EGACY Yesterday. Today. Tomorrow.
WEDNESDAYS • July 19, 2017
Maggie Walker Statue dedicated
Richmond, on July 15, celebrated a woman who inspired a community and a nation: Maggie Lena Walker. Local leaders and citizens helped dedicate the brand new Maggie Walker Statue and Plaza at Broad and Adams. Read about her contributions to Jackson Ward, Richmond, Virginia and the nation at legacynewspaper.com.
Richmond & Hampton Roads
LEGACYNEWSPAPER.COM • FREE
Businessman fights for Essex Village Apt. residents STAFF
When a pregnant woman fell through a balcony at the Essex Village Apartments in Henrico County in May, several people, including Congressman Donald McEachin (D-4th District), said it is time to shut down the federalsubsidized complex and move most of the low-income residents into other housing using vouchers. Others, including local businessman and community development consultant, Earl Bradley, believes there are other ways to address the constant violations, beginning with empowering residents to know their rights. Investigation has found close to 150 violations at the complex in just the last nine months. These violations include loose hand and guardrails, raw sewage on complex grounds, broken windows, broken lighting, roch and rat infestations, leaky ceilings and non-working smoke detectors. Meanwhile, Henrico County is asking the county’s courts to compel the complex’s management company, PK Management, to come up with an “aggressive plan to rehabilitate the property”. In 2016, HUD paid PK Management and its parent company, GHC Housing, more than $150 million to subsidize residents’ rent of residents at several low-income housing complexes across Virginia and the country, according to information uncovered by McEachin’s office. The company received more than $7 million to subsidize housing in the Richmond area. Bradley, a Henrico County resident, is a consultant at Bradley Development, LLC and has recently corresponded with Henrico County Public Safety Deputy Manager Colonel Douglas A. Middleton.
Raw sewage and unsafe balconies are among documented problems. In a recent missive, Middleton said that while the county inspects the complex when residents complain and is actively working to ensure the facilities are up to the standards county code calls for, “anything the residents can do to bring about a change is a good thing”. Middleton noted that the agency with the most ability to effect change is the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). “HUD has indicated to me, in more than one conversation, that they are requiring PK Management to establish a resident group that
meets regularly with management to voice concerns and bring about change,” noted Middleton. “This is not something the County can accomplish. Unfortunately, legally and contractually it rests solely with HUD and they have the authority to require PK Management to create this resident group. As a local government, we cannot assume responsibilities that are contractually required by HUD to a private management company. The County has no property rights within the complex, nor do we have any financial interests in the property.
“What we do have is a genuine concern for the unacceptable living conditions and the quality of life of the citizens who reside there.” Earlier this year, the 496-unit, 35-year-old complex received its first failing inspection grade from HUD. The president of PK Management, Jenee McClain-Bankhead, who ealier said the managemnt company’s leaders were embarassed by the problems its residents are facing, also said that the senior manager who oversaw Essex Village, Woodland Crossing, and Hope Village is no longer with the company. The company said they are addressing deferred maintenance and meeting with residents who have concerns or repair requests. Middleton wrote to Bradley that the county has been focusing on every aspect of enforcement over which it has regulatory authority. “We are also actively engaged through our social services programs in provide opportunities for residents to seek services the County offers which will benefit their quality of life and provide enrichment opportunities that will help them,” he noted. “We hope this gets the attention of citizens like you who will communicate with their elected officials at the federal level to ensure they know the community is outraged, and who want HUD to do the right thing. “Since you have a company that offers a service that may be of assistance, I want to encourage you to communicate with your Senators and Congressman and offer your services. I can assure you that all of them have already heard from Henrico County and all of them are aware of the issues we are confronting there. We have briefed them on the fact that the County has limited authority, but HUD has significant ability to bring about change.”
2 • July 19, 2017
Virginia AG joins others in suing DeVos’ DOE STAFF & WIRE Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring last week joined a coalition of 19 states in suing the U.S. Department of Education and Secretary Betsy DeVos for “abandoning critical federal protections” for student borrowers and taxpayers that were set to go into effect recently, on July 1. The complaint alleges that the U.S. Department of Education violated federal law by abruptly rescinding its Borrower Defense Rule which was designed to provide relief for student borrowers and hold abusive higher education institutions accountable for cheating students and taxpayers out of billions of dollars in federal loans. The rule was finalized by the Obama administration in November 2016 after nearly two years of negotiations, following the collapse of Corinthian Colleges, a national forprofit chain. “The Borrower Defense Rule is a commonsense measure to keep predatory for-profit schools in check, and to provide relief when students take out loans under false pretenses,” said Herring. “It’s a critical protection for thousands of students that cannot and should not be unilaterally dismissed by the Trump administration. “More than one million Virginia student borrowers have a total of more than $30 billion in outstanding student loan balances and they should not be abandoned by the unlawful revocation of this important protection.” Under the Borrower Defense Rule, a successful enforcement action against a school by a state attorney general entitles student borrowers to obtain loan forgiveness and enables the U.S. Department of Education to seek repayment from the school of any amounts forgiven. The Rule also limits the ability of schools to require mandatory arbitration agreements
Niesha Wright, 40, completed an associate’s degree program at ITT Tech but soon discovered that the degree and the school’s credits were not respected or transferable. SUBMITTED PHOTO and class action waivers, which are commonly used by for-profit schools to avoid negative publicity and to thwart legal actions by students who have been harmed by schools' abusive conduct. Without the protections of the Borrower Defense Rule, many students who are harmed by the misconduct of for-profit schools are unable to seek a remedy in court. In May, DeVos announced that the department was “reevaluating” the Borrower Defense Rule. On June 14, the department announced its intent to delay large portions of the Borrower Defense Rule
without soliciting, receiving, or responding to any comment from any stakeholder or member of the public, and without engaging in a public deliberative process. The department simultaneously announced its intent to issue a new regulation to replace the Borrower Defense Rule. Niesha Wright, a Portland mother who completed an associate’s degree program at ITT Tech last summer, weeks before the for-profit giant began to crumble under increasing regulatory pressure from the Obamaera Department of Education, also filed a lawsuit against DeVos.
She didn’t leave the program as a proud graduate. The 40-year-old had more than $25,000 in federal student loans and few useful skills to show for her two years at ITT Tech, according to her attorney. Wright hoped to obtain relief, along with tens of thousands of other jilted ITT students, through a federal student loan forgiveness program geared toward students who experienced misleading or predatory treatment at the hands of largely for-profit colleges.
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July 19, 2017 • 3
Meet the woman reclaiming the Civil War narrative CHANDELIS R. DUSTER On a hot July morning, Christy Coleman recounts the tales of hundreds of slaves who worked at the Tredegar Iron Works, a foundry located along the James River and a national landmark where weapons of the Confederacy were made during the Civil War. As she describes the burning of Richmond, Coleman explains how the ironworks survived and represents a tangible part of American history. Contemplative, she looks around the 9-acre property. A natural born storyteller, she is animated as she details complexities of Civil War history that took place where she stands. “History is all around us, we are living in the midst of our history, the question is how do we choose to navigate it?” said Coleman, who became the president of the American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar in 2008. The museum has three locations: Historic Tredegar, the White House and Museum of Confederacy, and the Museum of the Confederacy in Appomattox. It is the first museum to offer the point of view of not only the Union and Confederacy, but also also that of the millions of enslaved persons, free and unfreed, that were involved in the war. While her work as a historian is rooted in the past, her job as CEO of the American Civil War Museum is to ensure the conversations surrounding the Civil War are moving forward. She prides herself as one of the few black women to head a Civil War museum. She said diversity in leadership roles like hers are crucial, especially when it comes to how stories throughout history are told. “Diversity simply means there are new questions that are being asked. That in and of itself is invaluable,” Coleman said. “You can’t say you’re being diverse if you have everybody that thinks the same thing regardless of what they look like. That’s not diversity, that’s just shading.” Since assuming this role, she has
Christy Coleman is president of the American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar in Richmond. It is the nation’s first museum to explore the story of the Civil War from three perspectives--Union, Confederate, and African American. PHOTO: Penelope Carrington Wallace/American Civil War Museum learned to navigate the challenges and preconceived notions that come when a black woman is in charge of the storytelling of a war where her ancestors had no rights — including claims that she was going to “bash the Confederacy.” “I said no. My job as a public historian is for you all to make those judgments for yourselves,” Coleman said. “My job is to lay out stories you may not have considered or heard before and provide an environment
where people can learn and explore. And that’s what I do and I do that fairly well.” Coleman has been intrigued by history since she was a child. Growing up in historic Williamsburg, home of the state’s capitol during the 1700s, she was surrounded with history. She got her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Hampton University where she focused on museum studies. Coleman started her career as
a college student at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation as a living history interpreter and worked her way up to become director of AfricanAmerican interpretations and presentations. It was in this role that she experienced the “highlight” of her career in 1994 when she orchestrated the reenactment of a slave auction. “It was time,” she said. “We’d been interpreting African American history for 20 something years at that point and we had been doing the programming where you go and hear the last moments of the families together before they are sold, but we never crossed that line.” The auction drew both national attention and widespread criticism when the Virginia chapter of the NAACP tried to stop it from happening. “I want to push the envelope so people can care….I not only want to make them care, but understand.” Over 2,000 people gathered to watch the sale of four slaves at a 1774 state auction reenactment where Coleman herself played the role of a slave who was to be sold. Looking back, Coleman says she has no regrets and although it was “one of the most gut wrenching things” she’s ever done in her career, it opened the door for more conversations about slavery at other museums. “After it was all said and done, people were weeping and glad that it happened. And it was a sea of change for museums,” she said. “The word was, ‘if Williamsburg can depict that, certainly we can talk about it at our sites and on our tours.’” Since then, Coleman has been on a mission to educate others about untold stories of African-Americans and keep their stories alive. In 1999, she left Williamsburg and headed to Detroit to become president and CEO of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, where she was instrumental in the creation of the 22,000 square foot exhibit “And Still We Rise.” The Civil War was not Coleman’s interest at first, but she was drawn
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4 • July 19, 2017
NOTICE TO THE PUBLIC OF AN APPLICATION BY VIRGINIA ELECTRIC AND POWER COMPANY, FOR REVISION OF RATE ADJUSTMENT CLAUSE: RIDER B, BIOMASS CONVERSIONS OF THE ALTAVISTA, HOPEWELL, AND SOUTHAMPTON POWER STATIONS CASE NO. PUR-2017-00070 • Virginia Electric and Power Company d/b/a Dominion Energy Virginia (“Dominion”) has applied for approval to revise its rate adjustment clause, Rider B. • Dominion requests a total revenue requirement of $42.182 million for its 2018 Rider B. • A Hearing Examiner appointed by the Commission will hear the case on January 23, 2018, at 10 a.m. • Further information about this case is available on the SCC website at: http://www.scc.virginia.gov/case. On June 1, 2017, Virginia Electric and Power Company d/b/a Dominion Energy Virginia (“Dominion” or “Company”), pursuant to § 56-585.1 A 6 of the Code of Virginia (“Code”), filed with the State Corporation Commission (“Commission”) an annual update of the Company’s rate adjustment clause, Rider B (“Application”). Through its Application, the Company seeks to recover costs associated with the major unit modifications of the Altavista, Hopewell, and Southampton Power Stations from coal burning generation facilities into renewable biomass generation facilities (collectively, “Biomass Conversion Projects” or “Conversions”). In 2012, the Commission approved Dominion’s proposed Conversions as major unit modifications pursuant to Code § 56-585.1 A 6 and also approved a rate adjustment clause, designated Rider B, for Dominion to recover costs associated with the Conversions. The Biomass Conversion Projects became operational as biomass units during 2013. In this proceeding, Dominion has asked the Commission to approve Rider B for the rate year beginning April 1, 2018, and ending March 31, 2019 (“2018 Rate Year”). The two components of the proposed total revenue requirement for the 2018 Rate Year are the Projected Cost Recovery Factor and the Actual Cost True-Up Factor. The Company is requesting a Projected Cost Recovery Factor revenue requirement of $9,308,000, $8,397,000, and $9,750,000 respectively, for the Altavista, Hopewell and Southampton Power Stations. The Company is requesting an Actual Cost True-Up Factor revenue requirement of $5,411,000, $4,326,000, and $4,989,000 respectively, for the Altavista, Hopewell, and Southampton Power Stations. Thus, the Company is requesting a total revenue requirement of $42,182,000 for the Rate Year beginning April 1, 2018. Dominion used a rate of return on common equity (“ROE”) of 12.5% for purposes of calculating the Projected Cost Recovery Factor in this case. This ROE comprises a general ROE of 10.5%, plus a 200 basis point enhanced return applicable to certain qualifying renewable powered generation facilities as described in § 56-585.1 A 6 of the Code and approved by the Commission for the first five years of the Biomass Conversion Projects’ service lives. For purposes of calculating the Actual Cost True-Up Factor, the Company used an ROE of 12% for the months of January 2016 through March 2016, which comprises the general ROE of 10% approved by the Commission in its Final Order in Case No. PUE-2013-00020, plus the 200 basis point enhanced return. The Company used an ROE of 11.6% for the months of April 2016 through December 2016, which comprises the general ROE of 9.6% approved by the Commission in its Final Order in Case No. PUE-2015-00058, plus the 200 basis point enhanced return. If the proposed Rider B for the 2018 Rate Year is approved, the impact on customer bills would depend on the customer’s rate schedule and usage. According to Dominion, implementation of its proposed Rider B on April 1, 2018, would increase the bill of a residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt hours per month by approximately $0.23. The Company indicates it has calculated the proposed Rider B rates in accordance with the same methodology as used for rates approved by the Commission in the most recent Rider B proceeding, Case No. PUE-2016-00059. Interested persons are encouraged to review the Application and supporting documents for the details of these and other proposals. TAKE NOTICE that the Commission may apportion revenues among customer classes and/or design rates in a manner differing from that shown in the Application and supporting documents and thus may adopt rates that differ from those appearing in the Company’s Application and supporting documents. The Commission entered an Order for Notice and Hearing that, among other things, scheduled a public hearing on January 23, 2018, at 10 a.m., in the Commission’s second floor courtroom located in the Tyler Building, 1300 East Main Street, Richmond, Virginia 23219, to receive testimony from members of the public and evidence related to the Application from the Company, any respondents, and the Commission’s Staff. Any person desiring to testify as a public witness at this hearing should appear fifteen (15) minutes prior to the starting time of the hearing and contact the Commission’s Bailiff. The public version of the Company’s Application, as well as the Commission’s Order for Notice and Hearing, are available for public inspection during regular business hours at each of the Company’s business offices in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Copies also may be obtained by submitting a written request to counsel for the Company, Lisa S. Booth, Esquire, Dominion Energy Services, Inc., 120 Tredegar Street, Richmond, Virginia 23219. If acceptable to the requesting party, the Company may provide the documents by electronic means. Copies of the public version of the Application and other documents filed in this case also are available for interested persons to review in the Commission’s Document Control Center located on the first floor of the Tyler Building, 1300 East Main Street, Richmond, Virginia 23219, between the hours of 8:15 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. Interested persons also may download unofficial copies from the Commission’s website: http://www.scc.virginia.gov/case. On or before January 16, 2018, any interested person wishing to comment on the Company’s Application shall file written comments on the Application with Joel H. Peck, Clerk, State Corporation Commission, c/o Document Control Center, P.O. Box 2118, Richmond, Virginia 23218-2118. Any interested person desiring to file comments electronically may do so on or before January 16, 2018, by following the instructions on the Commission’s website: http://www.scc.virginia.gov/case. Compact discs or any other form of electronic storage medium may not be filed with the comments. All such comments shall refer to Case No. PUR-2017-00070. On or before November 7, 2017, any person or entity wishing to participate as a respondent in this proceeding may do so by filing a notice of participation. If not filed electronically, an original and fifteen (15) copies of the notice of participation shall be submitted to the Clerk of the Commission at the address above. A copy of the notice of participation as a respondent also must be sent to counsel for the Company at the address set forth above. Pursuant to Rule 5 VAC 5-20-80 B, Participation as a respondent, of the Commission’s Rules of Practice and Procedure (“Rules of Practice”), any notice of participation shall set forth: (i) a precise statement of the interest of the respondent; (ii) a statement of the specific action sought to the extent then known; and (iii) the factual and legal basis for the action. All filings shall refer to Case No. PUR-2017-00070. For additional information about participation as a respondent, any person or entity should obtain a copy of the Commission’s Order for Notice and Hearing. On or before November 28, 2017, each respondent may file with the Clerk of the Commission, and serve on the Commission’s Staff, the Company, and all other respondents, any testimony and exhibits by which the respondent expects to establish its case, and each witness’s testimony shall include a summary not to exceed one page. If not filed electronically, an original and fifteen (15) copies of such testimony and exhibits shall be submitted to the Clerk of the Commission at the address above. Respondents also shall comply with the Commission’s Rules of Practice, including: 5 VAC 5-20-140, Filing and service; 5 VAC 5-20-150, Copies and format; and 5 VAC 5-20-240, Prepared testimony and exhibits. All filings shall refer to Case No. PUR-2017-00070. The Commission’s Rules of Practice may be viewed at http://www.scc.virginia.gov/case. A printed copy of the Commission’s Rules of Practice and an official copy of the Commission’s Order for Notice and Hearing in this proceeding may be obtained from the Clerk of the Commission at the address above. VIRGINIA ELECTRIC AND POWER COMPANY
July 19, 2017 • 5
Virginia author takes inspirational personal story to international conference on poverty Pamela M. Covington, author of “A Day at the Fare: One Woman’s Welfare Passage”, will present highlights of her welfare success story at RESULTS International Conference 2017, July 22-25 in Washington, D.C. Covington’s presentation will provide insight into the struggles of poverty, stress the importance of continuing efforts to reduce it, and emphasize the need to preserve and improve the nation’s social safety net. Covington. who is based in Hampton Roads, notes that a life lived in poverty or on welfare is neither sexy, star-studded nor cute. “People struggling to survive while in a constant state of lack face countless obstacles to fulfilling their basic human needs,” she noted in a recent post on her website, PamelaMCovington. com. “And as if that isn’t trying enough, recipients of safety net benefits such as food stamps, or SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) or cash assistance, TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families ) are frequently stigmatized by others. That so much animosity is stirred by anything having to do with government assistance is astounding.” Covington is among a variety of speakers presenting to hundreds of advocates attending the event. Others include Dr. Jim Yong Kim, President, World Bank Group, Dr.
Joia Mukherjee, Chief Medical Officer, Partners in Health, Sherrod Brown, United States Senator, and Michael Gerson, Columnist, Washington Post. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to speak to so many persons working to resolve the issues negatively affecting impoverished people,” Covington said. “While anyone can simply point out problems, it requires a certain dedication to engage in solving them. RESULTS’ far-reaching, solution-based activities are what attract me to the organization.” “A Day at the Fare: One Woman’s Welfare Passage” is Covington’s recently published memoir describing her plunge into and emergence from deep poverty, by way of education. The book demonstrates the importance of having an adequate safety net to aid low-income families, as well as depicts some of the pros and cons of the welfare system. Covington, (pictured), is a former welfare recipient and journalist. For over 30 years Covington worked in communications and training. Her articles have appeared in city lifestyle magazines, daily and weekly newspapers, and numerous company publications. Covington’s speaking topics include motivation, self-esteem, welfare independence, and literacy and education. She holds master’s degrees in management and human resource management, a bachelor’s in communications, and two associate degrees. Covington serves as both a poverty and literacy advocate. RESULTS is a movement of passionate, committed everyday people who use their voices to influence political decisions that will help alleviate poverty. It is headquartered in Washington, D.C.
Citizens can now file police reports without an officer An new app, NNPDOnline, allows Newport News citizens is a new software program that allows citizens to report minor, non-violent crimes on their own time without the presence of a police officer. This webbased solution is accessible through any internet-enabled computer. All reports filed via NNPDOnline are reviewed by police personnel and, once approved, the person filing the report receives an email with a copy of it attached. NNPD online_SCThe
report then transfers into the Newport News Police Department’s records management system and receives the same investigation as if the report had been filed by a police officer. In order to file a report on NNPDOnline, there can be no injuries, no evidence to collect at the scene of the crime, the incident cannot occur on a state highway and the incident must occur within Newport News city limits. For
example, if a citizen awakes in the morning to discover that someone broke into their car and found items missing, they can file the report online via NNPDOnline. Once police personnel have reviewed the submission online and approved it for NNPDOnline, the citizen will receive an email with a report number – often required for an insurance
claim. Citizens can file NNPDOnline reports for identity theft, threats, lost or found property, vandalism, harassment and other incidents. A complete list of reportable crimes is available online. Visit nnva. gov/NNPDOnline to find more information as well as detailed instructions for filing a report.
6 • July 19, 2017
Op/Ed & Letters
Are you better off with 45? The man who currently occupies the Oval Office (I call him 45, but y ’all know his name, and we don’t call it because we do not believe in feeding bloated egos), promised to “Make America Great Again”. He said that he would create jobs, generate economic growth, and create a new and better health care environment than the one we got from the Affordable Care Act. Instead, he has found himself stuck in the muddy quicksand of wanting to repeal, but not replace, the legislation that provided health insurance for more than 20 million people. When he was a candidate, 45 claimed that unemployment data was false and manipulated. As President, he has touted the unemployment rate improvement as evidence that he is doing a good job. But the most recent report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that the employment situation is steady, but not especially good. While the unemployment rate is lower, by 0.4 percent, than it was when 45 took office, little else has changed. The black unemployment rate, at 7.1 percent, is, as always, nearly double the white rate (3.8 percent), and the number of people who have been unemployed for more than half a year has not changed much. The labor force participation rate (the people who are working or looking for work) is just below 63 percent, as it has been most of the year. The employment-population ratio, or the percentage of people holding jobs, is also steady, at 60.1 percent. The Bureau of labor Statistics report repetitively describes indicators as The LEGACY NEWSPAPER Vol. 3 No. 29 Mailing Address 409 E. Main Street 4 Office Address 105 1/2 E. Clay St. Richmond, VA 23219 Call 804-644-1550 Online www.legacynewspaper.com
“changed little”, which means that few are better off than they were when 45 took office. The low unemployment rate is deceptive. In a vibrant economy, more people would be entering the labor force, with the understanding that if hard times are over, good jobs are now available. Although some new college graduates have entered a vibrant market with high demand for their services, many others have not seen their prospects improve. Indeed, African American college graduates face unemployment rates that are far higher than their white counterparts. According to the Economic Policy Institute (in full disclosure, I am a member of that board), young black college graduates have an unemployment rate of 8.0 percent. College graduates remain worse off than their counterparts who graduated in 2000 and 2007, the The LEGACY welcomes all signed letters and all respectful opinions. Letter writers and columnists opinions are their own and endorsements of their views by The LEGACY should be inferred. The LEGACY assumes no responsibility for unsolicited material. Annual Subscription Rates Virginia - $50 U.S. states - $75 Outside U.S.- $100 The Virginia Legacy © 2016
year before the Great Recession. Low labor force participation rates, then, tell a story. It is challenging to look for work when you have limited resources. Some recent graduates, and others, will not fully participate in the labor market because they don’t have the wherewithal. Others will work, but have no choice but to accept underemployment – with the marketing major now working in retail or in a fast-food restaurant because that is the only job she can get. And the number of people who work “part time for economic reasons”, or “involuntarily part time”, at 5.3 million, is again, “little changed”. How many young people who did the right thing, checked off all the boxes, took the STEM classes, and graduated with thousands of dollars’ worth of debt because they invested in themselves, now find themselves underemployed? So Bobby Womack had this song, “If You Think You’re Lonely Now”. I think about it when I recall some of my commentary on the Obama presidency, especially in my book, “Are We Better Off: Race, Obama and Public Policy”. No, the majority of black folk were not materially better off in the Obama years. But if we think we were hurting then, wait until the Trump years evolve (sing along). None of the promises that 45 offered to “help” the people have resulted in positive change. If you think Obamacare hurt, think about what Trumpcare will do! If
you think the economic situation was challenging for working people under President Obama, imagine the challenges under 45 leadership. 45 has been insistent and persistent about rolling back many of the important innovations that took place under President Obama’s leadership. He is rabid about rescinding the Obama legacy, and too many have allowed their own racial bias to support his efforts. Still, the new unemployment rate data tell us as much as we need to know. Workers are not better off under 45. Wages remain lower than they should be, and job expansion is somewhat tepid. Labor force participation and the employment population ratio are lower than they should be. There are too many people who are out of work, or underemployed and stuck in unsatisfactory work. 45’s presidency has not only eroded our nation’s standing in the world, but it has also eroded the economic wellbeing of millions in our own country, as the unemployment rate data attest. 45’s buffer is the blind loyalty of those who prioritize partisan politics over national wellbeing, and racial hegemony over common decency. And maybe, just maybe if there were economic returns to this idiocy, I might understand. But there are no returns, nothing but jingoistic chaos. Malveaux is an economist, author, and founder of Economic Education.
July 19, 2017 • 7
P.T. Hoffsteader, Esq.
Christmas in July
Prince William County Chairman Corey Stewart, fresh off a near miss primary upset in his recent Virginia gubernatorial bid, is at it again. Employing pure strategic brilliance, Stewart on Thursday launched his next campaign – this time for the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate to run against Democratic incumbent Tim Kaine in 2018 – in the middle of withering near 100-degree temperatures in Northern Virginia. And a lot of Virginia GOP pols felt the heat – not of the summer sun kind – this was political heat, Corey Stewart style. “The Clinton and Obama ideologues have controlled Virginia for too long, and it’s time to turn Virginia red again,” Stewart said in a statement, “and no weak-kneed Republican is up to that task. I will be the fighter the Republicans need to defeat the Democrats in Virginia.” Ouch. Republican governor nominee Ed Gillespie, who squeaked out a nailbiting 1.4 percent win over Stewart in the June 13 GOP Virginia primary has to be thinking: “When does this guy go away?” Not for at least another 17 months, Ed. So get used to it. Truth be told: it’s all good. The timing of Stewart’s announcement is nothing short of masterful. It allows the now U.S. Senate candidate to continue raising funds while cultivating his small donor base – critical for a federal campaign that carries an individual $2,700 contribution limit. Virginia state races are like the wild west of fundraising – they carry no limit. So lots of smaller individual
contributors become a lynchpin campaign asset in a federal statewide effort. Early fundraising also allows Stewart to keep his former gubernatorial primary campaign team with his vaunted ground game intact. Although key operatives like former campaign manager Spence Rogers and southwest Virginia war machine Jack Morgan are not on his new senate campaign payroll yet, they can’t stay unemployed for too long or they’ll be forced to look at other campaigns and opportunities. This keeps the team together. They’ll face challengers who have to ramp up and bring in new people. This gives Stewart a significant early edge in the nomination fight. Many credit Rogers, a former Iraq veteran who ran point on General David Patraeus successful Iraq surge and set up Sen. Ted Cruz’ winning 2016 Iowa caucus ground game with masterminding Stewart’s under resourced governor campaign. Opponents will likely have to deal with him again. And good luck taking on Morgan in southwest Virginia in a Republican primary. If you do, you best pack a lunch. The early launch additionally allows Stewart to keep his name front and center, and remain relevant during the 2017 statewide campaign. While surface level and lazy conventional wisdom by Virginia’s punditry class may suggest that Stewart’s ’18 foray would cause trouble for Gillespie, nothing could be more inaccurate. No doubt Stewart’s bombastic campaign rhetoric, his penchant for political bomb throwing and his take no prisoners demeanor will
contrast drastically with Gillespie’s more measured collegial style on the stump, but Stewart has the ability to keep his base motivated for Gillespie in the fall. It’s the perfect storm. Stewart needs Gillespie voters and vice versa. This is an accidental match made in political heaven. Does God feel sorry for Virginia Republicans? The more Stewart goes nuts on Democrats, the more votes from his base Gillespie gets on Nov. 7 – with no downside for Gillespie’s more cerebral Northern Virginia electoral strategy. Why not vote for Gillespie if you like Stewart? He can help him raise a ton of money if he’s the governor and Stewart wins the senate nomination. Kaine will spend $30 million if he has to keep his seat. Gillespie knows a lot of people. His roll-a-dex is bigger than a New York City phone book. In his statement, Stewart left no doubt about the nature of his campaign. “As an obedient servant to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, Tim Kaine is the leading obstructionist against Trump’s America First agenda,” Stewart said. “Virginians and citizens across the country need a fighter representing them in D.C. who will stand up to and defeat the smug Washington elites.” On style Stewart minced no words: “This last election proved that Virginians want a fighter who will stand for them. The era of the kinder, gentler Republican is over.” Stewart said later that his campaign against Kaine would be “ruthless.” The fact that Stewart was dismissed as Virginia chairman of
the Trump campaign tainted him in the ’17 race, and cost him valuable support from some Trump voters. It has no relevance two campaigns removed. That was yesterday’s news. Ed Gillespie’s election prospects just improved dramatically. You can thank Corey Stewart for that. Virginia Republicans, on seven game statewide losing streak, may have finally stumbled into the promised land. John Fredericks
In the slow lane
It’s happened to all of us: You’re trying to access a website and see the “spinning wheel of death,” telling you the site is slow to load. You might think your Internet connection is the problem, but - if we lose Net Neutrality - it could actually be your Internet Service Provider making it harder for you to avatar-green. gifvisit the site. If Trump’s FCC gets its way, they will kill Net Neutrality to benefit cable companies and end an era of free speech online that gave birth to movements like #BlackLivesMatter and #NoBanNoWall. Traffic throttling, website blocking, and extra fees could soon be the new norm. Please send a message to the FCC and Congress in support of Net Neutrality. If we lose Net Neutrality, we could soon see an Internet where people of color and community organizers fighting for justice are forced into a slow lane online, facing endless “spinning wheels” and blocked sites. All the while, wealthy companies could pay prioritization fees to gain fast lane access to Internet users. Steven Chinyere
8 • July 19, 2017
Faith & Religion
‘Disciples’ elect 1st black woman to lead denomination Rev. Teresa “Terri” Hord Owens was elected last week to serve as the general minister and president of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada. She is the first black to hold this post and the second woman to lead the denomination. Hord Owens comes to the position in a time of renewed emphasis on the issues of race, particularly in the United States. Her election comes on the 50th anniversary of the Merger Agreement uniting the black and largely white branches of the American-born denomination. She is currently pastor of a predominately white congregation in the Chicago area. “We need to stop demonizing differences as deficiencies,” said Hord Owens. “We should seek to understand, to work through our differences in priorities, opinions, methods, and goals. This will not be easy, but imagine what an example this will be for the world if we can bridge the gaps in politics, identity, geography and theology.” Hord Owens’ resume includes
more than 20 years in corporate America leading diverse teams in data management before she entered seminary. For the last 15 years, she has been the dean of students at the University of Chicago Divinity School, shepherding a varied student body in both background and theology. “This is about God’s work in the church we all love; the church universal. So I need you to show up,” she said to those gathered. “You’ve been prepared. You have tremendous gifts. Show up for justice. Show up with your local congregations. Be who you know you can be.” The election of Hord Owens follows the 12-year tenure of the Rev. Sharon E. Watkins, who was the first female to lead a mainline denomination in the United States upon her election in 2005. Hord Owens’ term is six years with an option for re-election in 2023 for an additional six-year term. “She is collaborative, open to sharing beyond the hierarchy of senior minister to student intern, dedicated to trying out new things and teamwork,” said Danielle Cox,
Fellow ministers pray for Rev. Teresa Hord Owens following her election. a University of Lynchburg graduate and Hord Owens’ ministry student.
Sex Offender Helpline 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.
“I trust she’ll bring collaborative
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July 19, 2017 • 9
Remembering the doctor who was ready for the big stage CAROLINE NEWMAN University of Virginia graduate Brandon Rogers was well on his way to achieving an unusual career combination - medicine and music. In March, Rogers, who was in his first year of residency at Riverside Brentwood Medical Center in Newport News, auditioned for the current season of “America’s Got Talent,” reportedly wowing judges Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel, Mel B and even the notoriously tough-toimpress producer Simon Cowell. Earlier this year, he had performed in Las Vegas with hit ’90s group Boyz II Men, who invited Rogers to join them onstage after seeing him cover a song on YouTube. At the same time, Rogers, who graduated from UVA in 2009 with a degree in religious studies, was steadily building his career as a doctor. He graduated from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2015, where he concentrated in family medicine. Tragically, the world will not get to see what more Rogers could have accomplished in medicine or on stage. The 29-year-old doctor died after a car accident on June 10. He and several friends were driving to a family event in Maryland after Rogers sang the national anthem at a hospital graduation ceremony the day before. Police said the driver of the car fell asleep at the wheel and Rogers, who was in the front passenger seat, suffered severe injuries when the car struck a tree. His death sparked an outpouring of support and tributes, including one last week that aired on “America’s Got Talent”. Rogers’ friends at UVA said they will remember him not just for his extraordinary intelligence and talent, but also for his humility and compassion for others. Many recounted how, despite his passion for music, Rogers’ always felt that his true calling lay in medicine and lifting up those around him. “He was such a wonderful supporter,” said Dr. Nicole Hyman, Rogers’ good friend and former UVA roommate. “Brandon was in medical school at the same time I was in pharmacy school, and he was always calling to remind me that we were going to make it through the toughest years of studying and graduate. To him, there was never any question of whether I would
Brandon Rogers is seen here performing with the UVA a cappella group Remix in 2008. PHOTO: Jane Haley make it as a pharmacist or whether he would make it as a doctor. That’s just how it was going to be.” One of his closest friends from UVA and medical school, Dr. Elizabeth Johnson, said Rogers was the first person she met on UVA grounds, when both were in a peer advisory group for black students. He showed up again in her 400-person chemistry class; she edged down a row of about 10 students to sit next to him, and the rest, she said, was history. “We were two peas in a pod,” Johnson said. “Brandon loved people and he was an incredible friend. He really defined ‘friend’ to me, in the truest sense of the word. He was an extension of family, and I considered him my brother.” Over the past year, his friends watched Rogers steadily gain acclaim in the musical world. Sage Garner, a 2008 graduate who recruited Rogers to join the UVA a cappella group ReMix, said singing with Boyz II Men was a dream come true for Rogers. ReMix closed each of their concerts with a medley, and Rogers’ solo was a Boyz II Men song, “End of the Road.” “He would get a standing ovation every time, without fail,” Garner said. “To see him go from singing a Boyz II Men cover to singing with Boyz II Men in Vegas was so
exciting. He deserved to live that dream, and I am so glad he was able to experience that.” “America’s Got Talent” producers noticed Rogers’ music videos online and encouraged him to audition. After his death, they issued a statement saying that they were “deeply saddened by the tragic passing of Dr. Brandon Rogers, who graced the ‘America’s Got Talent’ stage as a contestant.” The members of Boyz II Men also expressed their condolences, honoring Rogers online as “just a really good person and a really good singer. … It hurts to know that the world will never have a chance to witness what his impact on the world could have been as a doctor and in the music world.” At UVA, Rogers was involved with several different music groups, including ReMix, the Black Voices gospel choir and the student recording group Oluponya, now O-Records. His friends recalled how his parents, Danni and Carmelita Rogers, attended every show, and how his performances inspired others to join. 2011 graduate Nureya Monroe, also a member of Remix and Black Voices, remembered the first time she heard Rogers sing as a first-year student attending the Lighting of the Lawn.
“He had a solo, and it was just amazing,” she said. “His voice just blew me away, and I remember thinking that I had to try out for that group.” He was, she said, extremely intelligent, a lot of fun, “just a really, really good guy.” Johnson said he brought the same positive attitude to patients’ bedsides. “He cared about his patients like they were his own family and friends,” she said. “He was a strong man of faith, and he cared for his patients with that same fierceness and love.” His ability to balance those two passions – medicine and music – often left his friends in awe. “Even with everything he had going on, he was always so humble and always wanting to encourage someone else and be there for someone else,” said Joselyn Spence, a 2006 UVA graduate who became friends with Rogers during his first year. “It was mind-blowing how he always made time for everyone.” He reminded them, his friends said, of just how much they were all capable of: “He was able to do both of those things and do them well and with a smile on his face, giving 100 percent to everything,” Monroe said. “It was amazing to watch, and just pushes you to think that there is nothing you can’t do.”
10 • July 19, 2017
Authenticity in casting: From ‘colorblind’ to ‘color conscious’, new rules are anything but black and white JESSICA GELT CONTACT - When Edward Albee’s estate denied permission for a production of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” because the director had cast a black actor to play a character Albee had specified as white, social media boiled over. How can the theatrical canon remain relevant if creative casting isn’t allowed? Why shouldn’t a black man play a white character? Actors are actors, storytelling in the search for universal truths. But discord also erupted when a white man played a Dominican American in a Chicago production of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s early musical “In the Heights” — and, conversely, when an open casting call for Miranda’s “Hamilton” specified “nonwhite actors.” Casting in theater, as well as in film and television, has always been met with criticism. Everyone knows someone who was better for the part. But lately that criticism has taken on an unapologetically political — and often contradictory — bent that reflects both a need for diversity and a new demand for “authenticity.” Even as audiences celebrate the “Hamilton” multiracial vision of the Founding Fathers, some actors and advocates argue that certain types of characters should be played only by actors who share those characters’ essential experiences. Just a week ago, an advocacy group for the disabled admonished Alec Baldwin for taking the part of a blind man in an upcoming film. Before that, protests decried the “whitewashing” of Asian characters through the casting of non-Asian performers in high-profile films. The increasingly fraught and emotional dialogue pits the progressive ideals of inclusion not just against historical business practices but also the definition of acting itself. If a role is written for a particular
Lin-Manuel Miranda in 2008 with the company of “In the Heights”. Could a white actor star in the musical in 2017? PHOTO: Joan Marcus ethnicity, sexual identity, gender or disability, how far should the creative community go to find an actor who checks that particular box? And should the fact that many traditionally marginalized groups are fighting for better representation be taken into consideration? Who has the right to tell what stories? And who gets to make that decision? Actors love to act. And they can get Oscar-size accolades for showing their reach. Think Leonardo
DiCaprio’s nomination for playing a developmentally disabled teen in “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.” Or Al Pacino’s Oscar win for his depiction of a blind man in “Scent of a Woman.” Or Jeffrey Tambor’s Emmys for his role as a transgender woman in “Transparent.” Isn’t that the point of acting: to suspend audience disbelief to the point of personal reinvention? Still, rising tension over the authenticity question could be felt in
Tambor’s 2016 Emmy acceptance speech: “Please give transgender talent a chance. Give them auditions. Give them their story,” he said. “I would not be unhappy were I the last cisgender male to play a transgender female.” His words signaled a shift from the days when actors like Tom Hanks (who played gay in 1993’s “Philadelphia”), Jake Gyllenhaal (who did the same in 2005’s
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July 19, 2017 • 11
(from page 10) who is of mixed heritage and grew up
“Brokeback Mountain”) and John Lithgow (who played a trans woman in 1982’s “The World According to Garp”) were celebrated for their bravery in bringing mainstream visibility to overlooked and often denigrated groups. The sentiment that, say, transgender, Latino or deaf actors should be given a fair shot at portraying transgender, Latino or deaf characters seems to be growing as producers, directors and others try to balance artistic goals with social responsibility — and the expectations of an increasingly diverse, empowered audience. This is writ large in the American theater, where the term “colorblind casting” — selecting actors without taking ethnicity into account — is no longer in favor. The ascendant norm is “color-conscious casting,” which implies an understanding of the profound implications of skin color. The shift carries potentially radical implications for the art form. A study by the Asian American Performers Action Coalition found that white actors were cast in 78 percent of the roles on New York stages between the years of 2006 to 2015, whereas the U.S. Census estimates the white population of the city to be about 44 percent. Such discrepancies worry activists who note the slowness of change, even after incidents such as the 1989 London opening of “Miss Saigon,” in which a white actor wore prosthetics to change the shape of his eyes. The resulting protests, partly spearheaded by playwright David Henry Hwang, called out the practice and spurred Hwang to write the satirical play “Yellow Face.” “For a decade or so I was thinking
we sort of won the war even if we lost the battle, because we put producers on notice that there was going to be so much trouble if you cast a white person as Asian that you just wouldn’t do it,” Hwang said. Not so anymore, he said, noting the casting of Emma Stone (in the 2015 film “Aloha”) and Scarlett Johansson (in this year’s film “Ghost in the Shell”) as characters originally written as Asian or part Asian. “For some reason white people really seem to like playing Asians.” Still, the discussion about who should be cast in which roles has evolved, Hwang said. As the theater grows more aware and diverse, the authenticity discussion has evolved with nuance. “These debates are healthy,” he said. “I think it represents a society that is attempting to come to grips and move forward into uncharted territory.” Each play or musical must be considered on a case-by-case basis, said Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Quiara Alegría Hudes, who wrote the book for Miranda’s “In the Heights.” “The danger of creating one hardand-fast rule is that it diminishes the conversation,” she says. “And, yes, it’s absolutely OK to say this role calls for a specific actor, and if you’re telling me you can’t find that actor, you’re not equipped to do the play.” Many of the roles in Hudes’ work call for a particular ethnicity, and that should be honored, Hudes said. If it isn’t, then the play is not being produced as it was meant to be produced. It doesn’t convey what she intended the work to convey. She doesn’t write roles for minorities as a form of political activism, she said. The playwright,
in a diverse Philadelphia community, is simply writing about the world as she has experienced it. The shift from “colorblind” to “colorconscious” may be attributed partly to the growing diversity of stories being produced. In eras past, when the vast majority of tales unfolding onstage were written by white playwrights about white characters, it took colorblind casting for an actor of color to be seen. But now we’re in the era of “Hamilton.” A better term is “color-conscious,” said Diep Tran, associate editor of American Theatre magazine, who writes a monthly column on equity, diversity and inclusion. “Color-conscious” means “we’re aware of the historic discrimination in the entertainment industry,” she said, “and we’re also aware of what it means to put a body of color onstage.” Snehal Desai, artistic director of the Asian theater company East West Players in Los Angeles, the longest-running theater of color in the United States, agrees. “The thing about colorblind casting is that it denies the person standing in front of you,” he said. “It ignores identity, and for people of color, that further alienates us.” In the recent case of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” in Portland, Ore., casting a black actor in the role of Nick was a color-conscious choice, director Michael Streeter said by email. He believed the decision would add depth to the play. “The character is an up-and-comer,” Streeter said. “He is ambitious and tolerates a lot of abuse in order to get ahead. I see this as emblematic of African Americans in 1962, the time the play was written.” The estate of Albee, who died last year, countered that the role was written specifically for a Caucasian man. (The playwright’s character description is 28 and “blond, well put-together, good looking.”) To alter that would fundamentally change the meaning and message of the play, the estate said. In the resulting social media firestorm, some pointed out that “Hamilton” had done the same thing, only in reverse — casting actors of color to play white historical figures. Tran called that line of thinking nonsense. “When you have something like ‘Hamilton,’ which was written to give opportunity to actors who would
normally not get that opportunity, it’s different than taking a job away from a white actor, because that white actor has the entire American canon to play with,” she said. Tran also argued that an audience should want to see a production from that canon, exactly as the author intended, only so many times. Inflexibility puts the work in stasis, whereas theater should be a living, breathing art form. “What does this 50-year-old play say about the time we’re living in now if we don’t put it in a modern context?” she asked. These debates are healthy. I think it represents a society that is attempting to come to grips and move forward into uncharted territory. — David Henry Hwang, playwright Casting plays in a modern context makes financial sense as well, Hwang said. “If people like to see themselves on stage and screen, then our artistic fields aren’t sufficiently preparing for audiences of the future,” he said. The conversation will change in two or three generations as the country becomes more mixed racially, East West Players’ Desai said. He added that when it comes to representation, people of color long for consideration that extends beneath their skin. “There are regulations about asking people their age or race,” he said. “As a person of color, I want to be seen as a whole person and not just an Indian.” The danger of seeing only color, sexuality or disability is that it can lead to a ghettoization. Take the example of transgender actors, said Jon Imparato, the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s director of cultural arts and education. Since Caitlyn Jenner went public as transgender two years ago, Imparato’s phone has been ringing with requests for recommendations of good transgender actors. “I say, ‘Is she a hooker and does she get murdered at the end? If so, we want nothing to do with it. We’ve heard that story,’” he said. In this day and age, Imparato believes all trans roles should go to trans actors — although the same doesn’t hold true for gay roles. Why? First, it’s illegal to ask about sexuality when casting. Second, plenty of gay actors now play straight roles and vice versa, he said. “For me it always comes down to who’s going to serve the play better? Do I have enough diversity in my cast?” Imparato said. “And are they the right actors?”
12 • July 19, 2017
News One’s Roland Martin launches initiative to fund HBCUs ALEXA IMANI SPENCER & NONI MARSHALL Alarmed by the critical financial state of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) throughout the nation, “News One Now” host Roland S. Martin has issued a call to action to address the problem. Several weeks into the initiative, Martin has been urging viewers and followers on social media to get involved by donating to an HBCU of their choice. “It’s an abomination, and I use that word very clearly, to have HBCUs where only 3 to 5 percent of their graduates give a dollar,” Martin said. The movement began with a lapel pin. After a series of speeches at academic institutions, Martin accumulated a collection of pins
representing each school. Inspired, he began to promote the cause, #HBCUGivingDay, by wearing a different pin on his show daily. “It started with the universities I had given commencement speeches,” Martin said. “It literally started with me saying, ‘tomorrow morning I’m going to put this pin on.’” On his show, Martin has showcased several lapel pins in support of giving, including Harris-Stowe State University in St. Louis, Grambling State University in Grambling, Louisiana, Virginia State University (VSU) in Petersburg, and Spelman College in Atlanta. HBCUs have had a chronic history
of financial instability, causing many to close and cut programs, which ultimately minimizes the opportunity for students to engage in higher education. Martin suggests that this can be avoided if alumni commit to giving. “The problem I have is not with them only giving x amount of money. The problem is not giving anything,” he said. On June 12, Martin implored viewers to donate to VSU, a public land-grant university, an appeal that proved to be effective. VSU National Alumni Association President Franklin Johnson Jr. said numerous people have reached out
about how to give. “I feel honestly, as serving as the National Alumni Association president, there has been some benefit from the initiative,” said Johnson, who also decided to join the giving pool. “I give several times, myself, throughout the year, but I just felt the need because he called out my school.” The VSU National Alumni Association has also launched its own giving campaign, 1,000 Trojans Giving 100 Dollars. Introduced in March 2016, the initiative seeks to match a $100,000 donation given
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ATF held an off-the-books account against the rules MATT APUZZOJUNE Agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) were running a multimilliondollar, off-the-books bank account in Virginia to fund undercover operations at a time when the bureau had imposed strict rules about the use of such accounts. In an April 2011 memo, the ATF told agents around the country that operating a bank account outside of those rules “would constitute embezzlement.” The secret bank account is at the heart of a racketeering lawsuit in North Carolina. Agents used the account to help finance undercover tobacco smuggling operations around the country, donate money to their children’s schools, and pay for a Las Vegas trip and a $21,000 suite at a Nascar race.
Details about when the account was opened remain sealed, but records show that the account was in use as far back as mid-2011 and continued until at least 2013. The ATF has repeatedly refused to say who authorized the account, but the bureau has denied any wrongdoing. Thomas Lesnak, the lead agent who is now retired, said in a brief interview earlier this year that the operation was done by the book. But the 36-page memo from 2011 indicates otherwise. Written by an assistant ATF director, Mark Chait, the memo lays out strict rules for how agents can spend money in undercover operations. Using money from an undercover account to supplement the ATF’s own budget is prohibited. The rules required strict accounting and approval from senior managers
at every step of the investigation. By contrast, court records related to the Virginia case describe an account with little oversight. Ryan Kaye, an ATF supervisor, testified that agents received “verbal directives” to open the account, but the documents do not identify who gave the directives. Agents in Bristol moved tens of millions of dollars through the account, records show, financed through a web of shadowy cigarette deals. The process was convoluted, but the result was clear: Agents had a steady supply of money and wide discretion about how to spend it. The Justice Department’s inspector general is investigating the use of the account. The 2011 memo, which was followed in 2013 by a strict new policy, describes the policies for operating what are known as “churning accounts,” which agents
use to buy and sell cigarettes as part of an undercover investigation. The ATF has argued the account in Virginia was different, something it called a “management account.” But the 2011 memo offers no exception to the rules and never mentions management accounts. An ATF spokeswoman declined to comment. The New York Times, which revealed the existence of the account in February, sued the ATF to obtain the memo. The Times is still fighting for other records. The ATF issued the 2011 memo amid an internal audit that uncovered widespread misuse of undercover bank accounts. Because the Virginia account was kept off the books, however, it was never scrutinized as part of that audit. The ATF has refused to say whether it still operates management accounts. © NYT
July 19, 2017 • 13
Study says cities rely much more on fines for revenue if they have more black residents If you want to stop police from disproportionately ticketing black communities, a recent study has one potential answer: Elect more black people to local government. The study, by political science researchers Michael Sances of the University of Memphis and Hye Young You of Vanderbilt University, had two major findings. Using data from more than 9,000 cities, the researchers first found that cities with larger black populations rely more on fines and court fees to raise revenue. The average collection was about $8 per person for all cities that get at least some revenue from fines and fees, but that rose to as much as $20 per person in the cities with the highest black populations. The findings persisted even after controlling for other factors, such as differences in crime rates and the size of cities. Then the researchers wanted to look at how much this disparity would be alleviated if at least one black person is on the city council. Using a smaller sample of about 3,700 cities due to data limitations, they found that having at least one black person on the city council reduced the relationship between race and fines by about 50 percent. “What a lot of cities do is rely on a source of revenue that falls disproportionately on their black residents,” Sances told me. “And when blacks gain representation on the city council, this relationship gets a lot better. The situation doesn’t become perfect, but it becomes alleviated to a great extent.” The study does not prove causation, and the researchers caution against drawing definitive conclusions from just one study. Although they tried to control for all sorts of variables that could explain the findings, it’s always possible that something else is going on that they missed. The
researchers hope to address some of these limitations in future studies. Nonetheless, the study’s findings are corroborated by a lot of evidence we’ve seen over the past few years — particularly since Black Lives Matter protests rose up in Ferguson, Missouri, following the August 2014 police shooting of Michael Brown. Time and time again, we’ve seen that when cash-strapped cities need revenue, they use their police departments to ticket vulnerable populations, particularly racial minorities. The study adds to the existing evidence by offering a potential solution: Electing more black representation to local governments. The researchers can’t definitively explain why this is the case. But one possibility is that black politicians are more receptive to black voters’ concerns, so they’ll often hear complaints about fines from their black constituents and tell the local police department to stop exploitative practices. One caveat, though, is that the researchers don’t expect even full black representation to completely solve this problem. “There’s a degree of influence there for sure,” Sances said. But “we don’t assume city councils have perfect control over the police.” The study gives more evidence to a long-existing concern The exploitation of black populations for local revenue is not new. This has often been a big concern in many cities with large black populations, including Ferguson. After Black Lives Matter protests in Ferguson, the U.S. Department of Justice released a report validating many of these concerns. The March 2015 report found that city officials worked together at every level of enforcement — from city
Richmond and Newport News are some of the majority-black cities in Va. management to the local prosecutor to the police department — to make as much money from fines and court fees as possible, ranging from schemes to raise total fines for municipal code violations to asking cops to write as many citations as possible. Law enforcement appeared to deliberately target black residents: Although black people made up about 67 percent of Ferguson’s population, about 85 percent of the people stopped and about 90 percent of the people who received a citation were black. So what explains this? One possibility is that police are simply targeting the people who are most vulnerable and less likely to have any political clout. Some cops have admitted to this. “When you put any type of numbers on a police officer to perform, we are going to go to the most vulnerable,” Adhyl Polanco, a New York City police officer, told WNBC last year. “We’re going to [the] LGBT community, we’re going to the black community, we’re going to go to those people that have no boat, that have no power.” Indeed, Sances named this as one of the possible explanations for his study’s findings. “These city officials are taking advantage of a population that’s basically voiceless,” he told me. This would also explain why local black representation seems to offer a bulwark against the problem: By electing a black council member
who’s more likely to listen to black voters’ concerns, black populations see their political clout — and ability to complain about potential police exploitation — grow. These kinds of issues lead to more distrust in the law, which can lead to more crime The practices exposed by the study are not only unfair but also may make it more difficult for police to do their chief job, which is to fight crime. The idea, known as “legal cynicism,” is simple: The government is going to have a much harder time enforcing the law when large segments of the population don’t trust it or its laws. This is a major explanation for why predominantly minority communities tend to have more crime than other communities: After centuries of neglect and abuse, black and brown Americans are simply much less likely to turn to police for help — and that may lead a small but significant segment of these communities to resort to its own means, including violence, to solve interpersonal conflicts. There’s research to back this up. A 2016 study, from sociologists Matthew Desmond of Harvard, Andrew Papachristos of Yale, and David Kirk of Oxford, looked at 911 calls in Milwaukee after incidents of police brutality hit the news. They found that after the 2004 police beating of Frank Jude, 17
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Feasting on old cultural cuisine FAIRMONT (DP) — Pricketts Fort highlighted the African American experience on the western Virginia frontier last week with catfish stew, hoecakes and other homecooked staples. Historic interpreter Cordelia Spencer led a hearth cooking demonstration featuring dishes common among African American slaves. She prepared catfish stew — with potatoes, carrots, parsnips, turnips, turnip greens, onions and okra — in a pot suspended over an open flame. She also roased pork belly, which she noted was a less-desirable plece of meat often given to slaves as part of their rations. “I think history is important,” Spencer said, explaining the value of historic programs like those at Pricketts Fort. “... I feel like we’re losing the information from the past that we need to retain and the lifestyle of the people that were here and what they endured to make our lives better.” African American Week, which ended July 13 at Prickett’s Fort State Park in Marion County, also featured living history presentations by interpreter Sheila Arnold Jones. Jones portrays Old Bess, a slave from Williamsburg, who discussed the differences between city and rural life for slaves, as well as Bess’ own family and how they lived.
(from page 2) Wright sued DeVos in federal court. In a short notice published in the Federal Register, the U.S DOE cited pending litigation in the case California Association of Private Postsecondary Schools (CAPPS) v. Betsy DeVos as an excuse for delaying implementation of the Borrower Defense Rule. State attorneys general argue in their lawsuit that “the Department’s reference to the pending litigation is a mere pretext for repealing the Rule and replacing it with a new rule that will remove or dilute student rights and protections.” The Virginia complaint asks the court to declare the department’s delay notice unlawful and to order
(from page 8) leadership, bringing people together, having a foot in so many realms as a bi-vocational pastor. “She has a spirituality grounded in prayer life; you feel connected with the body of Christ when you’re with her, drawn into it.” The challenges Hord Owens will face include traditional mainline needs for spiritual revitalization and a renewing of congregational models, said Rob Wilson-Black, the CEO of Sojourners, a non-profit, faith-based organization that seeks to “inspire hope and build a movement to transform”. “She’ll also be tasked with
the department to implement the Borrower Defense Rule. In addition to Herring, the lawsuit has been filed by a coalition led by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey which includes the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia. Previously, Herring urged DeVos and the Department of Education to follow through on their commitment to cancel student debt for students in Virginia and around the country who were victimized by Corinthian Colleges’ practices.
reimagining what members really want in an association of churches and how to do justice among regions defining it differently,” said WilsonBlack. The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) was born out of the StoneCampbell Movement, part of the Great Awakening on the American frontier in the early 1800s. The denomination is congregationally governed, meaning each congregation appoints its own leadership and determines its own mission and support. There are 32 regional bodies that support congregations as well as relate to the general ministries of the denomination.
(from page 13) took to their own — sometimes percent (22,200) fewer 911 calls were made in the following year compared with the number of calls that would have been made had the Jude beating never happened. More than half of the effect came from fewer calls in black neighborhoods. And the effect persisted for more than a year, even after the officers involved in the beating were punished. Researchers found similar impacts on local 911 calls after other high-profile incidents of police violence. But crime still happened in these neighborhoods. As 911 calls dropped, researchers also found a rise in homicides. They note that “the spring and summer that followed Jude’s story were the deadliest in the seven years observed in our study.” That suggests that people were simply dealing with crime themselves. And although the researchers couldn’t definitively prove it, that might mean civilians
violent — means to protect themselves when they couldn’t trust police to stop crime and violence. “An important implication of this finding is that publicized cases of police violence not only threaten the legitimacy and reputation of law enforcement,” the researchers write, but “they also — by driving down 911 calls — thwart the suppression of law breaking, obstruct the application of justice, and ultimately make cities as a whole, and the black community in particular, less safe.” The fiscal exploitation of black communities could have the same effect. When you’re pulled over as many as dozens of times for petty offenses, you’re going to be much less likely to trust the police are working to keep you safe — and much less likely to call on them when you need help. And that could ultimately make it much harder for police to do their jobs. © VOX
July 19, 2017 • 15
(from page 3) to the complexities and history of the city involved in it. It is a decision she doesn’t regret and, since becoming head of the American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar, she has reshaped conversations of how the Civil war has been discussed. Coleman wants to give visitors the chance to the understand the war from all sides and keep the conversation open on others who were impacted, including members of the LGBTQ community and women. She says black people avoided talking about the Civil War for a long time because the narrative of the war was taken away from blacks. “We didn’t claim our space and so another narrative was able to engulf us, that the Civil War didn’t really have anything to do with us,” she said. “The national narrative that the Union fought the war to free the slaves is foolishness, right? It didn’t become a war for slavery until black folks demanded it, demanded the moment, seized the moment.” Her proudest accomplishment as head of the museum so far has been the collaboration and bringing together of 19 cultural organizations to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War and emancipation. It was a six year effort that included lectures and events to educate the public.
The Pattern Building and home of the combined Visitor Center for the American Civil War Center and the Richmond National Battlefileld Park in Richmond. PHOTO: Penelope M. Carrington/ American Civil War Museum. Coleman also wrote the script for “Freedom Bound,” an Emmy Award-winning film about slaves looking for freedom in the 17th,18th, and 19th centuries. She was also appointed by Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe in 2016 to the Governor’s Advisory Council on Furnishing and Interpreting the Executive Mansion. In a time when the removal of confederate monuments and flags are sparking a debate across the country, Coleman has a new challenge ahead of her. Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney
has appointed her co-chair of the Monument Avenue Commission, a 10-person committee to evaluate ways to add context to Confederate monuments on Monument Avenue. “I’m honored to serve the city and help have a reasonable conversation as possible,” she said. “You can’t say you’re being diverse if you have everybody that thinks the same thing regardless of what they look like. That’s not diversity, that’s just shading.” She believes the communities should have a voice in what happens to them. “I understand why communities feel the need to build monuments, but the obsession with it that it validates us in some way is problematic,” she said. “There’s a no-compromise approach which is unhealthy, but at some point we must come to a point where we are informed.” Looking ahead, she is excited about construction that will take place this month for the new 28,500-squarefoot Civil War museum that is set to open in fall of 2018. Whether in her role telling stories of the Civil War or delivering lectures, Coleman will ensure the narrative is told. “I want to push the envelope so people can care. People don’t care about history, only care about nostalgia,” she said. “I not only want to make them care, but understand.” © NBC
(from page 12) to the university by its president, Makola Abdullah and his wife, Ahkinyala Cobb-Abdullah. To date, they have received over $50,000 in donations. “Our goal is to be as close to the $100,000 by homecoming. We’re really pushing for that,” Johnson said. Florida A&M University (FAMU) has begun its own crusade encouraging alumni to give back. Lt. Col. Gregory Clark, president of FAMU National Alumni Association, appeared on News One Now to discuss solutions to low alumni giving rates. Clark acknowledged that FAMU’s alumni participation is not where it could be. “We’re around 5 percent [alumni giving], and that’s unacceptable for us. We’re trying to push the narrative that you’ve got to give to ensure we can get those giving rates up,” Clark said. The FAMU National Alumni Association routinely sees its biggest spike in alumni donations during its annual national convention fundraising breakfast. The 2016 breakfast alone raised $715,000. The overall message that people must receive is the importance of supporting all black institutions, Martin said. While black colleges and universities are the focus of the initiative, they are only a segment of what makes up the black community. Media, civil rights organizations, women’s rights organizations, fraternities and sororities also need consistent attention. “All of those things make up the black community, because that’s what provides the support and the resources for it,” said Martin. If the black community fails to recognize this, he said, then it is subject to the control of parties without vested interest. “That means you have no control of your own community,” Martin said. “You literally are at the mercy of someone externally and that’s never what any community wants to be.”
16 • July 19, 2017
COMMUNITY ACTIVITIES & EVENTS
RVA to host breastfeeding sysmposium 7.20, 5:30 p.m.
The Henrico County Division of Fire and Henrico Area Mental Health & Developmental Services (MH/DS) will present a free class on how to administer naloxone to potentially save the life of someone who has overdosed on opioids. The Revive! Opioid Overdose and Naloxone Education for Virginia class will be held at the MH/DS offices at 4825 S. Laburnum Ave. The class, developed by the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, is open to the public. Participation will be limited to the first 50 registrants. To sign up, go to surveymonkey.com/r/9Q35Q6T or call 804-727-8574. Callers will be asked to leave an email address where they can receive a link to register for the class.
7.20, 6:30 p.m.
The Created Equal Film Series in Honor of Grady W. Powell, in its fourth year at the Virginia Historical Society (VHS), focuses on themes related to civil rights, human rights, and social justice in American history. The public is invited to join a free screening of the ACLU of Michigan’s documentary “Here’s To Flint” and learn about the Flint water crisis and the determined efforts of Flint residents, activists, and researchers to reveal the truth about their city’s lead-contaminated drinking water. After the film, Siddhartha Roy, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech and one of the researchers who conducted the Flint water study, will comment.
Submit your calendar events by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Include who, what, where, when & contact information that can be printed. Submission deadline is Friday.
The 2nd Annual RVA Breastfeeding Symposium will take place on Aug. 4 at the Virginia Historical Society. The focus of this year’s symposium is First Food: The Intersection of Health, Race, Policy and Practice. The morning session of this day-long event will bring together citizens, policymakers, healthcare and social service providers, and community advocates to examine the structural and cultural barriers that undermine women’s ability to reach their breastfeeding goals, and explore the connection between infant feeding and food access issues. The afternoon session is a workgroup reserved for area health and social service providers who come into contact with pregnant and postpartum families. The keynote speaker will be Kimberly Seals Allers, an award-winning journalist, author and nationally recognized advocate for breastfeeding and infant health who is the project director for The First Food Friendly Community Initiative (3FCI), a W.K. Kellogg-funded pilot project in Detroit and Philadelphia to create a national accreditation process for breastfeedingfriendly communities. Elizabeth Gray Bayne, who holds a Masters of Public Health from Yale University and an MFA in film from the Art Center College of Design, will present excerpts from Chocolate Milk, her documentary exploring African-American women’s experiences with breastfeeding. “It’s been estimated that if 90 percent of US women could achieve the American Pediatric Association recommendation of 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding followed by continued breastfeeding for 1 year, we could save $17.4 billion in maternal health care costs and an additional $13 billion in pediatric health costs each year,” says Leslie Lytle, Breastfeeding Coordinator for the City of Richmond. “Yet most women struggle to reach their breastfeeding goals and there are significant racial disparities in breastfeeding initiation and duration. Our goal with this year’s Symposium is to spark conversations among folks who might not think of breastfeeding as a foundational health equity issue.”
Where: The Virginia Historical Society, 428 N. Boulevard, Richmond VA What: The Second Annual RVA Breastfeeding Symposium: First Food: The Intersection of Health, Race, Policy, and Practice. When: Morning session: 8 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Cost: Free and open to the public; however pre-registration is required. Online registration is available at http://bit.ly/2sRIFix.
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WIN A 1965 CORVETTE STING RAY
Valiant Virginians, a 501(c)3 non profit, is raffling a classic numbers matching 1965 Corvette Sting Ray Coupe. Proceeds from the raffle go to help Virginia families who have lost their means of transportation and need a car or car repairs to get to work. When merited, Valiant Virginians (www.valiantvirginians.org) “gifts” donated cars to deserving families or helps repair a family car. Ben Jones, aka “Cooter” of Dukes of Hazzard fame, will draw the winning ticket on July 30 at the Cooter’s Last Stand event in beautiful Luray, Virginia (4768 US-211). To view photos and to BUY A TICKET ONLINE, visit www.valiantvirginians.org. Order by phone at 540-746-1962. Tickets $100 each. Hurry! Only 1200 tickets being sold. Winners not required to be present. For more information, send an email to email@example.com or call 540-746-1962.
7.25, 6:30 p.m.
Participants can learn about the process of purchasing a home and obtaining a mortgage at a free seminar offered by Virginia Credit Union. The First-time Homebuyers Seminar will be held at Virginia Credit Union in the Boulders Office Park, 7500 Boulder View Dr., Richmond. Mortgage experts will be on hand to answer specific questions. To register to attend, call 804323-6800 or visit https://www.vacu. org/Learning_Planning/Financial_ Education/Seminars_Workshops/ Detail/SID/2.aspx
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NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN THAT THE CITY OF RICHMOND BOARD OF ZONING APPEALS Will hold a Public Hearing in the 5th Floor Conference Room, City Hall, 900 East Broad Street, Richmond, VA on August 2, 2017, to consider the following under Chapter 30 of the Zoning Code: BEGINNING AT 1:00 P.M. 25-17 (CONTINUED FROM JULY 5, 2017 MEETING): An application of Robert Crump, III for a building permit to convert a single-family dwelling into a 4-unit multi-family dwelling at 3206A CHAMBERLAYNE AVENUE. Roy W. Benbow, Secretary Phone: (804) 240-2124 Fax: (804) 646-5789 E-mail: Roy.Benbow@richmondgov.com
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