Newscast

ERA, Smart Scale and Albemarle elections: Newscast for January 16, 2019

Good morning. It’s Wednesday, January 16, 2019. Welcome to another edition of the little newscast that could, a brief look at news and events related to local and Virginia government. Our sponsor today is the Court Square Tavern, with fine European beers and fantastic food that doesn’t cost a lot of money. You can find Court Square Tavern in the bottom level of the tallest building in Charlottesville. Look up for it today.

The Virginia Senate has passed the Equal Rights Amendment on a 26 to 14 vote. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that seven Republicans joined all 19 Democrats in supporting the Constitutional amendment which would state that “equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” Senator Mamie Locke said amending the Constitution is necessary to move forward with guarantees of equality and equity.

“In 1863, Abraham Lincoln penned the Emancipation Proclamation but it didn’t really free slaves. It’s the 13th amendment that did that. In 1857, the Dred Scot said that people like me weren’t citizens of the United States of America. It took an amendment to make me a citizen of this country. The 14th amendment did that.”

Senator Amanda Chase spoke out in opposition to the measure.

(Chase soundbite:)

Chase said the ERA would have unintended consequences.

The resolution now awaits action in the House of Delegates’ Privileges and Elections Committee. Opponents say a ten-year deadline to ratify ERA passed in 1982. That hasn’t stopped advocates from moving forward. Nevada ratified the amendment in 2017 and Illinois did so in 2018.

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The preliminary scoring round has been revealed for new transportation projects in Virginia, and none of Albemarle County’s submissions have qualified for funding in what is known as Smart Scale process.

However, transportation planners at VDOT have recommended $2 million toward the West Main Streetscape, a project that has been in the planning stage for over five years.

In this third round of the Smart Scale process, there were over 400 submissions from across the state. Here’s deputy transportation secretary Nick Donohue.

“Unfortunately we’ve seen a continued decline in the amount of available resources and we have $779 million available for award in this round of Smart Scale,” said Virginia deputy transportation secretary Nick Donohue. In Smart Scale, projects are measured on they reduce crashes, increase economic development and improve congestion.

“It’s not just that the project with the most benefits gets the gold and goes home as the winner. It’s the project that provides the most benefits for the dollars spent,” Donohue said.

Only four projects among over 40 submissions in the VDOT’s Culpeper District have been recommended for funding. The West Main project scored high in the economic development category and received the second highest overall ranking in the District. The highest scoring project in the is a roundabout in the Town of Culpeper.

Albemarle’s submissions had included an extension of Berkmar Drive to Airport Road and a roundabout at Rio Road East and Pen Park Road. The county was awarded funding for six projects in the last round, including converting the I-64 interchange at Exit 124 ito a diverging diamond. Various businesses are now competing to be hired to design and build those projects.

There were 70 submissions in the Staunton District, and the top ranked project would improve the intersection of U.S. 220 and Virginia Route 615 near the Homestead in Hot Springs. Other high-scoring projects in the Staunton District include a streetscape in Waynesboro.

The results for this round are not final until further review by the Commonwealth Transportation Board including a vote in June.

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Charlottesville Delegate David Toscano has filed a bill that would allow Virginia localities to decide for themselves if they want to remove Confederate statues. State code currently specifies that it is unlawful for localities to “disturb or interfere” with such monuments. Charlottesville City Council in 2017 voted to remove a statue of Confederate Robert E. Lee from his namesake park. That prompted a lawsuit which is still before Circuit Court Judge Richard Moore. Toscano’s bill awaits action in the House Committee on Counties, Cities and Towns.

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Albemarle Supervisor Ann Mallek is expected to announce today that she will seek a fourth term representing the White Hall Magisterial District. Mallek was first elected in 2007 and has ran opposed in her two previous re-election bids. The Daily Progress reports that Albemarle native Jerrod Smith is expected to announce on Friday that he will seek the Democratic nomination for the Rivanna District. That seat’s current supervisor, Norman Dill, announced last week he will not seek a second term. Smith has a master’s degree from the Batten School of Leadership of Public Policy and works for PRA Health Sciences.

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Speaking of the Board of Supervisors, they will meet today at 2:00 pm for their second meeting of the year. They’ll get a preview of how the 2019 Real Estate Assessments will look like, and will also hear more about the development potential of within the vicinity of the Rio Road Small Area Plan. The Charlottesville City Council will meet with its Housing Advisory Committee at a joint session with the subject heading of “Intervention Analysis Tool and Housing Strategy Review.” That public meeting begins at 6:00 p.m. in the Water Street Center on Water Street. .

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