Over the past year there has been a louder call for police department reform than ever. In Virginia police reform is in the process of changing, but not in the way most are asking for. After the controversial police brutality cases such as Freddie Grey, Sandra Bland, Michael Brown, and Eric Garner citizens all over the United States have rallied for improvements such as body cameras and occasional psychological tests. Instead, Virginia has proposed putting police officers under a complete confidentiality agreement.
The state Senate approved of a bill that will thoroughly disguise all information regarding police officers and their employment. Since taxpayer dollars fund officer’s salaries, citizens feel they have a right to know who they are interacting with. The general public would not have access to officers names, positions, employment information, and training backgrounds. One reason behind keeping the employment history of officers hidden is to deflect attention to the fact that policemen with negative records jump from station to station. The demand to cover up such information could stem from the media. Police departments do not want journalists to snoop as far as they please. This bill would block writers from being able to fully research a story and uncover juicy details that would flood a police department with negative press.
This bill turns the victim from the public to the officer. For months now citizens all over the country have voiced how they fear the police. Yet, this bill is dedicated to protecting the police instead of the people. Police in the state of Virginia are not even mandated to wear body cameras. Out of frustration and fear, violence against police officers has been visible. Policemen and women need to be protected. However, citizens need protecting too. Some say that hiding identities of officers could heighten risk for citizens. Without anyone knowing who they are, police may feel free to act however they want under the shield of anonymity. It is ironic that a recent study stated that police are actually safer now compared to other times in recent history. While there has been more threats against police, actual attacks have declined steadily since the 1970’s.
Governor McAuliffe has not publicly commented whether he would sign or reject this bill if it found its way to his desk. It is also unclear if this bill is passed, would it inspire other states to follow suit?
Cuba is on the verge of a major breakthrough. After experiencing a tough break up with the U.S. in the 1960’s, the two have decided to become friendly exes. Just like any other relationship reconciliation, there is a warming up period. In 2015 President Obama eased sanctions between the two countries. Now, within the next couple months Obama will be traveling to Cuba. These progressive advancements would have never been possible 20 years ago. Obviously, these changes have not come without conflict, especially during an election year. However, there are many benefits both countries could profit from by consulting with each other once again. Cuba is virtually stuck in the 1960’s. Citizens of Cuba have no access to wireless internet, new cars, produce, or any other products from the U.S. Stepping into Cuba is like stepping into a time machine. Once they get the approval, businesses will have unimaginable possibilities to venture through in Cuba. Businesses will be eager to sell, and Cubans will be eager to purchase. One state expected to prosper seriously from a better kinship is Virginia. Virginia has been a long time advocate for opening a line of communication between the U.S. and Cuba. Governor McAuliffe has been meeting with the Cuban ambassador since 2000. McAuliffe is hoping that the the longevity of Virginia’s friendship with Cuba will work to the state’s’ advantage. Other states such as Maryland are attempting to establish relationships with Cuba. Within the year since Obama relieved some constraints, Virginia gained $42 million dollars in agricultural exports to Cuba. Within the last ten years, Virginia has received roughly $423 million in income from trade negotiations with Cuba. Sales to the South American country rose by 67%. With the current laws in place, Virginia can only trade products related to agriculture. However, once all embargoes are lifted, Virginia hopes to enter medical and other trade industries with Cuba also.
The 2016 presidential race is heating up. This week the race endured huge shake ups, and shocking drop outs. With so many surprises, it is hard to foresee who will win come November. Several weeks ago, no one would have imagined John Kasich polling second behind Donald Trump. When Bernie Sanders broadcasted that he was throwing his hat into the presidential arena, nobody took him seriously. America assumed Hillary Rodham-Clinton would waltz her way to the white house. The Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primaries unearthed how Americans really feel. The media loves Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Hard working Americans do not feel the same way. Michael Bloomberg is contemplating running his own presidential campaign if it comes down to Trump and Clinton. Bloomberg does not feel that either of them are what America needs.
On March 1rst, Virginians from all over the state to cast their ballots for who they believe is right for America. For Republican voters their options are John Kasich, Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, Jeb!, and Jim Gilmore. In Iowa, former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore scored twelve votes total. In New Hampshire he secured 125 votes. Gilmore must have a lot of confidence in how he will fare in Virginia for him to remain in the race. Being a former governor of the state holding the primary will hopefully help him. Chances still look slim. For the Democratic Virginian voters, there are only two options. Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. The previous first lady or the self proclaimed progressive socialist. It is hard enough to forecast which party will come out on top in Virginia, let alone which candidate. With Virginia being a swing state, literally anything can happen there. Northern Virginia tends to be more Democratic, while southern Virginia leans commonly more towards the right.
The first caucus of the 2016 presidential election is today. This means that presidential hopefuls and their supporters are using all of the tricks up their sleeves to push their candidacy past the rest.
In Richmond, Virginia, a group of Republicans are trying to persuade their general assembly to alter their voting ballots. They believe that if several questions currently listed on the agenda to be voted on this November, are simply pushed back to next November, they will pass. The questions currently up for debate are related to unions and charter schooling.
The schooling amendment would allow charter schools to be incorporated into the public school districts. This legislation was first added to Virginia’s constitution in 1999. The amendment proposal associated with unions hopes to govern some of their power.
The incentive behind delaying the votes alludes to studies which show democrats have lower turnout rates during years when there is not a presidential election. This would allow for Republicans next year to outweigh any other party and push through their own agendas.
Democrats are not pleased with this manifesto. Virginia Democrats view this as an attempt to dodge or manipulate the law. President Obama recently landed himself in hot water for his attempt to avoid the law by issuing an executive order surrounding the buying and selling of guns.
To learn more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/virginia-politics/gop-leaders-consider-pushing-off-ballot-questions-until-after-2016/2016/01/25/d26fc8b2-c13a-11e5-bcda-62a36b394160_story.html