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Michael Lee Pope

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Nine Candidates Vying for Attention in 8th Congressional District Democratic Primary

Race to replace Jim Moran is expected to be competitive and expensive.

It's been three weeks since longtime U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D-8) announced that he would not be seeking a 13th term in Congress, opening up an epic primary fight that is now starting to take shape.

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Jim Moran: The $15 Million Congressman

During his years in Congress, Moran raised and spent about $1 million each campaign cycle.

One of the first things that happened after U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D-8) announced he would not be running for reelection this year was that he cancelled a fundraising event.

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Virginia Supreme Court Opens Access to Audio Recordings of Oral Arguments

Policy change overturns blackout instituted in 2008.

Members of the Virginia Supreme Court have a New Year’s Resolution — become more transparent.

New Approach to Mental Health

Reforms in wake of tragedy involving state senator's son.

Advocates for mental health services have been calling for improved services and increased funding for years, although the issue has been pushed aside year after year.

Democrats Shut Out of Power in Senate

Even if Democrats win in two special elections, control over committees is unlikely.

Don't expect Democrats to take control over state Senate committees anytime soon, even if the party manages to hold both of the seats where special elections are now underway.

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Decline in Sales Tax Threatens Ability of Local Governments to Balance Books

Sequester looms large over revenues across Northern Virginia.

Sales tax revenues are down across Northern Virginia, leading to concerns that balancing the books for the coming fiscal year could be even more of a challenge for budget officials and elected officials in the coming months.

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Democrats Lead in Polls as Voters Head to the Polls for Election Day

Hotly contested race for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general.

Democrats have the wind at their backs heading into Election Day next week, as Republican gubernatorial candidates Ken Cuccinelli struggles to overcome a deficit in the polls.

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Battleground Northern Virginia

What role will the region play in the election?

For many years, Northern Virginia has been written off by both parties as a Democratic stronghold — a place where Republicans simply try to cut their losses while they focus on the rest of the commonwealth. But this election cycle may be different. All three of the gubernatorial candidates are from Fairfax County. And recent statewide candidates have not been able to win without picking off selected jurisdictions in Northern Virginia. "As you look at Northern Virginia that's further from Washington, you see a more Republican area — Prince William, western Fairfax, Fauquier," said Stephen Farnsworth, professor at University of Mary Washington. "That's where the real action is in Northern Virginia politics." As Election Day draws closer and television becomes a virtual battlefield for attention, a real battle is brewing on the ground here in Northern Virginia. Candidates and their advisors are looking at the path to victory back in 2009 for Republican Bob McDonnell, who won Prince William County, Fairfax County and Fauquier County. Although this race is likely to be closer than 2009, the importance of Northern Virginia is looming larger than ever.

Negative Campaign

Candidates appear at minority business forum, attacking each other.

Local and statewide candidates for office appeared at an unprecedented forum in Northern Virginia last weekend, a collaboration of minority business groups of blacks, Hispanics and Asians. But as candidates arrived at the Annandale campus of the Northern Virginia Community College for a Sunday afternoon forum, voters realized that the tone of the campaign would remain unrelentingly negative. "All three of the Republican candidates are Tea Party right wing extremists," said Del. Ken Plum (D-36), who is running unopposed. "Look at their records and their stands on the issues." Plum attacked Cuccinelli's lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act as well as his investigation into a University of Virginia professor studying climate change. The longtime delegate also said the Republican attorney general candidate Sen. Mark Obenshain (R-25) has a similar record, including a bill that would have required women to report abortions to police. Together with the candidate for lieutenant governor, Plum said, the ticket is Tea Party from top to bottom.

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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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?

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

On the Campaign Trail

Turnout for Tuesday's primary was abysmally low, with only 140,000 participating in the voting.

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Establishment Wins Democratic Primary

State senators beat out first-time candidates for lieutenant governor and attorney general.

Two first-time candidates had a hard time beating back the establishment this week, as two state senators won the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor and attorney general Tuesday night.

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Tea Party Ticket

Republican convention selects conservative slate of candidates for November.

Perhaps the biggest sign that the Tea Party has taken control of the Republican Party of Virginia was the yellow Gadsden flag emblem that appeared on placards distributed by supporters of Jeannemarie Devolites Davis, who was one of seven candidates vying to be the nominee for lieutenant governor last weekend at a raucous convention in Richmond. Davis, who represented Fairfax County for a decade in the General Assembly, has a reputation as being a moderate.

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Governor Approves Conditional Budget for Medicaid Expansion

Vote-swapping operation traded transportation votes for Medicaid money.

Half a million uninsured Virginians may be eligible for Medicaid under an agreement now being worked out in Richmond — a deal in which Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell agreed to include Medicaid expansion as part of the budget if Senate Democrats supported a transportation package.

Nazi Commonwealth

Bipartisan team seeks compensation for victims of forced sterilization.

Nobody knows how many people are survivors of Virginia’s forced sterilization program, which targeted people with mental illness, mental retardation or epilepsy. But a bipartisan effort now under consideration in Richmond would hand each and every one of them a $50,000 check from the people of Virginia. According to one calculation, that could mean as much as $73 million.

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Four Northern Virginia Senators Targeted

Redistricting effort puts Fairfax County seats in the spotlight.

Four Northern Virginia state Senators are targets of a Republican-led effort to draw new districts — Sen. George Barker (D-39), Sen. Dave Marsden (D-37), Sen. Toddy Puller (D-36) and Sen. Chap Petersen (D-34). Democrats say the redistricting effort is a cynical attempt to take advantage of the absence of Sen. Henry Marsh (D-16), a prominent civil rights veteran, who was in Washington, D.C. for the inauguration on Monday. But state Sen. John Watkins (R-10) of Powhatan defended the effort as a way to create a sixth majority black Senate district in Southside. It passed the Senate on a 20-to-19 vote.

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Making Schools Safer

Two Northern Virginia Democrats take part in panel to consider school security.

Do Virginia schools need more guns? That question is at the heart of a debate that’s now reaching a fever pitch in the commonwealth, especially after a man with a Bushmaster assault rifle blasted his way into a Connecticut elementary school and killed 20 children and six adults before killing himself. Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell responded to the tragedy by creating a School Safety Task Force, which is considering a proposal for every school in Virginia to have an armed school resource officer.

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Should Virginia’s Governor Be Able to Run for Reelection?

Longstanding ban on second consecutive term to be reconsidered this year.

Virginia is the only state that limits its governor to a single, four-year term, a vestige of the distrust Americans had for executive power during the American Revolution. Now, more than two centuries later, the commonwealth may finally be ready to ditch the longstanding term limit and allow Virginia’s governor to run for reelection.

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Legislators Are Not Gun Shy About Responding to Connecticut Shooting

Should access to guns be limited or expanded?

Last year's mass shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut has already prompted a heated debate about gun control in Virginia, where the upcoming session of the General Assembly is likely to feature a number of bills on both sides of the issue.

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Use of Food Stamps Skyrocketing in Northern Virginia

Program doubles in Arlington, triples in Fairfax and quadruples in Alexandria.

The use of food stamps is skyrocketing in Northern Virginia, and the spike isn’t just about the recession.

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Uranium Money Spreads Across Virginia in Radioactive Debate

Upcoming General Assembly session to feature effort to lift ban on uranium mining.

The uranium deposits under the farmlands of Pittsylvania County are miles away from Northern Virginia, but the debate about what happens there is shaping up to be one of the hottest issues of the upcoming General Assembly session.

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Voters to Determine Fate of Amendment to Limit Use of Eminent Domain

Measure will allow property owners to seek damages for loss of profits and access.

Nowhere is the debate about eminent domain more intense than the foot of King Street in Alexandria, where city officials threatened to take land owned by the Old Dominion Boat Club using the power of eminent domain for flood mitigation.

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The Passover Amendment: Should Legislators Meet on Religious Holidays?

Former Del. David Englin (D-45) was behind amendment now before voters.

Every year, the Virginia General Assembly convenes several weeks after the session to react to the governor’s vetoes.

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Should Virginia Compensate for Dark Days of Eugenics?

Del. Patrick Hope (D-44) asks governor and General Assembly to form a task force.

The number of victims is unknown in Virginia’s system of forced sterilization, a dark chapter that stretched from the 1920s into the 1970s.

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Consumer Confidence on the Rise in Washington Region

Survey participants perceive regional economy better than broader national picture.

Consumer confidence is on the rise, according to results of a new survey by the Greater Washington Board of Trade.

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Inaction May Cause Federal Officials to Create Health-Care Exchange for Virginia

January 2013 is the deadline for the commonwealth to create authority for exchange.

Virginia is suffering from deadline fever, although Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell is calling for a second opinion.

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Despite Failing Grade on Transparency, Law Enforcement Officials Resist Opening Access

Advocates for public access remain frustrated by persistent lack of transparency.

Back in March, Virginia received a failing grade from the State Integrity Investigation as the result of a systematic lack of transparency.

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Even in Closed Cases, Police Maintain Culture of Secrecy

Public must rely on information police agencies choose to share, even if it's wrong.

In December of 2008, the Fairfax Police Department chased 19-year-old Hailu Brook across the county line into Arlington and shot him dead.

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Northern Virginia Bill Signing Puts Human Trafficking and Domestic Violence in Spotlight

A rare moment of bipartisanship between Republican governor and Democratic legislators.

Strangulation will be punished more aggressively to combat violence against women. Campus police will work with other police agencies to crack down on domestic violence of unmarried couples. And the telephone number for a human trafficking hotline will be placed in the restrooms at strip clubs across Virginia.

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Federal Prosecutors Uncover Schoolyard Prostitution Ring in Suburban Fairfax County

U.S. Attorney: Underground Gangster Crips led prostitution ring that spanned Northern Virginia.

The high school girls were threatened with violence if they attempted to leave. They were sexually exploited by customers of the sex trafficking operation as well as the men who ran the prostitution ring.

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Fairfax Board of Supervisors Considers Raising Stormwater Management Fee

One-penny hike on property tax could raise $35 million for projects throughout the county.

When it rains, it pours. That’s why Fairfax County taxpayers may have to fork over more money this year for stormwater management.

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Virginia Officials Deliberately Moving Slowly on Health Care Exchange

If Supreme Court upholds health-care reform, governor would have to call special session.

Virginia has eight months to create a certification plan for how it plans to create a health-care exchange, a legal requirement of President Barack Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Business Matters

How far did the empire of Orange Julius reach? What’s the capital of Banana Republic? Is Aeropostale aerodynamic?

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Stakes Are High in Virginia Budget Standoff

Lawmakers flee Capitol, where partisan gridlock reigns.

The budget standoff in Richmond could have drastic consequences in Northern Virginia, where every service from education to transportation is on the line.

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Fairfax Supervisors to Consider Even More Cuts to Library System

In the last four years, more than $5 million has been slashed from the library budget.

Walk into the Centreville Library and one is confronted with an institution in crisis.

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Not-So-Super Tuesday

Turnout for Virginia's presidential preference primary was lowest in recent memory.

With two of the major candidates in the Republican presidential contest failing to qualify for the ballot in Virginia, Super Tuesday was anything but super.

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Local Governments Enjoy Record Spending

Bucking national trend, local governments here expand while others are contracting.

As local governments across America are laying off firefighters and teachers, governments in Northern Virginia are experiencing record levels of spending and an all-time-high number of employees.

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State Senate Committee Kills Effort to Overturn King's Dominion Law

School boards were encouraged by support from governor, but couldn't win over Senate committee.

The Senate Committee on Education and Health voted today to kill an effort overturning the King's Dominion Law, which mandates that school divisions across Virginia begin classes after Labor Day.

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Outgoing County Executive Tony Griffin Presents Final Budget Proposal

$6.7 billion proposal is a 6.1 percent budget increase.

Appearing before members of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors for the last time, outgoing county executive Anthony Griffin had the luxury of taking the long view.

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Governments Across Virginia Hope to Kill Local Aid to the State Program

Jurisdictions hope to kill funding scheme created at height of recession.

In the darkest days of the global financial crisis, leaders in Richmond were willing to do almost anything to balance the budget.

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Voters to Have Final Say on Eminent Domain Amendment

Opinions are divided as to what kind of influence the amendment could have if passed.

This fall, voters across Virginia will be confronted with a hotly debated amendment to the Virginia Constitution that seeks to limit the ability of local governments to use the power of eminent domain.