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Michael Lee Pope

Stories by Michael Lee

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Turnover at City Hall

As the era of Justin Wilson draws to a close, what comes next?

The era of Mayor Justin Wilson is drawing to a dramatic finish, creating an open seat for mayor at City Hall for the first time in 20 years.

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Alexandria Ditches Jim Crow Zoning

Unanimous vote on City Council eliminates single-family housing.

zoning

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Zoned Out

City Council to determine future of single-family housing in Alexandria.

"We need to apply strict scrutiny on the zoning provisions we have and ensure that they do not have a disparate impact, particularly to ensure that some of the provisions are not segregating our communities." — Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson

Home Sick in Alexandria

Outdated apartment complexes gush greenhouse gas emissions.

Apartments outdated

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Ebbin to Face Challenger in Alexandria

Senate race will be the lone contested election in Alexandria this November.

election

Dedicated Debate

City Council to consider removing traffic lanes from Duke Street.

Duke Street

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Northern Virginia Poised to Lose Influence

Democratic primary might shift power to Hampton Roads.

Democratic primary might shift power to Hampton Roads.

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Rethinking Duke Street

Alexandria to determine future of bus rapid transit along congested traffic corridor.

Duke Street

Road Rage Veto

Governor vetoes Ebbin bill investigating so-called ‘macho mufflers.’

Mufflers

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Budget in Transition

$881 million budget proposal unionizes firefighters, ditches Confederates, maintains tax rate.

Expenditures for the Alexandria Fire Department are expected to grow about 8 percent largely based on unionization of its workforce. The Department of Transportation and Environmental Services is setting aside $60,000 to replace street signs currently celebrating Confederate military officials. And half a million dollars has been set aside in contingent reserves for City Council members to load up the budget with their proposals ahead of the May 3 deadline. But none of those things are likely the first question that will be asked about the budget proposal for fiscal year 2024.

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Rolling the Dice on Casinos

Lawmakers to consider location of fifth and final casino.

Lawmakers to consider location of fifth and final casino.

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Fear-mongering Fail

New poll shows Virginians feel safe after criminal justice reforms.

Poll on Crime

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Nickel and Dimed Behind Bars

Lawmakers take a look at fines and fees charged to inmates at jails across Virginia.

People who were locked up in the Alexandria jail are not staying there for free, and taxpayers are paying only part of the bill.

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Tax Code Thunderstruck in Alexandria

Lawmakers consider easing bracket creep by making tax code more progressive.

Taxes

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Inclusionary Dreams

What if Alexandria could force developers to build affordable housing?

If Alexandria wanted to take a carrot-and-stick approach to development, city officials would soon run into a problem. The lure of density is a big fat carrot, which seems to be getting larger each year. But officials in Richmond are holding all the sticks. Chief among them is the idea of inclusionary zoning, which would require the General Assembly to give Alexandria permission to force developers to build affordable housing.

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Young Turk from Alexandria

Armistead Boothe led war vets in General Assembly who took on Byrd Machine.

In some ways, Alexandria was the home of the forces who worked against the conservative political organization that ran Virginia politics for most of the 20th century. Starting after the conclusion of World War II, the city was represented in the House of Delegates by a young war vet by the name of Armistead Boothe.

School Stabbing Cast Long Shadow

Did Alexandria’s tough-on-crime approach in the 1990s work?

Stabbing

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Student Growth Outpaces Staffing

Number of new teachers hasn't kept pace with surge in enrollment.

Since 2008, Alexandria schools have added more than 4,000 new students. But a new report from the Commonwealth Institute shows staffing has not kept pace. City schools have added only 100 new teachers during that time, and the number of teacher aides has actually declined by 10 positions.

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Rethinking Juvenile Justice

Alexandria detention facility may be consolidated as part of statewide effort.

The Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center has 70 beds with an average population of 12 juveniles.

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Financing the Rampage

Economic toll of gun violence is more than $14 billion a year for Virginia.

All those school security measures to harden your local elementary school add up. So do trips to the emergency room and the multiple surgeries needed to address gunshot wounds. While the human tragedy of gun violence often grabs headlines, the economic toll continues to mount with each mass shooting. According to Everytown for Gun Safety, the annual cost to Virginia is more than $14 billion a year.

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Great Resignation Hits the Classroom

Pay penalty for teachers in Virginia is the worst in the country.

The Great Resignation is hitting classrooms across Virginia, worrying school administrators about what happens when fall arrives and schools are forced to deal with a teacher shortage.

Prosecutorial Discretion

Northern Virginia prosecutors say they won't enforce abortion restrictions.

Nine prosecutors across Virginia say they will not enforce any new restrictions on abortion, complicating Republican efforts to crack down on reproductive freedom in the wake of the Supreme Court decision

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Body of Law

The history of abortion in Virginia has many twists and turns.

The United States Supreme Court's decision to dismantle the right to abortion has upended the discussion over reproductive freedom.

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Candidates are Set for Fall Election

Don Beyer secures nomination as Republicans select candidates for fall election season.

Voters in Northern Virginia overwhelmingly supported four-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-8)...

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Ban Battle Botched

Inside the failed effort to ban assault weapons in Virginia.

Banning assault weapons was a major priority for gun-violence prevention advocates in early 2020...

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Fauci Flip Flop

Republican candidate tries to walk back 'Fauci should be jailed' comment.

Republican congressional candidate Karina Lipsman is trying to walk back her comment that President Biden's chief medical advisor Anthony Fauci "should be jailed," a position she took during a time when she was battling four competitors to get the nomination to run in the Eighth Congressional District. Now that she has secured the nomination in a GOP convention, she is flip flopping on Fauci.

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'Fauci Should Be Jailed'

Republican candidate for Congress in the 8th calls for incarceration of medical advisor.

The Republican candidate for Congress in the 8th Congressional District is calling for President Biden's chief medical advisor to be "jailed," a comment she made during a candidates forum hosted by the Alexandria Republican City Committee earlier this month.

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Taking on Beyer

Five Republican candidates seek nomination in convention to challenge incumbent congressman.

Usually Republicans have to recruit candidates to run against four-term U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-8). Not this year. Five Republicans are seeking the Republican nomination for the 8th Congressional District in a convention later this month.

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Deep Blue Primary

Incumbent congressman to face first-time candidate.

The Eighth Congressional District is the bluest of the blue strongholds, giving President Biden 78 percent of the vote in 2020...

Fossil Fuel Fiesta in Alexandria

Governor proposes gas-tax holiday, but will Virginians benefit?

gas tax

Election Mirage Evaporates in Alexandria

Governor signs bill to improve election returns at the precinct level.

Election

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Beloved Cancel Culture in Fairfax County

Toni Morrison novel prompts legislation that has critics worried about book bans.

Toni Morrison's Pulitzer-prize winning book "Beloved" prompted such outrage in one Fairfax County parent in 2013 that she tried to have the book banned from her son's AP English class. Laura Murphy said the book gave her teenage son nightmares, and she urged school officials to do something about it. She took the fight all the way to the Fairfax County School Board, which voted six to two to keep the book in the AP English curriculum.

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Privacy Advocates Urge Veto

Opponents of facial recognition technology call on governor to reject social-media dragnet.

Police departments across Virginia may soon have the ability to use billions of images scraped from social-media sites like Facebook and Instagram to track down suspects, a development that is concerning to critics who say the technology is invasive and a violation of privacy. The governor is now considering the bill, and critics are urging him to veto it or amend it to require a warrant.

A Government Divided

Lawmakers end session with little to show and no budget.

Budget talks

Up in Smoke

Black market to remain underground for now as lawmakers reject licensing scheme.

Cannabis

Ditch Warfare

House Republicans push for tax cuts; Senate Democrats push back.

Taxes

Oops! They Did it Again

Lawmakers accidentally gave overtime protection to farmworkers and domestic workers, now they're taking it back.

They didn't mean it. Seriously. And now they're about to undo what they did last year. Lawmakers say the vote last year to create a cause of action for farmworkers and domestic workers to seek overtime pay was a mistake. Senators say they were misled, snookered by the blitzkrieg pace of the General Assembly. Now they're taking action to rectify the situation, stripping farmworkers and domestic workers of the ability to sue for overtime.

Commemorating Hidden History in Arlington and Alexandria

Local 'Green Book' locations may soon be designated historic sites.

Green Book

Green Rollback May Hit Blue Wall

Republican efforts to undo environmental laws to face opposition in Democratic-led Senate.

Environmental laws

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Reconsidering Marijuana

Pot is still legal, but the plan to regulate its sale is in jeopardy.

Marijuana

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Red Flags, Confiscated Guns

Police across Virginia use new law to disarm people courts determine to be dangerous.

Since Virginia's new red-flag law was signed by the Gov. Ralph Northam last year, according to data from the Virginia State Police, law enforcement officials across Virginia have issued 170 emergency substantial risk orders to temporarily confiscate firearms from people courts have determined could be dangerous. That includes 32 in Fairfax County, six in Arlington and five in Alexandria. Police officers and sheriffs deputies have also used the law in so-called "Second Amendment sanctuaries," including 13 risk orders in Virginia Beach and seven in Hanover County.

Texas Official Appointed to Lead Alexandria

City Council hires James Parajon as city manager.

New City Manager

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Republican Sweep

Democrats lose statewide for the first time since 2009.

Virginia has a long tradition of offering a counterpoint to presidential elections starting after the election of Democrat Jimmy Carter for president in 1976.

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Virginia at a Crossroads

Voters to determine direction of state government.

Two years ago, Democrats seized control of the General Assembly for the first time in a generation. Now Republicans are hoping this is their moment to "Take Back Virginia," the name of a recent rally in support of the GOP statewide ticket that featured a call-in appearance from former President Donald Trump, who used the opportunity to repeat baseless claims about widespread election fraud.

Voters to Determine Direction of City

Republican Annetta Catchings challenges incumbent Democrat Justin Wilson for mayor.

The race for mayor comes down to a simple question: Are Alexandria voters happy with the direction of the city or not?

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House Seat Shuffle

Former CIA branch chief J.D. Maddox to face Vice Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker.

In Richmond, the 45th House District is known as a cursed seat because of its dizzying turnover. After the retirement of longtime Del. Marian Van Landingham (D-45) in 2006, the district has blazed through three delegates in rapid succession. Now the seat is open once again after the incumbent, former radio talk show host Mark Levine, lost the primary when his name appeared on the ballot twice because he was trying to simultaneously win reelection to the House while also snagging the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor.

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Contaminated Legacy

From slave plantation to industrial pollution, a hidden history of North Old Town.

The shuttered power plant dominating the landscape in North Old Town has layers of industrial pollution, a hidden history buried under the contaminated soil of the Potomac River Generating Station. Even before the coal-fired power plant was constructed in 1949, the property was home to the American Chlorophyll Company and Potomac River Clay Works. That means the long and complicated task known as "remediating" the property could mean removing everything from coal ash and mercury to industrial fertilizer and hazardous metals.

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Bag It?—Not Any More

Arlington to consider a new five-cent tax for each plastic bag.

Bag Tax

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Transforming Potomac Yard

Virginia Tech breaks ground for Innovation Campus in Alexandria.

Potomac Yard Groundbreaking

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