Tuesday March 03, 2015
Compiled by Bernadette Kinlaw
By LEAH SMALL, Progress Index
Gov. Terry McAuliffe wasn’t shy about taking a seat on the floor closely surrounded by the wide eyes of Courtnee Austin’s kindergarten class at A.P. Hill Elementary School, as he read the Dr. Seuss classic "Hop on Pop." McAuliffe visited two classrooms at the elementary school on Monday to read to students in honor of Read Across America day, also known as Dr. Seuss Day. The event marks the birthday of the author.
By JIM NOLAN , Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)
Stop, Terry. Stop! You should not read “Hop on Pop.” It twists and turns a governor’s tongue. Turns the tongue until the words are done. But Gov. Terry McAuliffe did not stop — in fact, he plopped — down on the floor of a kindergarten class at A.P. Hill Elementary School in Petersburg Monday to read the 1963 Dr. Seuss classic.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe, along with city officials and other partners, broke ground Monday on a new innovative project that will significantly improve water quality in the James River, and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay. The $76.3 million project is an upgrade to the Hopewell region’s wastewater treatment system, and will decrease the amount of nutrient pollution going into the James River.
By JOE BECK , Northern Virginia Daily
Former Gov. Robert F. McDonnell’s conviction on public corruption charges was the catalyst for the ethics bill that passed the General Assembly on Friday, but its stricter limits on gift giving don’t stop with state elected officials. The bill’s provisions also apply to all local elected officials and their interactions with lobbyists, the companies and organizations for whom lobbyists work and those trying to win contracts from state and local governments.
By AMELIA BRUST, Daily News Record (Subscription Required)
A national debate on how campus sexual assaults are handled has led to newly proposed standards for Virginia’s public colleges and universities. That debate continues among students as two identical bills outlining new reporting guidelines for assaults unanimously passed the General Assembly on Friday.
By ALLIE ROBINSON GIBSON, Bristol Herald Courier
Local landowners embroiled in a years-long federal lawsuit aimed at trying to get coalbed methane gas money out of an escrow account are happy with a Virginia General Assembly-approved bill that’s headed to the governor’s desk. The bill, originally Delegate Terry Kilgore’s HB 2058, underwent some revisions late last week that will provide for an accounting of the gas ledgers and not hinder the lawsuits that are underway.
By BEN CATES, News & Advance
Last fall, Lynchburg Pacers runners Sophia Jantomaso and Micah Pratt competed alongside some of the top athletes in the state and even received national recognition for their efforts. Their best cross country times — commonly referred to as personal records — would have placed Jantomaso and Pratt among the top 5 finishers in most of the Virginia High School League’s Cross Country Championships last November.
By MATT ZAPOTOSKY, Washington Post
Former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell on Monday fired the opening salvo in a bid to get his public corruption conviction thrown out, arguing in a filing that the case against him was “built on a boundless definition of bribery” and that the judge made legal errors throughout the process that warrant a new trial. The brief — 103 pages, including indexes and other administrative sheets — restated many of the arguments that McDonnell made at various points during the case against him, arguments that were rejected by a U.S. District Court judge.
By LARRY O'DELL, Associated Press
Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell said in court papers Monday that his conviction on several counts of public corruption was based on an overly broad definition of bribery and a flawed explanation of what constitutes an "official action" by an elected official. McDonnell made the arguments in the opening brief of an appeal filed in the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Earlier in the day, his wife, Maureen McDonnell, filed notice with the court that she would also appeal her conviction.
By FRANK GREEN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)
Former Gov. Bob McDonnell on Monday asked the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to toss out his 11 corruption convictions or reverse them and order a new trial.
Former Virginia first lady Maureen McDonnell has appealed her public corruption convictions. The notice of appeal was sent Monday to the Richmond-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
By CALVIN TRICE, News Leader (Metered Pay Wall)
Republican Emmett Hanger will seek the nomination to run for a sixth term in the state senate amid a regional GOP challenge to the state law that allows him to choose the method for parties to select their representative. Hanger on Monday spoke with amusement over speculation and what he called a bit of pressure to retire from the state legislature rather than face right-wing ire over his support for Medicaid expansion.
By PAUL SCHWARTZMAN, Washington Post
John Whitbeck, the new chairman of Virginia’s state GOP, is a lifelong Republican who grew up in California, the son of a one-time Marine who served in Vietnam. His family’s only Democrat, Whitbeck said, was “great Uncle Frank Whitbeck who ran for governor of Arkansas.” An Occidental College graduate, Whitbeck, 38, got his law degree from George Mason University, after which he practiced law. After serving as a District Court judge for five years, Whitbeck got involved in Virginia politics, motivated by his opposition to President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
By MARKUS SCHMIDT, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)
With Congress facing another Department of Homeland Security funding deadline this week, Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, both Democrats, on Monday voted against a Republican call for formal House-Senate negotiations on a long-term funding proposal for the agency. The motion failed in the U.S. Senate 47-43.
By ALICIA PETSKA, News & Advance
U.S. Rep. Robert Hurt, R-5th, said Monday the ongoing scrape over homeland security funding gets at the heart of the country’s constitutional principles. “There are a lot people who say, ‘oh, let’s not fuss and fight, let’s all get along,’” Hurt said. “No, no, this is important. This is about the future of our country.”
Exports of goods from Virginia to more than 230 destinations around the globe increased about 6 percent in 2014. The Virginia Economic Development Partnership says exports rose to $19.2 billion last year, up from $18.1 billion in 2013.
Virginia peanut growers had a productive 2014. The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services says growers broke national records with a yield of 4,350 pounds per acre.
Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)
A fuel spill in the Appomattox River has resulted in a mandatory water conservation notice for about 9,400 Hopewell-area customers of Virginia American Water, the utility said Tuesday morning. The utility shut down the company's water treatment plant "prior to any fuel entering the treatment process," according to a news release. Customers were asked to reduce non-essential water use.
By PATRICIA SULLIVAN, Washington Post
Allison Silberberg, Alexandria’s vice mayor, said she plans to enter the city’s Democratic mayoral primary on June 9, challenging incumbent mayor William Euille and former mayor Kerry Donley. Silberberg, 51, an author who is currently writing a book for the Society for Women’s Health Research, said she will support “thoughtful, appropriate development” and continue to protect neighborhoods and the Old Town historic district.
By SCOTT MCCAFFREY, Sun Gazette
It’s a given that County Board Vice Chairman Walter Tejada is mad about the scuttling of the Arlington streetcar project. But it’s a been a bit of a challenge to nail him down on exactly whom he is most mad at. A panel of pundits took a shot during the “Kojo Nnamdi Show” on WAMU-FM Feb. 27, peppering Tejada with questions about the scuttled Columbia Pike/Crystal City streetcar proposal.
By ANTONIO OLIVO, Washington Post
In the midst of an investigation of a police shooting of an unarmed man, Chairman Sharon Bulova of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors plans to announce a new 25-member police commission on Tuesday. The commission, which will include members from law enforcement, academia, neighborhood organizations and the media, was created to “maintain” public trust, Bulova (D) said, in the wake of the county’s handling the fatal 2013 shooting of John Geer, who was killed by a county police officer in the doorway of his Springfield home.
By CAITLIN GIBSON, Washington Post
At two public hearings last week to address Loudoun’s budget, county supervisors were bombarded with one message: “Fully fund our schools.” Those words were emblazoned on blue T-shirts, written across campaign-style signs and spoken into a microphone by dozens of speakers who urged the county Board of Supervisors to fully support the school board’s $982 million spending request.
By ZACHARY REID, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)
Apology, accepted. But all not quite forgiven, or forgotten. “It’s a good first step,” former Huguenot High School student Jonathan Villatoro said Monday at the school, not long after Superintendent Dana T. Bedden and principal Jafar Barakat offered a formal apology for a Feb. 1, 2013, search of Hispanic students.
By GRAHAM MOOMAW, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)
The Richmond City Council closed ranks around the Stone Brewing deal Monday night in a critical vote that clears the way for the company to proceed with its plans for a Richmond brewery. The council unanimously approved a land transfer that gives the Richmond Economic Development Authority control of the old Intermediate Terminal building near the James River in the city’s East End. Stone, a California-based craft brewery, wants to open a restaurant and beer garden in the former warehouse.
By ZACHARY REID , Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)
After a month of little more than lip service on budget discussions, the Richmond School Board threw a curveball Monday night when it came time to vote. Facing its most out-of-balance budget in recent memory, a tight deadline for passing it and missing a member, the board tied 4-4 on a motion to pass Superintendent Dana T. Bedden’s $289.7 million “statement of economic needs” for the year that begins July 1.
By CHRIS SUAREZ, Daily Progress
While opposition to a proposed 25 percent increase in Charlottesville’s meals tax rate has started organizing, members of the City Council on Monday were given their first public presentation of the city and school budgets for the next fiscal year. The real estate tax rate of 95 cents per $100 of assessed value will remain in the $155,977,269 budget City Manager Maurice Jones proposed.
Free Lance-Star Editorial
Considering the elections that have taken place since 2011, when state Sen. Bryce Reeves unseated longtime incumbent Edd Houck in District 17, one would be hard-pressed to imagine how the Republican Reeves could possibly lose to a Democratic challenger when he runs for re-election this fall. But the senator is apparently worried about it to the extent that he introduced legislation to make his district just a little more Republican. Senate Bill 1237 would change the current Senate districting map by unifying split precincts and trading precincts with District 25, the already highly gerrymandered district represented by Democratic state Sen. Creigh Deeds.
Richmond Times-Dispatch Editorial (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)
Measured from where Virginia stood a couple of years ago, the ethics reforms passed by the General Assembly — the second in a row — qualify as another modest step forward. Measured from the ideal, they fall far short. Last year lawmakers approved a $250 cap on gifts from lobbyists — a limit that did not apply to the “intangible” gifts so many legislators receive, such as tickets to big-time sporting events.
Virginian-Pilot Editorial (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)
No good government goes unpunished. Sadly, the punisher is usually bad government. When Virginia's lawmakers and governor made the correct but politically difficult decision in 2013 to raise long-needed money for the state's overburdened roads, part of the calculus assumed that lawmakers in Washington would do their bit to keep cars commuting and commerce humming.
News Virginian Editorial
If you're going to ask someone to work in a building, to protect people in it or to bring criminals in and out of it, then it only makes sense to allow that person some say in how its built. We have to agree with Judge Victor Ludwig's ruling this past week. Before deciding on what a new Augusta County Courthouse would look like or where it would go, the people who actually work in the facility need to have a say. Ludwig rejected Augusta County's petition for a referendum on the courthouse, which would have asked voters to choose between leaving the building in Staunton or moving it to Verona. His reasoning was that those who actually use the facility hadn't been involved in the planning for a new one.
By ROGER CHESLEY, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)
State money could be coming to Chesapeake and Hampton, helping to stem encroachment at military bases in the region. Officials confirmed to me Monday that legislators approved about $2.4 million in budget amendments to buy land around Fentress Naval Auxiliary Landing Field and Langley Air Force Base. "The big thing is we want to keep Langley here, just as Virginia Beach wants to keep Oceana," said Del. Gordon Helsel, whose district includes Langley.
By MICHAEL PAUL WILLIAMS, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)
When Emmy Award-winning director Jesse Vaughan was approached about producing a film on food insecurity in Virginia, the problem hit home for him. His mom lives on Richmond’s North Side in the house he grew up in. “And when I was approached for consideration on doing this as a documentary, I was talking to her about it and I realized she lives in a food desert,” Vaughan recalled Sunday.