Newscast for January 7, 2019

Welcome to another week of information about government in and around the greater Charlottesville area, in newscast form. We’re still working on a name, but our goal is to bring you in formation we think you need to know so you can make your own decisions about the immediate world around you.

Today’s installment is brought to you by Court Square Tavern, a downtown institution since 1976. It’s a great place to spend time with your friends, and maybe a great place to meet some new ones. Open Tuesday through Saturday nights, but not too late. Visit Court Square Tavern on Facebook for more details.

Tonight’s the first City Council meeting for 2019, and the five members have a full agenda agenda lined up for the night. There are five public hearings, all on technical issues. The final one relates to a plan to better define what a “dwelling unit” means in the zoning ordinance. Late last year, the Board of Zoning Appeals ruled that the city’s rules aren’t clear. Council will also decide whether to appoint a new commission to offer advice on what priorities should be made when funding non-profit groups. Last year the city pulled out of a joint process that included Albemarle County. Council will meet two other times this week. On Tuesday they will hold joint public hearings with the planning commission and on Friday will hold a budget work session.

There are now three candidates in the race for three seats on Charlottesville City Council. Don Gathers and Michael Payne will be the first to officially announce at an event to be held Tuesday at Kardinal Hall at 722 Preston Avenue beginning at 5:00 p.m. The pair are running under the slogan “Community Driven, Community Focused.” On Wednesday, Sena Magill will announce her candidacy at an event in CitySpace at 10:15 am. All three are running as Democrats in the June 11 primary. Gathers served as co-chair of the Charlottesville Blue Ribbon Commission on Race, Memorials and Public Spaces and is a co-founder of Charlottesville Black Lives Matter. Payne is a housing activist with the Charlottesville Low-Income Housing Coalition and works for Habitat Virginia. The pair’s campaign is being run by a PAC called Progressives for Cville. That organization had $95 in the bank as of September 30, 2018 according to the Virginia Public Access Project.

In Richmond today, the Joint Subcommittee on Coastal Flooding will meet for its first meeting of the year. Topics include “resilient enterprise solutions”, “securing prosperity in the coastal zone” and an update from Governor Northam’s special assistant on coastal adaptation.

Tomorrow in Richmond, the state Air Pollution Control Board will be asked to consider the suitability of a site in Buckingham County for a compressor station necessary for Dominion’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Union Hill is a predominantly African-American community where the 54,000 horsepower facility will run 24 hours a day to ensure that natural gas can flow.   Former Board Member Vivian Thomas writes in the Virginia Mercury today how the panel operates and explains her opposition to the project.

The Richmond Times Dispatch reports that Governor Northam wants to spend $175,000 on a gambling study before Virginia proceeds with legalizing casinos in certain cities. Delegate Matthew James of Portsmouth has filed a bill that assigns the Virginia Lottery Board with the responsibility of regulating casinos.

Among other conditions, the legislation would only authorize such facilities in communities that have an unemployment rate four points higher than the statewide average. Leaders in Bristol, Danville, and Portsmouth have all indicated support for the idea. Meanwhile, the Bristol Herald Courier reports that Northam’s political action community received $25,000 in December from backers of a casino in Bristol.

And that’s it for today’s edition. We’ll be back again tomorrow. Thanks for listening, and don’t forget that support for this program comes from Court Square Tavern.

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