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Michael Lee Pope

Stories by Michael Lee

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Northern Virginia Leads Blue Wave

Democrats sweep statewide races and come close to taking over House of Delegates.

Democrats swept all three statewide seats this week and picked up so many seats in the House of Delegates that control of the chamber is now in doubt. Voters rejected Republican arguments about sanctuary cities and Confederate memorials, divisive issues that had moderate Republicans trying to win over the most extreme elements of President Donald Trump’s coalition.

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Following the Money from High-Interest Lenders to Virginia Lawmakers

Campaign cash helps undermine efforts to create consumer protections.

Recent years have seen increased scrutiny of high-interest lenders, businesses that offer a variety of loans at interest rates that often exceed 300 percent. Now campaign finance disclosures show the industry is spreading its influence across the political spectrum with about $800,000 in political contributions this election cycle according to data from the Virginia Public Access Project.

On the Ballot

A look at statewide candidates and where they get their money.

Voters across Virginia will be headed to the polls Tuesday Nov. 7. Here’s a look at what’s on the ballot.

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Shifting Political Battlefield for Virginia General Assembly

Solid blue urban areas separated by political beltway from solid red exurbs.

Northern Virginia has more competitive seats than any other part of the commonwealth, a ring of districts that forms a beltway of sorts separating the inner solid blue in Arlington and Alexandria from the solid red in rural and exurban seats in Loudoun and Prince William. That puts Fairfax County squarely in the driver’s seat this November, when Democrats hope to pick up seats in an election that has balanced local issues like schools and roads with the ongoing reaction to President Donald Trump.

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Senators Meet with Leaders of Industry

In joint appearance, Warner and Kaine talk business in Northern Virginia.

U.S. Sen. Mark Warner says Gov. Terry McAuliffe should pick one region of the commonwealth to compete for landing a second Amazon headquarters in Virginia instead of trying to cheerlead for three different areas simultaneously. U.S. Sen. Mark Warner says the federal government should be allowed to negotiate drug prices through Medicare to bring down the cost of prescriptions. These are some of the revelations that Warner and Kaine dropped on industry leaders this week at a meeting of the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce.

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Rorschach Politics

Candidates for governor present inkblots on everything from the economy to Confederate statues.

The campaign for governor is a bit like a Rorschach test as the candidates close in on the final stretch toward Election Day. Democrat Ralph Northam and Republican Ed Gillespie are presenting a series of inkblots to voters about everything from the health of the economy to the value of Confederate statues.

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Moderate Republican Challenges Democratic Whip

First-time candidate challenges key figure in House Democratic caucus leadership.

Until this year, three-term Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-49) has never had a Republican opponent.

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Supreme Court of Virginia Sides with Car-Title Lenders

TitleMax, LoanMax and Fast Auto Loans will be able to keep details about their business secret.

Virginia Republicans Play Establishment Card

Close primary campaigns for governor and lieutenant governor send GOP candidates to November ballot.

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Virginia Democrats Play the Long Game

Voters choose candidates who have been planning their campaign for years rather than upstarts newly energized against Trump.

Albo Retirement Prompts Hotly Contested Virginia House Race

Democrat Kathy Tran to face Republican Lolita Mancheno-Smoak.

Three Republicans Running for Virginia Governor Offer Dueling Tax Plans

Cut taxes or raise taxes? GOP primary debate offers an unusual array of options.

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Democratic Candidates for Virginia Governor Run to the Left

Two candidates try to ignore moderate records and repackage themselves as hardcore progressives.

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Lawmaker Work Group to Examine Virginia Predatory Lending

Panel to investigate internet loans, car-title loans and open-end lines of credit.

The growing chorus of criticism about predatory lending in Virginia may not have prompted lawmakers to start passing laws to crack down on the industry. But it has accomplished one thing, formation of a work group.

In Session: Virginia Assembly Briefs

Robert Johnson of Woodbridge understands the mental health crisis from a personal perspective.

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Era of the Iron Fist: How Did Democrats Rule the House of Delegates?

Democrats complain about Republican heavy-handedness, but were they any better?

Democrats complain that Republicans are sidelining their bills without much consideration. But were Democrats any better when they had control of the House of Delegates?

In Session: Virginia General Assembly Briefs

Ghost of Carter Glass

Meet state Sen. Carter Glass of Lynchburg.

In Session: Virginia Assembly Briefs

The backlog of untested rape kits has received a lot of media attention in recent years, and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have been working to find ways to process all that evidence. But that’s not the only problem with rape kits. Many of them are them are simply thrown away.

Angry Birds on the Road: Lawmakers to Crack Down on On-the-Road Screen Time

Texting while driving is already illegal, but what about all the other screen time?

Lawmakers in Richmond are a bunch of angry birds, frustrated at existing law they believe does not solve the problem of drivers devoting their attention to their handheld screen instead of the road.

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Angry Birds on the Road: Lawmakers Want to Crack Down on Screen Time

Texting while driving is already illegal, but what about Facebook and Twitter?

Lawmakers in Richmond are a bunch of angry birds, frustrated at existing law they believe does not solve the problem of drivers devoting their attention to their handheld screen instead of the road.

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Victims of Tribe-For-Rent Scam to Get $15 Million Payout in Settlement Agreement

15,000 Virginia victims get $6 million worth of predatory loans absolved, $9 million in cash awards.

The commercial features images of teepees and a tribal drumbeat. The company billed itself as having ties to the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe in South Dakota. But Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring says that was nothing more than a fraud, a scheme he calls rent-a-tribe.

In Session: Virginia Assembly Briefs

In Session: Virginia Assembly Briefs

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Bipartisan Agreement Forged in House Panel on Reducing Suspended Driver’s Licenses

Republicans work with Cabinet officials to craft changes to let more people keep drivers licenses.

After Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe called on lawmakers to find a way to restore driver's licenses to people charged with crimes that had nothing to do with driving, Republicans responded. Now both sides are crafting a compromise that could end up being a hallmark of the 2017 session.

In Session: Virginia Assembly Briefs

In Session: Virginia Assembly Briefs

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Party-Line Vote Protects Child Labor at Tobacco Farms in Virginia

Republican-led House panel kills effort to craft new protections for kids in unrecorded vote.

In an unrecorded party-line vote, House Republicans killed a bill that would have cracked down on child labor at tobacco farms in Virginia.

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Senate Panel Kills Effort to Allow Drivers Licenses for Undocumented Immigrants

Supporters say they’ll continue to press the issue, citing concerns over safety.

Undocumented immigrants in Virginia will not be getting a driver’s license anytime soon, although advocates for the idea say they will keep pressing lawmakers on the issue.

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Online Virginia Lottery Sales? Don't Bet On It

House panel rejects bill that would allow for sale of lottery tickets over the internet.

A coalition of convenience store owners and religious conservatives worked to till an effort from the Virginia Lottery to allow for online gambling, thwarting an effort aimed at increasing sales among millennial gamblers. The bill, introduced by Del. Roxann Robinson (R-27), was defeated with an overwhelming vote by a House General Laws subcommittee Tuesday afternoon.

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Senate Panel Approves Crackdown on Internet Lenders in Virginia

Bill would subject unregulated loans to rules that apply to consumer-finance loans.

The Wild West of online lending is about to become a little tamer. That’s because a state Senate panel narrowly approved a bill that would subject internet loans to the same restrictions that currently exist for consumer finance loans, a move that would cramp the anything-goes culture of online loans in Virginia.

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Senators to Alexandria: Clean Up Your Act by 2020 or Lose State Funding

Lawmakers poo poo city efforts to flush raw sewage.

Members of the Virginia state Senate say they’re tired of hearing excuses about sewage from city officials in Alexandria, and they’re pushing ahead with a plan that one senator calls “the nuclear option.” This afternoon, the Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee approved a bill that sets a firm deadline for Alexandria to clean up its act — 2020. If city officials are unable to stop dumping more than 10 million gallons of raw sewage into the Potomac River every year, Alexandria would lose all state appropriations until the problem is fixed.

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Predatory Lenders Work Behind the Scenes to Avoid Regulation and Evade the Law

Campaign contributions and political connections used to sidestep crackdown.

Predatory Loans in the Crossfire: Lawmakers conflicted about how to handle high-interest loans.

In Session: Briefs

It doesn’t take much rain to trigger Alexandria’s 19th century sewage system to start dumping raw sewage into the Potomac River — about 0.03 inches, to be precise.

Arlington: Sparring over Issues on Streetcar Proposal

Democrat Alan Howze issued a harsh attack against incumbent County Board member John Vihstadt last week, accusing him of using opposition to the proposed $333 million streetcar proposal on Columbia Pike as a "wedge issue" to score "political points" in a way that is "dividing our community." All of these attacks came before Howze outlined a five-point plan to improve the controversial project.

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Safety at a Crossroads in Poor Communities Across Northern Virginia

Less affluent neighborhoods in Northern Virginia suffer from higher pedestrian fatalities.

A national database of pedestrian crashes compiled by Governing Magazine shows 95 pedestrian fatalities in Northern Virginia between 2008 and 2012. While 26 of the pedestrian fatalities occurred in wealthy neighborhoods, where the per capita income is more than $53,000, a much larger number happened in poor communities like this stretch of Route 1 in Mount Vernon.

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Income Growth in Fairfax and Alexandria Lags Behind State and National Averages

Loudoun is the one bright spot in the region.

Paycheck growth in Fairfax County and the city of Alexandria are lagging behind the state and the nation, according to data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

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Governor's Mansion, Confidential

Defense team in corruption case to detail crumbling McDonnell marriage.

When he takes the stand in his own defense, former Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell will read jurors an email that he wrote to his wife as their marriage was said to be crumbling.

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Across Northern Virginia, Men Pull Larger Paychecks than Women

Trend is more prominent in wealthier areas.

When Lola Arce de Quintela first moved to Oakton 20 years ago, she noticed something about the way men and women arranged their professional careers around their family lives in Northern Virginia. Men took high-powered jobs with large paychecks, while women often dropped out of the workforce to take care of growing families. If women had full-time jobs, she says, they would often select positions that were not as demanding so they could focus their time and attention on their children while husbands and fathers pulled in six-figure salaries.

Funding Plan Emerges for Streetcar Project

County Board forgoes federal funds to expedite Columbia Pike project.

When federal officials denied Arlington County's request for a Small Starts grant, advocates for the streetcar project went back to the drawing board. Now the three Arlington County Board members who support the $300 million project say they will forgo federal funds altogether, using state money set aside for transportation.

Pub Crawl Crackdown

New permitting system designed to help cover public safety expenses.

The turning point for Arlington's burgeoning pub crawl may have been St. Patrick's Day, a time when the Arlington County Police Department found itself swamped by hordes of drunken revelers.

Marquee Tenant For Central Place

Corporate Executive Board to add 800 new jobs; building to be known as CEB Tower.

Right now, it's a temporary park — a placeholder at the intersection of Wilson Boulevard and North Lynn Street. But when the soaring new building is constructed at Central Place, it will be known as the CEB Tower.

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Transitway to the Future

Alexandria and Arlington set to break ground on region's first transitway with dedicated lanes.

This week, elected leaders and government officials from Alexandria and Arlington will turn swords into plowshares, setting aside their previous differences about the Crystal City Potomac Yard transitway and wielding ceremonial shovels to break ground.

Streetcar To Take Center Stage in Special Election

House of Delegates special election to focus renewed attention on streetcar issue.

When voters in the 48th House District head to the polls on Aug. 19 to select a candidate in a special election to replace longtime Del. Bob Brink (D-48), the Columbia Pike Streetcar proposal will once again be on the ballot.

Simon To Resign from School Board

Opening prompts special election for this fall.

Simon said he loved doing the work of the School Board and thanked those who supported his campaign in 2012. But he said that he must make his family a priority and resign the seat.

O’Leary Steps Down

Longtime treasurer resigns, prompting special election.

In a county known for people who come and go, County Treasurer Frank O'Leary has provided a sense of continuity to Arlington politics since 1983. But now, after more than 30 years in office, O'Leary is stepping down.

Brink Takes Administration Job

Longtime delegate to become deputy commissioner for aging services.

When asked about his new job as deputy commissioner for aging services in Virginia, longtime Del. Bob Brink (D-48) says he has a personal interest in the topic — one that's becoming more pressing every day.

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Blitzkrieg Special Election for Arlington House Seat

Democrats to choose House of Delegates candidate this weekend.

Democrats are preparing for a lightning-fast special election this weekend, a caucus that will choose the party's candidate for the House of Delegates seat vacated by longtime Del. Bob Brink (D-46).

Hearing from the People on Streetcars

Voters will have indirect say on streetcars, even without referendum.

Supporters of a plan to build a streetcar line along Columbia Pike are divided over the wisdom of whether or not voters should weigh in on the issue.

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Patchwork of Approaches to Affordable Housing in Northern Virginia

Jurisdictions use a variety of strategies to prevent homelessness.

Affordable housing means different things to different people at different times. For government officials, it's a phrase that means that a family spends no more than 30 percent of its income on housing costs, including rent or mortgage as well as taxes and utilities

How Will West Rosslyn Be Won?

Neighborhood finds itself at center of conflicting interests.

Neighbors want open space. A developer wants density. Arlington County wants a new fire station. School officials want a new facility. And nonprofit leaders want affordable housing. And all this will happen on about six acres of highly prized land hugging the western edge of Rosslyn, an increasingly urban part of the county that some have taken to calling "Manhattan on the Potomac."

A Capital Debate on Streetcars

Controversy over streetcar to dominate discussion of capital improvement plan.

Members of the Arlington County Board are preparing for weeks of heated debate about the streetcar proposal on Columbia Pike, a project that continues to increase in price and opposition. Although the project has enjoyed support from previous elected officials, the board's two newest members are raising new questions about where the money comes from and how it's spent.

Plug Pulled on Aquatics Center

Proposal put on hold for a year.

A proposal to build an aquatics center at Long Bridge Park has been put on hold after Arlington County officials determined that the cost of the project had spiraled out of control. “Last January, I said that we would conduct extensive due diligence to ensure that the project estimate was sound and within the available budget, and that’s exactly what we did,” said Donnellan. “I have concluded, in consultation with the County Board, that the gap between our construction budget and the lowest bid is simply too great to bridge at this point.”

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