GOVERNMENT + POLITICS

Fox-hunting pens shut down

BY: - July 18, 2018

Six fox-hunting pens have been shut down in Virginia following a two-year investigation by Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring’s office. Nine people pleaded guilty to a range of charges, mostly misdemeanors but also a few felonies. “Fox penning can become unlawful when operators put illegal foxes and coyotes into a fenced-in area and allow dogs […]

Virginian-Pilot stonewalled on tax information

BY: - July 18, 2018

Virginian-Pilot reporter Ana Ley got an earful from Portsmouth’s elected commissioner of the revenue while she was trying to pry loose neighborhood-specific information on meal, beverage and retail tax revenues for a story published Wednesday. “You’ve taken up a lot of time – taxpayer dollars – trying to respond to your request because you want […]

State board clears local jails of responsibility in 23 deaths but won’t release details of investigations

BY: - July 18, 2018

The Virginia Board of Corrections wrapped up its first batch of inmate death investigations Wednesday, voting unanimously to clear about a dozen jails in 23 deaths that occurred in 2017 and 2018. The new review process was established by the General Assembly last year in a bid to increase oversight of local jails following the […]

With annexation off the table, officials studying ways to prod struggling cities to merge with counties

BY: - July 18, 2018

Residents of Martinsville are slowly coming around to the idea that the best thing for the city might be for it to cease being a city at all. Off-and-on discussions have been ongoing for decades about whether the shrinking, 13,500-population city in southern Virginia should revert to town status and be absorbed by surrounding Henry […]

Follow the money

BY: - July 18, 2018

The Virginia Public Access Project has the breakdown of mid-year campaign finance reports that were due in by midnight Monday. With a whole year to go before the 2019 state Senate and House elections, Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment, a Republican from James City County, who has been in the Senate since 1992, had $843,596 […]

COMMENTARY

Remember officials, when they’re about public business, your texts are public records

BY: - July 18, 2018

Thirty years ago, John Q. Public Servant had a report he had to produce for his boss, the county manager. He was tired and his kid was sick, so he left work a bit early to work on it at home. He sat down at the kitchen table after grabbing one of his kid’s leftover […]

Virginia’s health care-acquired infection rates mirror national averages, but is that good enough?

BY: - July 18, 2018

Jimi Suwaiti doesn’t remember much of the first few months of 2017, but her mother, Sharon Blackwell, does. Blackwell watched her 48-year-old daughter shake in her hospital bed in Virginia Beach because the pain from a bacterial infection was so terrible, and hallucinate, in her feverish state, that people were coming into her room. Suwaiti […]

Members of Va. gun rights group call for leader’s resignation after he was tricked into recording training video for toddlers

BY: - July 17, 2018

Philip Van Cleave says he suspected he was being set up just five minutes into a multi-hour interview earlier this year with a supposed Israeli anti-terrorism expert. But the president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, the state’s top gun advocacy group, said he pressed on, ultimately agreeing to record a firearms-training video for toddlers […]

From the state government to the ‘shadow government’

BY: - July 17, 2018

Mega-lobbying firm McGuireWoods Consulting added a major player to their formidable bench Tuesday, signing up former GOP House Speaker Bill Howell. “Since it was founded 20 years ago, McGuireWoods Consulting has earned a well-deserved reputation for consistently delivering successful outcomes for clients. Many of my new colleagues there have been friends for years, and I […]

Southwest Virginia school district is first in state to approve program to arm teachers. Is it legal?

BY: - July 17, 2018

Members of the Lee County School Board voted unanimously last week to buy some teachers guns and have them designated as “conservators of the peace” as part of a new school security program. “We’ve realized we can not afford to put the number of school resource officers in Lee County that we would like to,” […]

COMMENTARY
Virginia Mercury team

Meet the Mercury: A new look at the Virginia Way

BY: - July 17, 2018

You’ve heard of the “Virginia Way.”   For those inclined to consider it a cherished asset of the Old Dominion, the term conjures a tradition of restrained, courtly statesmanship and of high-minded legislating that puts principle over party and personality. At its best, they would argue, that approach to governing and lawmaking can produce breakthroughs […]

Could diversion programs be the answer for Virginia’s high eviction rates?

BY: - July 17, 2018

When it comes to addressing high eviction rates in Virginia, early talks indicate there’s limited common ground between tenant advocates and the apartment industry. A proposal to give tenants 14 days instead of five to pay rent before their landlord can sue to evict them? Firmly opposed, said Patrick McCloud, executive director of the Virginia […]