Saturday, September 12, 2020

Special Saturday Edition

September 12, 2020
Top of the News

Virginia lawmakers push to expand police decertification law

By DENISE LAVOIE, Associated Press

A white Virginia state trooper yells an expletive-laden threat at a Black motorist who refuses to get out of his car during a traffic stop. Smiling for the driver's cellphone camera, the trooper remarks, "Watch the show, folks," then yanks the man out of his car by his neck. The video sparked outrage in Virginia, but under current state law, the trooper's conduct — unless he's later convicted of a crime — is not grounds for disqualifying him from working in law enforcement.

Computer hackers attack Fairfax County school system

By JOE HEIM, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Hackers attacked the Fairfax County Public Schools computer system and placed ransomware on some of its systems, a school district spokesperson said Friday. The district, which serves 189,000 students in northern Virginia, said it had recently learned of the attack and it is working with its security experts to investigate the scope of the attack and determine what information was stolen. Ransomware is software used to steal and then threaten publication of data or block access unless a ransom is paid.

Loudoun Co. virtual learning interrupted by students using racial slurs, displaying explicit images


The first week of virtual learning in Loudoun County, Virginia, was interrupted by incidents of students using racial slurs, displaying sexual images or popping into the virtual sessions of other classes or schools. "These incidents are contrary to our core beliefs, our commitment to racial equity and other matters of equity as described in the LCPS Equity Statement, and to the expectations we have established for appropriate behavior by students in the virtual environment," Williams said in a news release.

'We're committed': Virginia Tech's Sands says going remote isn't helpful

By HENRI GENDREAU, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Virginia Tech likely won't send students packing this fall, because a shift to all-online classes would do little to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, President Tim Sands said Friday. "I won't say categorically that we won't change direction, but, to be perfectly honest, I think what we're learning is that going remote wouldn't help that much," Sands told students at an hour-long virtual town hall.

ICE flew detainees to Virginia so the planes could transport agents to D.C. protests

By ANTONIO OLIVO AND NICK MIROFF, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

The Trump administration flew immigrant detainees to Virginia this summer to facilitate the rapid deployment of Homeland Security tactical teams to quell protests in Washington, circumventing restrictions on the use of charter flights for employee travel, according to a current and a former U.S. official. After the transfer, dozens of the new arrivals tested positive for the novel coronavirus, fueling an outbreak at the Farmville, Va., immigration jail that infected more than 300 inmates, one of whom died.

King William County Commissioner of the Revenue refuses to cooperate with audit, emails show

By EMILY HOLTER, Tidewater Review

King William Commissioner of the Revenue Sally Pearson refused, on several occasions, to let auditors in her office Sept. 2, according to email correspondence between high-level county officials. Pearson's refusal to participate in the audit comes nearly six weeks after she declined to take part in the county's reassessment process, one of the essential functions of her office. It was the reassessment, during which it was revealed that hundreds of properties weren't being taxed, that prompted County Administrator Bobbie Tassinari to initiate the performance audit of Pearson's office.

Federal grant to help redevelop, reconnect once-segregated pocket of Norfolk

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

The three 1950s-era public housing communities in Norfolk's St. Paul's area have long been isolated, surrounded by busy roads and largely cut off from city cross streets. The design is a remnant of racist housing policies that aimed to keep poor and Black residents stuck in their own neighborhoods. A new $14.4 million federal grant announced Friday could change that, helping to reconnect the area to more pedestrian-friendly city streets once St. Paul's is redeveloped.

The Full Report
38 articles, 16 publications


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. In-person visits to the DMV still account for half of voter registration activity. But iconic voter drive volunteers armed with clipboards have given way to online apps that steer people to state's Citizen Portal.


Virginia bill to take sentencing out of juries' hands passes state Senate

By PETER DUJARDIN, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)

A bill to significantly reform Virginia's jury trial system is a step closer to becoming law. The legislation — which would give defendants the option of being sentenced by a judge rather that the jury that just convicted them —passed the Senate on a 22-18 vote Thursday.

Virginia Beach leaders speak against police immunity bill that died in committee

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

Legislation that would have made it easier for citizens to sue police officers for misconduct died this week in Richmond, but that didn't stop several Virginia Beach leaders from gathering Friday to speak against it. Less than 24 hours after the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 12-3 to kill HB 5013, Mayor Bobby Dyer and Sheriff Ken Stolle met at the city jail with several local legislators, City Council members and law enforcement officials to make their opinions known. "The system worked yesterday," Stolle said of the committee's decision. "But we will see this bill again. It's not a done deal."


Virginia Supreme Court dismisses challenge to wording of redistricting amendment

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

The Supreme Court of Virginia has rejected a challenge to the wording of a ballot question tied to a constitutional amendment on redistricting. The lawsuit alleged that the question is "misleading" and "inaccurate," and written in a way that leaves voters in the dark about the key effects of the amendment on the state's redistricting process. It asked the Supreme Court of Virginia to compel state election officials to correct it.

Fairfax to kick off gubernatorial campaign with weekend speeches

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

Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, the second African American elected to statewide office in Virginia, and who last year faced two allegations of sexual assault, is formally launching his campaign for governor this weekend. Fairfax, who earlier this year affirmed his intent to run, will formally make his case for the state's highest office in speeches this weekend, including one at the site where the first enslaved Africans arrived in English North America.


In a historically GOP stronghold, Democrat Abigail Spanberger looks to hang on

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

POWHATAN — By the end of the day, Rep. Abigail Spanberger had peeked inside a whiskey pot still and toured a garage of banged-up cars, taking notes on how covid-19 has affected a pair of businesses in this small town outside Richmond. Trump-Pence yard signs lined the two-lane road she had driven to get here, proof of the battle the first-term Democrat faces in defending her seat from Republican challenger Nick Freitas.

Hundreds of ballot drop boxes are coming to the D.C. region

By REBECCA TAN, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

The drop boxes are coming. In the next few weeks, hundreds of election drop boxes will be installed in the District and surrounding suburbs, providing a new voting option for residents wary of casting their ballots in person because of the coronavirus pandemic or worried about the reliability of mail-in voting....Fairfax [County] will distribute about 260 drop boxes for the general election — one at each of its 14 satellite voting locations and 243 Election Day polling places. The boxes — 3 ½ foot tall foldable containers made out of plastic — will only be available during the hours that the sites are open. They'll be secured by a steel lock, guarded by an attendant and emptied daily, said Gary Scott, general registrar of elections in Fairfax County

New Richmond registrar's office unveiled a week before absentee voting begins

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

In-person absentee voting for the November presidential election under COVID-19 social distancing guidelines would not have been possible in the Richmond registrar's City Hall location. So on Friday, a week before absentee voting kicks off in-person and by mail, city elections chief Kirk Showalter unveiled a new space on West Laburnum Avenue that she and her staff secured in May and quickly turned into their new home.


Restaurants are still paying full ABC fees based on seating capacity

By COLLEEN CURRAN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

Some Richmond restaurant owners are feeling frustrated over their annual licensees bills from the Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Authority. Across the state, restaurants have been operating at reduced - or in some cases, no - seating capacity since March, yet the state's liquor monopoly is still assessing fees at its usual rate, even for fees based on a restaurant's seating capacity.

Guns returned in first Frederick County red flag law case

By EVAN GOODENOW, Winchester Star (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

A man whose guns were seized in Frederick County's first enforcement of Virginia's new red flag law has had them returned. The man, who The Winchester Star isn't naming because he wasn't charged with a crime, appeared at a substantial risk order hearing in Frederick County Circuit Court on Friday. He said his son and father lied about him allegedly pulling a pistol on his son in their home on Sept. 2.


Plant in Atkins, Va., to close in 2022


Employees at ZF TRW in Atkins learned that the company will permanently close the plant at the end of 2022. ZF, formerly TRW, currently has around 50-60 employees who will be affected by the closing. Its sister plant in Rogersville, Tennessee, which employs about 200 people, will close at the end of 2021. The plant, which manufactures steering gears for passenger vehicles, has been a large employer in Smyth County for 28 years.

Despite setbacks, Gold Cup optimistic about future

By DON DEL ROSSO, Fauquier Now

Faced with severe revenue challenges because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Virginia Gold Cup Association took unprecedented steps to salvage this year's spring and fall steeplechase meets at Great Meadow near The Plains. . . . "The COVID-19 epidemic shattered the financial position of the Virginia Gold Cup for 2020," VGCA President Will Allison explained. "We were not allowed to sell the things we usually do to raise money" — most importantly admission tickets but also sponsorships to help support the spring steeplechase meet at the 374-acre course in Northern Fauquier.


Norfolk Airport traffic was off by 59% in August amid COVID-19 pandemic

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

The number of travelers using Norfolk International Airport dropped by 59% in August to 160,547 passengers, compared with 391,682 a year ago. The steep drop reflects the COVID-19 pandemic's impact on air travel, but the situation has been improving each month since the health crisis prompted stay-at-home orders and shutdowns. Traffic year-over-year was down 64% in July, 75% in June, 87% in May and 94% in April.


UVA board of visitors endorses changes to promote racial equity

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

The University of Virginia's board of visitors on Friday unanimously passed a package of six resolutions, including removing the George Rogers Clark statue and the "Whispering Wall" Confederate monument and also providing context to the Thomas Jefferson statue near the Rotunda to include Jefferson's ownership of slaves.

JMU agrees to stream board meeting online

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

James Madison University agreed late Friday to provide live online video of its board of visitors meeting next week, responding to pressure from advocates who objected to the board's plan to meet in person without video after sending students home because of a COVID-19 outbreak that has infected more than 1,000 students, faculty and staff. A letter written Friday and signed by 16 nonprofit and political leaders asked the board to put its Sept. 18 meeting online and to allow for public comment.

Radford University passes budget, delays announcing detailed spending reductions

By SAM WALL, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

The Radford University Board of Visitors approved the school's budget for the current academic year Friday afternoon, but did not mention the looming budget cuts previously announced by the university. The school was expected to outline significant budget reductions announced earlier this year. However, it is holding off on unveiling the cuts until the state finalizes its budget, according to university spokeswoman Caitlyn Scaggs.

W&M is retesting students for COVID

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

The College of William & Mary has decided to retest all of the students on campus for the fall semester. The university is still using Kallaco, the same logistics and software partner who processed the W&M's previous test samples using Opteo Laboratory, one of Kallaco's partner labs. While the second round of testing won't be processed through Opteo Laboratory, Kallaco is still providing logistics.


Virginia reports more than 1,100 new coronavirus cases Friday

By SALEEN MARTIN, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

The Virginia Department of Health reported 1,115 new coronavirus cases Friday, bringing the state's tally to 131,640. At least 2,711 Virginians have died from the virus as of Friday morning, up 3 from Thursday.

20 inmates test positive for COVID-19 at Western Tidewater Regional Jail

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

An inmate at the Western Tidewater Regional Jail in Suffolk tested positive for the coronavirus, leading the jail to other confirmed cases. Another 19 tested positive. The jail said it learned about the inmate's positive test Thursday. He was the first inmate to test positive at the facility since the onset of the pandemic in March, according to a news release from the jail.

Nearly 400 active COVID-19 cases at Deerfield Correctional Center which houses older, ailing inmates

By FRANK GREEN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

As of Thursday, there were almost 400 active cases of COVID-19 detected at the Deerfield Correctional Center in Capron, which houses many of the state's older and ailing male inmates. In late May, the Virginia Department of Corrections reported there had been 78 cases detected at the prison. On Thursday, the department reported 388 cases — up from 286 the day before — with 18 current hospitalizations and a total of three deaths since the pandemic began.


Charlottesville prepares to take down Confederate statue near the site of violent Unite the Right rally

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

Barricades went up Friday evening as local officials prepared to remove a Confederate statue on Saturday from the area where white supremacists held their deadly Unite the Right rally three years ago. Albemarle County supervisors voted earlier this summer to take down the figure of a Confederate soldier outside their courthouse, which is located within the city of Charlottesville.

Windows shattered at Virginia GOP headquarters in Richmond

Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

Several windows were smashed at the Richmond headquarters for the Republican Party of Virginia either late Thursday or early Friday. The offices are located at 115 E. Grace Street in the Richard D. Obenshain Center, named for the former state GOP chairman who was also once a candidate for the U.S. Senate. RPV Chairman Rich Anderson released a statement about the vandalism.

Saturday vigils in Courthouse Square will continue into the fall

Fauquier Now

Labor Day weekend was supposed to be the final Courthouse Square vigil to support the Black Lives Matter movement, but organizers have decided to continue the Warrenton demonstrations into the fall, according to Scott Christian, chair of the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy's Northern Piedmont chapter.

New leadership arrives next week at U.S. attorney's office in Roanoke

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

New leadership will start next week at the office of the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Virginia, which is based in Roanoke. As U.S. Attorney Thomas Cullen departs Tuesday to become a federal judge, authority will shift to his first assistant, Daniel Bubar, a spokesman for Cullen said Friday.


Preliminary APS Enrollment Numbers Down from Last Year


After years of school enrollment growth, Arlington Public Schools had fewer students enrolled this week than as of Sept. 30, 2019. Superintendent Dr. Francisco DurĂ¡n revealed the numbers at last night's School Board meeting. The first-day enrollment on Tuesday was 27,109 students, 911 fewer than last year's official September 30 count of 28,020, he said.

Williams condemns inappropriate communications during virtual learning

By STAFF REPORT, Loudoun Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Loudoun County Public Schools Superintendent Eric Williams in a Friday email to families condemned instances of racially charged or sexually inappropriate communications that occurred during the school system's first week of classes. Since LCPS resumed operations via 100 percent distance learning Tuesday, a number of community members have reported instances in which students would join the virtual environment of another class or school and use racial slurs, or share sexual or racist imagery.

With Low Childcare Enrollment, Ashburn, Rust Libraries Reopen

By RENSS GREENE, Loudoun Now

With fewer people than expected enrolling in a county-run childcare program, the two public libraries closed to make room for kids have reopened to the public. The Rust and Ashburn libraries were closed down as the county government sought space for a program to give parents a safe place to leave their kids while parents are at work, since students are not in the school buildings for distance learning. The Distance Learning Child Care Program is open to kids from kindergarten through sixth grade.

Portsmouth NAACP members rejected in bid to file criminal charges against 2 council members

By GARY A. HARKI, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Two members of the Portsmouth NAACP attempted — and failed — to file criminal charges against council members Bill Moody and Elizabeth Psimas on Friday, alleging they violated the city charter by telling the police chief to charge people in the Confederate monument vandalism. NAACP chapter President James Boyd and Vice President Louie Gibbs went to a magistrate seeking the misdemeanor charges a day after The Virginian-Pilot reported on emails in which Moody wrote, "I am requesting that the law be enforced" and Psimas agreed. The emails went to a group including other council members and Police Chief Angela Greene.

Charlottesville City Manager Richardson resigns after 16-month tenure

By NOLAN STOUT, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

Charlottesville City Manager Tarron Richardson has resigned, ending a tenure that began in May 2019 and often saw him at odds with city staff and City Council. The City Council accepted his resignation effective Sept. 30 during a special meeting Friday. City Attorney John Blair has been appointed interim city manager and Deputy City Attorney Lisa Robertson will be acting city attorney.

Gloucester School Board asks for full federal appeals court to hear Gavin Grimm case

By PETER DUJARDIN, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)

The Gloucester School Board asked a full federal appeals court to hear the long-running transgender bathroom case — a sign the board isn't giving up on defending its policy despite two federal court rulings against it. But requests for a full hearing at the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals are granted only rarely — less than 1 percent of the time — which could mean the next stop could be the U.S. Supreme Court.

New Kent Board of Supervisors sets $37M budget to move forward with new elementary school

By EMILY HOLTER, Tidewater Review

The New Kent Board of Supervisors unanimously approved to enter a bid of a maximum $37 million for the construction of a new elementary school at its Tuesday night meeting. The decision came after months of discussions, delays and reworking plans to lower cost but also meet the county's growing demands.

Montgomery County schools prepare to return to mostly remote classes

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

School board member Sue Kass said she had always been supportive of Montgomery County Public Schools' plan for how students would return to the classroom. "I have always been supportive of the hybrid plan, but I didn't think the timing was right yet to implement it," Kass wrote in a message Friday. Kass was among a few school board members who for more than a month vehemently opposed the district's Sept. 8 date for bringing students back to the classroom.

Alleghany County, Covington agree to consolidate school systems following years of debate

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

It's a question that has plagued the two small localities for decades: Should Alleghany County and Covington consolidate their school systems? Voters have since the 1980s rejected various forms of consolidation referendums between the city and county governments. The localities' governing boards have banded together over the years to discuss consolidating just the school systems. But proposed plans never got off the ground. Until now.

Bristol, Virginia filing rejects BVU claim of owning City Hall

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

The city of Bristol, Virginia on Friday rejected a BVU Authority claim that it — not the city — owns City Hall while repeating its call for a judge to find that BVU owes the city millions in a court document filed Friday in Bristol's lawsuit against its utilities provider.



Here's what the critics of W&L's 'How to overthrow the state' class missed

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

Some things are too good to be true. That inheritance from the Nigerian prince. The promise that "one size fits all." Those pop-up ads that promise "single girls in your area are dying to meet you." And the fevered claim that has rocketed around the mediasphere that Washington & Lee University is teaching students "how to overthrow the state." This seemed to fit perfectly into the mindset that academia is an elitist enclave of radicals who are busily molding impressionable young minds to hate America.


Schapiro: A delusional march to redemption

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

For Levar Stoney, politics is strictly business. There's a lesson in that for another young man in a hurry — one who has no use for Stoney: Justin Fairfax. Running in a crowded field for a second term as Richmond mayor — amid racial turmoil, police violence, a cratering economy and the coronavirus — Stoney needs all the help he can get. The last person you'd think he'd turn to for an endorsement is the governor whose resignation he demanded 19 months ago for alleged bigotry.


Foy: Donald Trump doesn't understand service, a visit from the Vice President doesn't change that

By JENNIFER CARROLL FOY, published in Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

As a Cadet at Virginia Military Institute, I learned to put service above self. Some of my classmates at VMI enlisted and became soldiers, others went on to live lives of public service, but all with the same goal: serve our country, and our fellow Americans, with honor and integrity. Be a person of character. Frankly, in this moment, we need people of character at the helm more than ever — leaders who understand service over self-interest.

Foy represents parts of Stafford and Prince William counties in the House of Delegates. She is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor.

Preis: Qualified immunity and government accountability

By JOHN F. PREIS, published in Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

If a cop violates your constitutional rights, should you be entitled to any money? That's a question the Virginia General Assembly has been debating regarding an obscure legal doctrine called "qualified immunity." Most people are surprised to learn that you can't necessarily get compensation when a police officer violates your rights. After all, the rest of us have to pay for the harms we cause.

John F. Preis is a professor of law and associate dean in the University of Richmond School of Law.

Invite Friends to read VaNews

Invite two friends to read VaNews and you'll receive VaViews, a weekly compilation of commentary from a variety of viewpoints.


You don't have any referrals yet.

Or use your personal referral link:

For questions email
Participation in the VaNews Referral Program constitutes your acceptance of the VPAP Terms and Conditions of Use.

This email was sent to
why did I get this?    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences
Virginia Public Access Project · P.O. Box 1472 · Richmond, VA 23218 · USA

No comments:

Post a Comment