Morrissey to Run as Independant

Disgraced Del. Joe Morrissey,who was recently convicted of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, has decided to run for his own seat as an independent in the special Jan. 13 election, reports The Washington Post.

His candidacy ensures that the political circus the Democratic Party was trying to avoid will happen. The party tried to pressure him to resign and then strictly limited the participation in their nominating caucus.

“You can call it Republican, Democrat, libertarian, vegetarian. Folks in the 74th District know the values that I stand for,” said Morrissey. ” The label that’s on me doesn’t change the tenacity and the manner in which I argue for the underdog in the Virginia House of Delegates.”

Democrats, including Governor McAuliffe have urged Morrissey to remove himself from the public eye but Morrissey holds that his constituents should decide whether the allegations are disqualifying.

Plans to Halt Streetcar Project Leaves Business Owners Uneasy

According to The Washington Post, Arlington County’s decision to abruptly cancel it’s plans for the Colombia Pike and Crystal City streetcar projects creates new uncertainty for people who were interested in transforming the surrounding, aging neighborhoods, say business and civic leaders.

Now property owners along the strip are reevaluating prices at which they think they may be able to sell, as they now predict less demand from developers who were once interested in the prospect of creating a trendy streetcar line. Some, however, are relieved that the plans have been scraped as they feared that streetcars would subsequently bring gentrification that could force them out.

Advocates of the revitalization say county leaders must quickly commit to investing in other transportation improvement projects if they wish to maintain the potential of the area-a commitment which Jay Fisette (D), the Arlington County Board Chairman promised to make.

“The risks have risen significantly for those who want to invest,” said executive director of the Colombia Pike Revitalization Organization Takis Karantonis. “There is no credible transportation proposal in the works. So we find ourselves in limbo.”

Virginia Millenials Uneasy About Economic Future

A new poll conducted by Christopher Newport University shows that four out of five millennials in Virginia feel that their generation is going to face more economic challenges than their parents’ generation did at this stage of their lives, reports The Richmond Times-Dispatch. Surveyed were 481 Virginia voters between the ages of 18 and 35 between Oct. 15-21.

Participants in the survey have significant student debt, with the average being $33,500 and 82 percent of respondents saying that it is a significant problem.

The poll also showed that Sen. Mark Warner is leading among 18-35 year olds with 47 percent of the vote. Libertarian Robert Sarvis has 24 percent, Republican Ed Gillespie has 11 percent and 18 percent are undecided.

Quentin Kidd, director of the Wasson Center at CNU said, “The appeal of Libertarian Robert Sarvis among Virginia millennials is clear, but Mark Warner’s position is strong. There is, however, a real question as to whether millennials will turn out to vote.”

The poll showed that 69 percent feel that the high amount of money in politics quiet their voices, and 58 percent are skeptical that the government is really concerned about the problems their generation is facing.

Jobs and the economy were the most important issues to the millennials polled, followed by education, health care and health care reform, the federal budget and taxes and finally the legalization of marijuana and drug policy.


Budget Cuts Will Not Affect Arlington Street Car Project

The Washington Post  is reporting that despite two Country Board members calling for the Commonwealth Transportation Board to drop funding for the Colombia Pike streetcar project amiss budget cuts, the state will not reduce it’s promised funding for the project.

Director of the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, Jennifer Mitchell says that the state remains “fully committed” to aiding Arlington and Fairfax counties with $65 million over a period of 6 years.

“This projects is an important regional priority and a key part of the economic redevelopment along Columbia Pike and the Pentagon and Crystal City corridors,” remarked Mitchell.

Board members Libby Garvey (D) and John Vihstadt (I) are against the streetcar plan and feel that the money would be better served if it was to go to funding rapid-transit busses along the same area.

“John and I strongly support a world-class transportation solution for Columbia Pike,” said Garvey earlier in the week, adding “that solution is bus rapid transit (BRT) — not the streetcar, which is currently in your plan. In fact, we believe BRT is a good solution for the entire region.”

Garvey and Vihstadt have been unsuccessful in opposing the streetcar project which is slated to run from the Skyline area of Fairfax County, northeast along Columbia Pike to Pentagon City, then over to Crystal City where it will connect with a separate but still related streetcar traveling from Crystal City to Potomac Yard.

Maureen McDonnell Looks to Delay Sentencing

The Richmond Times-Dispatch is reporting that Maureen McDonnell has asked a judge to delay her sentencing  to a least mid-February because of her lawyer’s scheduling conflict.

As of now the sentencing for McDonnell and her husband, former governor Bob McDonnell is scheduled on January 6. The former first lady was convicted of 13 charges including obstruction of justice during a six-week trial last month.

Maureen McDonnell filed the motion because she says at least one of her lawyers will be representing another defendant in federal court in New Jersey on January 6th. She has requested that the sentencing be postponed until after Febraury 16th and says that the U.S. attorney’s office knows about the request and doesn’t take a position on it.

According to Andrew G. McBride. a former Virginia federal prosecutor the judge will most likely grant the motion adding, “Judges generally respect professional courtesy on conflicts.” The delay in Mrs. McDonnell’s sentencing date is not likely to affect her husband.

Same-Sex Couples Begin to Marry in Virginia

On October 6, The Supreme Court made a decision that cleared the way for same-sex marriage in Virginia. That same afternoon same-sex couples were lined up eagerly waiting for the chance to finally marry their significant others, reports The Richmond Times-Dispatch.

An issue mandated by the the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued at 1:00 p.m. stated that marriage licenses could be obtained and unions could be officiated.

Shortly after the mandate was lifted Nicole Pries, 42 and Lindsey Oliver, 30 were the first couple in Richmond to be issued a license and then married outside of the John Marshall Courts Building.

Governor McAuliffe and Attorney General Mark Herring called the change “momentous”, after the Supreme Court decided that it would not hear cases from the 10th, 7th and 4th circuits that aimed to continue bans on same-sex marriage.

The ruling also affected Indiana Oklahoma, Utah and Wisconsin and is likely to expand same-sex marriage to Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas, West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina as well.

Governor McAuliffe commented saying “Virginia is already well-prepared to implement this historic decision. Going forward we will act quickly to continue to bring all of our policies and practices into compliance so that we can give marriages between same-sex partners the full faith and credit they deserve.”

Former Presidential Hopeful Mitt Romney Campaigns on Behalf of Brat

Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee has been making campaign stops for Dave Brat, the Congressional candidate for Virginia’s 7th District and Tea Party member, reports The Richmond Times-Dispatch.

“We need more people in Congress who understand how to grow the economy, who believe in American and who want to make us stronger. That’s why I support Dave,” announced Romney in a Facebook post.

Romney also made a stop on Tuesday evening in support of Barbara Comstock, who is running for Virginia’s 10th district. Comstock served as the head of Romney’s Virginia campaign in 2012.

Romney’s support for both Brat and Comstock also served as an effort to  boost the candidates’ funds right before Tuesday’s midnight fundraising deadline for the third quarter.

Additionally, Romney’s backing helps to reinforce Dave Brat’s claim that he has worked to bring unification to the GOP since he dethroned House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in June’s primaries.

New Energy Plan Focuses on Efficiency and Renewable Sources

Despite it’s higher cost for residents and business owners, Virginia debuted a new energy plan that focuses on developing renewable energy sources and reducing energy consumption, reports The Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Governor Terry McAuliffe said that the plan, released Wednesday, “will lead out efforts to grow, strengthen and diversify Virginia’s economy.” McAuliffe’s priority is to make Virginia’s economy “stronger…fueled by cleaner and more abundant Virginia energy.”

The state plans to enact policies that will include both traditional and renewable energy sources to increase energy efficiency, according to the new plan.

The almost 500-page document puts an emphasis on four major themes:

  • “Growing untapped areas of the energy sector, including wind and solar generation, biofuels, offshore energy development and nuclear technology”
  • “Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and lowering energy consumption in the public and private sectors.”
  • “Investing in energy infrastructure to provide statewide access to low-cost power and promote economic development”
  • “Preparing the state’s workers to fill shortfalls in the energy sector due to an aging workforce”

Understandably, the new plan created a mixed reactions among organizations involved in energy debate.

McDonnell Corruption Case Leads to Delay of Selection for U.S. Attorney’s Replacement

One of the many implications caused by the corruption trial of former governor Bob McDonnell is the delay in selecting the replacement for the US attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia, reports The Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Kevin Hall a spokesman for Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), whose office is in charge of the search for a replacement said “We put the process on hold due to the U.S. attorney’s role in the case involving former Gov. Bob McDonnell. The U.S. attorney’s office has been well-managed by a highly respected career federal prosecutor. In coming weeks, we will make decisions about moving this process forward.”

The Eastern District of Virginia’s US attorneys office has been one of the most important federal prosecutor shops in the country. It has almost 300 employees working in Alexandria, Richmond, Norfolk and Newport News.

Dana Boente has served as the interim U.S. attorney in the meantime, and her success has landed her as one of the top candidates for the permanent position. She has served in temporary capacities in New Orleans as well. Ultimately the president will appoint the position, but he does take Virginia senators’ recommendations and from there it is up to the Senate to confirm the nominees.

New Voter ID Law May Effect 450,000

The Virginia State Board of Elections announced Thursday that almost 450,000 Virginians may lack the proper identification needed to vote in the midterm elections due to the new voter ID law, reports The Washington Post.

The new state law that took effect this year requires voters to present a driver’s license or other form of photo identification before they are allowed to place their votes. Election officials are hoping that more people get state ID cards so their votes can be easily counted. If voters fail to provide photo identification they will need to cast their votes via provisional ballots.

Cameron Quinn, the voter registrar in Fairfax County remarked “It’s so much easier if there is a live vote.” As of now almost 13,690 registered voters in Fairfax lack the proper identification.

The new law has been widely criticized as many see it as unfair to low-income and immigrant voters, who are less likely to have the proper identification. Among the 34 states that have passed laws requiring voters to show a form of identification at the polls, Virginia’s is the strictest.