Category Archives: Capital News Service

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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Filed under Capital News Service, News, Politics, Richmond

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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Filed under Capital News Service, News, Politics, Richmond

Shad Smoked; Candidates Roasted

Amanda Ladden-Stirling
VCU Capital News Service

WAKEFIELD – The 61st annual Shad Planking kicked off Virginia’s political season with cold beer, smoked shad and a poignant roast of the 2009 gubernatorial candidates.

Three of the four candidates for governor – Republican Bob McDonnell and Democrats Terry McAuliffe and Brian Moran – poked fun at each other in a Shad Planking tradition that began in 2001. (Another Democratic contender, Creigh Deeds, was campaigning in Southwest Virginia.)

“Terry’s a little disappointed,” McDonnell said of McAuliffe, the former Democratic National Committee chairman attending the Shad Planking for the first time.

“He was told there would be a lot of big fish here. He didn’t realize we meant that literally.”

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Nicholas Langhorne Talks General Assembly

By Brittany Allen
VCU InSight

VCU’s Capitol News Service students have a special assignment. They report on the goings-ons of the Virginia General Assembly. InSight’s Brittany Allen sat down to talk to CNS reporter Nicholas Langhorne about Crossover Day.

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Donations, Like Votes, Favor Obama

By Alyssa W. Walden
VCU Multimedia Journalism

If dollars were votes, Virginia still would have swung blue in 2008 for Barack Obama.

Barack Obama received $17,031,854.04 from Virginians alone in the time before the Nov. 4 election. Virginians gave $15,404,295.78 to presidential hopeful John McCain.

According to a recent computer analysis of data from the Federal Elections Commission, Virginians gave $32,436,149.82 to the two candidates in total. If the dollars were votes, Obama would have won Virginia with 52.5 percent to McCain’s 47.5 percent.

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Tough Job Listing Donors’ Occupations

By Alyssa W. Walden
VCU Multimedia Journalism

RICHMOND, Va.–Presidential incumbent Barack Obama’s campaign team may have been more diligent in following campaign finance laws, a recent computer analysis shows.

Based on data from the Federal Elections Commission, more dollars from Obama’s Virginia contributions were properly documented than those received by Republican John McCain.

According to federal campaign finance law, each candidate must make a good faith effort to obtain complete and accurate information on each contributor, including the donor’s occupation.

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