Friday, October 9, 2020

Political Headlines from across Virginia

October 9, 2020
Top of the News

Looming deadline for CARES Act money sparks debate between Northam and General Assembly

By KATE MASTERS, Virginia Mercury

How Virginia spends remaining coronavirus relief funds provided through the federal CARES Act has become a point of contention between Gov. Ralph Northam and the General Assembly — now in the final stretch of finalizing a two-year budget plan amid a special session that's lasted for nearly two months. Looming in the minds of many legislators is a Dec. 30 deadline set out in the federal stimulus bill — the date by which states are expected to spend the money they received.


Virginia Democrats' redistricting fight spills into special session budget talks

By GRAHAM MOOMAW, Virginia Mercury

Last week, Virginia Senate Minority Leader Tommy Norment, R-James City, stood to try to extract a promise from Democratic leaders. Since the Senate was solidly behind the bipartisan redistricting commission voters will weigh in on next month, Norment asked, would Senate Democrats be willing to fight for it in budget negotiations with their counterparts in the House of Delegates?


Power Play: Inside the Dominion lobbying blitz that's going to raise your electric bills

By PATRICK WILSON, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

When Democrats campaigned for the Virginia legislature last year, they took aim at the state's largest power broker: Dominion Energy. The electric utility's clout was legendary in the state Capitol, where it doled out millions in campaign contributions and employed an army of lobbyists who helped write energy policy for decades. The result was soaring electricity bills and an energy grid heavily reliant on fossil fuels.

This article was produced in partnership with the ProPublica Local Reporting Network.


Trump can't stop tweeting about ever-bluer Virginia and its governor

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

It was not yet 7 a.m. and the leader of the free world, still hospitalized with the coronavirus, was thinking about Virginia, an increasingly blue state where his campaign hasn't been willing to bankroll ads on TV. "Virginia Voters! Your Governor wants to obliterate your Second Amendment. I have stopped him," President Trump declared Monday at 6:45 a.m., in his third tweet of the day from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.


Fairfax school board eliminates admissions test at Thomas Jefferson High School

By HANNAH NATANSON, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

The famed — and feared — admissions test at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, a prestigious magnet school in Northern Virginia, is no more. The Fairfax County Public Schools Board on Thursday night gave the green light to a proposal, submitted by Superintendent Scott Brabrand, that eliminates the test and the $100 application fee, long staples of the admissions process at Thomas Jefferson.


Some Virginians with coronavirus have stayed over 75 days in a hospital bed: new analysis

By ELISHA SAUERS, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

The average time Virginians stay in a hospital with the coronavirus is about two weeks, but some have gone over 75 days before being discharged, a new data analysis shows. The Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association released statewide details and trends about people being treated for COVID-19 during a press briefing Thursday.


Keysville Church Deals with Covid Outbreak

By STAFF REPORT, Southside Messenger

Following a revival held at Emmanuel Bible Church September 20-23, multiple attendees including the Pastor and his wife tested positive for Covid-19. Pastor Todd Childers made the following statement this week. "We feel as though the spread began either Monday or Tuesday evening.

The Full Report
57 articles, 28 publications

FROM VPAP

From VPAP Maps, Timeline of COVID-19 in Virginia

The Virginia Public Access Project

Our COVID-19 dashboard makes it easy to track the latest available data for tests performed, infections, deaths and hospital capacity. There's a filter for each city and county, plus an exclusive per-capita ZIP Code map. Updated each morning around 10:30 a.m.

EXECUTIVE BRANCH

K-12 schools will receive additional $220 million in federal aid, Northam announces

By CLAIRE MITZEL, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Virginia school divisions will receive $220 million of additional funding toward operating schools during the COVID-19 pandemic from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Recovery and Economic Security Act, Gov. Ralph Northam announced Thursday. Approximately $12.4 million will go to school divisions in the Roanoke and New River valleys.


Northam to send $220 million to schools to cope with pandemic as state doles federal aid

By MICHAEL MARTZ, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

Gov. Ralph Northam will distribute $220 million in federal emergency aid to local school divisions across Virginia, including about $27 million in the four biggest localities in the Richmond area, as the state ramps up efforts to spend money provided under the CARES Act to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. The money for K-12 schools has been expected for more than three weeks, but Northam increased the amount from $159 to $175 per pupil, or an additional $20 million, as divisions get better estimates of enrollment in a school year defined by uncertainty because of the public health challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY

Measure to expand broadband in rural Virginia faces uncertain future in budget negotiations

By AMY FRIEDENBERGER, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

As the General Assembly works toward developing a final revised budget, lawmakers are facing pressure from cable companies over two sentences tucked within a budget bill aimed at expanding broadband in rural Virginia. The House of Delegates passed its budget bill last week that included a proposal for a pilot program for municipal broadband authorities to compete with the private sector for state grants to provide high-speed internet in hard-to-reach areas.

FEDERAL ELECTIONS

Donald Trump Accuses Virginia Governor of Being in Support of 'Executing' Babies

By JEFFERY MARTIN, Newsweek

President Donald Trump alleged on Thursday that Virginia Governor Ralph Northam supported the execution of babies under the guise of late-term abortions. Trump has emphasized his Christian faith during his re-election campaign, reaching out to pro-life groups for support. During speeches at campaign events, Trump has said that Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden would ban religion if he were elected. Biden did endorse Northam's 2017 campaign for governor.


Congressional candidate Bob Good corrects the record after reporting no financial assets

Fauquier Times

Fifth District Republican Congressional candidate Bob Good has submitted a new financial disclosure report to the U.S. House of Representatives Office of the Clerk reflecting financial assets worth up to $1.6 million after initially reporting no assets and no unearned income. Good's new financial report included nine additional pages of financial assets not disclosed in the initial filing.


New Filings Raise Questions About Bob Good's Finances

By BEN PAVIOUR, WCVE-FM

New federal paperwork filed by Republican Congressional hopeful Bob Good shows he owned at least $250,000 in assets that have not previously been disclosed in similar state filings. An amended financial disclosure form filed by Good on Monday shows he owned securities in various retirement accounts worth between $257,000 and $1.8 million as of November 30, 2019. It also showed between $30,000 and $100,000 in student loans to pay for his children's college education.


Trump-supporting pastor wants to turn Virginia's 4th Congressional District red

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

Before he led the raucous crowd in prayer, Leon Benjamin, red USA hat in hand, said President Donald Trump's impending arrival at the Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport last week was a sign. "A wave is about to hit Virginia, and Virginia is about to turn red again!" Benjamin said into the microphone, drawing applause and cheers from the large crowd gathered on the tarmac to hear Trump speak.


Former Virginia congressman's presidential choice is clear: None of the above.

By REGINA MOBLEY, WAVY-TV

Less than one month before Election Day, WAVY-TV 10 is checking the political pulse of someone you may have not heard from in a few years. For 6 years, Republican Congressman Scott Rigell represented the people of Virginia Beach, Norfolk, parts of the Peninsula, and the Eastern Shore. Rigell is now watching from the sidelines while traveling the country in an RV with his wife.


Rep. Morgan Griffith talks police reform, other issues ahead of all-but-assured reelection

By ANNIE SCHROEDER, WSLS-TV

Congressman Morgan Griffith has been working in Virginia politics for more than two decades. As Griffith wraps up his tenth year in his congressional seat, he is setting new priorities focusing on the people in Virginia's 9th District. "Everybody has a calling and something that they love doing. I love trying to solve problems," said Griffith.


Registrar Responds to Allegations of Voter 'Micro-Suppression'

By CAROL VAUGHN, Eastern Shore Post

Accomack County's voter registrar responded to concerns some voters have voiced about early voting and the electoral board. Voter Registrar Patricia White in a Sept. 29 email said 1,519 people had voted in person and the office had mailed out 2,177 ballots by that date, less than two weeks after early voting began Sept. 18.

STATE GOVERNMENT

In December state panel will recommend a replacement for Lee statue at U.S. Capitol

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

In December, a state commission will recommend a noted Virginian to the General Assembly to honor with a statue at the U.S. Capitol, replacing that of Robert E. Lee. The Commission for Historical Statues in the U.S. Capitol decided during a virtual meeting Thursday to invite children in Virginia's schools — public and private — to add their voices to the discussion about who Virginia should honor.


Manufacturers seek to block Virginia from joining carbon market in lawsuit

By SARAH VOGELSONG, Virginia Mercury

The Virginia Manufacturers Association is suing Virginia's Department of Environmental Quality and State Air Pollution Control Board over the state's revision of regulations that will allow it to join a regional cap-and-invest market for carbon. The suit, filed in Richmond Circuit Court Oct. 2, says DEQ followed an incorrect process in revising an existing carbon trading rule as well as claiming the new rule is "unlawful" and the association's members will be adversely affected by it.

ECONOMY/BUSINESS

More Virginians file first-time unemployment claims compared with a week ago

By KIMBERLY PIERCEALL, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Nearly 11,000 Virginians filed a first-time unemployment claim last week, an increase of 1,466 people compared with the prior week, according to weekly data released Thursday by the Virginia Employment Commission. The agency said 10,843 new claims were filed during the week ending Oct. 3.


Jobless claims rise 15.6% in Virginia; down overall in the U.S.

By CHRISTOPHER RUGABER, Associated Press

The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits dipped last week to a still-high 840,000, evidence that layoffs remain elevated seven months into the pandemic recession. . . . In Virginia, initial jobless claims rose 15.6%, or 1,466 claimants, from the previous week, the Virginia Employment Commission reported Thursday. The number of initial claims stood at 10,843 for the week that ended Oct. 3.


ODU economists see opportunities for the region in Newport News' Jefferson Lab

By JOSH REYES, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)

Jefferson Lab in Newport News is on the leading edge of nuclear physics while also providing educational resources and opportunities for schools and university researchers. The facility also is an important employer and has a major economic impact in the region. Beyond physics, local economists see lots of potential.


Facebook says it has invested $1 billion in its Henrico County data center

By JOHN REID BLACKWELL, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

The social media company Facebook said it has now invested about $1 billion in its eastern Henrico County data center that became operational this summer. Facebook first announced plans to open the data center in White Oak Technology Park in 2017. It is one of eight data centers that the company now operates in the United States to serve its online traffic, with five more data centers in development.


Virginia Beach maker of PPE to expand, add 180 new jobs

By KIMBERLY PIERCEALL, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

A Virginia Beach-based maker of disposable face masks and surgical masks plans to create 180 jobs and spend $5.3 million to buy equipment that will allow it to produce more of the personal protective equipment that is in high demand amid the COVID-19 pandemic. PremiumEstore LLC at 2601 Reliance Dr., primarily an e-cigarette distributor since 2008, pivoted to PPE production in March, when it began operating as Premium-PPE and producing AmeriShield branded masks.


Businesses suffering without college football in Hampton Roads

By DAVID HALL, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

On a typical fall Saturday when Old Dominion's football team is home, Perfectly Frank on Monarch Way is teeming with blue-and-white-clad fans eager to get their bellies full and root on the Monarchs. Energetic patrons crowd the counter and fill the dining room tables as others wait to take their places. Tarah Morris and her staff sling hot dogs, burgers, breakfast sandwiches and other items from the restaurant's diverse menu as pregame excitement builds.

TRANSPORTATION

Metro Is Planning For The Future, But One Question Remains: When Will Riders Return?

By JORDAN PASCALE, DCist

Metro's Board of Directors is beginning to formulate its budget for July 2021 through June 2022, and so far it is filled with uncertainties and question marks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. How soon will schools return? Will workers be allowed and more inclined to work from home? If they do go back to the office and traffic isn't bad, will they just opt to drive? Those are some of the scenarios the transit agency is currently working through. But board members agreed on Thursday that Metro should plan for the worst-case scenario: Ridership won't return to pre-COVID levels for years.

HIGHER EDUCATION

Class of 2024 has the lowest number of enrolled students since 2016, most diverse class in U.Va. history

By LILLY WHITNER AND AVA SECCURO, Cavalier Daily

The Class of 2024 is comprised of 3,785 students, the lowest number of enrolled students since the 2016 admissions cycle and the most diverse class in the University's history. Wes Hester, deputy University spokesperson and director of media relations, said that the University is excited to welcome the Class of 2024 during what has been a challenging year. "To do this and meet enrollment targets during such challenging times is remarkable, and speaks to the value and respect that an education from U.Va. carries," Hester said.


W&M alumni pledge not to donate unless cut sports reinstated

By JULIA MARSIGLIANO, Williamsburg-Yorktown Daily (Metered paywall - 3 articles per month)

William & Mary alumni have joined together to demand the seven sports teams cut by the university to be reinstated or else…no more funding. The Pledge Not To Donate, signed by mostly college alumni and parents, had a list of demands, too.


Old Dominion University reports coronavirus outbreak in residence hall

By JESSICA NOLTE, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Old Dominion University reported a coronavirus outbreak Thursday night in one of its residence halls. "We want to make you aware that our COVID-19 testing has identified what could be the beginning of an uptick in positive results among symptomatic and asymptomatic students who live on campus," an alert from the university said.

CORONAVIRUS

More than 1,800 coronavirus cases reported Thursday in Virginia. It's not as bad as it sounds.

By ROBYN SIDERSKY, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

The state Department of Health reported 1,844 coronavirus cases Thursday, more than three times as many as the day before. It was the second-highest case count for one day since the pandemic began. But state officials had a simple explanation: Wednesday's numbers weren't actually as good as they seemed.


Virginia COVID-19 cases jump by 1,844 due to reporting issue

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

The Virginia Department of Health reported Thursday that the statewide total for COVID-19 cases is 155,535 — an increase of 1,844 from the 153,691 reported Wednesday. The VDH dashboard noted Thursday that the increase in cases includes 689 that should have been reported on Wednesday.


New hospital data sheds more light on serious COVID-19 cases in Virginia

By KATE MASTERS, Virginia Mercury

From January to June this year, Virginia's oldest hospitalized COVID-19 patient was 103. But there were also 46 coronavirus hospitalizations among children younger than five out of a total of 22,508, according to new data from the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association — including infants under the age of one. With the exception of a few outliers, the data analysis — presented by the association during a Thursday webinar — highlights much of what's already known about the virus, which disproportionately impacts older patients and those with underlying health conditions.


Region's new infections at 19-day high

By LOLA FADULU, ERIN COX, GREGORY S. SCHNEIDER AND RACHEL CHASON, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

The average number of new daily coronavirus infections across the greater Washington region reached a 19-day high Thursday as local health officials sent an open letter urging people connected to a White House outbreak to get tested. Despite the rise, officials have cautioned that there's no evidence of widespread ties to the Sept. 26 Rose Garden event suspected of being at the center of the outbreak. An infection spike stemming from a reporting issue Thursday lifted the number of confirmed cases in D.C., Virginia and Maryland above 300,000 since the start of the pandemic.


'COVID boom of babies' expected in Culpeper

By JOSH GULLY, Culpeper Times (Metered Paywall)

While some areas of the Culpeper Medical Center have seen less traffic than usual, hospital President Donna Staton said the delivery room will be busy with a looming baby boom stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. "There is going to be a COVID boom of babies in the spring. We're already starting to see that," she recently told the Culpeper County Board of Supervisors. Staton explained the hospital is projecting 70-plus births in both January and February compared to the average of about 45.


Coronavirus outbreak sickens more than a dozen at Fairfax juvenile detention center

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

Officials said a coronavirus outbreak has sickened more than a dozen workers and residents at Fairfax County's Juvenile Detention Center, prompting questions from staff members about the precautions taken against the virus and how its spread was handled. Eight workers and six juveniles have tested positive for the coronavirus at the Fairfax City facility since Sept. 29, officials said, making it one of the worst known outbreaks at a local youth center since March.


Virus cases increase in Farmville

By ALEXA MASSEY, Farmville Herald (Paywall)

The area is suddenly seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases. According to Piedmont Health District Director Dr. H. Robert Nash, many local counties have seen a small jump in cases this week, with attributions to the jump ranging from community spread to local colleges to religious events.


Outbreak widens at Baskerville prison as covid numbers spike

By SUSAN KYTE, Mecklenburg Sun

A renewed virus outbreak at Baskerville Correctional Center has driven up Mecklenburg County's COVID-19 caseload and placed the county in the highest risk category for the pandemic. Mecklenburg went from orange to red over the weekend, according to the risk scale developed by the Harvard Global Health Institute, after 60 new cases of the virus were confirmed by the state health department between Friday and Sunday.


Second wave strikes at Chase City nursing home

South Boston News & Record

A second outbreak of COVID-19 has surfaced at Chase City Health and Rehab. The initial outbreak at the nursing home occurred in May but abated within a month. The second outbreak began in September. The latest reporting by the Virginia Department of Health suggests at least 13 new positive test results have been confirmed among individuals affiliated with Chase City Health and Rehab.

VIRGINIA OTHER

Virginia gun sales in 2020 soar past record: 'It's a year like no other'

By DEAN MIRSHAHI, WAVY-TV

Gun sales in Virginia this year have skyrocketed, breaking a record set in 2016 in just nine months. Data from the Virginia Firearms Transaction Center, which has tracked mandatory background checks on buyers since 1990, shows estimated firearm sales have spiked in 2020, a year rocked by the global pandemic and protests across the country.


Parts of Norfolk's granite MLK monument — in the middle of a busy intersection — have come loose

By RYAN MURPHY, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Part of the granite face of the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial that towers over Brambleton Avenue has come loose and may pose a risk to drivers. From the street, a panel near the very top of the monument could be seen to be missing on Thursday.


After segregation apology, NAACP offers 'terms for conciliation' to Loudoun Co. schools

By NEAL AUGENSTEIN, WTOP

The Loudoun County School Board and administration, and the Board of Supervisors issued "An Apology to the Black Community of Loudoun County," last month for some of the ways county officials fought against desegregation in the Virginia county in the 1950s and 1960s. Now, the NAACP Loudoun Branch has authored "Proposed Terms of Conciliation," that it hopes "works toward moving forward" by "building an institutionalized system equity in a meaningful way that gets to the heart" of addressing systemic racism.


FERC study finds no risk from protective coating of Mountain Valley Pipeline

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

Segments of steel pipe stockpiled along the path of a natural gas pipeline, exposed to the elements for two years while lawsuits delayed construction, pose no risk to the surrounding air, soil or water, a federal agency has concluded. In a report released Thursday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission addressed concerns that have been raised about the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

LOCAL

New APS Enrollment Figures Show More Than 1,000 Fewer Students Than Last Year

By JO DEVOE, ArlNow

Arlington Public Schools is seeing a sharp decline in enrollment this year as families cope with remote learning during the pandemic. From September 2019 to September 2020, PreK-12 enrollment fell from 28,020 to 26,895 — a 4% drop — according to APS' official Sept. 30 count. That's an even bigger drop than the preliminary numbers at the beginning of September, which showed enrollment of 27,109. The drop comes after years of enrollment growth.


Alexandria extends Old Town 'streatery' car-free zone until spring 2021

By KRISTI KING, WTOP

The Alexandria City Council has voted to keep in place the pedestrian-only restaurant zone in Old Town through March 2021. The 100 block of King Street near the Potomac River and waterfront park of the Northern Virginia city has restaurant seating on the sidewalks and along the road where cars typically would park. A broad corridor down the center of the road is open for walkers and social distancing.


ACPS Superintendent Hutchings Sends Child To Private School Bishop Ireton

By NIKKI HARRIS, Theogony

Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) Superintendent Dr. Gregory Hutchings has enrolled one of his two children in Bishop Ireton, a private Catholic high school in Alexandria that operates under a hybrid learning model, in contrast to ACPS's entirely virtual model. A hybrid model includes virtual and in-person instruction. The high school sophomore transferred to Bishop Ireton after attending the Minnie Howard campus of T.C. Williams last year as a freshman.


Local COVID-19 numbers delay in-person instruction option for most Prince William students

By JILL PALERMO, Prince William Times

Prince William County's still high COVID-19 numbers and the logistical hurdles involved with returning students to schools during the pandemic will keep the majority of local students learning virtually until at least early 2021, Superintendent Steven Walts told the school board Wednesday.


As Henrico nears return to learn decision, teachers are uncertain about returning

By KENYA HUNTER, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Uncertainty lingered Thursday as Henrico County school officials heard their most detailed briefing to date on COVID-19 ahead of an Oct. 22 decision on whether to bring more students into classrooms. The Central Virginia region is at what health experts deem a moderate burden for transmission of the virus, which has claimed 220 lives and infected at least 5,659 people in Henrico, state data shows.


Virginia Beach City Council moves meetings to Convention Center due to pandemic

By ALISSA SKELTON, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

The Health Department has recommended that the City Council and Planning Commission no longer hold public meetings at City Hall for the foreseeable future due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Suite 5 at the Virginia Beach Convention Center will be the new meeting place so everyone will have enough room to space out, the city announced on Thursday. The change comes a few days after Councilman John Moss announced he tested positive for COVID-19.


Portsmouth students won't return to school until 2021

By SARA GREGORY, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Portsmouth students won't return to the classroom in 2020. Superintendent Elie Bracy gave the board an option to bring back students in pre-K through third grade starting Nov. 16, but didn't make a recommendation. The board unanimously said it preferred to err on the side of caution and wait until 2021.


Hampton students won't be back in classrooms until at least early November

By MATT JONES, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)

Superintendent Jeffery Smith said in a school board meeting Wednesday that, at the request of board members, Hampton City Schools students won't return to classrooms this quarter. The district hasn't established a specific timeline for return yet. Several neighboring districts, including Newport News and York County, have started to bring some students back or plan to do so this month.


As pandemic grinds on, Hampton sees slight drop in some tax revenues

By LISA VERNON SPARKS, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)

The good news about Hampton's finances some seven months into a pandemic: the city has a fat cushion in its savings account, thanks to some bountiful years. The bad news: Hampton is feeling a pinch because some funding sources - such as lodging and admissions taxes - are suffering, according to a report city finance director Karl Daughtrey gave the Hampton City Council last month.


In Poquoson, a familiar face ready to return

By NOOR ADATIA, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)

After leaving the House of Delegates more than a year ago, Gordon Helsel is running unopposed for another stint as mayor of Poquoson. "It's time for me to come back," Helsel, now 73, said. "I look forward to serving the citizens of the community — always have and always will."


Albemarle School Board votes 4-3 to move to move to Stage Three

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

Albemarle County School Board voted 4-3 late Thursday night to start in-person classes for preschoolers through third-graders starting Nov. 9. The vote came after more than two hours of discussion about schools Superintendent Matt Haas's recommendation to move to Stage Three of the division's reopening plan. Parents have until Oct. 16 to decide whether to send their kids to school or stick with online classes.


Fearing violence, Bristol GOP cancels planned "Back the Blue" rally

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

The Bristol Virginia GOP announced today it is cancelling a "Back the Blue" rally originally planned for Oct. 10 due to concerns about violence. In a written statement, Chairman Jacob Holmes explained the decision. "After much deliberation, we have come to the decision to cancel the Bristol VA/TN Backs the Blue event. We wholeheartedly support our law enforcement officers, and wish to ensure that we are not possibly putting them in harm's way," according to the statement.

 

EDITORIALS

Virginia Tech's gain has been Radford University's loss, and not a net gain for the region

Roanoke Times Editorial (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Blacksburg Mayor Leslie Hager-Smith said she didn't have any comment on Virginia Tech reaching its goal of enrolling 30,000 undergraduates three years ahead of schedule. We, however, do. Blacksburg is understandably not completely thrilled about Tech hitting the goal — or even, necessarily, having this goal.


Time for a shake-up at VRS

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

The Virginia Retirement System, which provides retirement benefits for hundreds of thousands of teachers, state judges, police officers, firefighters and other government employees throughout the commonwealth, reported a dismal 1.4 percent rate of return on its investment portfolio in fiscal year 2020. VRS Board Chairman O'Kelly McWilliams tried to put a brave face on the fact that 1.4 percent is well below the 6.7 percent goal the system needs to meet its pension obligations—which it met last fiscal year, according to its 2019 annual report.


Hold the fiscal line, governor

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

Gov. Ralph Northam, take Del. Mark Sickles up on his offer. Reach for the veto pen. Do not be shy. "It's the role of the legislature to set spending priorities," Sickles, D-Fairfax told the Richmond Times-Dispatch in an interview with veteran reporter Michael Martz. "Of course, he can veto any item not to his liking."


Vote "yes" on Amendment 2

Richmond Times-Dispatch Editorial (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

They served our country with valor, defending the liberty and protecting the freedoms we often take for granted. Yet some members of the military suffer debilitating injuries during the course of their service, posing challenges to both them and their families. There's a way that Virginians can show their appreciation for those veterans who become permanently disabled: by supporting Amendment 2 during this year's election.


There's the urgency we've been looking for on broadband

Richmond Times-Dispatch Editorial (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Enter the home of a student attending school virtually, or a parent juggling a job and child care. Visit a small business that cannot engage with customers online. Talk to a farmer who is unable to use the latest technology to care for crops. Meet a patient driving long distances to receive care because telehealth is out of the question. Watch as Virginians reset wireless hot spots 10 times a day, rejoin Zoom meetings after missing a critical exchange or can't pay a bill because of $70 in data overage fees.


Reelect Sen. Mark Warner

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

In 12 years on Capitol Hill, Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) has staked a legitimate claim as one of the more effective, constructive and genuinely bipartisan lawmakers in Congress. In a place where grandstanding, pandering and interparty venom are nearly normal, Mr. Warner is frequently the grown-up in the room, a measured and substantive Democrat who has forged partnerships with key Republican colleagues. Virginians would do well to reelect him this year to a third term in the Senate, and we endorse him.

OP-ED

Baron: Seek understanding and look for the good

By JOE BARON, published in Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

On a late summer evening as we were returning from a community event, my wife Jennifer began scrolling through social media and reading some entries aloud to me. Quickly, we became frustrated and saddened about how easily so many people seem to spread hateful and hurtful messages. Often, those messages are spread online, but the dialogue recently seems to be moving onto city streets and into neighborhoods, too.

Baron is the sheriff of Norfolk.


Filler-Corn and Helmer: Vote "yes" on Amendment 2 and support our disabled veterans

By EILEEN FILLER-CORN AND DAN HELMER, published in Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

This election, voters across Virginia face important choices. We know there are sharp divisions on the direction of our country, but as you cast your ballot, regardless of your party, we hope you will vote "yes" on Question 2, the Motor Vehicle Property Tax Exemption for Disabled Veterans Amendment. So many throughout Virginia served their country in the armed services and many — while in service to our nation — suffered injuries they will deal with for the rest of their lives.

Filler-Corn, D-Fairfax, is the speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates and represents the 41st District. Helmer, D-Fairfax, is an Iraq and Afghanistan veteran who represents Virginia's 40th District in the House of Delegates

THE FRIDAY READ

A Chesapeake 12-year-old cut 50 lawns for free for those in need — and used the tips to feed the homeless

By KATHERINE HAFNER, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Phoenix Browne worked hard for his brand new lawnmower this summer. Over about a month, the Chesapeake 12-year-old cut grass in yard after yard — 50 in all — around Hampton Roads, battling the heat and humidity. And he did it all for free.

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Virginia Public Access Project · P.O. Box 1472 · Richmond, VA 23218 · USA

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Special Saturday Edition

October 3, 2020
Top of the News

Virginia House, Senate pass budgets, getting closer to final spending plan

By AMY FRIEDENBERGER AND CLAIRE MITZEL, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

The Virginia House of Delegates and Senate this week both passed a revised state budget that would fund various criminal justice and police reform measures, housing relief, assistance with utility payments and aid to public schools. The budget bills from the House and Senate — both of which are controlled by Democrats — have numerous differences. A group of delegates and senators will discuss those over the coming days so they can put forward a final budget for both chambers to approve.


Senate votes party line to pass no-knock ban; GOP leader says House 'mob' is herding it through

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

A bill banning no-knock search warrants in Virginia got through the state Senate as expected along party lines, but not before Senate Republicans spent a lot of energy attacking both the bill and what one senator called "that mob" in the House of Delegates for ramming it through the special session


Contact tracing for a coronavirus-positive governor previews task ahead for Trump tracers

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

Just days before Gov. Ralph Northam tested positive for the novel coronavirus, he traveled to the Blue Ridge Mountains to christen a new highway tunnel, the Hampton Roads region to break ground on an economic development project, and Northern Virginia to lay out a refinancing plan for public universities. First lady Pam Northam, who also tested positive, made stops at a community garden and two child-care centers in Fredericksburg, a preschool in Dumfries and a Manassas Park elementary school.


Weekend jail in Virginia Beach used to mean 2 nights at the facility. These days, inmates don't even go inside.

By JANE HARPER, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

When one of the men who took part in a violent assault on her boyfriend was sentenced to 30 days in jail, Margaret Reyes thought it meant he'd actually be incarcerated for that long. Even when the judge agreed to allow the 38-year-old Norfolk man to serve his sentence on the weekends — beginning Oct. 9 — Reyes still believed he'd do the time, just not all at once.


University says 'F--- UVA' signs on Lawn doors are protected free speech

By BRYAN MCKENZIE, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

A four-letter imperative, posted to a Lawn residence door with the University of Virginia as its direct object, has riled alumni and created a social media debate that led the university's president, rector and general counsel to defend the profane door as protected political speech. The expletive features a common English curse word followed by a list of grievances: "UVa operating cost, KKKops, genocide, slavery, disability, black-brown life."


Chesterfield home, BLM sign drawing attention of neighbors and codes department

By BEN DENNIS, WAVY-TV

A Chesterfield home projected in colorful images is bringing attention to national political topics–drawing the intrigue of neighbors and drivers passing-by. Now, a large sign out front supporting the 'Black Lives Matter' movement is in the middle of a dispute with the county.


Virginia has a rocket launch site, and it's about to grow with the most successful startup since SpaceX

By CHRISTIAN DAVENPORT, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, down past Chincoteague toward the southern tip of the Eastern Shore, sits an isolated spit of shoreline, near a wildlife refuge, that is home to one of the most unusual, and little known, rocket launch sites in the country. Born as a Navy air station during World War II, it has launched more than 16,000 rockets, most of them small sounding vehicles used for scientific research. But the Wallops Flight Facility, which at the dawn of the Space Age played a role as a test site for the Mercury program, is about to reinvent itself at a time when the commercial space industry is booming and spreading beyond the confines of Florida's Cape Canaveral.

The Full Report
42 articles, 20 publications

FROM VPAP

From VPAP Maps, Timeline of COVID-19 in Virginia

The Virginia Public Access Project

Our COVID-19 dashboard makes it easy to track the latest available data for tests performed, infections, deaths and hospital capacity. There's a filter for each city and county, plus an exclusive per-capita ZIP Code map. Updated each morning around 10:30 a.m.

EXECUTIVE BRANCH

Northam wishes the Trumps well, feels fine a week after positive test

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

Aweek after his own positive test for COVID-19, Gov. Ralph Northam says he feels fine and has no symptoms. On Friday the governor was among many Virginia state officials wishing President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump well after hearing they had tested positive, and urging Virginians to take the coronavirus seriously.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY

Housing Protections Clear Virginia Legislature

By YASMINE JUMAA, WCVE-FM

Virginians facing financial hardship as a result of the pandemic could soon have new protections. The state Senate passed two bills on Thursday that aim to help renters stay in their homes. Both bills were sponsored by Del. Marcia Price (D-Newport News), One bill would allow for tenants to catch up on late rent by paying overdue amounts in equal installments over six months. This would only apply to landlords who own more than four rental units in Virginia.


State GOP legislative leaders ask Inspector General to release additional investigative reports of Parole Board

By MARK BOWES, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

State Republican legislative leaders have asked the State Inspector General to release "complete and unredacted copies" of all investigative reports it may have provided to the governor's office or other administration officials involving investigations the agency conducted of Virginia Parole Board decisions. In a letter dated Sept. 26 and sent to State Inspector General Michael Westfall, House Minority Leader Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah, and Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment Jr., R-James City, said they have learned that Westfall's office "has made additional findings and produced one or more additional reports related to" an earlier administrative investigation of the Virginia Parole Board.


Virginia lawmakers pass bill banning traffic stops for tiny infractions

By NED OLIVER, Virginia Mercury

Legislation banning police from initiating searches based on the smell of marijuana and making traffic stops for an array of minor infractions is heading to Gov. Ralph Northam's desk after clearing the General Assembly on Friday. The bill is among the first in a wide-ranging package of police reforms to win final passage in the House and Senate during a special legislative session that began in August.


Bill would ban pre-arrest sex between police and detainees

By ADA ROMANO, VCU Capital News Service

A bill to charge law enforcement officers with a Class 6 felony if they engage in sexual relations with a detainee has unanimously passed both chambers of the Virginia General Assembly. Del. Karrie Delaney, D-Centreville, said she proposed House Bill 5045 to close a loophole in the law which currently does not make it illegal for police officers to have sexual relations with someone who has been detained.

STATE ELECTIONS

Virginians to vote on bipartisan redistricting

By GREGORY S. SCHNEIDER, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Virginia voters will decide next month whether to approve a constitutional amendment creating a bipartisan commission to draw political boundaries in hopes of ending partisan and racial gerrymandering. "Amendment #1," as it appears on general election ballots, would shift the task of redistricting from the governor and General Assembly to a panel composed of lawmakers and citizens.


GOP Politicians Want a Redistricting Commission, But Their Voters Aren't So Sure

By BEN PAVIOUR, WCVE-FM

Virginia Republicans are campaigning heavily to pass a Constitutional amendment that backers say will help end gerrymandering. The unanimity stands in contrast to Democratic politicians and the GOP's own voters, whom polling suggests are divided on the amendment. The amendment would remove the General Assembly's traditional role in drawing their own maps and give that power to a 16-person commission made up equally of lawmakers and citizens. The Virginia Supreme Court would serve as a backstop if the commission deadlocks.

FEDERAL ELECTIONS

Virginia Beach officials adjust to handle expected surge in absentee ballots

By MARGAUX MACCOLL, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

At 10 a.m. Friday, the first absentee vote in Virginia Beach officially was cast. This kicked off an unprecedented election year where officials expect to count more absentee ballots than ever. To prepare, Virginia Beach election officials have ramped up their strategies for processing votes ahead of Election Day. According to state law, election officials can begin processing absentee ballots before Nov. 3, as long as the vote totals are not tallied until Election Day.


SW Va. registrars say not just anyone can serve as a poll watcher

By MIKE STILL, Kingsport Times News

Poll watching and protecting voting integrity have figured in various news and social media platforms in recent weeks as Virginia registrars and election officials handle early voting and absentee ballots in advance of Election Day on Nov. 3. . . . Registrars in Wise, Lee and Scott counties and the city of Norton all said Friday that they are not expecting disturbances at polling places in the region, but they also said that state election law places restrictions on who can serve as a poll watcher.

STATE GOVERNMENT

VSP launches website allowing public to submit, track FOI requests

By STAFF REPORT, WAVY-TV

Virginia State Police launched a new website this week designed to help the public submit and track Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. The web-based public records portal opened to the public on October 1. The records management system is also available to the media and for attorneys to upload subpoena duces tecum and discovery requests.


'A great opportunity': Plan for CVTC property formally launched, public urged to give input

By JUSTIN FAULCONER, News & Advance (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)

A redevelopment plan for the Central Virginia Training Center campus, an effort Lynchburg-area officials have talked about extensively in recent years, formally kicked off Thursday with the launch of a website and a strong push for public input. CVTC in Madison Heights is in the process of closing as a state-run facility with more than a century's history of serving residents with disabilities. The site's last remaining resident was relocated in early April.

CONGRESS

As Caroline ICE Center Confronts Outbreak, Kaine Talks Farmville with Local Officials

By ALAN RODRIGUEZ ESPINOZA, WCVE-FM

During a virtual roundtable with local health and government officials, Sen. Tim Kaine was briefed by health officials on lessons learned in Farmville. The immigration detention center in Farmville suffered a major COVID-19 outbreak over the summer -- the worst of any ICE facility in the country -- after detainees were transferred in from Arizona and Florida. The majority of these transfers tested positive.

ECONOMY/BUSINESS

Virginia Beach's new $68 million state-of-the-art Sports Center opens

By STACY PARKER, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Vying to be one of the nation's top sports tourism destinations, Virginia Beach opened its new $68 million state-of-the-art indoor sports facility Thursday, a month earlier than expected. The Virginia Beach Sports Center, on 19th Street at the Oceanfront, became a reality in less than two years.


QVC puts call center in Chesapeake up for sale or lease; employees to keep working from home

By KIMBERLY PIERCEALL, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

QVC, the television-based home-shopping retailer, put its 52,911-square-foot Chesapeake call center on the market. Its employees will work from home permanently. The COVID-19 pandemic pushed Qurate Retail Group, which owns QVC, to rapidly shift to a work-from-home model, something that was in the works before the global health crisis that led to business closures and social distancing rules. The company's entire U.S. Customer Service & Experience division, with few exceptions, will keep working from home indefinitely.

TRANSPORTATION

Metro lags behind other big transit systems in converting its bus fleet to electric, Sierra Club report says

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

Metro lags behind other large transit agencies in converting its bus fleet to electric and is on a "backward" path with its plan to purchase about 500 gas-fueled vehicles over the next five years, according to a report released Thursday. The 17-page report by the Sierra Club titled "A vision for climate leadership in Washington, D.C." aims to pressure the transit agency into committing to a future of electric-only buses, a goal the environmental group projected would dramatically improve the region's air quality while ultimately saving Metro millions of dollars.

HIGHER EDUCATION

President Ryan addresses controversy over Lawn room signs, contextualization of Jefferson statue

By EVA SUROVELL, Cavalier Daily

University President Jim Ryan addressed controversy over critical signs posted on Lawn room doors and criticism of the Board of Visitors' recent vote to contextualize the Thomas Jefferson statue in written remarks issued Friday. The University will consider imposing regulations on Lawn room residents as early as next year, according to Ryan. The signs, which contain profanity such as "f—k UVA" and criticism of the University's history of enslavement and inaccessibility, have generated calls for removal from some alumni and community members.


JMU community largely split on decision to come back to campus

By BRICE ESTES, The Breeze

The public submitted a stack of 650 comments gauging JMU and the Board of Visitors' (BOV) COVID-19 response to the university's input form prior to the BOV meeting Sept. 18. Of the 650 comments, 190 individuals explicitly stated that they believed JMU should remain online this fall, and 184 said the university should return to on-campus operations — a near even rift in opinion.


Time's up: W&M avoids Title IX lawsuit — for now

By JULIA MARSIGLIANO, Williamsburg-Yorktown Daily (Metered paywall - 3 articles per month)

The College of William & Mary might have avoided a Title IX lawsuit after suspending seven varsity sports programs. Arthur H. Bryant, of Bailey & Glasser LLP law firm, told WYDaily Thursday the university had sent a letter at 4:44 p.m. Wednesday, just before his deadline.

CORONAVIRUS

No COVID-19 cases linked to Trump rally in Newport News so far

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

So far, Virginia health officials have found no direct connections between recent confirmed COVID-19 cases and President Donald Trump's rally at Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport a week ago. The incubation period is still ongoing, however, the state Department of Health noted. State data show a statewide decline in the seven-day average of new cases since the Sept. 25 rally, which drew people from wide area.


Virginia COVID-19 cases rise by 966 since Thursday

By STAFF REPORT, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

The Virginia Department of Health reported Friday that the statewide total for COVID-19 cases is 149,687, an increase of 966 from the 148,721 reported Thursday. The 149,687 cases consist of 141,850 confirmed cases and 7,837 probable cases. There are 3,250 COVID-19 deaths in Virginia — 3,037 confirmed and 213 probable. That's an increase of 22 from the 3,228 reported Thursday.


D.C. region records highest coronavirus count in two weeks

By DANA HEDGPETH, MICHELLE BOORSTEIN AND FENIT NIRAPPIL, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

A two-week slide in the number of coronavirus infections across the greater Washington region hit an obstacle Friday, when the area recorded its highest number of daily cases since mid-September. The 1,743 cases Friday in Virginia, Maryland and D.C. was the highest number in a single day since Sept. 18. The three jurisdictions each reported caseloads above their rolling seven-day averages.


COVID Insurance Coverage Rate Steady

By IAN MUNRO, Daily News Record (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Though an estimated 5.6 million American workers lost health insurance coverage due to layoffs in March and April from the economic recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Valley Health did not see a major difference between the number of insured and uninsured COVID-19 patients and non-virus patients it tended to at four Valley hospitals, according to data provided by the not-for-profit health system. "The proportion of insured versus uninsured patients we've seen with a COVID-19 related diagnosis doesn't really seem different from our proportion of insured and uninsured overall," said Pete Gallagher, senior vice president and chief financial officer of Valley Health.


Virginia's COVID-19 app slow to catch on

By MEL LEONOR, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

A smartphone app that could alert its users if they'd been exposed to the novel coronavirus appeared to be a boon for staving off infections and giving Virginians some peace of mind as they intermingled. Eight weeks since its launch, however, uptake among Virginians remains low, hamstringing the benefits for the app's users and casting doubt on the anticipated return on the state's $1.53 million investment.


Virginia Open Data Portal offers datasets regarding COVID-19

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

For those who can't get enough of virus-related statistics, the Virginia Open Data Portal has more than a dozen COVID-19 datasets under one website. All the information has been presented previously by the Virginia Department of Health, but in different places. The portal provides information on caseloads by ZIP code; outbreaks in long-term care facilities; hospitalizations; and breakdowns by age, gender and ethnicity.


Labor Day, return of UVa students led to record month for COVID in area

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

Labor Day weekend, the return of University of Virginia students and the reopening of some public and private schools led to another record month for the Thomas Jefferson Health District as it deals with the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, despite the rising case numbers, officials with the health district said they adapted quickly to those new challenges and continued to meet their goals for testing, contact tracing and case investigations.


Suffering from cancer and diabetes, a Virginia inmate died of covid-19 just months before his release date

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

As covid-19 cases surged, the pleas to release Askia Asmar from a Virginia prison became increasingly desperate. The 67-year-old inmate's term, family and advocates warned, could become a death sentence because he suffered from lung and liver cancer, diabetes and hepatitis C. Asmar had less than a year to serve on nonviolent charges and his niece had agreed to take him in, his sister said, but the Virginia Department of Corrections (VADOC) denied early release despite his failing health, saying he posed a "high risk of recidivism."


23 more inmates at Danville City Jail test positive for COVID-19

By CHARLES WILBORN, Danville Register & Bee

After announcing earlier this week that one Danville City Jail inmate tested positive for COVID-19, 23 others have become infected, the Danville Sheriff's Office reports. It was Wednesday when Danville Sheriff Mike Mondul disclosed the first case at the jail, the same day authorities received confirmation of the positive test.


County health district advises against traditional trick-or-treating due to the pandemic

Prince William Times

Due to the pandemic, the Prince William Health District is advising against traditional, door-to-door trick-or-treating this year and is encouraging local families to consider alternate activities that pose less risk for spreading COVID-19. " . . . After being stuck indoors for months, cabin fever may really be getting to residents, and they may want to venture out. However, we are still in the midst of a pandemic. It is important that everyone exercise prudence and caution. . . .," Prince William Health District Director Dr. Alison Ansher said in a Friday news release.

VIRGINIA OTHER

Mountain Valley gets another permit, but no word on when pipeline work can resume

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

Another permit has been granted for the Mountain Valley Pipeline, the company told federal regulators Friday, after waiting a week on its request to resume construction. The latest approval, from the National Park Service on Tuesday, is for natural gas to be pumped at high pressure through a pipe buried under the Blue Ridge Parkway in Roanoke County.


How Trump amassed a red-state army in the nation's capital

By AARON C. DAVIS, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

The call that came into state capitals stunned governors and their National Guard commanders: The Pentagon wanted thousands of citizen soldiers airlifted to the nation's capital immediately to help control crowds outside the White House in the wake of the death of George Floyd. ...Two of those calls went to neighboring Maryland and Virginia — the former a state with a Republican governor, the latter led by a Democrat. The secretary asked Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam to activate what would have been nearly all of the state's available Guard that day and to deploy them across the Potomac River into the District, according to two people briefed on their phone conversations that day.

LOCAL

How should a premier magnet school boost Black and Latino enrollment? A suggested lottery spurs fierce debate.

By HANNAH NATANSON, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

A controversial proposal to boost Black and Latino enrollment at a premier Northern Virginia magnet school — by switching from a test-based process to a lottery — has plunged parents, students and alumni into a hard-fought battle whose results could reshape one of the top schools in the country. Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Scott Brabrand put forward the plan to revise admissions at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in mid-September, and it is slated for a school board vote on Oct. 8.


Judge declines to release superintendent's Twitter messages, dismisses former school board chair's lawsuit

By JILL PALERMO, Prince William Times

Prince William Superintendent Steven Walts' Twitter direct messages will remain sealed from public view as a result of a judge's ruling Friday in Prince William County Circuit Court. Judge Kimberly A. Irving ruled Oct. 2 that the messages, which numbered more than 20,000, were "clearly exempted" from mandatory disclosure under Virginia's Freedom of Information Act because they were communications between the chief executive officer of the Prince William County School Board, the school board said in a Friday press release.


RPS reports more than 16,000 absences in first 8 days of school year

By KENYA HUNTER AND JOHN RAMSEY, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Richmond Public Schools recorded more than 16,000 student absences in the first eight days of school this year, according to preliminary data. During those eight days, attendance hovered at about 91%, 2 points lower than measured by the district in a study over 70 days in 2017. The school district provided enrollment and attendance figures in response to a Freedom of Information request. In recent years, chronic absences in Richmond have been nearly twice the state average.


Richmond Candidate Hosted 'Proud Boys' At 2019 Strip Club Event

By ROBERTO ROLDAN, WCVE-FM

In May 2019, self-described 'dirty trickster' and Trump campaign advisor Roger Stone held a speaking engagement at Richmond's Paper Moon strip club. Stone was facing a legal battle after being charged with seven federal crimes, including witness tampering and making false statements to Congress. The event at Paper Moon was meant to be a fundraiser for his legal defense. . . . With Stone on stage were former "Manhattan Madam" Kristin Davis and Mike Dickinson, who was the director of events for Paper Moon and is now running for Richmond's 1st District City Council seat.


Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority Responds to Public Concerns About Annual Plan

By YASMINE JUMAA, WCVE-FM

Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority submitted its annual plan for federal approval, following a 45-day comment period. But advocates have criticized the agency over its outreach efforts. RRHA issued a statement on Thursday, dismissing public concerns about the plan. In it, the agency spokesperson, Angela Fountain said she's hopeful that RRHA's response will, "Help correct the various inaccuracies and untruths held by some."


Henrico county manager pulls funding for police accountability prosecutor

By JESS NOCERA, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

As calls for police reform hail across the country, Henrico County Manager John Vithoulkas cut funding for a prosecutor position focused on police accountability after concluding that the woman picked for the job had shown she could not judge police actions objectively. Roughly a month after protests sprang up nationwide in the wake of the death of George Floyd, a new position was established within the Henrico Commonwealth's Attorney's Office: deputy for police integrity and compliance.


Montgomery County looking to partnership to improve broadband

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

Montgomery County is partnering with a small Southwest Virginia company in hopes of improving available bandwidths in pockets that still have little to no access to high-speed internet. The county is awaiting a decision on a nearly $1 million grant that it is requesting from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development's Virginia Telecommunication Initiative.

 

EDITORIALS

Wishing the Trumps a speedy recovery

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

It is a national crisis when the president of the United States has a head cold, must less a deadly infectious disease that's claimed more than a million lives worldwide — including more than 207,000 Americans. President Donald Trump posted on Twitter early Friday morning that he and wife Melania had tested positive for COVID-19. Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen tested negative Friday morning, a welcome bit of news.

COLUMNISTS

Schapiro: Finally, Trump and Northam have something in common

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

Barely a week after his raucous airport rally in Newport News — mocked as a super-spreader event by Virginia Democrats — President Donald Trump tested positive for the 'rona. Gov. Ralph Northam, himself a COVID-19 case, probably didn't have in mind this type of October surprise when he announced in August Virginia's first-in-the-nation smartphone app that alerts users if they've come in contact with others infected by the virus.


PolitiFact: Did Freitas Vote Against Protections for Pregnant Women?

By WARREN FISKE, WCVE-FM

A large union is claiming Nick Freitas, the Republican candidate for the 7th Congressional District seat, has turned his back on working pregnant women. "He voted to let businesses discriminate and fire expecting mothers for no other reason but their pregnancy," says a TV ad by the United Association of Union Plumbers and Pipefitters Vote! PAC. We fact checked the ad's statement.

OP-ED

Perrigan: COVID-19 and declining enrollment

By KEITH PERRIGAN, published in Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

After reviewing the budget amendments presented by the House and Senate in Virginia's 2020 special session, it is my opinion that PK-12 educators across our commonwealth should be both thankful and motivated. We should be thankful that both the House and Senate are recommending that school division budgets do not feel the anticipated loss of sales tax revenue that has occurred due to the impact of COVID-19 and have dedicated $200 million in federal aid to assist schools in making necessary protections for students and staff.

Perrigan is superintendent of Bristol Public Schools and president of the Coalition of Small and Rural Schools of Virginia.

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