VaNews

Monday April 20, 2015

Compiled by Bernadette Kinlaw


State Elections

VOTING MACHINES BAN HAS VA. REGISTRARS SCRAMBLING

By MARKUS SCHMIDT , Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

The decision by the State Board of Elections to scrap thousands of touchscreen voting machines used in 20 percent of the state’s precincts sent shock waves through Virginia’s community of voter registrars, forcing them to scramble and replace the faulty equipment less than two months ahead of the June 9 primaries. The board on Tuesday imposed a ban on all touchscreen Direct Recording Electronic voting machines of the WinVote model, because the continuing use of the aging devices “creates an unacceptable risk to the integrity of the election process in the commonwealth,” said Edgardo Cortés, commissioner of the state Department of Elections.


GOP AHEAD IN CASH RACE FOR VA. CAMPAIGN SEASON

By ALAN SUDERMAN, Associated Press

Virginia Republicans have a large cash advantage over Democrats going into an important campaign season, newly filed finance reports show. But Democrats said they don't have as much in the bank because they're already spending it on efforts similar to what helped their candidates, including Gov. Terry McAuliffe, sweep all three statewide offices in 2013. Much of this year's legislative action will be focused on a handful of competitive races in the state Senate, where Democrats need to pick up one seat in order to flip control of the chamber.


EDMUNDS ANNOUNCES BID FOR FOURTH TERM

Gazette Virginian

Since 2008 Del. James Edmunds has represented the 60th District in the Virginia House of Delegate that covers all of Charlotte, Halifax and Prince Edward and a portion of Campbell counties. On Friday, Edmunds announced his intention to run for a fourth term so he can continue to represent the 60th District in Richmond.

Federal Elections

MCAULIFFE SAYS HILLARY CLINTON'S MESSAGE WILL PLAY IN VIRGINIA

By ANDREW CAIN , Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

Gov. Terry McAuliffe said Sunday that Hillary Rodham Clinton’s message “fits perfectly” with where he is trying to take Virginia as governor. McAuliffe, national chairman of Clinton’s 2008 run for the Democratic presidential nomination, was asked on NBC’s “Meet the Press” about trepidation with Clinton among some of the party’s more liberal voters.


MCAULIFFE FINDS HIMSELF BACK IN CAMPAIGN MODE FOR HILLARY CLINTON

By RACHEL WEINER, Washington Post

The beginning of the 2016 campaign has thrust Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe back into a familiar role as a spokesman for Hillary Clinton, with one appearance Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and another scheduled this week in South Carolina. Clinton’s campaign launch in Iowa last week was “spectacular,” McAuliffe said on the program, because “she got in the van” and talked to real people — just as he did, he said, when he won the governor’s mansion in 2013.

State Government

VIRGINIA ALCOHOL AGENCY’S ARREST POWERS UNDER SCRUTINY

By LARRY O'DELL, Associated Press

A Virginia alcohol-law enforcement agency that has sparked public outrage over two high-profile arrests has investigated three complaints of excessive use of force by its officers in the last five years, according to data obtained by The Associated Press under an open-records request. Details of those incidents, however, remain sealed.

Economy/Business

STUDY CITES LACK OF AFFORDABLE HOUSING

By JOHN RAMSEY, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

After Venita Walker pays the rent and utilities on her modest, three-bedroom brick house in South Richmond, she barely has enough money to make it through the month. Walker, a teacher’s aide who also works three days a week for AmeriCorps, spends almost half her income on the roughly $1,150 a month it costs to stay in the house and keep the lights and water on. So she pinches pennies any way she can, noting on the calendars she uses to track her finances when she can give blood in exchange for a free oil change or swing by a food pantry for help making it to her next paycheck.

Transportation

CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS PUSH BACK AGAINST I-66 PLAN

Sun Gazette

Members of the Northern Virginia congressional delegation – Republicans and Democrats alike – are advising state officials to tap the brakes on their plan for what the McAuliffe administration sees as upgrades to Interstate 66 inside the Beltway.

Higher Education

BLACK STUDENT ALLIANCE CALLS FOR SWEEPING CHANGES AT UVA

By DEAN SEAL, Daily Progress

The Black Student Alliance at the University of Virginia is calling for numerous changes at UVa in a 27-page document containing more than a dozen recommendations for the university in “acknowledging [its] horrific history in regards to its treatment of black people and working diligently to correct these wrongs.” The proposal, titled “Towards a Better University” and penned by “members of the Black Student Alliance at [UVa],” describes what the authors call “serious unrest amongst communities of color at the University and beyond.”


BSA RELEASES PROPOSAL, OUTLINES RECOMMENDATIONS TO IMPROVE UNIVERSITY CULTURE

By CHLOE HESKETT AND KAYLA EANES, Cavalier Daily

The Black Student Alliance released a proposal titled “Towards a Better University” Friday evening, detailing concerns and recommendations to improve the lives of black students, faculty and workers at the University. The proposal is 27 pages in length and lists 30 supporting black student organizations, including the University chapter of the NAACP, the Black Male Initiative and the Minority Rights Coalition, among others.


VIRGINIA TECH MASSACRE, AS TOLD IN GOVERNMENT EMAILS

By NOURA BAYOUMI, VCU Capital News Service

Then-Gov. Tim Kaine had just arrived in Tokyo for a trade mission. Back in Richmond, it was Monday morning. Bill Leighty, Kaine’s chief of staff, wrote an email to members of the governor’s inner circle at 8:48 a.m.: “There is a preliminary and unconfirmed report that a student was shot and killed on the Virginia Tech campus this morning. Campus Police have reportedly called in the VSP to investigate.”

Virginia Other

WASHINGTON-AREA POPULATION INCREASE SLOWING DOWN, CENSUS FIGURES INDICATE

By ANTONIO OLIVO, Washington Post

After decades of expansion, new census numbers show that population growth in the Washington region has slowed dramatically, with Fairfax County, Arlington County and Alexandria seeing more people move out of those communities than move in over the past year.


DOMINION VIRGINIA POWER STILL PUSHING ON SKIFFES CREEK LINE

By DAVE RESS, Daily Press (Paywall for certain articles)

Dominion Virginia Power is going to keep pushing to build a high-voltage Skiffes Creek power line across the James River, saying it needs to complete the link before 2017 if the Peninsula is to avoid rolling blackouts or brownouts. But in the wake of this week's Virginia Supreme Court ruling that James City County gets a say on the switching station at the end of that line, there could be some tweaks.

Local

LOUDOUN SHERIFF’S RACE GETS UGLY

By TOM JACKMAN, Washington Post

The apparent embezzlement of more than $250,000 in seized drug money by a Loudoun County sheriff’s deputy, still unresolved after nearly 18 months, is now becoming an issue in the sheriff’s first reelection campaign. A former top commander for Loudoun Sheriff Mike Chapman (R) is alleging that Chapman failed to stop the deputy from stealing $50,000 after the problem was noticed, and that Chapman has wrongly claimed credit for uncovering the embezzlement, while also attacking Chapman’s management of budget and staff.


COREY STEWART ESCHEWS EXTREMES IN RE-ELECTION BID

By JILL PALERMO, Prince William Today

The upcoming April 25 Republican “firehouse primary” marks the first time Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart, a two-term incumbent, will have a primary challenger since winning his seat in a special election back in 2006. The Saturday contest is expected to attract fewer than 3 percent of Prince William’s 247,000 voters – or about 5,000 -- and they’re likely to be among the most conservative.


GROWTH IN HISPANIC ENROLLMENT BRINGS NEW CHALLENGES

By ZACHARY REID, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

On the surface, E.S.H. Greene Elementary School hasn’t changed much in a decade. Ten years ago, the enrollment was 97 percent minority, placing the South Richmond school among the more segregated in central Virginia. This year, its enrollment is 98 percent minority — still among the most segregated in the area. But as housing patterns in central Virginia have shifted, so, too, has the face of segregation in some area schools.


CONTRACT FOR RICHMOND PROJECTS PROMPTS CALLS FOR OVERSIGHT

By GRAHAM MOOMAW, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

The city of Richmond has opened four new schools as part of a planned five-year building push, but the private company hired to manage the school construction has quietly been granted a contract extension worth between $2.2 million and $7.8 million that could involve several other major city projects. AECOM, a global engineering and design firm hired by the city in 2007 to oversee the school-construction program, has been paid roughly $12 million since the school projects got underway in November 2009. City officials say the company’s involvement has helped save millions on the $175 million program to build a new high school, middle school and two elementary schools.


GROWTH IN TAX-EXEMPT MEDICAL PROPERTIES GETS CLOSER LOOK FROM CITY

By AMY TRENT, News & Advance

Centra has purchased at least 21 pieces of property in Lynchburg since 2006 for more than $24 million. Among them were Seven Hills Surgical Associates PC, Central Virginia Surgery and the Cardiovascular Associates of Central Virginia. Once purchased, the practices became hospital outpatient departments, and potentially exempt from property taxes.In February of 2008, for example, Centra purchased Urology Building Associates LLC — now Centra Seven Hills Urology — for more than $1 million, according to city documents.


Editorials

KEEPING YOU IN THE DARK

Daily Press Editorial (Paywall for certain articles)

Members of the General Assembly evidently think very little of you, Virginia. They don't think you should be involved in their work. Don't worry your little heads about what goes on in Richmond. Better that you leave so complicated a task to the professionals.


SANDBAGGING, EXPOSED

Richmond Times-Dispatch Editorial (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

Around the country, states that want to take people’s land will sometimes pull an underhanded stunt: If the owners don’t accept the state’s first offer, then the state will produce a second appraisal that claims the property is worth much less. That’s exactly what the Virginia Department of Transportation did to James and Janet Ramsey when it exercised eminent domain to take part of their land for an off-ramp.


INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATIONS OF POLICE SHOOTINGS IS A GOOD IDEA

Free Lance-Star Editorial

Some South Carolina legislators want to make it mandatory that a state agency investigate all police-related shootings. This is a measure that lawmakers in Virginia should consider. The South Carolina initiative was prompted by the high-profile April 4 fatal shooting of a man fleeing from a traffic stop by a North Charleston police officer.


THE REAL STORY OF THE 2016 ELECTION

Roanoke Times Editorial

If you’re among those who are following the 2016 presidential campaign as it starts to develop, you might be wonderings things such as: Is Scott Walker for real? Can Jeb Bush both play on his name and overcome it to win the Republican nomination in a more conservative primary environment than either 41 or 43 ever faced?


BEACH: SPEND MORE ON COPS

Virginian-Pilot Editorial (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Virginia Beach police are preparing for next weekend's onslaught of college students, one of a smattering of all-hands-on-deck events that requires months of planning and more than $200,000 in overtime. The event was fun, well-managed and uneventful last year.


LAWMAKERS SHOULD HAVE LISTENED TO THE GOVERNOR ON VOTING MACHINES

Richmond Times-Dispatch Editorial (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

In late December, Gov. Terry McAuliffe said the state should shell out $28 million to buy new voting machines for every locality in the commonwealth. The Republican-controlled General Assembly said no. That money sure would come in handy now, wouldn’t it?


VIRGINIA'S ROCKING NEW STATE SONG

Roanoke Times Editorial

The story of Virginia’s new “popular state song” (as opposed to our new “traditional state song”) begins on a pretty spring day in Richmond’s bohemian Fan District in 1977. Musician Robbin Thompson was sitting on his front porch at 2208 Floyd Ave., strumming his guitar and waiting for his bandmates to arrive for rehearsal when he felt, well, inspired.


AFTER FEDERAL FAILURE, STATE HELPING VETS

By AFTER FEDERAL FAILURE, STATE HELPING VETS, Daily Progress Editorial

Virginia is stepping up to aid veterans, assuming a duty that properly belongs to the federal government. Virginia deserves high praise — and prompt funding from Washington.


SWEET BRIAR AND ITS STAKEHOLDERS MUST TALK

News & Advance Editorial

A 60-day reprieve, with no endowment money spent on closure activities. That’s all Circuit Judge James Updike granted Amherst County Attorney Ellen Bowyer in her suit to keep Sweet Briar College alive. It was far from what Bowyer had sought — a permanent injunction against the board of directors from shutting down the 114-year-old all-women’s college in Amherst County and the replacement of the interim president and board with a special overseer — but there is, perhaps, a window of opportunity here for all parties to seize.


HALF-MEASURES ON ETHICS IN VIRGINIA

Washington Post Editorial

LAWMAKERS IN Richmond last week fixed a glitch in the state’s new ethics bill in order to make clear that the $100 limit on gifts to lawmakers and officials is an annual aggregate, not a per present maximum. While that wrinkle is ironed out, it’s important to keep in mind what has really been achieved, and what remains to be solved, in a state whose anything-goes ethics culture finally imploded in the corruption case of former governor Robert F. McDonnell.


RAISING STATE CIGARETTE TAX WON'T HELP

Richmond Times-Dispatch Editorial (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

Virginia has a cigarette-smuggling problem. Criminals — some small hoods, some bigger fish — run huge numbers of them up to New York, where exorbitant taxes create a vast black market for smuggled smokes. As we’ve pointed out before, Virginia didn’t create this problem; New York did. Yet some have suggested that Virginia should raise its own cigarette taxes, thereby eliminating or at least reducing the financial incentive.

Columnists

SCHAPIRO: THE DIFFERENT MEANINGS OF 'SPECIAL INTERESTS'

By JEFF E. SCHAPIRO, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

With his Napoleonic countenance, fondness for peacock-colored shirts and ties, and a haircut that recalls his years at the Virginia Military Institute, Tommy Norment may be proof that, as Henry Kissinger said, “Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac.” As Republican majority leader of the Virginia Senate, Norment is one of the biggest dogs in the statehouse. He controls the flow of public business. He commands the flow of political dollars from private business. He attracts lobbyists, favor-seekers and hangers-on as a flame does a moth. Getting too close can be dangerous.


DOUGHERTY: EVEN STATE ROADS CHIEF SAYS LIGHT RAIL WON'T HELP EASE VIRGINIA BEACH TRAFFIC

By KERRY DOUGHERTY, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Sunday after Sunday I arrive at church with seconds to spare before the opening hymn. Yet I always find a seat. Not so on Easter. Chronic latecomers found the sanctuary packed two weeks ago. Standing room only. Yet I didn’t hear a single worshipper who was propped up against the wall gripe that we need a bigger church.


DAY: IT'S NOT THE PAY OR THE PERKS

By SHAWN DAY, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Last week, when Republican Del. David Ramadan shocked his colleagues by announcing his resignation after two terms representing the 87th District, he indirectly highlighted the importance of competition, campaign finance reform and the preservation of modest pay for Virginia's part-time legislators. Ramadan said he simply couldn't raise a half-million dollars needed for a competitive re-election campaign, deliver the service constituents deserve, maintain a successful business career and be there for his family. He had to choose.


POLITIFACT: HERRING SAYS AVERAGE WOMAN LOOSES $431,000 TO PAY GAP OVER CAREER

By POLITIFACT, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

Attorney General Mark Herring was among scores of Democrats across the nation who posted a message on April 14 in recognition of Equal Pay Day. "According to U.S. Census data, by age 65, the average woman will have lost $431,000 throughout her working career as a result of the pay gap," Herring wrote.

Op-Ed

GIBSON: WATCHING THE WATCHMEN: VIDEO IS UNCOVERING BAD BEHAVIOR THAT MAY HAVE GONE UNNOTICED

By BOB GIBSON, Published in the Daily Progress

Technology in the form of video is rewriting the news about how and when police use excessive or deadly force. The Washington Post devoted several pages on April 12 to an analysis of 54 criminal cases against police officers in fatal shootings across America the past decade, among “the thousands of fatal police shootings that have occurred across the country in that time.” No one knows the exact number.

Bob Gibson is executive director of the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership.


ROSE: IT'S TIME FOR CONGRESS TO END SEQUESTRATION CUTS

By PETE ROSE , Published in the Free Lance-Star

I was heartened to see Rep. Rob Wittman go on record Monday before the employees of SimVentions in Spotsylvania County, saying “we cannot balance the budget on the backs of the men and women who defend this country.” I could not agree more. Yet because it wasn’t clear from Tuesday’s news story, I then wondered: Was the 1st District Republican asked about his vote on Aug. 1, 2011, when he joined with 268 of his colleagues to create sequestration?

Pete Rose lives in Fredericksburg. He served as legislative director to Rep. Pete Geren, D–Texas, before he retired, and now works for the Franklin Partnership, a bipartisan government relations group.


FINCH: WOULD YOU LIKE TO RUN FOR OFFICE?

By NANCY ST.CLAIR FINCH, Published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

Talk about tough jobs. Try recruiting candidates to run for office. Nothing is making it easy. A recent Times-Dispatch editorial said, “But politicians are a shameless breed. ... ” Big help. Me on telephone: “Say, we’re looking for a shameless breed to run for the House. You were mentioned as a good prospect.”

Nancy St.Clair Finch is a former reporter, candidate and graduate of the Sorensen Institute of Political Leadership.