Sept. 2 to Sept. 8, 2019

September 2 thru 8, 2019 1


Featured Article: Cheat sheet: The House and Senate races most likely to decide control of Virginia’s statehouse

Federal:The Shocking Paper Predicting the End of Democracy

Executive: Virginia Republicans thought calling Ralph Northam ‘Gov. Blackface’ would help them. That’s changed.

General Assembly:  Republicans fear drubbing in next round of redistricting

‘A small renaissance’: Pawpaws, George Washington’s favorite fruit, seeing a resurgence

Health and Safety: Virginia deaths rising despite opioid overdose drug spending

Education: Seventeen Questions Every College Should Be Asking


The Shocking Paper Predicting the End of Democracy

Richard Shenkman
Politico  – Sept. 8, 2019

Democracy is hard work. And as society’s “elites”—experts and publicfigures who help those around them navigate the heavy responsibilities that come with self-rule—have increasingly been sidelined, citizens have proved ill equipped cognitively and emotionally to run a well-functioning democracy. As a consequence, the center has collapsed and millions of frustrated and angst-filled voters have turned in desperation to right-wing populists.

And therein lies the core of his argument: Democracy is hard work and requires a lot from those who participate in it. It requires people to respect those with different views from theirs and people who don’t look like them. It asks citizens to be able to sift through large amounts of information and process the good from the bad, the true from the false. It requires thoughtfulness, discipline and logic.

State Executive

Virginia Republicans thought calling Ralph Northam ‘Gov. Blackface’ would help them. That’s changed.

By Gregory S. Schneider

The Washington Post- September 6, 2019

 No one mentioned resignation when Gov. Ralph Northam recently hobnobbed at Rep. Bobby Scott’s annual Labor Day picnic in Newport News. No students protested when Northam attended a seminar at historically black Virginia Union University last week. And when Northam spoke about the legacy of slavery at Fort Monroe late last month, there were no boos, only standing ovations.

Northam is still wounded by a blackface scandal that almost cost him his job in February. But with campaign season in full swing during a crucial election year, he is far from the pariah that most people expected.  Instead, Northam is making big donations to a few campaigns, attending fundraisers throughout the state and rallying fellow Democrats on issues such as health care and gun control.

State Legislature

Republicans fear drubbing in next round of redistricting

By Alex Isenstadt

POLITICO – September 5, 2019

Democrats were caught napping in the 2010 election ahead of the last round of redistricting — and it cost them control of Congress for nearly a decade.

Now Republicans are warning the same thing could happen to them. Senior Republicans concede they’re at risk of losing dozens of state-level elections that will determine who wields power over the post-2020 congressional map — and potentially which party controls the chamber for the following 10 years. While Republicans are establishing a massive national infrastructure devoted to reelecting President Donald Trump and winning congressional majorities, party officials say the state legislative races are being overlooked.


If the new General Assembly gets it done, ‘suddenly, college is worth it.’

By Davis Burroughs

The Dogwood- September 3, 2019

As millions of students in the Commonwealth return to school this week, the coming months could define whether a new generation of Virginia college students are (or are not) saddled with historic student debt.

Gov. Ralph Northam (D) made free community college a flagship issue in his bid for governor in 2017. Last month, he said a formal announcement would be coming soon on his G3 — “get skilled, get a job and give back” — program, which would allow Virginians to attend community colleges and graduate debt-free if they spend one year working in a high-demand field like healthcare or cybersecurity.

The Virginia Department of Education declined to provide an update for this story, but state Sen. Barbara Favola, a Democrat who represents parts of Arlington, Fairfax and Loudon Counties, said she is “absolutely convinced” a framework will be released by the first week of December as part of the administration’s 2020-21 state budget proposal.

Cheat sheet: The House and Senate races most likely to decide control of Virginia’s statehouse
By: Ned Oliver
Virginia Mercury – September 4, 2019

All 140 seats in the Virginia House and Senate are up for reelection this year. But control of both closely divided chambers will come down to just a relative handful of elections in the state’s populous suburbs.

With campaigns kicking into gear with the passing of Labor Day weekend, here’s a look at some of the races expected to be most competitive. The following guide is based on interviews with Democratic and Republican strategists as well as candidate fundraising and past election results compiled by the Virginia Public Access Project.



‘A small renaissance’: Pawpaws, George Washington’s favorite fruit, seeing a resurgence

By Mechelle Hankerson 
Virginia Mercury – September 3, 2019

Michael McConkey can’t keep enough pawpaw trees in stock at his landscaping business in Afton.

“There’s a small renaissance going on with it. There are an awful lot of backyard growers,” McConkey said. He’s stocked the fruit tree at his store, Edible Landscaping, since the business opened in 1987. 

And as popularity of the once-obscure fruit grows, state agriculture experts say they see an opportunity for farmers and are taking steps to encourage them to grow the native plant. To that end, the Virginia Cooperative Extension is holding an event at Virginia State University with national pawpaw guru Neal Peterson in September.

Health and Safety

Virginia deaths rising despite opioid overdose drug spending

By Associated Press

The Washington Post- September 2, 2019

RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia’s death toll from opioid overdoses keeps rising despite state and local governments spending millions on making an antidote available.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that figures through the first three months of this year show Virginia was on pace to record its highest opioid overdose death toll since it began tracking the data in 2007.

That’s despite the state health department spending nearly $2 million dispensing the drug naloxone since late 2016, almost three times what it spent on all other harm reduction services combined. Emergency response agencies have spent more.


Seventeen Questions Every College Should Be Asking

By Ben Sasse – U.S. senator from Nebraska

The Atlantic – September 4, 2019

Our oldest kid is a senior in high school, so like a lot of American households, our whole family is visiting campuses and comparing colleges. One of the striking aspects of this process is how similarly many schools seek to present themselves—and how few make any clear promises about how our daughter would be changed, improved, better habituated, or made more thoughtful by investing four of her most valuable years in their care.


Virginia Mercury

As a revitalized Hurricane Dorian continues its sweep up the East Coast, Virginians concerned about the environmental impacts of flooding can rest easy about at least one site: the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, where a Norfolk Southern train derailed in June, spilling 36 cars full of coal into the sensitive terrain.

On Thursday, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality spokeswoman Ann Regn confirmed that cleanup of the site is complete. Planting and seeding activities that aim to restore the land to its previous condition are ongoing.

“Erosion and sediment controls are still in place and should capture/control any impacts seen from the storm,” Regn wrote in an email.



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