Archive for May, 2011
They had been dubbed the “Gang of Six” … but their number was recently reduced by one. Yet Democratic U-S Senator Mark Warner and four other Senate colleagues of both parties are still trying to hammer out a bipartisan solution to reign in the soaring $14-trillion federal debt … that grows by more than $46,000 per second. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, the Senators argue that failure is NOT an option.
Virginia IS apparently for lovers … of parks—where attendance is setting records as a recreational destination for millions of visitors. 75 years ago, the Commonwealth established its state parks system, and as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, Governor McDonnell has proclaimed June as a month to commemorate that anniversary.
Former Governor Doug Wilder has recently returned from a trip to Africa. His purpose there was to provide advice to help elected leaders restructure their government after years of political unrest. But as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, Wilder says he came back more knowledgeable about issues with which his own country has struggled.
One of the democrats who wants to succeed Bob McDonnell as Virginia Governor has been on the offensive this spring criticizing McDonnell for the way he’s handled the state’s economy. Some fact checking of one of his claims reveals not only what’s true, but also what else is true. That’s the topic of this week’s PolitiFact report, as we hear from Virginia Public Radio’s Fred Echols, and Warren Fiske, from the Richmond Times Dispatch.
A closed general store. Railroad tracks that lead to nowhere. These are signs of so-called “lost communities”—places we often drive through, without much notice. A team of researchers with Virginia Tech’s College of Architecture and Urban Studies brings some of these once bustling places back to life—as we hear from Virginia Public Radio’s Connie Stevens.
Since the start of the War on Terrorism, 233 Virginians have been killed in the line of duty—20 since last year’s “Wall of Honor” ceremony at the State Capitol. Leaders at this year’s tribute reminded Virginians that while they enjoy this Memorial Day weekend with cookouts and vacations … the sacrifices made by these fallen members of the military allow all Americans to enjoy their freedoms. Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports.
With Virginia’s primary elections fast approaching in August and the general election a few months later, state leaders want to prevent voting irregularities as much as possible. That’s why the State Board of Elections is addressing a problem that occurred last November which may not have affected that electoral outcome—but could potentially skew future election results. Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports from the Capitol.
Some of the most iconic World War II footage from the Pacific theater was shot by a cameraman who shared his stories at the Library of Virginia. Former Marine Major Norm Hatch was featured at the Library’s latest ‘Book Talk.’ And as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, the new book about his life paints a portrait of courage under fire.
State employee e-mails are subject to Freedom of Information requests made by the public under Virginia’s open-government laws … which also allow the costs of providing records to be passed along to the requester. But the e-mails have become so voluminous and cluttered that costs to retrieve them have skyrocketed. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, the Freedom of Information Advisory Council is concerned that steep charges could have a chilling effect.
Some regions of the Old Dominion appear to be coming out of the so-called Great Recession. But recent cost-of-living data shows Virginians pay more or less depending on where they live. Virginia Public Radio’s Jay King has the story.
In Virginia, more than 300-thousand children are exposed to domestic violence annually… and a state panel has been working to mitigate this problem and identify gaps in services to victims. But as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, although resources are available to families, they aren’t sufficient to prevent the cycle from continuing.
Terry McAuliffe is a former Chairman of the National Democratic Party and a likely candidate for Governor of Virginia in two years. He’s also one of the subjects of this week’s PolitiFact Virginia Report with Virginia Public Radio’s Fred Echols and Warren Fiske of the Richmond Times Dispatch.
There hasn’t been a systematic study of seniors in Virginia since the late 70s and early 80s … and since then the needs of the Commonwealth’s aging population have changed dramatically. Now there’s a new study in the works to assist in planning for what is being called the “age wave.” And as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, the feedback indicates that there’s a lot of preparation to be done.
U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor returned to his Richmond-area district to host a jobs forum comprised of small business-owners and economists … to discuss the challenges they are facing. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, Cantor said he would like to take many of Virginia’s business models back to Washington and incorporate those practices there.
An alliance of advocacy organization is seeking to delay state regulations that would prevent adoptions by gay couples in Virginia. The new rules removed proposed language that would ban discrimination in adoptions based on family status, sexual orientation and other factors. But as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, the groups say the State Board of Social Services revised the language without adequate time for public comment.
State lawmakers are working to develop new appropriations criteria in the wake of an Attorney General’s opinion clarifying that direct funding to charities violates the state constitution. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, the goals include determining whether they can still receive some version of state funding—and, if so, under what conditions.
As Congressional Democrats and Republicans work toward what they hope will be reductions in the federal deficit, there is no shortage of claims and counter-claims about the budget. A favorite target for criticism is the Tax Code. Virginia Congressman Eric Cantor recently said the income tax is so flawed that nearly 50% of all federal filers pay “no” tax. Researchers at the website PolitiFact-Virginia.com decided to check out that claim by Congressman Cantor. Virginia Public Radio’s Fred Echols talked with Warren Fiske with PolitiFact, in his office at the Richmond Times Dispatch.
A consortium of anti-uranium mining groups says it’s stepping up its campaign to visit communities and inform residents and lawmakers about the risks of uranium mining in Virginia. Although there is a statewide ban on uranium mining, several companies are lobbying the state to lift it in order to mine a large deposit in Pittsylvania County—and perhaps elsewhere—to create jobs and prosperity. Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil has more from the State Capitol.
Although some believe the practice is invasive…Virginia is moving forward with familial DNA testing that helps police capture violent offenders. But as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, the technology will be used as a last resort …and even defense attorneys may embrace the approach.
A three-judge panel heard oral arguments in appeals of two U-S district court decisions that either upheld the federal-health care law or struck down the mandate requiring most Americans to buy health insurance or pay a penalty. The two cases heard before the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals arose from lawsuits filed by the Commonwealth of Virginia and Liberty University. Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports from the federal courthouse in Richmond.
The White House and Congress are both talking about cutting federal spending. Groups in Virginia that work with the poor say their programs are a small part of the government’s budget. But they say some of those cuts will mean big problems for their clients. Virginia Public Radio’s Joe Staniunas reports.
Virginia’s Freedom of Information Advisory Council is weighing whether the law should allow the public to know -and the media to publish-the names, positions, and compensation of state employees … or whether such transparency is an invasion of privacy. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, the members agree that the public has a right to know how tax dollars are being spent … but they’re not sure yet how MUCH information is appropriate.
While Governor McDonnell will be spending next week abroad in Asia to build business relationships there, he’s asking Virginians to continue building relationships with small businesses as part of the Commonwealth’s Business Appreciation Week. Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil has more from the State Capitol.
Despite the fact that federal officials have once killed a proposal to lift the moratorium on offshore gas and oil drilling, Governor McDonnell says he is not dissuaded … and is continuing his push to convince President Obama and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to expedite the process. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, McDonnell says rising gas prices are hurting families and businesses so much that a delay will cripple the economy even more.
The Sierra Club’s response is that even if the moratorium were lifted today, it would still take years to take advantage of any oil or gas discovered, and during that time, the country could be investing in renewable, cleaner energy exploration and development.
This week marks the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights “Freedom Riders” movement … that began when13 men and women departed from Washington, D.C., on a commercial bus trip to challenge the unconstitutionally segregated interstate bus facilities. But a pioneer in the movement says it started before 1961, right in Virginia’s capital city. And, as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, state Senator Henry Marsh says that although African-Americans have made great strides, too many in this generation have forgotten the battles that afforded them today’s opportunities.
One in five children ages 9 through 17 experiences a mental health disorder in the course of a year—and one in 10 is very serious … according to the latest national data. Now a new report that focuses on the Commonwealth examines whether these children are being adequately treated … and, as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, it found deficiencies in the array of services statewide.
There was an intriguing case in Albemarle Circuit Court last week. It involved: a man accused of possessing a small amount of marijuana, a little-known penalty in Virginia law and a giant bill for taxpayers. Virginia Public Radio’s Sandy Hausman heard about the case, called the public defender, and filed this report.