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October 2, 2023
Top of the News

Dems flood Virginia with more cash ahead of off-year elections


The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee is pumping another $1 million into Virginia’s high-stakes legislative elections this fall, doubling its commitment for the year, Axios has learned. For Democrats, abortion is on the ballot in Virginia’s off-year election, when all 140 seats are up in the state House and Senate. They want to prevent Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin from winning a majority in Virginia’s General Assembly — deny him the ability to enact new abortion restrictions.

Former Loudoun schools chief guilty of retaliating against teacher

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

Loudoun County schools were already in the national spotlight over a pair of sexual assaults on campuses, and were the subject of an investigation ordered by the Virginia governor. Then a teacher went public in 2022 with allegations that officials failed to stop a student from inappropriately touching her, testifying to a special grand jury. Prosecutors told a Loudoun County jury this week that the revelations drew fresh scrutiny to the school district and angered former superintendent Scott Ziegler, who mounted a campaign of retribution against her.

VDOE found to exclude students with disabilities from SOL test

By ADELE UPHAUS, Free Lance-Star (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights has determined that the Virginia Department of Education excluded some students with disabilities from taking a field test of the new integrated reading and writing assessment. Dawn Shelley, a current member of the Spotsylvania School Board and special education teacher in Stafford County, filed a complaint in March alleging that the VDOE discriminated against students with disabilities by not providing the field test in alternate formats to accommodate these disabilities.

Virginia State University underfunded by $275 million over three decades, report says

By ERIC KOLENICH, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Virginia State University has been underfunded by $275 million during the past three decades, according to a federal report. The lost money could have gone toward more financial aid, more students or more programs, said VSU President Makola Abdullah. Under federal law, states are required to equitably fund universities founded under the Morrill land grant acts of 1862 and 1890. Virginia Tech was founded under the first act, and VSU, a historically Black university, is affiliated with the second.

Bon Secours, Anthem reach deal in contract dispute that disrupted care for thousands

By SARAH VOGELSONG, Virginia Mercury

After months of fighting that disrupted health care for 11,000 Virginians, hospital system Bon Secours Mercy Health and insurer Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield have reached an agreement in a dispute over reimbursement rates, the companies announced Friday morning. The deal will once again allow patients with Medicare Advantage plans through Anthem to get more favorable in-network prices for care through Bon Secours, which operates numerous hospitals and health care facilities in Richmond, Newport News, Suffolk and Kilmarnock. Since Aug. 1, those patients have been considered out of network for Bon Secours.

Va. Gov. Glenn Youngkin to woo national GOP megadonors at retreat

By LAURA VOZZELLA, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Gov. Glenn Youngkin is about to treat dozens of GOP megadonors to some posh Southern hospitality, putting them up for two days at Virginia Beach’s grande dame historic hotel on his political action committee’s dime. He did the same a year ago, gifting billionaires with two-day stays at a Charlottesville-area resort boasting mountain views, fine dining — and face time with the political newcomer teasing a presidential bid.

Some voters don’t believe candidate Tim Griffin lives in his district. They have hired a PI to investigate.

By MARKUS SCHMIDT, Cardinal News

More than four months after a Bedford County official determined that Tim Griffin — then a candidate for the GOP nomination in the 53rd House of Delegates District — has legally met residency requirements to make the ballot for the November election, questions remain among some Republican voters in the district about his eligibility for the ballot. Griffin, who has since become his party’s nominee, cited in a court filing from June 16 an apartment complex on Cottontown Manor Drive in Forest as his current residence. But several longtime Republicans are skeptical that he has in fact established a formal domicile in the district, as required by law.

The Full Report
50 articles, 28 publications


VPAP Visual 5 Measures of Candidates’ Wealth 2023

The Virginia Public Access Project

Financial disclosures filed by candidates running for the House and Senate in November highlight differences between the two major political parties in five measures of personal wealth. The data excludes sitting legislators.


Poll: 42% of Virginia voters want the governor to have less power over local schools


A plurality of Virginia voters wants Governor Glenn Younkin to have less power over local school decisions. That’s according to new polling from the University of Mary Washington. The new numbers come as book bans, fights at school board meetings, and other headline-making incidents in the state’s education sphere have put a renewed light on the Commonwealth’s 2023 legislative elections. With all 140 House and Senate seats up for grabs, Youngkin is hoping the “parents matter” message that made him the first Republican to win a state-wide election in the Commonwealth in about a decade will resonate once more.

Youngkin announces Chronic Absenteeism Task Force


Governor Glenn Youngkin has announced the creation of a new task force as part of his “ALL IN VA” plan to accelerate learning loss recovery in schools by addressing Attendance, Literacy and Learning. The Chronic Absenteeism Task Force, in response to a near doubling of chronic absenteeism in Virginia classrooms resulting from extended pandemic closure of schools, will develop resources and distribute action plans for school divisions to address the record-high student absenteeism rates across the Commonwealth.


Democrats pour $2M more into Virginia, where battle for statehouse could decide abortion and more


With a little over a month until Election Day in Virginia, the national Democratic Party is investing more than $2 million in the state to boost candidates as the party fights to keep Republicans from gaining full control of the General Assembly. Every seat in both the state House of Delegates and state Senate is up for grabs on Nov. 7 and the new investment by the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee is the latest example of how both parties see the election as critical — not just for gaining legislative power but as indicators of where voters stand on abortion, the economy and more.

Youngkin, parents’ rights, abortion loom large in key N.Va. Senate race

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

Scott Smith sat in the second row at a "Parents Matter" rally that Gov. Glenn Youngkin held Sept. 12 at a Christian church and academy here, two days after the governor pardoned Smith on charge of disorderly conduct. The charge stemmed from a physical confrontation with sheriff's deputies two years ago at a Loudoun County School Board meeting on policies for transgender students. Smith had attended the School Board meeting because his daughter had been sexually assaulted in a high school bathroom by a male student who was wearing a skirt.

30th Senate District candidates Roem, Woolf spar on abortion, data centers

By JILL PALERMO, Prince William Times

Virginia is the only state in the South where abortion isn’t banned after 15 weeks of pregnancy or earlier. During their first debate, Del. Danica Roem said she would strive to keep it that way and would push to add the right to an abortion in the state’s constitution if elected to the state Senate. Bill Woolf, her Republican opponent, said he would seek “consensus” on abortion rights and believes most Virginians back “protecting life after 15 weeks.” “A lot of us are driven by faith, and I think it’s something where we really need to consider consensus,” Woolf said.

District 1 State Senate Hopefuls Share Views On I-81, Education, Abortion

By ALEX BRIDGES, Winchester Star (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

The two candidates running for the District 1 seat in the state Senate gave their views on education, abortion, agriculture and Interstate 81 safety at a forum Wednesday night. Republican nominee Timmy F. French and Democrat Emily G. Scott squared off at the Charterhouse School in Shenandoah County in the second day of forums hosted jointly by the Shenandoah County Chamber of Commerce, the Alliance for the Shenandoah Valley and the Shenandoah County Farm Bureau.

38th, 6th District legislative candidates tussle in Great Falls debate

By BRIAN TROMPETER, Gazette Leader

Local state Senate and House of Delegates candidates hewed to party positions on abortion, parental rights and the Dillon Rule during a Sept. 27 candidate forum at the Great Falls Grange, but took more nuanced stances on matters affecting local communities. … In the state Senate race, Sen. Jennifer Boysko (D) is running against Republican Matthew Lang in the newly reconstituted and renamed 38th District. … In the contest for the new 6th District in the House of Delegates, Del. Rip Sullivan (D), who currently represents parts of McLean and Arlington, is competing against Republican challenger Kristin Hoffman.

Virginia’s closest legislative race might be in Petersburg area

By ERIC KOLENICH, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

It was after midnight by the time all the votes had been counted. A political newcomer, Del. Kim Taylor, R-Dinwiddie, had pulled off a narrow upset on Election Day 2021. Beating the Democratic incumbent by 512 seats, or less than 1 percentage point, Taylor claimed a seat in the House of Delegates. The victory was “something that no one thought we could do,” she told supporters last month. Now, Taylor is running for reelection in the newly drawn House District 82. … She faces Kimberly Pope Adams, a Democratic, first-time candidate and an auditor at Virginia State University.

Stirrup and Thomas dueling in tight 21st House District race


Voters in western Prince William County will decide one of the most closely-watched General Assembly races this cycle on Nov. 7, and one that could ultimately decide the partisan control of the House of Delegates. The 21st House District race features a familiar face to longtime county residents and a political newcomer. Republican John Stirrup, who represented the Gainesville District on the Board of County Supervisors from 2003 to 2011, is taking on Democrat Josh Thomas, an attorney and former Marine Corps officer who served in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the Middle East.

Battlefield Virginia: Abortion, party control at stake in legislative races

By MASON ADAMS, Virginia Business

It’s a nerve-wracking time this fall for a small group of campaign managers, with the balance of power in the General Assembly coming down to a handful of close political races. In House District 97, freshman Republican Del. Karen Greenhalgh is defending her Virginia Beach-centered seat against Michael Feggans, a Democrat who grew up in the city and served in the Air Force. It’s a key, front-line race in the high-stakes battle for control of Virginia’s state legislature

Democratic candidates discuss youth voter registration efforts ahead of general election


Democratic candidates running in the upcoming general election addressed efforts to boost voter registration amongst their constituents at the annual “Meet the Candidates” event hosted by University Democrats Wednesday evening in Clark Hall. Incumbent Virginia Senator Creigh Deeds faces Republican candidate Philip Hamilton for the 11th District Senate seat, while potential Delegate Amy Laufer faces Republican candidate Steve Harvey for the 55th House District seat.


Youngkin appoints Byron, Roth to workforce posts

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

A retiring Republican delegate will have a new job Gov. Glenn Youngkin's administration as a deputy director of a newly created department to promote workforce development. Youngkin said Friday that he has appointed Del. Kathy Byron, R-Bedford, who is chair of the House Commerce and Energy Committee, as deputy director for external affairs at the new Department of Workforce Development and Advancement, which she worked this year to create. The new department will be led by Carrie Roth, currently commissioner of the Virginia Employment Commission ...

Hanover County supervisor resigns for new state position

By SEAN JONES, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Hanover County Supervisor Angela Kelly-Wiecek announced this week that she would be leaving her post to join Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s administration in a leadership capacity for the newly formed Virginia Department of Workforce Development and Advancement. Kelly-Wiecek was first elected to represent Hanover’s Chickahominy District in 2011. She won her election three times since and has served as both the vice chair and chair for the Board of Supervisors during her tenure.

Gov. Youngkin shakes up Virginia’s state labor agencies


Gov. Glenn Youngkin has appointed Carrie Roth, commissioner of the Virginia Employment Commission, to lead a new department that manages the state’s workforce development programs. The appointment of Roth as director of the Virginia Department of Workforce Development and Advancement, announced Friday by Youngkin’s office, set off a shake-up in leadership within the state’s labor agencies.

With deadline looming, local school districts not yet prepared to implement, staff Youngkin’s tutoring program


Governor Glenn Youngkin has challenged local school districts across the state to implement high-intensity tutoring programs in response to unimpressive Standards of Learning test scores, and he gave them just over five weeks to do it. With the governor’s October 16 deadline for districts to have programming in place arriving within about two weeks, CBS 6 reached out to Central Virginia school divisions to find out if they were on track to meet the state’s expectations. None appeared to have solidified plans yet on how to implement the state’s recommendations.

Hampton Roads schools grapple with state’s transgender model policies

By KELSEY KENDALL, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Last September, the Virginia Department of Education released the 2022 “Model Policies on the Privacy, Dignity and Respect for All Students and Parents in Virginia’s Public Schools,” launching the state into a debate on the rights and treatment of transgender students. That contention continues and Hampton Roads’ school systems are taking different approaches — some more quietly than others. Hampton, for example, updated its guidelines in August. Virginia Beach and Suffolk are getting ready to vote and face divided public feedback.


Most of Va. congressional delegation relieved at deal to avert shutdown

By ANDREW CAIN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Most members of Virginia’s congressional delegation breathed a sigh of relief Saturday afternoon after the House of Representatives passed a 45-day stopgap measure to avoid a federal government shutdown that would have particularly hurt Virginia, home to more than 140,000 civilian federal employees and more than 126,000 active-duty military personnel. As the Senate prepared to take up the measure Saturday night, Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., lamented its lack of funding for Ukraine, but said he was likely to vote in favor of the resolution in order to prevent a government shutdown at midnight.


Bon Secours, Anthem strike last-minute deal

By ERIC KOLENICH, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Health system Bon Secours and insurer Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield have agreed to a new contract, ending months of dispute and narrowly avoiding a scenario that would have hampered 50,000 Richmond-area residents. The two sides agreed to a new contract through 2028, they said Friday, but details were scarce. They did not address the specifics of the agreement. When they could not reach an agreement by Aug. 1, 13,000 local Anthem Medicare Advantage customers became out of network at Bon Secours facilities, meaning patients had to pay a significantly higher price or visit another health system.

More than 75,000 Kaiser Permanente workers prepare for three-day strike

By AARON GREGG, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

More than 75,000 Kaiser Permanente health-care workers are poised to walk off the job within days as labor negotiations remain stalled over pay, outsourcing and staffing problems, in what could be the biggest health-care strike in U.S. history, with direct implications for thousands of patients nationwide. A coalition of unions representing Kaiser workers had previously notified the company that a three-day strike could begin Wednesday in California, Oregon, Colorado, Virginia, Washington state and the District of Columbia. An agreement could still materialize and prevent that from happening, but a strike appears increasingly likely, as the current labor contract was slated to expire after Saturday.

Hampton Roads sees record-breaking year in tourism profits in 2022: a combined $6.5 billion


The numbers for tourism revenue for 2022 are in, and Hampton Roads ranks as one of the biggest revenue generators in the state. According to the latest report from Virginia Tourism Corporation, cities in the Hampton Roads area made a combined $6.5 billion in tourism profits. It’s an $800 million increase compared to 2021’s $5.7 billion profits. “It just goes to show what a destination area our city is,” said John Zirkle, President of Virginia Beach’s Oceanfront Hotel Association. In just Virginia Beach, the share of the tourism revenue seen is almost $2.5 billion, and made up 8% of the state’s spending share.


Loudoun County, AG Enter Greenway Toll Battle

By STAFF REPORT, Loudoun Now

There finally appears to be something on which Attorney General Jason Miyares and Loudoun’s elected leaders agree. On Friday, the AG’s office announced it filed a notice with the State Corporation Commission seeking to formally participate in Toll Road Investors Partnership II’s latest application to increase tolls on the Dulles Greenway. The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors last week also voted to file to participate in the review. Both plan to file formal opposition to the request to raise fares for the privately owned 14-mile highway

Va. AG Miyares to formally object to proposed Dulles Greenway toll hike


Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares came out against a proposed toll increase on the Dulles Greenway on Friday, telling WTOP his office would formally object to it by providing testimony to the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC), a state regulatory agency that will ultimately decide whether or not the proposed increase will be approved. “It’s getting harder and harder for everyday Virginians to earn a living,” Miyares said. “It concerns me greatly.”

Regional planners worry about shifting priorities within transportation funding system

By NATHANIEL CLINE, Virginia Mercury

Planning officials in the Shenandoah Valley and central Virginia fear proposals to change Virginia’s transportation funding system could significantly reduce state funding for smaller transportation projects for cyclists and pedestrians. … Some of the proposals being considered by the board include favoring larger transportation projects over smaller ones, lowering the number of applications local governments and planning organizations can submit and reducing the weight given to land use in applications.

I-64 widening set to begin in November

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

Work is set to begin in November on widening Interstate 64 east of Richmond, with the aim of completing a six-lane superhighway connection to Hampton Roads, said Virginia Department of Transportation Commissioner Stephen Brich. The aim is to add a third lane in each direction on I-64 in New Kent County and the northern reaches of James City County. The wider highway would connect with the recently widened section of I-64 between Newport News and Williamsburg.


Federal officials: Virginia State University underfunded by $277 million between 1987 and 2020


Two federal officials recently sent a letter to Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin, calling on him to help address a longstanding disparity in funding for Virginia State University, a public historically Black school. Virginia State University is among the country’s Black land-grant universities that have been collectively underfunded by their states by $13 billion over the past few decades, according to the letter. Federal officials estimated VSU was underfunded by $277 million between 1987 and 2020.

Health system CEO fought for VCU leadership to reconsider costly downtown development

By JONATHAN SPIERS, Richmond BizSense

By the time Art Kellermann made a final plea to his superior, Virginia Commonwealth University President Michael Rao, the then-CEO of VCU Health System had been lobbying for weeks for senior leadership to reconsider a downtown development deal that he warned could prove costly. It was July 8, 2021, just days before the health system was to finalize a lease to become master tenant and anchor of a $325 million redevelopment of Richmond’s old Public Safety Building site downtown.


Arlington library abruptly closes popular food pantry

By KYLE SWENSON, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

The note was a surprise. Roxanne Davis had just arrived at Arlington Public Library’s Central Library location with a car loaded with donated food. But before she could begin filling the shelves of the free pantry located outside the main entrance, she saw the message from library staff. “As of September 29, 2023, the Little Free Food Pantry located at Central Library will close,” it read, before offering information on alternative food distribution sites in the area.

City Council members say ward system would be a bad idea for Alexandria


At a town hall meeting last Sunday, most City Council members said — in no uncertain terms — that they are opposed to a ward system in Alexandra. Currently, all City Council leaders are elected in an at-large system. Each Council member represents the city as a whole. D.C., on the other hand, had a City Council that’s a mix of at-large members and ward members — representatives of specific areas of the city. City Council members said switching to a ward system would give leaders less appreciation for city-wide issues, would make it harder to address neighborhood-specific issues like flooding, and would make it harder for Council members from less affluent areas to fundraise.

Fairfax County fire lieutenant accused of stealing drugs from stations


A 17-year veteran of the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department has been arrested for allegedly stealing drugs stored at two stations for her personal use, police announced today (Friday). Aleksandra Olegoyna Kazmar, 40, of Front Royal faces one felony charge of obtaining drugs by fraud after investigators determined that she had tampered with or stolen vials of morphine and fentanyl from the Frying Pan and North Point stations, according to the Fairfax County Police Department.

Herndon Town Council drops attempt to double council terms


Terms for Herndon Town Council members will remain unchanged after the council unanimously agreed to drop a proposal to increase the term from two to four years. The council voted on Tuesday (Sept. 26) to remove consideration of the item from its legislative program for the Virginia General Assembly’s 2024 session. A similar effort came up almost a decade ago but was dropped by a previous council after lack of public support. Changing term limits would require an amendment to the town charter and the state’s constitution. Councilmember Clark Hedrick described the proposal as “self-indulgent.”

Jury delivers split verdict in trial of ex-Loudoun County superintendent

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

Ex-Loudoun County Public Schools Superintendent Scott Alan Ziegler has been convicted of wrongfully firing a special education teacher. The same jury acquitted him of retaliating against the teacher because she testified before a special grand jury. After 6 1/2 hours of deliberations over two days in Loudoun Circuit Court, the one-man, six-woman jury on Sept. 29 found Ziegler guilty of retaliation/prohibited conduct by a public employee and not guilty of penalizing an employee for a court appearance or service on a jury panel. Both charges are misdemeanors.

Jury Returns Guilty Verdict for Retaliation in Ziegler Case


A Loudoun Circuit Court jury returned a guilty verdict against fired Loudoun Superintendent Scott Ziegler Friday for a charge that he retaliated against an employee. He was found not guilty of penalizing the same employee for making a court appearance. With the conviction on the charge of retaliating or threatening retaliation against a person for publicly expressing their views on a matter of public concern, a class one misdemeanor, Ziegler faces a sentence of up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500.

Prince William teachers’ union, school division headed to mediation on contract talks

By ANYA SCZERZENIE, Prince William Times

Now that the Prince William County teachers’ union and school division officials are at an impasse in contract negotiations and heading toward mediation, there’s been little change in position on either side. The school division says funding the Prince William Education Association’s requested raise will take a third of its total salary budget. As a result, the school division sent the union a counter proposal for 5% and 9% raises it says are more affordable.

The $8 million bet: Casino developers going all-in on referendum

By EM HOLTER, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

The casino developers hoping to win the referendum in November are going all-in. In a few short months, the project has funneled dollars into various campaign efforts, including opening an office in Shockoe Bottom, hosting several press conferences in a new command post and putting 75 boots on the ground every day in a citywide door-to-door effort. A series of well-produced television commercials is airing on local channels.

Norfolk housing authority seeks to improve response to work orders

By IAN MUNRO, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Among the goals of the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority this fiscal year is improving its ability to respond to work order requests from tenants. Interim Director Michael Clark said construction and maintenance continue to be challenges for the authority given the age of many of the city’s public housing complexes. At a July NRHA board of commissioners meeting, Clark floated the idea of establishing a centralized call center.

Longtime Virginia Beach Sheriff Ken Stolle celebrates retirement

By ELIZA NOE, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

The first time Hon. Thomas Patrick met Ken Stolle in 1976, he was in the middle of a fight. Stolle, who was working for the Virginia Beach Police Department at the time, called for backup after a large fight had broken out on Atlantic Avenue. When Patrick arrived, Stolle was attempting to arrest someone while several dozen “unruly drunk people” were fighting around him, Patrick said. “I counseled him, and I thought when I was finished, ‘This guy is not going to make it,'” Patrick said. “After a while, I really warmed up to him because it turned out, he was an exceptional police officer.

The future of recycling in Virginia Beach is up in the air


The city of Virginia Beach is weighing the future of its recycling program, the latest local government to grapple with market changes that have driven up the cost of recycling in recent years. The city’s contract with Chesapeake-based TFC Recycling expires at the end of June. Officials say they want to hear from residents about what to do next. That could include raising fees to support the program, eliminating curbside service or allowing people to opt in and out.

Lawsuit against Hampton school board claims school negligent for alleged sexual assault of first grader

By NOUR HABIB, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

A $5 million lawsuit was filed against the Hampton City School Board this summer by the parents of a young girl who claim their daughter was physically and sexually assaulted by another student at an elementary school. Nikia and Richard Miller, identified in the claim using initials, filed the lawsuit in Hampton Circuit Court. Nikia Miller confirmed it during an interview Friday. The filing claims that when their daughter was in first and second grade at John Tyler Elementary School, another female student repeatedly assaulted her, urinated on her and forced her to perform oral sex.

Some voters in Spotsylvania Co. confused by candidate’s sample ballot, concerned about armed guard


Candidates handing out sample ballots at polling places is common, but in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, some voters are calling out a clerk of circuit court candidate for handing out a sample ballot that’s confusing. Nick Ignacio created a sample ballot claiming that he’s a preferred Republican candidate on one side but the preferred Democrat on the other side. Ignacio did not get an endorsement from either party. One voter confronted him outside, saying that he was misleading people before they got the chance to vote.

Roanoke judge absent from courthouse after sexual allegations surfaced

By EMMA COLEMAN, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

About two weeks after a court filing alleged that he had traded legal help for sex, Judge Onzlee Ware stopped hearing cases in Roanoke Circuit Court. No public record or public official has explained his absence. Ware last appeared in court to hear cases Sept. 12, according to court records. That was 12 days after the allegations were laid out in a public court document and six days after The Roanoke Times published a story about it.

Roanoke's homelessness spike linked to rising rents, end of pandemic relief

By MOLLY HUNTER, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Roanoke leaders continue to say that affordable housing is a major challenge. It’s also one that may be holding back progress in reducing homelessness. The Roanoke Valley’s annual counts show homelessness declined more than 60% between 2012 and 2022. But from 2022 to 2023 the annual homelessness count spiked, up 55%, from 216 homeless counted to 334. Affordable housing is one of the factors cited for the increase.



Transgender model policies appear headed for the courts. Good.

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

Both sides of the debate over the Youngkin administration’s model policies for transgender children in public schools should welcome the recent filing of a lawsuit in Virginia Beach that should settle the matter in court. This was inevitable, of course, and avoidable. But even before he won office, Glenn Youngkin chose to use transgender kids as a political piñata, demonizing them — as well as educators — as a corrosive, malevolent force that must be stopped.

Metro is dangling from a fiscal cliff

Washington Post Editorial (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

About 800,000 Washington-area passengers ride Metro buses and trains on weekdays, and it’s a good bet many would be unhappy to learn their transit system faces a “death spiral” starting next summer. Yet those dire words appear not in a lurid headline but in the usually stolid pages of Metro’s financial projections. A report released this week by the agency reflects what has been apparent for more than a year: Metro’s chronic funding problems are approaching a red alert that will mean drastic service cuts unless the region’s elected officials, along with Congress, devise a fix.


Yancey: Why Virginia’s community college enrollment increase is a big deal

By DWAYNE YANCEY, Cardinal News

Gov. Glenn Youngkin has some reasons to smile right now — maybe 19 or 20 of them. A year ago, you’ll recall that the governor was very unhappy with the state’s search for a new chancellor to lead the community college system following the retirement of Glenn DuBois. Youngkin intervened to head off one potential choice (said to be former state Secretary of Education Anne Holton, wife of Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Virginia) and then essentially forced the board’s next choice, an educator from Michigan, to change his mind about taking the job.

Casey: Virginia DMV relents on threat to suspend great-grandmother’s driver's license

By DAN CASEY, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Doris Layne has been very worried lately. When you hear her story, it’s easy to understand why. She’s 76, mother of two, grandmother of four, great-grandmother to six. She lives in a spotless bungalow in northeast Roanoke. I was over there Thursday. Layne worked for many years in the Roanoke real-estate assessor’s office, and later in other city departments. Now she’s retired. She’s never been in trouble. But recently, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles has been threatening to suspend her driving privileges.

Vargas: A Black man’s stolen heart and a family’s long wait for justice

By THERESA VARGAS, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Fifty-five years after Bruce Tucker died, questions remain for his family. They question whether the head injury he experienced when he tumbled off a low concrete wall while with friends was survivable. They question whether the 54-year-old was really brain-dead when surgeons at a Virginia hospital removed his heart, without his family’s consent, less than a day after he arrived at the hospital. They question how their lives might have been different if the hospital staff had told the family the truth — that his heart was used in a landmark transplant — all those decades ago instead of telling them nothing about that surgery.


Woodard: Partisan politics has no place on Virginia’s school boards

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

In recent years, partisan politics has infiltrated every aspect of our lives, and Virginia’s public education realm is no exception. Once pillars of local community engagement, school boards have become battlegrounds for political ideologies. This trend is detrimental to the quality of education and undermines the essence of local control that the Virginia School Boards Association was founded upon. VSBA, with its 131 members, stands as a testament to the diversity of voices in Virginia’s educational landscape.

Woodard is president of the Virginia School Boards Association.

Cianfarini: Leaky pipes, unpaid bills: Richmond really needs a public utilities commission

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

Richmond’s Department of Public Utilities (DPU) maintains a network of severely leaking gas pipes that permeate neighborhoods throughout the city. Some pipes are 100 years old. DPU likewise manages utility bills. Last year, inaccurate meter-reading estimates resulted in thousands of dollars in improper gas and water bills and violated DPU’s own policies. Repeated rate hikes have left some Richmonders struggling to pay their bills.

Cianfarini is an active volunteer with Electrify RVA and a renewable energy software engineer in his day job.

Town: Youngkin’s RGGI repeal is a bad deal for Virginians

By MICHAEL TOWN, published in Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

In the face of strong public opposition, and faced with having to defend itself in court, the Youngkin administration has been hard at work trying to justify its illegal repeal of Virginia’s membership in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). So hard, in fact, they’ve left out some important details about how Virginia joined this program and the many benefits it brings to our commonwealth. RGGI has been around since 2009 when a coalition of Republican and Democrat-led northeast and mid-Atlantic states banded together to work to lower carbon emissions and transition to a cleaner energy future. The success of the program has been nothing short of astonishing.

Town is executive director of the Virginia League of Conservation Voters.