Back to profile

Michael Lee Pope

Stories by Michael Lee

Northern Virginia Supports Day to Serve

The Northern Virginia Regional Commission (NVRC), a coalition of 14 counties, cities and towns that work together on regional issues, passed a unanimous resolution endorsing Virginia Governor Robert F. McDonnell’s call to participate in the 2013 Day to Serve.

Tease photo

Half of Fairfax Schools Accredited with Warning are in Mount Vernon Area

Students up and down the Route 1 corridor struggle to meet minimum standards in science.

Poor and Latino students clustered along the Route 1 corridor are struggling to keep up with standardized test scores, according to a report issued last week by the Virginia Department of Education.

Tease photo

Alexandria School Board Members Approve Deal to Double Rent for Central Administration

School system to have a new lease on a larger central administration office.

Right now, the Alexandria City Public School system pays about $1 million in rent every year at three locations across the city — one central administration headquarters on Beauregard Street and two of satellite locations across the city.

Fully Accredited (Almost): One School Fails to Meet Minimum Standards

School officials were ready to celebrate victory until state included Arlington Mill High School.

The news couldn't have been better for Arlington Public Schools. Preliminary reports indicated that the Virginia Department of Education was on the verge of releasing standardized test data that would show all 31 public schools in Arlington would be fully accredited. Then the bottom fell out.

Tease photo

Full Disclosure? Forms Plagued By Lack of Information, Absence of Oversight

Fairfax County goes so far as to redact disclosure documents.

Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell is in hot water for taking gifts without disclosing them, and legislators are talking about increasing disclosure requirements for family members. But here in Northern Virginia, personal financial disclosure forms are often incomplete and inconsistent.

Full Disclosure?

Forms plagued by a lack of information, absence of oversight; redacted documents.

Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell is in hot water for taking gifts without disclosing them, and legislators are talking about increasing disclosure requirements for family members. But here in Northern Virginia, personal financial disclosure forms are often incomplete and inconsistent. Some elected officials choose to disclose a great deal of information while others disclose very little. Fairfax County officials have decided to redact information that's supposed to be part of the public record. And nobody is reviewing the forms to make sure they are accurate.

Tease photo

Incendiary Remarks in West End Fire Investigation

No arrests yet, but fire chief says investigation puts one individual in the hot seat.

Alexandria Fire Chief Adam Thiel stopped short of calling it "arson." But the chief was clear that city officials believe that the person of interest identified by the investigation into last week's six-alarm fire on the West End started the fire on purpose.

Tease photo

Uneasy Easement: 1789 Deed at Issue as City Hall Takes on Boat Club

Virginia Supreme Court justices say city is putting one private interest ahead of another.

John Adams was president of the United States when two land owners on Wales Alley secured a deed that gave them private use to a 30-foot easement in the alley.

Tease photo

Tide Turns for Arlington Mill

Community center almost fell victim to recession; now ready to formally open.

Four years ago, the fate of the Arlington Mill Community Center looked moribund.

Tease photo

City Leaders Consider Eminent Domain if Boat Club Rejects Final Compromise

Eight years of negotiation coming to a dramatic conclusion on the waterfront.

City officials and elected leaders are considering using the power of eminent domain to accomplish its goals on the waterfront if members of the Old Dominion Boat Club reject their latest compromise.

Tease photo

Battle for Transparency at State Corporation Commission Moves Online

Agency makes official request to remove information from Wikipedia page.

The battle lines in the war over transparency at the Virginia State Corporation Commission have shifted from the committee room to the Internet.

Week in Alexandria

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is weighing into the debate about school takeover with a surprising move this week, announcing that his office will not be defending the Opportunity Educational Institution.

Tease photo

Morton Sherman Era Draws to Dramatic Close at Alexandria City Public Schools

Controversial superintendent oversaw school system during tumultuous five-year term.

As members of the Alexandria School Board were behind closed doors in a one-hour executive session last week, Glenn Hopkins was thumbing through a draft report he was preparing to the release from the Student Achievement Advisory Committee.

Tease photo

Cause of Massive Blaze at West End Warehouse Yet to be Determined

Charred bits of foam litter the scene as officials begin investigation.

Firefighters from across the region battled a massive six-alarm fire Monday on the West End, a fight that enlisted help from across the region and gave four firefighters minor injuries.

Tease photo

Ballot Question: Authorizing an Authority in Arlington

Arlington County voters to determine fate of housing and redevelopment authority.

Should Arlington County have a housing authority?

Tease photo

Massive Fire Burns Warehouse on South Pickett Street

Blaze sends heavy black smoke into the air.

Firefighters from across Northern Virginia and Maryland are battling a massive, five-alarm fire at 801 South Picket Street, a warehouse building tax records say was originally constructed in 1965.

Tease photo

Alexandria School Superintendent Unexpectedly Resigns

Taxpayers to fork over almost $300,000 to buy out embattled superintendent.

With days left to go before the first day of school, leaders in Alexandria are searching for a new superintendent.

Issues Facing Alexandria Residents

A look at some of the major items on the agenda for the near future.

Tease photo

Fiscal Year Follies: Latest Budget Blunder Involves Increased Utility Tax

'Mistake' comes on the heels of 'communication issue.'

Shortly after City Council members approved the budget for fiscal year 2014, they had to reconsider two dedicated sources of revenue that had been spiked despite a lack of consensus among elected officials. Now City Manager Rashad Young has acknowledged a new blunder in revenue collections, a failure to follow all the necessary steps to increase utility taxes.

Tease photo

Shedding Sunshine on the Secret World of Regulation in Virginia

Advisory panel rejects effort to open records of the State Corporation Commission.

Ever wonder what happens during deliberations that regulate payday lending? How about the effort to oversee your health insurance?

Tease photo

Tougher Tests Cause Alexandria Scores to Plunge

School officials say more rigorous standards are to blame.

Test scores are down across Alexandria. But school officials say that doesn't necessarily mean students are doing worse. It means that the tests have gotten harder.

Tease photo

School Board Chairwoman Confronts Governor During Alexandria Education Summit

City leaders hope to change school takeover rather than filing lawsuit.

Sitting face to face with Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell at T.C. Williams, Alexandria School Board Chairwoman Karen Graf challenged the sweeping education reform that threatens to remove Jefferson-Houston School from the city's public school system.

Tease photo

Arlington County Schools Increasingly Crowded as Enrollment Spikes

Two new elementary school planned; more changes on the horizon.

School leaders in Arlington are struggling to accommodate about 1,000 new students in the coming school year, a crunch that's sending school officials scrambling for teachers, assistants, administrators, equipment and relocatable classrooms.

Tease photo

Even Small Amounts of Precipitation Dump Raw Sewage into Potomac River

City government signs offer misleading information about outfalls.

Don't believe the signs city officials have posted at the four outfall spots that dump raw sewage into the Potomac River. The truth is much worse.

Tease photo

Should Jefferson-Houston Become a Charter School?

Alexandria's failing school is in crossfire of political debate.

Politicians love to talk about failing schools. As an abstract concept, they are an easy target. But when an actual school is identified as a failing school, the reality become a bit more complicated.

Tease photo

Deputy Faces Murder Charges

Craig Patterson sat stonefaced in a green jumpsuit as his voice boomed from speakers in the courtroom. Commonwealth's Attorney Randy Sengel pressed a few buttons on his laptop computer, and the 911 call began playing a key piece of evidence in the case against the 44-year-old Arlington County sheriff's deputy who shot and killed Julian Dawkins, a 22-year-old Alexandria man.

Tease photo

Will the Next Attorney General Defend Constitutional Ban on Gay Marriage?

Republican says he will defend amendment; Democrat is not so sure.

Virginia's next attorney general will have to stand in a courtroom and make a decision about whether or not the commonwealth's constitutional ban on marriage should be defended. Republican candidate Sen. Mark Obenshain (R-26) has been clear about his support for the amendment and his intention to provide a vigorous defense of marriage. Democratic candidate Sen. Mark Herring (D-33), on the other hand, has yet to take a position on whether or not he will defend the amendment.

Tease photo

City Attorney Gave Green Light to Hensley Before All Documents Were Reviewed

Federal grant from 1970s provided barrier to private development of public land.

Recently unearthed documents from city and state archives show Joseph Hensley Park is protected by the Land and Water Conservation Act, which financed development of the city-owned property in the late 1970s.

Tease photo

911 Call from Patterson Played in Court as Part of Preliminary Hearing

Off-duty Arlington sheriff's deputy says he shot knife-wielding young man.

Craig Patterson sat stonefaced in a green jumpsuit as his voice boomed from speakers in the courtroom.

Tease photo

Candidates Agree on Amendment for Voting Rights, Disagree on Executive Order

Restoration of civil rights on the agenda for next governor.

Should nonviolent felons have their right to vote automatically restored? What exactly is a nonviolent felony? What kind of process can be considered automatic?

Tease photo

City Attorney Determines No Impediment to Hensley Lease, But Record Remains Unclear

State officials are still digging through archive to trace federal funds from 1970s.

The history of Hensley Park has become a battlefield in recent weeks, as city leaders clash with opponents of a proposal to hand over open space to a developer who wants to build a sports complex.

Silence of the Court

Justices deny public access to shield personal conversations.

The Virginia Supreme Court operates in silence, denying public access to audio recordings of its oral arguments. Unlike the U.S. Supreme Court, which denies video recordings but allows audio recordings, the commonwealth's top appeals court has a complete blackout on public access to proceedings. In a written response to questions from Connection Newspapers, the Office of the Executive Secretary of the Virginia Supreme Court explained that audio records were once public, but the installation of new equipment in January 2008 created new concerns for justices.

On the Campaign Trail

Year after year, members of the General Assembly consider efforts to restore voting rights to nonviolent felons. But year after year, the effort is killed — usually by House Republicans.

Week in Alexandria

The murder trial of Florida neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman may be hundreds of miles away, but emotions are running raw in Alexandria.

Tease photo

Silence of the Court: Virginia Supreme Court Denies Access to Audio Recordings

Lack of transparency is explained as effort to shield personal conversations.

The Virginia Supreme Court operates in silence, denying public access to audio recordings of its oral arguments.

Tease photo

Wasteful Spending: Alexandria Faces Difficult Decision on Raw Sewage

Cleaning out of Hunting Creek could cost $100 million to $300 million.

Every year, Alexandria dumps 10 million gallons of raw sewage into Hunting Creek.

Tease photo

Streetcars on Track in Arlington, Despite Massive Pushback

Arlington strikes new agreement with Fairfax as opposition to streetcars mounts.

A majority of Arlington County Board members describe the new agreement with Fairfax County as a routine matter, just another step in an ongoing process that's already been approved and is moving forward at full speed ahead.

Tease photo

For First Time in Recent Memory, No Competition Open Commonwealth's Attorney Seat

No Democrat challenges Bryan Porter in primary; no Republican steps forward for general.

Back in 1979, the competition to become Alexandria's next commonwealth's attorney was fierce.

Tease photo

New Book Chronicles African-American History in Alexandria

Story is told through narrative of 63 biographical sketches.

Alexandria currently has its first black mayor, its first black city manager, its first black city attorney, its first black Circuit Court judge and its first black police chief — not to mention the first black president in the White House. But the strains of race relations continue to haunt the city.

Tease photo

Developer Wants to Lease Public Land for Private Gain

Should Alexandria approve a 40-year lease for Hensley Park?

Should a stretch of public land in the Eisenhower Valley be transformed into a private sports complex?

On the Campaign Trail

Back in 1979, the competition to become Alexandria's next commonwealth's attorney was fierce.

Tease photo

Should the Yellow Line Be Extended South Beyond Huntington to Lorton?

Transit study could determine fate of possible Metro extension along Route 1 corridor.

Should the Yellow Line be expanded beyond the Huntington Metro station?

Week in Alexandria

What happens when you mix raw emotions and firearms? Sometimes people get injured.

On the Campaign Trail

Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe is not the standard candidate for higher office.

Tease photo

Alexandria Leaders Consider Lawsuit Challenging Takeover of Long-Troubled School

Unless courts intervene, new statewide division will take control of Jefferson-Houston next year.

Is Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell's effort to take over Jefferson-Houston School constitutional?

Tease photo

Terry McAulife Launches Healthcare Platform at Inova Alexandria Hospital

Affordable Care Act is a key point of distinction between candidates for governor.

Democratic candidate for governor Terry McAuliffe found himself in the emergency room this week, but it wasn't because of a medical crisis.

Tease photo

Civil Disobedience and Holiday Ordinance in Alexandria

Fireworks are illegal, but violating this particular ordinance has a long tradition.

Newsflash: Consumer fireworks are illegal in Alexandria. According to the city's fire-prevention code, use of fireworks is a class one misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail or a $2,500 fine.

Tease photo

Hybrid Outrage at the Department of Motor Vehicles

Two legislators vow to introduce effort to repeal new tax on hybrid vehicles.

Suzanne Cleary has owned a hybrid vehicle since 2006, making her an early adopter and a proselytizer to her friends and neighbors.

Tease photo

How Alexandria Stole the National Science Foundation from Arlington

Financial incentives are increasingly being used to attract federal agencies.

Standing outside the National Science Foundation in the heart of Ballston, it's easy to see why Arlington and Alexandria have been fighting over the federal agency.

Tease photo

Prosecutor's Report Clears Officers of Criminal Wrongdoing in February Shooting

Unlike Fairfax and Arlington authorities, Alexandria prosecutor shares report with public.

Seven different officers shot 37 rounds at Alexandria man Taft Sellers last February during a standoff in the city's West End, hitting him five times.