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Michael Lee Pope

Stories by Michael Lee

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Tax Code Thunderstruck in Alexandria

Lawmakers consider easing bracket creep by making tax code more progressive.

Taxes

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Inclusionary Dreams

What if Alexandria could force developers to build affordable housing?

If Alexandria wanted to take a carrot-and-stick approach to development, city officials would soon run into a problem. The lure of density is a big fat carrot, which seems to be getting larger each year. But officials in Richmond are holding all the sticks. Chief among them is the idea of inclusionary zoning, which would require the General Assembly to give Alexandria permission to force developers to build affordable housing.

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Young Turk from Alexandria

Armistead Boothe led war vets in General Assembly who took on Byrd Machine.

In some ways, Alexandria was the home of the forces who worked against the conservative political organization that ran Virginia politics for most of the 20th century. Starting after the conclusion of World War II, the city was represented in the House of Delegates by a young war vet by the name of Armistead Boothe.

School Stabbing Cast Long Shadow

Did Alexandria’s tough-on-crime approach in the 1990s work?

Stabbing

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Student Growth Outpaces Staffing

Number of new teachers hasn't kept pace with surge in enrollment.

Since 2008, Alexandria schools have added more than 4,000 new students. But a new report from the Commonwealth Institute shows staffing has not kept pace. City schools have added only 100 new teachers during that time, and the number of teacher aides has actually declined by 10 positions.

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Rethinking Juvenile Justice

Alexandria detention facility may be consolidated as part of statewide effort.

The Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center has 70 beds with an average population of 12 juveniles.

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Financing the Rampage

Economic toll of gun violence is more than $14 billion a year for Virginia.

All those school security measures to harden your local elementary school add up. So do trips to the emergency room and the multiple surgeries needed to address gunshot wounds. While the human tragedy of gun violence often grabs headlines, the economic toll continues to mount with each mass shooting. According to Everytown for Gun Safety, the annual cost to Virginia is more than $14 billion a year.

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Great Resignation Hits the Classroom

Pay penalty for teachers in Virginia is the worst in the country.

The Great Resignation is hitting classrooms across Virginia, worrying school administrators about what happens when fall arrives and schools are forced to deal with a teacher shortage.

Prosecutorial Discretion

Northern Virginia prosecutors say they won't enforce abortion restrictions.

Nine prosecutors across Virginia say they will not enforce any new restrictions on abortion, complicating Republican efforts to crack down on reproductive freedom in the wake of the Supreme Court decision

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Body of Law

The history of abortion in Virginia has many twists and turns.

The United States Supreme Court's decision to dismantle the right to abortion has upended the discussion over reproductive freedom.

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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)...

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Ban Battle Botched

Inside the failed effort to ban assault weapons in Virginia.

Banning assault weapons was a major priority for gun-violence prevention advocates in early 2020...

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Fauci Flip Flop

Republican candidate tries to walk back 'Fauci should be jailed' comment.

Republican congressional candidate Karina Lipsman is trying to walk back her comment that President Biden's chief medical advisor Anthony Fauci "should be jailed," a position she took during a time when she was battling four competitors to get the nomination to run in the Eighth Congressional District. Now that she has secured the nomination in a GOP convention, she is flip flopping on Fauci.

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'Fauci Should Be Jailed'

Republican candidate for Congress in the 8th calls for incarceration of medical advisor.

The Republican candidate for Congress in the 8th Congressional District is calling for President Biden's chief medical advisor to be "jailed," a comment she made during a candidates forum hosted by the Alexandria Republican City Committee earlier this month.

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Taking on Beyer

Five Republican candidates seek nomination in convention to challenge incumbent congressman.

Usually Republicans have to recruit candidates to run against four-term U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-8). Not this year. Five Republicans are seeking the Republican nomination for the 8th Congressional District in a convention later this month.

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Deep Blue Primary

Incumbent congressman to face first-time candidate.

The Eighth Congressional District is the bluest of the blue strongholds, giving President Biden 78 percent of the vote in 2020...

Fossil Fuel Fiesta in Alexandria

Governor proposes gas-tax holiday, but will Virginians benefit?

gas tax

Election Mirage Evaporates in Alexandria

Governor signs bill to improve election returns at the precinct level.

Election

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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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Privacy Advocates Urge Veto

Opponents of facial recognition technology call on governor to reject social-media dragnet.

Police departments across Virginia may soon have the ability to use billions of images scraped from social-media sites like Facebook and Instagram to track down suspects, a development that is concerning to critics who say the technology is invasive and a violation of privacy. The governor is now considering the bill, and critics are urging him to veto it or amend it to require a warrant.

A Government Divided

Lawmakers end session with little to show and no budget.

Budget talks

Up in Smoke

Black market to remain underground for now as lawmakers reject licensing scheme.

Cannabis

Ditch Warfare

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

Taxes

Oops! They Did it Again

Lawmakers accidentally gave overtime protection to farmworkers and domestic workers, now they're taking it back.

They didn't mean it. Seriously. And now they're about to undo what they did last year. Lawmakers say the vote last year to create a cause of action for farmworkers and domestic workers to seek overtime pay was a mistake. Senators say they were misled, snookered by the blitzkrieg pace of the General Assembly. Now they're taking action to rectify the situation, stripping farmworkers and domestic workers of the ability to sue for overtime.

Commemorating Hidden History in Arlington and Alexandria

Local 'Green Book' locations may soon be designated historic sites.

Green Book

Green Rollback May Hit Blue Wall

Republican efforts to undo environmental laws to face opposition in Democratic-led Senate.

Environmental laws

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Reconsidering Marijuana

Pot is still legal, but the plan to regulate its sale is in jeopardy.

Marijuana

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Red Flags, Confiscated Guns

Police across Virginia use new law to disarm people courts determine to be dangerous.

Since Virginia's new red-flag law was signed by the Gov. Ralph Northam last year, according to data from the Virginia State Police, law enforcement officials across Virginia have issued 170 emergency substantial risk orders to temporarily confiscate firearms from people courts have determined could be dangerous. That includes 32 in Fairfax County, six in Arlington and five in Alexandria. Police officers and sheriffs deputies have also used the law in so-called "Second Amendment sanctuaries," including 13 risk orders in Virginia Beach and seven in Hanover County.

Texas Official Appointed to Lead Alexandria

City Council hires James Parajon as city manager.

New City Manager

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Republican Sweep

Democrats lose statewide for the first time since 2009.

Virginia has a long tradition of offering a counterpoint to presidential elections starting after the election of Democrat Jimmy Carter for president in 1976.

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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.

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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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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Contaminated Legacy

From slave plantation to industrial pollution, a hidden history of North Old Town.

The shuttered power plant dominating the landscape in North Old Town has layers of industrial pollution, a hidden history buried under the contaminated soil of the Potomac River Generating Station. Even before the coal-fired power plant was constructed in 1949, the property was home to the American Chlorophyll Company and Potomac River Clay Works. That means the long and complicated task known as "remediating" the property could mean removing everything from coal ash and mercury to industrial fertilizer and hazardous metals.

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Bag It?—Not Any More

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

Bag Tax

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Transforming Potomac Yard

Virginia Tech breaks ground for Innovation Campus in Alexandria.

Potomac Yard Groundbreaking

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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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Facing Eviction

Virginia has new protections for renters, but temporary measures expire next year.

The clock is ticking for renters across Virginia who are in danger of being evicted. People of color and low-income Virginians are most at risk.

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Connecting the Unconnected

Less than 3 percent of broadband spending to help low-income people gain internet access

About 15 percent of Alexandria students did not have access to the internet when the pandemic began last year, a statistic that reveals how many households in Alexandria are locked out of the modern economy.

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Whistle Stop

McAuliffe launches DNC bus tour at Port City, dodges question about labor

The Build Back Better Bus caused quite a stir last week at Port City Brewing, and not just because of the alliteration.

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Big Money for Big Biz, Not as Much for Poor

Lawmakers go on a spending spree with billions of dollars from Uncle Sam.

Big business cleaned up this week, taking home the biggest prizes in the special session to spend $3 billion in stimulus cash. Meanwhile, low-income Virginians didn't fare quite as well.

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Spending Spree

General Assembly returns to Richmond to appropriate federal stimulus cash

In the 1985 hit movie "Brewster's Millions," Richard Pryor is given the task of spending $30 million in 30 days.

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Drawing the Line

How much should cities and counties be divided among lawmakers?

For Mason Cook of the Middleridge neighborhood in Fairfax County, the problem of gerrymandering can be understood in an afternoon commute. During a public hearing of the Virginia Redistricting Commission this week, he explained that if he were to drive from his house to his grocery store and then drop off a package at his post office, he would have gone through three different House of Delegates districts. "We hear a lot of talk about voter suppression. These kinds of congressional districts are all about voter suppression, and they make the congressional elections totally meaningless." — Bill Millhouser of Fairfax County

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The New New Deal

Uncle Sam is about to make it rain.

Not since the days of the New Deal in the 1930s has the federal government showered so much stimulus cash on Virginia, and Alexandria is about to receive millions of dollars for everything from guaranteed basic income and flash flooding improvements to staffing at the Freedom House and planters to make the King Street pedestrian plaza look more inviting.

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Rebuilding Hospitality

Restaurants, hotels and performing arts venues struggle with recovery

Now that the pandemic is fading into a bad memory, Alexandria's hospitality industry is at a crossroads.

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Baby Bust

Declining birth rates lead to shrinking Kindergarten enrollments.

Declining birth rates and the pandemic have conspired to send Alexandria's Kindergarten enrollment down 17 percent since 2018, a trend that school officials say will have a long-term influence on how the division operates and plans for the future. Some of the decline is driven by the pandemic as parents opted for private schools or kept their children in daycare rather than enroll them. But the long-term forecast for schools will be shaped one birth at a time.

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Marijuana Is Now Legal

The long strange trip from a failed war on drugs to social equity licenses

Smoke 'em if you've got 'em because pot is now legal in the commonwealth of Virginia.

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Democrats Choose Northern Virginia Ticket

Primary voters select candidates with gender and racial diversity but lacking in regional balance.

As election returns started rolling in from the Democratic primary Tuesday, Republicans started boasting about having the most diverse statewide ticket in Virginia history.

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Opposition Candidates Falter

Voters reject candidates who said City Hall lacks integrity.

Democratic primaries are usually about biography and personalities, focusing on professional resumes and personal connections.

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Democrats Decide

Voters to determine direction of party in June 8 primary

The June 8 primary will determine the direction of the Democratic Party in Virginia at a critical time, when the commonwealth is emerging from the pandemic and trying to recast itself as something other than a party in opposition to former President Donald Trump.

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