EGACY Yesterday. Today. Tomorrow.
WEDNESDAYS • Oct. 10, 2018
Richmond & Hampton Roads
The deadline to register to vote in Virginia for November’s election is Oct. 15. More online at elections.virginia.gov
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Southern diet helps explain extra high blood pressure risk for black men High blood pressure is widespread among African American men at least in part because they’re more likely than other people to eat a traditional Southern diet with lots of fried and fatty foods, a new study suggests. Researchers followed 6,897 people in the South who didn’t have high blood pressure in 20032007, including 1,807 African American men and women. After about nine years, 46 percent of black participants and 33 percent of white participants developed high blood pressure. Among all men, a traditionally Southern diet was associated with a 16 percent higher risk of developing high blood pressure; for women, 17
percent. As a group, African American men ate a more traditionally Southern diet than other men or women in the study, and this explained more than half of their increased risk for high blood pressure, or hypertension, researchers found. The current study wasn’t designed to prove whether or how certain eating habits might directly impact the development of high blood pressure, but previous research has linked the DASH diet recommended by the American Heart Association to a lower risk of hypertension, said lead study author George Howard of the School of Public Health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Among people who follow DASH, or dietary approaches to stop hypertension, with increased lean proteins, fruits, vegetables and whole grains, there isn’t as big a difference in high blood pressure rates between white and African American individuals, Howard said. By contrast, a traditionally Southern diet is full of foods that the DASH diet advises people to avoid: fried foods, organ meats, processed meats, eggs, added fats, high-fat dairy, bread, and sodas and other sugary beverages. For African American women in the study, the Southern diet explained 29 percent of their excess risk for high blood pressure. - Wire Services
2 • Oct. 10, 2018
Herring fights efforts to deny asylum to gang violence victims The ACLU recently sued Jeff Sessions over restricting asylum for victims of domestic, gang violence, describing it as an illegal attack on asylum. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions Efforts to stop the Trump administration from arbitrarily blocking immigrants who seek asylum from domestic violence or gang terrorism in their home countries is underway. In an amicus brief filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring argues that the Trump administration ignored decades of federal law and policy designed to protect asylum-seekers who are persecuted in their home countries because of their gender, ethnicity, or other key personal characteristics. “Our country has always been a beacon of hope and a place of safety for those who are escaping violence and persecution at home,” said Herring. “The Trump administration continues to turn its back on refugees who are seeking asylum, while ignoring decades of federal policy designed to help these very
people. I will continue to work with my colleagues to stand up for these refugees who are only trying to find a better life for themselves and their families.” Herring joined the coalition, made up of 18 state attorneys general. The plaintiffs include a majority of women and children from Central America who sought asylum in the United States from domestic violence and violent persecution by gangs in their home countries. The plaintiffs argued, as past asylum-seekers have successfully claimed, that the governments in their home countries are unwilling or unable to protect them from such harm. U.S. law provides that immigrants may seek asylum in America “because of a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.” However, in June, U.S. Attorney
General Jeff Sessions issued a decision reversing the federal Board of Immigration Appeals’ grant of asylum to an El Salvadoran woman who was brutalized by her husband. The decision changed federal policy to state that, in general “claims by aliens pertaining to domestic violence or gang violence perpetrated by non-governmental actors will not qualify for asylum.” It also raised the standard that asylum applicants must meet when claiming persecution by a non-governmental actor. In August, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies filed suit to block the new policy from taking effect. While federal law requires that asylum claims be decided on a caseby-case basis, Attorney General Session’s decision unlawfully creates a presumption that victims of domestic and gang-related violence are likely to not receive asylum. The
decision also made it more difficult for asylum applicants to prove to an asylum officer that they have credible fear of persecution. Together, these policies make it extremely difficult for victims of domestic and gang-related violence to successfully gain asylum. The brief argues that the Trump Administration’s policy reversal is harmful because: • Domestic and gang-related violence victims deserve U.S. protection: The brief notes that in countries such as the ones from which the plaintiffs fled, domestic and gang-related violence are rampant – and that fleeing such violence is a legitimate reason to seek asylum. • Women and children predominately suffer from domestic violence: The brief notes that although both men and women can suffer from gender-based harm, such as domestic violence, it is women and their children who predominantly suffer.
Oct. 10, 2018 • 3 Explanation for Proposed Constitutional Amendment to Be Voted On at the November 6, 2018, Election PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT ARTICLE X. Taxation and Finance. Section 6. Exempt property.
BALLOT QUESTION Should a county, city, or town be authorized to provide a partial tax exemption for real property that is subject to recurrent flooding, if flooding resiliency improvements have been made on the property? EXPLANATION Present Law Generally, the Constitution of Virginia provides that all property shall be taxed. The Constitution of Virginia also sets out specific types of property that may be exempted from taxation. For example, the Constitution of Virginia allows the General Assembly to permit localities to provide a partial exemption from real estate taxes as an incentive for property owners to make substantial improvements to existing structures by renovating, rehabilitating, or replacing those structures. Proposed Amendment The proposed amendment would authorize the General Assembly to allow localities to provide a partial tax exemption for real property that is subject to recurrent flooding, if improvements have been made on the property to address flooding. The General Assembly and participating localities would be allowed to place restrictions or conditions on qualification for the tax exemption. A “yes” vote will authorize the General Assembly to allow localities to provide a partial tax exemption for real property that is subject to recurrent flooding, if improvements have been made on the property to address flooding. A “no” vote will not allow such a tax exemption. FULL TEXT OF AMENDMENT Amend Section 6 of Article X of the Constitution of Virginia as follows: ARTICLE X TAXATION AND FINANCE Section 6. Exempt property. (a) Except as otherwise provided in this Constitution, the following property and no other shall be exempt from taxation, State and local, including inheritance taxes: (1) Property owned directly or indirectly by the Commonwealth or any political subdivision thereof, and obligations of the Commonwealth or any political subdivision thereof exempt by law. (2) Real estate and personal property owned and exclusively occupied or used by churches or religious bodies for religious worship or for the residences of their ministers. (3) Private or public burying grounds or cemeteries, provided the same are not operated for profit. (4) Property owned by public libraries or by institutions of learning not conducted for profit, so long as such property is primarily used for literary, scientific, or educational purposes or purposes incidental thereto. This provision may also apply to leasehold interests in such property as may be provided by general law. (5) Intangible personal property, or any class or classes thereof, as may be exempted in whole or in part by general law. (6) Property used by its owner for religious, charitable, patriotic, historical, benevolent, cultural, or public park and playground purposes, as may be provided by classification or designation by an ordinance adopted by the local governing body and subject to such restrictions and conditions as provided by general law. (7) Land subject to a perpetual easement permitting inundation by water as may be exempted in whole or in part by general law. (b) The General Assembly may by general law authorize the governing body of any county, city, town, or regional government to provide for the exemption from local property taxation, or a portion thereof, within such restrictions and upon such conditions as may be prescribed, of real estate and personal property designed for continuous habitation owned by, and occupied as the sole dwelling of, persons not less than sixty-five years of age or persons permanently and totally disabled as established by general law. A local governing body may be authorized to establish either income or financial worth limitations, or both, in order to qualify for such relief. (c) Except as to property of the Commonwealth, the General Assembly by general law may restrict or condition, in whole or in part, but not extend, any or all of the above exemptions. (d) The General Assembly may define as a separate subject of taxation any property, including real or personal property, equipment, facilities, or devices, used primarily for the purpose of abating or preventing pollution of the atmosphere or waters of the Commonwealth or for the purpose of transferring or storing solar energy, and by general law may allow the governing body of any county, city, town, or regional government to exempt or partially exempt such property from taxation, or by general law may directly exempt or partially exempt such property from taxation. (e) The General Assembly may define as a separate subject of taxation household goods, personal effects and tangible farm property and products, and by general law may allow the governing body of any county, city, town, or regional government to exempt or partially exempt such property from taxation, or by general law may directly exempt or partially exempt such property from taxation. (f) Exemptions of property from taxation as established or authorized hereby shall be strictly construed; provided, however, that all property exempt from taxation on the effective date of this section shall continue to be exempt until otherwise provided by the General Assembly as herein set forth. (g) The General Assembly may by general law authorize any county, city, town, or regional government to impose a service charge upon the owners of a class or classes of exempt property for services provided by such governments. (h) The General Assembly may by general law authorize the governing body of any county, city, town, or regional government to provide for a partial exemption from local real property taxation, within such restrictions and upon such conditions as may be prescribed, (i) of real estate whose improvements, by virtue of age and use, have undergone substantial renovation, rehabilitation or replacement or (ii) of real estate with new structures and improvements in conservation, redevelopment, or rehabilitation areas. (i) The General Assembly may by general law allow the governing body of any county, city, or town to exempt or partially exempt from taxation any generating equipment installed after December thirty-one, nineteen hundred seventy-four, for the purpose of converting from oil or natural gas to coal or to wood, wood bark, wood residue, or to any other alternate energy source for manufacturing, and any co-generation equipment installed since such date for use in manufacturing. (j) The General Assembly may by general law allow the governing body of any county, city, or town to have the option to exempt or partially exempt from taxation any business, occupational or professional license or any merchants’ capital, or both. (k) The General Assembly may by general law authorize the governing body of any county, city, or town to provide for a partial exemption from local real property taxation, within such restrictions and upon such conditions as may be prescribed, of improved real estate subject to recurrent flooding upon which flooding abatement, mitigation, or resiliency efforts have been undertaken.
4 • Oct. 10, 2018
Settlement reached with Uber over data breach An agreement has been reached with California-based ride-sharing company Uber Technologies, Inc. (Uber), which will provide Virginia with nearly $3 million in settlement money and address the company’s intentional, oneyear delay in reporting a data breach to its affected drivers Uber learned in November 2016 that hackers had repeatedly accessed personal information that Uber maintains about its 600,000 drivers, including drivers’ license information pertaining to approximately 19,335 drivers in Virginia. Uber tracked down the hackers and obtained assurances that the hackers deleted the information. However, Uber failed to report
this breach for over a year, waiting until November 2017, even though it had triggered Virginia law requiring them to notify affected Virginia residents. As part of the nationwide settlement, Uber has agreed to pay $148 million to the states affected. Virginia will receive $2,956,512.59 as its share. In addition, Uber has agreed to strengthen its corporate governance and data security practices to help prevent a similar occurrence in the future. The settlement between Virginia and Uber requires the company to: • Comply with Virginia data breach law regarding protecting Virginia residents’
personal information and notifying them in the event of a data breach concerning their personal information; •Take precautions to protect any user data Uber stores on third-party platforms outside of Uber; • Use strong password policies for its employees to gain access to the Uber network; • Develop and implement a strong overall data security policy for all data that Uber collects about its users, including assessing potential risks to the security of the data and implementing any additional security measures beyond what Uber is doing to protect the data; •Hire an outside qualified party to assess Uber’s data
security efforts on a regular basis and draft a report with any recommended security improvements. Uber will implement any such security improvement recommendations; and • Develop and implement a corporate integrity program to ensure that Uber employees can bring any ethics concerns they have about any other Uber employees to the company, and that it will be heard. As more personal information becomes digitized, it is imperative that companies like Uber keep information safe and alert both customers and drivers immediately if there has been a security breach. State officials feel this will ensure breaches are reported in the required time span.
GRTC debuts CARE online & app customer tool GRTC now has a new, convenient way for CARE customers to request, view, and cancel CARE trips. Through “Amble,” customers can manage trips online or through mobile apps available on Android and iPhone devices. GRTC Director of Information Systems Rob Taggart explains, “GRTC is committed to providing convenient technology solutions for our customers. Adding online and app reservations to the CARE system is a win-win for us and the customers. It gives CARE customers the flexibility to manage trips whenever they want without waiting on the call queue.” Amble is provided by technology partner Routematch. Riders who prefer to manage their trips via computer or mobile device can access scheduling features anytime. “We have heard an increasing
interest from our CARE riders in recent years to explore innovative technology and offer more ways to book, change or cancel trips. Although we will still provide the option for customers to speak with a CARE Customer Service Representative on the phone, we expect many of our customers will be pleased with the new ways to manage their trips,” says Chief of Transit Operations Tim Barham. In addition to riders, caretakers and family members can also use the app and website to request trips or monitor activity for their loved ones or patients. These digital tools also allow GRTC to reduce calls associated with reservations or cancellations, freeing Customer Service Representatives to more quickly focus on clients with additional needs over the phone.
GRTC Transit System’s CARE and CARE Plus services provide origin-todestination service under the guidelines of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for the citizens of the Richmond Region. CARE and CARE Plus provide public transportation access to individuals with disabilities who may not be reasonably able to use GRTC fixed route bus service.
Oct. 10, 2018 • 5
U.S. senators question the views of CFPB policy director
Explanation for Proposed Constitutional Amendment to Be Voted On at the November 6, 2018, Election PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT ARTICLE X. Taxation and Finance. Section 6-A. Property tax exemption for certain veterans and their surviving spouses and surviving spouses of soldiers killed in action. BALLOT QUESTION Shall the real property tax exemption for a primary residence that is currently provided to the surviving spouses of veterans who had a one hundred percent service-connected, permanent, and total disability be amended to allow the surviving spouse to move to a different primary residence and still claim the exemption? EXPLANATION Present Law The Constitution of Virginia currently requires the General Assembly to exempt from taxation the principal place of residence of any veteran who has been determined by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to have a 100 percent service-connected, permanent, and total disability. This tax exemption is also provided to the surviving spouse of such a veteran, so long as the surviving spouse continues to occupy that property as the surviving spouse’s principal place of residence. Proposed Amendment The proposed amendment would allow the surviving spouse of any veteran who has been determined by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to have a 100 percent service-connected, permanent, and total disability to continue to claim the tax exemption currently provided, even if the surviving spouse moves to a new principal place of residence that is owned by the surviving spouse. A “yes” vote will allow these surviving spouses to move to a new principal place of residence that is owned by the surviving spouse and still claim the tax exemption. A “no” vote will not allow such surviving spouses to move and still claim the tax exemption. FULL TEXT OF AMENDMENT Amend Section 6-A of Article X of the Constitution of Virginia as follows:
Last week, the Washington Post uncovered a 2004 blog where Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Policy Director Eric Blankenstein, under an alias, posted bigoted writings on race, hate crimes, and women. In his current role as policy director at CFPB, Blankenstein is charged with enforcing consumer protection laws, including laws in place to prevent lending discrimination. CFPB leadership has failed to condemn Blankenstein’s writings, and failed to explain how someone with Blankenstein’s views came to be charged with fair lending responsibilities. Senate Democrats are demanding CFPB leadership to explain how Blankenstein was chosen to oversee supervision, enforcement, and fair lending issues given his past racist writings. “Mr. Blankenstein was not hired through the competitive service process like most CFPB employees; he is one of your hand-selected political appointees. Further, you have specifically tasked him with overseeing the CFPB’s fair lending supervision and enforcement work at a time when you have decided to restructure the Office of Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity,” the Senators wrote. “It is unclear whether his appointment is due to a failure to investigate Mr. Blankenstein’s background prior to his appointment, Mr. Blankenstein withholding information from you and the CFPB, or an informed decision on your part to ignore his public comments.” U.S. senators penning the letter include Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), among others.
ARTICLE X TAXATION AND FINANCE Section 6-A. Property tax exemption for certain veterans and their surviving spouses and surviving spouses of soldiers killed in action. (a) Notwithstanding the provisions of Section 6, the General Assembly by general law, and within the restrictions and conditions prescribed therein, shall exempt from taxation the real property, including the joint real property of husband and wife, of any veteran who has been determined by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs or its successor agency pursuant to federal law to have a one hundred percent service-connected, permanent, and total disability, and who occupies the real property as his or her principal place of residence. The General Assembly shall also provide this exemption from taxation for real property owned by the surviving spouse of a veteran who was eligible for the exemption provided in this subdivision, so long as the surviving spouse does not remarry. This exemption applies to the surviving spouse’s principal place of residence without any restriction on the spouse’s moving to a different principal place of residence. (b) Notwithstanding the provisions of Section 6, the General Assembly by general law, and within the restrictions and conditions prescribed therein, may exempt from taxation the real property of the surviving spouse of any member of the armed forces of the United States who was killed in action as determined by the United States Department of Defense, who occupies the real property as his or her principal place of residence. The exemption under this subdivision shall cease if the surviving spouse remarries and shall not be claimed thereafter. This exemption applies regardless of whether the spouse was killed in action prior to the effective date of this subdivision, but the exemption shall not be applicable for any period of time prior to the effective date. This exemption applies to the surviving spouse’s principal place of residence without any restriction on the spouse’s moving to a different principal place of residence and without any requirement that the spouse reside in the Commonwealth at the time of death of the member of the armed forces.
6 • Oct. 10, 2018
Op/Ed & Letters
Assault weapons ban SEN MARK. R. WARNER I keep coming back to April 17, 2013. That was the day I voted for legislation that would finally require a criminal-background check for all firearm purchases. It was also the day I voted against legislation banning military-style assault weapons. While I was far from the deciding vote, I have nevertheless wrestled with that “no” vote ever since. At the time, the Senate was voting on several gun-violence-prevention proposals, trying to find a bill that could get 60 votes. To me, it was clear that strengthening the backgroundcheck system would be the single most effective way to begin to stem the tide of gun violence in the United States. However, every proposal the Senate voted on that day fell short. Congress, in what has become a sad pattern of dysfunction, failed to act. In the years since the Senate last had a meaningful debate about gun-violence legislation, we’ve seen assault rifles and high-capacity magazines repeatedly used in mass shootings, with ever-higher body counts: Forty-nine murdered at the
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Pulse nightclub in Orlando. Fifty-eight killed and 422 wounded by gunfire in Las Vegas, one year ago. We’ve seen the gun lobby close its eyes to the fact that assault rifles were the weapon of choice for the mass shooters at Parkland, Fla., and Sandy Hook Elementary School — and to the reality that these weapons can kill with an efficiency that shotguns and handguns, like the ones I own, simply cannot
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match. Though I remain convinced that strengthening our backgroundcheck system is critical, I also believe we must do more to end mass shootings. So today I am signing on as a sponsor of the assault weapons ban. I do this as a gun owner and a proud supporter of the Second Amendment. Before coming to the Senate, I served as governor of Virginia, a state with a long tradition of gun ownership. During my time in office, I signed into law a number of reasonable bipartisan bills solidifying the rights of law-abiding gun owners to purchase and carry firearms for sport and selfdefense. At the time, the National Rifle Association described me as a “valuable ally for gun owners and sportsmen.” While the NRA may have moved toward the extreme in the years since, I still believe in the Second Amendment. But like other parts of our Constitution, the Second Amendment isn’t absolute. For example, the law has long held that certain guns such as fully automatic rifles and accessories such
as suppressors fall into a class of weapons requiring stricter oversight and regulation than your everyday hunting rifle. Unfortunately, these shades of gray needed for good policymaking have given way to the black and white of polarized political warfare that’s increasingly fueled by special-interest money. Still, I’m hopeful we can break this stalemate, disarming would-be mass shooters while still respecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners. Restricting the sale of assault weapons is one such starting point. No doubt, there will need to be revisions and compromises before this bill becomes law. But let’s also recognize that the features and tactical accessories that define assault weapons under this legislation were designed for a specific purpose — to give soldiers an advantage over the enemy, not to mow down students in school hallways. We should acknowledge that while some will object to reasonable magazinesize limits, they would also force an active shooter to reload more often,
(continued on page 7)
Oct. 10, 2018 • 7
P.T. Hoffsteader, Esq.
about sexual assault or harassment from other women just because it is ideologically inconvenient. While I expect, but don’t excuse, that cognitive dissonance from men in positions of power, I expect better from women. For some senators to earnestly assert their “sympathy” that Dr. Ford was assaulted, but
No matter what?
I am compelled to express my disgust at the determination of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the White House to ramrod through a Supreme Court (SCOTUS) nomination no matter what. While Brett Kavanaugh might meet some standards for a Justice, as far as his legal training and experience, there are other factors which weigh heavily with this nomination. I am well aware that “elections have consequences,” so whomever the president is when a SCOTUS vacancy occurs has earned the right, by virtue of the votes of his/ her fellow citizens, to nominate a person to fill the vacancy (unless you are President Barack Obama in the winter of 2016). There are so many things that are being done out of order now that undermine any façade of comity or cooperation, that we find ourselves in a constant state of toxic politics. I am concerned that our democracy is being sacrificed on the altar of political expediency and ideological purity. I am especially troubled that some women would dismiss, out-of-hand, a complaint
(from page 6) buying law enforcement and potential shooting victims valuable seconds that could prove lifesaving. And let’s agree that modifications such as binary triggers and bump stocks, which skirt the law to effectively turn semiautomatic rifles into fully automatic weapons, should never have been on the streets in the first place. These are the core ideas behind the assault weapons ban. Some may worry that the technical challenges of defining an assault weapon may result in a law that’s either toothless or overly restrictive of gun rights. Frankly, I share those concerns, but it’s time to stop talking about the problem and do something about it. I do this as a gun owner and a proud supporter of the Second Amendment. Before coming to the Senate, I served as governor of Virginia, a state with a long tradition of gun ownership. During my time in office, I signed into law a number of reasonable bipartisan bills solidifying the rights of law-abiding gun owners to purchase and carry firearms for sport and self-
to also claim that she has misremembered who assaulted her is insulting and laughable. This is not about ideology nor the usual bloviations about “right” and “left.” This is fundamentally about human decency and respecting the claims of women about the abuses they have faced, whether there were
eye witnesses to it or not (such as with the accusers of jailed comedian Bill Cosby. I’m just sayin’...) One has to wonder what the daughters and granddaughters of some U.S. senators think about their father/ grandfather’s politically dismissive attitudes toward sexual assault. Rev. Stephen Tillett
defense. At the time, the National Rifle Association described me as a “valuable ally for gun owners and sportsmen.” While the NRA may have moved toward the extreme in the years since, I still believe in the Second Amendment. But like other parts of our Constitution, the Second Amendment isn’t absolute. For example, the law has long held that certain guns such as fully automatic rifles and accessories such as suppressors fall into a class of weapons requiring stricter oversight and regulation than your everyday hunting rifle. Unfortunately, these shades of gray needed for good policymaking have given way to the black and white of polarized political warfare that’s increasingly fueled by special-interest money. Still, I’m hopeful we can break this stalemate, disarming would-be mass shooters while still respecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners. Restricting the sale of assault weapons is one such starting point. No doubt, there will need to be revisions and compromises before this bill
becomes law. But let’s also recognize that the features and tactical accessories that define assault weapons under this legislation were designed for a specific purpose — to give soldiers an advantage over the enemy, not to mow down students in school hallways. We should acknowledge that while some will object to reasonable magazinesize limits, they would also force an active shooter to reload more often, buying law enforcement and potential shooting victims valuable seconds that could prove lifesaving. And let’s agree that modifications such as binary triggers and bump stocks, which skirt the law to effectively turn semiautomatic rifles into fully automatic weapons, should never have been on the streets in the first place. These are the core ideas behind the assault weapons ban. Some may worry that the technical challenges of defining an assault weapon may result in a law that’s either toothless or overly restrictive of gun rights. Frankly, I share those concerns, but it’s time to stop talking about the problem and do something about it.
8 • Oct. 10, 2018
Faith & Religion
Trump, surrounded by evangelical leaders, holds up an executive order that he signed during a National Day of Prayer event at the White House in May.
Patrick Carolan, leader of a Franciscan network active on environmental issues, used to meet fairly regularly with Obama administration staffers. Since President Trump took office, he met with then-Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt. But he’s never been invited to the White House. “We haven’t been invited to any meetings there or to any other agency,” said Carolan, executive director of the Franciscan Action Network, who noted his staffers also had regular meetings in the Bush administration. Though the White House is always a busy place with limited invitation lists, the two previous administrations made concerted efforts to connect with a wide array of faith groups that may not have agreed with most of their political positions but nevertheless could meet together, at least on occasion, for what the Obama administration called “partnerships for the common good.” Now, it appears the Trump administration is taking a different approach — giving selective access to the White House to some faith groups while having cabinet-level offices meet with others. Some groups say they have been left out. Conservative Christians have been the most visible religious visitors to the White House. Notably, they were guests at a dinner just for them in the State Dining Room in August. Days later, Americans United for Separation of Church and State requested that such White House gatherings of evangelicals come to a halt. When asked about AU’s assertion that continuing meetings with that
select stripe of American religiosity violated federal law, the White House said: “The Administration continues to engage hundreds of faith leaders on various issues that directly impact their communities.” But Carolan said he and numerous other religion-related advocacy groups in the nation’s capital are not in that number. “We’re not,” he said. “We work with a wide variety of faith organizations on a variety of issues and I don’t know a single organization that is in contact on a regular basis with the Trump administration or on any basis with the Trump administration.” The White House, which has yet to appoint an adviser to its Faith and Opportunity Initiativeannounced in May, did not immediately respond to requests for additional information about its connections with faith groups. But the Justice Department and State Department provided some details of their religious outreach. More than a year ago, the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund called interaction with the White House at a “very limited level to practically nonexistent.” More recently, said communications director Gujari Singh, there have been meetings with offices of the Departments of Education, Justice and Homeland Security. The American Sikh Council, with dozens of gurdwaras representing 100,000 families, says it has received no invitations. “No one from the White House has ever communicated with us since the new president came in,” said Kavneet Singh, the council’s chief resource and advocacy officer. “We have attempted to contact the Trump administration but to no avail.”
Oct. 10, 2018 • 9
New president elected to the national MFCU Randy Clouse, director of the Virginia Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU), has been elected president of the National Association of Medicaid Fraud Control Units (NAMFCU). Randy has been the director of Virginia’s MFCU for nearly 20 years and under his leadership the unit has grown from 12 to 102 members and recovered over $2 billion in court ordered restitution fines and penalties for the Virginia Medicaid program. “The outstanding results are the direct reflection of the great work of the employees of the MFCU and outstanding relationships we have with our federal counterparts, the United States Attorneys Offices for the Western and Eastern Districts, the FBI, IRS, DEA, FDA and HHS-OIG and the Department of Medical Assistance Services,” said Clouse. Clouse has been a member of the National Association of Medicaid Fraud Control Unit’s Executive Committee for five years and served as vice president for the
last year. He will be the first nonattorney to be president in the 40-year history of the National Association of Medicaid Fraud Control Units. As president of NAMFCU, Clouse will continue to work
closely with the National Association of Attorney’s General and the NAMFCU Executive Committee to continue their outstanding work overseeing the Association’s training programs and multi-state cases involving health care fraud, the illegal prescribing of opioids and elder abuse and corporate neglect issues. The Virginia MFCU of the Office of the Attorney General was certified in 1982, by the United States Department of Health and Human Services. The Unit is one of 50 units throughout the United States with the same mission. From the MFCU inception in 1982 through 1999, the Virginia MFCU recovered over $10 million in court ordered restitution, fines and penalties. From 1999 through present, under Randy Clouse’s leadership, the Virginia MFCU has recovered over $2 billion in
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court ordered restitution, fines and penalties. The MFCU employs a professional staff of criminal investigators, auditors, attorneys and support staff who work together to develop investigations and prosecute cases. The Virginia MFCU works regularly with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to combat fraud, protect our most vulnerable citizens and to save taxpayer dollars. In 2008, the Virginia Medicaid Fraud Control Unit received the State Fraud Award from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General for achieving the highest amount of monetary recoveries in the history of all state Medicaid fraud control units in fiscal year 2007 with over $500 million in recoveries.
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10 • Oct. 10, 2018
Suge Knight agrees to 28-year prison sentence Former rap mogul Marion “Suge” Knight is expected to be sentenced Thursday to nearly three decades in prison at a Los Angeles court hearing that comes nearly four years after he killed one man and injured another with his truck outside a Compton burger stand. The 53-year-old Death Row Records co-founder struck a surprise plea deal with prosecutors late last month, just a few days before he was to have stood trial for murder and attempted murder. Knight instead pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter and agreed to a prison sentence of 28 years. The sentence represents the low point of a long decline for Knight, one of the most important figures
in the history of hip-hop. At his pinnacle in the mid-1990s, he was putting out wildly popular records that are now considered classics from Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and Tupac Shakur. Knight was at the center of the feud between East Coast and West Coast rappers that marked the middle of that decade. Shakur was in Knight’s car when he was killed in a drive-by attack in Las Vegas in 1996. Knight had felony convictions for armed robbery and assault. He lost control of Death Row after it was forced into bankruptcy. In January 2015, he got into a fight with a longtime rival, Cle “Bone” Sloan, a consultant on the N.W.A. biopic “Straight Outta Compton”.
In a moment captured on surveillance video, Knight backed his truck into Sloan, who was injured, then drove it forward into businessman Terry Carter, who died from his injuries. Knight’s attorneys have said it was an act of self-defense.
Voluntary manslaughter would normally bring a sentence of 11 years in prison, but Knight’s conviction along with his previous felonies triggers California’s three strikes law. That doubles the manslaughter sentence and adds an extra six years.
VCU GREAT to provide students from underrepresented backgrounds with research training, opportunities A newly established program at Virginia Commonwealth University will provide undergraduate students from underrepresented backgrounds with the opportunity to gain research skills training, work in campus research labs and receive mentorship from VCU faculty researchers. The program, VCU Guided Research Experiences & Applied Training, or VCU GREAT, is funded by a recently awarded $486,000 grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism that has a goal of not only training young researchers but also to diversify the pipeline of scientists working in the fields of substance use and genetics research. “We know there is a lack of diversity among scientists engaged in biomedical and behavioral research,” said Danielle M. Dick, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Psychology in the College of
Humanities and Sciences and the Department of Human and Molecular Genetics in the School of Medicine. “This grant focuses on introducing students from a diversity of backgrounds to the research process, with the longterm goal of creating a more diverse scientific workforce.” The program grew out of Spit for Science, an ongoing universitywide project at VCU that creates unique, cross-disciplinary opportunities for students to work with leading researchers in substance use and emotional health, along with other research opportunities offered through the College Behavioral and Emotional Health Institute, in partnership with the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program. As part of VCU GREAT, roughly 10 students each summer will participate in an eight-week research experience — consisting of structured training and individual
mentorship — designed to provide young researchers with foundational research skills, experiential learning and responsible conduct of research training. “We want to use Spit for Science as a means to engage undergraduates in the importance of research,” said Dick, director of Spit for Science and the College Behavioral and Emotional Health Institute, or COBE. “And to that end, with VCU being such a diverse university, another real opportunity that we have here is to increase representation of historically underrepresented groups in the sciences.” Participants in VCU GREAT will spend one week with the Spit for Science research team in a summer “boot camp” followed by seven weeks of supervised research in the lab of a VCU Spit for Science faculty collaborator. “The idea is that over those
eight weeks the students will gain research skills and, with our help, propel themselves into other research experiences with the eventual goal of entering academia and increasing diversity,” said Amy Adkins, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology and director of undergraduate research at COBE. Applications to take part in VCU GREAT will open in December and run through early March. It is aimed at students from disadvantaged backgrounds, students with disabilities, and students who are of underrepresented ethnicities, including blacks or AfricanAmericans, Hispanics or Latinos, American Indians or Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders. Following the eight-week
(continued on page 12)
Oct. 10, 2018 • 11
Diversity in the media industry
The Multicultural Media Correspondents Association's Diversity in the Media Industry: State of the Union forum provided insight from top entertainment and media executives regarding diversity in their fields, but also offered viewpoints from the cast of “The Hate U Give”. Actors Regina Hall and Russell Hornsby stressed the importance of diversity behind the camera as well as in front of the camera. “We don’t have enough images that show how wonderful and colorful we are as human beings,” Hall said. Actor and hip hop activist Common emphasized that young people must be exposed to entertainment industry jobs other than those in front of the camera. “They can be casting directors, cameramen, technicians,” he said. “They need to know what the business is about so they can aspire to these other jobs. They need to know that they can get behind the camera, and then they can have a job for life. Our young people need to be exposed to these opportunities.”
“Sister Act” coming to RVA Virginia Repertory Theatre announces the opening of “Sister Act” on November 16, 2018 at the November Theatre/ Arenstein Stage, 114 West Broad Street. The show will run through Jan. 6, 2019. This uplifting musical comedy is based on the hit 1992 movie starring Whoopi Goldberg. Follow the fallen showgirl, Deloris Van Cartier, as she unexpectedly finds sisterhood and redemption when forced to take refuge in a convent. Virginia Rep is thrilled to welcome Felicia Curry back to the November Theatre. Audiences will remember Curry as Lorrell in 2016’s summer smash hit “Dreamgirls”, and Celie in “The Color Purple” in 2014.
Tina Turner on Broadway
Move over, Donna Summer, Carole King and Cher. There’s another diva heading to Broadway — Tina Turner. Producers of “Tina” said a new musical based on the life of the legendary artist will land on the Great White Way in the fall of 2019. Performances dates, casting and all further details will be announced in the coming months. “Tina” made its world premiere in London in April.
12 • Oct. 10, 2018
(from page 10) experience, participants will continue to have access to monthly professional and career development meetings, networking opportunities and mentorship. Herb Hill, director of undergraduate research opportunities in the Office of Academic Affairs, said the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program will contribute to VCU GREAT by expanding on what it already provides for all undergraduates who are interested in engaging with research experience at VCU: access and support for student/mentor collaboration. “With VCU GREAT, we have the opportunity to recruit and train undergraduates who are underrepresented in the behavioral sciences and assist them toward careers in science and research,” he said. “Along the way we will work to support them in disseminating their research via publications and conference presentations, identifying potential graduate programs, and generally building a network of support that the GREAT students can rely upon.” VCU GREAT is an extension of a previous Spit for Science research course taught by Adkins. It builds on the previous course by adding mentorship from researchers working with
VCU GREAT, grew out of Spit for Science, an ongoing research project at VCU. the Spit for Science registry, which includes de-identified genotypic data (DNA extracted from spit) and other health information (from questionnaires) voluntarily provided by VCU students. More than 12,300 VCU students have participated in the Spit for Science registry, with roughly 70 percent of incoming freshmen participating in years that data has been collected. “It all goes into a huge database that is being
used by researchers across the campus to understand risk and protective factors related to behavioral and emotional health and wellbeing,” Dick said. “And then the COBE Institute focuses on how can we translate that research to feedback and benefit our students and our broader university and community. So this grant is one piece of that mission that is specifically related to engaging undergraduates in research.” More than 75 faculty from 27 departments across VCU, along with more than 65 additional trainees — graduate or post-doctoral researchers — work with Spit for Science data. A number of these faculty members will serve as mentors through VCU GREAT. More than 250 undergraduates have participated in research opportunities associated with Spit for Science. “We have tremendous faculty expertise at VCU in behavioral and emotional health — everything from faculty who work on genetics and substance use, like our group, to faculty who work on mindfulness, sleep, depression and anxiety, parent-child relationships, romantic relationships, and how all of these factors ultimately influence college outcomes,” Dick said. “I could go on and on about the amazing work that is ongoing.”
Oct. 10, 2018 • 13
Hazing seen as possible factor in college student’s death
Tyler Hilliard, a 20-year old student of the University of California Riverside, died on Saturday after a hiking trip with other members of the local Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. Investigations are ongoing and authorities are looking at the possibility of hazing being the cause of his death. Hilliard, an aspiring engineer who was studying physics and would have been a junior at UCR this year, was excited to join the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, his family said. They said he did pledge at the fraternity and activities started in July. His mother, Myeasha Kimble said that Hilliard did his research about the fraternity. She noted that it “is one of the oldest Greek fraternities and it’s a black organization. Martin Luther King was a part of that organization.”
She added that his son “felt that this was a good fit for him because this organization appeared to be involved in community service.” The fraternity’s website states that Alpha Phi Alpha has a strict no-hazing stance and that anyone participating in hazing is a criminal. However, his family claims that Hilliard had been hazed a lot of times and was even allegedly “forced to eat items like an entire onion covered in hot sauce, forced to drink large amounts of water, and even paddled with a piece of cactus.” Just late last week, Hilliard was taken to the hospital due to difficulty in breathing even though he had no underlying medical problems, his family said. He was treated and eventually released. Following his release from the
hospital, Hilliard went to Mount Rubidoux with other pledges of the fraternity for a supposed “day run.” His family wasn’t aware what happened next until paramedics were called again when he allegedly started having trouble breathing. He was rushed to the hospital where he was later pronounced dead. The autopsy results are still pending but police are “conducting an investigation as a suspicious death at this point,” Riverside Police spokesman Ryan Railsback said. “We are looking into concerns the family has about possible hazing.” UC Riverside has released a statement on his death: “The UC Riverside community grieves the loss of our student Tyler Hilliard. We’ve shared our condolences and offer of
support with Tyler’s family and have made counseling services available to students, faculty, or staff who knew him. UCR Student Affairs and UCPD are collaborating with the Riverside Police Department to determine the circumstances regarding Tyler’s passing.” Alpha Phi Alpha’s national office also released a statement on Hilliard. “The Fraternity shares our deepest condolences to his family, loved ones, and the entire university community, as their loss is unimaginable,” organization Executive Director Jamie R. Riley said. The national organization has placed the Riverside chapter on suspension pending the results of the investigation and is cooperating with the authorities.
14 • Oct. 10, 2018
Bill Pike is new Henrico School Board’s Tuckahoe District representative
Bill Pike (pictured left) stands with Micky Ogburn, School Board chair and Three Chopt District representative, Amy Cashwell, Henrico Schools' superintendent, Beverly Cocke, Brookland District representative, and Roscoe Cooper III, Fairfield District representative.
Bill Pike, a former administrator and teacher in Henrico Schools, was sworn in recently as the Tuckahoe District representative on the Henrico School Board. The Board, in a special work session, selected Pike to finish the term of veteran Tuckahoe representative Lisa Marshall, who resigned in August for health reasons. Pike was formerly principal at Lakeside Elementary School and assistant principal at Hermitage High School. He was also a teacher before becoming an administrator. Pike will serve on the board until a new Tuckahoe representative, elected in November 2019, assumes office in January 2020. “I’m honored to have this opportunity to serve,” Pike said. “I hope to be a quick learner, so that I can start working to support our students, their families, our employees and our community.” “We were impressed with Bill’s experience and his capacity for teamwork. He is a consensus builder with deep roots in Henrico County,” said Micky Ogburn,
School Board chair and Three Chopt District representative. “His experience as a principal will give a different dimension to the Board. We are confident that he will represent the citizens of the Tuckahoe District in an attentive and energetic way, and we look forward to having him on the Board and getting down to work. Marshall’s resignation became effective Aug. 22 and the Board publicized a call for applicants, with a deadline of Aug 30. Eleven people applied for the position. After interviewing selected applicants Sept. 6, the Board settled on three finalists. Henrico citizens offered their input on the finalists at a Sept. 20 public hearing. Pike was sworn in at Henrico Circuit Court by Judge Richard S. Wallerstein Jr., as his son, School Board members and HCPS staff members looked on. His first Board meeting as Tuckahoe District representative will be at an Oct. 11 work session at New Bridge Learning Center auditorium.
Rep. McEachin hosts environment and infrastructure roundtable discussion
Congressman A. Donald McEachin and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi had an in-depth conversation about how lawmakers at every level can continue to make investments in and prioritize green infrastructure. “We must prioritize the importance – and the impact – of making climatesmart investments in our nation’s aging infrastructure. Updating our infrastructure – repairing Hazing Seen as Possible Factor in Black College Student’s Death failing roads, bridges, and water systems, modernizing our buildings and electric grid, and pivoting to clean energy sources like solar and wind – will make communities safer and healthier,” said McEachin. Pelosi said it was a privilege to join McEachin and local leaders to brainstorm on how to put the country on the path to stronger infrastructure
and a sustainable future. “Democrats are committed to protecting our children’s clean air and clean water today, while also unleashing a clean energy revolution that rebuilds our infrastructure, creates jobs and drives growth tomorrow,” Pelosi said. The roundtable discussion focused on how the Commonwealth of Virginia can serve as a national leader for making smart investments in local infrastructure needs that will protect our environment and create goodpaying green-collar jobs. In addition to McEachin and Pelosi, Natural Resources Secretary Strickler, Virginia state legislators, Mayor of Petersburg, and representatives from environmental organizations and labor unions contributed to the roundtable conversation.
Oct. 10, 2018 • 15
Surgical residents: Black, female and physicians
Drs. Quiana Kern, left and Avianne Bunnell For one resident, being a surgeon is an opportunity to ‘fix’ people. For another, it’s a chance to develop long-term relationships with patients and nudge them onto healthier paths. And for a third, it’s helping people reconstruct their appearances after cancer. All three are young, smart and ambitious — that’s a given for any Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) surgical resident who’s bested dozens, if not hundreds, of other applicants to win a spot in one of the integrated programs that accept one intern each year. They’re also all black women, which makes them part of an even more select group. AfricanAmericans represent between 2 and 10.2 percent of surgical residents, depending on the specialty, according to a January 2017 article in the Journal of Surgical Education. At MUSC, medical doctors Avianne Bunnell, Kiandra Scott and Quiana Kern comprise more than 20 percent of the 2017-18 class in the three integrated surgery programs: vascular, plastic and cardiothoracic.
Integrated surgery programs are five- to six-year programs that take residents directly from medical school, unlike traditional programs that require doctors to complete a five-year general surgery residency before training in a specialty. They’re each the first black doctor accepted into their respective programs, two of which are relatively new. Scott is the first resident ever in the plastic surgery integrated program and Bunnell is only the third resident in the vascular integrated program. Diversity is important to MUSC, which has made “Embrace Diversity and Inclusion” one of the five pillars of its Imagine MUSC 2020 strategic plan. Research has shown that diversity in the health care workforce improves access to care and leads to better patient outcomes, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. It’s also crucial in biomedical research, because researchers ask different questions depending on their own backgrounds and experiences, according to the association.
Inclusion goes beyond diversity. In “The Transformation of Academic Health Centers: Meeting the Challenges of Healthcare’s Changing Landscape,” the authors compare diversity and inclusion to hosting a party. “It is one thing to invite people to the party, open the door, and then have them find their own way; it is quite another to be greeted warmly, welcomed inside, and shown around. Inclusion in health care workforce development means that the host institution is equipped to affirm the new student immediately as someone who belongs,” the authors say. That feeling of immediately belonging was one thing that attracted Kern to MUSC. As a visiting medical student at another university, she felt invisible, she said. Though she was offered an interview there for residency, and it would have been convenient to remain in state, she felt she wouldn’t be happy somewhere that didn’t value her. Her interview experience was completely different at MUSC. When she interviewed, the faculty knew her background and knew who she was; further, they were interested in getting to know her husband, too. That’s not to say there isn’t work still to be done at MUSC. The three doctors have had a mix of experiences, and they all point to a lack of diversity among physicians at the attending level that they feel the institution must address to further improve the quality of care. Michael de Arellano, Ph.D., College of Medicine senior associate dean for diversity, said MUSC is committed to being representative of the community it serves and creating an inclusive, culturally competent organization. The university looks at diversity broadly, considering not just ethnicity but also gender, sexual orientation, religion and more, he
said. The College of Medicine is proud of its success in enrolling and graduating students who are underrepresented in medicine, meaning of black, Native American or Hispanic heritage. It’s in the top 10 of U.S. medical schools, outside of historically black colleges, to enroll African-American students. Even more important, de Arellano said, it ranks at the 97th percentile for graduating African-American medical students. Though it’s above the national average for its percentage of underrepresented students and residents, the college is slightly below the national average when it comes to faculty who are considered underrepresented minorities — 6.5 percent compared to the national average of 7 percent. “I’ve been told by many students that they never pictured themselves in that role,” referring to becoming faculty members at an academic medical center, he said. De Arellano said 19 percent of College of Medicine students are from underrepresented groups. That figure jumps to 22 percent for the students starting medical school this fall. The percentages of residents considered underrepresented has also improved, from 9 percent just five years ago to 14 percent now. Department chairs are supportive of the idea of “growing your own,” de Arellano said, so the expectation is that the percentages at the attending level will begin to move as well. Bunnell points out that some patients have been around 60 or 70 years and have never seen a doctor who looks like them. “There’s a sense of honor and trust that becomes part of that. You’re forced to also be very responsible with your decisions, because there’s a lot more eyes on you than you think,” she said.
16 • Oct. 10, 2018
COMMUNITY ACTIVITIES & EVENTS
10.11, 9 a.m. Are you concerned about your child’s development? Petersburg City Public Schools will hold a free Child Find event to locate children who would benefit from special education services.The event is open to children from birth to age 21 and will end at noon. It will be held at Westview Early Childhood Education Center, 1100 Patterson St. Child Find is open to all Petersburg children. For more information, call Petersburg City Public Schools at 804-861-4563.
10.11, 7 p.m.
The Henrico County Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the draft Route 5 Corridor Study. The study is evaluating the character of the Route 5 area and recommending guidelines for use in future review of development proposals, while integrating and respecting the existing agricultural, residential and commercial development along the corridor. The public hearing will be held in the auditorium of the New Bridge Learning Center, 5915 Nine Mile Rd. The location, near Route 5 in eastern Henrico, is intended to promote public participation in and discussion of the study. The Planning Commission will open the public hearing on the Route 5 Corridor Study immediately following its consideration of rezoning and provisional use permit cases on the agenda. For more information, contact Rosemary Deemer at 804-5014488 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The Route 5 Corridor Study is available at henrico.us/projects/route-5corridor-marion-hill-study.
10.13, 5 p.m.
The Walton Gallery, located in historic Olde Towne Petersburg, will present “Ladies First”, a group show featuring an eclectic mix of women artists. The show and sale will be on view from through Saturday, Nov. 18 at 17 N. Sycamore Street in Olde Towne. An opening night reception will be held on Oct. 13 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. The event is free and open to the public
Sex Offender Helpline
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The helpline provides support to communities on issues related to accessing sex offender registration information; responsible use of information; sexual abuse prevention resources; and accessing crime victim support services. The tips program provides the public an opportunity to report registrants who are failing to comply with registration requirements. Tips can also be provided at www.parentsformeganslaw.org. This program is not intended to be used to report police emergencies.
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CITY OF HAMPTON Thursday, November 1, 2018 2:00 p.m. ET – ITB 19-24/TM Re-Roof at Northampton Community Center 1435 Todds Lane, Hampton, Virginia 23666. Mandatory Pre-bid Meeting October 16, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. at Northampton Community Center HAMPTON CITY SCHOOLS Tuesday, November 6, 2018 2:00 p.m. EST-ITB 19-190556/EA Greenhouse Foundation; mandatory pre-bid meeting on Thursday, October 18, 2018 at 10:00 AM, Phoebus High School, 100 Ireland Street, Hampton, VA 23663 Tuesday, November 13, 2018 2:00 p.m. EST-ITB 19-190587/EA Downtown Hampton Child Development Center Roof Replacement; mandatory pre-bid meeting on Tuesday, October 23, 2018 at 10:00 AM, 1306 Thomas Street, Hampton, VA 23669
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A withdrawal of bid due to error shall be in accordance with Section 2.24330 of the Code of Virginia. All forms relating to these solicitations may be obtained from the above listed address or for further information call; (757) 727-2200. The right is reserved to reject any and all responses, to make awards in whole or in part, and to waive any informality in submittals.
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