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VaNews
September 16, 2021
Top of the News

Virginia Race Tests Political Messaging Ahead of 2022 Midterms

By EMILY WILKINS, Bloomberg

The competitive Virginia governor race is serving as a testing ground for midterm congressional campaign messaging, as both parties put together strategies to sway voters next year. Across the country from California’s recall election, Virginia’s airwaves have been filled ahead of the November election with ads from Republican Glenn Youngkin and Democrat Terry McAuliffe on new state laws limiting abortion, a brewing debate on hiking federal taxes for the wealthy, how to address Covid-19, and supporting law enforcement. To what extent those issues and the way they’re communicated move the needle in polling, fundraising, and, ultimately, votes will inform candidates, operatives, and consultants as they prepare for 2022, when both chambers of Congress are in play.


Va. Redistricting Commission approves neutrality rule, deadlocks on use of race

By GRAHAM MOOMAW, Virginia Mercury

The Virginia Redistricting Commission voted Wednesday to formally instruct its map-drawers not to look at political data or information showing where incumbents live as they draw new General Assembly and congressional districts. The bipartisan panel’s unanimous vote represents a formal commitment to the fairer process voters envisioned when they approved the commission last year. It’s also something of a gamble, resting on hopes that General Assembly members will vote for neutral maps even if they jeopardize the careers of individual legislators.


Prince William School Board meeting cleared due to unruly crowd

By JARED FORETEK, Inside NOVA

A chaotic Wednesday night at the Prince William County School Board meeting ended with the board unanimously approving a vaccine or testing mandate for all division staff as well significant changes to its citizen comment procedures. For a time, it was unclear if the meeting’s public session would be held. School security and Prince William County police were enforcing a strict 53-person capacity for the public inside the board meeting room, with dozens more people outside trying to get in.


Lynchburg leaders detail ‘dire’ impacts from surge in COVID-19

By RACHEL MAHONEY, News & Advance (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)

Lynchburg city officials joined with area health leaders Wednesday to detail how surges in local COVID-19 cases are taking a toll on the community, and to implore people get vaccinated and wear masks. The rate of reported daily new cases in and around Lynchburg has been at an all-time high, surpassing the previous midwinter peak in the pandemic consistently for about a week, and it has recently made the area the most infectious part of the state.


Substitute teacher shortage forces Southwest Virginia schools to go virtual

By ANNIE SCHROEDER, WSLS-TV

As school divisions across the country work to keep students in school, a teacher shortage is making it hard for some districts in our area to keep classrooms full. School divisions across Southwest Virginia are struggling to keep students in school because of a shortage of staff members, including Pulaski County.


30 Richmond employees are on unpaid leave for not complying with vaccine mandate

By C. SUAREZ ROJAS, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

About 10% of Richmond city employees will not be required to get a COVID-19 vaccine after applying for an exemption to the city’s shot mandate. With an Oct. 1 vaccination deadline looming for the city’s approximately 3,600 employees, about three quarters of its workforce is now fully vaccinated. While nearly all other employees have received their first dose or been excused for a medical or religious reason, 30 are currently on unpaid leave for not complying with the order.


A historically Black town stood in the way of a pipeline – so developers claimed it was mostly white

By BEN PAVIOUR, WCVE-FM

As fracked gas fields in West Virginia boomed over the past decade, energy companies jumped at the chance to build massive new pipelines to move the fuel to neighboring East Coast markets. The 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline would have been the crown jewel. But Union Hill, Virginia--a community settled by formerly enslaved people after the Civil War on farm land they’d once tilled--stood in the way.

The Full Report
47 articles, 28 publications

FROM VPAP

From VPAP Now Live: September Campaign Finance Disclosures

The Virginia Public Access Project

VPAP has posted campaign finance disclosures that cover activity during July and August. You'll find quick links to candidates for Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, the House of Delegates and local offices on the November ballot. For each committee, there are top level numbers and a sortable list of contributions and expenses.


VPAP Visual Youngkin, McAuliffe Demolish Fundraising Records

The Virginia Public Access Project

Republican Glenn Youngkin and Democrat Terry McAuliffe have raised a combined $66 million through August, more than double the previous record at this point in a Virginia gubernatorial campaign. This visual compares the amount raised by the two major party nominees in each cycle dating back to 2001.


VPAP Visual Statewide Fundraising, Period-by-Period

The Virginia Public Access Project

This interactive visual ranks money raised by candidates for Governor, Lt. Governor and Attorney General. The visual breaks down money raised in three distinct periods: last year, the first half of this year and the most recent filing period covering July and August.


From VPAP Maps, Timeline of COVID-19 in Virginia

The Virginia Public Access Project

Our Virginia COVID-19 dashboard features VDH vaccination data, including what percentage of the state's population has received at least one shot and the number of vaccinations per 100,000 residents in each city and county. Our dashboard also makes it easy to track the latest available data for tests performed, infections, deaths and hospital capacity. There's also a filter for each city and county, plus an exclusive per-capita ZIP Code map. Updated each morning around 10:30 a.m.

STATE ELECTIONS

McAuliffe and Youngkin will go head-to-head in first debate Thursday

By MEL LEONOR, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin, the leading contenders to become Virginia’s next governor, will face each other for the first of two scheduled debates Thursday night in Southwest Virginia. The COVID-19 pandemic — which has resurged in Virginia due to the delta variant and lagging vaccinations — will serve as the backdrop for the debate Thursday, when both candidates are expected to defend competing visions for managing the crisis.


Herring slams Miyares' attack ad tying him to parole board decisions

By PATRICK WILSON, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

The first TV ad for the Republican candidate for attorney general repeats an inaccurate claim about Democratic incumbent Mark Herring’s relationship to the Virginia Parole Board. The parole board’s members are appointed by the governor and consider parole for people convicted of crimes before 1995, when Virginia abolished parole. In his TV ad, GOP candidate Jason Miyares says that “Herring allows the parole board to release violent criminals, without even informing their victims.”


At Forum, Delegates Coalesce Around Transit, Justice Reform, Campaign Financing

By MATT BLITZ, ArlNow

Local Virginia House of Delegates candidates had similar things to say on hot topics facing the Commonwealth, during a forum hosted by the Arlington County Civic Federation. While not all candidates were present, those who were in attendance, regardless of political affiliation, voiced support for rail transit and criminal justice reform while decrying the influence of corporate money in state politics.

STATE GOVERNMENT

Virginia school districts can resume fully virtual learning but only in these circumstances

By JACKIE DEFUSCO, WRIC-TV

Virginia school districts still have some power to halt in-person learning but only temporarily when transmission is high. The Virginia Department of Health is currently exploring how to further define what that looks like to aid in decision-making, according to one top official.


Appalachian Power asks state for another rate increase

By LAURENCE HAMMACK, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Appalachian Power Co. is seeking another rate increase, this one to recover the rising prices of coal and natural gas, which generate more than 80% of its electricity. If approved by the State Corporation Commission, the increase will add another $3 to the monthly bill of an average residential customer. Combined with other increases over the past year — either approved by the SCC or pending before the agency or the courts — the bill for a home that consumes 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per month could go up by a total of $25.

CONGRESS

Va. relatives of front-line doctor who died by suicide press House to pass physicians’ mental health

By MEAGAN FLYNN, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Before she died in April 2020, one of the last academic articles Lorna Breen co-authored focused on the “alarming prevalence” of burnout among emergency-department clinicians, and what was to be done about it. But if Breen, an emergency-department physician at NewYork-Presbyterian Allen Hospital, was ever experiencing burnout herself, she didn’t show it, her family says. She had no history of mental illness, no bouts of anxiety or depression, and that was what made what happened to Breen feel so implausible after the pandemic hit, said her sister, Jennifer Feist.


Flooding on military bases — and polluted stormwater runoff — would be tackled in bill backed by Rep. Bobby Scott

By DAVE RESS, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)

Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, D-Newport News, wants the military to do more to address flooding and the pollution that stormwater runoff brings to Chesapeake Bay. He introduced a bill authorizing a new Department of Defense stormwater management program, with bipartisan support. “We have a responsibility to reduce base flooding to support military resilience as well to reduce stormwater runoff into the waterways that define our way of life here in Hampton Roads,” Scott said.


Virginia's senators ask White House to be more forthcoming with info about Afghan refugees

By BILL ATKINSON, Progress Index (Metered paywall - 10 articles a month)

Virginia's senators have asked the Biden administration for more transparency in sharing information about Afghan refugees being temporarily sheltered at some of the commonwealth;s military installations, including Forts Lee and Pickett. In a letter to the Department of Homeland Security, Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine expressed concerns over what they called "insufficient coordination and communication" between the White House and localities that surround the posts where the refugees are being housed.

ECONOMY/BUSINESS

Tentative contract deal reached between striking union members and Mondelez

By GREGORY J. GILLIGAN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

Striking union workers at Mondelez International Inc.’s bakery plants, including one in eastern Henrico County, have reached a tentative contract agreement with the company that could end the walkout. Mondelez, one of the world’s largest snack companies, and the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union issued separate statements Wednesday afternoon saying that the bargaining committee had reached a tentative deal.


Supervisors Hear Last Push on Short Hill Cell Tower Plan

By RENSS GREENE, Loudoun Now

After the penultimate meeting on a proposal by AT&T to build a 125-foot monopole on top of Short Hill Mountain, it remains unclear what supervisors will decide. A public hearing on Wednesday night brought out one last push from area residents in opposition, along with a renewed effort from AT&T to secure approval. The latter included meetings with county supervisors, advertising campaigns, lobbying by state Sen. John J. Bell (D-13), and lining up support from business organizations and private citizens.

HIGHER EDUCATION

Virginia Tech professor apologizes for being White, straight cisgendered female

By JON BROWN, Fox News

A professor at Virginia Tech University issued a syllabus to her students in which she apologized to students of color for being a White, straight cisgendered female. Dr. Crystal Duncan Lane, who teaches human development and family science, also reportedly informed students in her Human Development 1134 class that racism is innate within "the reality of white people," according to Campus Reform.


Few masks seen at football games, except on members of the Cavalier Marching Band

By ZACH ROSENTHAL, Cavalier Daily

More than 36,000 people packed Scott Stadium to watch the Cavaliers’ first two football games against William & Mary and Illinois on Sept. 6 and Saturday, respectively. The packed stadium contrasted a surge in cases nationwide and at the University, with new cases among students averaging 15 per day in advance of the first game and 14 per day before the second. Some on social media expressed skepticism about allowing spectators at the game given the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic, but students packed the stands — many for the first time ever.


Amid indoor mask mandate, U.Va. allows professors to lecture without masks behind plexiglass

By SYDNEY HERZOG, Cavalier Daily

With research indicating that plexiglass screens may not be effective as preventing COVID-19 transmission, students and professors have varying opinions regarding a University policy that permits instructors to lecture without a mask when standing behind a plexiglass barrier. Most classes returned to in-person instruction this fall with a University mandate in place that requires all students and faculty to wear masks inside any building on Grounds.


University faces dramatic increase in academic misconduct over the pandemic

By DAVINA EFETIE, Commonwealth Times

VCU experienced a dramatic increase in the number of academic misconducts reported during the 2020-21 academic year, according to an NPR article. Director of Student Conduct and Academic Integrity Karen Belanger said in an interview that VCU reported 364 cases of academic misconduct in the 2019-20 year and 1,077 in the 2020-21 school year. This increase came as a result of universities having to move lectures online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the article.

CORONAVIRUS

As COVID-19 Cases Rise, Lynchburg-area Officials Plead For Community Action

By DAVID SEIDEL, WVTF-FM

Health officials in the Lynchburg area are warning of increasing COVID-19 case and death rates. Some localities in the Central Virginia health District are hitting positivity rates of 25% and daily case averages that are the highest since the start of the pandemic. At Centra Health, Dr. Chris Lewis said 101 COVID patients Wednesday pushed Lynchburg General Hospital to 106% capacity. "What that means is we have more patients that need hospital beds than we have standard hospital beds for them," Lewis explained.


Henry County is on a streak of COVID-19 deaths

By STEVEN DOYLE, Martinsville Bulletin (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Henry County has lost its fifth resident this week and its sixth this month to the surge of COVID-19 that a hospital official says is infecting ever younger people. The county went a span of 92 days – from May 20 to Aug. 20 – without a death from the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, and now there have been 11 in the past 25 days.


Fredericksburg-area hospitals paint grim picture of COVID-19 infections

By CATHY DYSON, Free Lance-Star (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

During a recent town hall session, Mary Washington Healthcare officials didn’t just stress that the majority of people hospitalized with COVID-19 are unvaccinated. They painted a picture of it. The team provided a graphic with stick people representing each patient. The green ones stood for the vaccinated, the gold, unvaccinated, and the chart was dominated by the color of dark honey.


Ballad: COVID-19 cases take slight dip

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

The rate of area adults hospitalized with COVID-19 has declined slightly following a record-breaking week, while the number of pediatric inpatients has plummeted. On Wednesday, Ballad Health was treating 396 inpatients for the novel coronavirus, with 104 in intensive care units and 79 of them — 75% — on ventilators. Those totals are down from Monday’s record of 112 in ICUs and 84 on ventilators


The demand for COVID-19 testing is surging — another challenge for overworked hospitals

By KATE MASTERS, Virginia Mercury

As COVID-19 continues to circulate across Virginia, health officials are still grappling with the downstream effects — including a ballooning demand for testing. In some cases, it’s created additional challenges for already overwhelmed hospitals. Last week, the Virginia Department of Health announced it would add another 170 testing events across the state this month “to help reserve our hospital emergency rooms and rescue squads for medical emergencies,” Dr. Laurie Forlano, the agency’s deputy commissioner for population health, said in a statement.


In Hampton Roads area, 5 communities still have less than 40% of the population vaccinated against COVID-19

By BRETT HALL, WAVY-TV

It’s been exactly nine months since the first dose of COVID-19 was administered in Norfolk, and the city still has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the region, according to data presented by the Virginia Department of Health. As of Wednesday night, the states coronavirus dashboard reported 38% of the population is fully vaccinated, the lowest rate in Hampton Roads. Portsmouth isn’t too far behind with 40% vaccinated.

VIRGINIA OTHER

Schilling lawsuit comes under scrutiny of the court

By TYLER HAMMEL, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

A federal judge grilled an attorney representing radio host Rob Schilling during a motion to dismiss Schilling’s lawsuit spurred by a mask dispute turned into a voting rights issue. Schilling filed the suit in June in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia after he claimed he was briefly prevented from voting during the June 8 Democratic primary election in Albemarle County due to a face mask dispute.


Airbnb.org is helping provide temporary free housing to Afghan refugees in Virginia

By STAFF REPORT, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

Airbnb.org is helping house Afghan refugees in Virginia. The philanthropic arm of Airbnb is working to connect Afghan refugees to free temporary housing across the state. “Over the past several weeks, Airbnb.org has been in touch with our partners in Afghanistan. The one thing we heard over and over again is that housing was one of the things refugees needed the most,” said Liz DeBold Fusco, an Airbnb spokesperson.


Master distiller churned out 9,000 gallons of illegal moonshine on NC farm, feds say

By HAYLEY FOWLER, Charlotte Observer

A “folk hero” in the world of moonshine is accused of helping run an illegal still on a farm in rural North Carolina that produced over 9,000 gallons of untaxed liquor over the course of more than two years. Roger “Buck” Nance is among five people now facing federal charges, court filings show. Nance is the master distiller at Copper Barrel, a licensed moonshine distillery in North Wilkseboro. He was indicted in the Western District of North Carolina in August, along with Clifton Ray Anderson Jr. — who is accused of operating the still — and Huie Kenneth Nicholson — who prosecutors said carted gallons of the white liquor to a shed in Virginia.

LOCAL

Fairfax County approves new measure to protect historic River Farm

By FREDRICK KUNKLE, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has approved a zoning change for George Washington’s historic River Farm that would require additional oversight before the property could be developed. The move on Tuesday — which builds on earlier measures passed by the county and the Virginia General Assembly to preserve River Farm — comes as a former Trump administration member has put forward an ambitious plan to buy the site, along with two adjoining parcels on the Potomac River, and build a $300 million luxury resort.


After brief recess due to unruly protesters, school board unanimously adopts vaccine requirement for teachers, staff

By JILL PALERMO AND DANIEL BERTI, Prince William Times

After calling a temporary recess due to a sometimes unruly crowd of activists gathered to protest critical race theory – which officials insist is not taught in local schools – the Prince William County School Board made quick work of its agenda Wednesday night, adjourning about 30 minutes after the meeting began. In a unanimous vote, the board voted to suspend citizen’s comment time, “in light of the night’s events,” said Woodbridge School Board member Loree Williams.


Prince William County plans allocation of federal stimulus funds

By NOLAN STOUT, Inside NOVA

More grants and aid to local businesses and funds to help county residents struggling with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are among the top recommended uses for Prince William County’s latest round of federal stimulus money. More grants and aid to local businesses and funds to help county residents struggling with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are among the top recommended uses for Prince William County’s latest round of federal stimulus money.


Norfolk moving temporary homeless shelter to nearby motel next month

By GORDON RAGO, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

A temporary homeless shelter in Norfolk’s NEON District will be moved to a nearby motel next month where the city plans to create a new transitional housing center. The City Council unanimously approved spending up to $140,000 to lease the Budget Lodge Motel at 1050 Tidewater Drive from the owner. According to city documents, the city and property owner negotiated a lease agreement but the city “desires to purchase” the property from the owner, listed as Vijay, LLC.


Many Albemarle government employees vaccinated

By ALLISON WRABEL AND KATHERINE KNOTT, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

At least 82% of Albemarle County local government employees and nearly 90% of school division employees have submitted proof of full COVID-19 vaccination, according to the county. Albemarle County announced a vaccination requirement in mid-August, and the School Board quickly signed off on that plan as well. Previously, the county was not tracking employee vaccinations.


As local elections to change from May to November, Lynchburg City Council considers even or odd election years

By JAMEY CROSS, News & Advance (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)

Legislation passed by the 2021 General Assembly earlier this year requires Lynchburg to change its longstanding practice of holding local elections in May, moving them to November instead. With the next city council elections slated for 2022, council discussed at its Tuesday work session how to best implement the change — by syncing its local elections with federal and presidential elections on even years, or with state elections on odd years.


Blacksburg teacher calls school disciplinary system 'white supremacy' in viral video

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

A TikTok video by a Blacksburg High School teacher went viral Tuesday and generated debate and a school system statement prompted by his description of Virginia public schools’ chief model for student discipline as “white supremacy with a hug.” The teacher has been identified on social media as Blacksburg High School English teacher Josh Thompson. Montgomery County Public Schools spokeswoman Brenda Drake confirmed that Thompson is employed at Blacksburg High.


Winchester School Board discusses vaccine requirement for staff

By ANNA MEROD, Winchester Star (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

The Winchester School Board is beginning to consider COVID-19 vaccine requirements among the division’s staff. The board has not taken any action on the matter. During a Monday night Winchester School Board meeting, WPS Superintendent Jason Van Heukelum emphasized he was not ready to make a recommendation about a vaccine policy for staff, but he wanted to give the board an opportunity to discuss it.


Shenandoah Elementary closes until Tuesday due to wave of COVID cases

By RANDY ARRINGTON, Page Valley News

Late Tuesday afternoon, Dr. Antonia Fox, superintendent of Page County Public Schools, announced that Shenandoah Elementary School will be closed until Tuesday, Sept. 21 due to a high number of COVID-19 cases in the building. “Shenandoah Elementary School has experienced a significant number of positive COVID-19 cases amongst both students and staff over the past week, but especially in the last two days,” reads a Sept. 14 letter from Dr. Fox.


City, County Schools Implementing Voluntary Student COVID-19 Testing Program

By MEGAN WILLIAMS, Daily News Record (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

A lot has been learned about the coronavirus since last March when the country shut down. When the pandemic started, taking temperatures was seen as a good form of surveillance testing to stop the spread, especially for schools when the 2020-21 school year began last fall, said Michael Richards, superintendent of Harrisonburg City Public Schools. Most HCPS students spent much of the 2020-21 school year learning virtually, but those who did enter the buildings had their temperature checked.


Virginia is demanding Augusta County resolve its courthouse issues

By ALISON CUTLER, News Leader (Metered Paywall - 3 to 4 articles a month)

Augusta County Board of Supervisors received a court order demanding that the county resolve its courthouse safety and security issues. Now, it has no choice but to resolve the longstanding complications in the courthouse, or prove to a judge why amendments aren't necessary. The court order, passed down by Chief Circuit Court Judge William Chapman Goodwin on Sept. 13, commands the county to "Cause the court facilities to be made secure, or put in good repair, or rendered otherwise safe as the case may be, and to cause the necessary work to be done."


Martinsville to screen patients for EMS transports

By STEVEN DOYLE, Martinsville Bulletin (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

With COVID-19 surging again across the region, the city of Martinsville has announced a new process for firmer decisions about which patients ambulances will transport to emergency rooms. The city revealed this plan in a release on Wednesday, but it matches a practice officials at Sovah Health had announced earlier this summer for its emergency rooms in Martinsville and Danville, in which ambulances carrying some patients were diverted to other facilities because of crowding caused by COVID-19.

 

EDITORIALS

Virginia gets aid into the right hands

Daily Progress Editorial (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

Here’s something of which Virginians can be proud: The commonwealth leads all other states in the distribution of its share of pandemic relief funds. In the first half of this year, the most recent period for which figures are available, Virginia provided assistance to between 6,000 and 9,000 families a month, according to the U.S. Treasury.


New crisis team faces daunting challenges

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

AFTER THE General Assembly passed the Marcus– David Peters Act last year, and as part of its review of police operations following the George Floyd demonstrations, the Fredericksburg Police Department is launching a pilot program with the Rappahannock Community Area Services Board that will attempt to deal with mental health crises in the city and surrounding communities before they escalate into violence.


Ignoring Hampton Roads

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

Virginians wishing to hear from the two major party candidates vying to lead the commonwealth for the next four years will have that rare opportunity on Thursday evening during the first gubernatorial debate. Republican Glenn Youngkin and Democrat Terry McAuliffe have only agreed to one other debate this season, on Sept. 28, so voters should seize this opportunity to hear each man articulate his vision for Virginia’s future.

COLUMNISTS

Schapiro: After debating debates, Virginia candidates finally get around to debating

By JEFF E. SCHAPIRO, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

The setting in which Terry McAuliffe has been preparing for the first televised debate of the gubernatorial campaign is far more welcoming than the one in which he will face Glenn Youngkin Thursday night. Youngkin's debate prep has been something of a road show, with sessions at his Northern Virginia headquarters as well as in Richmond. McAuliffe has been meeting with several aides, usually in the study of his stone house in leafy McLean.

OP-ED

Long: Seeking civil order in Charlottesville's government and police department

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

I check in on the charming little town of Charlottesville, where I once lived, every now and again. So I was aware that after the turmoil and tragedy of the “Unite the Right” rally in 2017 there had been a major push for reform in the city and especially in local policing. The death of George Floyd three years later and the national outcry in response only intensified these efforts.

Long is a historian, writer and educator from Salem.


Edwards: Virginia's Democratic majority gets things done

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

Last month, the General Assembly returned to Richmond to allocate $3.3 billion in federal funds from President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan. Some of these funds will be used for short-term economic recovery, as in nearly $1 billion to replenish the Unemployment Trust Fund and $74 million for improvements at the Virginia Employment Commission.

Edwards of Roanoke represents the 21st Senate District of Virginia.


Greene and Paul: Growth of Virginia universities' diversity-industrial complex

By JAY P. GREENE AND JAMES D. PAUL, published in Free Lance-Star (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Think of it as an academic reflex. When universities face a challenge, their automatic response is to create new positions to address the issue. This at least signals commitment to solving the problem. But over time, it has contributed to significant bloat in the number of administrative posts on campus. Hiring people to address problems related to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) has also built an army of political activists who demand that ever more positions be created.

Greene is a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation. Paul is director of research at the Educational Freedom Institute.


Barks: Virginia’s innovative tool can prevent firearm suicide

By BRYAN BARKS, published in Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

As someone who lives with bipolar disorder and recurring suicidality, I have always known that I should not have easy access to a gun. But during one especially painful mood episode, I researched where to buy one. I found a store near my home in Northern Virginia and looked up directions. At the time, I worked at a nonprofit dedicated to gun violence prevention. I could recite every reason why someone who is suicidal should not have access to a gun. When I was well, I advocated fiercely for measures that would temporarily separate those who are suicidal from guns. But when I was ill, my logic vanished.

Barks is a graduate student in the Department of Mental Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.