Monumental movement in Richmond
Bills allowing localities to move or remove Confederate monuments passed through the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates on February 11. The Senate bill passed 21-19, a party-line vote, and the House bill passed 53-46. The bills aren’t law just yet, but their passage represents a significant victory for those who hope to see Charlottesville’s statues discarded. The two bills have slightly different language, and it remains to be seen exactly what provisions the final version of the legislation will include. Governor Northam has supported the idea of local control of monuments.
Additionally, the House passed a bill to decriminalize simple possession of marijuana, replacing criminal charges with small fines. The decriminalization bill passed with bipartisan support, but full legalization won’t move in this session.
February 11 was the General Assembly’s “crossover,” when the Senate and House of Delegates finish drafting legislation and begin considering the other body’s bills. With no more new bills coming in, the second half of the session will see legislators focus on ironing out the budget.
Quote of the Week
“UPDATE: I have not yet been escorted out of the UVA Center for Politics.”
—UVA Politics professor and election forecaster Larry Sabato, after President Trump tweeted that “Sabato got it all wrong last time.”
Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg opened an office in Charlottesville this week, becoming the first 2020 presidential candidate to set up shop in town. Bloomberg has eschewed early states and instead campaigned hard in Super Tuesday states like Virginia. The presidential hopeful has a net worth of $62 billion, and has spent more than $200 million of his own money on his campaign so far. His office is on Second Street SE, across from Friendship Court, where median income is around $14,000.
Mike Signer has found a new hustle as a Pete Buttigieg booster, according to his Twitter feed. The former Charlottesville mayor visited New Hampshire this week to campaign on behalf of Buttigieg, another small-city mayor with big-time aspirations. Signer tweeted that he was “thrilled” by Pete’s “character, determination, and vision.” Meanwhile Signer’s wife, Emily Blout, has been knocking on doors for Elizabeth Warren.
Putting in (too much) work
For several years, Charlottesville has had a shortage of EMTs and firefighters due to lack of funding—and the Charlottesville Fire Department is paying the price. According to The Daily Progress, CFD has relied on staff working multiple overtime shifts every week, costing the city millions in overtime pay. Fire Chief Andrew Baxter says he’s asked the city for funding to hire more staff multiple times over the years, but it has yet to be approved.
Not boxed in
Don’t throw away that pizza box! The McIntire Recycling Center now allows residents to drop off pizza boxes for composting. All plastic, including sauce containers and pizza savers, must be removed from the boxes before they’re put in the compostable food waste container (near the cardboard compactor).