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All results / Stories / Michael Lee Pope

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Gutter Politics

City Council candidates campaign on fixing Alexandria's flooding problem.

None of the candidates for Alexandria City Council are for flooding, which has swamped the city's aging infrastructure in recent years as a series of major storm events have repeatedly submerged parts of Alexandria.

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At the Crossroads

Lawmakers to slash the state budget and consider criminal-justice reforms.

The threadbare Franklin and Armfield office on Duke Street stands at the crossroads between racial injustice and economic crisis. It’s a ramshackle building now, but it was once the headquarters for the largest domestic slave trading firm in the United States, present at the creation of the systemic racism that plagues Virginia cops and courts. It’s also the city’s latest acquisition, and the state budget was to include $2.5 million to help transform it into the Freedom House Museum. But then the pandemic hit, and the governor hit the pause button on that line item as well as all the other spending priorities of the new Democratic majorities in the House and Senate.

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Banks to the Rescue

Small businesses wait for banks to get federal money from the Paycheck Protection Program.

Like many business owners across Northern Virginia, Cyrille Brenac is still waiting to hear back from his bank about his application to the Paycheck Protection Program. That’s the $350 billion program that was part of the $2.2 trillion stimulus law designed to offer money to small businesses who can demonstrate they are keeping their employees. For Brenac, who lives in the Cherrydale neighborhood of Arlington, the money would help him rehire about 50 employees of his two French restaurants he laid off when the economy abruptly shut down as the result of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

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Reform Is in the Bag

City Council to consider new five-cent tax for each plastic bag.

Alexandria started pressing for a plastic bag tax when George W. Bush was in the White House and Virginia was a red state. Now the years of advocacy have finally paid off, and state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-30) has been able to pass a bill giving City Hall authority to impose a five-cent tax on each and every plastic bag that's used in grocery stores and convenience stores.

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Hunger Rising

Applications for food stamps skyrocket in Alexandria as local economy tanks.

Recent weeks have seen a dramatic spike in the number of people in Alexandria with no resources to put food on the table for their families, leading to a skyrocketing number of applications for food stamps as unemployment numbers climb and people in Alexandria suddenly find themselves in an awkward position — asking for help from the government just to buy groceries. Officials at the Alexandria Department of Community and Human Services say applications to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program have more than tripled since February, before the novel coronavirus pandemic prompted Gov. Ralph Northam to issue a stay-at-home order and shut down most of Alexandria’s economy.

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Furloughed and Waiting

Uncertainty lingers as furloughed workers hope temporary layoffs come to an end.

When Joy Phansond was furloughed from her job as sales coordinator at the Holiday Inn in Old Town, the temporary layoff was initially supposed to last until April 5. Then it was extended to May 5. Then it was extended again until June 5. She suspects that it’ll be extended again until July at least because the hotel business in Alexandria has been slammed by the collapse of tourism, trade shows and conventions.

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Following the Money

Special-interest groups seek power and influence.

A look at campaign-finance documents from the 2019 election cycle reveals an intricate web of special-interest money, everything from Dominion and Verizon to casino developers and car-title lenders. Members of the Alexandria delegation took money from lobbyists and associations who have pending business during the upcoming two-month General Assembly session, when lawmakers will be forbidden from taking campaign cash.

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The Strange Career of Felon Disenfranchisement

Amendment targets Jacksonian-era restriction weaponized during Jim Crow.

Felons have been prohibited from voting in Virginia since 1830, when the "right to suffrage" was denied "to any person convicted of any infamous offense." But it was during the era of Jim Crow that felon disenfranchisement became weaponized to prevent Black voters from influencing elections.

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Candidates are Set for Fall Election

Don Beyer secures nomination as Republicans select candidates for fall election season.

Voters in Northern Virginia overwhelmingly supported four-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-8)...

Ditch Warfare

House Republicans push for tax cuts; Senate Democrats push back.

Taxes

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An Election about Elections

Voters to determine how redistricting works next year.

When Republicans were in charge of drawing political boundaries for the General Assembly and Congress, Democrats supported an amendment to the Virginia Constitution creating a new mapmaking commission. The idea was to take the power of political gerrymandering out of the hands of the majority and hand it over to a group that wouldn’t be quite so focused on screwing the opposition. But then Democrats seized control of the General Assembly, and most House Democrats flip flopped on the issue.

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House Seat Shuffle

Former CIA branch chief J.D. Maddox to face Vice Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker.

In Richmond, the 45th House District is known as a cursed seat because of its dizzying turnover. After the retirement of longtime Del. Marian Van Landingham (D-45) in 2006, the district has blazed through three delegates in rapid succession. Now the seat is open once again after the incumbent, former radio talk show host Mark Levine, lost the primary when his name appeared on the ballot twice because he was trying to simultaneously win reelection to the House while also snagging the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor.

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Beloved Cancel Culture in Fairfax County

Toni Morrison novel prompts legislation that has critics worried about book bans.

Toni Morrison's Pulitzer-prize winning book "Beloved" prompted such outrage in one Fairfax County parent in 2013 that she tried to have the book banned from her son's AP English class. Laura Murphy said the book gave her teenage son nightmares, and she urged school officials to do something about it. She took the fight all the way to the Fairfax County School Board, which voted six to two to keep the book in the AP English curriculum.

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Virginia Senate Minority Leader Faces Two Primary Challengers

Dick Saslaw hasn’t had a primary challenge since the 1970s; now he has two.

The last time Senate Minority Leader Dick Saslaw had a primary opponent, Jimmy Carter was in the White House and the Bee Gees were at the top of the charts. This year, for the first time since 1979, Saslaw has primary opposition. Not just one opponent, but two.

Voters to Determine Direction of City

Republican Annetta Catchings challenges incumbent Democrat Justin Wilson for mayor.

The race for mayor comes down to a simple question: Are Alexandria voters happy with the direction of the city or not?

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Virginia at a Crossroads

Voters to determine direction of state government.

Two years ago, Democrats seized control of the General Assembly for the first time in a generation. Now Republicans are hoping this is their moment to "Take Back Virginia," the name of a recent rally in support of the GOP statewide ticket that featured a call-in appearance from former President Donald Trump, who used the opportunity to repeat baseless claims about widespread election fraud.

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Bag It?—Not Any More

Arlington to consider a new five-cent tax for each plastic bag.

Bag Tax

Bag It?—Not Any More

Arlington to consider a new five-cent tax for each plastic bag.

Bag It?—Not Any More

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