Author Archives: Jeff South

Gov. McDonnell Lifts LCI Freeze

By Veronica Garabelli
VCU Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va. – Gov. Bob McDonnell announced Monday that he would undo a freeze on an education funding formula that would have taken money from more affluent school districts and given it to less affluent ones.

“The decision to continue to update the Local Composite Index is one that I reached after extensive meetings with my finance staff, legislators, and local government officials,” McDonnell said in a press release.

“Ensuring that we have a fair formula that is implemented without regard to temporary or political considerations is the best means by which to appropriate education funding in the Commonwealth.”

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New Gov. McDonnell Vows to Create Jobs

By Rich Griset and Brittany Daniels
VCU Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va. – On an unseasonably warm and sunny Saturday afternoon, Robert F. McDonnell was sworn in as Virginia’s 71st governor.

Thousands descended upon Virginia’s capital to witness McDonnell, Lt. Governor William Bolling and Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli take their oaths of office.

“I kept my first promise – I said that it would be warm and sunny on my inauguration day,” McDonnell said.

Colonial Williamsburg Fife & Drum Corps

For a slideshow of photos, click on this picture.

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Virginians Assemble to Watch Ceremony, Parade

By Joanna Moreno
VCU Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va. – Lou McClellan said he loves Virginia – and that’s why he came to Bob McDonnell’s inauguration as the commonwealth’s 71st governor.

“I think he will unite the state and bring us all together from things that had separated us in the past,” said McClellan, a Richmond resident and longtime Republican.

He was one of thousands of people who converged on the Virginia Capitol on Saturday to see the inauguration.

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Gov. Kaine Delivers Final Address

By Nicole Fisher
VCU Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va. – Tim Kaine was still smiling. In his final State of the Commonwealth address to the General Assembly on Wednesday, he said he was smiling because there is no higher honor than to serve as governor of Virginia.

In his farewell speech, Kaine listed achievements ranging from education to business.

“The Virginia economy today is one of the nation’s most vibrant. We are in the top 10 states in median income and have one of the 10 lowest unemployment rates in the country,” he said. Continue reading

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Virginia’s Largest Universities Raise Tuition

By Dayne Kaufman
VCU Capital News Service

Virginia’s five largest state universities – Virginia Commonwealth, George Mason, Old Dominion, Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia – have raised tuition by 5 to 7 percent for the coming school year.

The tuition increases will help offset a decrease in state support for higher education. The state budget cuts funding for four-year institutions by 15 percent and for two-year institutions by 10 percent – a total reduction of about $212 million.

“The boards of visitors at Virginia’s colleges and universities may have kept student needs in mind when setting tuition this year, and certainly everyone is aware that these are difficult economic times,” said Kathleen Kincheloe, assistant director of communications at the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.

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Slave Trail Seeks to Free City’s History

By Stephanie Power and Anna Yates
Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Near the corner of 17th and Main streets downtown is the site of Lumpkin’s Jail, where African slaves arriving at the Manchester docks were held before being sold off.

Down the street, under a parking lot, is an old burial ground for slaves and poor free blacks. There, Gabriel Prosser was hanged in 1800 for planning a slave rebellion.

A few blocks south, among abandoned storefronts and newer buildings, stands a dilapidated brick structure. It was once an auction house where African slaves were lined up and sold as if they were no more than livestock.

Those and other sites helped establish Richmond’s shameful history as a center for the slave trade. Today, the Richmond Slave Trail Commission has created a trail it hopes will lead to reconciliation and understanding.

Burial Ground, on Richmond Slave Trail

Burial Ground, on Richmond Slave Trail

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Sites along the Richmond Slave Trail

The Richmond Slave Trail mirrors the experience of many African slaves in Richmond. It begins on the south side of the James River at Ancarrow’s Landing and ends a little more than three miles later at the First African Baptist Church near Main and 15th streets.

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Storyteller Mulls America’s Heritage

Nessa Johnson, Richmond storyteller

Nessa Johnson, Richmond storyteller

By Stephanie Power and Anna Yates
Capital News Service

Late one night, Nessa Baskerville Johnson received a strange phone call.

“I think I’m your cousin,” said an unfamiliar voice.

Stranger still: The caller told Johnson that their common relative was a great-grandfather five generations back – a white man who enslaved members of Johnson’s family. The newfound cousin was even a member of the Sons of the Confederate Veterans.

“Then I should be a Daughter,” quipped Johnson, a Richmond author, storyteller, artist and activist who sits on the Richmond Slave Trail Commission.

Johnson says she “always knew” she would have something to do with the history of Richmond. Perhaps her greatest contribution to the commission is her passion for the city, her acceptance of its entire history and her wisdom in shaping its future.

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Do Payday Lenders Target the Poor?

By Sara Griffith and Josephine Varnier
Capital News Service
 

RICHMOND – Cruising down Broad Street between Virginia Commonwealth University and suburban Short Pump, you’ll see a string of businesses with names like Cash Advance, Cash-2-U and Fast Payday Loans. They’ll lend you money until your next paycheck – at interest rates critics call exorbitant. 

The 23230 ZIP code boasts one of the highest concentrations of payday lending stores in Virginia, with almost one location for every 1,000 residents. The area is also among the poorer sections of metro Richmond, with a median household income about $10,000 below the state average. 

Opponents of payday lenders often criticize the industry for targeting lower-income people. The businesses’ locations lend credence to such criticisms. 

“These are dangerous,” said Dana Wiggins, responsible lending coordinator of the Virginia Poverty Law Center. “People become dependant on the loans and begin using them for everyday living things.” 

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Interest Rate Cap Squeezes Lenders

By Josephine Varnier and Sara Griffith
Capital News Service

RICHMOND – As Virginia tightens regulations on payday lenders, some are leaving the state – and industry officials say residents will be left with fewer options for borrowing money to get through tough times.

Legislators may see short-term loans as controversial, but consumers don’t, says Jamie Fulmer, a spokesman for Advance America, the biggest payday lender in Virginia. He said the loans are an issue “discussed in the halls of the General Assembly but not on Main Street.”

Payday loan store in Richmond

Payday loan store in Richmond

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