UVa dean bashes Rolling Stone article in open letter

UVA-LogoRICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ An associate dean of students at the University of Virginia says a discredited Rolling Stone article caused her professional and personal harm by portraying her as insensitive and unresponsive to an alleged victim of a gang rape. Nicole Eramo said in an open letter Wednesday that the magazine has not done enough to make amends for the damage it caused.  A report from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism released earlier this month said the Rolling Stone article was a “story of journalistic failure that was avoidable.” Eramo has hired a law firm that specializes in defamation lawsuits, but has not said whether she plans to sue the magazine.

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Va. schools recognized for ‘green’ efforts

STATE-NEWSRICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ The U.S. Department of Education has recognized five Virginia schools for promoting energy efficiency and environmental awareness. The schools were among dozens nationwide recognized by the Green Ribbon Schools Program on Wednesday. The Virginia schools are Coles Elementary School in Manassas; Crozet Elementary School in Crozet; Bassett High School in Bassett; the Steward School in Richmond; and the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. The university also received the Postsecondary Sustainability Award.

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U.Va. offers early retirement package to about 800 employees

UVA-LogoCHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) _ The University of Virginia is offering an early retirement package to about 800 employees. The voluntary package announced Tuesday includes nine months’ salary and a $9,000 health care subsidy. It’s being offered to eligible staff members 55 years old or older who have at least 20 years of uninterrupted employment with the state. Eligible employees work either in U.Va.’s academic division or at the College at Wise, in positions ranging from administration to technology support. Faculty and classified staff aren’t eligible for the retirement package. University chief human resources officer Susan A. Carkeek tells The Daily Progress  that the early retirement package is “a one-time offer.”  Carkeek says the goal is to help reduce costs in the long term by restructuring or eliminating some positions after employees leave.

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Va. court affirms dad’s rights in turkey baster conception

WLNI-SRICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ The Virginia Court of Appeals has affirmed the parental rights of a man whose son was conceived by using a turkey baster. A three-judge panel unanimously upheld Roanoke Circuit Judge Charles N. Dorsey’s decision granting joint custody and visitation rights to Robert Preston Boardwine. According to the court, Joyce Rosemary Bruce wanted to have a child she could raise on her own. Boardwine supplied the sperm in a plastic container. Bruce transferred it to a turkey baster, which she used to inseminate herself. Bruce argued that Boardwine had no parental rights under the state’s assisted conception law. But the appeals court said Tuesday that the law applies only to pregnancies resulting from the use of medical technology, and the use of a common kitchen implement at home doesn’t qualify.

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Bond denied for Ashley White

WLNI-SPULASKI, Va. (AP) _ A judge has denied bond for a Pulaski County woman whose 5-year-old son was found dead in a septic tank. Pulaski County Circuit Court Bradley Finch said he believes Ashley Jennifer White is a flight risk. Finch’s decision came Tuesday on a bond appeal by White. A Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court judge had denied White bond last week. White and her husband, Paul Thomas, each face two counts of felony child abuse and neglect. One charge involves the couple’s son, Noah, whose body was found March 26 in the septic tank on the family’s property. Prosecutors say they’re awaiting the results of autopsy to determine the cause of death. The other charge is linked to the couple’s infant daughter.

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Former first lady asks that public corruption convictions be overturned

Bob and Maureen McDonnell (Associated Press photo)

Bob and Maureen McDonnell
(Associated Press photo)

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Former Virginia first lady Maureen McDonnell says her public corruption convictions are based on an overly broad definition of bribery and she did not receive a fair trial due to a number of mistakes made by the presiding federal district court judge. Her attorneys argued Monday in a 101-page court filing that McDonnell’s conviction on several public corruption counts should be overturned.  McDonnell and her husband, former Gov. Bob McDonnell, were convicted in a joint trial in September of accepting more than $165,000 in gifts and loans from former Star Scientific Inc. CEO Jonnie Williams in exchange for promoting his company’s nutritional supplements. Bob McDonnell was sentenced to two years in prison and his wife to one year and one day, but they remain free while they pursue separate appeals.

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Thousands in pocket change left at Va. airport checkpoints

TSA PICRICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Federal authorities say travelers left behind a chunk of pocket change at Virginia airports last year. An annual report by the Transportation Security Administration shows more than $33,000 in coins went unclaimed at airport checkpoints in the state in fiscal 2014. The TSA is responsible for screening airline passengers. Typically the money is left in bins where travelers place belongings during screenings. The TSA suggests travelers store loose change in carry-on bags. Travelers departing Washington Dulles International Airport left about $22,0 behind, the eighth highest amount in the country. Nearly $9,600 was left at checkpoints at Reagan National Airport, and nearly $1,200 was forgotten at airports in Richmond, Charlottesville, Lynchburg and Roanoke. The TSA says an additional $563 was left behind at checkpoints at the Norfolk and Newport News-Williamsburg airports.

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GOP ahead in cash race heading into Va. campaign season

STATE-NEWSRICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Newly filed finance reports show Virginia Republican state lawmakers have a large cash advantage over their Democratic counterparts going into this year’s campaign season. But Democrats say they don’t have as much in the bank because they’re already spending it on efforts similar to what helped their candidates, including Gov. Terry McAuliffe, sweep all three statewide offices in 2013. Much of this year’s legislative action will be focused on a handful of competitive races in the state Senate, where Democrats need to pick up one seat in order to flip control of the chamber. Republican leaders in the Senate hold a large cash advantage over Democratic leaders. McAuliffe political aide Brian Zuzenak says his party’s made early investments in the data-driven voter research efforts that helped Democrats last election cycle.

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Lawmakers approve $100 per year gift cap

STATE-NEWSRICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia lawmakers have approved a new $100 gift cap from lobbyists and others trying to influence state government. The General Assembly agreed Friday with Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s push for tighter gift limits. In February, lawmakers approved a $100 per gift limit during the final minutes of the regular legislative session. McAuliffe wanted a $100 per year limit, but lawmakers had to use unusual procedural motions to clarify that the governor’s amendment was per year and not a lifetime cap. Legislators have been working on Virginia’s ethics rules for two years in response to a corruption scandal involving former Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen.

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Virginia alcohol agency’s arrest powers under scrutiny

Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC)RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ A Virginia alcohol-law enforcement agency that has sparked public outrage over two high-profile arrests has investigated three complaints of excessive use of force by its officers in the last five years. The Alcoholic Beverage Control Department supplied those numbers to The Associated Press in response to an open-records request. But details remain sealed. ABC declined to release the reports, citing personnel records exemptions in the state’s Freedom of Information Act. ABC’s arrest powers are under scrutiny after the March arrest of University of Virginia student Martese Johnson, who suffered a gash on his head. In 2013, another U.Va. student fled in a panic when her car was swarmed by a half-dozen agents who mistook a carton of sparkling water for beer.

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