Michael Lee Pope

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Michael Lee Pope is an award-winning journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria. He has reported for NPR, the New York Daily News and Northern Virginia Magazine. He has a master's degree in American Studies from Florida State University, and he is a former adjunct professor at Tallahassee Community College. Pope is the author of four books.

Recent Stories

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Why a Regional Wage in Virginia?

Effort to raise minimum wage hits snag on Senate floor, leading to regional approach.

It’s shortly after 7 p.m. on a Tuesday night, and state Sen. Scott Surovell (D-36) is working the Senate chamber to save the minimum wage increase. This particular Tuesday isn’t just any day of the week. It’s the final deadline for Senate bills to cross over to the House, so the pressure is building as the clock winds down. Senators are tired and cranky, and they will be working past midnight.

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Dieting Sisters in Virginia

From road diets to balancing the books, Alexandria and Norton compare notes.

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Ghost of Harry Byrd Haunts Virginia Assembly

Effort to remove statue prompts soul-searching at the Capitol.

The statue of Harry Byrd stands in a prominent spot in Capitol Square, watching lawmakers as they scurry from their offices to committee meetings and closed-door caucus meetings. It was erected in 1976, a time when memories of the segregationist governor and U.S. senator were still fresh among the Democratic majority. Now times have changed, and many people would like to see it removed and tucked away in a museum with a note explaining his plan to close public schools rather than integrate them.

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Cracking Down on Predatory Student Lenders

Northern Virginia lawmakers hope to regulate student-loan servicing companies.

Sen. Janet Howell (D-32) and Del. Marcus Simon (D-53) have introduced a bill they call the Borrowers Bill of Rights, which would use the power of the State Corporation Commission to crack down on what they call the egregious practices of student loan servicing companies.

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Closing All the Loopholes

Democrats poised to impose new regulations on high-interest lenders.

The days of unregulated high-interest lending may be coming to a close in Virginia. Now that Democrats have seized control of the General Assembly, members of the Legislative Black Caucus say cracking down on predatory lending is one of their top priorities for the 2020 session.

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Opening the Floodgates

Northern Virginia Democrats struggle with power now that they have it.

When they were in the minority, Democrats were mostly united in their views about everything from gun control and reproductive rights to the Equal Rights Amendment. Now that they’ve seized power, though, members of the newly minted majority are hearing from opposite sides on everything from gerrymandering and labor rights.

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Unpaid Taxes Written Off

City often forgives delinquent taxpayers rather than going after them.

In the last decade, Alexandria has written off more than $100,000 in uncollected tax balances. The annual write-off happens every November, just as City Council members are appearing with a giant turkey at City Hall to celebrate Thanksgiving.

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Wealthy Homeowners, Poor Renters

Income disparity is highest in Arlandria, which trails the city in median household income.

Taylor Run is about three miles from Arlandria. But it might as well be on the other side of the planet in terms of median household income. Census records show that the leafy suburban Taylor Run neighborhood, which is just behind the George Washington Masonic Memorial, has the highest median household income in Alexandria, more than $180,000 a year. The low-income neighborhood of Latino residents near the border with Arlington, on the other hand, has the lowest, less than $55,000 a year.

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