Coalition of Churches Opposes Bristol Casino

Eight churches in Bristol, Virginia are fighting against a proposed $400 million Hard Rock casino; residents will vote on the referendum this November. The coalition cites studies claiming that casinos prey on gambling addicts and questions whether a casino would draw high numbers of tourists as claimed by supporters of the referendum. Proponents say the casino would bring Bristol $15-$20 million a year in taxes and over 2,000 jobs averaging salaries of $46,500.

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Richmond Catholic Diocese Pays $6.3 Million to Sex Abuse Survivors

The Richmond Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) is paying $6.3 million to 51 survivors of sexual abuse as minors. The announcement made last Thursday is the result of an Independent Reconciliation Program (IRP) called for by Bishop Barry C. Knestout after the diocese identified dozens of clergy linked to the diocese who face allegations of abuse.

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Progressive Activist Running For RVA Mayor Wants Equity

Alexsis Rodgers is running for mayor to bring equity to Richmond’s impoverished and minority communities, but she said that doesn’t leave behind other parts of the city.

“We all thrive and we all succeed when more of us are able to have access to economic opportunity, when more of us are able to be healthy, and lead healthy lives,” Rodgers told The Virginia Star.

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Virtual Learning Workload Overwhelms Loudoun County Students

Citing overwhelming virtual education workloads, over 13,000 people have signed a change.org petition asking Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) to reduce the amount of work the students have to do. Unlike school districts in other parts of the states, LCPS is still using a fully virtual model, driving some parents to private schools.

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Eight Commonwealth’s Attorneys Pledge to Not Enforce Pro-Life Laws

Eight Virginia Commonwealth’s Attorneys pledged that they will not enforce any laws criminalizing abortions. The pledge was signed by over 60 prosecutors and state attorneys general and expresses concern over attempts to pass laws limiting abortion. The Fair and Just Prosecution (FJP) organization published the pledge on October 14, as Congress holds confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett.

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Alleged MS-13 Members Charged in Random 2019 North Virginia Murders

The Prince William County Police Department (PWPCD) has charged 12 people for the 2019 murders of four men. The murders were linked to MS-13 drug trafficking operations bringing cocaine from New York to local vendors in northern Virginia. According to a press release, 11 of the 12 suspects are in custody.

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Trump to Greenville: If Biden is Elected, China Will Own the U.S.

Sharp-eyed people in the crowd spotted it first — the landing lights of Air Force One approaching Pitt-Greenville Airport in North Carolina on Thursday. ’80’s pop hit “Gloria” pounded as the aircraft roared by on the runway. Then, with “Eye of the Tiger” building energy, President Donald Trump walked out of the plane and waved to the thrilled crowd.

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Activist Faces Misdemeanor Charges After Protest at Acting ICE Director Pham’s Home

The Henrico County police have charged a protestor with misdemeanors related to the September 8 protest at acting ICE Director Tony Pham’s home. According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Nancy Nguyen, executive director of VietLead, was arrested and released on her own recognizance last week in Philadelphia.

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Richmond Police Investigate Potential Burglary at Mayor Stoney’s Campaign Office

Officers responded to a break-in at Mayor Levar Stoney’s campaign office on Tuesday morning after they found a broken door, according to The Associated Press. A TV was missing and documents were displaced, but no campaign paperwork was taken.

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Gade and Warner Debate ACA, Social Security

Senator Mark Warner (D) and challenger Daniel Gade debated health care and social security at a Tuesday debate hosted by the AARP and WTKR News 3. Warner stressed his record including support of the American Care Act (ACA) and criticized the Republican Party for trying to dismantle it. Gade described some potential compromises to the ACA and repeatedly called Warner a career politician.

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Richmond City Council: No Ban on Police Non-Lethal Weapons

The Richmond City Council voted 7-2  Monday against a ban on police non-lethal weapons including rubber bullets, tear gas, and flashbangs. Council members Stephanie Lynch and Michael Jones proposed the ban in June after protests where Lynch and Jones had to run from teargas, according to reporting by ABC8 News.

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Gade: Democrats Will Destroy America as We Know It

At the 41st annual GOP Pig Roast U.S. Senate candidate Daniel Gade warned that American values are at risk if the Democrats gain power.

“The Left in the United States have decided that now is the time when they come after our values. And they’ve openly said what they’re going to do if, God forbid, they win the presidency and if, God forbid, they win and they take the Senate,” Gade said in his speech.

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Latest Poll: Gray Drops to 16 Percent, Stoney Stays Stable

Kim Gray’s support has plunged from 33 percent to 16 percent, just ahead of Alexsis Rodgers at 15 percent, according to a new poll from the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University. Incumbent Mayor Levar Stoney stayed solid at 36 percent. Justin Griffin dropped to 3 percent, and Tracey McLean got 1 percent. 30 percent of Richmond’s voters are undecided about the mayoral election.

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Virginia Attorney General Candidate Chuck Smith: The Constitution is at Risk

Chuck Smith has been a marine, a U.S. Navy JAG corps commander, and a lawyer. Now, he wants to be an Attorney General.

“Never before in the history of the United States has the Constitution been more at risk,” he told a crowd at the 41st annual GOP Pig Roast on Saturday.

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Richmond Mayor Candidate Tracey McLean Calls for Cohesive Community

Candidate for Richmond mayor Tracey McLean laid out her vision for Richmond on Stacey Thomas’ Facebook Live talk show on Friday evening. McLean explained her background and a platform calling for reparations and racial equity in Richmond.

“I have a calling to the city of Richmond from God,” McLean said. “As I go out into the community they express that they couldn’t talk to the Mayor, nobody will help them. [They describe] things that they actually had to face alone, especially now since we have COVID. We’re in a mode of desperation.”

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Unity Theme at Greene County GOP Pig Roast

Virginia’s newest crop of Republicans sprung up at a Greene County farm on Saturday. Candidates including Daniel Gade, Bob Good, and Senator Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield) spoke to 397 people at the 41st Annual Greene County Pig Roast. The candidates expressed an urgent need for Republicans to work together to regain power in Virginia.

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Fear Drives Record Gun Sales

Virginia is setting records for gun sales this year; already the FBI has processed 617,472 firearms background checks, beating 2019’s total of 512,766.

Bob Marcus owns Bob’s Guns in Norfolk. He said the increase in sales began a year ago. “We saw it after the General Assembly turned over back in November. It started with the election, and then the General Assembly went into session. And there were threats of the so-called assault weapons ban, and other restrictions, so it continued through January, February, and into March.”

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Northam Announces More Money for Closed Schools

Governor Ralph Northam is sending an additional $220 million of Coronavirus Aid, Recovery, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds to Virginia’s schools, according to a Thursday press release. The money is intended to help purchase testing supplies, personal protective equipment, sanitation, and virtual learning technology.

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Never-Trump PAC Gave $2 Million to Biden in Virginia

Anti-Trump conservative political action committee Defending Democracy Together (DDT) has given over $2 million to the Biden campaign in Virginia, placing them second-highest on a list of outside spending in Virginia.

“They’re just another bunch of loser never-Republicans frozen out of the greatest movement in America,” said Trump Virginia Delegation Chairman John Fredericks. “They want their old Republican party back.”

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Richmond’s Summer of Blood

Richmond Police Chief Gerald Smith announced 24 homicides occurred July 1 through September 3, a 60 percent increase compared with the same period in 2019. In Smith’s quarterly report violent crime overall was up four percent. Cases of arson were up by 17 percent, for a total of 21.
“After the civil unrest we still have experienced some arsons,” Smith said. Smith was hired at the beginning of July after downtown Richmond suffered violent protests.

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Gov. Northam Fights to Keep Virginia in Perpetual Shutdown

Only 22 percent of ventilators in Virginia hospitals were in use as of Wednesday. Fifty-two percent of ICU beds were available, according to the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association. Only 1,003 potential COVID-19 patients were currently hospitalized. However, Governor Ralph Northam’s executive orders surrounding social distancing and mask wearing remain in effect.

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Sparks Fly at Richmond Mayoral Debate Between Stoney and Gray

The top four candidates for Richmond’s mayor debated in a forum on Tuesday night that saw incumbent Mayor Levar Stoney again defending his record from attacks on all sides. Councilmember Kim Gray and candidate Justin Griffin took turns attacking Stoney for corruption and mismanagement while candidate Alexsis Rodgers suggested that many of Stoney’s best ideas for the future are cribbed from her own platform.

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Judge Rejects Subpoena Calling Portsmouth Commonwealth Attorney Stephanie Morales to Testify in Lucas Case

A judge rejected a subpoena calling Portsmouth Commonwealth’s Attorney Stephanie Morales to testify in the Lucas case Monday. As a result, the case goes to Morales’ office and she will take the lead on the prosecution. Lucas and 18 others charged by the Portsmouth Police Department (PPD) will have their next hearing on November 19.

Judge Claire Cardwell ruled that the Portsmouth Police can not call Morales as a witness; some of Lucas’ supporters viewed the subpoena as an attempt to keep Morales out of the prosecution. In a statement, Morales’ lawyer said, “The judge said that the police department is to transmit its investigative file to Ms. Morales. Ms. Morales will prosecute all of the matters under her constitutional authority as the elected Commonwealth’s Attorney.”

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New Poll Suggests Richmond Mayor’s Race is Between Stoney and Gray

A new poll by the American Research Group (ARG) shows Mayor Levar Stoney and Councilmember Kim Gray at the top of the Richmond mayoral election. Stoney has 37 percent of voters, while Gray has 33 percent, with a 4.5 percent margin of error. The poll was first reported by the Richmond Free Press.

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Warner and Gade Face off in Second Debate for Senate

Incumbent Senator Mark Warner (D) and challenger Daniel Gade (R) debated police reforms, social justice, and COVID-19 at Norfolk State University on Saturday evening. The live-streamed event was the second debate between the two candidates.  Warner touted his experience as a governor and senator, and cast himself as a middle-of-the-road Democrat. Gade portrayed himself as a free-thinker who nonetheless supports many traditional Republican values.

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NASA Launch Visible Across Virginia Friday Night

NASA launched a Northrop Grumman Antares rocket from its Wallops Island facility on Friday evening; the launch was visible across much of eastern and central Virginia. The rocket will send a Cygnus spacecraft to the International Space Station with a $23 million experimental toilet, other hardware, and food resupplies including garlic, apples, brie cheese and dark chocolate covered cranberries.

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SCC Denies Northam’s Request to Extend Utility Shutoff Moratorium

The Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) denied Governor Ralph Northam’s Thursday request to again extend a moratorium on utilities shutoffs until December. The moratorium will end October 5. The SCC had previously warned that they would not consider any further extensions.

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COVID-19 Crushed Sales Tax Revenue, but Online Sales Helped a Little

Virginia’s fiscal year 2020 sales tax revenue performed well all the way up until April 2020 when sales tax revenue decreased 0.4 percent from April 2019; May saw sales tax revenue drop 12.5 percent from May 2019, indicating harm to Virginia’s retailers. At the same time, online sales were booming.

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Henrico Withdraws Funding for Police Oversight Attorney

Henrico County Manager John Vithoulkas has withdrawn funding for a new position in the Commonwealth’s Attorney Shannon Taylor’s office. The new deputy attorney would have be tasked with oversight of police-community relations as part of a general push in Henrico to make sure citizens’ concerns are being heard and shift towards a community-policing model. Taylor and Henrico County Human Resources had already offered the position to Misty Whitehead, who had accepted the role.

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Northam Vows to Count Every Ballot – the Fraudulent Ones, Too

Governor Ralph Northam joined 10 other Democratic governors issuing a joint statement on Wednesday defending American democracy, vowing that every valid ballot will be counted in the election. 

The statement comes after a contentious debate where President Trump expressed skepticism of mail voting. Trump also called on his backers to scrutinize voting procedures at the polls, which critics said could cross into voter intimidation. Without mentioning Trump by name, the governors noted his refusal last week to commit to a peaceful transition of power.

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15 New Historical Markers Coming to Virginia Highways

The Virginia Department of Historical Resources (DHR) has approved 15 new historical highway markers, many of them focusing on African-American and women’s history in Virginia.

Five of the fifteen markers were proposed by students during a historical marker contest. One marker in Hampton commemorates Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson, a mathematician who worked for NASA and was featured in Hidden Figures. Johnson died at 101 earlier this year. Another marker, in Lynchburg, honors Elizabeth Langhorne Lewis; who was “one of the most influential women’s suffrage activists in Virginia,” according to the proposed sign text.

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Kim Gray Wants to Bring Transparency and Community Back to Richmond’s Government

Mayoral candidate Kim Gray is running to increase transparency in Richmond’s government, return to a community-based planning model, and improve Richmond’s schools. Her resume includes jobs for two former governors, eight years as a school board member, and four years as council member of Richmond’s Second District. Her political roots run to her childhood.

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Portsmouth NAACP Tries Again to File Charges Against Council Members Moody, Psimas

The Portsmouth Magistrate has again rebuffed Portsmouth NAACP leaders in attempts to file charges against Portsmouth council members Bill Moody and Elizabeth Psimas. NAACP branch President James Boyd and Vice President Louie Gibbs went to the magistrate on Friday to present emails that they said showed Moody and Psimas committing a misdemeanor violation of the city charter.

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Loudon County Does The Obama Apology Tour Rendition on Race

Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) issued an apology for operating segregated schools and for resisting efforts to integrate their schools for over a decade after the 1954 Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education that made segregated schools illegal. The apology is part of the district’s “Action Plans to Combat Systemic Racism.” The apology coincides with the 57th anniversary of the 1963 march where Martin Luther King, Jr. declared, “I have a dream.”

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Virginia Society of Human Life Fights Potential Right-To-Abortion Amendment

Delegate Kathy Byron (R-Lynchburg) gave an insider’s view of Virginia right-to-life politics at a Zoom fundraiser for the Virginia Society of Human Life (VSHL) on Saturday evening. 100 people tuned in to the event, filling it to capacity. The fundraiser is part of a broader effort within the VSHL to motivate voters for the November election and raise awareness of a likely proposed amendment to Virginia’s constitution coming in 2021.

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Northam to Stand Down on Church Ban: God Wins

After losing in court last week, Governor Ralph Northam agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by four Madison County men who argued that the governor’s restrictions on churches violated the Virginia Constitution, Bill of Rights, and the Virginia statute for religious freedom. According to The Roanoke Star, the only COVID-19 restrictions remaining against Virginia churchgoers after the Tuesday decision is the mask mandate.

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Trump to Virginia: We’re in It to Win It’

As pounding pop songs played and the crowd cheered, Air Force One rolled up behind the stage. President Donald Trump emerged and waved to the 10,000 people standing on the tarmac in Newport News Friday night. An additional 2,000 people were outside the venue, according to campaign officials. 2,000 more people were turned away, for a total of 14,000 people — 9,000 more than organizers expected.

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Jill Biden Pays Homage to Levar Stoney While Richmond Crumbles

Jill Biden spent Thursday in Virginia, starting her day meeting with educators and military leaders in Hampton Roads, then heading to Richmond where she met Mayor Levar Stoney in front of the Voter Registrar’s Office, and then going to Henrico with Virginia House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn (D- Fairfax) for a round-table with working mothers.

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Another Mayor Forum, Another Day of Riots in Richmond

Five candidates for mayor faced off in Coburn Hall at Virginia Union University on Thursday evening. The two-hour event was live-streamed and Facebook reported over 28 thousand views late Thursday. Former Governor and Richmond Mayor Doug Wilder co-moderated the event, lending an air of political weightiness to the debate. The evening’s questions focused largely on government efficiency and the current crises facing the city, showcasing a variety of experience and ideology in the candidates.

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Child Abuse Reports Are Down, But It Might Be Because Schools Are Closed

Since COVID-19 hit, official reports of child abuse and neglect have decreased nationally and in Virginia, but pediatrics experts warn that might not mean fewer cases of abuse.

“When families and parents are under greater stress, generally abuse increases,” President of the Virginia Chapter American Academy of Pediatrics Michael Martin told The Virginia Star.

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Babies Lives Matter Backs Down BLM

Venture Richmond has canceled plans to paint a “Black Lives Matter” mural on Grace Street in Richmond. The change in plans came two weeks after local businessman Mike Dickinson submitted a permit request to paint a “Baby Lives Matter” mural on Hamilton Street in front of a Planned Parenthood office.

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Chesapeake Passes Second Amendment Sanctuary Resolution

The Chesapeake City Council voted 6-1 with one “present” vote to approve a Second Amendment sanctuary city resolution on Tuesday evening. The council also voted to add a clause to the resolution asking “the Governor of Virginia and the General Assembly to preserve the authority of local governing bodies to make legislative decisions to the best interest of the citizens.”

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Thirty-Six Orders Issued Banning People From Possessing Guns Under New Red Flag Law

Officials have issued thirty-six orders under Virginia’s new red flag law since it went into effect in July. The law allows judges to classify individuals as being a  ‘substantial risk’ to themselves or others, and bans them from possessing firearms. The law was passed in January following a party-line vote with no Republicans voting in favor.

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Outside Prosecutor Investigating Stoney’s Contract Removing Monuments

Augusta County Prosecutor Timothy Martin will investigate a contract used by Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney earlier this summer to remove parts of eight of Richmond’s Confederate monuments.

In August, Richmond City Councilmember and candidate for Stoney’s seat Kim Gray called for investigation into the contract. The contract paid $1.8 million to NAH LLC, which has ties to Devon Henry who, in 2016, donated $4,000 to Stoney’s campaign for mayor.

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Mayoral Candidate Kim Gray: RVA is My Home, not a Stepping Stone

In a virtual town hall, candidate Kim Gray said her experience as a council member and commitment to connected, honest government make her the best choice to be Richmond’s next mayor. The Youtube livestream had been watched by around 175 people by Sunday evening.

“I’ve spent the last 12 years of my life as a public servant, as an elected official, and the past four years have been very challenging. I want to overcome the corruption and cronyism and lack of common sense approaches,” Gray said.

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Large Numbers of Early Voters Might Not Change Final Election Results

It looked like the release of a new iPhone. Across Virginia, hundreds of people lined up outside polling places on the first day of early voting on Friday. The Virginia Public Access Project is reporting that already, over 600,000 more Virginians have requested mail-in ballots than in 2016. However, political pundits warn that large increases in early voting might not affect final results that much.

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Altria Performing Well Despite COVID-19

Richmond-based tobacco company Altria’s stock is performing relatively well, The Motley Fool even called it a “cash cow.” That’s despite several factors working against the tobacco company, including the COVID-19 pandemic with worse outcomes for people with tobacco-related health problems and an economic crisis.

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