Thursday to intensify their efforts to reduce gun violence after a gunman killed two people and wounded five others after graduation ceremonies for Huguenot High School this week outside of the Altria Theater in Richmond. Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., included a ban on assault rifles as well as gun safety measures that Virginia already adopted in a new legislative package aimed at helping the country recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on mental health, particularly among young people traumatized by shootings in schools and other public places once considered safe from mass violence.

Chesterfield School Board votes to give next board 60% salary increase

By ANNA BRYSON, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

The Chesterfield County School Board has voted to give its next board members a 60% raise, effective Jan. 1 after a new board is elected. Current board members receive a $17,549 annual salary, and starting Jan. 1 the board’s five members will each receive a $28,000 salary, with the chair receiving an additional $2,000. Its members will be among the highest paid in the state.

Bristol casino will house PBS Appalachia, nation’s first all-digital public TV station

By SUSAN CAMERON, Cardinal News

The studio for the nation’s first all-digital public TV station, dedicated to covering Southwest Virginia, will be built at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Bristol rather than in Abingdon, as originally announced nearly a year ago. The partnership was announced Thursday, two days before the official launch of PBS Appalachia Virginia, which can be watched through local cable providers, live streamed via the website or the mobile app PBS Appalachia Virginia, and accessed on demand at or through the mobile app.

Friday Read Bothered by pot smell, she sued her neighbor to stop smoking — and won

By MERYL KORNFIELD AND KIM BELLWARE, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

A D.C. judge has ruled that a man who smokes medical marijuana in his apartment must stop after a neighbor complained that the odor from his marijuana crept into her home and caused a nuisance. Judge Ebony Scott ruled late Monday that while Josefa Ippolito-Shepherd could not prove she is entitled to damages, she successfully made the case that the smell is a private nuisance, and Scott ordered Thomas Cackett to stop smoking. Scott said that Cackett is licensed to buy marijuana but “he does not possess a license to disrupt the full use and enjoyment of one’s land.” … The decision is believed to be the first of its kind and could open the door to additional legal action.

The Full Report
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VPAP Visual Key Primary: Ayala vs. Carroll Foy

The Virginia Public Access Project

In 2017, Democrats Hala Ayala and Jennifer Carroll Foy rode the post-Trump blue wave to the Virginia House of Delegates. Within four years, they were gone after each fell short in bids for higher office (Carroll Foy lost a bid for the Democratic nomination for governor; Ayala won the Democratic nod for lieutenant governor but lost the general election). Now they are attempting a political comeback, but this time they face each other in a newly drawn state Senate district straddling the Prince William/Fairfax line. Ayala is the more establishment Democrat who has received 13% of her donations from businesses that lobby the state legislature. Carroll Foy reports $0 from business lobbyists.


Independent candidate announces in Senate District 28

Madison Eagle

Elizabeth Melson has announced her candidacy for the Senate race. Melson filed a Statement of Organization with Virginia Department of Elections on April 25. She intends to compete as an Independent candidate in the District 28 senate race. The district includes Culpeper, Orange, Greene, Madison and Rappahannock counties as well as parts of Fauquier and Spotsylvania. Melson is endorsed by the Virginia Hemp Coalition, scored 10/10 on the Virginia Good Governance Scorecard, and has signed the Big Money Out pledge ...

McClellan rallies for Creigh Deeds in C’ville

By JASON ARMESTO, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

U.S. Rep. Jennifer McClellan wants her fellow Virginia Democrat Creigh Deeds to remain in the state Senate. “I think you were my first 2023 endorsement,” McClellan said to Deeds at a rally in Ix Art Park on Thursday afternoon. Standing in front of a crowd of about 25 people, McClellan touted Deeds’ record and argued he knows how to get things done. “He sees a problem, and he says, ‘What do we need to do to fix it?’

‘That’s a campaign event’: Norris-organized concert raises eyebrows

By JASON ARMESTO, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

Dave Norris wants you to know that the free concert his campaign is organizing on Saturday is not a political fundraiser. But the other campaigns in the Democratic primary race for the 54th District seat in the House of Delegates aren’t so sure. The Primary Voice Music Festival at the Jefferson Theater in downtown Charlottesville is billed on Norris’ website as a way “to remind everyone to vote in the upcoming Democratic Primary.”

Lawsuit against Buckingham Electoral Board dismissed

By BRIAN CARLTON, Farmville Herald (Paywall)

The lawsuit against the Buckingham County Electoral Board has been dismissed. Speaking after the court hearing on Tuesday, June 6, Board of Supervisors member Jordan Miles said the current interim registrar provided most of what he had asked for. But in some cases, that meant he received nothing, as they didn’t have the requested files on record. “While the responses to my requests could be considered insufficient, I want to put this suit behind us to afford the Electoral Board the time and energy it needs to be fully prepared for the November election ...


Loudoun judge’s contempt conviction of Fredericksburg woman overturned by Court of Appeals

By EVAN GOODENOW, Loudoun Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

A Loudoun Circuit Court judge's contempt of court conviction of an alleged domestic violence victim in 2021 that sparked outrage has been reversed by the Virginia Court of Appeals. The 2-1 ruling by the three-judge panel on June 6 found Judge James P. Fisher violated Fredericksburg resident Katie Orndoff's rights when he jailed her for contempt on Sept. 7, 2021. The jailing came after Orndoff admitted to smoking marijuana before testifying against her ex-boyfriend James Paige Phillips. A mistrial was declared, but Phillips was convicted in 2022 of the third or subsequent offense of assault and battery.


Rep. Bob Good explains House revolt against GOP leadership


A battle is brewing in Washington after several Republican members of the House revolted against GOP leadership. Eleven House Conservatives blew up an effort to advance several bills by voting them down alongside Democrats. The bills were related to gas stoves and regulatory reform. Some speculate the GOP lawmakers were trying to send a message to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy after he cut a deal with President Biden to avoid a debt default. Many Republicans accuse McCarthy of folding to Biden and that the deal promotes more frivolous spending. One of those 11 lawmakers serves Central Virginia.


Gas compressor would boost Petersburg pollution, environmentalists say

By DAVE RESS, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

A plan for 55 miles of natural gas pipelines through western Tidewater, boosted by an expanded compressor station just outside Petersburg and another in Emporia, would make bad air quality in two neighborhoods even worse, a filing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission says. “Communities in this part of the state are being hit on every side — rising sea levels and increased flooding. Dealing with the impacts of past bad projects and pollution,” said Greg Buppert, senior attorney and leader of Southern Environmental Law Center’s regional gas team.

Big changes afoot for roads and rails around Amazon's HQ2

By DREW HANSEN, Washington Business Journal (Subscription required for some articles)

With thousands of Amazon employees soon to stream into the company’s new offices in Pentagon City — for at least a few days a week, anyway — the roads and rails promise to get more crowded. Several projects in the National Landing area received boosts in funding thanks to the state’s agreement with Amazon. All are in different stages, some still years off, others already completed.

Amazon Has Spent $52 Billion and Counting on Northern Virginia Data Centers


Amazon has invested nearly $52 billion in data centers in Virginia since 2011, according to a new report from the company. The figure includes capital investments as well as operating expenses for the tech behemoth’s data centers in the commonwealth. … The $52 billion does not include an expected $35 billion in future investments through 2040, which the company announced in January. “Our overall story began right here in Virginia, which was home of our first data center region, in 2006,” said Shannon Kellogg, the vice president for public policy in the Americas for Amazon Web Services, who led a panel discussion about the report at a company conference on Wednesday.

HQ2’s second phase expected to break ground in 2024, Amazon says

By DAN BRENDEL, Washington Business Journal (Subscription required for some articles)

The first phase of Amazon’s heralded HQ2, Metropolitan Park, which is now officially opening its doors, is a noteworthy milestone in its own right. But that opening represents only the lesser tip of the total HQ2 iceberg. Met Park has two 22-story towers that together weigh in at some 2.1 million square feet. PenPlace, HQ2’s second phase that promises to be even bigger, has been paused for the past few months as Inc. evaluates its needs and next steps — but, apparently, not for much longer.

PBS Appalachia to build TV studio at Bristol Hard Rock

Bristol Herald Courier (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)

PBS Appalachia Virginia plans launch of the nation’s first all-digital public television station dedicated to Southwest Virginia, in conjunction with the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Bristol. In partnership with Hard Rock International, PBS Appalachia plans to construct a state-of-the-art television studio in the future Hard Rock Bristol location, according to a written statement.

FBI response bolsters Va. argument for new HQ, rankling Md. leaders

By LATESHIA BEACHUM, ERIN COX, GREGORY S. SCHNEIDER AND LAURA VOZZELLA, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

The FBI in a letter this month underscored the value of locating its planned suburban headquarters close to existing Virginia facilities as a decision nears in an at-times acrimonious, decade-long fight between the commonwealth and Maryland to lure the agency. “Distances matter when surging to a command post,” the bureau stated in response to questions that Maryland leaders lodged with the federal government in March. “From a time-savings and environmental perspective, it is meaningfully important to limit the need for the FBI workforce to spend several hours in a car commuting back and forth between locations.”

Coal town leaders from across nation attend Bristol event

By DAVID MCGEE, Bristol Herald Courier (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)

Southwest Virginia rolled out the red carpet Wednesday for a delegation of officials from various struggling U.S. coal communities eager to learn more about economic diversification efforts. The Birthplace of Country Music Museum hosted a reception for the Coal Communities Commitment Coalition, a leadership and peer-learning network of 20 local leaders who come to learn about different economic diversification strategies. Several Virginia state officials were also on hand, eager to show off some Southwest Virginia success stories.


After three-year closure for repairs, Blue Ridge Parkway reopens south of U.S. 220 in Roanoke County

By JEFF STURGEON, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Motorists drove for the first time in years on the Blue Ridge Parkway between Bent Mountain and U.S. 220 in Clearbrook Thursday morning after the federal government concluded a lengthy landslide repair and reopened the scenic highway. “We love, love, love the parkway,” exclaimed Dennis Humston of Bent Mountain, pausing at Adney Gap entrance in Bent Mountain with his wife Lorna, who was driving. The National Park Service announced the reopening in an emailed press release shortly before 9 a.m.

Loudoun Supervisors Debate Local Metro Rules

By RENSS GREENE, Loudoun Now

County supervisors on Tuesday mulled over whether offenses like skipping the fare or going barefoot on Metro in Loudoun should be criminal offenses. With Metrorail reaching serving jurisdictions across the region, each must adopt its own ordinances on conduct on the train for local law enforcement and Metro police to adopt.

As ridership grows, Metro begins to lay out plan to secure funding

By JUSTIN GEORGE, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Metro leaders are preparing a financial presentation to take to elected officials around the Washington region, a first step in trying to secure help to close a more than $700 million budget gap projected for next year, as well as similarly sized shortfalls in subsequent years. The projected deficit in the 2025 fiscal year was created as commuters shifted to telework during the pandemic. With a rail car shortage mostly resolved, the financial problems are Metro’s most pressing concern as nearly $2.4 billion in pandemic relief aid begins to run dry. The last $561 million of federal aid will be spent in the next fiscal year, which starts July 1.

State Police: Residents ‘should be alarmed’ by interstate shootings in Hampton Roads


Virginia State Police are classifying the number of interstate shootings in Hampton Roads this year as alarming as it pursues leads to solve them. From Jan. 1 through Wednesday, there have been 18 shootings between vehicles on the region’s interstates, six resulting in injuries, according to State Police. No one has died as a result of interstate shootings.


Pat Robertson, televangelist who mixed politics and religion, dies at 93

By MATT SCHUDEL, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

The Rev. Pat Robertson, a Baptist preacher who attracted a worldwide following as a religious broadcaster, built a business empire from his headquarters in Virginia Beach and helped create a powerful political movement of religious conservatives as a founder of the Christian Coalition, died June 8 at his home in Virginia Beach. He was 93. The Christian Broadcasting Network, which Rev. Robertson founded, announced the death but did not provide a cause. Rev. Robertson, the son of a long-serving U.S. congressman and senator from Virginia, was among the first evangelists to take religion out of the realm of private belief and into the secular arena of politics. In large part through his influence, the Christian right became a potent force in American politics and culture.

What’s next for the court cases challenging Mountain Valley Pipeline?

By CHARLIE PAULLIN, Virginia Mercury

Although the Mountain Valley Pipeline won fast-tracked approval from Congress last week, environmental groups are still exploring possible legal challenges to prevent it from moving forward. President Joe Biden on Saturday signed the Fiscal Responsibility Act, which includes a measure that directs federal agencies to approve permits within 21 days for the 303-mile natural gas pipeline that will supply gas from the Marcellus and Utica shale fields to southern Virginia.

Climate advocates protest Mountain Valley Pipeline outside White House

By ELLIE SILVERMAN, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Danger Winslow held a microphone in his hand — the stand too tall for the 7-year-old to reach — and told hundreds of people why he returned to the nation’s capital to protest. He was afraid that the Mountain Valley Pipeline project would pollute crucial waterways and cause irreversible damage to fragile resources. “I’m talking to you, Joe Biden,” he said, tears welling in his eyes as he stood next to his mom. “Do better.” Danger, of Asheville, N.C., was among hundreds of protesters who gathered in front of the White House on Thursday and urged President Biden to oppose the Mountain Valley Pipeline — and any fossil fuel projects — and to declare a climate emergency.

Virginia providers ask federal judge to shield abortion pill access


A federal judge in Charlottesville heard arguments Thursday from attorneys representing abortion providers in three states asking the court to shield them from further restrictions on the abortion drug mifepristone. The plaintiffs — which include Whole Woman’s Health Alliance in Charlottesville and Whole Woman’s Health in Alexandria, as well as providers from Montana and Kansas — sued the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in May to ease existing restrictions on the drug. Providers say the FDA’s regulations are unnecessary and have been used by anti-abortion groups to argue the drug is dangerous.

N.C. General Assembly approves online sports betting; governor expected to sign bill


State lawmakers gave final approval Wednesday to legalizing sports gambling on mobile devices and at select in-person sports venues across North Carolina, paving the way for betting to begin next year. Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, still must sign the bill into law, but he has expressed support for sports wagering throughout the lengthy legislative process.


Fauquier candidate says he attended Jan. 6 rally but stayed outside of Capitol building

By SHANNON CLARK, Fauquier Times

With less than two weeks until the June 20 primary, two candidates vying for the Republican nomination in the Marshall District supervisor’s race – Arthur “Regan” Washer and James A. “Jim” Mitchell -- sat down with the Fauquier Times to share their views on data centers and other commercial development as well as funding for the county’s school division and fire departments. Washer, 31, also acknowledged he attended the Jan. 6, 2021, rally that preceded the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. He said he remained outside the building.

Williamsburg considers forming independent school system

By SIAN WILKERSON, Virginia Gazette (Metered Paywall - 4 Articles per Month)

The city of Williamsburg is exploring the idea of severing its longstanding agreement with James City County to operate a joint school system. On Thursday, Williamsburg City Council voted unanimously to proceed with a feasibility study that “would consider and explore the possibility of forming an independent city of Williamsburg public school division,” said City Manager Andrew Trivette. Currently, the city is in the second year of a five-year contract for the joint operation of the Williamsburg-James City County school system.

King William board to vote on King and Queen’s request to leave regional library system

By DAVID MACAULAY, Tidewater Review

The King William Board of Supervisors will vote June 12 on neighboring King and Queen County’s request for an early withdrawal from the Pamunkey Regional Library system. King and Queen Administrator Vivian Seay blamed an increasingly difficult financial situation on the decision to leave the system when she appeared before the King William board on April 24. King and Queen can pull out early if the other counties in the system agree and shoulder additional costs.

Northumberland in uproar over proposed 23% tax increase

By TYLER PALICIA, Northern Neck News

Last week, the Northumberland County Board of Supervisors held a public hearing in which roughly 30 citizens spoke against the Board’s proposal to increase the real estate tax rate by 23% for the 2024 fiscal year. Concerned citizens, who filled every available seat in the meeting room, cheered for their neighbors who called for the County to exercise greater fiscal responsibility and transparency. “We repeatedly look for clarity and there isn’t any, and it’s long past due for the schools and the county to seek cost-saving efforts,” said Maurice Johnson of Reedville.

Bedford Co. School Board passes controversial gender identity policy


The Bedford County School Board voted yes to a policy prohibiting teachers from talking to students about sexual orientation and gender identity. … Before voting on the policies, many members of the public and students of Bedford County Schools spoke up during public comment about how they felt about this policy.

Graham hired as Pulaski Co. superintendent two days after Radford resignation

By YANN RANAIVO, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Rob Graham was named the next superintendent of the Pulaski County school system Thursday, just two days after an emotional meeting in Radford where the school board voted to accept his resignation. Graham start on July 1. He will succeed Kevin Siers, who was recently named the district chief for Franklin County schools. The Pulaski County School Board approved Graham’s hiring on a 5-0 vote and a few members voiced praise for their new superintendent. The announcement was met with resounding applause from the crowd ...



In Virginia Beach and across the nation, Robertson’s influence was undeniable

Virginian-Pilot Editorial (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Rev. Pat Robertson was one of a kind, a towering figure in American life. His death on Thursday at age 93 will elicit an outpouring of remembrance that is likely to rival that of any world leader. There were other young men who followed their faith into a lifelong career, and there are plenty of preachers who amplified their message using the most advanced media available. There are people who have founded institutions of higher education based on their principles and beliefs, recognizing the value and importance of guiding the next generation of leaders. There are many successful businessmen who oversee sprawling and impressive portfolios … Though not without his controversies, Robertson was all of these things and much more ...


Yancey: Pat Robertson created a legacy – and institutions – that outlive him

By DWAYNE YANCEY, Cardinal News

We remember presidents, even the ones who served briefly or weakly. Sometimes, though, unsuccessful candidates for the presidency have had a lasting impact on the country as well. Henry Clay was one of the most influential politicians of his era, brokering two major compromises that delayed the Civil War for decades. Williams Jennings Bryan animated the populist movement of the late 1800s and, according to one biographer, helped “transform his party from a bulwark of laissez-faire to the citadel of liberalism we identify with Franklin D. Roosevelt and his ideological descendants.” Al Smith introduced Americans to the notion that a Catholic could run for our highest office. And then there was Pat Robertson.


Edwards: Virginia’s budget must prioritize higher education and public schools

By JOHN EDWARDS, published in Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Virginia has excellent public universities, but tuition and other fees are increasing at our state-supported colleges and universities for in-state students. The fact is Virginia does not fund its universities as much as other states do. Almost 40 other states provide a higher level of funding. The funding policy set forth in state code provides that: “67 percent of an institution’s cost of education for Virginia students is funded from the state general fund.” In-state students are responsible for the remaining third from scholarships or their own funds.

Edwards is a Democrat from Roanoke representing parts of the Roanoke and New River valleys in the current 21st Senate District of Virginia.

Bennett: An outdated tax hurts truckers, and the environment

By DALE BENNETT, published in Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

When the United States entered World War I more than a century ago, the trucking industry played an indispensable role in two ways: First, the military relied heavily on these then-novel motorized vehicles to transport troops and supplies. Second, to help fund the massive cost of mobilization, Congress levied an excise tax on heavy-duty trucks. With the support of trucking, America won the Great War, but that same truck tax remains on the books to this day. It not only has outlived its original purpose, but also has since quadrupled to 12%, becoming the largest excise tax on any product in our economy today.

Bennett is president and CEO of the Virginia Trucking Association.

Rozell: Youngkin should stop the tease — and run

By MARK J. ROZELL, published in Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Is he in, or not? Speculation about whether Gov. Glenn Youngkin will enter the Republican nomination for president persists, fueled by his executive actions, numerous conservative cable news appearances and national campaigning for GOP candidates. But in April, the governor appeared to have ruled out a presidential run when he said he would spend 2023 focused on helping Virginia Republicans keep their House of Delegates majority and breaking the Democrats’ hold on the state Senate, not running for president. “Listen, I didn’t write a book, and I’m not in Iowa or New Hampshire or South Carolina,” he told reporters at the time.

Rozell is the dean of the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University.