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September 29, 2023
Top of the News

Ex-detective running for Virginia Senate resigned amid investigation

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

Republican state Senate candidate Bill Woolf, who is running in Virginia’s Nov. 7 election on his record as a former Fairfax County Police detective and human-trafficking foe, would have been fired had he not resigned in 2017 during an ongoing internal affairs investigation into hours he reported on duty while at another job, according to police records. Investigators concluded that Woolf, a 15-year veteran of the department, had repeatedly lied, disobeyed orders and received police pay at least twice while moonlighting out of state.

Travis Hill to step down at Va. ABC after leading transition

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

Virginia’s state-owned liquor monopoly is losing its leader, nearly six years after it transitioned from a state agency to a semi-independent authority with more freedom to make its own business decisions. Travis Hill, who joined the old Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control in 2014 as its chief operating officer, said Thursday that he will step down as CEO of the new ABC Authority next month, with no plans yet for the future. “It’s just time for me to try something else,” he said in an interview with the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

How a possible government shutdown will affect D.C., Maryland and Virginia

Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Washington region, brace for impact. The federal government is poised to grind to a halt on Oct. 1, after hard-right Republicans in the House indicated they would block any short-term funding solution that the House majority would come up with to keep the government open. Perhaps nowhere in the country would the effects of a shutdown be felt as closely as the D.C. region, where the federal agencies, museums and other programs that make up the heart of Washington would run out of operating funds and begin to close.

Leading Senate Democrat says Petersburg will be in running for casino if Richmond vote fails

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

The reason Sen. Louise Lucas said she pushed to kill Petersburg’s chances of hosting a casino earlier this year can be summed up in two words: Joe Morrissey. Now with Morrissey out of the political picture and Richmond on the precipice of voting again on hosting the fifth casino, the Portsmouth Democrat and current president pro tempore of the Virginia Senate said she feels like the second time will be the charm for Virginia’s capital. If not, she said, then Petersburg jumps right back into the gambling picture.

Friday Read He ‘gentle parents’ the squirrels on his balcony. Millions now watch.

By CATHY FREE, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Derrick Downey Jr. was relaxing on his second-story balcony in Los Angeles when a bushy-tailed fox squirrel suddenly appeared. Downey said they stared at each other for a few seconds, and then he asked the squirrel: “Do you want something to eat?” “It seemed obvious to me that he did, so I told him, ‘Stay here, I’ll be right back,’” Downey recalled.

The Full Report
23 articles, 18 publications


VPAP Visual 2023 Conflict of Interest Disclosures for General Assembly Candidates

The Virginia Public Access Project

To qualify for the ballot, candidates for the Virginia General Assembly must disclose personal financial holdings that could cause a potential conflict of interest. VPAP has created a quick and convenient way to access these documents. The reports include salaries paid, board seats held, debts, securities holdings and business interests. The visual focuses on more than 100 candidates who are challenging incumbents or running for open seats and also includes a link to incumbents’ disclosures.


Report: Major GOP donors ‘thirsting for Youngkin’


In case there were any doubts, the draft Glenn Youngkin movement is alive and well. CBS News correspondent Robert Costa outlined the latest whispers and musings in a Washington Post op-ed published Thursday. Some major donors are still “thirsting for Youngkin,” as Costa put it. “He appears to be leaving the door open. And if Republicans win in Virginia, maybe we can talk him into it,” said Thomas Peterffy, a billionaire who has already given $2 million to Youngkin. The op-ed also delivered a little cold water.

Youngkin: Virginia districts ‘really don’t have a choice’ in school transgender policy


Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin said Thursday that local school districts “don’t really have a choice” in adopting his administration’s new model policies for the treatment of transgender students, warning that remaining holdouts are putting themselves in legal jeopardy. “There’s no decision to be made here,” Youngkin said Thursday during an appearance on Fox News’s “America Reports.” “Our law is crystal clear.”


A federal government shutdown could upend Virginia’s elections


When Republicans forced a government shutdown in October 2013 in a fruitless quest to defund Obamacare, their Virginia gubernatorial candidate, Ken Cuccinelli, lost by fewer than 3 points. At the time, Cuccinelli’s top strategist lamented that “more than anything,” the shutdown “is what cost us the race.” Ten years later, a new generation of House Republicans is on the verge of sparking a shutdown just ahead of another important election in Virginia, which could throw a wrench into Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s goals of capturing both chambers of the General Assembly. Early voting is already underway and the off-year election is being closely watched for clues about the 2024 presidential election landscape.

District 1 state Senate hopefuls share their views on I-81, education, abortion

By ALEX BRIDGES, Northern Virginia Daily

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 ...

Abortion key topic among candidates for 27th Senate seat

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

Abortion was a key issue among candidates for the 27th Senate District as speakers offered viewpoints that fell along party lines — as well as personal experience — during a Wednesday night debate. Republican Tara Durant said she would support a plan to allow abortions, no later than 15 weeks into pregnancy, except in cases of rape, incest or danger to maternal health. In her next breath, she said the “true extremists” on the issue are her opponents, who she said would allow abortions to be held up to the minute a baby is born.

Gabby Giffords boosts VanValkenburg, Willett campaigns

By CHARLOTTE RENE WOODS, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Party allegiance has likely been a driving factor for some who have already voted early in Henrico County’s Senate District 16, a competitive contest in which Del. Schuyler VanValkenburg, D-Henrico, is challenging Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant, R-Henrico. Others may still be deciding which issues and proposed solutions matter most to them if they are planning to vote. Gun violence was a focus of discussion at a joint campaign event Thursday for VanValkenburg and Del. Rodney Willett, D-Henrico, featuring former Rep. Gabby Giffords, D-Ariz. ...

Poll shows Virginia voters closely divided, with abortion, education policies as top issues

By NATALIE ANDERSON, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

A new poll finds likely Virginia voters almost evenly split on which party they’d like in charge of the General Assembly, but more than half agree abortion is a top issue in the upcoming November election. The poll, conducted by University of Mary Washington’s Center for Leadership and Media Studies among registered voters and likely voters, found 40% of Virginians favored Democratic Party majorities in the General Assembly, while 37% preferred Republican Party majorities.


Virginia ABC head steps down

By MEGHAN MCINTYRE, Virginia Mercury

Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority CEO Travis Hill is stepping down from his role, nearly two months after Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s administration criticized ABC’s rising operating costs and declining profits. “It has been an honor to be a part of reimagining and innovating Virginia ABC in service to the commonwealth of Virginia,” stated Hill in a Thursday morning press release in which he announced he had informed Youngkin of his decision to leave. “I know the authority is well positioned to play an integral role in continuing to make Virginia a great place to live, work and raise a family.”

DEQ proposes fine for eastern Henrico landfill after stream was contaminated in 2019

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

A state agency is proposing fines and corrective action for a Henrico County landfill that contaminated a nearby stream, Almond Creek, and stormwater system in 2019. The BFI Old Dominion Landfill at 2001 Charles City Road has been cited for the leak of an unknown volume of industrial stormwater. The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality is proposing a fine of nearly $10,000 in addition to a corrective action plan to address safety.


Kaine, Warner announce millions in funds for higher education and community programs

By SAMUEL B. PARKER, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine on Thursday announced millions of dollars in federal funding for a gamut of issues from fighting substance abuse to helping low-income college students. In a joint statement, the senators said the U.S. Department of Justice was awarding nearly $13 million through its Office of Justice Programs to Virginia programs geared at enhancing community safety, higher education, combating sexual assault and human trafficking while also aiding enrollment, retention and graduation rates.


Metro board weighs options for dealing with bleak financial picture

By LORI ARATANI, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Metro’s board of directors got its first glimpse Thursday at proposals that underscored challenges facing the transit system, which is trying to close a $750 million gap in next year’s budget without resorting to cuts it says would devastate service. The three scenarios outlined by Metro executives would require the agency to draw from its capital budget to fund operating expenses. It is a strategy that could reduce the amount local jurisdictions would pay to keep the transit agency afloat, but one that would leave Metro struggling to pay for long-term fixes and upgrades...

Transportation report rates Virginia poor in many areas


A new report finds Virginia has “poor” transportation infrastructure in multiple areas. The findings were released in a news conference Thursday morning. The report, “Keeping Virginia Mobile: Providing a Modern, Sustainable Transportation System in the Old Dominion State,” was released by TRIP, a transportation non-profit in Washington DC.


Arlington school system stepping up efforts to include students with disabilities after years of fitful progress


For the past decade, Arlington Public Schools has tried to increase the time students with disabilities spend with their typically abled peers. Creating a more inclusive environment can benefit students with disabilities and their peers, according to some studies — though not all — as well as new APS academic data. But it is easier said than done. As of the 2020-21 school year, 67% of students with disabilities spent 80% of their time in the general education setting. The students who make up the difference might spend more time in a small-group setting or they may be placed in county-wide programs. The 67% figure put APS 5 percentage points below state targets that year and 13 percentage points below a goal it set in its 2018-24 strategic plan.

Fairfax County ties parking to density with first regulatory overhaul in 35 years


Fairfax County has officially updated its parking standards for the age of telework and transit-oriented development. After a public hearing on Tuesday (Sept. 26) that drew dozens of speakers, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a slate of off-street parking regulations intended to steer away from the car-centric impulses that governed the suburb as it grew post-World War II.

Jury deliberating in ex-Loudoun superintendent trial

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

The legal fate of ex-Loudoun County Public Schools Superintendent Scott Alan Ziegler is expected to be decided Friday, Sept 29. After deliberating nearly 90 minutes in Loudoun Circuit Court on Sept. 28, the one-man, six-woman jury broke for the night at 8:30 p.m.

Prosecutors, defense make closing arguments in trial for former Loudoun superintendent


Prosecutors made a final appeal to jurors Thursday afternoon in the case against former Loudoun County Public Schools Superintendent Scott Ziegler, but jurors didn’t reach a verdict. The trial will resume on Friday after many testimonies were made from multiple school board members, administrators and activists.

New Prince William County schools delayed until 2027

By ANYA SCZERZENIE, Prince William Times

Two new Prince William County schools — a high school in Woodbridge and an elementary school in Potomac Shores — that are coincidentally planned near sites once considered by the Washington Commanders for a new stadium, will be delayed by more than a year and are now slated to open in 2027. But the possible future stadium was not a factor in the delays, according to School Board Chairman Babur Lateef and a school division spokeswoman.

Developer Sues Front Royal Town Council for $6 Million in Damages on Amendment Denial

By ROGER BIANCHINI, Royal Examiner

According to documents in the Warren County Circuit Court Clerk’s Office, on Monday, September 25, legal counsel for HEPTAD LLC (Heptad) filed a civil action against the Front Royal Town Council for its August 28 rejection of Heptad’s Proffer Amendment proposal to facilitate the long-floundering Swan Estates residential development. That development on a total of 98.25 acres to the west of Leach Run Parkway is for a now-reduced number of homes on “approximately 86 acres” — 335 units, down from 450 with all multi-family units eliminated, was cited in the civil complaint. The Heptad/Swan Estates residential development project was broached in 2011, with initial proffers offered and placed in 2012, according to references in the civil complaint.



N.C. is pulling back on access to public records. Don’t let Virginia do the same.

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

Virginia’s approach to government transparency, codified in the state’s Freedom of Information Act, has ample room for improvement. There are too many exemptions — overly generous and easily exploitable loopholes — that enable public officials to keep records from public view and to keep meetings closed. It is imperative that citizens continue to advocate for openness and ensure that lawmakers do not further curtail access, especially with all 140 members of the General Assembly up for election this year. Virginians need only cast a wary gaze south to see what can happen absent such pressure.


Yancey: There aren’t enough songs about Virginia

By DWAYNE YANCEY, Cardinal News

Jason Aldean has been on my mind, although not for any reasons dealing with what you can or cannot try in a small town. Steve Martin has been on my mind, too, but not for any reasons dealing with his comedy. Georgia’s been on my mind, too, and I’ll explain why — and how all these things are connected.


Hashmi: The GOP wants to block access to contraception. It’s up to us to stop them

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

As Virginians cast their ballots for our crucial state legislative elections in the coming weeks, voters find themselves in a unique position to demand transparency from candidates on a critical issue: contraception. In a nation where 90% of Americans support contraception, many within the Republican Party seek to limit our ability to exercise this basic health care right.

Sen. Hashmi, D-Chesterfield, currently represents the 10th district in the Senate and is running for re-election to the 15th district.

Greer: Handing over schools to teachers unions doesn’t work. Just ask the parents

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

For years and years now, American parents of schoolchildren have been making it clear they think it’s a bad idea for politicians to hand government union bosses monopoly bargaining power over how teachers and other school employees are compensated and managed. Teacher union officials ham-fistedly wielded their inordinate power to keep thousands of schools shuttered throughout most or all of the 2020-21 academic year, and in some cases well into the 2021-22 academic year as well, despite ample evidence that COVID-19 posed little risk to children’s health.

Greer is the newsletter editor for the National Right to Work Committee, based in Springfield.