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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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Flu Shot Clinic Serves Double Duty as Disaster-Planning Scenario

Planning for the worst while helping city residents feel their best.

Alexandria is in the grip of a medical emergency. A mysterious strain of influenza is creating a deadly health crisis, and it doesn’t seem to be responding to the standard flu vaccine. Wait. Calm down. It’s just a disaster planning scenario.

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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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Chamber Celebrates Tomorrow’s Alexandria

40 Under 40 feted by titans of industry at United Way headquarters in Old Town.

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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.

Ebbin Works Behind the Scenes to Cut a Deal on Sewer System

Accelerated timetable would bypass regulatory process in exchange for keeping state money.

Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-30) has been working behind the scenes with Sen. Richard Stuart (R-28) to cut a deal that would save state funding for Alexandria, which could be at risk if the city fails to clean up its sewer system by 2020.

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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.

Council Notebook

Should Prince Street and Cameron Street have bike lanes? That's a question that city officials will be asking city residents starting Sept. 30. That's the date of the first community meeting on a proposal that would add bike lanes to the two major Old Town corridors, one eastbound and the other westbound.

Alexandria: On the Road Again

Longtime director heads back to sunny Florida.

When Rich Baier came to Alexandria in 2000, the city had few bike lanes and no BikeShare. Monroe Avenue Bridge was a twisted jag that created gridlock on Jefferson Davis Highway. The idea of dedicated lanes for transit would have seemed alien. Now the longtime director of the Alexandria Department of Transportation and Environmental Services is stepping down to take a position as director of public works for Sumpter County, Fla.

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Potential Rivals Circling Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille in Advance of Democratic Primary

Kerry Donely and Vice Mayor Allison Silberberg consider primary challenges.

Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille's poor performance in the congressional primary to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D-8) is calling into question his ability to lead the city, opening the door to talk about former Mayor Kerry Donley challenging Euille in next year's Democratic primary. That possibility has encouraged talk about Vice Mayor Allison Silberberg possibly entering the race as a candidate who would oppose the kind of large-scale development that Euille and Donley both support.

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Rollout Leaves Bad Taste

Pilot program for food trucks off to rocky start.

When Christine Bernstein noticed Rockland's barbecue truck parked at Founder's Park along Union Street one recent Sunday, she knew something was wrong.

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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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The Safeway Four: Armed Robbers Sentenced

Three defendants sentenced to 35 years each; another sentenced to 12 years.

It was a crime that shocked Old Town, an armed robbery that rattled a neighborhood where most of the illicit activity is limited to petty theft from unlocked vehicles.

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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.

Week in Alexandria: 7/23/14

Highlights of the week in Alexandria.

Boat Club, City Strike Deal

Land-swap concludes decades of feuding between the two organizations.

The feud between the Boat Club and the city dates back for decades, a conflict that involved the city threatening the use of eminent domain and the Boat Club winning a case against the city at the Virginia Supreme Court.

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Alexandria to Purchase Storied Waterfront Properties for $5 Million

Sale expected to seal Boat Club deal and open key part of waterfront.

City officials are on the verge of finalizing the sale of two slices of waterfront property, a $5 million purchase years in the making that will help seal a deal with the Old Dominion Boat Club and open up a key part of the waterfront to the public.

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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.

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New Beginning for a Failiing School

New school year to bring massive changes for long troubled school.

Test scores that will be released later this year show Jefferson-Houston School is failing yet again, with scores declining dramatically in writing.

This Week in Alexandria

Highlights of this week in Alexandria.

Changing Climate In Richmond

THE GOVERNOR announced the new commission Tuesday in Virginia Beach on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay, where the governor signed Executive Order 19, convening the Governor’s Climate Change and Resiliency Update Commission.

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Alexandria Police Narrow Scope of Murder Investigations

Homicide detectives now calling Charles Severance "primary focus."

When Linda Robra first met Charles Severance at a Dulles Hilton swing dance in 2011, she could not have known that the man she came to know as "Charlie" would turn her life upside down.

Week in Alexandria: May 21

Not Torn Asunder

Lawyers for former Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, were back in court this week trying to persuade a judge to separate the charges against them.

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