Monday, August 31, 2020

Political Headlines from across Virginia

August 31, 2020
Top of the News

Live from someone's kitchen: Virginia's virtual House of Delegates

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

When Del. Marcus Simon (D-Fairfax) appeared on screen during Friday's virtual session of the House of Delegates, he sent a not-so-subtle message to colleagues about which way to vote on the matter at hand. Arrayed behind his image was a computer-generated cluster of green signs all bearing the word "YES." Simon is picking up the tools of online legislating faster than some other lawmakers as Virginia's 401-year-old House attempts a digital makeover during this time of pandemic.

Kanye West campaign in Virginia is accused of deceptive signature gathering

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

Kanye West's campaign is facing allegations that voters were deceived by signature gatherers circulating paperwork to qualify the rapper-entrepreneur for the Virginia ballot, the latest setback for a stumbling presidential bid that also is facing problems in other states. Two signed affidavits were submitted Friday to the State Board of Elections from registered voters who said they were duped into signing up to serve as electors for West in Virginia. In a separate account, an Alexandria woman said Saturday that a man tried to obtain her signature on one of West's petitions under false pretenses.

Anatomy of an outbreak: Church revival blamed for many of rural county's COVID-19 cases

By RACHEL NEEDHAM, Rappahannock News (Metered Paywall)

Many of Rappahannock County's 49 cases of COVID-19 and both deaths can be traced to the Massanova Pentecostal Church in Castleton and a week-long revival held there in late June, according to Virginia Department of Health documents. The Rappahannock News received copies of dozens of internal emails from the VDH from a source who obtained them after filing a Freedom of Information Act request for all communications related to the outbreak at Massanova Pentecostal Church.

Orange supervisors meet in person — without masks or social distancing

By HILARY HOLLADAY, Orange County Review

Last Tuesday, the Orange County Board of Supervisors held its first in-person meeting of the COVID-19 era. By Thursday, the county was under investigation for possibly violating Gov. Ralph Northam's executive order requiring protective masks in indoor settings. By Friday, the investigation was completed and, according to Dr. Wade Kartchner, health director of the Rappahannock-Rapidan Health District, county administration had heard directly from the district's environmental health staff. Specifically, Kartchner said the county was advised to be mindful of appearances and consider the message supervisors send to the public when they don't wear masks at their meetings.

For Danville area nurses, caring for COVID-19 patients brings a mix of dedication, passion and fear

By SUSAN ELZEY, Danville Register & Bee

Each time Michele Coffey wakes up with a headache or a sore throat, she wonders if the coronavirus has finally caught up with her. Coffey — a nurse for 28 years and registered nurse for four with a Bachelor's of Science degree in nursing — works as a staff RN in the emergency department at Cone Health Moses Cone Hospital in Greensboro, North Carolina. Before moving to Danville in January, she worked as an infection preventionist, but said she is grateful not to be involved with infection prevention and control during the current pandemic. She specifically chose to return to work in the ED because it was where her "heart was."

Overdose calls up 65% in Richmond

By ZACH JOACHIM AND C. SUAREZ ROJAS, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Friends, family members and those who have survived drug addiction will gather in memory of those who didn't next month outside the McShin Foundation to dedicate a new memorial garden. They'll tell stories, shed tears, and hope it doesn't grow. But figures obtained by the Richmond Times-Dispatch reveal a troubling trend: Emergency calls for non-alcohol-related overdoses in the Richmond area are up nearly 65% in the first half of 2020. Statewide, those calls have risen more than 40%.

He thought the blue lights meant local police. It was ICE.

By SABRINA MORENO, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

He wasn't afraid until the officer gripped the gun-packed holster and eyed him closely, clutching the neck of a bulletproof vest that stretched "POLICE" in thick, white letters across his chest. A nondescript golden-plated badge dangled beside it, latched onto a utility belt that wrapped the officer's thick blue jeans and button-down beige long sleeve. That's when Josh Ayala knew: The masked men weren't local police.

The Full Report
47 articles, 21 publications


VPAP Visual Presidential Donations by Region

The Virginia Public Access Project

The suburbs outside Washington, D.C., are fertile ground for presidential fundraising. Donald Trump has raised 45 cents of every Virginia dollar in Northern Virginia; for Joe Biden it's 70 cents of every dollar. VPAP breaks down the money by region -- and lets you drill down to a list of donors by ZIP Code.

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.


Virginia lawmakers pursue compromise on eviction moratorium

By NED OLIVER, Virginia Mercury

Lawmakers in the Virginia Senate appear to be nearing a compromise on a proposed eviction moratorium that advocates hope will head off a wave of homelessness amid widespread job losses and expiring unemployment benefits. Initial proposals would have barred nearly all evictions through April 30, 2021, and mandated landlords participate in a state rent-relief program that in some cases required them to forgive half the rent they were owed.

Minimizing the Damage from Pandemic-related Evictions


With thousands of eviction cases sitting in Virginia's courts and many more likely on the way, lawmakers are attempting to enact a suite of legislation that would prevent evictions or minimize the damage brought on in their wake. Getting kicked out of a house is one part of an eviction. The bad rap that follows is another. Delegate Joshua Cole says not being able to pay bills during a pandemic shouldn't count against people trying to find a new home.

Should systemic racism be a public-health crisis? Delegate says yes, it should

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

A resolution introduced in the House of Delegates this week would recognize systemic racism as a public-health crisis and directs the state health department's health equity office to develop policy to ensure fairness in preventive care to communities of color. The measure from Del. Lashrecse D. Aird, D-Petersburg, claims that systemic racism has "manifested as a determinant" not only in public health but also criminal justice, economic opportunities and other areas.


Absentee ballot requests up 2,000% from four years ago in Albemarle

By ALLISON WRABEL, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

Absentee ballot requests in Albemarle County for the 2020 election are up nearly 2,000% from where they were this time ahead of the 2016 election, according to the county registrar. "We're not in Kansas anymore," Registrar Jake Washburne said. "That is an order of magnitude that we have just never seen anything like before."


Virginia officials backed off push to close Shore poultry plants for two weeks to fight pandemic

By SARAH VOGELSONG, Virginia Mercury

A legislative attempt to force Virginia to reveal more information about COVID-19 outbreaks in the state's poultry plants and other workplaces, introduced after months of stonewalling from Virginia health officials and their insistence that the plants are entitled to privacy protections, stalled Wednesday with no prospect of being revived until 2021. The demise of the bill by Sen. Lynwood Lewis, who represents the poultry-heavy Eastern Shore, was another blow to workers and activists who have long sought details about the extent of the transmission of COVID-19 in poultry plants, which began in April and ultimately led to more than 1,200 cases and 10 deaths in largely minority and socioeconomically disadvantaged communities.

Unwanted care, unexpected bills

By LUANNE RIFE, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

When their dad was kept in a state hospital against their will, a family learns that they will bear the financial burden. When a judge stripped Conlan Williams and his family of their rights to decide what would be best for him, the worst happened, his children said. Williams, a Korean War veteran who worked for decades in the nation's defense, was locked away in a state psychiatric hospital where he'd mark his 85th, and last, birthday. His only illness was dementia.

VHSL plans call for high school sports schedules to be cut 60%

By FRED HODGE, Fauquier Times

The Virginia High School League has released proposed contest limits for the delayed high school sports calendar, planning for 60% reductions to regular seasons in most sports. For the winter sports, basketball will play 14 games (22 previously) with eight for wrestling (12) and six for both swimming and indoor track (10).


Extreme weather of 2020 producing pain in Hampton Roads' croplands

By JOANNE KIMBERLIN, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

As if 2020 hasn't been tough enough already, extreme weather is producing pain for local farmers. Not you too, Mother Nature. Indeed. City folks on a drive through the countryside might not notice, but a growing season that's bounced between way too dry and way too wet has left a patchwork of damage across the region's croplands. All those acres of rustling corn? They look OK from a car window, but closer inspection on a slew of farms finds a lot of cob with missing kernels.

2 dead in Suffolk industrial accident at site of future Amazon facility

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

Two workers are dead after an unspecified industrial accident Saturday afternoon at the site of a future Amazon fulfillment center, authorities said. More were temporarily unaccounted for but later found with no injuries. Police and fire crews responded to the scene after learning of the incident shortly before 2:15 p.m. in the 2000 block of Northgate Commerce Parkway, according to a city news release.

Danville businesses stay afloat with help from COVID-19 assistance

By JOHN CRANE, Danville Register & Bee

For John Mason, the assistance he and his wife received from the city for their business covered rent for a month this past spring. Mason and his wife, Anne, own Foxglove Clothing of Danville on West Main Street in Schoolfield. The money they received enabled them to use funds — money that would otherwise have covered rent — to pay for other expenses, he said. "We could use those dollars to help pay utilities and pay invoices to our vendors," John Mason said.


Pair of Dulles Greenway rush hour relief projects done


After $20 million and almost two years, a pair of rush hour relief projects on Northern Virginia's Dulles Greenway are finished. Officials said they hope the two projects will help ease a rush hour bottleneck for commuters in Loudoun County, Greenway's mainline plaza and Centreville Road.


Student life has resumed at CNU; only 4 cases reported leading up to the start of classes

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

Christopher Newport University's campus will be at its capacity this weekend, with classes starting Monday. The university has opted to hold most classes in person, requiring students and professors to distance and wear masks. Many students have already moved into campus residence halls, and the remainder will arrive this weekend.

Sunday's state COVID-19 data: Radford cases increase by 50

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

The Virginia Department of Health reports 938 new coronavirus cases across the state from Saturday to Sunday. That includes 50 new cases in Radford, a COVID-19 hot spot over the past several weeks. The city's total is now 384. A total of 52 new cases were reported in Radford Saturday morning, according to VDH's latest data. This weekend's cases in Radford are substantially more than any other locality in the region.

Native American center eyed in place of UVa's George Rogers Clark statue

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

The statue of Revolutionary War Gen. George Rogers Clark has stood on University of Virginia land for 99 years, but a push for racial equity and efforts by student leaders may force the statue to be removed. The statue, for which university leaders actively lobbied a wealthy Charlottesville philanthropist back in 1921, would be replaced by a Native American-centered cultural center under a recommendation by UVa's Racial Equity Task Force.

Falwell's exit puts Liberty at crossroads

By SUSAN SVRLUGA, MICHELLE BOORSTEIN AND SARAH PULLIAM BAILEY, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Liberty University students watched their first all-school convocation of the semester one day after their high-profile president, Jerry Falwell Jr., resigned amid personal scandals. Falwell has been "an inspiration," said Jerry Prevo, a powerful, fundamentalist pastor from Alaska serving as acting president. He told students that Liberty's leaders are committed to the spiritual mission of the university. He also said Falwell had been the "builder of this great campus, which all of us can be proud of."


Virginia reports 938 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, 1 more death

By PETER COUTU, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

The Virginia Department of Health reported 938 new coronavirus cases Sunday, bringing the state's tally to 119,747. At least 2,569 Virginians have died from the virus as of Sunday morning, an increase of one from Saturday.

Supply chain issues still hampering UVa's virus testing efforts

By ALLISON WRABEL, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

Supply chain issues are still hampering the University of Virginia Health Systems's COVID-19 test processing efforts. UVa had a goal of running 3,000 tests a day by early June, but is currently only running about 750 tests a day due to material shortages, among other issues.

Health department employees faced with long hours, never-ending responsibilities

By CALEB AYERS, Danville Register & Bee

In the world before COVID-19, people often asked Pittsylvania-Danville Health Director Scott Spillmann why the health department needed epidemiologists — health professionals who track and attempt to curb the spread of infectious diseases — or health emergency coordinators. "No one is asking that now," Spillmann said.

Henry County Jail takes steps to curtail spread of 'several' coronavirus cases

By HOLLY KOZELSKY, Martinsville Bulletin (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Coronavirus has spread in the Henry County Jail despite a reduction in population designed to present an outbreak. Henry County Lane Perry declined to provide a number of cases, but he did say that the positive tests "were contained within two cells." Between 15 and 20 men live in a cell.

Defying virus with military precision

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

The teenage boys struggled up the hill in the predawn darkness, panting beneath gray masks stamped with crossed swords and an ornate "F." Behind them, fog swirled over the dark humps of Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains. In front of them waited Capt. Mark Black, his summer-white Navy uniform glowing against the red-brick exterior of Fishburne Military School. Each boy slowed to a walk as he passed the superintendent, then snapped an arm in prompt salute. "Mr. Loe," Black called to a teen, "did you really wear that gaiter the whole run?" "Yes, sir!" said 17-year-old Wesley Loe. "You got to do what you got to do."


Richmond Community Groups Hold 'Unity Walk', Commemorating March On Washington


More than 100 people gathered at the Virginia Museum of History and Culture Friday night for a Unity Walk. It was a commemoration of the 57th anniversary of the March on Washington and Martin Luther King, Jr.'s most famous speech, "I Have A Dream." Thousands of protesters also arrived in Washington D.C. that same night for a march on the National Mall. The Unity Walk was unlike any of the protests Richmond has seen over the past few months. There were no chants as people walked along Arthur Ashe Boulevard. The marchers were asked to quietly reflect on racial justice.

Report: Prosecution of federal human trafficking cases down in Va.

By JOSETTE KEELOR, Winchester Star (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

A new report from the Human Trafficking Institute has listed Virginia 13th on the list of active criminal trafficking cases it's pursuing at the federal level. The 2019 Federal Human Trafficking Report lists 13 active cases in Virginia, 12 of them in the Eastern District, which contains many of the state's most populous urban areas. The Western District (comprising about 50 counties across the Shenandoah Valley, west-central and southwest regions and about half of Virginia's central and southside regions) reported one active human trafficking case in federal courts as of the end of 2019, said Kyleigh Feehs, associate legal counsel and co-author of the report.


Loudoun Co. use of libraries for county day care prompts closures, anger


The decision by Loudoun County's Board of Supervisors to utilize two of the Virginia county's libraries as day care facilities for county employees during the COVID-19 pandemic has drawn the ire of library officials. Starting Monday, Aug. 31, the Ashburn and Rust branches — two of the county's 10 branches — will be limited to curbside pickup service.

Maggie Walker school's new 5-year plan addresses diversity. But with no metrics, critics question its utility

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

Alumni who hoped a five-year plan approved last week for a predominantly white magnet school would address systemic racism say the regional school board did not do enough to support students of color. While the 11-page plan adopted by the board of the Maggie L. Walker Governor's School on Aug. 20 contains a reference to "underserved populations," it does not mention racism or Black or brown students.

Richmond ends amnesty program for parking citations

NBC 12

The city of Richmond will be ending its parking amnesty program, which started in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Parking enforcement already resumed citywide in July. At 5 p.m. on Aug. 31, the city will begin booting vehicles with outstanding past-due tickets.

Open land preserved in Spotsylvania

By SCOTT SHENK, Free Lance-Star (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

More than 1,000 acres near Lake Anna in Spotsylvania County have been placed under a conservation easement. The Land Trust of Virginia, a nonprofit that works with landowners who want to preserve property, said two tracts were donated in July. Richmond McDaniel, a Fredericksburg resident, donated the properties—one covering 784 acres and the other 241 acres.

Firefly, Nelson County partner for $1 million investment in broadband expansion

By NICK CROPPER, Nelson County Times

Invigorated with additional federal aid money, the Nelson County Board of Supervisors recently allocated $1.125 million for Firefly Fiber Broadband to use for immediate broadband expansion in the county. A proposal by Firefly — which is owned by the members of Central Virginia Electric Cooperative — to complete a total of six projects in the areas of Shipman, Arrington, Gladstone, Piney River and Colleen would provide reliable, high-speed internet to more than 400 homes and businesses off the CVEC system by Dec. 31.

Roanoke County awards close to $1 million in aid to local businesses

By ALISON GRAHAM, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Roanoke County has awarded close to $1 million to local businesses since the start of its coronavirus assistance grant program in July. So far, more than 200 businesses in the county and town of Vinton have received grants — most of them restaurants, retail and health and medical businesses. The average grant amount has been about $5,000.

Altavista council approves renaming park after a Black community leader

By SARAH HONOSKY, News & Advance (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)

An Altavista park is being renamed in honor of a prominent Black community leader from the town's history. John Moseley moved from Charlotte Court House to work for the Lane Company in 1909. In a matter of years, he purchased land, opened a small business and was instrumental in building the African American community in Altavista, establishing a neighborhood still named for him, Moseley Heights.

Nearly 2,000 Danville Utilities customers at risk of service disconnection starting Tuesday

By PARKER COTTON, Danville Register & Bee

About 2,000 Danville Utilities residential customers are at risk of having their service disconnected in the first few days of September if they do not make an attempt to address their delinquent balance, according to Michael Adkins, the city's director of finance. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in mid-March, the city imposed a moratorium on shut-offs as customers lost jobs en masse or had working hours reduced, making it much more difficult to pay various bills.

BVU board hears about lawsuit, possible rate cut

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

The BVU Authority board spent about 50 minutes in closed session Friday, in part to receive an update on litigation recently filed against it by the city of Bristol, Virginia, but members had little to say afterward. The city's July 31 complaint seeks $6.5 million from what it claims are proceeds from the $48 million sale of the former OptiNet telecommunications division, which concluded in August 2018. BVU filed its response last week, claiming there were no funds left over and asking that the issue be moved to U.S. District Court in Abingdon.



Show workers appreciation in these troubled times

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

There was hope when the coronavirus began that it might prompt a profound change in the treatment and consideration given to the hourly workers and service industry employees whose toil was suddenly classified as "essential." Medical professionals have always held an esteemed place in society, so praise showered on them, though very much warranted, was in keeping with their station. Appreciation heaped on postal workers and grocery store clerks, restaurant employees and cleaning personnel represented something different.

Help wanted: Virginia officers of election

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

Teresa F. Smithson, general registrar and director of elections for Hanover County, calls officers of election "the unsung heroes of our democracy." "If we didn't have them checking in voters, giving out ballots, handing out stickers and doing everything else they do, we wouldn't have any elections," she said. "Our officers of election have the community at heart, and we are so grateful to have the people we do."

Questions for Good and Webb in the 5th District

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

The Fifth District, which stretches from the North Carolina line to the outskirts of Northern Virginia, has one of the most interesting congressional races anywhere in the country this year. For the Democrats, Cameron Webb, a Black doctor from Charlottesville running in a district where Confederate statues prompted the violent march by white supremacists three years ago. For the Republicans, Bob Good, who calls himself a "bright red Biblical and constitutional conservative."

A cautionary energy tale from California

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

If you've noticed that your electricity bills have slowly creeped up over the past decade or so, you're not imagining things. According to the Virginia State Corporation Commission, energy legislation passed by the General Assembly have increased Dominion Energy customers' power bills nearly 29 percent since 2007. When the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown imposed by Gov. Ralph Northam caused hundreds of thousands of Virginians to lose their jobs, the SCC imposed a moratorium on utility shutoffs, which was to have expired on Monday. The moratorium was extended to Sept. 16 to give the General Assembly, now meeting in special session, a bit more time to pass emergency legislation to help people who lost their livelihoods keep the lights on, at least temporarily.

Responding to the Census benefits us all

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

This is crunch time for the 2020 Census. Hampton Roads communities should make every effort to encourage people who haven't responded to make sure they are counted. Counting every person matters — to all of us. COVID-19 has, of course, complicated the process of counting every person who lives in the United States.

No exceptions should be made for COVID-19.

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

To gain a sense of how strange the start of the fall 2020 semester has been at Virginia Commonwealth University, look no further than a recent pinned tweet on the main @VCU Twitter feed. "Check this thread for indoor + outdoor locations for studying and eating," the tweet said, along with emojis of books, a computer, a sandwich and a box of french fries.


Johnson: Connect the suburbs

By MAXWELL JOHNSON, published in Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

When I was younger, I thought that it was strange to walk. Or rather, I thought it strange that people would dare to go by foot alongside the bustling roads that crisscross suburban Chesterfield County, where I grew up. I was reminded of these past thoughts when driving on Midlothian Turnpike from Manchester to my parents' Midlothian home on a recent weekend. The pedestrian infrastructure of the city quickly fades away as the road opens up into sprawling shopping plazas and their attendant acres of asphalt. But pedestrians remain — walking the medians and cutting across multiple lanes of traffic, not in defiance of a walk signal but in the absence of one.

Maxwell Johnson is a native of Chesterfield County and a graduate of the University of Virginia.

Yarcich: The Postal Service's vital role in medication delivery

By AMY YARCICH, published in Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Concerns about the capacity of the U.S. Postal Service to carry out its "appointed rounds" have reached a fever pitch. While much of the debate has focused on the potential risks to the fall election, there are other serious day-to-day consequences of a debilitated post office, particularly its critical role in delivering lifesaving medications to patients who rely on them.

Yarcich is executive director of Rx Partnership. Her grandfather, who passed away in 2012, served as a letter carrier in New Jersey for 30 years.

Owen: 50th anniversary of co-education at U.Va.

By KAREN OWEN, published in Free Lance-Star (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

As we celebrate the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, giving women the right to vote throughout the land, perhaps lost in the shuffle is another red-letter day for women in Virginia: The 50th anniversary of full co-education at the state's flagship university. The Commonwealth of Virginia itself would not ratify the 19th Amendment until 1952.

Owen is an editor and writer, and former Viewpoints editor (2007–14) of The Free Lance–Star.

Latham: Want to cast a ballot safely this fall? A local registrar explains how.

By WALT LATHAM, published in Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Presidential elections bring elevated attention to the political process, which not only brings heightened levels of excitement, energy, involvement, and participation but also heightened levels of misinformation, confusion, and frustration. These negative aspects of a presidential election are unnecessary. With the information below, Virginians can feel knowledgeable and confident about Virginia's election process. If you are not registered to vote or are unsure, you need to fix that!

Latham is the general registrar for York County. He is also the immediate past president of the Voter Registrars Association of Virginia.

Morse: Star spangled or not, the messaging gets challenging

By GORDON C. MORSE, published in Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

As political message-making goes, the image of Vice President Mike Pence surrounded by American flags at Fort McHenry hardly qualifies as subtle. But that's the way these things work. Mount Rushmore. The White House. What, did they forget the Old North Church and Independence Hall? Settings (circumstances) set the message and, man, do Democrats, including those presently operating in Richmond, need to absorb this reality.

Morse began his writing career with the Daily Press editorial page in 1983, then moved across the water to write opinion for The Virginian-Pilot. He later joined the administration of Gerald L. Baliles as the governor's speechwriter and special assistant

Jankowski: Making brave choices will see us through COVID-19

By JUDY JANKOWSKI, published in Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Within the next few weeks, students across the country will be returning to school. The number of questions to be answered before schools open — where kids should attend, how they should be served, the impact on their social and emotional health, the ability of teachers to build essential relationships with their students when starting the year remotely — can be overwhelming for families and educators alike. The data collected from our great distance learning experiment of last spring indicates that by the end of the term many students were simply unable to sustain momentum.

Judy Jankowski, Ed.D., head of school for Chesapeake Bay Academy, has dedicated her career to the education and well-being of children who learn differently.

Tracci: Make law enforcement part of Virginia's criminal reform solution

By ROBERT N. TRACCI, published in Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

The unlawful killing of George Floyd has occasioned widespread and well-founded calls for enhanced police training, accreditation and justice reform. But rather than seizing a historic opportunity for bipartisan legislative action, leaders in Virginia's General Assembly have proposed measures that would undermine community safety, deny justice to crime victims, and imperil the lives of Virginia residents and law enforcement officers.

Robert Tracci serves as assistant commonwealth's attorney for Louisa County. He was Albemarle County's commonwealth's attorney from 2016-19.

Hincker: Dear conservative or centrist voter

By LARRY HINCKER, published in Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

For all you undecided conservative, independent, or centrist voters. Find yourself in a difficult spot? Trump or Biden in 2020? Not much of a choice, eh? Flashback time to 2016 – Hillary or Donald? Except that now we know something we didn't know then. The stable genius president aced his cognitive exam and remembered five words. The stable genius recommended we drink bleach to rid a virus. The stable genius warns that windmills cause cancer. OK, on a more serious policy standpoint, this president presides over a national budget deficit that is the largest in modern history.

Hincker is a retired public relations executive.

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