Thursday May 25, 2017
We're holding our annual Lighten Up: It's Just Politics luncheon today in Richmond. See the program.
By GRAHAM MOOMAW, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)
Gov. Terry McAuliffe granted a pardon Wednesday to an immigrant mother facing possible deportation by federal immigration authorities after being convicted of driving without a license, an unusual intervention by the governor that underscores Democratic resistance to new enforcement policies under President Donald Trump.
By ALAN SUDERMAN, Associated Press
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has pardoned a minor driving offense committed years ago by an immigrant mother of two, saying he hopes it will help prevent her deportation. Immigration advocates have protested the arrest of 30-year-old Liliana Cruz Mendez of Falls Church, who was taken into custody this month after going with her lawyer to a check-in appointment at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement office. They say her case is emblematic of tougher immigration policies under President Donald Trump.
By MARIA SACCHETTI AND ANTONIO OLIVO, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Wednesday pardoned a Salvadoran woman with a conviction for a minor traffic offense, a largely symbolic move that he said he hoped would help her stave off deportation. McAuliffe (D) acknowledged that his pardon may not spare Liliana Cruz Mendez from expulsion from the United States because she has a deportation order. But he said the gesture makes clear that the 30-year-old mother of two from Falls Church does not pose a threat to public safety.
By SARAH KLEINER , Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)
Two signatures. Two cities. One high-profile death. In the name of Jamycheal Mitchell on Wednesday, the state’s highest elected official signed a bill in Richmond strengthening oversight of Virginia’s 60 local and regional jails, and a prosecutor in Portsmouth requested a special grand jury convene to investigate how the mentally ill 24-year-old wasted away behind bars.
By PATRICIA SULLIVAN, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring came to Northern Virginia on Wednesday, a part of the state where the opioid epidemic has been relatively muted, to applaud efforts to prevent and treat addiction and encourage police and emergency workers to continue sharing information and strategies. Fatal drug overdoses in the commonwealth jumped 38 percent in 2016, with about 1,100 of the 1,400 overdoses caused by opioids, heroin or prescription or synthetic fentanyl, Herring (D) told a gathering of Alexandria police, paramedics and city employees.
By PETER DUJARDIN, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)
Feeding the animals was one of the main chores that Del. Rick Morris' 11-year-old stepson had to do around the family farm. But one day in September 2016, the boy failed to feed the goats and turkeys — and then lied to his parents about it. According to court testimony at a December hearing in Suffolk juvenile court, that lie led Morris to whack the boy on his hands with a wooden kitchen stirring spoon, a red spatula and a folded-over leather belt. The belt also caused bruising on the boy's wrists, leading to a police investigation into that and other allegations of abuse.
By TRAVIS FAIN, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)
The Virginia Public Access Project's big annual fundraiser will have a Hampton Roads flair this year, with state Sen. Mamie Lock and Del. Chris Jones dishing out zingers. Retiring Speaker of the House William Howell, known for doling out biting, off-the-cuff, zingers from the speaker's dais, will also headline the group's "Lighten Up, It's Just Politics" luncheon Thursday.
By FENIT NIRAPPIL, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)
All three Democratic candidates for Virginia lieutenant governor have pledged not to take campaign contributions from utility giant Dominion Energy, another sign of how some politicians are distancing themselves from the state’s largest political donor. The Democrats — former federal prosecutors Justin Fairfax and Gene Rossi and lobbyist Susan Platt — said Tuesday night that they were also skeptical about two planned natural-gas pipelines, one of which is a Dominion project and major priority for the utility.
By RACHAEL SMITH , News & Advance (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)
The Bedford County Registrar and a Bedford County supervisor are concerned about electoral fraud after a photo of a letter began circulating on social media this week asking residents to cast their vote in the Republican primary June 16 instead of its correct date on June 13. On Sunday, the Bedford First Facebook page posted a photo of a letter providing incorrect information about the June 13 primary election.
By DUNCAN ADAMS, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)
Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality admitted Wednesday that it provided inaccurate information nearly seven weeks ago about how it plans to handle review of potential water quality impacts of two deeply controversial natural gas transmission pipelines. The admission dismayed people who had celebrated the earlier news that DEQ seemed poised to do a detailed review of the crossings of hundreds of streams and wetlands by the two 42-inch diameter pipelines.
By ROBERT ZULLO AND GRAHAM MOOMAW, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)
When the state Department of Environmental Quality announced in April that it would require individual water-quality certifications for the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley natural gas pipeline projects, environmental groups applauded what they thought would be an exhaustive, stream-by-stream review of the pipelines’ potential construction implications. The DEQ confirmed Wednesday, however, that it will rely on a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers national permit for the hundreds of spots where the pipelines will cross waterways
By ALANNA DURKIN RICHER, Associated Press
A prosecutor called for a special grand jury to be convened in the case of a mentally ill inmate who died after being jailed on charges of stealing $5 worth of junk food. Portsmouth Commonwealth's Attorney Stephanie Morales said she filed a motion Wednesday seeking a special grand jury in the death of 24-year-old Jamycheal Mitchell. Morales didn't provide details about what prompted her request and said she cannot say what specifically she wants the special grand jury to investigate.
By FRANK GREEN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)
DNA testing in 431 cases of collected but previously untested biological evidence recovered in Virginia rape cases has resulted in 44 DNA database “hits.” Hits are when a DNA profile matches a known profile held in the state’s DNA database — primarily the profiles of convicted felons — or matches the DNA profile of an unknown person recovered from another crime.
By GABE CAVALLARO , News Leader (Metered Pay Wall)
President Donald Trump’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget proposal spells trouble for many "critical programs" vital to Virginia's families, children, seniors and businesses, according to U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va. The budget document, released Tuesday, proposes increases in funding for national defense, veterans programs and homeland security, including $2.6 billion for border security measures, like the construction of a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.
By BILL BARTEL , Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)
Sen. Tim Kaine proposes spending additional federal dollars on health care to entice private insurers not to abandon Obamacare's exchanges. The proposed change is intended to spark more competition and stabilize consumer insurance rates. Kaine's legislation seeks to address problems with the Affordable Care Act that led Aetna and UnitedHealth Group to announce they're pulling out of Virginia's insurance exchanges next year. The exchanges are where people without employer health insurance can buy coverage.
By HUGH LESSIG, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)
President Donald Trump's call for a larger Navy was not matched in the budget he proposed Tuesday and shows "a high degree of naiveté in the area of ship construction," Rep. Rob Wittman said Wednesday. In a forceful opening statement to begin a hearing on the Navy's budget request, the Northumberland County Republican said, "the call to duty has not been sounded. It is time to get serious and match our peer competitors with aggressive ship construction initiatives."
By SEAN TUBBS, Charlottesville Tomorrow
The regional body that makes transportation-related decisions in Albemarle and Charlottesville learned about several new projects Wednesday, but it also sought to ensure that the now-defunct Western Bypass stays dead.
By MICHAEL MARTZ , Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)
A powerful new state committee has committed $20 million to help build an advanced medical research center in Northern Virginia that will include scientists from the University of Virginia and George Mason University, but it is holding back up to $8 million to hire researchers until Virginia Commonwealth University and other institutions decide whether to join the initiative.
By DAVE MAYFIELD , Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)
A storm-surge barrier across the mouth of the Lafayette River. Miles of new floodwalls and gated storm surge barriers, from downtown to near the I-264/Military Highway interchange. New dunes for beaches in Willoughby and Ocean View. They’re among dozens of projects being considered by the Army Corps of Engineers in the early stages of a study of ways to reduce the city’s risk of coastal damage from storms.
By VANESSA REMMERS, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)
With some of the fastest-growing populations of English-language learners in the region, Chesterfield County classrooms are undergoing some significant shifts. Richmond and Chesterfield saw the most dramatic percentage increases in English-language learners in the area in recent years, say researchers with Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Education.
By ERIC HARTLEY , Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)
Lawyers for the “Norfolk Four,” the Navy sailors wrongly convicted in the rape and murder of an 18-year-old woman in 1997, have threatened to sue the city for $68 million or more – a potentially catastrophic threat to the municipal budget. Separate claims sent to the city over the past month say Norfolk police officers, including then-Detective Robert Glenn Ford, coerced false confessions from the men and hid evidence that could have kept them free.
By DANA HEDGPETH, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)
A sheriff’s office in Virginia was ordered to remove a decal displaying a Bible verse from patrol cars in his department after a government attorney said they violated the separation of church and state. The small decals cited Matthew 5:9, which says in part, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” They were placed on the back of patrol cars belonging to the Montgomery County sheriff’s office in Southwest Virginia last week. They were removed within two days, however, after the county attorney issued an opinion to the board of supervisors saying the sheriff should remove them.
By MICHAEL POPE, WVTF
Virginia is one of 21 states where people can be prosecuted for negligent storage of guns. And that’s the law that authorities in Orange are using to prosecute a Stafford sheriff’s recruit for leaving a gun in a place where a 4-year-old was able to get it and accidentally kill himself. But William Pelfrey at George Mason University says Virginia has passive laws rather than active laws. He says states like Connecticut and Massachusetts require gun owners to take active steps to keep guns out of the hand of children.
By NUOYA ZHOU, WSLS
Two former executives of a New Jersey-based generic pharmaceutical manufacturer have entered into settlement and cooperation agreements with 40 states, Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring said. The states are investigating alleged widespread anti-competitive activity in the generic drug industry that has led to higher prices for consumers and state governments.
By PAMELA D'ANGELO, WVTF
Previous presidents weren't exactly environmentally friendly. Roosevelt's Civil Conservation Corps dug ditches to drain pristine New England marshes so farmers could harvest salt marsh hay. Here in Virginia, George Washington drained the swamp, literally, to log the Great Dismal Swamp. Now, slowly, the damage is being undone with the help of Hurricane Sandy funding.
We're holding our annual Lighten Up: It's Just Politics luncheon today in Richmond. See the program.
Daily Press Editorial (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)
As we are an imperfect species, opposable thumbs and all, often we have to learn things the hard way. Even lessons that should be obvious frequently don't become clear until someone has fallen on his face showing the wrong way to do it. So this is the silver lining — every mistake is a positive fix waiting to happen. The bigger the mistake, the bigger the fix or at least that's how it should be. And with that philosophy, the Peninsula Airport Commission's recent faceplant — the cost of which is still being tabulated — could eventually make a huge difference in the region and around the state.
Free Lance-Star Editorial (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)
Gov. Terry McAuliffe is calling for new state rules designed to limit power plants’ carbon emissions and encourage broader use of clean energy sources. The subject remains politically controversial and divisive, as is the climate change issue overall, but the move could boost Virginia’s solar and wind capacity and energy-efficiency programs. The governor’s action last week stands in sharp contrast with President Donald Trump’s executive orders to roll back the Clean Power Plan and other regulations instituted by former President Barack Obama
Roanoke Times Editorial (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)
Political candidates work from a script. They rarely do improv. If you want to see improv, go check out Roanoke’s comedy improv troupe, the Big Lick Conspiracy. When candidates do go off-script, it usually results in what we call a “gaffe,” all the more reason for politicians to stick to their well-rehearsed lines. So when we find a candidate musing openly about an idea he has — but hasn’t fleshed out with policy details yet — well, that’s when our ears perk up. Is he about to say something interesting?
Richmond Times-Dispatch Editorial (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)
“Guiding Light” holds the record for the longest-running U.S. soap opera, but that’s only because Virginia elections belong in their own special category. Think of George Allen’s “macaca moment” in the 2006 Senate race. Or Jim Miller’s 1994 attempt to shame Ollie North for having received mental-health care — which led to the admission that, come to think of it, he had too. Two years ago, then-Del. Joe Morrissey won a special election for his House seat — from jail. This year is shaping up like a ratings-booster for Sweeps Week.
By ROGER CHESLEY, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)
Virginia’s 8th Congressional District has a shape only a contortionist could love. Rep. Don Beyer’s territory looks like a huge question mark. Or maybe even an “evil guy laughing,” according to a man viewing the Northern Virginia district’s outlines, Rorschach-style, in “Gerryrigged: Turning Democracy on Its Head.” The advocacy group OneVirginia2021 and WCVE, the PBS station in Richmond, produced the documentary.
By MAURICE FISHER, Published in the Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)
Being a student of social policy I constantly survey the social environment. As I was driving to work one morning a bumper sticker caught my eye: Freedom or Free Stuff: Your Choice, You Only Get One. This simple bumper sticker triggered a thought: Americans love and covet free stuff. We live in an American society where increasing numbers of individuals expect to receive stuff gratis. This “free stuff” can and does take many forms such as items, services and especially money. Nothing in this world is free!
Fisher is a Roanoke native in private mental health practice. He lives in Fincastle.
By ALI HAMED-MOORE, Published in the Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)
The Roanoke Times reports that, “Fatal drug overdoses shot up 38 percent in Virginia between 2015 and 2016” because of increasing incidence of heroin and prescription fentanyl usage (“Virginia overdose fatalities skyrocket,” April 15 news story). Much needs to be done to reduce heroin/fentanyl overdose deaths — one of the most tragic manifestations of the opioid crisis. Yet, this alone will not alleviate the epidemic.
Hamed-Moore is executive director of ARCH Roanoke
By MARLAND BUCKNER, Published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)
The Richmond City Council’s recent budget deliberations showcase the urgent need for new approaches to the greatest threat to a thriving Richmond: poverty. We know the problems well: distressed public housing; educators struggling to teach the 40 percent of Richmond children living in poverty; a legacy of School Board/city administration collaboration that would be comical were the results not so tragic; a justice system that incents recidivism, not reformation.
Marland Buckner is co-founder & principal of MB2 Solutions, a Richmond-based public policy strategy firm with offices in Washington, D.C.