State and National Government

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The former mayor of Charlottesville, Virginia, endorsed Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign on Friday, citing him as one of the people whose advice he sought ahead of the deadly 2017 clash between white supremacists and counter protesters.

Michael Signer, who was the Charlottesville mayor at the time of the Unite the Right demonstration, told The Associated Press that he turned to Buttigieg because of his experience as an intelligence officer in Afghanistan.

At a time when Signer was receiving what he describes as simplistic or minimizing advice, he said he found Buttigeg’s thoughts clear-eyed. Buttigieg, who is the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, urged city officials to relocate the demonstration from a smaller downtown park to a larger park to improve security, Signer said.

“If anything, a grim and realistic take on the coming civil unrest was the most valuable perspective that we could have had, and that’s what the ultimate results showed,” Signer said. “I would credit his perception to, at least, to my decision to relocate the rally.”

The event still proved deadly. Anti-racism protester Heather Heyer was killed after an avowed white supremacist deliberately drove his car into a group of protesters during the Aug. 12 confrontation.

Former Vice President Joe Biden has cited the clash — and President Donald Trump’s tepid reaction to it — as a central reason he decided to run for the Democratic nomination. Signer, who left office last year, says his endorsement is not a slight toward Biden.

“I would fight my heart out for him,” if he’s nominated, Signer said. “With that said, I’ve been uniquely impressed by how Pete has grown his campaign and what I’ve said about the fresh start and the new era he describes every day.”

Signer was the 2009 Democratic nominee for Virginia lieutenant governor. Virginia is among 15 states to hold its presidential primary on March 3, 2020, so-called Super Tuesday.

Photo: Charlottesville City

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Democrats won control of Virginia government for the first time in decades on Election Day, and that means Confederate statues could soon be coming down in a state that’s full of them. The long-running debate over whether such displays are appropriate in public spaces intensified after a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville grew violent two years ago, and many communities around the country quickly started taking monuments down. But in Virginia, local governments have been hamstrung by a 1904 state law that protects war veterans’  memorials. Previous attempts to amend it have been quickly dispatched in the Republican-controlled General Assembly, in votes largely along party lines. Democrats see an opening now. One lawmaker who represents Charlottesville says she intends to propose a bill that would give cities and counties control.

Rep. Morgan Griffith

The House of Representatives begins the public phase of its impeachment inquiry Wednesday. As it does, Congressman Morgan Griffith says the proceedings remain as much of a sham as they were during the depositions taken behind closed doors.WFIR’s Evan Jones has more:

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Griffith spoke live this morning on WFIR in a wide-ranging conversation that also included the changeover of legislative power in Richmond. Here is the full conversation:

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Bill Bestpitch- Staff Sgt in Army/G Marrano photo

The Blue Star program honors all those who have served their country in the U.S. military. On this Veteran’s day morning near the Mill Mountain Star, a Blue Star Memorial marker was unveiled after short speeches and patriotic chorus music conducted by the RSO’s David Stuart Wiley.  A local group – the Westchester Garden Club – worked with Roanoke Parks and Recreation on bringing a Blue Star Memorial marker to Mill Mountain. There are more than 3200 in all 50 states. City councilman Bill Bestpitch – a staff sergeant at the end of his 8-year Army stint – was a speaker:

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This was going to be the week the Virginia Crime Commission held a final meeting before presenting its recommendations on gun and public safety laws, but last week’s election has changed all that. Tomorrow’s meeting is cancelled, but commission leaders say the staff will soon release its recommendations.  As for any General Assembly action, it is clear that now awaits January, when Democrats will gain control of both houses. WFIR’s Evan Jones has more:

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia Republicans have canceled a meeting where they were to present GOP-backed proposals to curb gun violence.

State Sen. Mark Obenshain said Friday that he had canceled next week’s planned meeting of the state’s Crime Commission because of the results of Tuesday’s legislative elections.

Republicans tasked the commission earlier this year to come up with ideas on how to improve public safety in the wake of a mass shooting at a Virginia Beach municipal building. Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam had instead wanted lawmakers to vote on gun-control measures during a special session.

Democrats ran aggressively on gun control in legislative elections and won majorities in both the state House and Senate on Tuesday.

Northam said he expects lawmakers to pass several gun-control bills next year.

The Republican State Senator who chairs the Virginia Crime Commission has cancelled the meeting scheduled for next week. Mark Obenshain says this week’s elections — and the comments that followed from Governor Northam – combine to make any meeting impractical. Northam has indicated the action he wants on gun laws will come next winter, when Democrats will hold majorities in both houses. The General Assembly charged the commission in July to develop recommendations on Virginia gun and public safety laws, and Obenshain says that report will be delivered in coming days. So far, the special session on gun laws that was set to resume November 18 remains scheduled.

NEWS RELEASE:  Senator Mark D. Obenshain (R-Rockingham), Chairman of the Virginia Crime Commission, today announced the cancellation of the Commission’s meeting scheduled for Tuesday, November 12. “For reasons both practical and pragmatic, the Crime Commission will not meet on Tuesday,” Senator Obenshain said.  “The results of Tuesday’s elections, coupled with recent comments from Governor Northam regarding the fate of the legislation we’ve been reviewing, makes holding a meeting impractical.”

According to accounts from multiple media outlets, Governor Ralph S. Northam (D), at a meeting of his cabinet on Wednesday, responded to questions concerning the ongoing Special Session by stating, “I suspect most of the work will be done in January.”

“Commission staff has been working diligently on its report, which will be released in the coming days,” Obenshain announced.  “But as Governor Northam has made clear he is preparing a legislative package relating to these issues for when the General Assembly convenes two months from today, it would not be pragmatic for the Commission to continue its deliberations on these issues at this point.”

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