The Weekender: a round-up of opinions from across Virginia

Mercury commentary you might have missed: Roger Chesley reminded elected officials, who often seem to view themselves as indispensable, that they’re all replaceable. And, in a guest op-ed, attorney Jon Sokolow made the connection between the long-running struggle for civil rights and the fight against Dominion Energy’s proposed Buckingham compressor station, part of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

‘Beware the mail’: Writing in The Washington Post, Norman Leahy calls the slick attack fliers filling mailboxes across Virginia “the raging ids of campaigns, jammed with garish colors, jarring headlines and wild accusations.”

Drones and scooters: The Richmond Times-Dispatch tackled regulation of drone deliveries: “As unmanned aircrafts lift common household items to our doors, government must lift its efforts to make sure laws keep pace.”

The Virginian-Pilot called for regional cooperation on regulating another emerging transportation trend: dockless scooters. “For Hampton Roads, taming the lawless landscape for scooter companies to operate should also mean agreeing with one another on some basic ground rules that span the region, since consistency across jurisdictions makes practical sense and serves the public interest,” the paper wrote.

And someone at The Roanoke Times really likes the 2010 movie “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World,” noting that even with the dawn of drone delivery approaching, “technically, any Scott Pilgrim in Christiansburg could still meet his Ramona Flowers.”

Deaths of despair: News Leader columnist Mike Radoiu, a Harrisonburg optometrist, says politics as usual won’t result in a solution to the increasing numbers of deaths by suicide, overdose and alcohol among rural whites.

“The recent ‘deaths of despair’ are at the intersection of public health, economics and psychology. Stopping this trend will take an understanding of all three issues and their interrelationship,” he wrote. “Cynical political tricks, divisive tweets and political smoke and mirrors won’t work.”

Education funding: Pilot columnist Gordon C. Morse says it’s time to give education funding a boost, with the state Board of Education making the case for a $1 billion per year increase for public schools in Virginia. “Just breathe deeply and know that public education has always been costly and anyone who suggests otherwise, well, never went to school,” he wrote.

Redistricting: Citing the Mercury’s reporting on the subject, the Danville Register & Bee fires its own shot across the bow of politicians who back away from redistricting reform. “Power is intoxicating, and Republicans and Democrats are vulnerable to its charms,” the paper wrote. “We will also call out any Assembly member who backs away from reform simply because his or her party takes power in Richmond. Count on it.”

Kids these days: The Free Lance-Star walked readers through capitalism v. socialism and explains the current U.S. model: “Private individuals here own the means of production and markets provide the capital they need, but the government heavily regulates many if not most aspects of economic activity. From time to time, due to changing political winds, the American public has clamored for either more economic freedom or more government intervention,” the editorial board wrote in a lament about a lack of understanding of economics among young people.

“But citizens, especially young people who will have to live longer with the consequences than their elders, should at least know what they’re voting for.”

On endorsements: With Election Day approaching and get-out-the-vote efforts surging, RTD columnist Jeff Schapiro takes a look at the positives and negatives. “When it comes to endorsements, be careful what you ask for. You just might get it — in the neck, that is,” he writes.

About that actually: Speaking of endorsements, the RTD announced last year it would stop doing them. Instead, the paper’s opinion pages offered up a Q&A with area candidates here.

Trump and Syria: The Winchester Star wonders why all the furor over Trump’s Syria withdrawal. “When you read the back story, which dates at least to 2014, the continuing uproar over President Trump’s withdrawal of a couple of dozen troops from Northern Syria is baffling,” the paper wrote. “True enough, we are leaving Kurds to fend for themselves, but these are hardly the Kurds of historical comity.”

Living and dying: Writing in the Alexandria Gazette Packet, cancer patient Kenneth Lourie chronicles the challenges of living with his illness. “When you’re diagnosed with a ‘terminal disease,’ you want to live, but it’s extremely difficult not to think about dying. It dominates your brain and preoccupies your mind,” he wrote. “I know I’m afraid of dying. What these more recent pains and subsequent visits to the doctors have also shown me is that I can’t be afraid of living.”

Letter of the week: Writing to The Daily Progress, John Booker of Albemarle has a solution for naming controversies. “Keep it simple (which we should have done for the Charlottesville parks, by the way). Name the school for the street it is on or the neighborhood it is in. No arguments, debates, etc. Why does it need to be named for a person?” he asks. “Am I making too much sense?”

— Robert Zullo, editor

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Robert Zullo
Robert has been winning and losing awards as a reporter and editor for 13 years at weekly and daily newspapers, beginning at Worrall Community Newspapers in Union, N.J., where he was a staff writer and managing editor. He spent five years in south Louisiana covering hurricanes, oil spills and Good Friday crawfish boils as a reporter and city editor for the The Courier and the Daily Comet newspapers in Houma and Thibodaux. He covered Richmond city hall for the Richmond Times-Dispatch from 2012 to 2013 and worked as a general assignment and city hall reporter for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from 2013 to 2016. He returned to Richmond in 2016 to cover energy, environment and transportation for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. He grew up in Miami, Fla., and central New Jersey. A former waiter, armored car guard and appliance deliveryman, he is a graduate of the College of William and Mary. Contact him at [email protected]